Sunday, June 30, 2019

Avoid trump's Fourth Fallacy at All Costs (w/ Update)

We were warned as far back as February that the Eternal Shitgibbon wants to hijack Washington DC's Fourth of July celebrations, and yes unfortunately that means this coming Thursday there are a handful of things to avoid:

  • Do NOT travel to Washington DC for the 4th of July celebrations. Just saying, traffic is still a bitch in the Beltway, and the Metro rail system has been breaking down lately. Getting in and out is a nightmare anyway (I can attest to personal experience when I traveled there in 2015). Just having trump dump himself all over the festivities is making it worse. Although if nobody shows up - like the way nobody showed up for his inaugural - the traffic and Metro won't be bad after all. Just pretend it will be and use that as an excuse if the Gestapo ask you later why you weren't there.
  • Do NOT tune in to PBS' A Capitol Fourth television program. Previous years they had musical performances, celebrity speakers, and fireworks. This year, they're having plane fly-bys - a holdover from trump's desire for a military parade - and not entirely sure what else other than trump's ugly face grinning to himself that he's got an audience he does not deserve. I hope to God the previously-schedule performers - especially the ones I like - have enough sense to call out sick or something.
  • Do NOT go to any local rally flying trump banners because they're also gonna be flying Confederate Battle Flags and chanting death songs about libruls and Antifa, and that's not what the 4th of July - our nation's freedom, our nation's unity - should be about.

What should you DO?

  • Stay home with family and friends who plan on avoiding any political partisan crap, period.
  • Do some of your own fireworks, in safe places and following all proper handling with fire and explosives.
  • Watch the Macy's Fourth celebration which covers New York City, broadcasting from NBC at 8 PM EDT.
  • Listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, or watch the classic 1776 movie on DVD or if you stay up late it'll be on the TMC channel at 10:15 PM EDT.

That should make for a more pleasant 4th of July experience for all involved.

Unless Karen shows up with her potato salad. In which case all bets are off.

(Update 7/1): Cadet Bone Spurs is asking for tanks - AGAIN - to roll down the streets for him this 4th. Never mind how the weight of those things will cause potholes and could break some of the bridges surrounding Washington DC. And he seems to have forgotten - most draft dodgers wouldn't care to know - that the WWII era Sherman tanks are no longer in commission.

Jesus Christ. This is going to be a disaster or a massacre or both.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Quick Takeaway from the First Round Democratic Debates for 2020 (w/ Update)

Okay, so everybody likes to make lists during elections.

Here's my list - brief and arbitrary and totally biased - of how the 2020 Democratic primary nominees should be ranked going into the next election cycle.

Big Hitters
(The front-runners who stayed in place and those who impressed)
Joe Biden
Kamala Harris
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Dark Horses
(The ones who did better than expected or at least didn't embarrass themselves onstage)
Cory Booker
Pete Buttigieg
Julian Castro
Should Plan On the VP Short List
(The ones who showed competence but not enough oomph to get past the main leads, if they were even allowed to show at the first round in the first place)

Michael Bennet
Steve Bullock
Kirsten Gillibrand
Jay Inslee
Amy Klobucher
Tim Ryan
Should Drop Out Now and Run for Governor or the Senate or Something
(Beto in particular is having a Rick Perry moment on the national stage. Just... go back and win Texas instead, okay?)
Bill DeBlasio
John Hickenlooper
Beto O'Rourke
Joe Sestack
Eric Swalwell
Should Drop Out of The Party and Go Work for Fox Not-News as the Token Fake Democrat John Delaney
Seth Moulton
Tulsi Gabbard
Seriously, Why You Here??? Mike Gravel
Wayne Messum
Marianne Williamson
Andrew Yang

I'll be making Honest Bumper Stickers to reflect this better. Soon. Maybe.

Update 7/7/19: Christ. I swear there are days when I wonder if author John Scalzi and I were separated at birth, because when it comes to politics I find myself agreeing on nearly every argument he makes...

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Honest Bumper Stickers 2020: It Begins

With the second Democratic primary debate wrapping up tonight, I've decided to jump all in on the crazy and make more bumper stickers to express how I feel about the 2020 elections.

I'll start off with my current mindset and voting preference.

Yeah, I might have to delve a little more into the ISSUES, but right now telling off all the misogynists who refuse to vote for women is where I'm at, spiritually speaking.

I am also cool with Warren/Harris. Hope that's not a problem.

Blind From The Bench: Republican Justices Let Gerrymanders Live, Dooming Fair Elections

To make the long story short: A Republican-controlled Supreme Court ruled today that they shouldn't interfere with Republican-controlled state legislatures that are making partisan gerrymanders that overwhelmingly favor Republicans at the expense of the voters' right to choose (via Amy Howe at SCOTUSBlog)

In his opinion for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts explained that partisan-gerrymandering claims pose particularly difficult problems for courts because it is well settled that legislatures can consider politics when drawing district maps. The question that courts would have to decide is when the consideration of politics has gone too far and violates the Constitution. But there’s no requirement, Roberts wrote, that a party’s representation in a congressional delegation or state legislature reflect its share of the statewide vote – a concept known as proportional representation.
Instead, Roberts emphasized, what plaintiffs in partisan-gerrymandering cases are asking courts to decide is what level of representation would be fair, and how to draw maps to achieve that level of fairness. There are many different ways to measure fairness, Roberts suggested, and choosing among them “poses basic questions that are political, not legal.” Nothing in the Constitution provides standards to decide what is fair, much less the kind of “limited and precise standards that are clear, manageable, and politically neutral” that courts would need. In the absence of such standards, Roberts concluded, courts should refrain from deciding partisan-gerrymandering cases...

Roberts is basically saying "Not My Problem," passing the buck back to state legislatures that will never take the matter as serious as Roberts claims they should. This is basically abandoning an aspect of Judicial Review that gave federal courts the power to force the other two federal branches - and the states - to play by Constitutional rules.

...Reading her dissent from the bench, Kagan emphasized that the Supreme Court had refused for “the first time ever” to “remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.” Kagan lamented that the “partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights.” The gerrymanders “debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.” “In giving such gerrymanders a pass from judicial review,” she concluded, “the majority goes tragically wrong...”

Similar to how Roberts' conservative court dismantled key enforcements of the Voting Rights Acts - where Roberts and Scalia and the others no longer saw racism and allowed racist states to start suppressing ethnic and young voters - this Court refuses to see how one party - their own Republicans - repeatedly abuse the maps to shape Congressional districts in ways to guarantee virtual strangleholds on enough districts to keep Democrats from out of power.

The only way Democrats ever regain the House at this point is in massive voter uprisings against Republicans' growing extremist agendas. And the only response Republicans will have to that is to gerrymander and cheat even more.

Every Red State where Republicans dominate the state legislatures - like here in Florida - will essentially double-down in their attempt to reduce the odds of Democrats winning or maintaining enough districts to do anything the voters actually want. States where there are slim Democratic voting majorities but have overwhelming Republican elected officials, mocking their own residents needs.

I wrote about this before: The Republicans today rule in the minority, ignoring the majority when it comes to better wages, better schools, better environment, safer gun laws, stronger social aid...

Neither democracies nor republics can live without the accountability elected leaders owe their citizenry.

Right now, the only proper, the only SANE response relies on 108 million Americans who currently refuse to register to vote, either from apathy or fear.

The way gerrymandering works is through Republicans exploiting population gaps between dense urban/suburban areas - that lean liberal - and rural ones - that lean conservative - by packing most liberal (Dem) voters into one tight district and then spreading out shards of liberal voters into five or seven spread-out districts ranging across ten counties where the registered votes are few and far between.

They can get away with this because there are large enough percentages of the states' populations that are unregistered to vote (but could), so they can gauge where that 30-40 percent of non-voters are and plop them into those wide-ranging districts where they can be counted on to never show up.

So here's the deal, Americans. All 108 million of you need to register to vote, right now. Granted, under normal circumstances I'd suggest registering all as Democrats, but I dread that the GOP mapmakers will create algorithms that will just shove all those Dem voters into overloaded singular districts and leave eight districts sparsely GOP. Instead, I'll suggest mixing it up a bit, some of you register as Dems and the rest of you register as No-Party-Affiliate. Being a NPA should drive those computer modelling software crazy, because they can't determine that you're friend or foe. If a serious plurality of voters were No-Party, the GOP can't rely on creating "safe" districts out of you and run the risk of allowing their more extreme candidates alienating enough NPA voters to lose those districts.

The only way to defeat gerrymanders is through voters, lots of us, dedicated to the republic (not Republicans) and willing to overwhelm EVERY district with angry, disaffected no-party votes.

I need to hear from you 108 million by the end of July.

Get registered to vote.

Get ready to vote every Republican out of their goddamned gerrymandered seats.

The United States needs you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Still Vulgar

A columnist for the New York magazine came out Friday about getting sexually assaulted by donald trump years ago.

Before I discuss him, I must mention that there are two great handicaps to telling you what happened to me in Bergdorf’s: (a) The man I will be talking about denies it, as he has denied accusations of sexual misconduct made by at least 15 credible women, namely, Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson, and Cassandra Searles. (Here’s what the White House said:  “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”) And (b) I run the risk of making him more popular by revealing what he did...

Just look at the list of names E. Jean Carroll rattles off. She names 15 other women as credible witnesses to their own assaults at donald trump's - the Pussygrabber in Chief - hands. There are other accounts out there. Like all rapists and sexual predators, trump never stops at one...

There are several facts about what happens next that are so odd I want to clear them up before I go any further:
Did I report it to the police?
Did I tell anyone about it?
Yes. I told two close friends. The first, a journalist, magazine writer, correspondent on the TV morning shows, author of many books, etc., begged me to go to the police.
“He raped you,” she kept repeating when I called her. “He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.”
My second friend is also a journalist, a New York anchorwoman. She grew very quiet when I told her, then she grasped both my hands in her own and said, “Tell no one. Forget it! He has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.” (Two decades later, both still remember the incident clearly and confirmed their accounts to New York.)...
Why haven’t I “come forward” before now?
Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun. Also, I am a coward...

I am not going to describe the assault. It's too painful to read.

The whole episode lasts no more than three minutes. I do not believe he ejaculates. I don’t remember if any person or attendant is now in the lingerie department. I don’t remember if I run for the elevator or if I take the slow ride down on the escalator. As soon as I land on the main floor, I run through the store and out the door — I don’t recall which door — and find myself outside on Fifth Avenue...

I wrote this before the election:

We've known for some time Trump is lewd towards women - the number of stories about women fleeing from him in tears have been out there for decades - but this is in his own words. His own honest-to-God view of women as his objects of lust and acquisition.
He talks in the language of the rapist. Uncaring. Self-absolving. Everything justified because he's a "star" and he can do anything.
How is this abomination of a lifeform even allowed to go out in public to meet people?
I have friends who have endured sexual assaults, unwelcomed advances, moments even in public where guys attack them in variations of what Trump brags about doing (please note: TRUMP IS BRAGGING ABOUT THIS). As a guy who will never have to go through this hell, the best I can do is understand the pain my friends go through every time this shit happens to them, all because there are other guys out there who are sexual predator assholes who don't give a fuck about how women actually feel...
A vote for Trump is a vote for vile vulgarity. It is a vote against every woman who ever lived. It is a vote against every kind and decent thing any American has ever done for others.
Damn you forever if you vote for THAT...

And now it's 2019. People voted for that vulgarity in enough numbers to "win" a broken Electoral College. In 2017 we watched Republicans fall over themselves supporting an Alabama teen stalker in Roy Moore (self-appointed moralist and ex-judge) all because they loved sexual predators more than any Democrat.

And now we're getting more stories public - because of the public view AGAINST rape/assault victims makes it difficult for them to even report it when it happens - the mainstream media is shrugging this off. Not a single major newspaper ran with this story as front-page news. As though we've normalized the "reality" that trump is a goddamned rape monster.

We're living in a nation and a timeline where the political leadership is committing crimes - has committed crimes - and are simply allowed to get away with it because nobody wants the hassle of even bothering.

There are still 42 percent of American voters still willing to vote for this vulgarity.


I Know 2020 Is Coming Soon, I Just Wish We Had a Chance To Sleep In First Before the Primaries Overwhelm Us

I am loathing the non-stop cycle of the "Horse-Race" campaign coverage by the media, so coping with the incoming Democratic primary race is gonna hurt my soul.

Thing is, people are announcing now, have announced, and may still announce their candidacy for the 2020 primaries. So attention must be paid. Candidates must be scrutinized. And my predictions made utterly ridiculous early and often because most of the time I get the wrong impressions and back the wrong candidate. Sigh.

I'm also not thrilled about how 2016 ended up. The Republican primaries fell into madness thanks to a bullying and sadistic con artist in trump going up against a weak field that couldn't walk their rabid fanbase back from the cliff's edge. The Democratic primaries ended up a foregone conclusion of Hillary getting the nom but alienating a Far Left base that backed Bernie to the point that support for the Democrats floundered (it did not help that both the mainstream media - which hated Hillary - and Russian meddling crippled voter support in key states to twist an already-broken Electoral College to flip the election to trump).

 So here we are for 2020, facing the horror of trump being in solid position - despite his own mismanaged administration alienating enough voters - to win re-election (stop screaming, everybody) if the Dems fail to raise voter support again.

If there's any good news, voter turnout in the 2018 midterms hints at increased voter turnout in 2020... as long as media manipulation by the Russians and Hillary-haters doesn't depress it again. But the Democrats need to ensure they nominate a more popular figure than Hillary (even I admitted back in 2016 that Hillary wasn't well-liked... I just believed and hoped she was more well-liked than trump). The good news on that front is that so far nearly every Democratic candidate throwing their hat into the ring are more popular than trump (polling in the 50s while trump flounders around 40 percent).

So who exactly are the candidates (listed alphabetically with highest government office) worth our time and support, America?

By the by, David A Graham at the Atlantic is running a 2020 cheat sheet for candidates, so do keep up with his input please and thanks:

Michael Bennet: Senator, Colorado
Role as: The Guy Running as a Centrist From a State That's Turning Into an Up-and-Coming Progressive Hotbed
If Bennet Wins the Nomination: He had to beat his way past a lot of better-known White guys on the national stage, as well as win over enough Far Left voters who'll be wary of his Establishment creds.
Bennet Can Win It All If: He can get out of the second-tier rut that career political guys like him get stuck in. Right now, he's best suited to be a viable Vice-Presidential choice due to geographic necessity (there hasn't been a Democrat on the major ticket as Prez or Veep that far West since 1964). Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Joe Biden: Vice-President, Delaware
Role as: The Savior Candidate That the Beltway Likes And Then Will Immediately Humiliate Five Minutes Later To Enhance Their "Bipartisan" Cred
If Biden Wins the Nomination: The Progressive Left BernieBros will throw a conniption that he crashed into Bernie's "victory" parade.
Biden Can Win It All If: he can genuinely keep the factions in the Democratic ranks aligned to him, avoid the pitfalls of his constant faux pas screwups, and... and... Sigh. Not gonna happen. Seriously, Joe. Just stay on the sidelines like you did in 2016. You're in a safe spot as Party Elder. Getting into a Presidential campaign you've NEVER shown skill-sets for is a bad idea. You're committing a serious faux pas now regarding your misguided belief that Republicans are bipartisan at heart (NO THEY ARE NOT). Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Cory Booker: Senator, New Jersey
Role as: Obama Part II
If Booker Wins the Nomination: It means he ended up as the compromise candidate between the party faction who fear Bernie would be too socialist and the party faction who fear another woman candidate like Warren or Harris will scare away the general election voters.
Booker Can Win It All If: He genuinely impresses during the primaries as a consensus candidate able to stand as a strong Liberal candidate able to win Progressives to his side. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Steve Bullock: Governor, Montana
Role as: Centrist Dem From a Small Population State
If Bullock Wins the Nomination: It means he won over voters with his Western, small-state populism that may work in rural communities but comes across the urban voting base as uncomfortable Centrism.
Bullock Can Win It All If: Doubtful. I think he's not even invited to the debates, which is sick. In previous election cycles a Governor - especially over amateurs like a motivational speaker - would get invited no matter what. He'll be lucky to be on the VP short list at this rate. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Pete Buttigieg: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Role as: That Straight Gay Guy from College who was best friends with your girlfriend but kept it low-key with you at gatherings so it never felt weird one way or the other
If Butiegig Wins the Nomination: It means he won over voters with his Mayor Pete persona and a genuine charisma that rivals Obama's.
Buttiegig Can Win It All If: If can get past voters' squeamishness for a candidate with... no national political leadership (looks at motherfucking trump and shakes head). Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Julian Castro: Secretary of Commerce, Texas
Role as: That High School President Guy whose obvious law school future kinda made him act like a self-centered jerk but he was the one who came through with hiring the garage band for that house party so we're cool with it
If Castro Wins the Nomination: It means he outbid Mayor Pete in the charisma department and outlasted Biden, fellow Texan Beto, and others to the "Heir to Obama" title, as well as getting past the Progressive base wary of anybody who's been deep with the party Establishment as long as he has.
Castro Can Win It All If: He can convince Texas to flip Blue while keeping the 2012 Blue states aligned to the Democrats. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Bill DeBlasio: Mayor, New York
Role as: The Guy Ripping Off Other People's Roles (c'mon boss, Buttigieg beat you to the "Mayor" clique weeks earlier)
If DeBlasio Wins the Nomination: It would cause the Republicans to create fake "Law And Order" ads accusing DeBlasio of committing ALL the crimes in New York City since 1990. Ding Ding!
DeBlasio Can Win It All If: He can convince enough Americans he's done a good job of running the largest city in the United States - which he kind of hasn't - and deserves a shot running the country: Thing is, I don't think he can win re-election in NYC right now anyway. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

John Delaney: Congressman, Maryland
Role as: I Have No Idea
If Delaney Wins the Nomination: I Have No Idea other than the Russians DID hack the elections again.
Delaney Can Win It All If: Is he even invited to the preliminary debates coming up?! I have no idea...

Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman, Hawaii
Role as: Insane Sorority Girl Who Sent That Crazy Email
If Gabbard Wins the Nomination: It'll be due to her Syrian buddies hacking the elections as well as the Russians.
Gabbard Can Win It All If: Are you joking? She's actually the least-liked candidate - due to her odd foreign policy stances - on the board. When you're the Either/Or punchline to pop-up Twitter polls with DeBlasio or Bernie, that's never a good sign. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Senator, New York
Role as: The Hillary Replacement (literally) who doesn't have the same baggage Hillary had
If Gillibrand Wins the Nomination: It will be with a party divided between the pro-business Centrists - coming from New York, she kind of can't avoid that - and the socialist Progressives who might view her as just another Establishment figure who "stole" the rightful nomination from You-Know-Who.
Gillibrand Can Win It All If: She can get out of Hillary's shadow in more ways than one and make the goddamn mainstream media give up their disdain of women candidates for the White House. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Kamala Harris: Senator, California
Role as: Stern Neighborhood Mom who ran the PTA but kept the Bible Thumpers from burning everyone's Harry Potter books
If Harris Wins the Nomination: It means she won over voters with her tough-seeming stances and confident campaign style (and probably enough Dems hoping she'll physically punch trump in the mouth first chance she gets). But she's going to have to get past the Progressives who view her background as a hard-charging prosecutor as a detriment rather than view her current calls for reforms as "evolved."
Harris Can Win It All If: The goddamn mainstream media gives up their disdain of women candidates for the White House. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

John Hickenlooper: Governor, Colorado
Role as: That Poor Guy Who Has to Fill Out Legal Forms That Don't Leave Enough Space for Long Last Names
If Hickenlooper Wins the Nomination: the bumper stickers are going to have to be twice as long than usual.
Hickenlooper Can Win It All If: It means he had to beat back a fellow Colorado candidate hogging airspace as well as a field of better-known political figures on the national stage. All joking aside about his name, Hickenlooper is a competent candidate but also the kind that ends up being a second-tier player who usually ends up on the winner's Cabinet roster (and if he's from the Rocky Mountains, that's usually the Interior posting). Sorry. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Jay Inslee: Governor, Washington
Role as: That West Coast Guy Nobody's Heard Of Who Might Make a Decent Veep Candidate but probably won't
If Inslee Wins the Nomination: It means his agenda on sticking to a Climate Change/Eco-Friendly campaign won over the voters.
Inslee Can Win It All If: He adds on Warren's multilevel platform as a broad agenda to win over enough voters to a relative unknown. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Amy Klobucher: Senator, Minnesota
Role as: That Cool Sheriff from the movie Fargo
If Klobucher Wins the Nomination: Her homestyle persona won over voters despite not getting enough attention to her issues.
Klobucher Can Win It All if: The goddamn mainstream media gives up their disdain of women candidates for the White House. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Wayne Messam: Mayor of Miramar, Florida
Role as: Florida Man
If Messam Wins the Nomination: I think the rest of the nation will officially saw the Sunshine State off of the map like Bugs Bunny only for reals this time.
Messam Can Win It All If: Hnnnnn, don't make me laugh. I'm from Florida and even I know this is crazy. He's not making the first debates and nobody on the national level will ever recognize who he is. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Seth Moulton: Congressman, I forgot the state
Role as: Tim Ryan's Scapegoat
If Moulton Wins the Nomination: It means people forgot he tried taking down Pelosi as Speaker of the House and failed miserably.
Moulton Can Win It All If: He can't. He came at the Queen and missed. Nobody at the national stage thinks of him as a player. He missed the debate cutoff, that's how little support he has. He's probably not even on anyone's VP list. I doubt the Russians will hack any election for him.

Beto O'Rourke: Congressman, Texas
Role as: The Lead Guitarist for That Cool Garage Band from your high school/college days that never hit it big, damn the record companies
If O'Rourke Wins the Nomination: He could guarantee flipping Texas blue in 2020 (he barely lost in a midterm, when turnout is habitually lower). But he's got to run on solid Democratic (read: Liberal) platforms. And right now, his policy ideas aren't impressing...
O'Rourke Can Win It All If: he can translate the media love for his charisma into voter support for his centrist track record. But it's unlikely given how often Beto is putting his own foot in his mouth. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Tim Ryan: Congressman, Ohio
Role as: Passive-Aggressive Middle Manager at the corporate office
If Ryan Wins the Nomination: Doubtful. His highest-profile moment had been a palace coup - along with Moulton - to unseat Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker after Dems retook the House in the Midterms. He's not exactly Mr. Popular within his own party. His only saving grace is coming from a key battleground state - Ohio - that makes him a player on the national stage.
Ryan Can Win It All If: He can convince the Democrats and enough Indy/Republican voters his Centrist "Bring Back Jobs" Message can win voters. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Bernie Sanders: Senator, Vermont
Role as: Your Uncle Who Doesn't Understand Why Nobody Wants to Talk About 1970s-style Euro-Socialism at the family barbecue.
If Sanders Wins the Nomination: You're going to hear a lot of Hillary voters complaining before physically holding their noses to vote for him in November
Sanders Can Win It All If: He can convince enough Hillary voters to forgive him the various backstab moves he'd pulled in 2016 - and is pulling now - and to forgive his rabid and tone-deaf base who obsessively hate Centrists more than they do the Far Right. Problem is, of the major candidates Sanders is the one with the most baggage and the most polarizing hate. As much as Progressive turnout for Hillary fizzled, there's a risk of Centrist Democrat/Indy fizzle if Bernie embarrasses or insults them as a bloc. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Elizabeth Warren: Senator, Massachusetts
Role as: The College Prof with the reading syllabus that actually rocks
If Warren Wins the Nomination: The Republicans and the Beltway media will play it up as yet another Northeastern Liberal Elitist (not to mention trump and the GOP likely bashing Warren over her questionable Native ancestry claim from years ago), but it would signal another genuine attempt for Dems to elect a woman President, this time with a candidate with stronger progressive values (and positive polling numbers) than the less-liked Hillary.
Warren Can Win It All If: the goddamn mainstream media gives up their disdain of women candidates for the White House. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Marianne Williamson: Motivational Speaker, Somewhere
Role as: Seriously?
If Williamson Wins the Nomination: It's because the choice came down between her and Gabbard.
Williamson Can Win It All If: Ahem. Lemme go straight to the punchline. Also if the Russians don't hack the elections again.

Andrew Yang: Businessman, New York
Role as: A Technocrat with a single-issue platform and no political power base or national profile
If Yang Wins the Nomination: It would be insane. Granted, he's not as evil as trump, but you'd think the Democratic voting base still cares for such priorities as EXPERIENCE for the job, fer crissakes.
Yang Can Win It All If: The Russians don't hack the elections again.

Did I miss anybody? (Joe Sestack hops into the ring yesterday) OH FUCK YOU I AIN'T REWRITING THIS FOR THE UPTEENTH TIME. This is it, the list for 2020. OKAY?! Okay.


I am pining for a Harris victory for several reasons - I agree on her education platform of paying teachers better, which plays into both stronger jobs-based economy AND improving our schools - and have Warren - who's got a plan for that - as my favorite back-up choice. I'm not a fan of Bernie - obviously - but I will vote for him if he wins because trump is evil. I'm not a fan of Biden - man, I keep telling you just stick to the Mentor role you're good at - but will vote for him because trump is evil. I'm kinda saying that for any Democratic nominee... but I do hope the final candidate is a competent, multipurposed and positive figure able to draw more than 50 percent of the electorate to vote Democratic across the board in 2020.

But I'm hoping beyond anything else that the confirmed Democratic ticket is a Harris/Warren or Warren/Harris match. YES. An all-woman ticket. BECAUSE FUCK YOU, INCEL GAMERGATE HATERS. Ahem.

Here's hoping the Russians don't hack the debates as well as the elections.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Czechs Know What To Do With Corrupt Fraudsters In Their Government

This crazy thing has been happening in Europe over the last few months, and it's gone big (via Lenka Ponikelska  and Peter Laca at Bloomberg):

Czechs took to the streets in the biggest protests since the fall of communism, demanding that billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis resign over allegations of conflict of interest and a criminal fraud case involving European Union funds.
Organizers said about 250,000 people rallied against the minority government on Sunday in Prague’s Letna park, scene of the largest rallies that toppled communist rule 30 years ago. It was a culmination of two months of protests against Babis, who has denounced the accusations as an attempt by his opponents to derail his political career. Police estimated the crowd at 200,000.
The protesters, many of whom traveled from the far-flung reaches of the central European country, waved EU and Czech flags and banners reading “Resign.” Public transportation strained under the pressure of people arriving to the site near the Prague castle. Student activists organizing the rallies say the premier is unfit to stay in the office because of the mounting scandals.
“We can’t accept a prime minister who’s facing a criminal investigation and is in such a fundamental conflict of interest,” Benjamin Roll, one of the organizers, told the crowd. “We’ve had enough.”
Babis is facing potential criminal charges over allegations that a company he once owned illegally obtained about $2 million worth of EU aid last decade. Also, a preliminary report from the European Commission found Babis in conflict of interest because, despite having put his agriculture, media and chemical business empire in trusts, he has influence over EU funds they may receive...

Sound a little familiar, America? Yeah, this is a lot like trump... and also the likes of other rich businessmen who turned to politics to expand their corruption.

We've allowed ourselves to get blinded by the media mythologizing of the genius CEOs, the brilliant lies of deregulation and tax cuts, and allowed far too many con artists into political offices they have no right serving.

But there is a way to fight back against this corruption, when it's all said and done.

You can stand up - like they're doing in Prague, and what they're doing in Istanbul as well - and say "No."

You can recognize the crooks - right now, that's Republicans with their Godawful tax giveaway to their rich buddies - for what they do, what they take from us, and tell them "No more."

You can vote them out of office. That's all it takes. Show up at the ballot, and do your damnedest to make sure your vote counts, and that the bastards are all gone by the end of the day.

Stand up, America. They're doing it across the globe now, against the corrupt powers in high places, and we need to stand up as well.

This Is Happening Right Now We Are Killing Children In trump's Concentration Camps (w/ Update)


It seems trump and his Latino-bashing lackeys have doubled down on the sadism (via Caitlin Dickerson at the New York Times):

A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.
Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.
Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap...

This is part and parcel of an inhumane immigration policy that's been in place since the Reagan administration and left to rot ourselves from the inside (via Ken White at The Atlantic):

The government’s “safe and sanitary” argument did not arise from a new case generated by Trump administration policies. It arose in 1985, during the Reagan administration, when a 15-year-old El Salvadoran child named Jenny Lisette Flores was detained after entering the United States illegally, hoping to escape her country’s vicious civil war. Flores spent two months at a facility in California, confined with adult strangers in poor conditions and strip-searched regularly. In July 1985, she and three other minors brought a class action against what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service, challenging its policies for the care and confinement of minors.
In 1997, after a dozen years of litigation, the parties settled the lawsuit in what became known as the “Flores Agreement.” The Flores Agreement requires, among other things, that the government hold minors in facilities that are “safe and sanitary” and that they be released from confinement without delay whenever possible...
...The United States’s loathsome argument—that it is “safe and sanitary” to confine children without soap, toothbrushes, dry clothes, and on concrete under bright lights—is morally indefensible. It’s also a spectacularly foolish argument to raise in the famously liberal Ninth Circuit, where the United States should have expected exactly the reception that it got. And even though the litigation began under the Obama administration, it was the Trump administration that elected to bring this appeal and ask the court to bless these inhumane conditions as “safe and sanitary.” That’s an extremely aggressive legal argument, and one that suggests that the disturbing conditions being reported at confinement centers are intentional, not a sign of mere neglect...

And trump, deal maker that he thinks he is, is trying to use all of this (again) to wrangle concessions from an increasingly angry Democratic House.

I say fuck him and his whole racist administration. What trump is doing here - violating human rights as guaranteed by treaty and the 14th Amendment - rises to impeachable offenses, just like twenty other criminal acts he keeps committing every GODDAMN DAY.

And while we're yelling and screaming about trump STILL breaking up families and detaining children in sickening conditions, we've got Republicans and conservative pundits arguing over the "misuse" of the word "concentration" when describing trump's Concentration Camps. They're trying to get us to debate semantics while PEOPLE ARE DYING IN THOSE HELLHOLES.


Update: Doctor compares conditions at these concentration camps to "torture facilities." Goddamn you, each and every Republican signing off on this inhumane treatment OF CHILDREN.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Fixing Inequality in 2019 Means Reparations. Deal With It

It's been awhile since I've brought up one of the big influencers in my political worldview, Ta-Nehisi Coates. But he showed up today at a Congressional hearing about reparations - one of his most important essays and probably one of the biggest political calls to action in the last ten years - and he pretty much dropped a bomb on one of the worst men in the universe Mitch McConnell.

It is impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery. As historian Ed Baptist has written, enslavement “shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics of America,” so that by 1836, more than 600 million, or more than half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd slaves. By the time the enslaved were emancipated, they comprised the largest single asset in America: 3 billion in 1860 dollars, more than all the other assets in the country combined. The method of cultivating this asset was neither gentle cajoling, nor persuasion, but torture, rape, and child trafficking. Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores. When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror. A campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement. But the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy respects no such borders. And the God of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs, coup d’etats and convict leasing; vagrancy laws and debt peonage; redlining and racist G.I. bills; poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism. We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama, and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited Civil Rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago, and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the Majority Leader. What they know, what this committee must know, is that while emancipation dead-bolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open. And that is the thing about Sen. McConnell’s “something”: it was 150 years ago and it was right now. The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women, and there is of course the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.
The matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress, but it is also a question of citizenship. In H.R. 40, this body has a chance to both make good on its 2009 apology for enslavement, and reject fair-weather patriotism. To say that a nation is both its credits and its debts. That if Thomas Jefferson matters, so does Sally Hemings. That if D-Day matters, so does black Wall Street. That if Valley Forge matters, so does Fort Pillow. Because the question really is, not whether we will be tied to the “somethings” of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them...

We are in 2019 facing major economic problems. Housing is unaffordable for almost half the population, much of them in poverty and many of them minorities. Income inequality is making more people poorer than ever before. When many Americans base their income on their homes - except for the uber-rich, who base it on stock market dividends - we can't ignore the damage being done to ourselves when we can't even afford a decent two-bedroom home to either buy or rent.

A strong argument can be made - HAS BEEN MADE - tying racism to poverty. This nation needs to break the cycle of poverty that has been haunting us for generations, and to do that we need to break the cycle of racism that's been feeding that poverty for the last 250 years.

Reparations matter. We can't avoid the argument anymore. And the United States needs to resolve this. Before we have no more homes, no more neighborhoods, no more communities worth a damn thing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Penny For My Thoughts Because I'm Out of Pocket Change

Like I've written earlier, I can't understand why people think our economy's gotten better since the Great Recession. Far too many of us are living paycheck to paycheck and weighed under by too much debt.

Even FORBES Magazine is taking notice (via Peter Georgesceu):

Ostensibly, for the past ten years, our economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we’re back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.
The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn’t exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That’s 45 million people...

If we link to that Nation article by Rejan Menon, we get more details:

For a fuller picture of American (in)security, however, it’s necessary to delve deeper into the relevant data, starting with hourly wages, which are the way more than 58 percent of adult workers are paid. The good news: Only 1.8 million, or 2.3 percent of them, subsist at or below minimum wage. The not-so-good news: One-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42 percent earn less than $15. That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.
The problem facing the working poor isn’t just low wages, but the widening gap between wages and rising prices. The government has increased the hourly federal minimum wage more than 20 times since it was set at 25 cents under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Between 2007 and 2009 it rose to $7.25, but over the past decade that sum lost nearly 10 percent of its purchasing power to inflation, which means that, in 2018, someone would have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage...
Take the poverty gap, which the OECD defines as the difference between a country’s official poverty line and the average income of those who fall below it. The United States has the second-largest poverty gap among wealthy countries; only Italy does worse...

No nation can honestly maintain itself under this kind of income inequality. At some point, the financial scams at the top can't find any more suckers, and the debt consumes itself (this is what happened with the housing speculation in 2007-08 causing the Great Recession). At some point, the public frustration at being constantly in debt will erupt.

The United States has been separate from the rest of the world when it comes to this kind of oppressive economic decay. Most other countries would have broken out the pitchforks and Molotov Cocktails by now. But in the U.S., we've been able to hide from the economic despair by leaving most of the class warfare to revolve around Race instead of Poverty (despite all the Progressives thinking our class struggle is economic, all of the violent moments in American history have been over racism SEE Tulsa, Rosewood, Japanese internment, Jim Crow and Slavery eras, etc).

But sooner or later, the corrupt minority rule of Republican oligarchs - who are suppressing voters by ethnicity, gender, and youth - worried more about their goddamned tax cuts than good wages for mos workers cannot contain the anger that's brewing. trump can siphon off that rage to confuse his voting base into blaming Illegals for all their ills, but what happens when the boogeymen are gone and the oligarchs are still raking in our wages? How many Latinos and Blacks and feminists are you gonna blame for your $7.65 an hour paycheck (without health benefits) before you realize it's your $21 million a year CEO ripping you off with wage theft?

If voters were genuinely rising up over "economic anxiety" they'd be in the streets demanding $15 an hour minimum wage, caps on CEO pay, ending the GOP 2017 Tax Cut Disaster that made income inequality worse, and relief for majority of Americans regarding college/health care/homeowner debts.

They sure as hell wouldn't be voting for the Tax-Cheat-in-Chief and his Republican buddies.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Give Me a Minute Here to Rant And Panic about trump... AGAIN

Just to get this bit out of the way (from the Daily Beast):

President Trump on Saturday predicted a stock market crash “the likes of which has not been seen before” if he doesn’t win re-election in 2020. “The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT.” The president’s comments came shortly after he hyped up the upcoming launch of his campaign at a Florida rally on Tuesday. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the success of the U.S. stock market depends on him remaining in the White House, though data from Macrotrends suggests the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been about average under him compared to its performance under former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, according to Bloomberg.

Scaremongering motherfucker. The stock markets keep crashing every time trump launches another reckless tariff. The Dow is gonna crash if trump stays in the White House.

Does the Shitgibbon believe that if he's kicked out and a Democrat comes in, every billionaire and investment firm is going to have a conniption and commit financial suicide? HELL NO. They didn't do that when Clinton entered office in 1993 and the markets were already coping with their self-inflicted Great Recession by 2009 when Obama took the oath.

That's because the REAL BILLIONAIRES aren't that petty. Even if a Warren or Sanders wins in 2020, much of Wall Street knows they've got enough going on to keep themselves racking up more millions. Anything a Democratic President can whip up towards regulating their industry, they can delay in the courts long enough to figure out new loopholes.

This is just trump bluffing and bullying... AGAIN.

Because the 2020 campaigning is starting up... AGAIN.

And the internal polling numbers are not favoring trump... AGAIN (Via Raw Story's Matt Chapman):

On Saturday, The Nation writer John Nichols told MSNBC that President Donald Trump’s new internal polls showing him losing key states are “devastating” — and show why his path to re-election may be slipping out of his grasp.
“I would just emphasize these polls are more than a wake-up call. They’re pretty devastating numbers,” said Nichols. “We can get excited about a close race in Texas or even some good numbers out of Florida. But remember that for Donald Trump, the key is the Great Lakes states.”
“What these internal polls tell us parallels what we’re seeing from publicly done polling in those regions,” said Nichols. “Two things very significant. Number one, there is an energized Democratic base, more energized, it appears, than 2016. And additionally one subset of this that’s a really big deal, major issue for Trump, and that is that in the rural areas where Democrats severely underperformed in 2016, it’s what we are seeing in the public polls and I suspect top line numbers from what we’re seeing in other places suggest we’re seeing rural areas begin to tick back up for Democrats going to that 40 percent number.”

The Blue Wave of 2018 - Democrats voting in sheer anger over the travesty of 2016's results - shows no sign of abating. Voter projections suggest the biggest turnout in 40 years, with about two-thirds of registered voters (67 percent) showing up at the ballot box. (Psst, larger voter turnout favors Dems)

Combine this with the consistent negative polling trump has generated - never cracking 50 percent popularity, mostly hovering above 40 percent like clinging to a lifeline - combined with the reality that the top Democratic candidates are more likable than Hillary - dammit, you haters - and there's a solid chance that trump will be another One-Termer like Carter and Bush the Lesser.

NOTE: I did write in 2017 about the only polling number that mattered was the insanely - and artificially - high positive numbers trump was getting from the GOP voters. But that was over whether or not the rest of the Republican leadership would rein in or punish trump for his follies. Now we're going into an election cycle, where everybody - especially Independent voters who've soured on trump's rule - is in play.

This sort of good news HAS to be tempered by certain realities: 1) Polling is still not an exact science, 2) This doesn't reflect the realities of GOP Voter Suppression efforts, 3) Putin and Russia are primed to hack the 2020 Elections... AGAIN, 4) Never underestimate the Democratic Party's ability to rend itself over the Far Left's obsession with perfection (yes I am looking at you again, BernieBros) 5) The Electoral College is still fucking broken.

Let's just say that in spite of all the bad possibilities, trump loses in 2020. That trump still gets at best the 42 percent of voters from 2016, while the popular Democrat - Biden, or Sanders, or Harris (squee), or Warren (squee) - gets close to 50 percent. That 8 percent difference in voters HAS to translate into winning battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin that Hillary lost (in some cases by less than .01 of the votes).

I mean, here's a 2020 map from that has the Democratic candidate winning most of the closest-contested states:

What 2016 should have been...

If we want to include the states where trump eked out wins within 2 to 5 percent, have them flip to the Democrats, the map might look like this:

I grant the likelihood of other close states like Missouri staying Red, I just want to feel better
about Florida flipping back to Blue...
At the furthest extreme, where it's a Hell Yes Blowout with Democrats winning as many states as possible, the map will look like this:

And no, I'm not going to go crazy about thinking EVERY state will flip Blue. This isn't 1984 or 1972 or 1936 where a combination of factors led to such Electoral blowouts. We're too partisan in geographic areas now. What that third map reflects is the most likely result of both the oncoming demographic shifts that terrify the Republicans into voter suppression AND the growing evidence that trump is scaring off the suburban voters. One or two of these states might be wrong - you could trade Georgia perhaps with Missouri, Kansas may still be tribalistic in supporting the GOP, stuff like that - but there's a legitimate trend for Texas and Georgia slipping away, and it's only a matter of time (Republican voters are older and dying, Democratic voters are younger and registering to vote) with the possibility trump is accelerating the demographic shifts.

So, in all three scenarios, how do you think trump will react?

We already know how he was going to react in 2016 if he had lost: He was openly campaigning he would decry the results, claim Hillary cheated, refuse to concede.

In 2020, trump would be worse.

It wouldn't matter if the elections were close or a blowout, trump would never accept it because trump can never admit losing. He'll do everything before - like arresting candidates, disrupting Democratic campaigns, straight up attacks - and after the election - bullying the states into recounting ballots to HIS satisfaction, more arrests, more attacks - to get the results he wants.

What happens then depends mostly on the rest of the Republican Party leadership (and any Red state GOP leaders who are able to do the dirty work). The guys like Mitch McConnell, who by the by is facing re-election in 2020. If they win, they can afford to let trump wither on the vine, because McConnell will retain his Senate powers (it may be unlikely the Republicans retake the House, but if they do... Gods help us) and be free of the headache trump has been. If they lose, they have nothing else to lose but join in his fight to overthrow the voters' wishes.

Even if the unlikely happens - every state votes Democratic, every Electoral College vote goes Blue - trump and the Republicans will never accept it. A combination of denial - they genuinely believe they represent the majority when in fact they're not - and lust for power - the Republicans fear a dominant Democratic government and worry they can't keep obstructing forever.

It's vital that every American vote. It's important that enough Americans vote AGAINST the corruption of the Republican Party and the disaster that is trump.

But don't think this will be a clean fight. The Republicans have been mudslinging for decades now, dragged everything into the mudpit, and willing to commit even worse sins in order to seize power that has never been theirs.

trump is threatening to make this 2020 Election a bloody affair. THAT'S probably the most honest thing he ever says.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

History Repeats As Racist Tragedy

Jesus. Under trump's administration, we're not only doomed to repeat the worst parts of our nation's history, it's like trump and his cronies are intentionally going out of their way to be assholes. Look at what they're planning to do next to asylum-seeking families now (via Chelsia Rose Marcius at the Daily Beast):

The Trump administration plans to use an Oklahoma Army base that previously served as a Japanese internment camp to hold a growing number of migrant children, Time reports. About 1,400 children who are in U.S. custody will reportedly be placed at Fort Sill, a 150-year-old military base previously used to house hundreds of Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps during World War II. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the base will be used “as a temporary emergency influx shelter” to alleviate the influx at other facilities. The U.S. government operates about 168 facilities and programs in 23 states. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that it has detained approximately 40,900 children from the beginning of the year through April 30—a 57 percent increase from last year.

We're seeing an influx of immigrants and asylum-seekers at our borders because of various reasons: Growing gang violence in Central American nations, ongoing drought in Guatemala, problems that just make it unsafe/unhealthy for families to stay.

Yet here's the modern Republican Party showing absolutely no awareness, no sympathy, no realization that the last three years of vicious behavior hasn't scared off Latinos, no concern that there are more humane ways to handle the overflow than shoving thousands of honest-to-God families in need of help into cramped, lethal conditions.

We're basically jailing kids for being alive.

We're basically allowing the Republicans to bring back the internment camp horrors of the 1940s, to where Japanese Americans (some of them still alive from those years) are reacting in anger.

We're basically building our own version of concentration camps. Yeah, I went there. BECAUSE WE ARE, DAMN US.

Adam Serwer's article should be read every morning as a reminder of how sadistic the Republican Party has become.

The Cruelty IS the Point.

Personal News: The Latest Story Is Published!

On a personal note, Strangely Funny VI is now out, containing my latest short story "How a Vampire Gets a Tan." I got the print copy from the publishers today!

If you want, please do purchase a copy (also available as eBook!) through Amazon. Please also leave reviews because it will be nice to hear feedback not just for my story but all the other authors included in the anthology. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

What Florida Republicans Want: No More Voters

If we return our attention to the state level, we'll note that the Republicans have decided to give up on the people and take more power unto themselves.

For example: Passing legislation to make it harder for Florida voters to pass their own amendments. Via Lawrence Mower at the Tampa Bay Times:

 Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday approved legislation that would crack down on citizen petitions, a move that is likely to quash future ballot initiatives disliked by Republican lawmakers and corporate donors.
The bill, which takes effect before the 2020 election, makes it drastically harder to collect enough signatures to make it onto voters’ ballots.
And it will solidify Republican control in Tallahassee by eliminating one of the last threats to their power: the ballot box...

The Republicans have garnered political control of the Sunshine State ever since the demographic/party shifts that changed everything in the 1990s. After the last elected Democratic governor in Lawton Chiles passed away, everything went to the GOP. Even though a solid majority of voters remain Democratic... even as the voter shifts of the last ten years away from Far Right dogma are causing cracks in GOP domination.

The clearest sign of those cracks was the Amendment referendum process. Unable to break the GOP's control of the legislature via gerrymandering, the center-left population have resorted to petition-driven referendums to create State Constitutional Amendments - like anti-gerrymander rules, medical marijuana, funding for clean water and wetlands protection, classroom size limits to stop overcrowding poorer schools - that the conservative legislators can't ignore (well, actually they do, but it stops them from passing laws that would hew further Right Wing). Back to Mower:

What the legislation is sure to do, however, is stifle the last area outside of statewide Republican control in Florida.
Republicans have dominated the Legislature, Cabinet and governor’s mansion for the last 20 years, and every member of the state Supreme Court has now been appointed by Republicans.
But liberal groups and others have seen some success getting their priorities into law by proposing amendments to the state Constitution.
Over the last several years, at least 60 percent of voters have changed the Constitution to require the Legislature adopt fair voter districts, allow medical marijuana, protect environmental lands and restore the right to vote for felons.
And more amendments are on the way — or were on the way before DeSantis signed the bill Friday...

Republicans have fought every measure that a supermajority of Florida voters supported - which has to include a sizable number of fellow Republicans - because they don't fit their agenda of tax cuts, social aid cuts, school funding cuts, and aggressive land development for their rich construction buddies.

Referendums proposed for the coming 2020 ballot included a Minimum Wage ballot to fight the 20-year-plus stagnation of wages for every non-CEO worker, an "Energy Choice" option to break the monopolistic practices of the regional utilities, a statewide ban on military-grade assault rifles commonly used in mass shootings, a separate Universal Background Check amendment, an Open Primary system similar to California's that had all parties as a primary choice (meaning a district could have TWO Republicans in the final election or TWO Democrats in the final, meaning the extremists don't have safe seats either way), a Medicaid Expansion (which the state GOP definitely doesn't want to do), and Taco Trucks On Every Corner okay I made that last one up, but the rest of them are real. Follow that link to Ballotpedia to see more.

Those are issues that matter to the voting public, and things that a supermajority - 60 percent of voters - might want the state government to do.

But none of them are things the Florida Republicans want. They openly refuse to pass laws supporting ANY of that already, because each one offends a lobby group they rely on for campaign funding and future cushy no-show jobs.

They're also terrified of some of the election reform amendments that could pass that would break the Minority Rule they now inflict on the state. Florida Republicans rule without accountability, refusing to answer to the cries of local residents screaming for financial aid to cover feeding their kids and paying for schools and keeping roofs over their heads. The state GOP doesn't want to do anything about regional ecological disasters like toxic algae that are clearly man-made from Big Sugar and overdevelopment consuming our wetlands

You see, Florida Republicans are making too much money off of all that. So rather than do what the majority (most Florida residents) wants - clean water, safe schools, healthy families - the state GOP will indulge the minority's (the Obscenely Rich) whims.

What Florida Republicans want is for Florida Voters to sit down and shut up, FOREVER.

This should be as obvious a sign to my fellow Floridians why we needed to stop voting Republican the last eleven years I've been screaming that, and why we all need to stop NOW on voting Republican ever again. Our rights are getting bled dry, one cut at a time, while Republicans feast on our bones and keep us caged. As of today, the only power we have left is the power to VOTE EVERY REPUBLICAN OUT OF OFFICE. For the LOVE of GOD and HUMANITY, that's the one thing WE NEED TO DO.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Anniversary: 75 Years After D-Day

On June 6, 1944, a Great Crusade by the Allies of World War II landed across the beaches of Normandy.

It was the official beginning of the Western front against Nazi Germany, an attempt to push out their occupation of France.

I've written about General Eisenhower's Second Letter before, but here's the one he issued to the troops, exhorting them to victory in the name of a free world.

So to the Free French forces who fought to liberate their home:

So to the British who fought to defend all bagpipers:

So to the Canadians who didn't get the glory but delivered the most ass-kicking:

And to the Americans who bore the heaviest brunt at Omaha Beach:

We the future generations after that war salute you.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Anniversary: Thirty Years Later, Tiananmen Remains a Unfulfilled Promise

Back in 1989, by this date June 4, the democracy protests in China had been going on for a month or so.

A combination of college-age, labor groups, and retired Chinese had gathered in key spots - eventually joining up in the major center of Beijing called Tiananmen Square - demanding political reforms to coincide with the economic reforms the post-Maoist government was trying to implement during the 1980s.

It went along with a growing protest movement in Eastern Europe, where Soviet Russian control was slipping away as Gorbachev's government could no longer afford the massive military and political buildup of the Soviet Bloc.

For a month, the Chinese leadership tried their best to keep a lid on it all, but international media coverage made that impossible, and the Communist regime itself had fissures between reformists and statists vying for control of the whole government.

By June 4, someone along the official chain of command decided "Fuck it," and unleashed the Army into Tiananmen Square.

The official accounts minimized the casualties. The unofficial accounts put the death toll in the thousands.

It led to the China we know today: An economic powerhouse that's also a massive prison for its own citizenry. The facts of that massacre are constantly whitewashed and censored (I bet this minor little blog has been blocked. My librarian blog, however, gets a lot of Chinese spam so who knows...). The few places in China that know the truth - Hong Kong, which was under British rule in 1989 for example - are forced to keep a lid on their outrage.

This is the world that China sees anymore (via AP News):

Dissidents silenced. Security tightened. References scrubbed from the internet.
China went into customary lockdown Tuesday for the 30th anniversary of the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, a telling reminder of the ruling Communist Party’s emphasis in the ensuing three decades since on stability above all.
Extra checkpoints and street closures greeted tourists who showed up before 5 a.m. to watch the daily flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square, the main gathering point for the 1989 protests. People overseas found themselves blocked from posting anything to a popular Chinese social media site.
The seven-week-long Tiananmen Square protests and their bloody end — hundreds if not thousands of people are believed to have died — snuffed out a tentative shift toward political liberalization. Thirty years later, social restrictions such as family size and where people can live have been loosened, but political freedom remains for the most part strictly controlled with little prospect for change...

There is a terrible conflict at play here. China's international role is growing - unavoidable due to being the largest populated nation on the planet, its military strength, its economic engines - but its accountability to the world hampered by its own paranoia and sadism.

China's failures at openness makes it difficult to be trusted as an economic partner, even as other Pacific Rim and Asian countries - Japan, Australia, Canada, South American nations, India - are forced to deal with them to keep their own trade deals and economies running well. (I'd include the United States in this argument but trump's tariffs make that a joke)

The leadership fears the truth of Tiananmen, and fears its own citizenry as part of that. But they can't imprison everyone... so they imprison just enough to keep the rest terrified and in line. That leads to the problems of Fear and Hate: Machiavelli's warning to not rely too much on Fear because that drives victims into Hating you, and once that happens you lose control.

This paranoia forces China into massive human rights abuses against entire groups like the Uighurs in western China, a Muslim population forced into "reeducation camps" and forced to renounce their religion through humiliating acts of torture. The authoritarian leadership won't stop there, a nation as big and diverse as China has tens of ethnic and religious minorities that the bosses can't trust, have to correct, need to put down...

The sad thing, there's little the international community can do. Our own protests and government sanctions can only go so far. The best we can do on the sidelines is cheer on the protesters and hope they don't get killed again. Any change in China is going to have to come from within (the very thing the Chinese Communist Party fears the most).

In the meantime, it's been thirty years since we've seen this man, and once again we need a reminder that this brave soul stood up for freedom at a terrible personal price:

Tank Man is my brother. I hope he's still alive even after thirty years. I hope I can meet him some day. So I can ask him what it was like. So I can buy him a cup of tea and drink it in Tiananmen Square.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Quick! While trump Is Gone, Lock All The Doors And Move The Country Before Air Force One Flies Back

Due to the significance of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings this year (!), the allied nations of that era are gathering this week to celebrate and honor those who fought, lived and died in that battle.

Which means donald trump is on a foreign trip to the UK to crash in London, annoy the Royals, cause massive protests (planned for Tuesday, kids!), and invite the return of the Baby Trump.

It has its own Wikipedia page. *I* don't have my own Wikipedia page...

Wanna know how unpopular trump IS in the United Kingdom?

They can show these adverts and get away with it. Ouch.

And it seems the Brits understood that if they showed up for trump's arrival at Buckingham Palace today he'd misinterpret it as fandom turnout, they decided - wisely - to avoid him altogether and save their anger for tomorrow. As seen from this Twitter feed:

Seriously, trump's Inauguration wasn't THIS empty...

So far, trump's done a good job of humiliating the United States, meddling in the upcoming Tory leadership vote - more on that later - and keeping us on the edge of our seats waiting for a member of the Royal Family to just give up civility and knee the Shitgibbon in the groin. I still got good money on Prince Harry.

Tomorrow there's something else I wanna discuss instead. Another key anniversary. Sleep well.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

The Trade Bully (w/Update)

How the hell is our national economy even keeping its head above water when trump is intentionally trying to drown everybody???

This past week he made the decision to expand his tariff wars - no longer content to smash against the Chinese market and the Euro market and the Canadian market - by interrupting an ongoing trade deal with Mexico with a plan to up tariffs with Mexico by five percent every month until Mexico "stops sending illegals across the border."

trump is pretty much rolling two of his signature issues into one big mess: Convinced Mexico is intentionally sending families and asylum seekers into the United States, trump wants to punish them for it by nuking the multi-billion dollar business we've got going with our closest trading partner. As David A. Graham notes at the Atlantic:

Now comes Trump’s latest move, the 5 percent tariff, which could rise over time if Mexico doesn’t comply. It’s a more modest version of an earlier threat to levy a 25 percent tariff on all Mexican goods, but it has still created chaos. U.S. companies are scrambling to figure out how to deal with the tariff, Republican lawmakers are critical, and Mexico is responding with anger and defiance...
There is the chance that the tariff (or some other trick) will actually succeed, but the prospects seem dim. Agreeing to Trump’s demands would likely be politically untenable for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Even if it were not, it’s unclear how much ability López Obrador has to stop illegal immigration through Mexico. After all, the American experience shows that border security is not so easy—especially without resorting to violence or inhumane tactics. It’s not even clear what would count as success in Trump’s view; his declaration says that Mexico must “dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens crossing its territory into the United States,” without naming quantitative targets...

This is merely trump at his most basic: An ignorant bully who thinks all he has to do is humiliate his opponents to achieve his success. But he keeps exposing his ignorance when it comes to immigration, and he's showing no understanding of the economic realities of trade and tariff that he's supposed to be good at.

For starters, look back at the first paragraph I quote from Graham. The thing about tariffs is that they are fees (taxes) imposed by companies here in the United States. The foreign countries at the other end are not taxed, they are merely hampered from dealing more openly with U.S. businesses. They'll lose some business and profits... but they can - and have - move on to trading partners in other countries (Hi, Brazil!).

What trump is doing is punishing US, people here at home, which shows up in higher costs for goods that go towards agriculture and manufacturing. Our auto industry in particular is getting killed by trump's tariffs. Like I said, I'm amazed our economy hasn't collapsed yet in the year since trump started his trade wars.

And as always, trump is doing this purely on impulse (or with Stephen Miller whispering his racist agenda into trump's ear) (via CNBC's Kayla Tausche and Tusker Higgins):

President Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary and top trade advisor opposed his surprise plan to impose new tariffs on Mexican imports, according to a source close to the White House who said the idea was pushed by immigration hawk Stephen Miller.
The announcement came as Trump was “riled up” by conservative radio commentary about the recent surge in border crossings, according to the source...

trump is not doing this based on research or the recommendation of informed advisors and experts: he's doing this out of pure rage stoked by those who know how to - and enjoy - pushing trump's buttons.

There is no thought into the consequences. There is no long-term assessment of damages done by these moves. Only the satisfaction of trying to hurt other people.

Problem is, trump and his lackeys are hurting more people than they realize. The impact of many of the border states - on a lot of Red States, period - is pretty severe. Via Andy Kiersz at Business Insider:

Friday morning, stocks were falling in industries like auto manufacturing, which has supply chains distributed across North America that could be seriously interrupted by increased trade barriers between the US and Mexico. Chipotle, which relies on imports of avocados and other produce from Mexico, also saw a drop in its stock price...
If the proposed tariffs come into effect, certain states where trade with Mexico makes up a big part of the economy could be hardest hit.
Big state economies that border Mexico exported a large volume of goods to that country in 2017. Texas had nearly $98 billion in exports, and California had nearly $27 billion. While it doesn't border Mexico, auto-industry supply chains contribute to Michigan's $12.5 billion in exports in that year...

Kiersz' article has two maps showing the imports and exports between Mexico and the states. Texas is the biggest partner on both maps, with other Red States Arizona, Louisiana, and Florida as the next hardest hit (with Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky in that grouping). The Blue state hit the hardest would be California... which is still not good for the nation overall because that state is one of our biggest money-makers. Hurting Cali's economy hurts us all no matter what.

But does trump truly care?


All trump wants is political wins, in order to back up - even if he lies about it all, he still wants to show off - his ongoing rally cries to his angry racist base.

It doesn't matter if a trade war with Mexico will hit seven or eight Red States. It doesn't matter if none of this stops illegal immigration the way trump wants (Jesus. He's been caging babies in jails for two years, and families are still THAT desperate to get here).

All that matters is that trump wants to think he's winning, wants to force a fight he can't win on the hopes the other side - Mexico again - will flinch. Even when Mexico's smartest move is to let trump self-immolate and try to wait this storm out for a new saner President in 2021.

Gods help us. The way trump is managing things, the illusion of a strong economy is going to end soon. Farmers are still going bankrupt, auto makers are cutting jobs, the stimulus of job creation will dry up, the tax cuts aren't going into families' bank accounts like the GOP promised, personal debts are still scaling upward... something's going to collapse soon and take this all down.

And 62 million trump voters will cheer as they drown in the ashes.

We are so very royally extravagantly fucked.

Update 6/8/19: So at the last minute trump was able to wrangle out a deal with Mexico to avert his threat to issue tariffs. Thing is, it seems the agreed-to deal was settled months ago, and trump's claim that he is forcing Mexico to buy more American grain from farmers is a goddamn lie. So of course trump is going to run with this for another month as a "victory" until he causes another goddamn controversy.