Saturday, August 31, 2019

trump Just... Tweeted It Out. Again.

With a hurricane bearing down, I missed a lot of stuff yesterday while working with staff to get the library secured for Dorian.

So here's a quick update.

In the good news department, I finally weighed in under 300 lbs for the first time since 2008.

In the bad news department, donald "fuck national security" trump leaked a highly classified photo of an Iranian ballistic missile test just so he could tweet out his insults towards Iran. It's such a reckless and stupid move that Adam L. Silverman had a meltdown about it:

What Cheryl described is clearly what happened here. The President had someone on his staff, most likely his caddie Dan Scavino, who is currently serving as the Assistant to the President-Director of White House Social Media Communications and tweets as/for the President, bring an unsecure smart phone into a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) and take a picture of this classified information so he could tweet it out. Whomever took the picture, either at the President’s direction or their own initiative because they realized what they were doing was sketchy, placed a black bar over the classification markings, then loaded the image up so it could be tweeted out. Bringing an unsecure phone into a SCIF and taking pictures of anything in the SCIF is the type of thing that gets one suspended, one’s clearance stripped, and one prosecuted for stealing classified information.

The irony here is, the main culprit on this - trump - cannot be charged with anything because, as President, he can and will declassify anything he wants. Everybody else from Scavino (alleged) all the way down the chain to every intelligence officer with fingerprints on this photo can plan on punishments and maybe even jail time over this - Silverman notes that anyone with security clearance can't even look at the tweet without risking penalty! - but not the sonofabitch who wanted this done just to mock his enemies.

It's a massive flaw in a federal government that never saw this coming:

If you’re wondering how this could be the case, how someone with a clearance who was just scrolling through Twitter, reading Balloon Juice, or watching the news when this comes up can get in trouble, but the President can just put classified information out there, claim he has the right to do it, even if it hasn’t been formerly and properly declassified, and he faces no jeopardy and the rest of us with clearances do, it is because THE RULES WERE NOT CONCEIVED OF AND WRITTEN WITH THE CURRENT PRESIDENT IN MIND!!!!! NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM!!!! The assumption was, based on historic performance of previous presidents, that NO FUTURE PRESIDENT WOULD BE THIS STUPID AND CARELESS!!!!
As Cheryl indicated, what the President tweeted out was the good stuff. No one is supposed to know we have that good of resolution wherever and whenever we want. And because the Iranians and others – friends and foes alike – know when the test failed, combined with the shadows and other static imagery in the GEOINT, they’ll be able to work out where we were looking from.
This is not just a major Operational Security (OPSEC) failure by the President, it is also a major counterintelligence (CI) breach by the President.

The Iranians have to be asking themselves if we have constant satellite or drone surveillance of this launch pad (and others). They have to wonder if someone inside their ranks let out when that launched was scheduled so that our camera(s) were ready for it. Any and every asset our nation has - or that our allies like Israel have - on the ground in Iran related to this are now in dire risk of exposure.

Don't forget trump did this before. He bragged to Russian representatives about intel on Syria (Russian ally in their civil war) that was shared from Israel. It forced Israel to shut down that intel program and evacuate people (or else lost them in retaliations), all because our Loser of the Popular Vote could not keep his damn mouth shut.

Every day worsens the reality that our allies and our own agencies - CIA, NSA, FBI, et al - dare not pass along classified information to our own elected leaders. Our nation's ability to defend itself and prepare for outside threats is now more compromised than any other time since the Cold War.

trump is now the greatest security threat to the United States since Robert Hanssen, the Rosenbergs, no here we go, trump is worse than Benedict Arnold.

Dear America: We warned you. We WARNED you trump would be a clueless, ill-informed, reckless leader on the international stage. 62 million of you still voted for him just to fuck with libruls. Our nation can no longer rely on our intelligence agencies willingness to pass along classified intel to our own fucking White House.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

No Hope for the Queen's Courage Against Brexit (w/ Update)

Update 12:45 PM EDT: Queen Elizabeth approved Johnson's request for the Prorogation of Parliament. This is not good. She's essentially allowing Johnson to do whatever he wants at this point. Disaster. Disaster and madness.

Today we need a special kind of courage. Not the kind needed in battle, but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics, so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future. - Queen Elizabeth II, 1957

When last we left Brexit, the Conservatives promoted Boris "trump's Mini-Me" Johnson to the seat of Prime Minister... and then broke on a month-long vacation because corrupt conservatives love nothing more than to let government crises melt on the stove while they're away on vacays.

So now that the vacations are over and the Members of Parliament are coming back to work, what is Johnson's solution to the Brexit crisis?

Oh, I see. He wants to shut down Parliament so that nobody can stop him push a No-Deal Brexit through. Via Jessica Elgot and Heather Stewart at the Guardian:

Boris Johnson has confirmed he has asked the Queen for permission to suspend Parliament for five weeks from early September.
The prime minister claimed MPs would have “ample time” to debate Brexit, as he wrote to MPs on Wednesday, saying he had spoken to the Queen and asked her to suspend parliament from “the second sitting week in September”. (personal Note: this is bullshit)
MPs will then return to Westminster on 14 October, when he said there would be a new Queen’s speech, setting out what he called a “bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit”.
The effect of the decision will be to curtail dramatically the time MPs have to introduce legislation or other measures aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Parliament is expected to sit for little more than a week from 3 September...

What Johnson is legally asking for is a "prorogue," a normal Parliamentary practice of closing down government whenever there's new Parliament leadership put in place so that things can get organized around a planned platform of policy initiatives (symbolized by a new "Queen's Speech" - like the U.S. State of the Union).

However, the timing is obviously NOT to create a new platform but to end an ongoing one with Brexit, which has consumed the British government for the past three years and is basically down to "Leave or Remain." Johnson is doing this less to get a new government up and running and more doing this to obstruct/block any opposition to the "Leave" he is intent on pulling off... which is a No-Deal Brexit that a vast majority of Brits (as well as enough members of his own Tory party) do not want.

This particular prorogue is - in short - a ministerial coup d'etat to prevent real democracy from rising up in anger against a widely disliked and self-destructive agenda.

What this will do is effectively prevent any opposition vote from getting a chance on the floor, stymie a likely vote of no-confidence against Johnson's No-Deal obsession (unless enough Tories can force one before Parliament is shut down), and expose the Leave effort as a straight-up dictatorial move instead of the "public referendum" that the pro-Brexit people have been lying about all this time.

I honestly hope Queen Elizabeth II takes her time to think this through, to think of the reality that the United Kingdom she has ruled - she has served and sworn to protect - for her entire life is now about to get pulled apart by this grinning buffoonish nightmare of a Prime Minister. That of all the PM's she's ever had to deal with (and My God she's dealt with so many), Johnson is the one most likely to destroy everything her reign had kept together evolving from Empire to Commonwealth.

I hope Ma'am realizes that if she agrees to shut down Parliament - effectively guaranteeing a No-Deal Brexit - she is destroying her legacy, her nation, her home. I hope the next thing she does after that is publicly kick Johnson in his balls for five straight minutes before firing his ass and calling for a new election (if that is within her powers).

If the Queen approves this prorogue, then that's it. She's presiding over the internal destruction of her own kingdom, a bonfire to her legacy.

Brexit became a problem because men like Boris and Farage lied, backed by Far Right media eager to spread fear and confusion, aided by Putin, and now the British people from England to Wales to Scotland to Northern Ireland are going to have to pay the price.

A good Queen would recognize that she shouldn't agree to a Brexit that will hurt her own people. And this is more about her being a Queen: She's a Briton as much as the rest of her people. This affects her and her family as much as it affects everyone else.

I hope she chooses wisely, for her fellow Britons, I hope she chooses to keep HER democracy open for business. No, she did not choose wisely. The United Kingdom is now screwed.

Direct Link To 2020 Voter Motivation

It is within our power to turn this around. And to do so at the ballot box, which is the easiest way to do it. Trust me, you don’t want me to have to write the post about how to deal with this the hard way! The ways and means to do this are registering voters and getting out the vote and staying as calm and focused as possible. ...Similar efforts need to take place, tailored to the demographic realities of each state, in each state to ensure the broad, multi-generational, ethnically and religiously diverse coalition that is the Democratic Party turns out to vote in such large numbers than no amount of shenanigans, no matter who is behind them, can thwart the will of the majority.
The fight right now is to elect a Democratic president, a Democratic majority in the Senate, maintain a Democratic majority in the House, maintain all the Democratic governors and state legislatures, and flip as many to the Democrats as possible. And the battlespace for the presidential election is the Electoral College, no matter how much we’d all like to see it placed in the dustbin of history.
We can do this. We can save ourselves. No one else will. But to do so we must stay focused, we must pace ourselves, we must not give in to despair and frustration and infighting. Because the alternative is simply unacceptable.

Monday, August 26, 2019

trump Wants to Do WHAT to Hurricanes???

We interrupt your regularly scheduled panic about trump's misrule for this important message.

trump thinks dropping/detonating nuclear weapons inside hurricanes is a good idea.


Okay, from me, neither an expert on radiation nor an expert on hurricanes (although I've lived through three of them now): ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR GODDAMN MIND?!

Even without looking at the evidence like the bit provided here by National Geographic, I know damn well a hurricane - usually the size of a big state or on some days the entire Gulf of Mexico - is too big to be affected by one nuke (or even several). Neither the shockwave of the blast nor the heat of an H-Bomb is gonna put a dent in Hurricane HolySh-tta. What you will get is the radioactive aftermath getting sucked up into the system and spread by both wind and water for hundreds of miles.

I'm not the only one stunned by the news:

They ended the Sharknado series too soon (wait, they used a bomb to end a sharknado I think in the first movie. Is that... is that where trump got the idea...?)

This goddamn nightmare can't end fast enough.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Spiral of Madness Speeds Up

Christ, this day (via Fred Imbert at CNBC):

Stocks plunged on Friday after President Donald Trump ordered that U.S. manufacturers find alternatives to their operations in China. Apple led the way lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 623.34 points lower, or 2.4% at 25,628.90. The S&P 500 slid 2.6% to close at 2,847.11. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 3% to end the day at 7,751.77. The losses brought the Dow’s decline for August to more than 4%.
The major indexes also posted weekly losses for the fourth straight time. The Dow dropped about 1% this week while the S&P 500 pulled back 1.4%. The Nasdaq lost 1.8%.
Trump tweeted on Friday: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” However, it is not clear how much authority the president has on this front...

trump doesn't really have any authority to tell companies what to do. A President can hold companies accountable through the law, to prevent fraud and monopolistic practices, to keep the industries honest, but dictate actual corporate policies? If anyone else ever did this - especially Obama, but also Dubya or Clinton or Bush the Elder or Reagan or any other in the White House - the media outrage would have been immediate and Congress reacting with fury. If it was a Democratic President doing this, Congressional Republicans would have filed impeachment proceedings within an hour.

Here? Not a goddamn peep. Even as trump delves into behavior and statements that rational people would think ought to trigger 25th Amendment shutdowns, the rest of the government is just treading water while the ship of state sinks faster.

The madness of trump - his obsessions, his failure to comprehend basic rules of trade (hint: trade wars ARE NOT GOOD AND EASY TO WIN), his blinkered belief he's beloved and worshiped - is getting worse... and the signs are growing daily.

James Fallows at the Atlantic documented this yesterday, before the economic disasters of today:

But now we’ve had something we didn’t see so clearly during the campaign. These are episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they occurred in any other setting: An actually consequential rift with a small but important NATO ally, arising from the idea that the U.S. would “buy Greenland.” Trump’s self-description as “the Chosen One,” and his embrace of a supporter’s description of him as the “second coming of God” and the “King of Israel.” His logorrhea, drift, and fantastical claims in public rallies, and his flashes of belligerence at the slightest challenge in question sessions on the White House lawn. His utter lack of affect or empathy when personally meeting the most recent shooting victims, in Dayton and El Paso. His reduction of any event, whatsoever, into what people are saying about him.
Obviously I have no standing to say what medical pattern we are seeing, and where exactly it might lead. But just from life I know this:
If an airline learned that a pilot was talking publicly about being “the Chosen One” or “the King of Israel” (or Scotland or whatever), the airline would be looking carefully into whether this person should be in the cockpit...
If Donald Trump were in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be under way to remove him from that role. The board at a public company would have replaced him outright or arranged a discreet shift out of power. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far in a large public corporation.) The chain-of-command in the Navy or at an airline or in the hospital would at least call a time-out, and check his fitness, before putting him back on the bridge, or in the cockpit, or in the operating room. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far as a military officer, or a pilot, or a doctor.)
There are two exceptions. One is a purely family-run business, like the firm in which Trump spent his entire previous career. And the other is the U.S. presidency, where he will remain, despite more and more-manifest Queeg-like unfitness, as long as the GOP Senate stands with him...

And the Senate are cowards. They already sold out their self-respect for self-interest, they've already sold off this nation to every crook able to put them on payroll.

This was me, early on before the rest of the day just into the rubber-padded walls of trumpland:

I wrote this later on Facebook, recognizing the madness of trump for a darker, twisted version of a man's madness from the 19th Century:

trump goes onto Twitter and rants about China, then issues a "I Hereby Order" to U.S. companies to stop doing business with China. Which immediately triggers YET ANOTHER stock market meltdown (there have been FIVE this year caused by trump tweets already).
Other than the reality that Presidents do not directly control what businesses do - outside of enforcing laws to prevent acts of fraud and other such duties - these statements by trump reflect an imperial mindset that you do not want to see in elected officials. I cannot recall any President in my lifetime - not Obama (Fox would have thrown the most epic conniption of all time if he had), not Dubya (MSNBC would have dedicated an hour each night to it), not Clinton (see Fox), not Bush the Elder, not Reagan, not Carter (I would have been too young to have noticed Ford or Nixon).
The only historical figure I ever saw who even wrote/talked like that was Joshua Norton, self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States, who issued decrees from San Francisco in the 1860s through 1880s dealing with everything from the then Civil War to overseas trade, religious freedom, investing in railroad patents, and building bridges (one of them actually got built).
Thing is, nearly every decree Norton I issued as emperor was rational, at least within reason, and were grounded in practical necessities. Even his edict barring political parties make sense.
In short, Norton I Emperor of the United States was *sane* compared to the current rantings and decision-making of donald trump.

The biggest difference between Emperor Norton and Emperor Shitgibbon is that Norton's decrees were sane. trump's decrees are about feeding his ego, destroying his enemies, ruling over an empire of ash.

This disaster of a theme park ride is spiraling faster. It won't stop until the rails collapse from the stress.

We are so very royally fucking screwed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

trump, Blasphemous King of Ashes

The Implications Are Horrifying. Via Emma Goldberg at The Guardian:

There’s a sordid history to charges of Jewish dual loyalty in the U.S. In the early years of the Second World War, Isolationists opposed to American involvement dismissed the war as little more than a “Jewish cause”. Charles Lindbergh berated Jewish leaders for “agitating for war”. Decades later, when the US senator Joe Lieberman ran on the Democratic ticket for vice-president, pundits questioned whether he was more loyal to Israel than to the US. During the democratic primaries in 2015, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders was challenged on his “dual citizenship” with Israel...
Which is all to say that this week Donald Trump finds himself in broad, though unfortunate, company. On Tuesday, the president said that any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat is guilty of “great disloyalty”. Then Trump repeated his smears against the congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, following his impassioned demand last week that the Israeli government block their entry to the country due to their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” Trump said. “Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.
Trump’s latest statement, laced with centuries of antisemitic tropes, is no surprise for a president who has fraternized with avowed white nationalists and blamed white supremacist violence on “mental health”. Still, Trump’s rhetorical gymnastics would be impressive if it weren’t so threatening – he manages to weaponize Zionism, dog-whistle antisemitism and land on his feet, calling himself “the king of Israel”. He’d haul home all the medals if bigotry were an Olympic sport...

trump lays bare his opinion of Jewishness: It's only "good" if it centers around Israel, and only if it aids Israel - actually if it aids Evangelical Christianity - in the ongoing war against Muslims.

As a result, he's opening up the Jewish Americans who don't support this view - which is a vast majority of Jewish Americans - to accusations of "disloyalty" not so much to Israel but towards the United States... which increases the likelihood of direct assaults on their persons and their communities.

There has already been an uptick in violence and vandalism directed toward Jewish communities. A lot of it already tied to trump's support of neo-Nazi supremacists who revel in his diatribes against "The Other" that justifies their violence towards every Non-White ethnicity (which includes Jews in the supremacists' opinions).

Adding onto this is trump's obsessive need for adulation and worship (in this moment, literal). he eagerly tweeted out a reply from a Far Right media host who proclaimed "Israeli Jews love trump like he's the King of Israel. They love him like he is the Second Coming of God." It's irrelevant in trump's worldview that A) Israeli Jews don't believe in Kings anymore and B) Jews do not share the Christian/Evangelical idea of the Second Coming. All that matter is trump buys into the worship that he's the Chosen One... and the rest of us are screwed.

In the last two days, trump insulted Jewish Americans, Jewish faith overall, and the patriotism of Jewish Americans who remain loyal to America.

And he's not finished. trump's work to destroy the faith of every honest Christian and the hearts of every living soul is not yet complete.

Gods help us.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Bad And the Good Heading Into the 2020 Elections (w/Update)

(Update: many thanks again to Batocchio for linking this site to Crooks and Liars' Mike's Blog Roundup! Please stay and enjoy the dip! (checks fridge) Wait, the dip isn't ready y... NO DON'T GO! Um, uh, maybe if I plugged in my Xbox and share my violent video games...? No? Dammit, where's the pizza I ordered...)

As the primaries heat up and as trump debases our nation further, I am dismayed and heartened by certain thoughts:

trump remains a remarkably unpopular President Loser of the Popular Vote. Ed Kilgore at New York magazine pointed out:

Civiqs shows the president’s net approval ratios being underwater (i.e., negative) in 10 states he carried in 2016: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. ...And it’s not as though he’s on a knife’s edge between victory and defeat in all these Trump 2016 states where he’s doing poorly: He’s underwater by 12 points in Pennsylvania, 11 in Michigan, and nine in Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. (Note: the narrow wins in PA, MI, and WI are where the experts think trump pulled off the Electoral upset) And there’s virtually no indication that states that narrowly went for Clinton in 2016 are trending in Trump’s direction: His approval ratios are minus 18 in Colorado, minus 15 in Minnesota, minus 12 in Nevada, and minus 27 in New Hampshire. These are, by the way, polls of registered voters, not just “adults,” so they should be a relatively sound reflection of the views of the electorate...

That seems like good news, but then the cynic in me remembers that polling, for all the numbers behind it, is still an inexact science. A lot of factors still determine who wins in November, and Kilgore considers most of them:

If you credit these polls at all, Trump’s reelection will require (1) a big late improvement in his approval ratings, which is possible but unlikely based on long-standing patterns during his polarizing presidency; (2) a campaign that succeeds in making the election turn on theoretical fears about his opponent rather than actual fears about a second Trump term, which won’t be easy either; (3) a big Republican turnout advantage, which is less likely among the larger presidential electorate than it was in 2018; or (4) some diabolical ability to thread the needle despite every contrary indicator, which superstitious Democrats fear for obvious reasons.

What Kilgore is referring to in 4) is the likely interference of Russian meddling, especially considering how Mitch McConnell is refusing to lift a finger to pass election security measures. And don't forget the Republicans' own efforts to suppress voters they know won't vote GOP.

But if the voter turnout still achieves maximum efforts...

The hope is that the best way to counter Republicans' efforts to cheat with the elections is to overwhelm their ability to fudge the numbers. They can cheat, but only to a point. If the polling (which Republicans can't entirely control) is saying their boy trump is ten percent under the Democratic candidate, and the margin of error in the polling is about four percent... if trump ends up winning that state by one percent - when he should have been losing by six at best - well outside of that margin, the stink of it will be impossible to hide. So if the Republicans want to cheat they have to do it in small pieces, to better hide the evidence of it. If only 100,000 voters show up which is often just the extremists, they could well hide their efforts and eke out a win... But if 1,000,000 show up and most of them know damn well who they're all voting for, it gets harder to pull that off...

I still think of the likelihood of voter turnout mimicking the numbers of 2018, when the midterms exceeded the norms and we saw about an eight percent jump in turnout. If there's a similar jump - with similar percentages of Democratic-over-Republican voting - there's a good chance the Electoral College will flip away from trump. Both Kilgore and Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly referred to a Tweeted projected map using the 270towin app which showed this:

From pundit Matt Rogers 

To LeTourneau, these numbers show a trend that highlights trump's overall unpopularity:

I can’t think of an example in my lifetime where a sitting president went into re-election in worse shape than Donald Trump... Trump isn’t merely an overgrown toddler, he’s also terribly unpopular with most Americans. As we’ve seen, he’s bleeding support all over the country, including among lifelong Republicans in Texas. It is also important to keep in mind that it isn’t just that so many Americans disapprove of Trump. As Jeet Heer suggested, “what is more striking is the measure of intensity, which shows that those who dislike Trump do so with a passion.” Doing as Roberts suggests would send a “we hear you” message to all of those people who find Trump’s behavior deplorable...

There's a reason why Rogers tweets a map that shows even Texas, Georgia and UTAH flipping away from trump. The Great Orange Shitgibbon has done nothing to appeal to the moderate voters who oppose his actions on immigration, tariffs, and tax cuts. This is a man who has YET to crack the 50 percent approval ratings on the majority of professional polling services out there (only the ones that lean hard Conservative had him getting over that hump). He's done nothing like the previous Presidents have done - even Dubya - to present himself as a bipartisan incumbent who deserves a second term. He's got more people angry at him during the first term than I ever saw under Carter (who suffered from poor decisions and middling leadership) or Bush the Elder (who suffered re-election during a recession and on the cusp of a Far Right Culture War he couldn't lead).

And yet... and yet... I still have intense anxiety about the sonofabitch cheating just enough to steal a second term.

There's still a lot of time between now and November 2020 for things to get bad one way or another. For every sign of something that could hurt trump electorally - like the oncoming recession - there's always the reality that most of the voters who supported him in 2016 are likely to do so again. They're not driven by practical realities, or their own hardships - tariffs killing off businesses farms and jobs for example - under trump's reign. As Rude Pundit noted back in 2014, the Republican voting base are compelled to vote against the damn dirty hippies in spite of their own needs.

It's why I don't believe that tweeted map just yet. Why I fear Utah - filled with hard conservative Mormons - will NOT vote Democratic blue when the time comes. Why Texas and Georgia can be hopeful possibilities but GODDAMN do the Democrats need to get the VOTE OUT in those states.

And I'd love to think my home state of Florida will come back to their damn senses and vote like they did for Obama in 2008 and 2012... but I am residing in such a deep Red county that I can't help but despair...

These early polling and analyses are helping me cope. But GODDAMN, Americans, you NEED to show up to vote in 2020 and you NEED to vote Democratic across the board.

trump is already campaigning on a racist, hateful, bloody platform. How bad do you think it'll get before we even get to 2020 anyway?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Woodstock at 50: For a Moment In History, We Were In Heaven Man.

One of my historical interests has been the 1960s, a decade of upheaval and change that ended just before I was born. Looking back at all the events and culture that took place - the Beatles, JFK (blown away, what else do I have to say?), the Berlin Wall, Vietnam, Civil Rights, Reverend King, Star Trek, Doctor Who, the rise and fall of Hammer Horror, the changing mores of cinema and television...

At the top of the pile sits Woodstock, what would have been a relatively minor blip in history as a music and arts festival somewhere in the hills of New York state, something akin to other rock festivals of the era - Newport Jazz, Monterey Pop in 1967, Isle of Wight in the UK -  meant to get a bunch of big names and rising stars to entertain about 50,000 or so and make a little money for the organizers.

Instead, Woodstock got overwhelmed by a bizarre series of mistakes and misunderstandings which led to hundreds of thousands showing up thinking the concert was free/open to the public, creating logistical breakdowns and nearly triggering a National Guard crackdown before calmer heads prevailed.

To me, the way the whole disaster unfolded and the way the people at the event handled themselves and turned it from debacle to destiny remains one of the most uplifting moments in our history. Confronted with food shortages, bad traffic, bad drugs, worse weather, missing or unavailable performers, shoddy sound systems, and more mud than a pig sty, there should have been every reason for 500,000 people to panic and riot.

But they did not. Most of them got chill, hung out with friends, played in the mud, listened to the music that did make it onstage, and behaved themselves. Volunteers popped up everywhere to keep things working, especially at the medical tents where kids tripping on the bad acid were watched over until they cleared their heads. The local town of Bethel for the most part donated food and supplies, and the visiting hippies for the most part were polite back to them. The cops didn't go out of their way to arrest anybody. Fights were few, deaths were accidental.

There are arguments in philosophy about human behavior, if people as individuals or as groups are evil or good. Rousseau argued for the latter backing a belief in the "blank slate" nature of humanity, that removed of external pressures most people will not act maliciously towards others: That when given an opportunity on their own terms to be good, people will act good.

Woodstock is a good example. Confronted with a difficult situation most people made the best of what was happening to them, and when confronted with a choice to do well to others decided to help those others.

And when they were at their best, the people at Woodstock made it all beautiful. Just look at the photographs (from Rolling Stone) with links to a photo gallery here:

...As Rolling Stone‘s first chief photographer, Baron Wolman heavily documented the festival, witnessing legendary musical moments like Santana’s psychedelic “Soul Sacrifice” and Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick belting “Somebody to Love” in her iconic silk-fringed dress. Wolman’s main focus, however, was the heart of the festival: the attendees. Whether they were camping out in tents or bathing in the nude with their children in tow, Wolman captured the essence of what it felt like to really be there...
"...I never worried about my safety. I had a great time. The people in the front were starving; they ran out of food. Backstage, they had a barbecue for the performers. I didn’t realize that or I would’ve gone back and eaten, too. I would just eat whatever I could find. I was so wired and so excited and it was such an adrenaline rush because I’d never seen anything like this. I call it the gathering of the tribes, where only good things were happening. I always tell people it was a disaster waiting to happen that didn’t. That was one of the miracles of Woodstock: It could have been horrible, and it wasn’t. We all really believed, 'Wow, we can all get along! And if we can get along, maybe the world can get along.'
The military and the counterculture were at each other’s throats. It was 1969, there was still a draft, the Vietnam War was going on, everybody hated everybody. But the military came with their Medevac units and helicopters to help take away the people who had medical problems. And I thought, man, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’re all in the same country, why are we hating each other? The military and the counterculture, for one brief weekend, were getting along in the way it should be. But you know…the dream of Woodstock petered out pretty quickly..."

Sad but true. For all the forced attempts to recreate another Woodstock - Stones at Altamont, Woodstock '99 - none of them had the genuine intent towards the blank slate of human behavior Rousseau argued for. The Woodstock Nation, as Abbie Hoffman once proclaimed, ended up being a brief moment in time.

But an unforgettable moment. We had the benefits of filmmakers being there, album recordings made, photographs by the museum-load. It does not hurt to look back with awareness of what was a magical time and place (well, save for the 100 tons of trash the hippies failed to pick up) and dream of the possibility of finding that moment again...

It's why I think often of the nuns flashing the peace sign.

Why I think of the attendees playing in the mud like they were six years old again (not finding a decent photo or YouTube clip at the moment, sorry).

Why I smile at the knowledge that the young couple huddled with each other on the soundtrack album cover are married and still together. With grandkids.

Why I honor and salute Mr. Taggart, the Port-o-San Maintenance guy, keeping things clean for 500,000 people.

Why I still sit in awe at the intensity of Santana's "Soul Sacrifice" and the drum solo:

Why I wake up some mornings to Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner":

"We must be in heaven, man!"

P.S. No, my parents weren't at Woodstock. Not EVERYBODY was at Woodstock, okay? Just 500,000 of you, that's the max and you know it. Everybody says they were at Woodstock when they weren't, knock it off. Sheesh.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Dark Mindset of Republicans When It Comes to Sex

Seriously, all I did was type "steve king what the fuck" and the first thing Google Search brought up was this article in The Root about Steve King's ungodly statements about rape and incest (via Stephen A Crockett Jr):

Speaking to a group of people who would go see this deranged shitbag at the Westside Conservative Club on Wednesday, King claimed that humanity would have suffered if not for rape and incest throughout human history.
“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King said in Urbandale, Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.
“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

Okay, after a few minutes of letting my confused brain - I had a weird day at work already - settle down, this was my first honest thought on his statements:


Because that's how it comes across. I admit I have a bias towards Republicans and especially a bias towards this particular piece of racist trash that's representing Iowa in Congress, but even if you take an impartial view of what King was trying to convey, it comes across as accepting a reality where rape is a given, that procreation takes priority over human dignity, as though rape is no different from consensual sex and family-raising.

Which highlights a severe problem with Steve King's - and in many respects the Republicans' - worldview about sex and procreation: That the only point for sex IS procreation. Not for relationship building, not for casual enjoyment (ooooh, they REALLY hate sex as that), not sex as a physical expression to an emotional need (not want) of connecting to another human being.

It doesn't occur to King that without rape, sex would still happen under the affirmation of consent between loving people. That sex could still lead to procreation because that's something consenting adults would and could do.

No. To King and to others who think like him, sex means getting women pregnant no matter what. This is why rape is not a problem for them, because the end result of rape they're hoping for is more babies.

This is why Republicans want to eliminate the rape exceptions to abortion rights first chance they get. This is why Republicans condemn a "promiscuous culture" of birth control which blocks pregnancies while allowing the sex to take place.

It is a purely patriarchal primitive view of gender roles that diminishes the rights and powers of women, and converts them all into mere "vessels" for a man's seeds.

This isn't the first time a Republican figure has been caught expressing disdain about women's rights, and it's certainly not the first time a Republican figure expressed such horrifying opinions about rape in our culture.

It's just this worldview that the Far Right Republicans have is getting more out in the open. They're just... tweeting this shit out anymore, because they're eager to make their worldview towards women (keep 'em in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant) the only view that matters.

Gods help us.

Just Say "Inverted Yield Curve" To a Financier And Watch Them Scream

There's been growing reports over the past three months of red flags regarding the U.S. economy. 

And then, just yesterday we get the news that the short-term (two year) bonds are getting higher interest rates than the long-term (ten year) bonds. It's something called an "Inverted Yield Curve," meaning bond investors believe in getting their money now instead of later, suggesting a recession is unavoidable. 

The last time there was an Inverted Yield Curve? 2007, and all the fun THAT led to.

The investors get it. They have to, it's how they keep their wallets full. There's a recession coming and it's no longer a question When it's a question of How Soon and How Painful.

A replay of the 2007 global economic collapse - only this time thanks to tariffs and Brexit - is quite likely.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Thoughts On Hong Kong (w/Update)

The months-long protests in the Chinese province of Hong Kong has moved to a more chaotic stage, with the protesters taking over the international airport and pretty much shutting it down.

Originally started in response to the Mainland China's efforts to accelerate its control of the regional government - something that the United Kingdom negotiated during the 1997 transition to not happen until 2047 - through an aggressive extradition deal, the protests have continued on since March of this year and escalated into marches and sit-ins across every street and business center.

Hong Kong residents are well aware of the kind of suppression and loss of civil liberties that await them if the Chinese central government takes over everything, and they're not waiting for that to take away the rights they're used to having.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government - still self-serving and corrupt - has faced this problem before... and the last time it happened it got real bloody real quick and the only thing left afterward was the international condemnation and little else. China kept chugging along after Tiananmen, because other nations needed to do business with that country for its resources and workforce.

Hong Kong is different, though. It still has the unofficial protection of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The province itself is viewed as "special" as a global city. Any overt crackdown and the world could respond with more than angry words this time.

The problem of a violent reaction by the corrupt regime still troubles me. It's the only move - invading Tibet, crushing democracy reformers, shoving religious ethnics like the Uighurs into re-education/torture camps - the government knows.

But the residents of Hong Kong can't back down either. Their entire way of life, even tied to the rest of China as they are now, revolves around the ability to speak their minds, question any acts of corruption, stand for rights as people against any political force that would treat them poorly. They'll listen to offers of compromise but not demands for surrender.

This is not going to end well. I wish it would, I hope saner heads may prevail and some compromise reached... but we're talking about authoritarian bullies who had no problem sending in the tanks before and won't have any doubts about doing it again.

Stay safe, Hong Kong.

Update: Woke up to this Atlantic article that spells out in better detail just how bad the situation is. The Chinese government is shackled by a zero-sum, our-way-or-the-highway mentality that makes compromise next to impossible. To quote Michael Schuman's article:

All governments, of course, have a habit of insisting they are in the right. But China finds altering course especially difficult, mainly because of how its domestic political system functions. As an authoritarian regime—and one that is more and more centered on a personal cult surrounding Xi Jinping—admitting fault is perceived as a threat to credibility. Nor is it clear how much bad news filters up to top decision makers through a bureaucracy fearful that policy disagreements could be mistaken for disloyalty. Compounding matters is the historical narrative marketed domestically by Beijing, in which the party stars as the defender of the Chinese nation against foreign imperialists who have preyed upon the country for more than a century. “They haven’t been treated well; now they have a right to stand up and be a great power,” Glaser said of the thinking. “All of this leads the Chinese to believe that their interests are more important than others.”

It's a serious - and lethal - flaw in governance that is not going to end well either way.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

One Sentence About My Thoughts About trump Forcing a Two-Month-Old Baby Orphaned By trump's Racism To Pose for a Goddamn Photo Op

In response to arguably the most evil thing this Shitgibbon has ever done in the history of humanity, I hope that 2-month-old gets taken to a hidden monastery where he trains for 16 years to become a ninja assassin and then hunt every goddamn MAGA voter down in a roaring rampage of revenge that would purge this Earth of their evil forever.

Predicting Character (again): The Jocularity of Joe Biden

Okay, that WAS the title was I going to use back in 2015 for the 2016 Presidential campaign. Gods, the time flies...

It's been almost four years since then, so has anything really changed for Joe Biden? In terms of biography, his career is something that reaches back as far as 1974 (!) and covers a lot of ground. If we can refer to Evan Osnos' New Yorker article on him from 2014 (highlighting character traits):

Over the years, Biden has acquired a singular place in the pop culture of American politics. In a White House that privileges self-containment, Biden ambles between exuberant and self-defeating. He was barely in the West Wing before the Onion declared, in a headline, “shirtless Biden washes trans am in white house driveway,” establishing a theme—“Amtrak Joe,” the hell-raiser at the end of the bar—that is so enduring that it obscures the fact that he is a lifelong teetotaller. (Too many alcoholics in his family, he says. He grew up sharing a room with his mother’s brother, and recalled of the experience, “Even as kids, we noticed Uncle Boo-Boo drank a bit heavily.”)
Instead of raging against the indignities of the Vice-Presidency, Biden luxuriates in the job. Perched in his chair during the State of the Union address, peering down on his former congressional colleagues, Biden makes a pistol out of his finger and thumb, and blasts away, winking and gunning with no evident irony... The full package—the Ray-Ban aviators, the shameless schmalz, the echoes of the Fonz—has never endeared him to the establishment, but it lends him an air of authenticity that is rare in his profession. It has also produced a whiff of cult appeal, such that his image now has more in common with Betty White than with John Boehner. In May, after a teenager invited Biden to her prom, he replied with a corsage and a handwritten note encouraging her to “enjoy your prom as much as I did mine.” On Twitter, people went affectionately berserk.
Other than the President, nobody in the White House attracts more divergent public appraisals than Biden. In a column before the 2012 election, Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the Times, urged Obama to drop Biden as a running mate and replace him with the Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton. (The campaign studied the idea, too, until polls showed that it would make no difference.) ...That summer, a survey by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post asked people to come up with a single word to describe Biden; the most frequent responses, nearly equal in number, were “good” and “idiot.” Republicans rejoice in casting Biden as the consummate pol, careless, blustery, and a fogy. “Vice-President Joe Biden’s in town,” Senator Ted Cruz said, at a dinner for South Carolina conservatives last year. “You know the great thing is you don’t even need a punch line? You just say that and people laugh.”
And, yet, in the final month of the campaign, Biden reminded everyone why he was on the ticket. After Obama’s disastrously muted performance in a debate against Romney, the Vice-President prepared to face his counterpart, Paul Ryan, the then forty-two-year-old Wisconsin congressman, who has the eyes of a foal. Onstage, Biden wore a lupine grin. He guffawed, taunted, and interrupted. (When Ryan said, “Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates and creates growth,” Biden cut him off: “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!”) The theatrics drove some viewers crazy, but the campaign was thrilled; Biden had arrested the slide, and when Obama prepared for his next debate advisers reportedly told him to channel some of Biden’s pugnacious energy. In the months that followed, the President deployed Biden again, this time to Capitol Hill, where he tapped relationships built during thirty-six years in the Senate to strike a deal that averted the fiscal cliff one day before the deadline. By the end of 2012, the White House was extending him the ritual courtesy of hailing the power of its No. 2. A headline in The Atlantic asked, “the most influential vice president in history...?”

That last bit is a bit of a historical joke itself: Over the years, most Veeps had no influence at all, not until the Cold War against the Soviets where the chain of succession required better informed VPs. It is also a rebuke of the previous Veep ahead of Biden - Dick Cheney - who *did* wield incredible influence in Bush the Lesser's administration to where historians (and myself) consider Cheney a shadow President.

Back to the bio:

In contrast to Dick Cheney, Biden has made his mark by reinforcing the President’s supremacy, rather than maneuvering around it. “Cheney’s influence, while significant, was always overstated, and Cheney got dialled back as the Administration went further along,” David Rothkopf, the editor of Foreign Policy, said. “While Biden has been a strong voice on foreign policy, it has never been asserted, as it was about Cheney, that he was trying to advance his own agenda. Even when there were differences of opinion, Biden was seen as being loyal and supportive of the President...”
Leon Panetta recalled listening to Biden work the phone at the White House: “You didn’t know whether he was talking to a world leader or the head of the political party in Delaware.” Biden has an inexhaustible appetite for “the connect”—the rope line, the hand cupped around the back of the head, the eye contact with a skeptic in the crowd. “He kind of brings them in and hugs them, verbally, and sometimes physically,” Secretary of State John Kerry told me. “He’s a very tactile politician, and it’s all real. None of it’s put on.” ...To a degree that is rare among politicians, Marttila said, “the process of meeting people energizes him.” Biden is such a close talker that he occasionally bumps his forehead into you mid-chat, a gesture so minor that it’s notable only when you try to picture Barack Obama doing the same thing.
The full Biden plays better around the Mediterranean and in Latin America than in, say, England and Germany. A former British official who attended White House meetings with Biden said, “He’s a bit like a spigot that you can turn on and can’t turn off.” He added, “For all of the genuine charm, it is frustrating that you do feel as if he doesn’t leave enough oxygen in the room to get your points across, particularly for those who are polite and don’t interrupt..."
Getting, and staying, “in the deal” is one of Biden’s favorite ways to describe relevance, and he has elevated the acquisition and maintenance of respect to the level of ideology. Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., is the son of a car salesman. His father had been wealthy as a young man, but business soured; vestiges of his brush with prosperity were a polo mallet in the closet and an acute sensitivity to signs of disrespect. Once, at an office Christmas party, the boss tossed a bucket of silver dollars onto the dance floor and watched the salesmen scramble to pick them up. “Dad sat frozen for a second,” his son wrote, in a 2007 memoir called “Promises to Keep.” Then “he stood up, took my mom’s hand, and walked out of the party,” losing his job in the process. Biden’s mother, Catherine Finnegan Biden, reinforced the hyper-alertness to status. “She told us, from the time we were little kids: Nobody is better than you,” his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, said. “And you’re no better than anybody else...”

There are also the tragedies in Biden's personal life that define a lot of the habits he sticks with to this day:

In the weeks before he was sworn in, Biden worked out of a borrowed office in Washington. His sister was helping him get organized. One day, his brother Jimmy called and asked to talk to her. She turned white. “There’s been a slight accident,” she said. Biden sensed something in her voice; he felt it in his chest. “She’s dead, isn’t she?” he said. (His wife) Neilia had been driving with the kids to get a Christmas tree when their station wagon was hit by a tractor-trailer. Neilia and (daughter) Naomi were killed. Beau, age three, and Hunter, age two, were hospitalized. Biden said later that he considered suicide. He could not imagine taking his seat in the Senate, but senior members urged him to try Washington for six months. “They had lost their mom and their sister, so they cannot lose their father, and that’s what made him get out of bed in the morning,” Valerie said. She moved in and lived with her brother and the boys for four years. He never moved from Wilmington. And so began the ninety-minute commute each way on Amtrak, the ritual that would become a fixture of his life...
(After disastrous behavior from his first Presidential campaign and bad choices during his Senate Judiciary Chair duties) Biden worked hard to rebuild his reputation. In 1994, he led the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act, which heightened protections against abusive partners, and helped him win back the support of women’s groups. Biden always liked the old bipartisan courtesies in the Senate, and he mourned the arrival of more combative members who “really had no respect for the institution of the Senate,” he told me. “By that, I mean they wanted to make it the House. I’ll never forget the first time I heard someone on the floor of the Senate refer to the President as Bubba.” Biden’s friendships were so varied that he was the only senator who was asked to speak at funerals for both Strom Thurmond, the former segregationist, and Frank Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat, who called Biden “the only Catholic Jew...”
Biden became an envoy to an implacable Congress. David Plouffe, one of Obama’s political advisers, saw Biden’s mission as a question: “Where is the deal space?” His belief in compromise over ideology put him closer to the President. “They really have the same mind-set there,” Plouffe said. Biden held on to his locker at the Senate gym, where he liked to kibbitz. He coached Sonia Sotomayor before her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. When the White House needed to pass the $787-billion stimulus plan, Emanuel asked Biden to call six Republican senators. He got yes votes from three of them, and the bill passed by three votes. He became a willing deal-maker. Too willing, in the eyes of Harry Reid and other Democratic lawmakers, who faulted Biden for not driving a harder bargain in the fiscal negotiations...

There's a lot more at Osnos' biography, so I encourage you to read the whole thing.

So how does this translate for Crazy Joe Biden?

Joe Biden - Vice President, Delaware
Positives: Extensive, comprehensive political career from nearly 30 years in the Senate to Vice-Presidency. Knows as much about legislative procedures as anyone on the ticket (definitely way more than trump). Has staked out the "Establishment" Centrist position and the "Moderate White Male" role in the horse race, giving him a comfortable portion of the voter base (this is why most of the other moderate White guys running for the Dem ticket are polling under 2 percent). Is already well-positioned to appeal to non-party voters that trump is clearly losing through his partisan (and racist) governance. Is the biggest defender - outside of Obama himself - of the ACA/Obamacare reforms which many Americans now view as the baseline of healthcare (which makes him a more comfortable vote vs. the more radical Dems promoting wholesale changes with "Medicare For All"). Has a personal biography - personal brush with death, dying son which motivates Biden's healthcare ideas - that few Republicans can mock (trump will still try). Basically he's running on his association with Obama who is STILL the most respected man in the United States, and while coat-tails are hard to prove this is a legacy campaign that can attract all the voters from 2012 that made states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin go Blue.

Negatives: This is his third serious attempt at the Presidency, and even on his third try is making gaffes and miscues that would have - and did - sunk his first two tries. Is seriously not a good campaigner on the national stage. Is running a Centrist bipartisan campaign during a primary when he OUGHT to be appealing to the more left-leaning voter base. Has openly stated he thinks once trump is out of the White House that the Republicans - even Obstructionist "Moscow Mitch" - will regain their senses and behave themselves (insert headdesking here). His platform boils down to "I'm not trump" (which also counts as a positive because there's at least 65 million people who will vote on that point alone). Does not necessarily flip any battleground states. Will get confronted on his age and personal health (even though he's barely older than trump), and is already showing signs of not keeping his facts straight.

Chances: Surprisingly steady. Where his off-color tone-deaf "jokes" - and willfully blind pandering to a bipartisanship that no longer exists - would have killed a lesser candidate's campaign, Biden's been coasting on two key traits: 1) Enough people know him from his Veep days serving with Obama to trust him, 2) and he's not leaning too far Left on the electoral spectrum to scare off the more moderate Dem voters who usually sit out these primaries. Even after getting pummeled by Harris in the first debate (where Biden lost support in the double digits) he regained those numbers and is back in the high 30s of the polling numbers. His second debate didn't create any further disasters, which for him is a major step forward and solidified his lead. Thing is, this is a long primary process and anything between now and March 2020 - when things heat up - could still crash his momentum.

Character Chart: Biden's more noticeable acts in office - both in the Senate and in the Veep's office - points to a Congenial nature. He's passed an extraordinary number of bills while in the Senate - benefits of a long career there - and during that time worked with a large number of both Democrats and Republicans to get them passed. That required knowing how to barter for votes, which requires either an Active-Negative view - like LBJ, who understood power and how to horse-trade for it - or a Passive-Positive view that required checking your Ego at the door and doing what was best to get the deals done.

This explains, partly, why he's convinced that a more bipartisan Senate/Congress is possible if he wins the Presidency in 2020: Biden still thinks of himself as a Senator, as part of a select clubhouse that despite political opposition and ambitions still share the same workspace.

It may explain why Obama picked him to serve as Vice-President: Biden was not only the counter-balance to Obama's weakness with inexperience in 2008, but Biden was a deal-maker who knew how Congress worked and could help Obama pass legislation like healthcare reform that required such skills. (The Congenial nature would also mask any personal ambitions that most politicians have, which gave Obama the room to grow into the role of national leader without a "mentor" hogging the same spotlight) Unlike the more ambitious Hillary - or most other choices Obama could have gone with as Veep - an Active-Positive like Obama could have lived with the likes of Biden without worrying about internal power struggles.

If you want the simplest, easiest-to-understand description of him: Joe Biden is the Democratic Party's answer to Ronald Reagan. The affable elder who can draw in a big tent of party voters and not upset the independent/moderate voters needed to make that tent bigger.

This explains why Biden's polling keeps leveling up instead of sinking down as the primaries drag on. Democratic voters, having been burned in 2016 by the loss of moderate-leaning Midwest/Rust Belt voters who flipped from Obama to trump, may be terrified of supporting more proactive, progressive options and want the most likable, most "electable" candidate they know. And they know Joe: Perceived in public opinion as the wacky uncle / comic sidekick to the more professional, cooler Obama. One of the more shocking polling numbers is the support among Black voters (especially Black women voters) that Biden currently enjoys. Even after getting burned on his busing stance by an actual Black Woman campaigning for the office, Biden is still the preferred choice because he's the more likable choice.

And this is in spite of the reality - something I've noted before - that Biden himself isn't all that charismatic or memorable.

Which is where the concerns kick in by the other factions within the Democratic party worried that Biden may win the nomination but then campaign poorly against a dark force like trump and lose that November. trump may not be an effective debater, but as 2016 proved the debates are almost meaningless anymore. What will matter to voters in the booths when the choice has to be made is "Will this person lead?" Granted, a lot of Americans have seen trump in action and know damn well he isn't leading he's destroying, but can Biden prove a better choice?

Biden is insanely conciliatory towards a Republican party that has shown harsh partisan behavior towards both the Democrats and the nation ever since Obama was sworn into office in 2009. There is every possibility that if the Republicans retain the Senate (and worse, win back the House) they can easily refuse to work with a Biden administration, even to the point of refusing to appoint his Cabinet and judicial nominations outright. This is not a position that can win over a lot of Democratic primary voters who have only known McConnell's obstructionist ways over that time period, but is also not a position that can win over moderate voters who want things done.

It's not that the voters will stick with trump in this situation, but that they might not show up to vote (again, but for slightly different reasons) at all. Which can hurt the down-ballot votes, etc. etc. Biden is not that safe a choice, unless the Democratic Party across the entire voter base is on board with him (and with the BernieBros already threatening to no-show against anyone NOT Bernie, this is a problem).

These are concerns, not great ones, but they need being answered well before the Convention should Biden win the primaries: He'll need to select a near-perfect Veep for the ticket one that can appease enough Progressives, and he will need to agree to a more left-leaning platform than he already has (which may mean agreeing to a Medicare-For-Many compromise), AND he will need to push hard (the whole party has to) on a campaign to flip enough Senate seats to avoid outright obstructionism. Unfortunately, Passive-Positive types like to work in a comfort zone, and some of these efforts may burst that particular bubble to where Biden won't campaign better than he needs to.

If he wins, Biden will also have to confront a lot of problems that most Passive-Positives aren't happy to confront. trump has already dismantled much of the operations of the Executive branch, probably to the point of a full rebuild of many agencies. Foreign policy issues have to fight through the toxic environments trump has created with almost all of our allies (on the bright side, those allies will be happy to get ANYBODY not trump and may forgive a few bumps while re-establishing relations). Biden would have to cope with the reality that his faith in a bipartisan Congress won't really be there when he starts working.

One other concern will be how he sets up his own White House. The potential for inviting in some of the more unsavory types - not only corrupt power brokers among Democrats but also corrupt Republicans Biden is likely to invite to create a diverse administration - will be high. While a lot of Passive-Positive Presidents (Grant, Harding, Reagan, Dubya) end up presiding over corrupt administrations - because they bring in friends or party hacks who abuse the President's trust - there is a good chance Biden won't rule over such an administration. There have been Pass-Pos leaders like Taft who worked as reasonable and relatively scandal-free leaders. A lot depends on who Biden brings with him, not only his Veep choice but also his Chief of Staff, his Cabinet, and any Congressional allies he relies on to get an agenda passed.

As a personal note: I've made a personal preference already - Harris, followed by Warren - but in all likelihood I will support the Democratic nominee in 2020. Biden will NOT worry me as much as this article may seem - I am throwing out there a lot of hypotheticals anyway - but I do worry about the poor campaign performance. At some point, the gaffes become inexcusable and the loss of general voter support could happen. I just want the best possible Democratic candidate winning in 2020. I'm not entirely sure that's Joe.

Next Up On Predicting Character: ...Sigh. Yes, I *have* to give him a fair shake...

Turning Off Parts of the Comments Section

Okay, I've gotten sick of the Anonymous spammers filling up my comments inbox, so for now I am changing the settings to where you have to login with a Google account to post a comment.

If this is a problem for you, I apologize, but I am sick of the spam.

If there is another way of making the comments options more open to non-Google accounts, let me know. Tweet me at @PaulWartenberg or direct email me at my Gmail account (It should be on my About page, check the tab above)

Saturday, August 10, 2019

One Sentence About My Thoughts Regarding Jeffrey Epstein's Death in Jail

For starters I'm not buying the suicide report because he'd already tried something like this earlier and for the love of GOD should have been under 24/7 suicide watch just to make sure nobody tried to shiv him, because Jeffrey Epstein's career as a Pedophile Pimp for an exclusive club of billionaire greed-heads and political figures - a list including the Shitgibbon himself, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew from the UK (!) - along with growing evidence Epstein was involved in human trafficking across the globe made him a high risk for certain powerful figures who would risk Epstein's death in jail and withstand the coming public outcry against such an obvious conspiratorial move by fearing the possibility of Epstein exposing global diabolical criminal activities, and so I call on the New York District Attorneys investigating Epstein and his Circle of Carnal Crime to keep digging and arrest every child-fucker and human slaver they can find. Gasp. Shit, that's two sentences. SHIT, THAT'S... okay you get my gist.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

There Is No Word for a Child's Fear... But There Is a Name For That Fear Now And It Belongs to trump

A few weeks back, trump and his ICE thugs had openly talked about raiding ten major "Sanctuary" cities to "arrest" (actually kidnap) thousands of "undocumented illegals" (anybody with dark skin and no paperwork to prove who they are), but those raids either never happened or fizzled out. The understanding post-panic was that it was trump and the anti-immigrant bastards doing their upmost to scare Hispanic-Americans into fearing the worst.

Well, yesterday, the worst finally happened in Mississippi (via Sarah Fowler at the Clarion Ledger):

A Scott County child started kindergarten Tuesday. Wednesday, while the child was at school, their parent was arrested by federal agents, one of 680 people taken into custody after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted seven raids at food processing plants across Mississippi.
Superintendent Tony McGee said, as of Wednesday afternoon, he knew of at least six families within the district that had a parent caught up in the raids. The students range from kindergarten to high school.
McGee, who met with ICE officials after the raids, said he expected the number to increase. 
The raids happened in small towns near Jackson with a workforce made up largely of Latino immigrants. The towns hit include Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol.
Reports from the scene of the raids mentioned children waving goodbye to their parents as the adults were taken into custody. It is not publicly known how many children are being impacted by the arrests.
In Scott County, teachers and staff are on standby. To make sure a child doesn't go home to an empty house, bus drivers have been given strict instructions to have a "visual reference to a parent or guardian" before they drop the student off. If there is not a parent home, the child will be taken back to school, McGee said... 

This wasn't an attempt to rein in street gangs. This wasn't a law and order situation.

They arrested families. They attacked people who worked for a living (and likely paid more in taxes than any rich man ever would). They attacked mothers and fathers (on the first day of school in the state, no less. THEY KNEW what they were doing). They abandoned children to empty homes without meals, without supervision, without answers.

The goddamn wingnuts wanted scalps.

The racists wanted to terrify Latinos (and other ethnics).

And now children are scared. And now parents are locked away, terrified about what might happen to their kids. I wouldn't be surprised if ICE personnel started forcing mothers and fathers to sign away their lives on any form shoved in their face if they were promised the safety of their children. Any coerced confession to Gods knows whatever the hell the bullies want out of their victims.

This is a nightmare.

This is exactly what trump and the goddamn Republicans want.

For everyone not White to be afraid.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Old Enough to Remember

My thought for the day.

I'm old enough to remember they blamed violence on heavy metal.

I'm old enough to remember they blamed violence on D&D.

I'm old enough to remember they blamed violence on rap.

I'm old enough to remember they blamed violence on TV.

I'm old enough to remember they blamed violence on R-rated movies.

I'm old enough to remember they blamed violence on graphic video games, which they're doing right now in fact.

I'm old enough to remember the one real constant to all that violence the last 49 years of my life was easy access to guns.

They'll blame everything else but that.

Say Hello to the Second American Civil War Between the Far Right Haters and Everybody Else

"Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not." - Aragorn, The Two Towers.

I want you to follow this link to Adam L Silverman's article at Balloon Juice. Silverman has been pointing out for YEARS the escalation of white supremacist terrorism in the United States and to him we are at the official point of all-out civil war.

It’s that simple. You’re either on the side of the Statue of Liberty or the side of the tiki torch neo-NAZIs and white supremacists. There is no Both Siding this. There is no “if my favorite candidate isn’t the nominee, I’m not voting because I won’t compromise my ideals and ideological purity”. Refusing to pick a torch, is refusing to take a stand. It is putting yourself and whatever your pet issue or issues are over promoting the general welfare and providing for the common defense. None of your high minded, ideologically pure agenda is going to ever get enacted if you don’t stand with those standing with Lady Liberty against the nationalist conservatives, the white supremacists, neo-nationalists, neo-fascists, and neo-NAZIs. Failing to pick a torch moves us one step closer to a white Christian herrenvolk democracy dictatorship in the US where everyone who isn’t white and Christian has their rights challenged, limited, and/or taken away.
I have been screaming "For the Love of GOD stop voting Republican" for years. Now you see why. I saw this end result, same as Silverman and thousands like us. All this rage and hatred the Far Right was stirring up for decades was going to lead to bloodshed. Well, now we're here.

Stand up for the children shoved into cages. Stand up for the families getting shot by terrorists dreaming of their "Turner Diaries" Whites-Only Utopia. Stand up for yourself, because you aren't safe from ANY of this, even if you're White Hetero Male. Sooner or later, these haters will come for you, because they can't stop themselves. Their hate can never be sated.

We've seen this before. It's happening again.

Stand up, dammit. The entire nation depends on it.

Blood on the Streets of Dayton Ohio

Jesus GODDAMNED Christ. We can't go to sleep without bloodshed in our country. Woke up this morning to news about Dayton, Ohio (via Chas Danner at New York):

Nine people were killed and 26 injured after a gunman opened fire in Dayton, Ohio’s nightlife district early morning Sunday. It was the second deadly mass shooting in America in less than a day, and third in less than a week.
Dayton Police officials announced that an as of yet unidentified gunman opened fire on bystanders just after 1 a.m. outside of Ned Peppers Bar in the city’s historic and popular Oregon District. The gunman was wearing body armor and came armed with a .223-caliber “long gun,” high capacity magazines, and extra ammunition. Police officers already present in the area immediately responded to the attack and fired on the shooter, killing him at the entrance to the bar. The attack seems to have lasted only about a minute, but that was more than enough time for the well-armed gunman to exact a heavy toll.

At this point, SYRIA or YEMEN are safer places to live. Our national body count is exceeding that of HONEST TO GOD WAR ZONES.

And to all the sonsofbitches out there who fantasize about "Good Guys With Guns" being present to stop the "Bad Guys With Guns," you got your wish: Police were in the area and responded as quick as possible. IT STILL WAS NOT FAST ENOUGH TO SAVE NINE PEOPLE. The gunman was still prepared with body armor, high-capacity magazines (which means less effort to reload), and extra ammo.

It is still too early to report on what motivated the murderer besides 1) anger and 2) easy access to military-grade firepower. No idea if Ned Peppers was specifically targeted or just the first one the sonofabitch wanted to shoot up.

But we're now at the point in the escalation of mass shootings in the United States to where these mass shootings are overlapping.

Used to be a mass shooting every year.

Then it got to be a mass shooting every month.

Then we got normalized to the reality of a mass shooting every week.

Here we are today, where the mass shooting of one day hasn't even been cleaned up before the next day's mass shooting hits the news channels.

All this in a world where any other sane nation would have passed strict gun regulations for public safety after the FIRST mass shooting. But this is not a sane nation, is it?

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over. - Dan Hodges, reporter

We live through one mass shooting after another and muddle on through our lives just praying we don't get stuck in one ourselves. And we can't avoid that anymore: We're getting reports about survivors from last week's Gilroy Garlic Festival having survived the mass shooting of a Country music concert in Las Vegas a few years ago. This is now getting so common that survivors should be issued discount cards for each incident they get through. And this is NOT the first time I'm making this observation!


Welcome to the NRA's wet dream: non-stop mass shootings that are certain to keep gun and ammo sales ongoing for the rest of our nation's short-lived future.

We need to pass a law requiring the board of the National Body Count Association to dig the graves of every victim of a mass shooting, for two reasons: First, if the shedding of OUR blood is the price WE have to pay for the gun nuts to own their murder-sticks, then digging our graves is the least THEY can do for us; and Second, at this rate the NRA needs to learn how to work at graveyards because at this rate they will be the only ones left to bury the rest of us.

Goddammit, America.

We are killing ourselves one shooting at a time.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Blood On the Streets of El Paso

Goddamn us (via Reuters).

A gunman armed with a rifle killed 20 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday and wounded more than two dozen before being arrested, authorities said, after the latest U.S. mass shooting sent panicked shoppers fleeing.
Many of those in the busy store were buying back-to-school supplies when they were caught up in the rampage, which came just six days after a teenage gunman killed three people at a food festival in Northern California.
The suspect was identified as a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas, a Dallas-area city some 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso.

The sonofabitch drove EIGHT HOURS out of his way to shoot up a Wal-Mart in El Paso.

Asked during a CNN interview about reports of disturbing online posts made by the suspect, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would not be surprised in any way.
“I think those can help shed light on why he did it,” Paxton said. “They are still interviewing him.”
El Paso police chief Greg Allen said authorities had a manifesto from the suspect that indicates “there is a potential nexus to a hate crime.” Officials declined to elaborate and said the investigation was continuing.

Word is the sonofabitch shooter was a fan of the Christchurch mass killer, and the manifesto is railing against "Hispanics" invading the United States. Which is pretty much donald trump's consistent message of rage and hate on the ongoing immigration matters.

Citing a law enforcement source, El Paso television station KTSM published on its website what it said were two photos of the suspect taken by security cameras as he entered the Walmart.
The images showed a young white man wearing glasses, khaki trousers and a dark T-shirt, and pointing an assault-style rifle. He appears to be wearing headphones or ear defenders.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images.

The assault rifle, a military-type firearm that has become the favorite weapon of choice for White boy Neo-Nazi Klan-worshiping assholes. The perfect accessory for the Angry Guy in need of a Gun.

That sonofabitch needs to be charged under terrorism laws because that's what he is.


Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Things That Should Be Bothering You

Above all, trump is still in the White House. At this moment he is the most evil racist sexist sonofabitch to occupy the Oval Office since Andrew Jackson. he's probably more evil than that.

Mitch McConnell refuses to do anything to prevent Russia - or any other foreign power with their hooks into trump and the Republican Party - from hacking our upcoming 2020 elections.

The economy is showing more signs of heading into a recession.

Speaking of which, trump upped the trade war versus China again with a $300 billion shot scheduled for September 1. The Dow and other stock markets promptly crashed AGAIN.

Hurricane season is picking up. August tends to be the month the big ones start forming in the Atlantic before crashing through the Caribbean and the U.S. And some parts of the United States and Puerto Rico haven't recovered from the last two years.

Oh, and CNN can't host political debates for shit.

I am sorely tempted at the moment to make the "We're Screwed" tag a permanent one until this Darkest Timeline is over.