Monday, September 30, 2019

Not Very Bright Guys Getting Caught

The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand...
- Deep Throat in All the President's Men, talking about Nixon's underlings responsible for the encompassing Watergate scandals.

Hold our beer.
- trump's underlings responsible for all the shit coming out now

The revelations today have been dropping on about an hourly basis, people. I can't keep up.

I have to keep referring to Balloon Juice and even that crew can't keep up. The best I can do is refer to John Cole's take here:

Every now and then you see a story on News of the Weird or something else about a really stupid criminal who shows up to their DUI sentencing drunk or brings an ounce of coke with them to their sentencing for intent to deliver, and you say to yourself, “How fucking stupid is this guy?”

He then quotes the New York Times article getting his Irish oop:

President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.
The White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of the president’s aides, one of the officials said, an unusual decision that is similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Like that call, the discussion with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia shows the extent to which Mr. Trump sees the attorney general as a critical partner in his goal to show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins, and the extent that Mr. Trump sees the Justice Department inquiry as a potential way to gain leverage over America’s closest allies.

And then Cole updated his post to include this:

Jesus Christ, I literally just posted this and this showed up on my news feed:
Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.
Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries.

We got Barr not only implicated by trump's own statements trying to interfere and discredit the intelligence / security agencies our nation relies on, but he's been documented meeting with foreign agencies to do just that. It's a twofer: Barr can't deny one and ignore the other.

Our own Attorney General is trump's most trusted foot soldier in committing crimes against our own nation. How the hell can he be allowed to stay in office one second longer?

And Barr's just the newest recruit, he's barely been at his job since February (!). Just think of all the other idiots getting caught doing trump's dirty work - Pence, Giuliani, Pompeo, Mulvaney - have been at it for years. And we're not even talking about the guys who already got caught and pled out to jail time like Michael Cohen.

These were not very bright guys...

I grew up reading Doonesbury - much to my father's horrified chagrin - and while I was a child during the Watergate years I had no memory of it. I relied on understanding the events in hindsight, trying to learn how in real time the nation handled a national crisis like that, and Trudeau's coverage helped me come to terms with some of it.

In this moment, today, all the madness being unleashed, I thought of this strip:

from July 23, 1974
Just like Popehat tweeted: if only these bastards were caught dealing blue meth, this would be so much easier to deal with...

None of this is defensible. None of this can be waved away. Our nation's highest offices are not only filled with crooks, those crooks are idiots.

This is more than just kakistocracy. This is malignant stupidity that usually gets people killed.

We are so very royally extremely godforsakeningly fucked.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Why The Republican Party is Dead To Me, and Why It Needs To Crash and Burn Forever

As the revelations into the Ukraine scandal expose more of the depths of trump's eternal corruption, it's also exposing why a once-respected political party has devolved into the cranks, conspiracy nuts, thieves, and violent extremists eager to promote any act of evil.

There's a reason why trump flourished as a con artist in the Republican Party: The GOP was already consumed by its own rot. Let me refer to Adam Serwer's piece in the Atlantic (warning, they use a paywall now):

What the Framers may not have contemplated, however, is the extent to which a demagogue is capable of convincing his supporters that the president and the people are one and the same, and therefore, the president is incapable of betraying the people, because he is their purest expression made flesh. Trump is but a crass distillation of this anti-democratic idea, but if it were not deeply rooted in the Republican Party, he could never have ascended to its leadership.
Already, Republicans have sought to dismiss Trump’s explicit attempt to extort a foreign leader into criminalizing a political rival by denying that the summary of the call shows what it shows. Republican legislators believe there is nothing the president could do to lose the support of the people who put them in office, and so there is no political benefit to acknowledging his misconduct, even though they would immediately demand the impeachment or resignation of any Democratic president who did the same thing. In the 1990s, Republicans impeached Bill Clinton over his false denials of sexual impropriety; they would not hesitate to impeach a Democratic president who withheld foreign aid to extract a smear of his Republican rivals.

This is the "If Obama Did X, Republicans Would Go Apeshit" theory. Republicans don't mind their own committing crimes and sins that the GOP would accuse Democrats of committing. The hypocrisy of it reeks but Republicans seem to enjoy the smell. Back to Serwer:

But behind this unfailing submission to Trump also lie more troubling influences. As the parties have become more racially polarized, and the Republican Party has become more exclusively white and Christian, Republicans have begun to think of themselves as the only genuinely legitimate actors in the polity. This is why Republicans draw districts that hand them more offices even when they fail to win a majority of the votes; it is why Republican legislatures strip Democratic executives of their powers when the electorate foils their efforts to rig elections in their favor; it is why the Trump administration attempted a fraudulent scheme to use the census to diminish the influence of minority voters relative to white voters; it is why Republicans seek to pass laws intended to suppress minority votes; it is why every night on Fox News, viewers hear one host after another outline deranged conspiracies about how Democrats want to steal America from its rightful white owners through demographic change...
The Republican belief that their opposition is inherently illegitimate is one reason it does not matter to many Republicans that Trump’s allegations that Biden sought to get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to prevent his son from being investigated are baseless. As CNN’s Daniel Dale has documented, there is no public evidence that Hunter Biden was ever himself under investigation; the prosecutor whose firing Biden called for as vice president was widely considered corrupt; the investigation Biden supposedly shut down was “dormant” at the time Biden expressed the view of the Obama administration that the prosecutor should be fired; and the reason world leaders, including Barack Obama, were demanding his firing in the first place was that he was failing to investigate corruption in Ukraine, not that he was being prevented from doing so. As my colleague David Graham writes, “Biden’s pressure to install a tougher prosecutor probably made it more likely, not less, that Burisma would be in the cross hairs.”
Attempting to use one’s official powers for private gain is the most basic definition of corruption. Yet because the base of the Republican Party believes itself to be the only legitimate expression of popular will, whether or not its members constitute an actual majority of the electorate, it does not matter what Trump’s motives are. Much of the Republican base believes, as Trump does, that loyalty to the country and loyalty to himself are one and the same. Therefore, nothing Trump could do is corrupt, and even using his official powers for personal gain is an act of selfless patriotism. In this warped view, attempting to extort foreign countries into attacking his political rivals is not a betrayal of his responsibilities as president; it is the fullest expression of them.
Unless Republican support for Trump craters, Republican legislators will not turn against him. And Republican support for Trump cannot crater as long as many Republicans view their political rivals as illegitimate political actors rather than fellow citizens...

This - the failure to recognize and accept all Americans as part of this wide and diverse nation, the hatred for minorities and dread Other that consumed the GOP's collective heart - is one of the big reasons why I fled the Republican Party after 2000... Well after 1992 actually, but it took awhile to move myself to change voter affiliation. McCain during the 2000 primaries was the last Republican I ever supported.

This is why I've been screaming for more than a decade now for people to stop voting Republican. You're not voting for am honest political party when you do. You're not voting for an ideology worth supporting. You'll be voting for a corrupt criminal conspiracy of its own, raised on its own self-serving desires to seize all it can and punish everyone else through rage and destruction.

Gods help us. Until a majority of Americans wake up to the fact that Republicans are corrupt and at war with fellow Americans, this will get worse.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

How We Got to the Darkest Timeline in 2019

Just remember these fun little facts, boys and girls.

Before all this madness, trump was a multiple-bankrupted business failure.

trump was caught committing various acts of fraud.

trump was sexually assaulting women and bragging about it.

trump lied and kept lying.

trump and his cronies were a goddamned criminal conspiracy going in to the White House.

And they've gotten worse the last three years.

And the Republican Party trump represents?

The Republicans have no moral qualms about supporting this goddamn crook.

That's why we are where we are tonight as a nation.

Goddamn every trump voter and every Republican pandering to this bastard.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Clown Living On Credit Driving the Car Off the Cliff

trump is a Clown living on credit
- quoted to Rick Wilson by a hedge fund manager

The last 48 hours - especially in the period since Pelosi agreed to let the House begin impeachment proceedings - have been a bit hectic and it's nearly impossible to write it all down because any minute now the shit can get crazier, but pretty much I can boil it down to this:

What the ever-fucking hell did trump and his idiots do now?

If you're following me you better be reading Balloon Juice, and I can tell you this day alone has been one of the craziest I've ever seen on there.

Mistermix's New Strategy: Admit Everything where trump pretty much just... tweeted everything out.

David Anderson's Unleash the Lawyers

The moment when it turned into farce: Mistermix's What a Bunch of Dumbshits when the White House emailed the House Democrats the Republicans' talking points (and then tried to recall that email).

I skipped over the grizzly bear fight because that's normal. The rest of this shit wasn't normal.

Betty Cracker's review of trump's flop sweat: "Lost Mustard! Naked Mopping! Suburu in a Field!"

Trump abused presidential power on live TV today in a press conference with Ukrainian President Zelensky, reiterating demands for investigations of the Bidens on camera. But that’s not even the crazy part. He also said on live TV that he thinks Ukraine has the 33K emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server, that the DNC server is located in Ukraine and possibly Ukraine has the remains of Amelia Earhart.
Okay, I made the Amelia Earhart part up, but seriously, he just started blurting out wingnut conspiracy theories to an uncomprehending world. It would be as if you were on global TV, saw a green balloon and started ranting about lost mustard, naked mopping and stray Subarus marooned in fields. Everyone would look at you like you’d lost your mind...

And right now Anne Laurie's open thread Do I Look Like A Man Who Would Go To Jail For This Putz?

Right now, for what I can gather, trump's rambling self-pitying performance today included VP Pence, AG Barr, Rudy, and maybe even two-thirds of his own family as co-conspirators in trump's extortion scheme on Ukraine.

There's been so much crazy today with the illegal stuff trump admitted to that asking a lawyer for an explanation won't be needed. Oh what the hell, here's commentary from Noah Feldman via a Minnesota legal blog:

...It is not uncommon for the U.S. government, including the president, to make aid to foreign governments conditional on certain conduct. Indeed, during the Barack Obama administration, U.S. aid to Ukraine was delayed while the U.S. pushed Ukraine to remove its top prosecutor, who had turned a blind eye to numerous corruption investigations. Biden’s role in that pressure is one of the things Trump says he wanted Ukraine to investigate.
What makes Trump’s alleged conduct so terrible is not that he froze aid to Ukraine for a policy purpose. What makes Trump’s alleged conduct outrageous is the appearance that he was doing it for his own personal benefit. Joe Biden is at present the leading Democratic contender to face Trump in 2020. So an investigation of Biden would not serve the national interest, but Trump’s personal interest.
And herein lies a crime — at least, possibly. It is illegal for a government official to solicit a bribe. That includes situations in which a public official extracts a bribe from somebody in exchange for taking an official act that falls within his governmental authority. (There are other bribery and extortion-related statutes, but this one is most relevant.)
It could be argued that Donald Trump wanted to extract a payoff from the president of Ukraine — namely, an investigation that would cast a negative light on Biden, a prospective political opponent. If Trump communicated that he would unfreeze aid to Ukraine in exchange for that payoff, he was offering to perform an official governmental act in exchange for the payoff. Put another way, Trump extorted the president of Ukraine by demanding a bribe in the form of action against Biden. True, political advantage is not the same thing as an envelope of cash or a gold watch. But to a president seeking re-election, dirt on the leading rival could be even more valuable.
The first key element here is that an investigation of Biden wasn’t in the U.S. national interest but only in Trump’s personal interest. If the president extracts a commitment from a foreign government that is in the national interest, that doesn’t constitute extortion under the law. That’s just foreign policy. So, we can expect Trump’s defenders to say that Trump wasn’t seeking personal gain. That may be what Trump had in mind when he told reporters at the United Nations that even if he had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with it. But would a rational person really believe it was purely a coincidence that Trump was seeking dirt on his strongest presidential rival?
A second key element is that Trump was proposing a quid pro quo: In exchange for the Biden probe, he would unfreeze aid to Ukraine. The crime of extortion requires a proposed exchange. In his defense, Trump can be expected to maintain, as he has already said, that he did not himself link the Biden investigation to the Ukraine aid. But even without a smoking-gun connection, and even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion or bribery on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange. Under conditions where both presidents knew that the question of aid was on the table, it would be reasonable to infer that when Trump brought up the Biden investigation he was suggesting a deal...
Just the phrase alone "Do us a favor" and trump is pretty much toast.

And while there's still a troubling matter of trump's dealings with Russia that the Mueller probe tried to reveal, this Ukraine scandal is more direct evidence of impeachable offenses because 1) trump himself is making these calls, he can't hide behind buffers like his family and campaign staffers, and 2) unlike the Russia case where Mueller can prove Russians were involved but couldn't prove trump knew and aided them, there are direct statements and acts of Quid Pro Quo that investigators can hang their hats on.

This is where hearing from the intelligence whistleblower is a necessity. Whoever it is, that person has full details of what went down and how bad it got.

And to wrap this all up let us quote from Charles P Pierce at Esquire:

Holy hell, will they ever get the dosage right on the tranq gun?
The president* closed his busy news day with a press availability at the United Nations in New York. He was just as dishonest and calumnizing as he usually is, but he did it with an affect, and in a voice, that made him look as though he were a basset hound on Quaaludes. Almost without looking up, he lugubriously tossed Mike Pence under the bus by telling congressional Democrats (and the press) to "look at Mike Pence's phone calls." Which, I assume, will now happen. He also seemed to say that he was correct in asking the president of Ukraine to engage in international ratf-cking because Hillary Clinton didn't campaign enough in Wisconsin.

This train wreck ain't over and trump's clown car is just hitting the railguard tonight. Oy. I gotta stop mixing metaphors.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Cons and Pros of Impeaching trump 2019

As the scandal over trump's efforts to extort Ukraine into pushing a false narrative about Joe Biden's son intensified this weekend, the Democratic majority leadership in the US House - where impeachment deliberations into trump's unethical and likely illegal acts would happen - is pretty much just sitting on their hands unwilling to confront a corrupt and bullying President Loser of the Popular Vote.

So how the hell did we end up in this state of affairs?

Let's open up with the Cons: the arguments why the Democrats in Congress would avoid pursuing any impeachment inquiry.

  • The most obvious and simple fact that even if the House votes to impeach trump on ANY number of scandals - the obstruction documented by Mueller, the ongoing Emoluments violations, corrupt practices involving various federal agencies, trump's mishandling of foreign matters, ongoing stonewalling of various committees, now THIS crap with the whistleblower revealing possible extortion and electoral fraud (again) - any impeachment effort will die in the Senate. The Republican majority controlling that wing of Congress won't even think of getting two-thirds votes to actually remove trump. Doing so would upset their own rabid voting base for whom trump will never do anything wrong. Why waste the effort when it amounts to nil?
  • The possibility that if the Democrats in the House vote to impeach, and the Republicans in the Senate sweeps every impeachment under the rug, trump will use that Republican denial to claim vindication, that he defeated the cowardly and foolish Democratic Party single-handed, that he was "innocent all along" and that his haters are "lying stupid libruls". Even though none of that will be true - that if this were a court of law and not a partisan-held branch of government, trump would be facing jail time for his crimes - there's every likelihood the media will play to that narrative, and it will confuse the still-undecided voters and/or discourage the moderate/liberal voters from voting at all. 

And here's the arguments in the Pro column: why Democrats need to take action as quick as possible.

  • Refusing to pursue trump on impeachment charges will only embolden trump to commit even more violations of the law, and more than likely sabotage fair election efforts so he can cheat again.
  • Even if the Republicans in the Senate are likely to refuse to vote against trump during the impeachment process, by forcing that vote the Democrats are sticking this onto Republicans who will have to OWN that vote forever. The impeachment process will expose as a matter of record every sin trump has committed, and the Republicans will have to defend why they allow those sins to go unpunished. They may be shameless but any of them from battleground states where trump is unpopular will have to defend themselves from angry voters.
  • trump is a fraud, a con artist. he's the Shitgibbon of the Universe, willing to break any rule and ignore any norm in his quest for power and his appetite for greed. He has to get throat-punched at every opportunity because COMMON HUMAN DECENCY DEMANDS IT.
  • trump is a punk. And punks step up so they can get slapped down.

I hope this clarifies things for you, Democrats.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

When the Con Artist Sells Our Nation To the Other End of the Phone Call

Thursday was a deadline for drama, and oh dear God did it deliver...

If you'll recall last weekend, a whistleblower got word to Congress that trump's White House was sitting on "urgent" and credible national security matters. The acting Director of National Intelligence Maguire was required by law to pass information to Adam Schiff's committee by Tuesday (he did not) and was required to give testimony in closed session today (it ended up being the agency's Inspector General who alerted Schiff in the first place).

Whatever that testimony was, the reports and scuttlebutt around it are deeply serious. If we can refer to Emptywheel's coverage on this:

The Washington Post reported more details Wednesday evening about the whistleblower complaint:
Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say...
One bit stood out for me in the lede:
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter...

With some updating for today:

Important to note that the IC IG is a Trump appointee — Michael Atkinson. He’s responsible for the determination that the unidentified whistleblower’s complaint was credible and an “urgent concern.”
ADNI broke the law as Amee Vanderpool noted here because the complaint was deemed credible:
50 USC § 3033(k)(5)(C): the DNI is required to transmit details on “urgent complaints” to congressional intel committees w/in 7 days-only exemption is if the complaint isn’t “credible.”
If Schiff’s claims that the complaint is credible are correct, the acting DNI broke the law.
Earlier speculation was that the whistleblower sent up flares over a phone call trump made to Putin back in late July. The current thinking is that the call instead involves Ukraine, where trump's lackeys - especially Rudy Giuliani - were openly pressuring that nation's government into starting their own investigations into Joe Biden's son (who did business in that country). Back to Emptywheel:

It was Trump about Ukraine with a phone call to Zelensky, according to the latest report by WaPo...
Explains why the suggestions the matter was part of an ongoing investigation; the House was already investigating whether Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani were trying to persuade President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to help dig up dirt on Joe Biden to help Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Now we need to know if the $250M aid to Ukraine was dependent on this matter, as well as a meeting later this month between Trump and Zelensky — and if Vladimir Putin had been involved in this exchange in any way.

As I type this, Rudy was on CNN getting questions about his fishing expeditions and possible attempts at (more) collusion between trump and a foreign power. He wasn't doing so well responding, probably because he may realize that one way or another he was caught breaking laws that even trump and AG Barr can't cover up.

All we know for certain is that there's a whistleblower in the intelligence community who couldn't keep quiet about trump "promising" someone a deal that violated our nation's security.

All we know for certain is that trump was willing - eager - to sell out the presidency, sell out the United States, to a foreign nation. By all rights, this is fucking treason.

What the hell is going to stop this con artist in the Oval Office from dealing away our nation's integrity and sovereignty one phone call at a time?

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Proof the Nation Needs

To claim trump is the dirtiest, most crooked person to ever occupy the White House is easy to say, but difficult to prove. I mean, we can see trump violate the Emoluments Clause every single freaking day, but to prove it in the courts you need evidence, a paper trail, cold hard facts of fraud counted penny by penny.

Which is why getting at the proof - above all, those tax returns that trump refuses to go public with like every other President Loser of the Popular Vote has done - is so key towards exposing the crook for what he is.

Via Julia Arciga at the Daily Beast:

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office subpoenaed eight years of President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns late last month, a person familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast. Prosecutors are seeking Trump’s personal tax documents and those of the Trump Organization from accounting firm Mazars USA, including federal and state returns dating back to 2011. A spokesman for Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. declined to confirm or comment on the subpoena, which was first reported by The New York Times.
The subpoena was issued after prosecutors opened a criminal probe into the role Trump and the company played in the hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump. Michael Cohen—Trump’s former personal attorney—made the $130,000 payment to Daniels, and was subsequently reimbursed by the president and the Trump Organization. This also comes after Mazars USA was subpoenaed by Congress to hand over Trump’s financial records.

Granted, trump's lawyers are likely doing everything they can to throw this entire thing into delays and holds until the 2020 general election is over.

But this is all playing out at the state level, where the timetables run differently (hopefully faster than a few months) and also at a level that trump's cronies in the Justice Department and the Senate can't meddle or obstruct.

When it comes to trump, the most obvious thing you can investigate him for is his fraud: from bad business deals (how many bankrupt casinos?) to crooked con games (hi, Trump University!), if you want to find out trump's criminal habits you follow the money. The tax returns - something you're NOT supposed to lie about lest the IRS comes calling, even Al Capone found that out to his dread - are where you're going to find out where trump's money been coming from, and where it's been going to.

There may well be a simple psychological reason trump refuses to divulge his tax numbers: His ego. trump has spent decades claiming he's one of the richest men on the planet worth billions, but he never really goes out of his way to prove that. The tax returns would prove his wealth... but most likely showing him worth mere millions instead, exposing him to a public from which he desperately seeks adoration. (It could be even worse. The state tax returns from the 1990s suggests trump is in the red and living off of loans he can't pay off)

But that's just part of it. The darker reason trump is terrified his tax returns go public are the hints and allegations of money laundering for disreputable figures - above all the Russian mob - that those tax returns could validate. The revelations already made through Cohen's plea deal and how he was paying off people illegally suggest the rot touches everything under trump's corporate umbrella.

The federal government may not go after trump while he's sitting in the Oval Office, and there may even be legal restrictions on whether the state of New York can file criminal charges on him as well.

But one more thing to remember about trump's criminal empire: Most of his kids and personal handlers are all tied up in that rot as well. He may be untouchable but they aren't. And a crooked boss can't run his criminal empire without his most trusted people...

Start running, kids.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Serious Stuff for Sunday Part Three: Kavanaugh Lied. And He's a Sexually Abusive Drunk. Thanks, Mitch

The New York Times, after flubbing the Tweet rollout for the article, and even burying the lede by opening their investigative report with anecdote, did at least provide an in-depth examination of accusations against Brett Kavanaugh that the FBI refused to check during the Senate Supreme Court hearings. To wit:

Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.

In short: Both trump and the Republican Senate squashed any attempt to bring to light more credible allegations that Kavanaugh was a mean drunken sexist bully.

Republicans knew they had a snake for a nominee to sit on the highest court in the land, and they pushed him in anyway. Rather than take the honorable route of asking him to step aside like previous troubled nominees, they WANTED Kavanaugh to pass the Senate approval both to spite the Democrats pointing out his flaws and to spite women in general. When you look at how defensive the GOP leadership was and still is over Kavanaugh's nomination, a lot of it had to do with downplaying if not outright scorning women's concerns over sexual assault in college and sexual harassment in the workplace.

I wrote about this earlier:

But what Kavanaugh did to them DOES matter today.
He assaulted young women out of anger and lust and arrogance, driven by a sense of privilege that protected him from ANY accountability. He's lying about all that today, trying to protect himself from ANY accountability.
This is a man who is fighting to gain a seat on a judicial bench that will pass not just legal judgment but also moral and social judgment on others. A man who will do ANYTHING to avoid legal and moral and social judgment on himself.
This is not a man we should trust with that power.
And yet, the Republican Party as a whole is poised to grant him that power and privilege.
Because THEY want that power and privilege for themselves.

There is everything nightmarish about having a monster on the Supreme Court bench. And the Republicans are still defending the indefensible.

Serious Stuff for Sunday Part Two: Escalation (w/Update)

It's not something on the front pages every day, but there's been a war going on between Saudi Arabia and Yemen that has direct ties - via military aid and God knows what else - to the United States.

It's been bloody, with UN and humanitarian groups condemning the worsening conditions in the war-torn nation of Yemen. While it's in action a border clash, it's also an escalation of hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran - which is backing the Houthi uprising - over which side - Sunni vs. Shia - is dominant in Middle East affairs.

Early this Saturday, the escalation bumped up a serious notch when a couple of major Saudi oil installations were struck by drones causing enough damage to shut down half the Saudi oil production (via Ben Hubbard, Palko Karasz, and Stanley Reed at the New York Times):

Drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on Saturday, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies.
The attacks immediately escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a standoff between the United States and Iran, even as key questions remained unanswered — where the drones were launched from, and how the Houthis could have managed to hit facilities deep in Saudi territory, some 500 miles from Yemeni soil...
The Houthis said they had launched the aerial attacks with 10 drones, which would amount to their most audacious strike on Saudi Arabia since the kingdom intervened in Yemen’s war more than four years ago. The Saudi-led bombing campaign has devastated the poor country and exacerbated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Houthis are part of a regional network of militant groups aligned with and backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, and U.S. and Saudi officials suspect that Iran has dispatched technicians to Yemen to train the Houthis. U.N. investigators have written that the Houthis have advanced drones that could have a range of up to 930 miles.
The targeted oil facilities can process 8.45 million barrels of crude oil a day between them, the bulk of production in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, said production of 5.7 million barrels a day — well over half of the nation’s overall daily output — was suspended...

These kind of attacks can have serious global repercussions. Saudi Arabia is one of - if not the biggest - the major suppliers of oil used in transportation, energy, industry, everything. There may be other sources of national revenue - the mining of iron and copper and gold, for example - but putting a dent in their major industry is going to sting.

I got a line memorized from the movie Risky Business. Guido the Killer Pimp telling Joel "In times of economic uncertainty, never EVER fuck with another man's livelihood." It's actually sound advice: It's not only our means of income, but that livelihood defines who we are, no matter how lowly it's a point of pride to any person. Even in good economic times you just don't mess with another person's job. You fuck with that, you piss us off.

Think of the Saudis as a person, more specifically the royal family who runs all of it. What the Houthis just did - fuck with Saudi oil exporting - will get the Saudi royals really pissed off.

Making this worse is the revelation of a new form of warfare: Drone bombing. It's been an advantage of the United States and other technically-advanced nations to use drones as a means of engaging war zones without loss of personnel. But now we're at the point of drones as weapons themselves, akin to the kamikaze pilots of Imperial Japan, only remote controlled and likely harder to stop. Given the range here - 900 plus miles - the Houthi can attack a lot of places in Saudi Arabia to "bring the war home".

Everything here is escalation. Houthi Yemeni escalating against the Saudis. The Saudis guaranteed to escalate against all of Yemen. A possible escalation against Iran by Saudi forces, turning the Straits of Hormuz into a straight-up war zone.

This is more than likely going to bring in the United States and a lot of the European nations (maybe even China and half of Asia).

Wars never end well. Wars can get bloodier in a heartbeat when the dynamics and objectives change.

Gods help us.

Update 9/15/19 9:13PM: I am starting to see tweets about trump promising the U.S. will support Saudi Arabia's military escalation with a "locked and loaded" boast.

Even with warmonger John Bolton kicked out of the White House last week, he's still getting his wish of a war with Iran. FFFFffffffuuuuuu---

Unserious Stuff this Sunday, Well This Week Actually


No, no, not TALK LIKE A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT DAY! Arrrrrrrrr, these boyos are taking all the rum outta life... Let's try again.

That's the template for pirate talk since 1950.

Serious Stuff for Sunday Part One: Secrets Undone

There's been a lot happening lately so I'm trying to parcel this out across different entries today, but there's some serious shit going down.

First up: Cheryl Rofer at Balloon Juice is raising a red flag on a national security matter with a whistleblower dropping hints that the trump White House would rather not talk about:

A whistleblower in the Intelligence Community disclosed a concern to the DNI intended for the congressional intelligence committees on August 12. The Intelligence Community Inspector General then determined that the concern was both urgent and credible. At that point, Maguire had seven days to turn the material over to the House and Senate Intelligence committees. The deadline was September 2. He didn’t.
It looks like Schiff has also requested the material from Maguire. That would mean he heard about it through another channel, possibly notified by the IC IG.
Maguire also consulted the Department of Justice (corrupt William Barr) on whether he should turn the material over. That consultation is not allowed by the law; he’s just supposed to turn the material over...

So for one thing, Congressman Adam Schiff chair of the House Intelligence committee is ticked off that standard procedures aren't being followed. He's extremely pissed off at being ghosted by the DoJ and DNI higher-ups. Back to Rofer:

Schiff puts all that together... The Committee can only conclude that, based on this remarkable confluence of factors,  that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or administration officials. This raises grave concerns that your office (DNI), together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible "serious or flagrant" misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law...
Schiff wants the material by Tuesday, emphasizing that it is an urgent matter. If Maguire doesn’t come up with it, Schiff wants him in front of the committee by Thursday. He also says that the whistleblower had better be protected from reprisal. Good luck with that.
I can imagine a great many possibilities for the content of the complaint, but that’s because there is so little information and the administration is so corrupt.
Next week should be interesting...

As Rofer notes, without better information we have no idea what's going on. But the matter was serious enough to get the Inspector General's attention, and it's serious enough that Barr and the DoJ are looking to cover it up.

Schiff is making demands, but he better be prepared to back them up. So far, every attempt by the House Democrats to investigate trump's wrong-doings have met with stonewalling, ignored requests, and outright contempt. Schiff better be prepared to actually hold Barr and others in trump's administration in criminal contempt (as in, handcuffs and placed in jail cells) to get to the bottom of this intelligence crisis.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11 Again And We're STILL Not Okay

It's just another morning in a United States scarred deeply by the tragedy of this September 11.

My memories of that morning still fresh in my mind and in the minds of so many others.

It took a few seconds. It took a few seconds to realize that one plane was an accident. Two planes, one right after the other… hitting each tower…
I knew then it meant war.
The lobby TV was terrible, snow and static, and I went up the 8th floor to see if reception for a TV in the staff lounge was better up there. It wasn’t. They tried moving it into a meeting room closer to the windows to see if that could help. And barely. There was still a lot of static and snow, and some of the guys I was with didn’t agree with me when I swore one of the towers had collapsed...

Our whole country hasn't been the same since.

Since then, a raw nerve has been exposed. A terrible, racist pulse of anger has driven half of this nation into rage towards anyone Muslim, anyone Latino, anyone Black, anyone and everyone who fits the definition of "Other."

It's why there's a raging Shitgibbon in the White House, someone who tapped into that racism and obsession and used it - still uses it - as a weapon.

It's why we're still in Afghanistan 18 years later, unable to secure any lasting peace because that effort was so mismanaged the second we leave it falls to chaos and the Taliban again.

It's why we're still caging babies and kicking military troops - men and women who volunteered to serve this nation - out because the racists refuse to accept them as citizens or even as humans.

We're not winning any War on Terror because we let the Haters and Monsters gain control of our nation.

Gods help us. These scars are not going away any time soon.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Predicting Character: Bernie As Constant Curmudgeon

Okay, this has taken me a little longer to write than I'd hoped, mostly because I am trying to keep a promise to myself to make this as unbiased and professional a review as possible.


Next up on the candidate reviews - based on James David Barber's model of Presidential Character - is a fellow we've have guest-star before, this Senator from Vermont by the name of Bernie Sanders. (Insane amount of cheering from Facebook rises up) For heaven's sake, BernieBros, can I get through this without ANY interruptions?! (boos echo through the blog) Too bad, shaddup, and read on.

This is what I wrote before in 2015 during the build-up to that election cycle:

Positives: Has electoral experience for decades serving as a congressman and then Senator.  Has a political agenda that pushes hard Left after decades that most agendas pushed hard Right (the Age of Reagan), meaning a decent chance to shift the goal-posts of the national dialog back to the center.
Negatives: As much as the Far Far Right candidates like Cruz, Rand Paul, and Huckabee (announcing very soon) are poison to the general voting electorate, Sanders is too Far Far Left.  Half of his platform will reek too much of a Socialist agenda too many Americans still despise.  Comes from a small-population state that will not help as a base of voter support.   There is a question that as an independent (not really in the party) that he may not qualify on enough state ballots to count (his campaign is going to have to work overtime to make those ballots).
Chances: Slim.  He's determined, and has a reason to run this thing as far as possible.  But the Democratic Establishment types would be horrified if he gets the nomination: the Wall Street forces will rally like mad for the pro-business candidates like Hillary and could well swamp Sanders' campaign with too much money/power (which ironically will prove Sanders correct about the corruption of campaign money). And he may not appeal across the individual states - especially the more centrist, Red/Purple states in the South and West - he'll need to win primaries.
Character Chart: Sanders' socialist agenda is aggressively behind using the powers of the federal government to the fullest extent of the law, and that government can be used to improve the economy, improve jobs and wages, and uphold broad civil liberties.  On that, Sanders has the look of an Active-Positive (views government as an effective means of change).  However, Sanders displays many of the Active-Negative traits of being Idealistic and Uncompromising: he will not bend on the issues.  The only thing I can be certain of: he will be an Active President if elected.

Ever since I put up that Character assessment, I got to see more of Bernie in action. Or to be more specific, I got to see more of his followers in action.

Here's the deal, Bernie followers: Hillary's supporters are NOT sheep nor sheeple. A majority of Hillary's followers have solid reasons to side with her this 2016 election, and they have reasons not to share the worldview you've got that make you side with Bernie with such fervor.
In your pursuit of defending your candidate, you're going out of your way to insult fellow Democrats and Left-leaning centrists who are still a vital part of the Democratic party's chances to win big this 2016.
As much as you feel alienated from having a Far Left / progressive agenda get shot down for 40-plus years since the rise of Nixon and the Republican Southern Strategy, you're not helping by alienating the more moderate, pragmatic party members who aren't going to be in the mood for your denunciations and scorn...
Look, you can argue for Bernie Sanders. Argue on the merits, argue about the need to fight income inequality. Get ahead on the issue about the growing crisis in rental and homeowning costs for a majority of Americans. Go loud and strong on dealing with the massive personal debt crisis that got ignored by the Big Banks and Wall Street.
But stop with the insults and dismissal of your fellow Democrats. THEY ARE YOU AND YOU ARE THEY both on the same side of social justice and economic fairness, despite all the stuff about Hillary being in bed with Wall Street. At the end of the day, Hillary is still talking about making things work the way Democrats want things to work...

My ongoing exposure to the Bernie fanbase has been a continuing spectacle of a fervent group who believe THEY are the true voice of Dem voters fighting against an "Establishment" party that's trying to retain enough cohesion to fucking win a Presidential election. Again. Yet it's that failure of purity that's already driving some of the more publicly-known pro-Bernie supporters to say they won't support any other Democratic candidate in 2020. Just like they promised not to for Hillary in 2016. Essentially, they're extorting the Democratic party into accepting Bernie or else suffer low turnout guaranteeing a second trump term.

In other words, the BernieBros are promising to be assholes. Again. (Booing increases from the corners of the Internet where they reside) I'm not WRONG, you jerks. Look at yourselves... Sheesh, anyway...

The current drum-beating from the BernieBro elements are that the other major candidates - Biden, Harris, even Warren - are insufficiently Progressive enough to win them over if they get the nomination. Worse, they're convinced that none of the other candidates can appeal to the coveted "working whites" voting group that went for trump in 2016, as though that voting bloc is ever attainable for Democrats in 2020. Never mind the facts - same as in 2016 - that a Democratic administration if they win would support - and even pass - enough of a Far Left platform to make the United States more secure on key issues for progressives like better wages, repairing the damage of climate change, ending trump's human rights abuses on immigration, and more.

The Bernie voters - like any Idealistic extremist world-view - want their Utopia. To them, "Merely Good" is NOT "Perfect". And only Bernie can deliver "Perfect".

So what the hell IS "Perfect" for a Bernie supporter? In short, a radical redesign of American political and social philosophy, away from Capitalism and fully attuned to Socialism (based on what Bernie calls a Democratic Socialism akin to Scandinavian nations).

I can re-argue the problem of Utopian thinking in detail (Again), but the most obvious argument here is that a majority of Americans - many of them AREN'T as Left-leaning as the Progressives want to believe - are NOT going to support a Bernie agenda that on paper looks to change everything we know about how America works

When people vote For or Against anything, the biggest concerns they will always have are What do I gain from this, and What will this cost me? A massive revamp of even healthcare away from the Obamacare system (which supports the current Capitalist view) to a Medicare-For-All system (which forces wholesale changes that even its supporters can't fully explain) will scare enough honest voters (even the ones who would benefit the most) away from supporting that.

This is where Bernie differs from much of the primary field. Even Warren - who is closest to Bernie when it comes to Progressive issues - is more focused on reforming the systems we have instead of massive change. In this regard, Warren is more an FDR New Deal supporter - which kept Capitalism but heavily regulated it - than an outright Henry Wallace-type of Far Left candidate.

And if you know your history, Henry Wallace really did not appeal to most Americans when he had his chance. For all the changes to how Americans view full-out Socialism today (especially among younger voters), there still are a lot of voters who won't accept it. Even among solid Liberal Democratic voters sympathetic to those goals.

This lack of actual support for an openly Socialist agenda is leading into the other problem: Bernie is not doing so great in the primaries this time. Last time, against Hillary and minor candidates, Bernie was the clear alternative to the juggernaut that was the Hillary campaign. But that was then. Today, Sanders is part of a field of 24 - no, wait, it's dropped down to 16 finally thank the Gods - to where there isn't a dominant Establishment figure (Hillary) against whom a single candidate could run (the Not-Hillary). This time, there's one dominant Establishment figure (Biden) against whom there are three viable Not-Bidens (Bernie but also Harris and also Warren) to split the opposition vote. Bernie cannot rely on a solid 40-45 percent of Democratic voters in the primaries, he has to fight for them vs. Warren and Harris.

Just to repeat meself: Bernie's not doing a very good job of winning over that voting base this time. Sanders' Uncompromising behavior is a big reason why (via Peter Hamby at Vanity Fair):

Sanders might be 77 years old and “salty as ever,” as CNN’s Kate Bolduan said on-air Tuesday after his announcement, but he’s still a central figure in the dialectic of the Democratic Party, its most uncompromising ideological figure, and best fund-raiser. Like Trump, Sanders didn’t get there by climbing the ladder in Washington like his fellow senators now in the presidential race; he did it by tapping into common-sense ideas about economic fairness and raising oceans of small-donor cash online in the process. He delivered his message using non-traditional media and waited for the green-room journalism crowd to catch up. A democratic socialist, Sanders might have chosen to run in 2016 as a third-party liberal in the mold of Nader. But instead, he smartly decided to disrupt the Democratic Party from the inside by seeking its presidential nomination, all while never calling himself a Democrat. Sanders became the liberal folk hero of the last campaign, the subject of graffiti murals, hipster endorsements, and D.I.Y. merch, the cool grassroots signifiers that swirled around Nader a decade and a half earlier...
Sanders’s biggest failure in 2016 was not building coalitions. He found it difficult to expand his reach beyond liberals, white workers, and young people, to win over the older women and African-Americans who eventually gave their votes to Clinton. But on CBS, Sanders told Dickerson that unlike in 2016, he can plausibly win the nomination without cobbling together a majority of Democrats. “In some ways it makes it easier,” Sanders said. “When you’re running against one person you know you gotta have 51 percent of the votes. Now who knows what you need? Thirty, thirty-five percent...?”
Sanders seems like he’d rather watch a 10-hour Bachelor marathon, Clockwork Orange–style, than do the same. He is permanently averse to playing the inside political game, gabbing with power brokers on the phone, or charming the media off-the-record. His sequel campaign will test whether those choices matter anymore, whether big speeches, lofty policy ideas, and social media alone can carry the day. This might be a Very Bill Simmons Hot Take, but Sanders is the James Harden of politics. He’ll get you 30 points a night, but it’s hard to see how he wins a championship without getting his teammates involved. Either way, he’ll still be in the conversation...
The short gist: Sanders will lead the Democratic Party but he won't work with it. Compromise is a dirty word to him. If I need to say something positive about this, I could call him an Idealist deeply committed to an alternative world-view of America as a Socialist Utopia. As much as an Idealist Bernie is, we've seen Idealists in action before: Of previous Presidents, Sanders IMHO would follow in the footsteps of Woodrow Wilson, whose ambitions and agendas surely capped the Progressive Era of early 20th Century... only to have everything crash and burn due to his stubborn ideology. And if you've read my blog enough, you know what I think of Utopias...

Add to that this bit from a Jeva Lange article I dug up from The Week back in 2015:

"Bernie's an a--hole, but he's our a--hole," one unnamed Vermont politician explained to Boston Magazine. Sanders' campaign field director put it more gently: "Bernie is a very demanding guy. He has very high expectations, and he expects people to meet them."
Chris Graff, a journalist who has covered Sanders for the past two and a half decades, expressed similar sentiments. "Bernie has no social skills, no sense of humor, and he's quick to boil over," he said. "He's the most unpolitical person in politics I've ever come across." Likewise, following Bernie's threats to walk off the stage when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted him in Phoenix, Vermont's Seven Days newspaper described the move as "exasperating and classic Bernie... Man of the people treating the people like tiresome children, telling them what the issue is, instead of listening to what their issue, our issue, America's issue is right now."
"Bernie is so certain that what he represents politically is unquestionably correct, therefore everyone should agree," Susan Boardman Russ, the former chief of staff for Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, told Boston Magazine. "Not much room for compromise... it was, 'Play in my sandbox, or get out.'"

If you've read this blog enough - especially the Presidential Character stuff - you'll know the second I apply Uncompromising to describe someone I'm labeling that person Active-Negative. It's the key trait for A-Ns - just as Adaptive is for Active-Positive and Congeniality is for Passive-Positive and Duty is for Passive-Negative - where their ambition to achieve their goals outweigh their ability to actually reach those goals. Or if they do reach those goals, they fail to realize the costs - before AND after - those goals require.

If I had to redraw the Character description for 2020, it'd look like this:

Bernie Sanders - Senator, Vermont
Positives: Has electoral experience for decades serving as a congressman and then Senator. An engaging and driven personality. Aggressively pushes for a Left-leaning populist agenda that may appeal to key voting blocs. Has developed a dedicated fanbase that should provide a solid voter base in the primaries.

Negatives: Even in an election cycle where the Democratic candidates are more Progressive than ever (outside of Biden and a handful of other second-tier candidates), Sanders is still too far a Far Left figure. For all his years - since the 1990s! - at the federal level, does not have an extensive success track record with legislation: Very few sponsored bills getting passed or even voted on. Still does not show many signs of playing well with others. .

Chances: Slim. Bernie started off as the marquee name this primary cycle but was eclipsed by Biden the second Joe threw his hat in. Bernie's also been overtaken by Warren whose progressive bona fides - and more positive campaign style - has claimed a lot of the followers he had in 2016. He's determined (as already noted), and has a reason to run this thing as far as possible. But this time he doesn't have the Outsider cachet, he doesn't have the Progressive Warrior banner to himself, and this time he's worn out his welcome.

Character Chart: Before, I had little awareness of Sanders' performance and world-view outside of his stated platform. I couldn't tell then if he were Positive (politically engaged and viewing Presidential power as a means for helping others) or Negative (dedicated - obsessed even - with a particular agenda as a form of personal success). Having seen him in action since 2016, I've gotten a better understanding of how his Uncompromising stances on his Democratic Socialist agenda makes him too Active-Negative a figure to be Adaptive to the challenges any President will face. Sanders wants to be the one to turn the United States away from a Capitalist political-economic society towards a Socialist one. That's one hell of an ambitious agenda, but speaks to a world-view that will chafe against the restrictions of a Federalist system. A Sanders administration - even with a Democratic-controlled Congress - will be a bar brawl every step of the way.

The United States cannot afford four more years of trumpism. It can't even afford one more DAY of Mitch McConnell selling out our Senate to the NRA and Putin. The only way this can get solved is by backing the Democratic Party across all ballots, all elected offices. THAT'S how this nation can recover and rebuild. If the candidate is Biden, so be it, VOTE. If the candidate is Harris, so be it, VOTE. If the candidate is Warren, so be it, VOTE. If the candidate is Bernie, so be it, VOTE. If the candidate is Gabbard... okay, fucking thing's been rigged, WTF Putin even THAT would be too obvious a hack.

But here's the problem: I am not hearing from a lot of Bernie supporters that if the choice ends up being Biden or Harris or Warren they'll still vote Dem. I'm getting the vibe, hearing too much feedback that the pro-Bernie faction will - again - sit out the vote in protest and let trump and those crooks continue destroying our world.

"I will vote FOR the Democratic nominee for President in 2020." That's an easy thing to say and do, Bernie supporters. Recognize and support the Democratic candidate most likely to fulfill an agenda that makes the world close to what you want it to be. It won't be PERFECT, but it'll be better than it is now. Please and thank you.

Next up on the Presidential Character preview for 2020: Oh you better believe there's a plan for that.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

A trumpian Storm of Sharpies

I didn't even want to write about this, but the story about trump making an incorrect claim about the state of Alabama being threatened by Hurricane Dorian won't go away... dragging in an NOAA hurricane map from the day he made his wrong statement to show how he was correct, except for the fact someone used a black Sharpie ink pen to extend the white projection cone to touch Alabama in what has to be the WORST manufactured piece of evidence in human history...

Zoom in on that map. The White House couldn't even be bothered to hire
someone to Photoshop a faked image to pull this off.
...leading to the formation of the silliest ScandalGate in the history of -Gates with #SharpieGate...

...and then making it worse by getting a Rear Admiral to take the fall...

...Political analysts speculated that Trump was lying about being briefed “every hour,” because if he was hearing the updates, he would have gotten one of the 15 other projections from the National Weather Service that said the hurricane wasn’t heading east.
By Thursday afternoon, Trump found a scapegoat.
“While Dorian batters SC, the White House just released a statement from Rear Admiral Peter Brown defending the president’s comments on Dorian and Alabama. Brown says he briefed the president on Sept. 1 on the ‘possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama,'” tweeted Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey...

...because trump won't make it go away. Tell it, Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice:

Trump can’t let it go because he’s a walking collection of untreated personality disorders who relies on bullying and dominance to bubble-wrap his fragile ego. I think valued commenter Gin & Tonic was onto something yesterday when he noted (paraphrasing) that the media has glommed onto this because it’s both absurd and an easy story to cover.
I’m finding the story hard to let go too because it’s such a perfect example of the how the Trump presidency is ridiculous and frightening at the same time: this demented crybaby is inventing stories that would shame a fourth grader, and government officials are serving as props and defenders, as if this whole episode wasn’t bug-fuck nuts...

We are LITERALLY at the moment in the story where Captain Queeg obsesses over the goddamned strawberries.

trump can never be in the wrong, can never apologize, can never step up and say "You know what, I misspoke, I got it confused with Georgia, I was concerned that the whole southeast U.S. was at risk, let's focus on getting the Atlantic coast states prepped for Dorian and let's move on." trump - and his handlers - will warp all of reality to make our reality fit his falsehoods.

This is all, by the by, overshadowing the reality that the Bahamas were devastated by Dorian hovering over them for a full 40 HOURS of Category 5 destruction and we're likely going to see more deaths and despair reported as the weeks roll in.

This is all avoiding the possibility that Dorian - now a Cat 3 - is a serious threat to North Carolina and maybe the Virginia coastline.

And it doesn't help that trump is trying to pull off more inhumane destruction by gutting the U.S. military budget in order to pay for a border wall to fulfill his ego. Not to mention the damage still being done to families and legal immigrants across the nation.

This is not going to end well, even if we can get trump voted out in 2020.

Gods help us.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

London Calling to the Brexit Zone

London Calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London Calling to the zombies of death
Quit holdin' out and draw another breath

London Calling and I don't want to shout
But while we were talking I saw you noddin' out
London Calling, see we ain't got no high
'Cept for that one with the yellowy eyes
-- The Clash, "London Calling"

At some point talking British politics, you GOT to quote from the classics. I was due to quote my guys - The Only Band That Matters, aside from the Beatles and Ramones - considering Brexit. And boy, today it was way overdue.

Boris Johnson just crashed and burned in his first big vote as Prime Minister, and likely trashed his Tory majority for the moment. Via Patrick Smith at NBC News:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost a key vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday after lawmakers used an obscure procedural motion to wrest control of the parliamentary agenda from the government in a bid to stop a "no deal" Brexit.
The vote was 328-301, with several members of Johnson's Conservative Party rebelling and supporting the motion. They can now expect to be kicked out of the party...
Senior party figures, including former chancellor Philip Hammond, were among those who backed the motion. This means opposition members of Parliament and a handful of rebels from the ruling Conservative party can now introduce legislation to postpone Brexit beyond the Oct. 31 deadline...
The vote was perhaps the most dramatic moment since Britain voted to leave the E.U. in June 2016. Since then, British politics has been paralyzed and obsessed with the question of how the country should leave the bloc.
Most observers now expect the government to call for a snap election in October in order to win a mandate for a "no deal" scenario in case an agreement can't be made with the E.U.
However, it is unclear whether the opposition Labour Party, currently trailing in the polls, will agree to back an early election...

According to other commentators - I can't find the links at the moment - it's not in Labour's best interest to hold a snap election. Johnson could use that election to perform other tricks - such as delaying the election itself - to ensure the No-Deal break from Europe happens on October 31.

More than likely, Labour and the Liberal Democrats - who are likely picking up the exiled Tories to boost their numbers, they already picked up one today to legally break the Conservative majority to zero - could use their mathematical majority number to force another extension of the Brexit deadline and then force something that the Tories and Pro-Leave forces can't sabotage.

Everything is in chaos at the moment. The only thing we can be sure of is that Boris is running out of tricks to force the collapse of the United Kingdom to serve his whims. This is, unfortunately, the moment when a wounded beast is at his most dangerous.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Brief Current Status Update: Hurricane Dorian Situation

Kinda sitting here right now waiting on a hurricane that could still slide across Florida and cause some serious damage to us. Dorian, which started off as something that threatened to cross the southern half of the Sunshine State by this weekend, has slowed over the Atlantic and is now hovering over the Bahamas. Problem is, by slowing down the storm was able to strengthen up to a Category 5 (!) with reported winds above 200 MPH (!!!). The island chain is likely getting crushed by the power of Dorian as I type this, and it's horrifying to think how people living there are going to survive that.

We've been seeing more and more of these Cat 5s, at least once every year since 2016, and the vast majority of 5s have happened since 2000. This is, let's be honest, a clear sign of global warming leading directly to climate change (warmer waters and winds are primary factors in creating these storms). The hotter things are getting, the stronger these hurricanes are going to get.

In the meantime, I got paperwork to keep up with... while I keep the Weather Channel on the TV in the background. Good luck, citizens.