Tuesday, December 31, 2019

How the Year 2019 Ends: In Fire

I woke up this morning to reports of the US Embassy in Baghdad under siege by protesters angered up by recent military strikes on Shiite strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

For almost a month now, the entire continent/nation of Australia has been on fire due to prolonged drought, rising ocean temperatures, and an ungodly heat wave (it's Summer on that side of the Equator) that are all part of the climate change nearly every scientist has been screaming was coming to kill us all. Those eco-disaster movies from ten-twenty years ago? THEY ARE HAPPENING NOW IN REAL LIFE.

India is on fire this month due to their nationalist Hindu government pushing a citizenship law that would specifically exclude Muslims. It doesn't help that the nation is roiling from a growing rape gang crisis threatening the safety of every woman who lives there.

Over the past ten days the number of antisemitic attacks in America have gotten worse, ranging from vandalism to street assaults to someone with a machete stabbing Orthodox Jews at a rabbi gathering in Brooklyn.

Boris Johnson has cleared out nearly every obstruction in his quest to fulfill a Hard Brexit pullout from the EU, which is now including efforts by the Tories to privatize their National Health Service and make it more like the United States (welcome to medical bankruptcy, Brits!). We are looking at a January 31 2020 where a No-Deal Brexit will happen because the EU won't cave on any of Boris' demands.

Israel is forcing itself into yet another general election because the last three tries failed to form a unified government. It does not help that current PM Netanyahu is facing corruption charges... but refuses to leave office and indeed got an overwhelming vote of confidence from his own party meaning that unless enough voters break with their own parties to support an opposition majority they are stuck in gridlock.

China has entered its umpteenth month (since June at least) of Hong Kong protests over the city/region's autonomous status, which is a serious civil/human rights fight that China will never recognize. Not to mention the ongoing human rights abuses of concentration camps punishing millions of Uyghurs for their religious/ethnic differences.

We're still coping with the ongoing Impeachment of President Loser of the Popular Vote and Eternal Shitgibbon donald trump. With additional evidence showing that members of his foreign policy team - Sec of State Pompeo, Sec of Defense Esper, and NSA John Bolton (!) - confronted trump in late August (before the Whistleblower concerns got to Congress) to convince him to release Ukrainian military aid (trump refused). Not only reaffirming other evidence of trump's extortion racket but that key members of his administration have evidence they still need to present for the Impeachment proceedings.

Everything is chaos.

Everything is on fire.

Welcome to 2020.

It's going to get crazier from here.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sharing Vagabond Scholar's Jon Swift Memorial 2019

Every end of the year, Batocchio hosts a blog round-up of recommended reads in honor of political blogger Jon Swift.

I am honored to be one of the handful offered an opportunity to share, and so I placed "A Cruel Month" article as my submission, of which I hope the readership enjoys.

I encourage the seven followers of this blog to take the time to visit the Jon Swift page and read through the other links, check up on fellow like-minded bloggers raging against the trumpian storm of corruption, and keep yourself informed for the coming year of madness that will be the 2020 general elections.

I hope to blog a few more things today, keep an eye open.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tis The Season 2019

Just saying IO SATURNALIA and that hopefully I'll be posting some thoughts on stuff soon.

It's been a hectic week and the need to nap on Christmas morning all too powerful...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Brief History of Presidential Impeachments

Just for the record:

1842: John Tyler. The first attempt to remove a President via the Impeachment process. The Whigs controlling Congress were horrified after Tyler's promotion to the Oval Office after Harrison's death that Tyler was really a Democrat at heart, but could not offer a legal argument to remove him. They tried to impel him to resign using threat of impeaching, but he refused. The House ended up not having enough votes to carry the process over to the Senate.

1860: James Buchanan. This one I wasn't even aware of because it never got out of committee, but the Republicans in control of the House began a corruption probe of Buchanan's administration that had the authority to file impeachment articles if warranted. The Covode Committee reportedly found evidence of corruption but not enough to pursue impeaching.

1868: Andrew Johnson. The first President Impeached and the closest to getting removed from office, an attempt that failed by one vote. Like Tyler, an unwanted Vice President promoted up to the Presidency and fiercely opposed by a strong Republican Congress, Johnson only survived because the law used to trap him was rigged, because his lawyers were good (and the bribe money better), and because enough Senators were terrified of the replacement - Senate Pro Tem Benjamin Wade was too radical even for his own party - that they figured they could endure Johnson until the upcoming election that booted him out anyway.

1974: Richard Nixon. Watergate, bitches. When the smoking gun tape of Nixon ordering the cover-up got out, Republican Senators told Nixon he was "toast" and he resigned before the House Committee was able to get their three articles of Impeachment to the floor for a full vote.

1998: Bill Clinton. Blowjobs, bitches. While the House made the arguments that Clinton's behavior and deception was unethical, they couldn't convince Americans - especially the voters who sided with Clinton during the 1998 Midterms - that it rose to the level of Impeachment. He was the second President ever Impeached, but the Senate votes failed by such margins that Clinton was never at risk of removal.

2019: donald motherfucking trump. Impeached over charges of Abusing the Office to force a foreign power to intervene in our own elections, and with Obstructing the House investigations into that. From here, given the structure of the Republican-held Senate it seems unlikely that trump will face removal from office, but at least it's finally on record that the son-of-a-bitch has to answer for his sins.

It gets crazier from here, America. Gods help us.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

trump Writes A Letter. It's Predictably Insane

trump, for some reason encouraged by people other than his lawyers, sent a six-page letter to Speaker Pelosi which can charitably be called an insane rant that's more unhinged than a barn door during a tornado. I'm not linking to it because I don't want to promote any further exposure to a plague of madness, but that Balloon Juice article I link to does have the link and you can risk it yourself.

In short, trump accused Pelosi of presiding over an Impeachment process he still publicly decries as a "Witch Hunt" (considering no one has dunked trump in water as a test nor pressed his chest with stones for a confession, is an insult to those who were officially tried and killed during the Salem Witch Trials). trump accused Pelosi of going after him in order to destroy trump's success with the economy, and also accused her of "attacking democracy" while trump and the Republicans themselves are pretty much openly voiding the 2020 elections as he wrote dictated this missive.

In a sane and logical world, Pelosi's response should be this:

I'm not even going to get into how the letter contains spelling and grammar errors.

If trump wanted to impress us with his epistolary skills, he could have simply typed up a one-page letter with a simple sentence "I donald j trump do hereby resign the office of President Loser of the Popular Vote effective immediately." A ton of Americans would be thrilled if he did.

Tomorrow is the offical Impeachment vote in the U.S. House. I doubt Pelosi will be bullied by trump's letter to cancel it. The only thing left after that is seeing how quickly McConnell violates his oath of office by refusing to hold a fair and impartial trial - oh wait he already has.

This still matters, America. We are witnessing trump and his Republican allies fall into hysterics and madness for all to see.

This is why every honest patriotic American needs to vote every Republican out of office in 2020. End the foolishness, end the madness.

Otherwise may God have mercy on our souls.

Monday, December 16, 2019

All I Want for Saturnalia 2019

An honest-to-Saturn Impeachment process that forces an obstructionist Republican Senate to sincerely consider the reasons to remove donald trump from the Oval Office for the common good of the United States of America.

Well, that and a winning Mega Millions or Powerball lotto ticket.

Help a Unitarian out, Minerva, I may not be a citizen of Rome but I am a citizen of a federal republic modeled on the Roman system of checks and balances.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

I Know The Voices Dying with a Brexit Fall

So despite some early hopes that the youth vote turnout would flip enough districts in the UK, the British General Election right now is showing a major Conservative victory: Tories getting an increase of 51 seats for a solid majority, Labour losing 71 seats, the Lib Dems not doing well enough to be a factor, and absolutely everybody on the Remain side of the debate utterly horrified that a No-Deal Brexit is going to happen.

Even though the results of the overall population showing 40 percent support for Labour over 32 percent for Tories, the way each district is Winner-Take-All within that district distorts the final results (like the U.S. Electoral College, an overabundance of voters for one Party in one locale cannot compensate for smaller turnout in others).

It was foolish for Labour under Corbyn to agree to letting Boris Johnson push a new election at this point in time. Corbyn either didn't think his own unpopularity with general voters (and within in his own ranks) would hurt Labour, or else thought the controversies Boris was having with bad Brexit deals would weaken Tory support. There's also the reality that Remain voters - the ones most likely able to NOT vote Conservative - were split between Liberal Democrats and factions within Labour... which could have been positioned to uphold Remain but didn't because even among the Far Left there is a desire to exit what they view as a corrupt (pro-Capitalist/pro-banking) EU.

Either way, how the HELL do you lose 71 seats to the worst Prime Minister in British history? If Corbyn doesn't resign from Labour leadership for his open incompetence, just surrender now and relocate to Finland, my Progressive brethren.

So where does this leave the United Kingdom?

Boris and the other hardline Brexiteers are going to push for votes on the hardest possible terms for leaving the EU... which may not get enough votes in Parliament anyway if enough Tory members are terrified of the long-term consequences. This "blowout" election is no guarantee of the backbenchers signing up for something that a majority of Brits will end up regretting... and they know it.

The Scots may well revolt to get an Independence referendum. Northern Ireland might as well if the border backstop is screwed by Boris' Brexit deals.

The National Health Care system - already under the strain of budget cuts and preliminary reaction of a future Brexit - will face even tougher hardships under a Conservative Party that openly wants to turn their universal health care system into a for-profit model similar to the United States. (Just on this alone, Brits, you should have voted those Tory fuckers out of office. The hell?)

More chaos and bad leadership. That's how bad it's going to get under a Boris majority in the UK.

It's time to bring punk music back, my people.

Gods help you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Accountability Moment 2019: trump and the Republicans Have to Answer for Their Sins

This is just one step, there are more to come, but the Democrats in the U.S. House announced two articles of Impeachment on President Loser of the Popular Vote donald trump. Via Andrew Prokop at Vox.com:

Both articles are based on the Ukraine scandal, meaning the party decided not to introduce any articles of impeachment solely based on the Mueller report, as some had pushed for...
Articles of impeachment are essentially the “charges” against the president that the House of Representatives is considering approving. The final House votes on impeachment will be a yes or no vote on each article. If even one is approved, Trump is impeached — and the Senate will then hold a trial to determine whether to remove him from office.
Article I, abuse of power, addresses Trump’s general underlying conduct in the Ukraine scandal. It alleges that Trump abused his power by trying to pressure Ukraine’s government into announcing an investigation into the Bidens by withholding both a White House meeting and military aid.
Article II, obstruction of Congress, is about how Trump responded to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry over the Ukraine scandal. It alleges that Trump obstructed the probe by urging witnesses not to cooperate and government agencies not to comply with subpoenas...

Some observations were made that Democrats left several other impeachable offenses - some related to Mueller's findings that are tangent to what trump did/is doing to Ukraine - off the table (for now), and that somehow these two articles may not be enough to sway Republicans either in the House or Senate. Which, of course, will never happen. The Republicans are too far gone into their sealed bubble of disinformation that all of them attack these proceedings as partisan and deny any merit to the facts at hand.

To anyone arguing that Democrats are doing this as a "coup attempt," trying to overturn the 2016 election results or subvert the coming 2020 election, I counter thus: Democrats could have done this to Bush the Lesser after 2006 over mismanagement of the War on Terror and his torture regime or even on mishandling the response to Hurricane Katrina... but they never did. Impeachment may be partisan but it has to be based on provable crimes. If Democrats are making official impeachment articles against trump, it's because trump IS GENUINELY BREAKING THE RULES AND ACTING AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION. Sheesh.

It's unlikely the wingnut Republican Senate will follow through on any impeachment and remove trump from office: They still have ways to profit from his misrule after all. Which is why this still feels like a half-accomplished thing. The best news about all of this is that it will be on the record: trump committed impeachable acts... and the Republicans refused to hold him accountable. The GOP is going to have to own this vote, and there are far too many people in favor of impeachment who will hold THEM accountable if they fail to hold trump accountable.

Get the goddamn vote out, America. The Republican party needs to answer for their sins.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Personal Status Report: Digging Into the Membrane

Well. This has been something on my mind for some time.


I went to see about clearing out my sinuses back in June, and when I got a CAT Scan they found a lump in the middle of my brain.

Further MRI and exams point to a tumor on my Pituitary gland, which shockingly enough affects about one in five people. Most people live their lives not even aware of it. I hadn't, didn't have any of the obvious signs for it - severe sufferers will have frontal headaches behind the eyes - and in some respects didn't even think to look for it. My blood tests over the years didn't show much deviance in the hormones managed by the gland, although I've been a chronic depressive for years I dunno if this tumor caused all of that.

The thing is, the tumor pushes upward from the spot in the skull where the gland rests, which just happens to be right below the point where the optic nerves criss-cross. So that as the tumor grows, eventually it will push apart or even engulf those nerves, causing vision loss. I already have loss of outer edge (peripheral) vision based on the eye exams they gave me two months ago.

So the neurosurgeon and ophthalmologist are both saying I need the surgery.

No idea yet how much it's going to cost. All I know right now about the surgery is that they gotta go through the nose, scrape out the tumor (they know where not to scoop the Pituitary, here's hoping), and patch up the hole in my head so I don't leak out spinal fluids. It involves a stay in the hospital for at least two days, have to be off work for at least a week maybe two...

The horrifying thing is, of course, they'll be digging in my brain. As someone who prides himself on above-average intelligence, I dread what effects this will have on mah head, brah.

The risks are minimal, but my parents are telling me I'm way overdue for a Will just in case things don't go well.

I'll keep blogging until the day of surgery. We'll see how it goes from there.

Good luck and IO SATURNALIA, everybody.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The Snowflake That Is trump

Didn't know about it until earlier this week that trump was going over to Europe to hang out with our nation's NATO allies, and I also didn't realize how bad a trip it was turning out to be until THIS little tidbit got out there for public consumption. Just consider the headline to Anne Laurie's article at Balloon-Juice:

Late Night NATO Open Thread: They’re Not Laughing *With* Him,
They’re Laughing *At* Him

With links to various Twitter threads like this one:

When even Boris Johnson is getting in his kicks at you, you're clearly not the cool kid at this school.

Via Martin Longman at Washington Monthly:

I’ve been watching Trump since I was teenager growing up in the New York media market. It has been obvious to me that he’s driven by insecurities and resentment toward the Manhattan financial elite who have always viewed him as a mannerless fraud from the outer boroughs. He really wants their acceptance and I think he thought he’d finally get it when he won the presidency. It hasn’t worked out that way, and the only thing that has changed is that people see him now as a threat.
It’s hard to imagine anything that would strike Trump to his core more than being ridiculed by his would-be peers, and that’s why it was predictable as the rain that he’d throw a fit when he realized that he was the butt of jokes at the Queen Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday night...
Trump was particularly angry with Justin Trudeau who was captured on an audio feed sympathizing with Macron for being unexpectedly roped into a tense 40 minute press conference that was supposed to be a brief photo opportunity. Doing his best “Mean Girls” impression, Trump called Trudeau “two-faced” and suggested he was just angry about criticism that Canada doesn’t contribute enough money to NATO.
Then he did this:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a press conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to London for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.
The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
“When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington,” Trump said in a series of tweets.
“We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!” Trump said.
The president is obviously wounded. His feelings are hurt. And now he will seek ways to exact revenge. This is such a well established pattern with him by now that I have no trouble predicting that he will repeat it.
This behavior has never won him respect in the past and it will not work in the future.  At this point, I’m surprised that he continues to make foreign trips to Europe since they always end in humiliation...

trump's vanity has always been a sore spot: HE has to be the biggest brightest star in the sky even when he's clearly not. he'd been obsessed with his claims of wealth and power and dealing prowess, even as the business deals collapsed into bankruptcy courts and even as the real rich kids banned him from such cool things as major team sports ownerships.

What will actually happen next isn't entirely predictable. trump can express his impotent rage towards Europe in various ways. Forcing the United States to quit out of NATO altogether is still out there as an option. he's still of a mind that tariff wars are easy to win (he just started them up again versus Brazil and Argentina).

The thing is, when trump does his damage to his perceived enemies, he's not going to do it in the best interests of the United States.

he'll be causing damage to satisfy his own rage.

And that's not how a President should act. Ever.

That's what 62 million of you Americans voted for.

Gods help us.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Kamala Harris Withdraws From 2020 Presidential Campaign. WHO THE HELL AM I GONNA ROOT FOR NOW?

Seriously. She was the only one in that pack of candidates most likely to throat punch that Eternal Shitgibbon trump first chance she got.

But after the resignation of one of her operations managers - who pretty much firebombed everything on the way out the door - it looked like Harris couldn't find any other personnel or resources to justify going forward.

This falls under the categories of Damn, Goddamn, and What The Fuck.


The immediate impact of her departure is that the field of major candidates dropped to three - Biden, Sanders, and Warren - while showing no sign of any second-tier candidate - Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Klobucher - being able to step up (unless one of them can appeal quickly to Harris' now-stranded fanbase). There's every likelihood several of them may drop out soon - joining recent departures from Bullock and Joe Sestak (who?!) - narrowing the field even more to the headliners (B S and W) and pretenders (Gabbard and Yang, neither of them gaining with voters but neither of them going anywhere).

Harris - who was relatively Centrist but no fan of the banks - is leaving as the field receives more billionaires and Wall Street types (Bloomberg and Deval Patrick). The candidate choices are now down one less woman and one less ethnic minority, increasing the odds that the next Democratic candidate could be a Boomer-aging White Guy. It's been noted that unless the rules change or someone like Castro or Booker get a huge fundraising boost, the next Democratic debate is going to be just white people (four guys and two women).

I was rooting for Harris this primary season: Primarily on her opening positions of improving education and paying teachers better, but also because of that "throat-punching trump" hope I had. This kind of leaves me in the lurch now about who to root for next... although like the Tampa Bay Bucs fan that I am, I'm dreading the possibility that when I root early for a candidate I somehow jinx them... /cries

I could root for the other high-profile woman candidate in Elizabeth Warren - and yes I need to get that Character profile done on her soon - because her push for reforms resonate well with me, but again I worry I might jinx her if I do.

I could root for Amy Klobucher as well, because I truly want America to have another chance at electing a woman to the office of the Presidency, and goddammit it shouldn't have to be this hard, guys, just let go of your misogyny for God's sake... but again I worry I might jinx her if I do.

There is no goddamn way I am backing a fringe candidate like Williamson or a compromised candidate like Gabbard.

I could throw my support to Julian Castro or Cory Booker... but again I worry I might jinx them like all the candidates I rooted for the last time (2008) until it all came down to Obama vs Hillary back then.

If I really am a jinx... hmm... okay, BernieBros, ready to accept me BHWHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHeeeeheheh... Okay I guess not.

And to Steyer and Bloomie: Screw you, rich boys. PAY YOUR FOOKING TAXES.

I shall contemplate all this on a tree of woe uh actually at a Dunkin' Donuts. I'll let you all know later.

Fricking campaign fundraising... sigh...

Sunday, December 01, 2019

As We Get Closer to 2020, the Democrats Get Closer to Having Rich White Men Panic

You might remember me all the way back in January of this year railing against the foolishness of a rich white man with no political experience trying to pull that stunt with Democrats the way trump did with Republicans.

A lot of that had to do with party ideologies. Republicans are thrilled to have amateur CEOs run for office because they believe those CEOs are their betters. Democrats tend to root for candidates who, you know, actually know what they're doing in office. Dems want politicians who speak to the actual majority of Americans who are NOT rich greedy white assholes. Just sayin.

It still hasn't stopped Rich White Men(tm) try to insert themselves into a Democratic primary stage in obvious desperate attempts to control the debates and stop such dangerous talk about raising wealth taxes or revoking the GOP 2017 Tax Cut from Hell. Just look at Thomas Steyer who jumped in back in July and has gotten nowhere even with 47 million already spent on his campaign.

Just look at Michael Bloomberg: he's not ready to run and yet there he is. And he's making poor decisions that ought to drive him to shut down already (via Bill Scher at RealClearPolitics):

Bloomberg’s late-entry strategy is more ludicrous than what Clark, Thompson and Perry cooked up. Bloomberg plans to completely skip the first four contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and begin competing on “Super Tuesday,” March 3, when 15 states will hold primaries.
There is superficial logic to this plan. The billionaire former Republican isn’t a great fit for the college-educated liberals of Iowa and New Hampshire, nor for the union workers of Nevada, nor for the African Americans of South Carolina. Winning any of those four small-state contests involves much retail campaigning, and Bloomberg is very late in assembling high-quality, locally sourced, get-out-the-vote operations. So, he might as well pass on the ground game and go straight to the air war — dumping millions into a Super Tuesday TV and online ad blitz.
But red flags are everywhere. The last person who tried to circumvent multiple demographically unfriendly early states was Rudy Giuliani in 2008. After he performed poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, he declared he would skip the next three contests and focus solely on Florida. But having already been weakened by defeat, he never found his footing in the Sunshine State and fizzled out.
Bloomberg wants to avoid this problem by never giving the first four states a chance to weaken him. But the fact that Bloomberg can’t easily compete is, in and of itself, a sign of weakness. If his natural constituency isn’t liberal college grads, working-class laborers or African Americans, then just who is it...?

Bloomberg's already had to apologize for his obsession to defend a flawed Stop-And-Frisk police policy that was overtly racist as well as ineffective in stopping drugs or other lawbreaking. Bloomberg's still arguing against marijuana legalization (which is insanely popular with Dem primary voters). As Scher points out and as others have added, Bloomberg has terrible optics when dealing with a voting bloc - Black voters - that's key to winning the primaries in battleground states.

And yet Bloomberg is throwing himself into the inferno, as though he alone can save the Democratic Party from itself.

That's because as the primaries move onto the first true stages of voter choices, Bloomberg (along with other billionaires) is convinced the Dems are moving in the wrong direction when it comes to things like Medicare-for-All (which would mean massive tax increases), a serious Wealth Tax on the One-Percenters, and the likelihood of forcing corporations to - gasp - pay workers by boosting a $15 federal minimum wage.

This isn't because these Rich White Men(tm) are honestly opposed to trump and to his destructive policies (although these RWM do loathe trump as a pretender con artist).

This is because these Rich White Men(tm) are terrified that a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren Presidency means an end to their cushy wonderful super-big tax cuts that let them be triple-digit-billionaires instead of single-digit-billionaires.

The good news is that Steyer (who oddly has offered a wealth tax plan... it's just weak compared to Sanders and Warren's plans) and Bloomberg and (and latecomer Deval Patrick who has ties to Wall Street that would make Hillary seem an outsider) are polling in single digits nowhere near to winning any primary votes.

If Bloomberg and Steyer, either or both, were legitimately serious about helping the Democratic Party stop trump, they wouldn't campaign: They should be setting up SuperPACs and funding every Congressional, Senate, and State-level Dem campaign across the board. If they do THAT, then we might see victory against Republican corruption and stupidity this election cycle.

Just focus on that, rich guys. Fight the fight that NEEDS winning, and worry about your godless tax breaks later.