Monday, May 22, 2017

US elections are ranked worst among Western democracies

I found it interesting that Posner's article I mentioned in the piece on the electoral college was written to support the Obama presidency, which means that the right can be sore losers: even when they truly lose.

My dislike for the electoral college isn't just because someone lost even though they had the larger share of the popular vote: it is because it is one of many anti-democratic aspects in US politics.  None of these have been questioned in the US.  One of the many reasons I made the Demexit was that the Democrats were far from democratic, or they would be screaming about the electoral college costing the election.

Anyway, the University of Sydney's (Australia) Electoral Integrity Project has duly noted the systemic problems in US elections.

Again, Left and Right should be upset.

But I don't think popular elections are truly popular in the states.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Heeeyyyy, MITCH!

Yep, I am calling Penigma's fav right wing blogger to pass on some what isn't news to us on the far left, but is for pretty much everybody else.

There is a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, which I have known about early on when I signed on as a member of the class.  Let's toss in that this is the material that was published in Wikileaks about how the DNC violated its charter about neutrality in the primary, among other things, in pushing Clinton as the Candidate.
In July 2016, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone that, “primary season was very far from a fair fight. The Sanders camp was forced to fund all of its own operations, while the Clinton campaign could essentially use the entire Democratic Party structure as adjunct staff. The DNC not only wasn’t neutral, but helped with oppo research against Sanders and media crisis management.”
I know you righties like conspiracy, and the DNC mess includes the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.  Rich is pretty much been shown to be the source of most of the material published by Wikileaks (look at Assange's twitter feed...).  That's been the buzz since the news of his murder came out.

The DNC Class action lawsuit is conspicuously absent (even on Fox News), which makes me wonder how much the powers that be have been jerking around the right.

We may find out if people like Mitch don't start doing their research (of course, that presupposes they CAN research...) since they can have a field day with how undemocratic the democratic party happens to be.

The real fun is finding the documentation of dissent from the Sanders camp and its repression by the DNC at the Philly Convention.  Try Craig's List...

Have fun!

Recommended reading:
Election Justice USA, “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries,” ElectionJusticeUSA, July 25, 2016, http://www.election-justice-usa.org/Democracy_Lost_Update1_EJUSA.pdf.
Is MSM distracting from class action lawsuits against DNC?
DNC lawsuit: DNC won’t answer court’s basic question about state primary deals — Part 2 of 3 | The Florida Squeeze

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Abolish the Electoral College

I am amazed that this institution has not gone away long ago, or at least been reformed. This past election has demonstrated that most of the reasons for its existence are fatuous. lets start with:

It prevents foreign interference in US elections

This reason comes from The Federalist Papers, No 68:
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?
This seems to make any allegation of foreign interference (read Russia) absurd if the reasoning behind this institution is sound. I am surprised this hasn't been brought up as a reason that any investigation into this is just silly.

It prevents an incompetent from becoming president

The 2016 US election was one of duelling idiots. While one may defend Hillary Clinton as Threat not chicebeing well educated, she certainly lacked the knowse to deal with the election process (I refer you to Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign for documentation of her lack of political savvy, but that was pretty obvious to anyone watching the campaign). [1]

On the other hand, the US has been saddled by someone who appears to believe he wouldn't have won. I could get into Trump's candidacy, but this is a really bad one if this is one of the reasons for having the electoral college. I'd toss in the 2000 election as another example of the wrong person becoming president.

More reasons

I found Richard Posner's Slate article defending this anachronism. In defence of Posner, his article was written in 2012 before this past election fiasco. Posner gives the following reasons to keep this: Certainty of Outcome, Everyone’s President, Swing States, Big States, and Avoiding Run-Off Elections. I have to admit that the learned judge seems to be offering confused reasons.

Certainty of Outcome is a bad one for the learned judge to begin with since Gore won the popular vote by over 500,000 votes in 2000 and Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes (2,868,691). I found it hard to find a graph which gave the popular vote in the 2016 election, as opposed to graphics that showed the electoral vote, since this number is so disparate it makes this argument risable. [2] It would seem more certain in a truly democratic society, or at least one that likes to pretend to the rest of the world how great its democracy is.

Or is that pretence a relic of the cold war? Now that democracy is no longer an issue the US can get rid of its pretending its democracy is somehow better than the rest of the world.[3]

Everyone's president is a truly laughable assertion under Trump. How many people DIDN'T vote in the last election? Then there are people like me who voted for third parties.

The reality of the "everyone's president" argument made by Posner is silly is that he then goes on to "Swing States" and "Big States". Posner is trying to use the founder's belief that somehow the Electoral college prevents regionalism. Then he goes into the glaring examples of regionalism. It was Clinton's failures in swing states that cost her the election!

Bottom line on those three arguments: you can't claim that somehow the electoral college prevents regionalism when regionalism is what ended up costing the election of someone who won the popular vote by 48.5% (as opposed to the electoral college winner who won by 46.4% of the popular vote).

Reading Posner's article, the 2016 election points out the flaws in his arguments: the electoral college serves no point other than to be anti-democratic, which gets into "run off elections".

Those would be small prices to pay if they would be the cost of having the democracy the US has presented to the rest if the world through the last part of the 20th Century and the beginning of this one.

The problem is the electoral college is an anti-democratic institution which is an extreme danger to the electoral process. The sad part is that the travesty caused the electoral college is again being ignored. I noticed that the democrats were blaming everything except this fossil for their loss. Now, the silliness of foreign influence in US elections overlooks a reason given for this artefact.

The 2016 Presidential election has demonstrated that this institution needs to be abolished, or drastically reformed. Its existence has led to a constitutional crisis (not that the US hasn't been on the verge of one since its inception). But this one is one of proportions that can no longer be ignored.

The real bottom line here is that the US system of elections is in drastic need of an overhaul: does it take a Constitutional crisis to force this to happen?

notes:
[1] disclaimer: I voted for Jill Stein for many reasons other than just the "democratic" party running Clinton, but her choice was one of many sickeners the party gave me. The entire US election process makes me sick, but the duopoly really disgusts me.
[2] I knew Clinton was going to lose when the election results focused on the electoral votes as opposed to the popular votes.
[3] there is little difference between a republic and a democracy in modern political science. Besides, the French Revolution pretty much put paid to most of the anti-democratic v republican beliefs of the founders.
 [4] Here is my wish list of changes to the US system of elections. Only Jill Stein and the Greens seems to be willing to mention them:
open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform--if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.
In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.
One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).
Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated "behind closed doors" and vas presented to the League as "a done deal," she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.
Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called "outrageous" the campaigns' demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.
"The campaigns' agreement is a closed-door masterpiece," Neuman said. "Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates' organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands."
Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
lwv.org/press-releases/league-refuses-help-perpetrate-fraud
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.
I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton's "loss" was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the "losers" won the popular vote.
Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:
open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform--if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.
While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn't seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.
OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the "state" can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.
Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly's power against it.
Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.
[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

100 Days of Nothing

Donald Trump the candidate made dozens, even hundreds of promises.  Nothing new in that, all people seeking office make promises.  Congressmen promise to "do things differently" with great frequency and big, sweeping statements about either cleaning things up or "running things like a business" or a host of other silly promises.  They aren't honest brokers, they certainly don't bother to say to anyone that they'll be simply one of 435 voices in one part of the legislature.  Honestly, most don't even mean it.  I've met my share of Congressional Reps flying back and forth between my home and Washington DC so regularly.  Virtually all I've met promised to do things differently, virtually all became comfortable in their offices and in the Washington process immediately.  They clearly were paying lip-service to change.

What made Trump different, among many things, was that he was making promises which were so outrageous, so bombastic, it strained belief to take him seriously, yet, many people did.  It strained honesty to its breaking point to think even he thought the promises he made, the proposals he offered would get anywhere near passing, let alone work.

Yet, Trump made them, and made them, and made some more.  His followers often didn't seem to care if the promises were real.  Well, maybe except for one or two.  Each constituency had certain pet promises and each expected him to follow-through.  The chief among those was the promise to "bring manufacturing jobs back."  Trump made all these promises and those of us who had a small understanding of policy knew, knew beyond any doubt that they could not happen.  I'll lay out why following the promise, that each has failed and continues to fail.

Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Epic Failure): Repeal and Replace, Republicans had 7 years to formulate a plan, they never did (despite claiming to have done so), because throwing 15 million or more people out of the market and failing to ensure pre-existing conditions don't return to causing bankruptcy.  You have to expand the risk pool to cover folks and Republicans refuse to do that.

Build a Border Wall and Make Mexico Pay (Failure):  Trump promised Mexico would pay, he didn't mean in 10 years when he said it and his followers didn't think that's what he meant either.  He has asked for some initial surveying, but the local land owners who would have to forfeit their land have balked.  The cost to build the wall is FAR beyond what the national treasury can afford (and far beyond $30B, it might be more like $100B or even $500B).  His own party doesn't want to pay that much and with net negative immigration from Mexico, the facts don't support the need.  Most importantly, though, no one ever said a wall could not be built, but rather that it could not work and would be immensely costly.  Both those things are proving true.  Our primary source of illegal immigration is from Europe, not Latin America and the cost is absurdly large (including the manning of such a wall which would cost ever more Billions).   It's a non-starter to many Republicans.

Naming China a Currency Manipulator: Trump didn't do this, period.  If Trump intended to use China to influence North Korea (and he said he was going to do so), and that made naming China a currency manipulator untenable, then this promise was a lie, let alone a failure.

Defeat ISIS VERY Quickly With His Secret Plan:  Trump said he'd defeat ISIS very quickly but couldn't reveal his "plan" because he wouldn't tip his hand.  Upon taking office Trump announced.. ta dah! He had no plan and asked the Pentagon for one.  Now, the Pentagon already had one, the one it developed for President Obama which has reduced the area held by ISIS in Iraq by 60% and in Syria by 40%.  Trump's apparent "other plan" was to let the Russians help the Syrians quash the rebels in Syria, including and especially the pro-democracy rebellion centered in Alleppo.  The clear hope was that Russia will then help the Syrians take-out ISIS, but that isn't happening yet, and it sure as hell isn't quick.  Instead, the Shia government (backed by Iran) in Iraq is taking back Mosul in a bloody fight, supported by US aircraft, something happening prior to Trump's arrival. 

NATO Allies Would Pay Up or He'd Leave NATO: 

While a handful have said they'd pay a bit more, his statement that our NATO partners only pay 2% of the total bill for NATO forces was of course, wrong and absurd and so our allies told Trump to get real.  Then came the problems in Syria, and cries from Ivanka, and suddenly NATO is 'no longer obsolete."  As if it ever was.. but he needed his security blanket/mental salve so he says it WAS obsolete but something, somehow changed?  No, nothing changed other than this charlatan became aware of NATO's purpose and European leaders schooled him on just how stupid his stance and words were. 

So, we have 100 days of really nothing.  His Tax Reform, delayed.  His promised investigation to "voter (non)fraud", unaddressed by day 100 though he said he'd do so immediately.  The only thing he's done is issue some mostly pointless or rebuked executive orders.  What a winner.  I'm getting tired of all this winning.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Resist the Right, Oppose 21st century Fascism!



Let us hope the resistance in Europe to the oppression and bigotry of the radical right, represented by this election, is part of the opposition that has been generated world wide to and by tRump.

This the signal of a turning point marking the success of resistance,, their resistance, our resistance.

Not so much ding dong the witch is dead, more sing and shout the witch is OUT!
Fascism and extreme Russian controlled conservatism FAILS --- EPIC FAILS -- in France!

A little Edith Piaf, maybe I'll add a good video of the Marseilles. If the numbers improve appreciably, I may throw in some dubbed Jerry Lewis.

 Why the celebration?

Because in an election that for some time had been polled as possibly close, or with potential upset tRump-like win for Le Pen, this election mattered. With fears that the French Fascism of a far right wing nut, one who is also controlled by Putin, backed by Russia trying to pull off an inside take over of government, it matters. France is of one of the more significant member countries of both NATO and the EU, therefore this mattered very much.

It has been said in the past that 'X' number of Frenchmen (and women) can't be wrong, to which the comedic rebuttal has often been that all those Frenchies couldn't be right, just look at their fandom of Jerry Lewis (hugely popular in his day). I don't know how many French voters there are in the raw numbers, but the percentages are remarkable.

Marine Le Pen has lost, lost big, lost (as of the count as I write this) 65.1% for Emannuel Macron to 34.9%  for the perennial fascist. 

Or if I vilify female Nazi wannabees, to ape a turn of phrase from the male chauvinist pig/cochon,  Rush Limbaugh,"Femi-fascista" Le Pen.

No Frexit (French Brexit) now, no pull out of NATO either. No governmental racist policies -- and for a country that includes the Dreyfus affair in its history, that is saying something.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Update on the Fox News Downfall

In addition to Bill O'Reilly's well deserved exit from Fox News, on Monday, the door slammed on now former co-President of Fox News, Bill Shine, amid a cluster of NEW law suits over both corporate sexism and racial discrimination.  Some of those stories include reports of black female employees being coerced into arm wrestling white female employees, for the gratification of their white male bosses.

Shein took over from sex crazed exec and office pervert (alleged) Roger Ailes, effectively the founder of Fox News.  It appears he did not do much if anything to change the toxic misogynistic and racist culture of the organization.

Further rumors that are credible say that Sean Hannity will be out by Friday, giving rise to rumors that Fox News may be on its way to a substantial decline or even a possible collapse.

We have another deplorable supporting the Fox News misogyny, Michael Reagan weighing in.
Another anti-women conservative, the son of the disastrous conservative president Ronald Reagan,
who tweeted in defense of Fake News, apparently ignoring that the dress of women on camera was dictated by the management:
"If women are going to wear low cut dresses that show cleavage don't be harassed when we men look. Or should we sue for sexual arousal?"
Apparently Reagan never got the memo or the upbringing that men and women are each of us responsible for our own feelings and reactions, and especially for unacceptable behavior.  The issue here is that unacceptable behavior, including unprofessional conduct. 

It is ironic that so many of the women of Fox News are now found on MSNBC.  Perhaps even more surprising is that there is an apparent friendship and mutual adration society that has quietly existed for a while now between Roger Ailes and MSNBC  super star Rachel Maddow.  The story goes that Ailes is a huge admirer of the work done by Maddow.  It is worth noting that as Maddow has gained experience she has surpassed the performance of Fox News, particularly in the more desirable demographics.

I found it ironic while posting the news of the departure of another figure from the right wing propaganda outlet, notorious for its factual inaccuracies and partisan malice, grotesque hypocrisy, racism and on-air sexism, that some of the more ignorant right wing trolls claimed that the worst thing that ever happened at Fox News was some slightly salty language.  They denied the findings of the law firm that Fox hired to investigate the charges against the company which found them to be true.  And credible journalism like the New York Times reported that the sexual harassment extended at times to women being intimidated into being groped, kissed against their will, and women being coerced to perform oral sex acts on executive in the Fox News offices during working hours.  The trolls were apparently a mixture of women and men on the right, among some of the most misinformed individuals I have ever encountered (based on their expressed beliefs appearing in comments), which argues well for the accuracy of Hillary Clinton that both sexism and misogyny were factors in her election defeat.

In other news supporting the contention that the radical right are members of an adult version of the Little Rascals' "He Man Women Haters Club" has been the news that Rep. Fisher in New Hampshire was one of the originators of a particularly toxic and noxious sub reddit, a type of forum / website, in which he makes the observation
..on The Red Pill made by one of Fisher’s alleged usernames in 2008 reads, “rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

...The Red Pill frequently normalizes rape, diminishes female intelligence and discusses the best ways to pick up women, including “negging,” a tactic in which men say backhanded compliments to women in order to lower their confidence and make them more open to sexual advances.
This is conservatism in the 21st Century.  Those who do not share these deplorable and repugnant views in how they conduct themselves are however far too willing to include in their party and their politics those who do act and think like this in devaluing and demeaning women.  This is the GOP that accepted TRump as a candidate and support him in his presidency.  This thinking is where the racist and the sexism in policy originates on the right.  And the Evangelical Right is smack in the middle of it, as are the far right white supremacists and other people Hillary Clinton correctly identified  as deplorables.  Just as Racism drove right wing hatred of Obama for being bi-racial, this misogyny drove the hatred of Hillary Clinton.  Neither was rational or objective. No one repudiates it on the right, no one drives out these people on the right.

Fox News and Republican candidates and Conservative polices all normalize the view of women as lesser, not equal.  This is true in opposing equal pay for women as much as in treating women as sexual objects or second class citizens without the same rights and true equality.  The right is attempting to make misogyny socially acceptable and to make other hate such as racism, religious intolerance, and hate and fear for the LGBT acceptable.  The opposition to so-called "political correctness" is just one facet of this effort to undermine women in society.

And in other news another Right Wing Extremist, a be able to have an abortion as the result of either.

From CBS News:
Mourdock, a Tea Party-backed candidate who beat longtime moderate Senator Richard Lugar in the state's Republican nominating contest earlier this year, expressed his view that "life begins at conception" and that he would only allow abortions in circumstances in which the mother's life was in danger.

...Republican candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen,"
His assertion, lacking internal logic, that nothing happens without the will of God would then presumably extend as well to murder or crimes against humanity.  Because nothing can happen without God's will making it so -- which should include abortion, giving the majority of conceptions do not implant or otherwise naturally terminate, so.......approved by God. This is the same mindset that gives rapists custody of their children conceived from criminal acts, and the same mindset in other parts of the world that see no crime in rape, if the victim subsequently marries the rapist, because then "all good".

I have to wonder if Murdock were raped, but did not get pregnant, if he would still find that an Act consistent with the approval of God? I'm betting absent the accident of pregnancy he would not.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday fun day: again, let us point and laugh at their president

It should surprise no one  'Prez' Don  the Con displayed massive ignorance while antagonizing our good neighbor, and number 2 trading partner and good ally, Canada.

Donald TRump at least nominally won the presidency by winning the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Wisconsin, although all three were narrow and possibly tampered wins.  For example there was a problem with more votes than voters in Wisconsin.

Of those three states that nominally put Rump over the top, only one shares a border with Canada, but Rump rather spectacularly doesn't know which one.  I personally would be surprised if Rump could correctly name the capitol of any of the three, in spite of attending college in Pennsylvania.

In contrast as something of a party trick, our excellent senator, Al Franken, can correctly and accurately draw the map of the United States, with each state correctly bounded and located relative to the national boundaries and adjoining states, and each capitol city correctly named.

TRump has threatened trade wars with Canada, ignorant of the harm that would do to both nations and to our mutually essential relationship.  Further the issue which demonstrated Don the Con's belligerent stupidity is that American milk producers don't have a trade problem for a particular dairy product, ultra-filtered milk, rather there is a problem of oversupply, a glut on the market, of that milk product. That is properly the problem and responsibility of the producers to correct, not consumers, past or present.

I have yet to see where anyone in the TRump appointed administration, much less the Goat-in-Chief himself, has asked that fundamental question ascertaining excess product.  This in spite of the conservative obsession, or more accurately empty lip service, to free market capitalism, and to individual responsibility for their success or failure.

Our neighbors to the east in Wisconsin either have to adjust production to suit demand, or find new markets.  The fair and rational solution is not to attempt to bully or arm twist buyers to purchase their product.

Trade wars and tariff conflicts, as history teaches us, is the single most consistent cause of wars. So it is especially troubling that the illegitimate President, along with his party and supporters, is so profoundly ignorant of geography, history, and economics and so offensively hypocritical.  Rump has to go, he is dangerous, dangerous to us, dangerous to the world.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thursday Schadenfreude: Bill, Sean, and soon Rush go bye bye

We have had the satisfaction and gratification of seeing crusty old white lechers, predators and perverts being driven from right wing propaganda outlets.

Roger Ailes is gone from Fake aka Fox News, as is Bill O'Reilly.  It is looking increasingly as if Sean Hannity is being sued for similar sexual harassment misconduct and will likely follow them out the door.  New accusations are emerging, with new suits likely.

In other news, iHeart Communications notified the SEC that they expect to go into bankruptcy, likely by this time next year if not before. IHeart, owned by Bain Capital, is the media company that puts Rush Limbaugh on the air.  Limbaugh is no longer the conservative kingmaker power figure he used to be, thanks to the long term abandonment of not just Limbaugh but other radio personalities like Hannity, after the utterly undeserved abuse Limbaugh inflicted on Sandra Fluke and his persistent racism, sexism and general misogynist bigotry.  The man who invented the term feminazi is effectively being neutered.

Feminists, both men and women, have been the driving force behind these changes to previously robustly profitable right wing propaganda outlets. We have flexed our collective economic, social and political muscle, with boycotts of businesses that directly take offensive positions, like Chic Fil A which was anti-LGBT and anti-gay marriage, which later did a 180 degree change of position due to persistent opposition, including from socially progressive feminists.

A local conned-servative blogger, friend of both Penigma and myself, and sadly, the father of a daughter now in her early 20s, regularly attacks feminists generally, and women in politics specifically, including opposing equal pay for equal work and equal opportunity regardless of gender.  In a recent blog post he and his little minion followers that was typically demeaning and disrespectful towards women and their capabilities.  One comparison likened women to fluffy growling kittens, while making yet another exaggerated hyper masculine analogy in which macho male conservatives, in reality, old wrinkly crabby flabby white guys who do little other than whine and promote right wing propaganda lies, are mean, dangerous Rottweiler's to weak fluffy kitten feminists. I feel badly for any young woman who has to be subjected to denigrating women and lack of support for fair employment treatment, including a lack of support for a fair wage for her labor.

In that context the schadenfreude is sweeter at the victory of feminists and other progressives in successfully holding right wing misogynists accountable.

I have long mocked Republican math, where numbers have little or no foundation in objective reality, but are instead solely reflective of ideology -- and fantasy, or one might say more accurately, delusion.

Hard reality, there are more women than men.  There are slightly more girl babies born than boys, and more girls survive infancy.  On the other end of life, women live longer than men, and the trend is now for men to live less long, not longer, regrettably. News articles I have read lately all argue that more women are being employed in traditionally male sectors of employment, and that will continue, and conversely, predictions are, more men will become employed in traditionally female dominated jobs.

That is a reality presently, and in the probable future, which favors feminism and fairness, not regressive conservative misogyny and sexism.

Conservatism suffers from a persistent belief in false ideological narratives, and from a nasty set of prejudices that have always put them on the wrong side of the issues that form the arcs of history.  That argues more not less schadenfreude to come at their expense.

Since I cannot alter that, I will make the best of it and simply enjoy it. We will, like the great Liz Warren's example, persist; and sooner or later we will win.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Another Russian-rigged election, another Kremlin puppet fascist

France held a primary election last Sunday. This time the fascists came in second instead of winning.

Not as successful as the Russian collusion (apparently) between the TRump campaign and (increasingly apparently) other Republican leadership figures, along with emerging Chinese corruption. But it was still successful enough to defeat a couple of contenders.

The French general election is coming up in May. Macron is predicted to win, but then so was Clinton.

Marine Le Pen just engaged in a little fake political theater, stepping down temporarily (supposedly) as leader of the National Front, the bigot antisemitic party that is promoting lies about the assistance nasty right wing French bigots provided to Hitler's "final solution" rounding up  French Jews for the gas chambers.

It is going to be hard to pretend however that she is not owned by Putin after she took 9 million euros to support Putin grabbing Crimea, attacks on NATO ( including pulling out entirely, and a French exit from the European Union, aka Frexit).

And now it emerges that in addition to big dirty Kremlin cash, the very same hackers tried to do similar cyber attacks on the leading candidate, sane sensible centrist Emanuel Macron.

Like Putin, like TRump: another treasonous attack on representative government by dictators.

Le Pen's appeal is much the same, if more covert, appealing to a new generation of radical right wingers with the same prejudices, just as post election analysis demonstrates that TRump voters were substantially both racist and authoritarian.

Like poorly educated and badly informed far right blind ideologues,  the supporters of Le Pen hate and fear immigrants, and are Islamophobes and homophobes.

We can only hope the French object to having their elections rigged by Putin and his sell out puppets, and therefore reject both Le Pen and fascism.

I am waiting to see how long Republicans approve, condone, and endorse fascism before they decide it is too high, and too Un -American, a price to pay for power, like selling their souls to the devil.  Except of course like the French Nazi collaborators in WW II, the soul sellers aren't the only people enduring Hell as a result of their unjustified fear, hatred and perfidy.

Treason never plays well in the hindsight of history, and that is what selling one's country to Putin is: treason.

It bothers me....

In terms of the news cycle, it is already old and forgotten.

But while I tend to eschew conspiracy theories, I am troubled by the possibly credible challenges I am seeing to the claims of chemical weapons use by Assad in Syria.

I remember too well the lies from Dubya to involve the USA in an unjustifiable regime change in Iraq.  There were lies to the citizens of the USA, lies to the UN.

I don't doubt Assad has chemical weapons, but there is some credible evidence both sides possess them.  What does not make sense in the context of the explanation we have bee offered is why TRump would make such a hasty decision in advance of better information and analysis, but especially why TRump would do so with notification to Putin and Assad - the two are inseparable - BUT NOT notify or discuss such a decision with Congress.  And this is a Republican controlled Congress, one where TRump supporters control the pertinent committees that could be expected to advise and support Trump's decision --- if, BIG IF -- it was based on factual evidence and analysis.

Without the precedent of Dubya, I would be less willing to entertain such an idea, but TRump has demonstrated a far lower level of integrity than his most recent Republican predecessor, and worse, there seems no capacity to learn from Dubya's mistakes.  (We have only to look at TRump's proposed tax plan filled with corporate welfare and "wealth-fare" to see that.). And to many of the Dubya swamp rats are holding power in the Republican controlled Congress and the TRump administration.

Doubling down on Dumb and Dubya seems to be the order of their president, and if that is true, then the press, including citizen journalists like those who write blogs like this one, should be asking more hard questions, and looking for answers that fit the observable facts better in the context of 21st century history, both US and international history.

We cannot afford to let TRump's odd actions in Syria disappear from our consciousness without more rigorous and persistent examination.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ossoff wins Special Election in Georgia

Georgia has so-called jungle primaries.  To win outright you have to get 50% of the vote or better.

The democratic candidate Ossoff only won 48.1%, well ahead of the next candidate, a Republican, with less than 20%.

So now Ossoff will be in a runoff in June for the congressional seat once held by Nut/Newt Gingrich.

What makes this a significant win, considered widely to be a referendum on Trump specifically and Republican governance generally, was the unusually high voter turnout for a primary, with a mix of Democrats, Independents, and defecting disaffected Republicans in the mix of Ossoff voters.  Following an unexpectedly good showing in the bleak Brownback Kansas political landscape, where the Republican governor is an epic failure and where many of the far right tea parties in the legislature have been ousted already, the trend seems to be dissatisfaction with Republicans, their policies, (both proposed and in practice) and their inability to govern.

As Trump continues to flame out, with polls showing steep declines in support for his promises ever manifesting and with rampantly growing disbelief in both his integrity and competence, as the right is shown up generally for their utter lack of real solutions, the 2016 GOP victories have gone bitter failures.

America was scammed by Trump, and as that reality dawns, the country doesn't like it. This bodes well for Dems in 2018.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Who Laffers last laffs best

Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing while expecting a different outcome. Governor Sam Brown back just moved up from most hated governor, to second most hatd governor.  Chris Christie replaced Brownback.  Brownback had previously replaced Gov. Bobby Jindal as the most hatd governor, who was so bad he just up and quit.

In krazy Kansas, right wing Governor Sam Brownback's former supporters, now Brownback haters, voted for Don the Con for president and another right wing pro-Trump representative to
take the place of Mike Pompeo who joined the Trump illegitimate administration.

Where this becomes funny is that the good but dim and too-trusting voters in Kansas believed against overwhelming evidence, that Brown back and the architect of his economic policies, one Arthur Laffer, were going to make Kansas great again. The result was not just failure but epic failure. Brown back sold this failure as a great experiment in Republican governance, with a radical right state executive branch and a radical right legislature.

It was a radical right wing failure by every metric.

And WHO did then candidate Trump invite to advise him on HIS economic plans?  If you guessed the evil klown team of Laffer and Brownback, you would be correct.

So kray kray krazy Kansans expect from policies EXACTLY like those at home, and exactly like the same policies which have been tried and which failed repeatedly, over more than a century (see the policy under the horse and sparrow label) that their president Trump will do the same darn thing for which they despise Brownback and his Igor-clone lab assistant, but this time the result will be flying unicorns farting rainbows of prosperity across the whole country this time.

Insanity. Insanity combined with ignorance.

The only sparkle of hope that the good but misguided citizens of Kansas are recovering from their epidemic of insanity compounded by ignorance is that in the special election last week, the election was far closer than expected.  In the state legislature a week or so before that, moderate Republicans had joined with Democrats and very nearly undid some of the Brown back evil.

Change is coming, slowly and surely.  We can expect to see it, I hope, by 2018. That is about how long it should take to throw off the insanity and ignorance the rest of the way.

Republican governance is bad governance. That is true at the local, state and federal levels.  The proof is in Kansas, and now in DC.

Monday, April 10, 2017

More guns = more road rage incidents: why you should oppose misnamed constitutional carry

Conservative pro-gun extremists are trying to make Minnesota a so-called Constitutional carry state, meaning no one requires a permit or any training whatsoever to carry a loaded handgun concealed or otherwise.

These crackpot extremists would have you ignore -- or as they do, deny -- the considerable body of evidence that more guns, and more lax gun regulations, result in significantly more gun violence with no corresponding decrease in any levels of crime, violent or otherwise.

In short, guns are impulse violence weapons, and there is no upside in trying to subvert or pervert the US Constitution to accommodate the gun huggers' obsession with carrying around deadly weapons in a civil society.

Guns are weapons of impulse violence, both in aggression towards oneself, in suicides, and towards others where anger and frustration are present. Thetrace.org study found the incidence of road rage, for example, have doubled since 2014, as reported "Road Rage Shootings Surge on America's Highways and Byways."

There is no upside to (not)Constitutional Carry.  Nothing in the Constitution says this kind of dangerous demand by gun nuts has to be indulged.  No rational evidence says that desire to be armed in public should be indulged either, either.

What makes us safer is fewer guns, most of all fewer guns in the hands of the angry and impulsive who are more prone to misuse them.  In a 2015 study, quoted in the Trace article, Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, studying the relationship between anger and guns, found 1 in 10 who self-reported owning and carrying guns, with destructive behavior patterns, including getting into fights and breaking and smashing things.  And a 2006 study from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center😢

Friday, April 7, 2017

Trump bombing Syria was a cheap fraud, a political stunt

Trump desperately needed something to boost his image in the face of his steeply declining approval ratings, and the failures of his executive orders and legislative attempts.

I started to be suspicious this was like fake scripted reality TV when the number of bombs was announced, 59 missiles at the cost of more than $70 million a piece, the taxpayers money used for political stunt theater.

It was more obvious as it became clear the Russians knew in advance, and therefore the Syrians  knew too, as reports showed personnel and important equipment was evacuated well ahead of the attack.  And there was even less question this was political theater after the post bombing photos showed minimal damage, with in particular both runways remaining intact.

How do you rain down 59 Tomahawk missiles loaded with that much explosives and do such minimal damage, including leaving functional runways if this was a real, serious attack?

This stinks to high heaven.

I have no faith Trump gives a gold plated damn about suffering or dying children. He didn't care about civilian losses, including children, dead from drone attacks or the special forces attack in Yemen.

Trump, or more probably Putin (the better thinker of the pair) desperately needed to at least give the appearance of distance from Putin.  Putin suffered no losses, the manipulator still has his hand up puppet Trump's ass.  The probable collusion and probable blackmail hasn't gone away.

But for too many, the easily distracted, the shallow thinkers, the distraction, the change of narrative, was successful.

Just substitute "squirrel" for distracting a dog, or 'noisy' for 'shiny' for distracting the shallow, uncritical thinkers.

Classic Trump.

Be smarter than to accept that facile manipulation.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Conservative catch phrase " what everybody knows"

I have been struck by how often Trump supporters I encounter use the phrase "everybody knows" to assert statements which are factually false, often obtained from fake new sources.

This has been especially true about the ACA, aka Obamacare. They insist, in particular, that everyone knows Obamacare is collapsing and that everyone is experiencing unaffordable, catastrophic increases in premiums with high deductibles.  They
also assert that no insurers are remaining in the market, that they have left or are in the process of leaving.

Reality is that while there are problems for some of those on the Obamacare plans, that is mor anecdotal than widespread, and varies widely by geography.

Insurance companies have pretty universally been reaping unprecedented profits. Where a problem exists it can substantially be tracked back to 2015 legislation by Republicans that gutted guarantees to make good on losses to insurers.

Paul Ryan has  said he wants Americans to have "patient centered care'"  not government centered care.  Yet what the Congress Republicans have proposed takes care away from Americans, and can only accurately be described as  corporate profit care, without any genuin concern for patients at all.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Condolences to the UK on the terrorist attack

I applaud the UK for their typical response to events like the attack this week near Parliament.  They live the motto, Remain Calm, and Carry On.

I deeply admire this fierce, brave and resolute response, and I would like to see the USA behave more like our allies.

On behalf of the blog I wish to offer special, additional condolences to the family and friends of American Kurt Cochrane, who was killed, and our sympathies to his wife Melissa, who was injured in the terrorist attack.

Update2: Nunes and the House Intel debacle

Now Nunes via a spokesperson has retracted everything he said in his press conference but less publicly than his original statement.

He reluctantly apologized to the Democrats on his committee, but he initially tried to avoid the issue entirely.

And now others on the committee are -- quite properly -- accusing Nunes of trying a cover up for Trump. Nunes is also taking a lot of heat for cancelling public Intel committee hearings on Tuesday, without providing a reason.  He is being blamed, reasonably, that it was to protect Trump.

Stories have begun circulating that the source of the documents held by Nunes came from Trump.  While not yet confirmed, it has the ringvof truth, given Trump's past behavior, including pretending to be his own PR guy.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Updated!
TRUMP: Evidence exists, and it is not circumstantial evidence

Update: Rep. Nunes has first tried to dodge addressing the events of his conduct yesterday, but when unable to avoid it, eventually apologized.  It has now come out that Nunes shared the information with his Republican committee members, who asked him not to hold that press conference, and not to go to the president.  Nunes did it anyway.

Worse Nunes still has not shared that information, provided to the Republicans, with the Intel committee Democrats.  He indicated he would, eventually, but would not say when. Those Democrats have every right and responsibility to access to that information.  There is no legitimate justification for it not being provided yesterday.

So says Congressman and lawyer Adam Schiff, ranking democrat on the House Intelligence committee, about Trump and his government swamp rats.  I have no reason not to believe Schiff, a lawyer who uses and understands the term circumstantial fully as legal terminology.  Schiff, (unlike Trump and those who step 'n fetchit for him by lying), has an excellent truth track record.

The chair of that committee of which Schiff is the ranking (most senior) democratic member, the House Intelligence committee,  is Utah Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes.  Nunes turns out to have his own connections to the Russians, and was part of the demonstrably dishonest, corrupt, Trump transition team himself.

Just as bad, Nunes was one of those who did the White House lying for them about the Rump Russian scandals, calling journalists trying to squelch the stories.  That was wrong, that was dirty, and that was reported by the WaPo back in February.

Wednesday Nunes behaved not just oddly but inappropriately in sharing anonymous, LEGALLY collected "incidental" information on Trump and his transition team , per his unexpected urgently called press event, information which he did not share with his own committee.  As Schiff noted this was a violation of procedure and highly inappropriate.

While Nunes was part of that transition team, he did not indicate if he was included in the new information.  Vice President Pence headed that transition team, and Nunes was part of the executive committee of the transition per the LA Times last November.  Many of those brought into the Trump adminiustration by that committee ALSO have questionable business ties to Russia, specifically Putin, include Sec State Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Ross who chaired a Russian bank in Cypress involved with money laundering Russian oligarch dirty money.

If it walks and quacks like a duck.....well, in my opinion Trump and his administration, and those who carry water for him (or quack) for him in Congress are like a row of dirty paddling Baikal Teal ( a type of Russian ducks).

I would describe it as more like barely controlled panic on the part of Nunes, who has as his primary financial involvement a winery, Alpha Omega, with distribution connections to Russia, per the previously reliable Palmer report, in turn citing the LA Times, a source as gold standard as the New York Times, on the east coast.

Nunes has done everything in his power to try to give cover to Trump, and apparently to cover his own dubious backside.

Likewise in the Senate a potential conflict of interest with his own Russian involvement in a dubious pyramid scheme called Nu Skin, Chaffetz largest donor.  I personally have a substantial moral objection to pyramid schemes as scams, but they seem very popular with right wing wealthy scammers who make big bucks exploiting people.  Again a hat tip to the Palmer Report blog, citing Open Secrets, who list  over $100,000 from Nu Skin for his two election campaigns, and lists other credible sources. Chaffetz has received so much funding, he is described as practically owned by Nu Skin, which has branched out into Russia and the Ukraine while receiving cover from Chaffetz, in spite of YUGE fines for illegal business practices from the federal government.

Given how many Republican senators have seniority higher than relative newbie Chaffetz, other than his willingness to pursue pointless, endless investigations without merit, what I would call witch hunts, his position, and how he has used it, raises red flags.  Clinton investigations I would argue were pursued for purely political reasons, making Chaffetz impartiality is AT BEST suspect and at worst politically corrupt, and tainted with the same corruption stain as not-my-president (arguably not anyone's president) Donny J for jackass Trump.

Make America great again; deport all the Russian controlled or influenced or owned right wing swamp rats out of government, out of the country, and dump them in Vlad Putin's lap where they belong.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

King of Distraction and Little Else

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Al Franken (again).  I've met him a few times before.  I asked him one substantive question, probably shouldn't have, he's trying to relax on a plane ride at the end of the day, but I couldn't help myself.  My question was, "Does the Democratic Party leadership recognize that the claims against President Obama are merely a distraction, an intentional distraction, by President Trump to take focus off the very serious allegations about collusion between Trump and Putin?"

His answer was essentially, "Yes, it's clear to all of us."

I was pleased to hear it and in watching James Comey's testimony, specifically the questions and the answers to those questions, it was clear that the Democrats finally seem to be showing some wisdom regarding Trump.  They still (incorrectly) blame the FBI for Clinton's loss, they still (equally incorrectly, imho), think Trump won because he's a man and she's a woman.  They didn't realize that feeling "trumps" fact when people vote and Trump made people feel like they were winners, like they'd "win" their jobs back, like they'd be prosperous if the prosperous man won.  That he's mostly just playing a confidence game wasn't something they wanted to believe.

And then along came his rather obvious association with Vladimr Putin.  Trump is an inveterate blowhard, he demeans anyone and anything he feels he can get away with in order to pump himself up.  We're not "winning" in Iraq, demean our military leadership, John McCain doesn't like his comments on torture, demean McCain's military service.  So, when Russia is involving itself in propping up Bashar Assad, normally a man like Trump would have been all over Obama, he never restrained himself before where President Obama was concerned, but with Russia, with Putin, all you ever got was crickets.  He clearly had been to Russia, he certainly has ties to that part of the world (he has a large hotel in the capital of Azerbaijan, a dictatorial state run by a Putin puppet).  That didn't happen out of thin air nor coincidence.  He had reputed/alleged ties to Russian "suppliers" of concrete at a time when those suppliers shut down every other construction project in Manhattan.  In fact, the list of ties to Russia for Trump is so long, this post would be three pages before I stopped naming simply the first and second tier (ties through an immediate family member or close associate) between Trump and Russia. 

And then there's the fact that Trump was SILENT on the nature of the Wikileaks attacks except to at one point encourage them.  This may have telegraphed his myopic understanding of the law and of the gravity of any collusion which may exist.  Remember, the first thing he said was (paraphrase), "If Russia can find those missing e-mails, be my guest."  Perhaps he wasn't even aware such attacks weren't just an illegal attack on Ms. Clinton but would rightly be seen as an attack on the United States.  He's flouted the law in the past, perhaps he felt cyber attacks, which happen all the time, are no big deal.  After he was admonished, his line then became, "Well, you don't know it's Russia." A line he continued up until recently when he was advised and it was made very public, that we in fact do know.  His mockery of our intelligence community on this point undoubtedly was a catalyst which lead to the leaks he so despises, for undoubtedly that intelligence community took a look at the man and decided if he was going to attack them for doing their job correctly, they had ways of letting him know they knew his secrets. 

The story at this point goes then to this.  Trump has close ties to Putin and Russia and the various ex-KGB, oil oligarchs who surround Putin.  Those ties are deep, they include Mike Flynn (taking payments from Russia during the campaign it is alleged) and Paul Manafort, his campaign chair until the news about Russia started to leak and Trump fired him to save himself and for no other reason.

All of the things that have come up, from investigating leaks to blaming Obama for the investigation, they are all distraction, distraction meant, vainly tried, to take the focus off of Trump himself, off of what may well prove to be collusion between Trump's senior staff (and so almost certainly Trump) and hackers, hackers very likely directed by and employed by the Russian government.  If that turns out to be true, it would make Trump a guilible tool, a useful fool to use the Russian/KGB  terminology.  It would make him facile and feckless, a pawn to be exploited.  If true, Trump will be guilty of something for which he not only should be impeached but should be in prison.  Some might even call him a traitor, and if it proves to be true he helped Putin either before or after the break into DNC servers, if he colluded after the fact with Putin's men, then I'd be one of those looking long and hard at what we call treason and whether we should apply it to Donald John Trump.  The man who may well have the shortest Presidency in history where he did not die in office, and rightly so, if true.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The alternative reality of the right collides with the real world

Trump and GOP members want Americans to believe they have a better plan for health care and health insurance.

They don't.

For starters you don't rationally use an increase in the cost of insurance after a lapse by making that insurance more expensive.  It is likely that the increase in premiums will cause people to lose coverage, and Trumpcare makes it much harder to regain insurance, only adding to the numbers of uninsureds, not cover more people or make it more affordable.

The idea they embrace is to screw you and enrich themselves and the special interests who own them. The obscenely rich jerk, the hedge fund manager, by the name of Mercer, who holds the leash to Steve Gannon's collar, openly believes the amount of money you make is the only important measure of human worth.  To him and those rich bastards on the right like him, ordinary everyday Americans are of little or no value, expendable and disposable.

According to the CBO and the Census Bureau, while somewhere between 20 and 28 million people currently insured under Obamacare will become uninsured, with overall uninsured numbers rising to 52 million Americans, higher than the previous high under Dubya in 2001, of 52 million.

Don't believe Trump, don't believe the GOP; don't believe in leprechauns and unicorn magic solutions. People won't be insured by cutting taxes for the wealthy, and giving cuts to corporations either.

Wake up, you are going to be more screwed than under Dubya's economic collapse.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Day of Spring, news in brief

Trump is still a liar, and looks ridiculous; Trump has a problem with Russia being behind his silly Brit spy surveillance claim, and the hearings in Congress show it never happened. It looks more every day as if Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians to cheat in order to win.

In other news more and more Americans disapprove of Rump, and more Americans view Rump as illegitimate. (I do too.)

In other news Trump continues to fail on promises and performance, playing golf and pissing away the goodwill and loyalty of our allies.

And last but not least, Trump wants to fund the military on the backs and wallets of children, the old and the poor.  At the same time Rump advantages and gifts the wealthy even more than the failed Dubya tax cuts and other more devils means that harm a majority of Americans.

Neil deGrasse Tyson summed it up when he noted the Trump budget leaves the nation weaker, sicker, and more stupid.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's another Friday Fun Day: more Rump schadenfreude

And like the week before, we have another round of Trump failures to enjoy.

Trump's bigot ban trying to fear monger Muslims has been blocked from going into effect. Good join again AG Lorie Swanson, another good example of successful Democratic governance that correctly understands and applies the proper function of government in action.

We see tremendous push back against the horrific failure in healthcare and insurance that is Trumpcare. This as much as any other initiative could hand the state and federal government back to the adults in the room aka the Democrats.

Cutting money to schools, hurting grandma and grandpa more than those fictional death panels ever could, defunding big bird, planned parenthood, and ending many if not all meals on wheels programs, enabling the harm to our LGBT population, enriching the rich at the expense of the middle and below....and endangering the nation by diverting resources from needed security.....it is not going to play well.

The Russian scandal looms larger every day, Rump's popularity falls lower and lower every day, "their president" is caught lying more and more every day.

The pace of Rump's decline and fall is slow but inexorable. And it has the virtue of a faster pace than the fall of Nixon.

In the interim it is a joy to see the mini-me Trumps being rejected in the EU, beginning with the Dutch.  Hooray for unity and strength and stability, hooray for a turn away from chaos and superficial ignorant thinking. Hooray for the choice of adults and good, thoughtful governance.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy St Urho's Day

St. Urho doesn't exist, never existed.  He is, in a way, fake news, more St. Ersatz.

St. Urho is a joke created here in Minnesota.  There is some disagreement as to where in Minnesota the joke started.  Minnesota has a good sized Irish population. We also have a large Finnish population in this region.

St. Urho is the Finn answer to St. Patrick, stealing just a little of the thunder of the man who was reputed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland, by having a holiday the day before the better known St Paddy.

St. Urho's holiday celebrates the driving out of grasshoppers from Finland where they were destroying the grape crop which was the foundation for the Finland wine industry.

WHAT Finland wine industry? Now you get the joke. It is very much in the low key what you might call Prairie Home Companion-esque variety of humor.

Although.... with enough global warming there might be a real need for a modern Urho to save the day, and to reinvent the culture of saunas and rolling in snow with growing grapes and stomping them into juice for wine making that far north.

After all, we have a burgeoning wine industry right here in Minnesots where we used to be known as the icebox of the lower 48 contiguous states of the USA.

Happy St. Urho's Day, hug a Finn and have a chuckle. And watch out for drunken grasshoppers.





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trumpcare is a big rickety mess

Trumpcare is a giant unwieldy gold plated shit wagon badly overloaded rolling down a steep and rocky hill of reality.

The only real questions are when will it collide with one of the many reality obstacles, how badly the rickety gold plated shit wagon will be damaged ( the shit wagon being here a metaphor for Trump and his administration) and how far the shit on the gold plated wagon will fly.  The shit metaphor here being the impossible to deliver on Trump promises, in this instance Trumpcare.

Arguably the biggest metaphor obstacle in the road down the reality hill is the CBO report released yesterday.  The shit wagon drivers (in this analogy, Trump spokespersons, surrogates, and those in congress supporting Trumpcare like Paul Ryan) trying to circumvent the obstacle of reality.  However their attemp to avoid a reality collision consists of denials the CBO assessment is real.
But there are other less obvious rocks in the road that threaten the rickety gold plated shit wagon like the West Virginia Coal Miners who recently received letters telling them they would no longer be receiving their black lung benefits for the widows and children of miners who died from working in the coal mines or those who had retired and were currently suffering from black lung.  These are angry people who voted for Trump, who believed his shit pile of lies about coal mining jobs coming back, and his lies about better, cheaper health care pots of gold.  These people PAID for these benefits they are now denied by Republicans who control Congress and the White House. These people make a compelling argument to the rest of the minimally educated blue collar white people Trump bigot base who hoped to "get theirs" while taking away from the black and brown Americans they wrongly blame for their problems and for institutional inequity. It remains to be seen if the shiny but unstable shit wagon will steamroll them flat, or if they will sharpen up and obstruct and resist the shit wagon headed their way.

The gold standard for fact checking political claims, factcheck.org, is quite clear that the GOP and their shit shoveling minions are lying (or if you prefer are willfully inaccurate) when they assert that the CBO failed to analyze correctly the costs and benefits of Obamacare. Rather I would argue Obamacare did a good job of performing as predicted, the CBO was correct, and that problems with Obamacare affected relatively few people and could easily be fixed.  I would further argue that the GOP has worked tirelessly to sabotage or otherwise inflict damage on the ACA but have not succeeded beyond their deluded base that dwells on that rarefied hilltop trying to avoid facts and reality that they don't like.

But like the overloaded, rickety, gold plated shit wagon, they are also going to have to head down that reality hill and will collide with sharp and painful pointy facts.

The only outcome waiting to emerge is how deep the shit is spread when it flies, who dodges it or deflects it, and who the casualties are from the collisions. Elections have consequences, and the 2018 round of the next election is looming like a mountain range horizon.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Anti-Muslim Ban Update, Sunday March 12, 2017

Last week six Attorneys General filed suit to stop it.

So far, as was the case with the previous failed ban initially, the court has requested further submission from the AGs to address specific facets.

The AGs, joined by the ACLU, and an impressive number of corporations, will be making further submissions to the court. The ban is scheduled to take effect later this week.  I predict that as with the first failed ban which completely fails to deliver on its premise but is instead throwing rotten red meat to the ignorant deplorable bigots who voted in the fascist Trump.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Friday, the fun day of the traditional work week: the Anti-Muslim Executive Order

I was a bit surprised to see on the midday news that the Minnesota AG Lori Swanson had joined the suit against the Trump administration bigoted Anti-Muslim ban.
I was surprised because the news report indicated this was done last night.

I was surprised because as is my habit when researching posts here, I had called the AG's office to inquire and been told no, no such action had taken place.

I am assuming the reports are true, and proud of AG Swanson for taking this action .  I'm just happy I turned on the local news before following through on writing something today.

I look forward to another successful legal challenge by Ms. Swanson, the additional AGs, and the corporations joining in opposition to this deplorable Trump executive order.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Update to Trump's Anti-Muslim Ban Opposition

As of this evening, per Reuters, March 9th, two more state AGs are joining the Hawaii and Washington, the New York AG who is also suing Trump and his (allegedly) crooked and illegal charity, and Oregon.  Per the BBC News as well, Massachusetts is joining the list of states challenging the bigoted ban, along with a number of corporations.

So far no announcement if Minnesota's AG will join that list, but we can hope.

Travel Ban 2.0 update; back in court

Hawaii is suing to overturn the latest Trump anti-Muslim ban.  The Attorney General of Washington state is expected to join in this law suit as well, after his initial success in cooperation with our own excellent AG, Lori Swanson.

I have yet to see an announcement as I write this if Swanson will join the Hawaii suit, which should again go, eventually before the 9th Circuit Appellate Court.

Legal analysts of the latest Anti-Muslim Travel Ban have opined the new version of the executive hate order contrived this new bigot ban specifically to succeed with the 9th Circuit.  However there are still major problems that continue with this ban from the previous iteration, notably all of the prior ban promotions of this ban as being specific to Islam, and the failure to demonstrate a significant danger from travelers from these six countries.

Homeland Security has been emphatically clear that national origin is NOT a predictor of subsequent terrorism, and that those few incidents of Islamic motivated terrorist violence has come from people born here, or from immigrants who were from countries not on the travel ban list.  Further with the exception of 9/11 all terrorist in the past 20 years were radicalized AFTER being in the United States for an extended period of time, not before they passed the screening test to enter the United States.

Unless Trump and his fellow bigots and swamp rats running this administration can present a cogent and credible argument that they will devise a screening test under the false label of extreme vetting that will predict future behavior that arises from unpredictable future influences, no travel ban or change in procedures they propose is going to make anyone safer from terroristic violence.
The Obama administration identified these six countries as needing further screening, which the Obama administration then put in place successfully.

The Trump administration has failed to improve on those changes in any way.

The Trump Swamp, appealing to bigot voters and the know-nothing's, deserve to lose round 2 in court.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Is their president Trump a money-launderer?

Sure looks like it.

Trump's latest anti-Muslim ban is a bad thing, an illegitimate thing, a fascist thing, a failure.


The new and not improved travel ban that targets Muslims tries to justify the need for national security with the claim that there are 300 investigations into refugees.

Not convictions. Not even prosecutions. "Investigations". Let me be clear, investigations clear people. Investigations into crimes or terrorism look at a lot of people, many who are guilty of nothing as a process of elimination.

In a separate piece of news, we learned today that apparently one of those who is being investigated, or at least having his right to travel reviewed, is Khazr Khan, the father of the Muslim soldier who gave his life to protect this country. Kahn and his wife spoke out during Hillary Clinton's campaign, parents who were subsequently shamefully vilified by Trump and his campaign. There is no evidence of any legitimate reason Khan should be singled out for this 'review' or investigation other than a politicized attack by Trump on this patriotic American citizen.

That taints all of these other supposed 300 'investigations'.

Since some 50,000 refugees entered this country just last year alone, and we have been taking in refugees since long before the Obama administration -- so what? What is the REAL significance of this vague assertion (another one without evidence)? The biological father of Steve Jobs came here as a Syrian political refugee back in the mid 1950s.

So who are these suspect refugees? Absent any other information as to how long they have been here, what screening they underwent in order to arrive here and in particular the information we have from Homeland Security that national origin is no predictor of terrorism and that most terrorists are radicalized AFTER arriving here, that assertion by the spectacularly less than honest Trump administration to justify, or attempt to justify, the anti-Muslm ban (and that is still what it is) is worse than meaningless.

I predict that this ban will fail for exactly the same reasons as the previous executive order -- because it is malicious, bigoted and incompetent.

So far the reality is that ZERO refugees from any of the remaining six countries have committed terrorist acts against the United States on US soil. And if actual terrorism is the standard, then we should be banning refugees and immigrants and visa seekers from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Chechnya, among others, and not from the countries Trump has singled out for apparently unfounded persecution.

We are not safer in the US, we are under greater fascism and authoritarianism. We are afflicted by official bigotry and hate and intolerance and ignorance. THAT is dangerous.
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Donald Trump, an ugly orange stain on America, a long term stain on the evil right

On the viewer's left, the fake president with his fake gilded pent house and his tacky noveau riche gauche taste.

On the viewer's right, the hilarious mocking of Trump and his bogus and illegitimate claims about Obama surveilling him.

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Remember the State of the Union speech just last week? Where Trump promised pipelines would use US STEEL?

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Update on Sessions, the Russians and collusion to elect Trump (allegedly)

Here is a little more on why recused AG Jeff Sessions getting busted for perjury could be a big deal to investigating Trump's apparent collusion with the Russians to rig the outcome of the election.

From USA Today:

"Trump and other White House aides have repeatedly denied any contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The ties between Sessions' staff and the current White House are many. Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was Sessions' communications director before joining the Trump campaign in January 2016, and former Sessions chief of staff Rick Dearborn was director of the Trump transition and is now Trump's deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.
..Sessions was perhaps Trump's most loyal supporter in Congress last year, and he chaired Trump's national security advisory committee."

Sessions directly benefited from Trump's questionable election.  He gained personally from this apparent collusion, gaining a position arguably more powerful than being a senator, and one from which he could shield Trump from investigation.  While there is no clear quid-pro-quo, no evidence so far that Sessions was promised the AG slot, or some other political plum, if Trump won, I think we can consider it implied from the outcome.

As a Trump National Security advisor, the CHAIR of Trump's National Security Advisors, Sessions would know damn well about the efforts of the Russians against the US, from hacking Americans (and not ONLY the DNC) but also in the proxy war in Syria as it relates to terrorism and ISIL. Sessions was much more than "called a surrogate a time or two" in his relationship to Trump and the campaign. He was a key insider, which makes his connections to Russia all the more suspect.

If the DoJ and the FBI can get leverage on Sessions for his conduct -- like perjury -- Sessions might throw Trump under the bus to save his own hide.  Not just Trump but also Trump staffer Stephen Miller who is a former Jeff Sessions staffer. Or at least Sessions might try to reduce the punishment from his actions in some way if not seek total immunity. Sessions has never struck me as a particularly strong person who would fall on his sword for someone like Trump; rather he is and has always been something of an opportunist, a man who took more money from special interests like Big Oil to act against the interests of his constituents than any other member of Congress.

Liar in Chief, Libeler in Chief

I'm thinking maybe Obama, if he is serious enough about getting rid of Trump, might go ahead and do this. I for one would LOVE to see a libel suit against "their" president.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Here is at least a spark that could lead to fire in all the Russia /Trump smoke

I have always found the Guardian to be reliable, one of the great newspapers world wide for being accurate and careful in what they write.

Today the Guardian wrote a piece that calls Jeff Sessions a liar. Still. New. It says that after Sessions met with the Russian Ambassador at the RNC convention, casually, which appears to be true, SESSIONS ALSO MET WITH THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR PRIVATELY AT THE RNC, OTHER THAN HIS CASUAL PUBLIC ENCOUNTER.

That makes his explanation of his failure to admit this to the Senate Confirmation senators' questions under oath a lie. THIS raises the issue of credible perjury by Sessions, if it can be proven -- and I would expect it can be proven, if it is being leaked in this way by Justice or other whistle blowers.

"According to a justice department official speaking anonymously to the Washington Post when it first reported the story, the meeting was casual: Kislyak and other ambassadors approached Sessions after he finished giving a speech. Sessions then spoke with Kislyak alone, the official said, citing a former staffer for the senator. To say the meeting was “set up by the Obama administration” is false."
Further it clarifies that contrary to claims, this was not a meeting set up by the Obama State Department. What is true is that the US State Department had a long standing pattern of inviting ambassadors from other countries to our political conventions as an educational opportunity. No subsequent meetings at the convention could be characterized as this kind of very public attendance by the Russian ambassador.  This is a case of both the original action AND the cover up being what will bring down Sessions, and Trump and his advisors, past and present.

Nowhere do we see this attendance by the Russian ambassador or anyone in his embassy doing this with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic convention.

Further, it appears that Jeff Sessions attended the GOP Convention on the Trump campaign dime, using campaign donations funding for that trip, not his own $$$ and not any senate funds to do so. This has been reported by a range of sources, including the Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Gate:
"The use of political funds instead of legislative funds is an important distinction because the Trump administration maintains that Session was acting only in his role as a then-U.S. senator when he talked to Kislyak."
This looks like the first sparks of the fire behind the smoke. This looks like more heat than just attempted obscuring the facts

https://www.theguardian.com/…/fact-check-trump-obama-wireta…
http://www.sfgate.com/…/Report-Sessions-used-political-fund…