Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy Friday Fun-Day!

Shared by an FB friend. Enjoy!

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him:
"Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.
She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be an Obama Democrat.
"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are -- or where you are going. You've risen to where you are , due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Neville Chamberlain aka Donald Trump

The former British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who famously was quoted as having achieved "Peace in Our Time" after giving away the Sudetenland (from Czechoslovakia, which objected to this action) is famous not for having achieved peace but rather for having enabled war.  Not only did he give Nazi Germany a portion of another country without it having to risk anything, he gave them the military capabilities and industrial strength of an iron-rich region of Europe and a famously productive tank works in Prague (which Germany soon annexed right after taking the Sudetenland).  Chamberlain felt he could "manage" Hitler, that Hitler's demands, while strong, were not entirely unreasonable given that he was trying to unify the "German People" under one governmental umbrella and if Europe gave in to these demands that would be the end of it and by doing so avoid another great war.  This lead to Chamberlain going down as the great "appeaser" of Europe.  A man who's actions did not avoid war but hastened it.

Donald Trump believes he can manage Vladimr Putin.  He believes Putin's demands about the Crimea (and presumably Georgia) were/are reasonable.  He believes Putin's aims of creating a homogenous Russia of ethnic Russians are reasonable.  Putin has modernized the Russian military.  He has threatened nuclear attack on Poland and the invasion of the Baltic States. He has bullied Byelorus and Turkmenistan (among others) of his neighbors, into being his puppets (like Hungary and Rumania were German puppets).  He HAS invaded Georgia, the Crimea and the Donbas (the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine).  He HAS assisted Bashar Assad with the brutal destruction of Alleppo and the slaughter of it's citizens.  Now Putin and Assad are "hammering" out a peace deal unilaterally because, quite frankly, Russia has NO fear of reprisal from the West given Donald J Chamberlain is about to be our President.  The oil sanctions, which have cost Russia dearly, will go away and Putin will undoubtedly feel safe in threatening, and perhaps attacking other of his neighbors.   Russia is not the kind of military power which Germany was in 1939, except, EXCEPT that it has nuclear weapons and is willing to threaten their use.

Donald "the Appeaser:" also is happy to appease Benjamin Netenyahu, the belicose PM of Israel who continued the aggressive conduct of Ariel Sharon, building settlements in the West Bank despite world-wide condemnation and prior agreement by the Israelis to not do so.  Netenyahu has become a co-belligerent in this dispute as the Israeli government clamped down more and more harsh controls on Palestinians over the past 16 years and built settlements in direct violation of their own promises.  Netenyahu complained that a "friend doesn't take a friend to the UN", well a friend doesn't come before the legislature of a friend and lecture them either.

Trump will give in to Netenyahu as well, He will turn a blind-eye to a two-state solution.  He will allow Netenyahu to bully the Palestinians and from it, we, the US will be seen as enabling the Israeli administration, it will be buttressing a leader who has repeatedly taken the most aggressive approach imaginable toward the Palestinians during the 8 years of the Obama administration.  Even so, with the Obama "abstain" vote on the UN resolution condemning further Israeli construction of settlements, Netenyahu has asked his own legislature to table further funding of settlements, in short, he got the message that the US CAN take another approach.  It CAN put Israel up for scrutiny by THE REST OF THE WORLD, including England, including France, including China, nations which are not unreasonable in their demands that Israel stop.  The US has stood by and protected Israel from that condemnation, in resolute adherence of respect to our ally, but that ally has poked us in the eye time and again by ignoring even its own long-term interest by abandoning the two-state approach and so risk war with its neighbors and on-going violence from the Palestinians.   The Arab nations have made it absolutely plain there will be no long-term peace with Israel without peace between the Palestinians and Israel and THAT requires a two-state solution.

Yet, Trumperlain insists he's going to "be a great friend" to Israel, meaning he's not going to push for an end to settlement construction, for a two-state resolution, and so that means he's going to appease the hard-liners in Israel and give them license to continue to obstruct any long-term resolution.  He's going to be a weak, facile lick-spittle to Netenyahu.  What's worse, is that in so doing, he's going to make war between Israel and it's neighbors more likely, not less. He's going to make terrorism in Israel more likely, not less.  There are some who will say there will be terrorism regardless, and that's true, but how much?  Between 2009 and 2013 there were ZERO civilian Israeli deaths to terrorism inside Israel, ZERO.  Since the re-engagement of construction and the isolation of Gaza, there have been dozens.  Simplistic arguments of requiring perfection in any solution does not change the fact that a FRIEND advises a friend that they are on a perilous course, and a friend may even become exasperated with a friend who repeatedly cuts off their own nose.  A friend does not meekly and slavishly simply cow-tow to anything their friend wants to do.  Friends give friends hard advice when they need it, rather than remaining deaf, dumb and blind as that friend rushes into a more war-like and war likely world.

Those people, Trumerlains and Daladierumpians alike, those who will be ass-kissers first, are weak people who embolden, not restrain, tyrants and fools.  Those people make war and terrorism and a violent world MORE likely, not less.   Those people are weak leaders, they think they're clever, but in reality they are just the tools of those tyrants.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thank You, Prince Charles, speaking on the BBC "Thought for the Day" radio segment about religious intolerance and populism

HRH The Prince of Wales - 22/12/16

In London recently I met a Jesuit priest from Syria. He gave me a graphic account of what life is like for those Christians he was forced to leave behind. He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq and how he feared that Christians will be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible. He thought it quite possible there will be no Christians in Iraq within five years. Clearly, for such people, religious freedom is a daily, stark choice between life and death.
The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.
We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.
And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.
All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s. I was born in 1948 – just after the end of World War II in which my parents' generation had fought, and died, in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. That, nearly seventy years later, we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.
Normally, at Christmas, we think of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder, though, if this year we might remember how the story of the Nativity unfolds – with the fleeing of the Holy Family to escape violent persecution. And we might also remember that when the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he, too, was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.
Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same - to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.
That’s what I saw when attending the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London recently. Here were a people persecuted for their religion in their own country, but finding refuge in another land and freedom to practise their faith according to their conscience.
It is an example to inspire us all this Christmastime.

It's Friday Fun-day, let's enjoy a little Schadenfreude

So not only do we have the failure of Donald Trump to be a success at anything, including the planning of his own inaugural festivities, we have Melanoma Trump being refused couture services by a variety of designers, domestic and foreign.

So far, there is the possibility that the Rumps have the Rockettes performing, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir --- and the Rockettes are iffy.  Otherwise there are a lot of no's and Hell no's.  City Pages has obliged by keeping a running list of those who refuse Trump.  Because this is an ever expanding list, we won't try to reproduce it here.  Suffice it to say I can't remember when there was such a massive refusal to perform for a president.

It goes down well as Trump and his surrogates repeat the lie that they have a mandate and that Trump's victory was a landslide.  More like a theft, given that there are abnormalities and irregularities in the recounts that have occurred so far, and that others have been blocked.  The Brad Blog, which you can access from our blog roll as well, covered it thoroughly.

There is far more driving challenges to the legitimacy of the contention that this presidency than there were ever valid questions about the Obama legitimacy in office.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Like White on Right, er, Rice

Image result for neonazi trump supportersThere has been a rise in white supremacy supporters, and other racists.  There has been a rise in supporters of religious intolerance, misogyny, and intolerance towards the LGBT.

This is not fictional, it is a factual.  But the right, well, the right keeps trying to pretend; they don't want us looking at the man behind the curtain, to borrow an analogy from the vintage movie, The Wizard of Oz.

The harsh reality is that the right, especially the Trump campaign, has been perfectly happy and willing to accept anyone, no matter how deplorable, on their side.  That has included the dregs, the same disreputable crowd that formed the John Birchers back in the mid 20th century, and worse.  And the respectable right (sarcasm) which has been so tolerant of driving out moderates, has looked the other way.

Watching the 2015 movie, Woman in Gold, I was struck by what that particular slice of history tells us about the rise of authoritarianism.  Helen Mirren's character observes how the Austrians welcomed the Germans, and only later tried to claim they were victims of them.  Now we see occasionally where the right is embarrassed, or in denial, about their political bedfellows. But it is too little, and it is way too late.

We have heard the accusation by our intelligence services of Russian meddling in our elections.  Vice News went further in connecting the dots between the neo-nazis and other deplorables and the mainstream Conservatives, including the proposed Trump administration.  I would argue the list below compiled by Vice News is far from exhaustive or encyclopedic.  Information like this makes it all the more important that we push back against conflicts of interest and that we push back against the influence and interference of other nation states and their governments intruding into our government.  And always, always, always, follow the money.  Because this is about all forms of power, and money is only one of them.

Austria's far-right party cozies up to Russia

The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party said his party had signed a friendly pact with the Russian government in Moscow on Monday and vowed to be “a neutral and reliable intermediary and partner in promoting peace” between the United States and Russia.  
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache also revealed in a statement that he’d traveled to New York a month earlier to meet with Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser.
Monday’s announcement sought to establish Austria’s growing populist party on the world stage, but it served the dual purpose of signifying Russia’s growing ties to Europe’s far-right movement.
“The FPO continues to gain international influence,” the statement said, although it did not not elaborate on the contents of the agreement with Russia.
Monday’s meeting in Moscow was also attended by the FPO’s recently defeated presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, and members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party.
Originally founded by Nazis shortly after World War II, the FPO has become one of Europe’s leading platforms against migration. Like many of Europe’s rising far-right populist parties, it also supports scaling back the European Union and cutting down on sanctions against Russia, which were imposed by the EU and U.S. governments in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine.
Russia’s recent meddling in European domestic politics has stirred plenty of anxiety among EU leaders, who accuse Russia of funding these populist movements in an effort to weaken Western democracies. The issue was a major preoccupation among EU leaders during a summit in October.
Monday’s meeting is hardly the the first time Russia has been linked with Europe’s far-right populist parties.
  • France: The National Front Party (FN) borrowed 9.4 million euros from Russia to help fund its reelection campaign in 2014. FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, has made her admiration of Russia well known — she famously supported Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and opposes the EU and U.S. sanctions. Earlier this year, Le Pen sought a 27 million euro loan from a Russian-owned bank to finance her presidential bid. 
  • Hungary: In May 2013, leaders of the far-right party Jobbik met with members of Russia’s parliament at Moscow State University. A member of the same party was accused in 2014 of acting as a Russian spy.   
  • Bulgaria: The leader of the neo-Nazi Ataka Party, Volen Siderov, traveled to Moscow in 2012 for Putin’s 60th birthday party and expressed support for the Russian president.
  • Slovakia: The far-right Our People’s party is an ally of Moscow. Leader Marian Kotleba sent a letter of support to Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader, Viktor Yanukovych, just before he was ousted in a popular revolution in 2014.
The meeting between Strache and Flynn took place at Trump Tower, where, according to the statement, they discussed ending the United States’ and EU’s “harmful and ultimately useless sanctions” against Russia. It is the latest indication that historically chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia will warm under the incoming Trump administration.
Several key members of Trump’s Cabinet have shown close ties to Moscow in the past, most notably Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has a history of friendly relations with Putin. Flynn has also expressed an openness to working with Moscow, and once sat next to Putin during an event.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice from Penigma

It's winter.  In other news, it has snowed in Hawaii and most recently in the Sahara desert.

Last night for the northern hemisphere it was the longest night of the year in darkness.  As of this morning, our days begin to get longer not in total hours, but in hours of daylight.

Happy Solstice rather than Happy Holidays.  Most every culture and/or religion has some sort of mid-winter celebration.

In appreciation of that, let us share in our many ways we celebrate this marker of the progress of our year

Monday, December 19, 2016

Macro and microcosm: my novel experience with a conned-servative Trump supporter

I acquired a new facebook friend who is a conservative Trump supporter.

He differs from many Trumpanzees in that he is an atheist, but in many respects we have the same conversations that would take place with other Trump supporters.  These have been surprisingly cordial and informative, once we get past some of the assumptions we BOTH have about the other person.  We are similar in age, but very different in employment background, most areas of interest, and especially in education.  W. is an excellent example of the white, blue-collar, K-10 educated male supporter of Donald Trump.

Over the weekend, the conversation wandered from a shared enjoyment of certain poetry (to my surprise) to the topic of race and criminality.  W. is convinced that black people are "crack-head animals" who are more inherently criminal because of their race. But W. is convinced he is not a racist, because he likes a few of the "good ones" [black people] he knows personally So in his thinking, acknowledging there are a few exceptions to the racial rule, like Condi Rice, or Colin Powell, or a few people he personally has known or worked with, excludes the possibility that his views of a majority of black people are racist.

W. does not really understand that the concept of race he holds is faulty, an artificial construct that does not really encompass much less explain human similarities and differences that he believes defines race.  W. regularly messages me for example with instances where someone commits a road rage shooting to assure me that while no individual had yet been identified, the shooter was certainly going to turn out to be black.  I refuse to believe anything about the shooter one way or the other; I'm comfortable waiting for that identification, without making those same assumptions.  W. further asserted with strong conviction that were the shooter to turn out to be white, because the victim was black, that there would be widespread looting (he used the word "shopping") by African Americans.

It is a fact that some statistics show a larger number of black Americans responsible for crimes generally and for violent crime particularly.  However there are also problems with the statistics inadequately covering rural areas where there are more white people.  The numbers are not definitive, and any interpretation of those flawed numbers that also involves a false understanding of both race and genetics cannot come to a valid conclusion.

For presuming to differ with W. I was of course called names, like a "deluded liberal" among others.  The legitimate objections I hold to his faulty conclusions, which include a practical and applied understanding of genetics and genetic inheritance was blithely dismissed as elitism and a compulsion to be politically correct. Any science which rejected his conclusion was denied while anything which was rejected by science that bolstered or supported his bias, no matter the quality of that source, was embraced.

I have two problems with the racism that I have encountered with conservatives, one is the "don't try to confuse me with the facts" response, and the other is the "I know it because I've seen it" response.  W. disparages black people for supposedly still using crack cocaine in large numbers, which statistically is not the problem it was at one time, from the mid 1980s into the early 1990s. At the same time W. unrealistically minimizes the dangers and illegality of a close white friend who snorts cocaine on a regular basis, and whom he admits is an addict.  W. even claimed not to be aware that it was possible to overdose on coke, or that it could cause heart attacks and strokes which might not be fatal but could certainly be massively debilitating.  No, the white guy shoving coke up his nose was -- in his estimation -- nothing like those animalistic black people.

I consistently see not only this failure of information as a recurring problem with conservatives, not only W., but a very superficial level of understanding and analysis.  Beyond that however I have seen a serious and recurring problem with applying a double standard to the conduct of those they like and those they don't like.  For example, W. has no problem with any of the well documented issues with the Trump charity, but is convinced that Hillary Clinton should be in jail for some vague misconduct that he cannot specify and for which he cannot cite a single statute, and believes that there is no benefits from the operation of the Clinton Foundation.

The stark reality of course is that the Clinton Foundation has done a broad range of public good, both in the US and overseas, and that while both Bill and Hillary Clinton have prospered during the existence of the Foundation, there does not appear to be any illegality involved so far.  The same cannot be said either for the benefits from the Trump Foundation, or the credible accusations of fairly blatant illegality, and Donald Trump has clearly benefited from an entity that spends other people's money (NOT his own) on toys like autographed footballs, on egotistical portraits, and on legal fees from Trump's for-profit businesses that run afoul of the law.

Pointing out those acts of misconduct by Trump elicit complaints that "Trump won, so I need to get over it".  They elicit complaints that I am a "poor loser" and that there is nothing wrong with what Trump did because he is "a smart man".

This blatant denial and the gleeful application of double standard, not only to Trump but to so many, many more issues and people, and the enormous accumulation of false information combined with the utter denial or disregard for anything that does not support the blind illusion and delusion of expectations about Donald Trump deeply concern me.  The failure of facts to persuade deeply concerns me because when facts are denied or rejected, there can be no finding of common ground, no meeting of the minds, and no reality based on the grasp of cause and effect.  I see a pattern of emotional thinking that deeply concerns me because it actively rejects logic and rational critical thinking.

As frustrating as these engagements with conservatives like W. are, I see value in continuing them.  There is some hope that if W and other conservatives decide they LIKE me enough to at least listen, to at least consider briefly before rejecting facts, that it will be possible to make gains in finding common ground.  And it serves to remind me to make a concerted effort not to dismiss the thinking of conservatives as bigoted without listening to why they feel the way they do.  It is by addressing the why of their feelings rather than the ways those feelings are wrong or invalid that we find any future reunification of the factions of this country.

But dear God, it is not going to be easy to find that "meeting of the minds", that common ground.  And if one more low information low education Trump supporter tells me to sit down, shut up, and relax because now the "grown ups are in charge", I might throw up.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

It is international human righs day today, December 10th

Sadly with the rise of fascism in governments, not only in the US with our president elect and many of those on the right who are his advisors or in congress, protecting civil right, HUMAN rights is more important than ever. Our conned-servative fellow human beings are unwilling to accord those who they perceive as "other" and therefore less human, for their race, for their religious beliefs, for their socio-economic background, or for their gender or sexual orientation, among other pretexts for bigotry.

From the official UN web site:

Human Rights Day
10 December

Stand up for someone's rights today! Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack. We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media. The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity. It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Rest in Peace American hero and patriot, John Glenn

I will always think of him as he was portrayed in the astronaut story, "The Right Stuff" as the "clean marine".

John Glenn Low Res.jpg

Friday, December 2, 2016

It's Not Broken, so leave it alone

A 13th century French representation of
the tripartite social order
of the middle ages
Oratores: "those who pray",
Bellatores: "those who fight",
and Laboratores: "those who work".
I see where once again we have the religious right trying to justify their exclusionary and punitive tendencies when it comes to marriage, this time in Missouri.  This seems well-intentioned, but it is misguided.  Among the problems with the proposal outlined below is the factually inaccurate notion that marriage has ever been primarily a religious institution.  That is false.

Recognizing that same-sex marriage is a real thing, a commitment that has existed with or without the role of religion OR government  has not 'broken' the concept of marriage.  It's not broken, so our legislators should stop trying to 'fix' it.

Increasingly I am seeing the role of conservatives as one of trying to turn back time, to a time that never was, in their misguided desire to coerce and control their fellow human beings.  Sometimes that is an attempt to restore the worst of the mid-20th century, and sometimes it goes back further to something more approaching the middle ages.

Marriage has NEVER been primarily a religious institution. Period. Full stop. That is crappy religious right revisionist history.  Marriage has always been primarily about property, and inheritance, with wives and children usually being considered property under a large portion of European Christian history, not much different than livestock, aka 'chattels'.  To again review the history of our terminology, to better define and understand the concepts:
[the] meaning of chattel can excite considerable emotion, as it refers to humans as property, i.e., slaves. Chattel, slave and the less common bondman and thrall are all synonyms for a person held in servitude by another. Chattel and cattle both come to English from the same source: each is descended from the Medieval Latin word capitale, which itself traces to the Latin caput meaning “head.”
Rather Christianity intruded itself into the religion biz as the primary recorders of property contracts that existed as part of alliances through what were largely political and economic based marriages.

Anyone who is skeptical of this factoid should investigate the role of plural marriage and legal, official, government sanctioned concubinage in European history that continued almost to the era of our own American Revolution.  It's fascinating stuff, but doesn't get a lot of coverage in most American history classes; rather the entire absence of this area of study leaves a vacuum that is filled by the assumptions that the religious right would like to see that perpetuates their intrusion into the freedom of American citizens and residents. Ignorance is simply ignorance, and frequently the foundation for intolerance, not bliss.

God only is involved as the Christian church sought to control more aspects of human existence, as a sort of power tripping monopoly.  That this put it in recurrent historic conflict with civil laws and government is sadly something that too few Americans know and understand. 

That is a failure of our educational system that should be addressed, but that is a tangential discussion here.

Americans, and particularly those in Missouri who suffer under the misconceptions of red state schools, should acquaint themselves better with the historic lessons of conflict between civil government and religious establishment efforts to extend their control and influence, such as that between Thomas a Becket and Henry the II, or the role of the so-called "estates of the realm" like that of the French 'ancien regime' where the first estate in society, government and the economy was the clergy, which controlled large sections of property with equally large revenues culminated in the French Revolution.  In England, from the middle ages onward, there was a simplified two-tier system: the first estate - clergy - was combined with the second estate - nobility -  in the house of Lords, with the remainder all lumped into the "commons" (what we are now sometimes referring to as the 99% who are not obscenely wealthy and privileged.)

Write this off to my esoteric interests which have in the past included an interest in heraldry for a brief outline of the UK background to American government.  In the UK, in the parliamentary House of Lords, there is something called the Lords Spiritual, aka the Spiritual Peers, a holdover from the middle ages.  Those are the 26 bishops of the Church of England; the regular nobility are termed the Lords Temporal, (temporal: 1. relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs; secular. 2.of or relating to time.); not to be confused with the wonderful UK fantasy fiction of the Time Lords and Dr. Who.  I've always wondered if the concept of the Lords Temporal suggested the notion of the old television series in the UK which one could argue has taken on a life of it's own.

Nobility and the religious hierarchy were co-equal in government for a very long time in English history.  After Henry the VIII invented the C of E (Church of England, aka the Anglicans in the US) during the Brit version of the reformation, that role of the clergy was institutionalized in parliament, in the House of Lords.  And it continues to the present, although a topic of some controversy, and one we in the US should consider as we contemplate the very good concept of separation of church and state.

That institution of religion in government is something we in the US heartily reject -- and in the UK that role of the religious "Lords" is still having an active involvement in the course of government, as seen here.
"There are no restrictions placed on bishops in terms of how they participate, no bar on them getting involved in process."
He added: "If you look back through history, they haven't had a self-denying ordinance on important issues."
The Lords Spiritual - not affiliated to any political party - date back to the 14th Century and, apart from a few years after the English Civil War, have been ever-present in the chamber.
In 1847 their number was restricted to 26.
And so endeth today's history lesson.

This is a misguided notion that is predicated on a Christian-centric and European-centric view of human history.  It ignores what the rest of the world has done, and it ignores all of the pre-Christian European experience of humans.

From Ozarks

Missouri Bill Could Diffuse Controversy in Gay Weddings

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) has pre-filed a measure that would replace marriage licenses with contracts of domestic union.
Berry tells Missourinet a controversial Senate resolution that died this year in a state House committee prompted him to file the legislation. The resolution would have protected churches and businesses from penalties for denying goods and services for gay weddings.
Berry calls his proposal a compromise that would diffuse some of the controversy in that resolution.
“There are many, many, many churches out there right now that will perform any kind of marriage and that’s great. That’s fine but when you take and define it and argue it as a government when it was originally religious, then you start having this other discussion that isn’t appropriate to begin with,” says Berry.
He says he is indifferent about the Senate resolution, which is commonly referred to as SJR39. The measure was sponsored this year by Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis).
“We’ve gotten confused between government benefits and religious ceremonies and marriage has gotten caught up in that and it’s created tremendous controversy for lots of different groups,” says Berry.
He says his legislation would still allow the government benefits that apply to all married couples.
“I think what you would see is we would get back to government being in its role and religion being in its role,” says Berry. “Marriage has been, through history going back thousands of years, a religious ceremony not a governmental ceremony. So, that’s what this does and it applies to straight people, gay people, everyone exactly the same way.”
Whether or not SJR39 returns in 2017 is unknown but lawmakers expect it to come up eventually. Some conservatives are not expected to embrace Berry’s proposal, likely saying it doesn’t go far enough.
Marriage is a concept of a foundational commitment that is contractual and governmental, which MAY OR MAY NOT be spiritual as well -- as chosen by those entering into a specific marriage.  I don't see it as likely that any state, Missouri or other, will succeed in removing religious institutions from their involvement in sanctioning marriage.  Marriage, like government is of, by, and for people.

But that is not the same thing as bending over backwards to extend the control of religion into that institution.  We have ALWAYS had civil / non-religious marriage; marriage is no in any way dependent for existence on religion. It is first and last a decision made by two people to commit to each other.  That swearing to that commitment, that CONTRACT, might be taken more seriously for some people if it involved God as the implied enforcer of that contract is no reason to amend modern law to oblige the bigoted and narrow minded.  Frankly, given the high divorce rates in the so-called Bible Belt, it should be pretty obvious that God is NOT a successful guarantor of marriage, but the opposite, but neither should we interfere with the religious choice of those who still want a religious ceremony of marriage to be happy.

Marriage, whatever kind of legal marriage between two people -- just LEAVE IT ALONE.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump's Control Tower

Donald Trump's Press Secretary, err. I mean Campaign Manager, KellyAnn Conway, a woman credited with getting Trump essentially to shut up in the last 3-4 weeks of the campaign and talk only about jobs, has decided to call her boss's conduct of talking to Mitt Romney about a position in the administration, a "betrayal" of party faithful.

Now, given it's a "movement" of people who despise the establishment and Romney certainly s part of the monied elite, and further that it's a movement of people who hate any compromise, I'd say Conway's comments do reflect the feeling of the Trump faithful. 

However, Conway coming out and publicly criticizing Trump is professionally irresponsible.  I don't know if Conway is still employed by Trump but presumably she was headed for a position in his staff (at this point I'm guessing it's getting coffee).   She was "off the reservation" and Trump is reportedly livid.  But my question is, doesn't Trump have control of his staff?  His friend Rudy Giulliani can't shut up about getting the Secretary of State job and Trump can't make him.

Trump supposedly surrounds himself with excellent people (I mean look at Trump University), and talks about how smart he is and how tight a ship he runs but evidence is showing anything but.  He ran a campaign of baseless compliant and loose talk.  I think this will be the example for his campaign staff too.  Trump believes he is the only one who can speak out of turn, but as a leader you set a tone.  Conway's comments are something for which Trump is responsible.

The point is it seems pretty clear that Trump won't be in control of very much quite simply because he's not in control of himself.  He comes out and claims massive illegal voting occurred without any evidence, why does he think his staff won't operate the same way? 

There are many things which Trump does that are colossally stupid and which are worse than this.  He was able to keep a lid on his employees through the liberal use of lawsuits suing anyone who spoke out, but that doesn't work in government and won't work for him.  If fear is the way you control people, then when you aren't allowed to make them fearful, the hate you generate for your methods comes out.  Trump is a hands-off, uninvolved and uninformed super-delegator who gives out power to underlings who then in politics.... do what we have seen them do for years.. they fight among themselves until 1 or maybe 2 very powerful people run everything (like Dick Chenney).  That isn't going to be Steve Bannon, it could be Jarod Kushner (whom I don't remember anyone electing).  And whomever it is will have to contend with Trump running off the rails every other week or so because to Trump, no one controls him.

So, there won't be much in the way of control of staff or message in the administration for a while.  That's because the President-Elect doesn't practice it himself, doesn't want to control his staff (because that's too much work), and eventually we'll have someone step in to fill that power void.   It won't be Trump.  He won't be in control, not of his staff, and not of himself.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from Penigma blog

We are thankful for the kind consideration of all our readers.  We value and appreciate you, and this is a good occasion to express that to you.

May each of you find you have many things today for which to be glad and thankful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So Twitter is going nuts ridiculing -- and correctly so -- Donald Trump's request for his kids' security clearances

This was my favorite - from Raw Story:
Of course needs top security clearance, how else can Donald ask her "Do these shoes go with this war?"

But this of many good tweets in the running was my runner up next to favorite:

I have a Theory on why
Trump wants his kids to
have Security Clearance.
So they can attempt to
in simple terms
what he was just told!

The Safety Pin and the Paper Clip, past and present history

The safety pin is an anti-oppression symbol being worn post the Trump election as a push back against acts of bigotry by Trump supporters, against the harassment and intimidation of people that the Trump presidency has made acceptable.

All hail President Pig and his Thug followers, and the violence they bring to this country!

I would not be surprised if lynching returned to the United States after the Trump inauguration. Black Church burnings are already here.

The paper clip was actually created by an American, but it was was widely mis-attributed to a Norwegian named Vaaler, and during World War II became a symbol for Norwegian unity and as a symbol of resistance to Nazis and to antisemitism.

I would encourage our Penigma readers to join in wearing a safety pin somewhere on your clothing as an "anti-Trump supporter violence" and an "anti-bigotry" gesture. Wear it as blatantly or as unobtrusively as suits your situation. But wear both, please, to make a statement for the duration of the Trump regime, however brief we might hope it to be.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cartoons from the rest of the world - a late Friday Fun Day





I will not Kumbaya with Trump

Kumbaya from the Urban Dictionary:
blandly pious and naively optimistic

The Kumbaya Law: In any conversation where some of the participants hold an opinion to the left of other participants, someone with the more conservative position will compare said person's opinion to the naivete of "singing around a campfire singing Kumbaya"
Our government, as of January 20th 2017, will be run by a man who appears to have collaborated with a foreign government to alter our elections.  This was a crime of espionage against Trump's political opponent.

It is not important that the crimes were against an opponent; that detail is merely a distraction from the real issues. In attempting to alter the results of an election this way with the collaboration of a foreign government, Trump welcomed and apparently participated in crimes against Americans. It doesn't matter a damn if the Americans were allies or opponents.

As Lincoln, who must be rolling in his grave so brilliantly said about representative government in the Gettysburg Address, our Constitution, the very premise of our nation, is to provide government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  To act against that by espionage to alter that election in cooperation with a foreign power is the opposite, the antithesis of government by OUR people.

The U.S. intelligence services clearly identified that Russia provided emails to wikileaks after committing a cyber attack against the Americans campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  Russia acknowledges that people from the Russian embassy were meeting with the Trump campaign prior to the election.  Equally important, Trump denied involvement with the Russians during the campaign which now appears to be false.

From the NY Times:

MOSCOW — The Russian government maintained contacts with members of Donald J. Trump’s “immediate entourage” during the American presidential campaign, one of Russia’s top diplomats said Thursday.
“There were contacts,” Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign,” he said.
Mr. Ryabkov said officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry were familiar with many of the people he described as Mr. Trump’s entourage. “I cannot say that all, but a number of them maintained contacts with Russian representatives,” Mr. Ryabkov said.

From the WaPo, we see Trump is still trying to lie and deny his connections and benefits from the Russians and their actions:

The statement came from Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said in an interview with the state-run Interfax news agency that “there were contacts” with the Trump team.
Ryabkov provided no further details, and his remarks drew a swift denial from Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who said the campaign had “no contact with Russian officials” before Tuesday’s election.
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said staffers at the Russian Embassy in Washington met with members of Trump’s campaign — meetings she described as “normal practice.” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign refused similar requests for meetings, Zakharova told the agency.

We cannot currently accuse Trump of committing treason; we limit that term to acts of war.  I would argue that we should change that definition to include acts that attack, interfere with or undermine our national autonomy.  We are not formally at war with Russia, and cyber attacks are not currently included in our definition of attacks.  I would argue we have to change our definition of attack now to include cyber attacks as an act of aggression.  Clearly this is how the Russians view their own actions.  As we know from the much quoted Maya Angelou, when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

And from Vox:

Fisher points to a 2013 article, by Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, as key evidence of this new Russian thinking. Gerasimov argued that "non-military means" had eclipsed weapons in their strategic importance. Controlling the information and propaganda environment can inflict serious blows on one’s enemies.
"The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness," Gerasimov writes. He advocates using "military means of a concealed character," including "actions of informational conflict" in order to accomplish Russian strategic objectives.
Gerasimov’s article uses the Arab Spring as a key example, which is telling. The Arab Spring wasn’t about wars between countries but rather upheaval inside countries. Gerasimov’s ideas, then, are explicitly designed to be used in attempts to influence other countries’ internal politics and conflicts.
That’s exactly what Russia is doing when it hands over the information to WikiLeaks.

And from a different piece over at Vox, we see that interference in elections and other domestic politics by the Russians against the autonomy and interests of countries is not unique to the USA:

"That Russia is pulling for Trump is at this point beyond any dispute," New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes. "Putin’s Russia has been proven or credibly alleged to have boosted friendly candidates in France, Germany, Austria, and, most successfully, in the election of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Something like this seems to be happening in the American presidential election now."

From The Tampa Bay Times:

Russia's role in Clinton WikiLeaks seen as move toward global influence

TAMPA — The emails and documents released by the group WikiLeaks are likely part of an effort by Russia to expand its global influence, a cyber security expert said Tuesday at MacDill Air Force Base.Russia "has been engaged very effectively in modern military warfare," said Mark Maybury, former chief scientist with the U.S. Air Force and now vice president with the federally sponsored, nonprofit research and development firm the MITRE Corp.
Maybury cited the example of Crimea, the region claimed by both Ukraine and Russia, where Russians were "engaged in information operations, cyber operations and deception operations."
...Available evidence, Maybury said, supports the view held by U.S. intelligence agencies that the hacks originated from Russia.
"They are trying to influence the election, in my humble opinion," Maybury said, acknowledging that he is extrapolating on publicly available information.
...Maybury is a former Air Force officer, an expert in artificial intelligence and author of 10 books who worked on World Trade Center rescue and recovery efforts after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The conference at MacDill, attended by about 100 cyber security experts and interested parties from industry, government and the military, was put on by organizations including the National Cyber Partnership, the Florida Chamber Foundation and the Tampa Bay Innovation Alliance.

We cannot support a man who engages in, or at the very least condones and benefits by crimes against Americans and the rights guaranteed to ALL Americans by the Constitution. We cannot expect Trump to protect or follow that Constitution.

We can only hope to take the House and the Senate in 2018 -- and it won't be easy. If we succeed, I believe this could rise to the required criteria of high crimes and misdemeanors to impeach Trump.

Happy Veterans Day, and Thank You to all our Armed Forces who serve or have served.

But a very special thank you to our Veterans; Penigma and the writers here honor you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Our first black president will have to hand over the White House to someone endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. Just let that sink in.

History repeating ?

We're screwed. But God bless the UK; they can still make us laugh.

I read this on the BBC Facebook Site about the Donald Trump win.

The rest of the world is in horror as much as the educated part of America over this election.  But they can still dish devastating humor in response, which is therapeutic.

So here it is:
An airplane was about to crash. There were 4 passengers on board, but only 3 parachutes.
The 1st passenger said, "I am Steph Curry, the best NBA basketball player. The Warriors and my millions of fans need me, and I can't afford to die." So he took the 1st pack and left the plane.
The 2nd passenger, Donald Trump, said, "I am the newly-elected U.S. President, and I am the smartest President in American history, so my people don't want me to die." He took the 2nd pack and jumped out of the plane.
The 3rd passenger, the Pope, said to the 4th passenger, a 10 year old schoolboy, "My son, I am old and don't have many years left, you have more years ahead so I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute."
The little boy said, "That's okay, Your Holiness, there's a parachute left for you. America 's smartest President took my schoolbag."

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


That is the only word I have.  Well and maybe nauseated.  At this point I can only hope my fellow citizens expect results, expect progress, expect cooperation.  The Republican Party will control all branches of government (again).  Let's hope this time goes better than the last.

While we wait for the election results, Reich tells it true

If we are to heal the divisions of this nation, we need to undo the right wing evil that disenfranchised too many voters. Only those elections that represent the people are true democracy in action. I would argue that the greater the whole spectrum of legal voters who participate, the more valid that election as the will of the people, as government by the consent of the governed.

To do that I think we need a national holiday for voting, so even people forced to stand in lines (which we need to address) can vote without conflicts with other demands on their time. We need some form of automatic registration of citizens in this country, that does not vary from state to state. Sadly too many states have Republican majorities that have done everything they can to alter the outcome of elections in their favor, not by having better, more competitive policies, but by disenfranchising their opposition voters.

And we need some form of nation-wide early voting and absentee voting, and a nationwide law that prohibits gerrymandering. I would even go so far as to argue we should adopt a law that makes voting a civic duty, and that failure to do so results in some kind of fine, like a $100 surcharge on your state ID or driver’s license, or your passport. Or a mandatory extra fee on your taxes of around the same amount. We penalize people who ignore summons to jury duty, so why not for voting?

Here is Robert Reich, explaining unpatriotic conservative voter suppression brilliantly.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Franken Calls for Hearings: on Alleged Violations of the Hatch Act and the evidence for the Republican politicizing of the FBI to alter election outcomes for Trump

Our Senator, the excellent Al Franken, is calling for hearings on FBI director Comey.  The issue will be the application of the Hatch Act. Well there should be hearings, there is apparent corruption in the form of politicization of the FBI taking place to alter election outcomes.  From CNN:
"I think that there should be hearings, and I'm certain there will be hearings in the Judiciary Committee on this matter," the Franken told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
"Even more troubling is what we've heard from sort of the rogue elements of the FBI seemingly tipping off former (New York City) Mayor (Rudy) Giuliani that something was up. I mean, it just seems like -- that's not the FBI," Franken said.
"We will have hearings. I'm sure that FBI Director Comey will be before us," Franken said. "I think he should be able to answer questions about this, and he should be able to control the FBI."
The Daily Beast did an excellent job of documenting the money and other ways, not just the Hillary Clinton email issues, where current and former members of the FBI was allegedly acting for political purposes on behalf of Republicans, and ties the New York office of the FBI to the Trump campaign.  It is too long to post here, but well worth a read.  It names not only Rudely Guiliani, who ran his mouth far too much about his secret surprises that sound very much like he meant the Huma Abedin emails, the article mentioned Jim Kallman as well.  Read it here.

I was disappointed and took exception to the speech Comey made about Hillary Clinton back in July of this year.  It deviated significantly from the usual FBI policy regarding investigation results.  I thought it showed tremendous bias, particularly as subsequent information including from the FBI has further supported Clinton, including the statements in September and this past weekend.

Too bad for the Trumpanzees, too bad for the GOP.  What should never have been a controversy has been resolved in favor of Hillary Clinton.

As I noted at the time there was no 'new controversy'; the emails were duplicates, without any sensitive much less classified information.  I would argue that in advance of any findings of wrong doing FBI director Comey should never have announced the discovery of emails on a computer (or at a minimum have said there was no evidence these e-mails meant anything at all but were being looked at as part of a thorough judicial review process).

The big question of course remains, will the news reach voters in time.  Does good news ever reach as many people as news of scandal? No, not usually; and it appears harm was done by the "leak" of this non-scandal.

Rudely Guiliani, a man who has made a lot of dishonest statements in his day, including dozens about this election, appears to have been telling the truth when he ran his mouth about what appears to be the FBI statements by and letter from Comey.  Now he tries to walk that back, but the record of his statements are all too clear.

We saw the right-wing try to corrupt and suborn and subvert democracy, honest representative government, under Dubya, with the attempt to politicize the DOJ.  The GOP and specifically the Trump campaign, and the Trump charity money, has apparently been more successful in doing that with the FBI.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What is wrong with Trump supporters? They don't know the difference between real gold and gold plate.

What is wrong with Trump supporters is the same thing that is wrong with Republicans generally.  They believe things which are not only false, but foolish. They not only ignore informed and experienced advice, they congratulate themselves on rejecting it.

That is dangerous. That is beyond merely foolish, verging on insanity.  There are those who consider conservatism to be approaching mental illness, and this election cycle has demonstrated that more than previous elections.  What they believe is false, and often ugly and violent and dangerous. It is too often completely delusional, with unrealistic expectations.  You have to wonder what they would do if their expectations were not met -- as they couldn't possibly be met.

From BuzzFeed, just yesterday:

Supporters Trust That A Trump Presidency Will Fix Just About Everything

“I think he’s going to change everything that he says he will”
JACKSONVILLE, Florida — Donald Trump supporters in swing states like Florida and North Carolina shared high hopes in the waning days of the election that their candidate will change the direction of the country — even if he hasn’t yet revealed how.
“I’m looking for him to pretty much fix everything he could try to fix,” said Tolliver, a young man selling t-shirts on the lawn outside the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, where Trump held a rally on Thursday. “I think he’s going to change everything that he says he will,” said Lillian Traylor, beaming with optimism.
The midday crowd in Jacksonville was dominated by veterans. Traylor was there with her son Dale, a hydrographer with the Army Corps of Engineers, and her husband Robert, a retired naval chief. “We’re just excited,” she added, softly, nudging her son to share more specifics. “He’s going to bring back jobs to these United States,” said Dale. Lillian nodded in agreement, pleased that he found the right phrase.

Not one of Trump's proposals are really anything new, or anything different from the policies of any other Republican candidate.  They are the same lies, the same false promises, the same failed beliefs, from the same architects of the same economic plans.

Only more so.  So much more so that 370 economists, 8 of them Nobel laureates, took the unprecedented step of writing an open letter condemning Trump on November 1st. Another 19 Nobel laureates signed a statement on October 31st condemning Trump.  Time magazine covered both:

‘He promotes magical thinking and conspiracy theories over sober assessments of feasible economic policy options’

Three hundred and seventy economists, including eight Nobel Prize winners, co-signed a letter that asserts, “Donald Trump is a dangerous, destructive choice for the country. He misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality.”
The statement, which was first published by the Wall Street Journal, does not endorse a candidate. Instead it lists 15 points of concern about the Republican presidential nominee. Several criticize Trump for his assertions about supporting manufacturing workers, particularly those in Ohio and Michigan. Contrary to what he has said, the economists write that renegotiating NAFTA will not increase the number of manufacturing jobs: “manufacturing’s share of employment has been declining since the 1970s and is mostly related to automation, not trade.” (NAFTA came into effect in January 1994.) They also write that trade agreements have not cut national income and wealth, which has risen because, as the signatories write, trade is not “zero-sum.” (“Freedom to trade” was on a list of “what America needs” in a September statement of concern about “Hillary Clinton’s economic agenda” signed by 300 economists. An Oct. 31 statement by 19 Nobel laureates in economics decried Trump’s “reckless threats to start trade wars with several of our largest trading partners.”)
The new letter, signed by economists who won this and last year’s Nobel prizes as well as the chief economist at the World Bank, also questions Trump’s math on how he would eliminate the fiscal deficit while decreasing revenue; says he exaggerates immigration’s negative impact; and laments how “he repeats fake and misleading economic statistics, and pushes fallacies.”

We know what we get with those policies.  We get Kansas, multiplied nationwide. We get the economics of Arthur Laffer, who personally consulted with and for Gov. Sam Brownback in creating the Kansas economic plan.  That is consistently, persistently bad news.  It is long range and short range and mid range epic economic disaster. On steroids.  Which is how Trump's economic proposals have been characterized.
The reason for Sam Brownback making the reports on his economy less and less available, and now canceling them entirely is that the reports on his performance are unrelentingly BAD.  There is nothing good in them.  Measuring that performance, quantifying the results of those policies is to showcase epic failure.
What did Brownback do about it? He stopped reporting the results of his policies.  What can we expect Trump, Trump of the many bankruptcies, will do about it? Lie. Blame someone else. Anything but own the failures as his own, something Brownback is struggling to avoid - accountability.

From the Topeka Capital Journal.

Gov. Sam Brownback, advisers abandon report of Kansas economy

Economic council adopting an analysis generated by Federal Reserve
Absence of the state’s quarterly review was noticed by the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, which used the council’s report to advance tax policy conclusions contrary to those advocated by the governor. Heidi Holliday, executive director of the nonprofit center in Topeka, said the downplay and eventual demise of the council’s economic assessment tool was an attempt to minimize public exposure of weaknesses in Brownback’s program to build the state’s economy by exempting 330,000 businesses from the income tax and reducing individual state income tax rates.
“He specifically asked the council to hold him accountable through rigorous performance metrics,” she said. “Five years later, the metrics clearly show his tax experiment has failed while business leaders and local chambers of commerce across the state openly ask him to change course.”
During the 2016 election cycle, interest among Kansas business owners and political candidates appears to have grown for repeal of the tax exemption adopted in 2012 by the Republican-led Legislature and Brownback.
Both the monthly federal report and the defunct quarterly state report feature statistics on employment, unemployment, personal income and energy production.
“The missed revenue marks, missed job reports, missed projections shed light on his failed policies. I kind of find it a little ironic they chose to go to a federal government report after they blamed President Obama for our economic problems,” Burroughs said.
Six months after taking office in 2011, Brownback set up the Council of Economic Advisers with about 20 members drawn from business and industry. He said the council would be responsible for coordinating strategic economic development planning, evaluating state policies and agency performance, and researching Kansas’ tax competitiveness, regulatory structure and basic industries.
Brownback said comparing Kansas to a six-state region and the nation would offer timely determinations of whether “our policies and initiatives are having the desired economic effect.”
“Economic competitiveness requires a detailed understanding of regional, national and international economic conditions and trends,” Brownback said.

And here is what happened in Kansas, for those who don't live there or follow the outcome of those economic policies, from the same people advising Trump.  From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Kansas’ Tax Cut Experience Refutes Economic Growth Predictions of Trump Tax Advisors

...But those who will evaluate the revised Trump tax cut proposal should keep something in mind: Moore and Laffer were principal architects of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s massive tax cuts, and their predictions that those tax cuts would spur an “immediate” Kansas economic boom have proved strikingly inaccurate.

What Actually Happened in Kansas

In fact, the tax cut failed to boost the Kansas economy:
  • Since it took effect in January 2013, total employment in Kansas has risen only 2.6 percent, compared to 6.5 percent nationally.  Private sector employment in Kansas has risen 3.5 percent, compared to 7.6 percent nationally.
  • The state’s economy has grown less than half as fast as the national economy; Kansas’ gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.8 percent from the end of 2012 through the first quarter of 2016, while national GDP rose 11.9 percent.
  • Kansas’ share of newly opened business establishments in the United States has actually declined slightly rather than increased.[11]
Moreover, the Kansas tax cut package has had a deleterious impact on the state’s financial stability and the provision of critical services.  For example:
  • Personal income tax revenues in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 (fiscal year 2016) were almost $700 million lower than those received in fiscal year 2013,[12] when the tax cut first took effect, even though the economy nationally is stronger in 2016 than it was in 2013.  Receipts dropped immediately by slightly more than $700 million (24 percent), and the meager economic growth that occurred in Kansas from 2014 to 2016 boosted collections by only $30 million, or less than 2 percent.[13]
  • Total General Fund revenues in 2016 were $570 million below 2013 levels, despite significant sales and cigarette tax increases enacted to partially offset the income tax losses.[14]  The General Fund’s ending balance fell from $709 million in 2013 to $40 million in 2016 (just 0.7 percent of General Fund spending).[15]  That’s important because Kansas’ General Fund balance is its “rainy day fund.”[16]  Should a recession hit and tax revenues shrink as household incomes and retail sales fall, the state will need to cut programs or enact tax increases almost immediately because it will have very little savings to tap. 
  • The General Fund’s depletion occurred even though the state transferred to the Fund substantial tax revenues that were collected to finance road maintenance and construction.[17]  The resulting reduction in infrastructure funding has forced the state to postpone numerous highway projects indefinitely.[18]
  • Because the tax cuts leave less state revenue with which to repay people who lend the state money by buying its bonds, Kansas’ bond rating has been downgraded twice — in 2014, and most recently on July 26, 2016.[19]  Lower bond ratings mean that the state will likely have to pay a higher interest rate on future borrowings, raising the cost of infrastructure projects such as school construction and road building.
NO credible, experienced economist has endorsed the economic policies of Donald Trump.  But in an insane election cycle, a large number of them have taken the unprecedented move of not so much un-endorsing him as anti-endorsing him.  And yes, a number of credible and experienced economists HAVE endorsed Hillary's economic proposals.

What did Obama's eight years in office, with his economic policies do? What did states that enacted the same kinds of policies as Hillary Clinton advocates do -- (and we can include Minnesota in those successes, although not mentioned specifically by the CBPP):
Nationally, total nonfarm employment since January 2013 has grown by 5.9 percent – far outpacing Kansas’ 3.3 percent growth rate.
Looking at just private-sector jobs, the U.S. growth rate has been 6.9 percent – way above the 4.3 percent of the Sunflower State.
To add insult to injury for Laffer and Moore, who constantly whine about states with steep income taxes, high-tax California and New York have added employment much faster than Kansas.

Friday, November 4, 2016

More Friday Fun Day.

The WaPo came out with a news piece covering "Melanoma" Trump, speaking about what she will do when she is first lady.

No porn-posing illegal immigrant (allegedly) has any business in our White House. This is NOT a woman who should be held up as a model for American men, women and children.

But there can be no greater hypocrisy than Melanoma's chosen issue - cyber-bullying.  Donald J. Drumpf is the very WORST example of cyber bullying and bullying generally.  This man is himself a deplorable human being.

This should result in Melanoma Trump being laughed off of any stage upon which she chooses to posture and plagiarize.

From the WaPo:

Melania Trump vows to take on cyberbullying as first lady

BERWYN, Pa. — Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Thursday, pledging to focus on combatting online bullying and serve as an advocate for women and children if her husband is elected to the White House.
Her description of the perils of social media seemed at odds with her husband’s divisive and bullying rhetoric throughout the campaign.

Friday Fun Day

A friend of my co-blogger Pen and I likes to make up "laws" that explain complex things in foolishly simplistic ways to conservatives.  Except invariably they are pretentious nonsense that only work if you believe factually false crazy rubbish that are torturous at best and laughable at worst.

The larger problem is that conservatives generally an the Republican party specifically have moved not just further to the right but have embraced the extreme right, the fringies, the crazier than average wackobirds (to borrow a term from John McCain).  Crazy is the new normal as the more moderates are driven out in purity purges.  Gone are the days when a conservative like William F. Buckley drove out even more radical right wing haters like the John Birchers.

So I've decided to create a pastiche, a parody of Merg's Laws, Dee Gee's laws.

Dee Gee's first law is that conservatives believe things which are factually false.  Not just the occasional factually inaccurate piece of information, but deeply, widely held beliefs which are nothing less than active, even aggressive denials of objectively established reality.

An example would be their denial of anthropogenic climate change, and all the attendant dangers of unprecedented global warming.  Or those who deny evolution.  Or those who propogate and believe revisionist history, particularly those who try to slant the Founding Fathers s pro-Christian theocrats.  Or Obama was responsible for the murder of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, ignoring that he died of natural causes that were the result of an unhealthy life style.

The wildest example I have encountered this election cycle was a Trump supporter who believed - SINCERELY! - that Richard Nixon was a democrat.  No amount of proof was persuasive otherwise; because..........conservative conspiracy theories.

GIGO - garbage in, garbage out.  You put rubbish into your brain, you will get failed and faulty conclusions and beliefs as a result.

That should come as no surprise; there is an entire right wing media world that exists to propogate lies, whether it is Fox News, or the internet sites, or blogs, or social media.  Today's news sources provided by BuzzFeed and by the Guardian news of the UK give us this example:

How Macedonia Became A Global Hub For Pro-Trump Misinformation

BuzzFeed News identified more than 100 pro-Trump websites being run from a single town in the former Yugoslav Republic.
“This is the news of the millennium!” said the story on Citing unnamed FBI sources, it claimed Hillary Clinton will be indicted in 2017 for crimes related to her email scandal.
“Your Prayers Have Been Answered,” declared the headline.
For Trump supporters, that certainly seemed to be the case. They helped the baseless story generate over 140,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.
Meanwhile, roughly 6,000 miles away in a small Macedonian town, a young man watched as money began trickling into his Google AdSense account.
Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. These sites have American-sounding domain names such as,,,, and They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the US.
The young Macedonians who run these sites say they don’t care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives: As Facebook regularly reveals in earnings reports, a US Facebook user is worth about four times a user outside the US. The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of US display advertising — a declining market for American publishers — goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook — and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters.
As a result, this strange hub of pro-Trump sites in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is now playing a significant role in propagating the kind of false and misleading content that was identified in a recent BuzzFeed News analysis of hyperpartisan Facebook pages. These sites open a window into the economic incentives behind producing misinformation specifically for the wealthiest advertising markets and specifically for Facebook, the world’s largest social network, as well as within online advertising networks such as Google AdSense.
“Yes, the info in the blogs is bad, false, and misleading but the rationale is that ‘if it gets the people to click on it and engage, then use it,’” said a university student in Veles who started a US politics site, and who agreed to speak on the condition that BuzzFeed News not use his name.
Using domain name registration records and online searches, BuzzFeed News identified over 100 active US politics websites being run from Veles. The largest of these sites have Facebook pages that boast hundreds of thousands of followers.
BuzzFeed News also identified another 40 US politics domains registered by people in Veles that are no longer active. (An April report from the Macedonian website identified six pro-Trump sites being run from Veles. A Guardian report identified 150 politics sites.)

Let me be clear, I am not contending that there is 100% accuracy on the part of any area of the media. I have fact checked and corrected liberal misinformation. But unlike liberal news sources, which are consistently more ethical and professional journalism, there is no organized propaganda pushing on the left or int he center.  Liberals are more willing to adjust their views to match changing information than conservatives.  Which is why conservatives feel so attacked, and therefore angry and belligerent when their beliefs and factually falses world view is challenged.