Monday, August 26, 2019

Get Ready to be Left Holding the Bag

It certainly looks like all of that insider trading that’s been going on since day one of the Trump Regime has led to a moment where it is time to cash out and move into that walled compound in the hills:

The leaders of Corporate America are cashing in their chips as doubts grow about the sustainability of the longest bull market in American history. 

Corporate insiders have sold an average of $600 million of stock per day in August, according to TrimTabs Investment Research, which tracks stock market liquidity.

August is on track to be the fifth month of the year in which insider selling tops $10 billion. The only other times that has happened was 2006 and 2007, the period before the last bear market in stocks, TrimTabs said.

Investors often view insider buying and selling — transactions performed by top executives, leading shareholders and directors — as a signal of confidence. Even though the stock market is much larger than it was in 2007, so the $10 billion mark may not mean as much now as it did then, the acceleration of insiders heading for the exits could indicate concern about the challenges ahead, especially as the US-China trade war threatens to set off a recession.

This time around, let’s not eat the rich. Let’s not be mean to them. Let’s try to understand their feelings and get to know them better. If 2019 turns into another version of 2008, there will be plenty of time for the media to argue that throwing the bankers and the speculators and the government officials who make it all happen in prison wouldn’t be the right thing to do, but oh well.

Can you work in a fast food place? Can you wash all the cars that the big boss owns? Can you shovel shit and do menial tasks for a pittance? You may be well into your career with so-and-so and enjoying the prospect of having a retirement, but, guess what? All of that is about to come crashing down around you after having just survived the last time it shattered and covered you in shame and loss. It was a good run, but, darn it, someone who was born in Russia now owns everything because Trump watched some girls pee on a perfectly good mattress and that’s why you can’t have nice things anymore. Accepting this is your first step towards understanding that Comrade Putin is now in charge of everything. Your ability to live like a cog in this machine is vital, so remember not to complain too much on that phone you no longer own.

You see, everyone who voted for Trump did so knowing he would bankrupt the country and destroy everything that President Obama built for us to enjoy. By Christmas, there won’t even be a pot for that free range chicken you don’t have. There will just be an endless loop of Trump on state-run television, and the media will wonder why people have stopped watching.

The only saving grace is that we’ll all be in a cesspool of misery, and no one will be able to laugh at us on social media except the people Trump sold the country to so don’t feel so bad.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Madman Across the Water

Trump is insane, of course, but you already knew that:

Stocks finished a volatile trading day sharply in the red Friday, after a selloff driven by President Donald Trump's response to new retaliatory tariffs from China and Fed policy.

The Dow (INDU) dropped more than 700 points at its worst, closing down 2.4%, or 623 points. The S&P 500 (SPX) and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) finished 2.6% and 3% lower, respectively.

It was the worst day for stocks since August 14. All three indexes had been on track to break a three-week long losing streak at the start of the day, but the selloff didn't allow for that. It was the fourth down-week in a row for all three, according to Refintiv.

Prior to the market open, China announced new retaliatory tariffs that will impact $75 billion worth of US goods and range from 5% to 10%. The tariffs will also include US oil imports. On top of that, China will resume its 25% tariffs on US car imports. The move was the latest escalation in the ongoing US-China trade war.

Trump has also issued an edict to the businesses of America:

Let’s parse that statement a little more closely. Trump wrote:

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered…”

Who the fuck are you again?

Trump could declare himself the Pope, the high priest, the grand Poobah, the Emperor, and even el jefe and it wouldn’t mean a blessed thing. There is no order that he can issue to a private American company.

Now, if Congress declares war on another nation, and grants the president the authority to reorganize the private sector in order to fight that war, there is a precedent for that. What we don’t have is much of a precedent for the lunacy we are now witnessing on a daily basis. The closest we have would be Nixon, steadily losing his mind during Watergate, and inspiring this description.

Trump has lost his mind, and we all know it. There is a deluded cabal keeping him in whatever configuration allows him to cripple America’s trade with China and cost American consumers and companies untold billions of dollars with his flights of dictatorial fancy.

God help us all.

Nikki Haley

Mike Pence has to realize one thing, and one thing only. Working for Donald Trump is a temporary job, and nothing more. He will leave Trump’s orbit at some point, and that might be sooner than we think.

I’m going to give you a scenario where Pence is asked to step down or left off the ticket in 2020, and you can take it with a grain of salt because I have no insider knowledge and just a hunch that I wanted to share.

Nikki Haley is everything that Pence is not. She’s popular enough to give Trump a boost that he is going to need next year when it becomes apparent that America is going to go in a different direction. You think the polls are bad now, wait until there is even the mildest of recessions. Trump is structurally unpopular with the American people and cannot ever hope to see anything north of a 50% approval rating. And so the table is likely being set in this manner—a desperate president, at the top of a floundering ticket, is going to dump Pence and bring Haley in to rescue his presidency.

Pence is loyal, of course, but the only thing he can deliver is his peculiar version of toadiness to the Trump brand. He can go on television, and when people ask him about what the president has said and done, Pence will deny it and lie about it and change the subject. In this way, he has barely anything to offer. He has no money, Indiana is pretty likely a GOP win in the Electoral College, and he has the disadvantage of being a male.

If Trump were to get rid of Pence, he could nominate Haley to fill the job, and trigger a crisis entirely of his own making. In order to take the position of Vice President, Haley would have to be confirmed by a simple majority vote in the House and Senate. The Senate vote would be easy. The House vote would put Democrats in the position of denying Trump the Vice President he has chosen, who is a woman and a minority. This would trigger a few spasms of outrage and pity I would imagine. I suspect Nancy Pelosi would see this trap coming and, without a reason to deny Haley the job, would have to accede to the wishes of the Trump White House.

Of course, this would drive away many of the hardcore racists who support Trump. So, there’s that. But there’s also a belief that the only way to hold on to power is to move to the center and add someone to the ticket who can save Trump’s wretched hide. I believe there will be a number of Hail Mary passes in the months ahead, and this one makes sense to me.

The media would love this. They would eat up the comparisons to the Democrats. They would sell Haley to the American people as a return to normalcy and as someone who would normalize Trump. Don’t let anyone fool you—the media wants a second Trump term in office. They are making bank off the outrage of decent people in this country, and they are not willing to stop milking the pain being inflicted on the country.

Haley has a future in the GOP, and I don’t see this as turning her into Sarah Palin or Paul Ryan. I see this as turning her into a future candidate for higher office, someone more viable with a higher profile. Haley herself being relatively normal and not insane also helps. Pence and his weird motherly shit have always freaked out Trump. Having an attractive younger woman near him is always a plus.

Picking Haley would give Never Trumpers some cover as well. They would see a relatively stable and independent Vice President as preferable to the bootlicking stoogery of Pence. I honestly don’t believe there even is popular support for Pence. He is destined to be forgotten, another Dan Quayle to throw away.

Now, the question is, how would this be received? It’s a strategic move of epic proportions to name the first female Vice President of the United States in order to win re-election. Trump’s base wouldn’t care, so long as Haley were sufficiently cruel to immigrants. Oh, wait, Haley was, herself, an immigrant. Well, who would have guessed? At this point, you have to throw up your hands because we’re dealing with crazy people.

By nominating a woman of color whose parents came here from India, Trump could deflect some, but not all, of the attacks that are going to be directed at him in the months ahead. He will be hit on virtually every front, and will play the victim in every situation. But, if you’re a racist, white nationalist who needs to win suburban women, then dumping Pence for Haley makes a hell of a lot more sense than losing the next election outright and ending up being indicted at 12:01 PM on January 20, 2021.

There you go, and I’ve already talked myself out of it twice just thinking this through.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Starts a Movement

This is what I like to see. This is what I’ve been waiting to see.

On a Monday night, about fifteen months before the next presidential election, you have Senator Elizabeth Warren standing in front of 12,000 people who are there to hear her talk about policy and the future. You have the enthusiasm that will carry us forward, and allow the Democratic Party to regain control of these things — democracy, this country, the presidency, decency and the moral high ground.

When President Obama caught fire with the people in 2008, his rallies looked like this. People were tired of the Bush presidency. They were tired of war, economic chaos, and incompetence. The electorate, right this minute, is sick to death of the wildly unpopular racist presidency of Trump and they are eager to throw his ass out of office.

It’s hard to overstate just how awful Trump is at governing, but there you have it. The cruelty and the racism go hand in hand. Turning a blind eye to the defense of the country is unforgivable. Let’s not forget the widespread corruption, the relentlessly inhumane policies, the indifference to the dying of the planet and the kind of stumblebum incompetence that only a Republican could enjoy make up the bulk of what we see every day. These are the hallmarks of a failed presidency.

Trump is in a special category of failed president. He will become persona non grata when it is all over, and someone like Elizabeth Warren will have to spend the majority of their time in office undoing all of the damage that has been done. You will go the rest of your life and the only people you will meet who will admit to voting for Trump will be the proud racists who can’t stop gnawing on their own hands once their straitjackets come off.

But, like I said, this is what you want to see. Enthusiasm, engagement, and a desire to connect with a candidate. This is a well organized campaign event months and months out from any real engagement would be expected from the voters. Warren’s campaign staff were able to put this together, and give her the biggest audience to date, if

I like this a lot.


Just so we’re clear, I will vote for the Democrat in 2020. It may not be Warren, and it may be a ticket that I don’t currently support. I will vote for it, enthusiastically.

As of right now, I don’t know who I’ll be voting for in the primary.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

This Country is Already Great

Antonio Basco lost the woman he loved, and so he invited everyone to her funeral. And damned near everyone showed up:

When Jordan Ballard read that one of the victims of the El Paso massacre had few relatives and the public was invited to her funeral, the Los Angeles resident bought a plane ticket and flew to Texas to honor a woman she had never met.

She was one of hundreds of strangers who braved 100-degree (38 Celsius) heat to pay their respects to 63-year-old Margie Reckard. Feeling heartbroken and alone after her death, Reckard’s companion of 22 years, Antonio Basco, had welcomed anyone to attend.

“I arrived here this morning,” said Ballard, 38, who lived in New York City during the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “His story moved me.”

The service was moved from a funeral home to La Paz Faith Memorial & Spiritual Center to accommodate the crowd. Vocalists and musicians volunteered to help, including a mariachi band. Condolences and orders for flowers poured in.

“He felt like he was going to kind of just be by himself with this whole thing but it’s not so,” Perches Funeral Homes director Harrison Johnson said Thursday of Basco.

We live in a wonderful country that does not have to be taken back to the “good old days” when women were silent and minorities were air brushed out of existence. We live in a country that is always moving forward, always offering an opportunity for people to come here and build a life for themselves. We live in a country that must reject the politics of Trumpism and embrace the dignity and the grace exemplified here by a man grieving.

It has to be a hard thing to imagine an empty church and indifference all around you when the worst possible thing that could happen to you happens like it did in El Paso. But what few people understand is that it is communities like this, which are predominantly working class, poor, and filled with immigrants, that make up the future of America. In forty years, the president will be someone from a town in the middle of nowhere, who remembers being poor and who will never forget what has been said and done to the vulnerable and the desperate as they came here. It might even be someone born in a shelter made of military tents, just over on this side of the border, making them eligible to be the 54th or 55th president.

The lesson we had better learn from Mr. Basco is that he is just as American as anyone around him. He is uniquely and self-evidently American in his approach to opening his heart to the community around him. His simple act is enough to build a community of kindness that is desperately needed. We are losing that, and we are inundated with the screeching of horrible people who hate reflexively because they have stopped trying to be a part of their physical world. They live to hurl insults on the Internet and pull guns on people who live a few doors down. This country and this world doesn’t make sense to them because they are warped with hate and have been told by the president that their racism and bigotry are A-OK in his book.

Thanks to Trump and his base, every day seems to be worse than the day before; however, today my wife reminded me to look to the love that was shown in El Paso, and see what actually is American. It’s in the turnout at that church. It’s in the love that was shown to a stranger who did nothing to deserve what happened to him and the love of his life. America has always been great and we can’t let Trump take that away from us.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Dictator Speaks

These are the words of a strongman trying to dictate terms to the people he controls:

“I won the election, the markets went up thousands of points, things started happening,” Trump said at a rally here. “If, for some reason, I were not to have won the election, these markets would have crashed. That will happen even more so in 2020. You have no choice but to vote for me, because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes.”

“Whether you love me or hate me, you have got to vote for me,” he added.

Trump, appearing at his first campaign stop in New Hampshire this year, delivered a wide-ranging speech lasting more than 90 minutes that addressed Hillary Clinton’s emails, eradicating the AIDS epidemic and the prospects of the nearly two dozen Democrats running for president against him.

“You’ve got Pocahontas is rising. You’ve got Kamala, Kamala is falling. You’ve got Beto, Beto is like, gone. We’ll see what happens. Whoever it is, I don’t know that it matters,” Trump said, referring to Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, before turning to former Vice President Joe Biden: “I think Sleepy Joe might be able to limp across the finish line, maybe. … I sort of hope it’s him.”

No American president would speak that way if he thought that his own party would abandon him. The Trump era is more than half over, so let’s prepare ourselves not only for the end of Trumpism but for the establishment of a rule that should be hard and fast in American politics. If you worked for Trump and supported his agenda, you don’t get to be a part of the future. You’re not welcome in polite society. Fuck off.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Joe Biden

Years ago, I noticed that Joe Biden had a propensity for saying things out loud that would make you cringe. Whether that stemmed from being bad on the campaign trail or not ready to be in the spotlight, I’ll leave that to you. Biden was a solid U.S. Senator, and probably should have stayed one. That seemed to be his highest level of accomplishment and achievement.

The fact that he was elevated to the Vice Presidency probably ended what would have been a more effective Senatorial career (would Barack Obama have been elected if he had picked Hillary as Vice President?). Right now, if Biden were in the Senate, we’d have a credible voice on foreign policy and following the arcane rules of conducting the affairs of the country. I suspect Mitch McConnell would ignore him, but oh well.

In any case, whether we’re talking about President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Joe Biden, or any other Democrat, there is one hard and fast rule. They have to be perfect in everything they do. One mistake, one slip up, and they are torn to pieces for it. The media believes that Democrats have to come completely formed and prepared for any challenge, linguistic or otherwise. If they forget a word, get a detail wrong, or make a mistake of any kind, it means they are not presidential.

 With the Iowa State Fair attendees taking the measure of 2020 Democrats, some say they're increasingly concerned about former Vice President Joe Biden's verbal gaffes and mistakes on the stump.

"Well, I like Biden, he just keeps saying dumb stuff. He feels comfortable in interviews, but his staff just needs to really consider what they're letting him say," said George Alberson, a 62-year-old retiree. "People I know still like Biden. Whether that's predicated on the facts, I have no idea."

Since arriving in Iowa last Wednesday Biden has stepped on his own message of condemnation about President Trump, tempered with words of reconciliation.

On Thursday Biden spoke at an Asian and Latino Coalition Town Hall and conflated low-income students with racial minorities.

“Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids — " Biden said, before quickly correcting himself, “ — wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”

Republicans can literally shit all over themselves, make up new words, and say crazy things through bubbling lips covered with foam and confusion and that’s okay, the Daddy Party can do no wrong. 

Trump can wheeze and sniff through a mountain of self-referring gibberish and can simulate a sex act with a donkey and no one says a Goddamned thing. Republicans can invent fantasy worlds full of conspiracy theories and the media just shrugs and hopes for an invite to the next dinner party. Any Democrat who ever made anything close to an error like “many fine people on both sides” or “God bless those in Toledo” would have been given the Howard Dean scream treatment. So, call me when Joe says anything even as remotely revolting and ugly as whatever Trump was given a pass for saying yesterday.

The media isn’t paying attention and, quite frankly, neither are most of the voters. It’s too soon to even contemplate a nominee, let alone worry about polls.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The World Around Us is Burning

I’ve struggled over the last few days to figure out how to adapt to the way the news is hitting us, and to the relentless pace that I’m sure other are struggling to cope with. The news moves so quickly now, and it is moving from outrage to horror and back again.

As we watch Trump’s mental decline in real time, there are events unfolding in Hong Kong that would normally be front page news, and would engage much of our State Department’s time and energy if we actually had one that was fully staffed and functional:

Hong Kong police have once again clashed with anti-government protesters as the city enters its 10th week of mass demonstrations and unrest.

Police fired tear gas across the city on Sunday night, including into an enclosed railway station.

In the Wan Chai district, petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at riot police who responded by charging at protesters with batons.

A number of people, including a police officer, were injured in the clashes.

Police were also filmed firing rubber bullets at close range inside a subway station, while other officers were seen beating people with batons on an escalator.

Two months of demonstrations sparked by a controversial extradition bill show no signs of abating, with both sides hardening their stance.

The Chinese government does not tolerate dissent of this nature for very long. The fact that it has continued on a slow burn for months indicates that there is likely going to be a repressive crack down that will eliminate the problem. They are not going to move until they are ready to crush the dissent. Have there been unreported arrests and fatalities? I would imagine so, but it’s difficult to say because there is no free press anywhere in China. There is a tradition of it that might still exist in Hong Kong, but who knows what is left of it.

Without a functioning State Department, we are watching events like this without having the benefit of knowing what is actually happening. There is no way the current Secretary of State could rise to any occasion such as this—Mike Pompeo is simply too inexperienced, ideological, and hamstrung by Trump’s focus on North Korea and Iran.

One of these weekends, everything in Hong Kong could explode—the repression that is coming could take any form imaginable, up to and including mass murder or mass arrests. We are not engaged and we are not involved in helping to prevent that, and this is why Trumpism is so dangerous. It leaves us outside of world events, and incapable of being a part of the solution to difficult problems.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

President Obama Was on the Right Side of History

Every time I read a story like this, it reminds me of how awful Republicans were to President Obama:

When he heads to Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday, the sites of two mass shootings over the weekend, the president — who has been accused by his critics of inflaming white supremacists and sowing division — will be assuming the role of consoler-in-chief. 

The two cities are still reeling from the shock of losing dozens of lives, after gunmen opened fire on unsuspecting crowds. The White House has not yet released the president's specific schedule, but an administration official confirmed he will visit both cities, after El Paso's mayor said Monday the president would visit his city Wednesday.

Mr. Trump on Monday stuck to his prepared remarks, condemning white nationalism, expressing grief for the families of the mass shooting victims, and urging unity against hatred. But he shifted his tone the next day. On Tuesday morning, with no events on his public schedule all day, Mr. Trump tweeted criticism of former President Obama that apparently aired on Fox News which suggested Obama had dozens of mass shootings during his "reign." 

President Obama was consistently thwarted whenever he attempted to enact sensible gun control and reform. It inspired Americans to panic. It led to the gun industry using empty threats to get rich. It even got to the extent of President Obama being told that he would be impeached. Oh, and they tried to say he was behaving in an unconstitutional way, as if that really even matters anymore now that Trump is in office.

When President Obama tried to unite Americans, the GOP went crazy. Time and time again, they opposed every decent, reasonable thing he tried to do.

Contrast that with the unhinged hate that Trump regularly spews on your average Sunday morning. Trump wants to go to Dayton, El Paso, and probably Toledo because he wants the attention. He wants to control the narrative and do something to mitigate the criticism he is receiving. And he wants the left to do something that he can use to rally his followers. He doesn’t care about a single American unless they are ready to give him and his kids money.

I mean, what the fuck, media? Beto O’Rourke already called you out, and you still haven’t realized that this is a dog and pony show?

This, by the way, is the warehouse where they kept all the guns that Obama took away.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

This Stupid Country of Ours

This article from The Onion is over five years old, and it is still so completely and utterly relevant and spot-on that I can’t help but just quote it. Given what happened today in El Paso, what are you going to do? There are so many mass shootings, we will eventually get to the point where they won’t even make the news anymore.

Which mass shooting in El Paso? The one at the mall or the one at the so-and-so? Or the one on the other side of town? What a depressing thought.

There just are no words for how tragic but preventable this all is.