Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Insider Trading Right Out in the Open

When it comes to our current political and economic climate, the insider trading is pretty easy to spot:

Eastman Kodak Company KODK 377.9% shares skyrocketed 222% on Tuesday after the company announced it's pivoting to drug ingredient development and announced a large government loan.
Benzinga's PreMarket Prep co-host Dennis Dick said on Tuesday morning’s show that he noticed some suspicious trading activity in both the Kodak stock and options market on Monday ahead of the news.
“All I want to know is who got the memo yesterday? Look at the pop on this thing yesterday ahead of the news. That’s a big candle. That’s the biggest up move it’s had in two months,” Dick said.
I guess someone has to clean up. There are no honest ways of making a living anymore.

Trump is Appeasing His Russian Master

Each and every action reveals that Vladimir Putin owns Trump lock, stock and barrel:
The US is moving forward with President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, a decision that has attracted bipartisan congressional oppositionand roiled key allies who see the move as a blow to NATO.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper acknowledged the plan will cost billions to execute when he formally announced the decision on Wednesday from the Pentagon. US defense officials said it will take years to relocate the troops.
The plan to pull US troops from the long-time NATO ally has been met with broad bipartisan opposition amid concerns that it will weaken the US military's position vis a vis Russia, however the Trump Administration has decided to proceed with the move. 
Trump defended the decision Wednesday, saying the troop drawdown was taking place because Berlin was not spending the NATO target of 2% of its GDP on defense and because Germany was taking "advantage" of the US.
I guess we will now shrug our shoulders and go back to being distracted by America's descent into confusion and civil unrest. If you have ever paid attention to American foreign policy, you can see that this is part and parcel of an overarching move to withdraw the United States from the defense of Europe and abandon our NATO allies to whatever Putin wants to do to them. I am guessing that, once these troops are gone, Putin will move to expand his hold on Eastern Ukraine and make more overtures about invading the Baltic countries. He might actually unleash his troops in order to consolidate the old Russian empire.

There's no way Trump would move to stop him and no one in the GOP is even remotely capable of standing up to him over this withdrawal. None of this makes sense. We hardly have any troops in Europe right now anyway. What few that are there are an invaluable resource for training and coordination with the NATO countries that want to work with us. And, speaking from experience, being able to live in Europe as a dependent or as part of the NATO mission is good for America as a whole. The more people who know what it's like to keep things stable the better.

You can be rest assured that the media will continue to treat GOP Senators like wise old foreign policy sages when Trump is gone. None of them have any credibility anymore. They are just sad old whores, ready to give up. They were never invested in the idea of America. All they worship is political power and all they want is cash.

Trump is going to sell everything off as quickly as possible and destroy whatever he can before he is thrown out of office. This is just part of the fire sale to his Russian business partners.

This is an example of how short-sighted and crazy this move really is and it speaks to the belief that this was done on the fly and without any planning whatsoever:

Monday, July 27, 2020

Don't Plant Those Seeds

If you receive a bag of seeds in the mail from China, tell your local officials and don't bother trying to inform our incompetent Trump-run government about it:

Officials in at least four states are urging residents to report any unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China, warning that they might be invasive or otherwise harmful.
The agriculture departments in Washington State, Louisiana, Kansas and Virginia have issued statements in recent days, noting that residents had reported receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they had not ordered. Based on photos, the seeds appear to have been mailed in white pouches displaying Chinese lettering and the words “China Post.”Some of the packages were labeled to say they contained jewelry, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
Packages of seeds have also been sent to residents in Utah, Arizona and Ohio, according to local news reports.

What's a Trump regime official or potentate or acting deputy vice chairman going to do about it?

Seriously, this is probably just an effort by a Chinese company to distribute their product illegally. It's  likely nothing nefarious beyond that. But we don't have a State Department. We don't have a functioning set of agencies that could respond. We have screaming, diaper-clad toddlers working for the ultimate fool who could easily screw up a one car parade.

In other words, if this happens to you, the Federal government is going to be of no use in helping to deal with the problem the way that it would have in decades past. And I think people all over the world are beginning to realize that they can exploit the inherent stupidity in Trump voters and get them to work against American interests and their own economic self-interests. I'm not going to be surprised when the Chinese start sending AK-47s and poison to individual Americans, and that's probably the next thing that's coming in the mail.

Close it All Down

This is roughly the moment when America realizes that COVID-19 is not going away and has to be taken seriously. If you live in the right state, you already know this. If you don't, welcome to an American tragedy being played out in different stages:
Many states and communities began loosening coronavirus pandemic restrictions in the late spring and early summer — but as cases surge across the US, there are calls for a second lockdown. 
More than 150 prominent medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and other experts have signed a letter urging leaders to shut the country down and start over to contain the rampant spread of the virus.
"The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it's to save as many lives as possible," they wrote in the letter, which was sent last week to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors.
The letter came just after an unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force recommended that 18 states in the coronavirus "red zone" for cases should roll back reopening measures amid surging cases. 
Those states were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
The American response to any pandemic cannot be each of the states and territories and the District of Columbia flailing around in panic, paralyzed by conservative ideology and battered by presidential politics. We cannot ever go down this road like this again. The deaths, the permanently altered lives of the survivors, and the lingering health effects resemble something worse than a war.

Due to the decline in standards in this country, Trump is going to skate on being held responsible. What good would it do? The media dutifully points out when he's delivering quackery and misinformation but they won't extend this to refusing to cover him and they won't outright call him an incompetent liar.

And really, that's the point here. What good does it do to keep pointing out that Trump's scattershot response, which was a nightmare riddled with bullshit and delusions of adequacy, has killed more Americans than every war since World War II? I mean, that's staggering in and of itself. When you're a mediocre white man, you can really bring the pain when it is a demonstrable fact that you're not good at your job and shouldn't be president of anything.

Everything that has gone wrong can be linked to stirring dissent against wearing masks and shutting the country down. Republican ideology was opposed to what was dictated by common sense--close down non-essential businesses, issue stay at home orders, mandate the wearing of masks, and rapidly mobilize America's ability to test and trace people and manufacture enough medical supplies to stave off disaster.

This is what Trump failed to do. He failed to listen to common sense. He figured he could stumble through the crisis, blame others, and make some cash on the side. And now, here we are. We've wasted five critical months and watched tens of thousands of Americans die. What a disaster. Close everything down and do it right this time.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Lesson in Civility

You can follow this link to a clip of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking on the floor of the House and, by the end of the day, there will be more such clips. But let's unpack what is happening here by making this entirely about me.

One of the reasons why I delight in being a failed blogger with a small audience of wonderful people is because I did not take the crazy pills a decade ago and become some sort of ridiculous caricature of a controversial person. I've been wrong numerous times, and lazy, and indifferent, but I've not lost my mind since the early years of the Obama Administration.

Back then, I was concerned because of fucking Rahm Emanuel and his desire to do anything except reform health care and I briefly lost my way. This did not lead to a wholesale condemnation of what the Democrats were trying to do, but I was definitely on the side that saw that getting rid of Governor Howard Dean was a huge mistake and that we needed to build up the infrastructure of the party. I believe I was proven somewhat right, but that's neither here nor there.

I did not turn into a screaming idiot who shitposts about politics. I prefer to do that for music I don't like. I did not adopt the persona of the purity troll who writes long screeds about fake controversies. For that, I am proud.

No, what's incredible about this moment is that a woman of color is tearing the goddamned hide off of a white man in public and he deserves it. He deserves it because he was a complete and utter jackass and called her "a fucking bitch." This is a long overdue conversation about sexism, misogyny, power, and respect for women. Full stop.

There will be no moment of "learning" here. Representative Ted Yoho is insane. But it's interesting to watch someone demonstrate in real time the need for fundamental change in America.

This is not the sort of discourse we need to have in this country. We need to be civil, but only so far as our civility gets something done. There's no point in being civil if you're going to tell lies, cheat, steal, and leave the country bankrupt. Now we're into criminal matters.

I really think the power of what Ocasio-Cortez is saying is going to go over the heads of most people. It is an exposure of the power structure of America. White men, like myself, have gotten away with calling women "fucking bitches" in public for far too long. And that extends beyond the language into actual things that white men get away with--being sexist, being crude, being engaged in the creation of policies that marginalize others, and so on. This power structure is collapsing because the ultimate white male archetype is a mediocre man with no functioning capability or intellect who is literally bragging about not being a sufferer of dementia.

This is the language of adult responsibility. You're shocked by it because there have been few, if any examples of it being demonstrated in public. President Obama spoke this way all of the time and pundits referred to him as a "dick" when he did it. Mark Halperin called him a dick on television for acting like an adult. That's where we are.

It is not "cancel culture" and it is not "identity politics." 

This is entirely about being a decent person who engages in civil discourse. This is not about victimization. Ocasio-Cortez is a woman explaining to men that the time for this behavior is over.

It's straight up accountability.

And it is a ludicrous time to be an American when you have to point something like this out. But what Ocasio-Cortez is showing us is that there is hope for the future of the country if we can just get rid of these awful assholes and start acting like adults.

The cynic in me believes they'll find a way to hold on to their power because that's the only skill they really possess at the level of Ted Yoho and Donald Trump--manipulating the media in order to live to fight another day. Any reasonable person would be forced to resign or would have been thrown out of office. But no, here we are. Up to our armpits in a mediocrity that is killing thousands of people and it isn't even hyperbole anymore. People are dying because of the lack of accountability and competence. It's incredible to think of where we would be with just a sliver of competence right now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Courage of Mitch Landrieu

Cities all over America are responding to the needs of their citizens. In New Orleans, under the leadership of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, they're at the forefront of understanding that we need to have a reckoning with the past and look at how racial inequality has robbed Americans of their dignity.
Mitch Landrieu catapulted from progressive philanthropy darling to household name when he ordered the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans while serving as mayor in 2017.
Now, he’s organizing public conversations about race and opportunity while creating a program to help produce elected officials willing to prod their communities toward equity. And on Tuesday, Landrieu will testify remotely at a hearing of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands about his belief that all of the nation's Confederate monuments should be removed from public land.

The hearing itself carries a weighty name: "Monumental Decisions: A Long Overdue Reckoning With Racist Symbols on Our Public Lands."
But as Landrieu establishes himself as an evangelist of equity, questions loom. Is Landrieu, who has long been supported by good-government groups and other arms of the monied liberal establishment, able to facilitate sweeping change? Or is he merely a voice of those with power seeking to adjust a few things?
"We've been headed towards this moment, this situation, for a long, long time," Landrieu said in an interview from his home in New Orleans. "We, particularly white Americans, have been putting off all but the emergency work needed to wind up anywhere else."
The removal of Confederate symbols is one part of that, but we need to understand that red lining, discrimination, and a lack of economic opportunity are all evils that need to be cured as well. Landrieu gets it, and that means he'll be remembered as a pioneer of how to bring our society out of the dark ages of racism.

Sarah Cooper

Sarah Cooper is ripping Trump to shreds before our very eyes, and her ability to mock and satirize him is stealing his powers of persuasion.
Cooper’s disdain for Trump is clear, MAGA true believers have praised her work: “I really thought I was going to get a ton of hate mail. [But] that hasn’t happened because, on some level, they’re entertaining to his supporters as well. I don’t know how to feel about that.” Cooper suspects that Trump himself has watched. “I think he thinks I like what he’s saying,” she says, half whispering the dark notion. “Maybe! If you’re a sociopath, you don’t get emotional cues.”

Cooper says she would never parody Trump’s cruelest remarks, like his implication that late representative John Dingell was “looking up” at him from hell (“Just evil,” she says, shaking her head), or his most poorly timed failures: “He messed up several words at a Memorial Day speech and people were like, ‘You should do that!’ But no. It’s still a sacred day.”

It is an absolute truth that if you can properly mock a fascist, you'll make him look like a ridiculous fool. Trump trades on an ability to transmit cruelty to his base and inflict it on anyone who opposes his agenda. It is also true that the victims of his cruelty end up being the people who love him for it anyway.

Sarah has grabbed a piece of his rotten soul and torn it to pieces in order to make Trump look like an ignorant ass clown. Everything about this is absolutely correct and proper for the times in which we live.

Trump's Secret Police Force

By now, we should all recognize the pattern in what Trump does.

Is there a serious, complicated problem facing the American people? If so, attack it with an army of incompetent, poorly-trained men rendered anonymous by masks and body armor. Strip them of identifying information, turn them loose with as much weaponry as they can get away with using, and don't forget to randomly punch some hippies along the way.

The bad old days are here and this is what they look like:
President Donald Trump has threatened to send more federal law enforcement officers to major US cities to control ongoing protests.
Mr Trump on Monday criticised a number of cities run by "liberal Democrats", including Chicago and New York, saying their leaders were afraid to act.
He said officers sent to Oregon had done a "fantastic job" restoring order amid days of protests in Portland.
Democrats accuse Mr Trump of trying to rally his Conservative base.
President Trump, a Republican, has been trailing in opinion polls behind his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, ahead of November's election.
Last month, Mr Trump declared himself the "president of law and order" in the wake of widespread protests over the death in police custody of African-American man George Floyd...
Now that no one is safe from the up-armored onslaught of Trump's personal security forces, I would like to welcome you, officially, to banana republic status. Your job is gone, your body and your home belong to the dictator, and there is no longer a right to free assembly. All of this brought to you by a group of feckless GOP senators who had the chance to do the right thing and said nah, fuck it. If this is allowed to stand, who knows if there will be an election this fall. Someone better do something, and they better do it fast.

As America's badly instructed media complex wakes up to the fact that, yep, Trump is a racist and a fascist and he will ruin everyone and every single American institution to keep himself out of prison, there are a handful of brave people out there resisting what is going on. Decent people everywhere with the means to do so might find themselves having to relocate to a state run by sane adults, and fast. An apathetic country slowly realizes that it must vote these clowns out of office and let a Democrat fix everything for the third time in my lifetime. I'd like to know how this ends because, dammit, moving is expensive.

But, hey. At least we got Netflix. As long as Trump doesn't take that away, he has a shot.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Life Comes at You Fast, Chuck

Normally, I wouldn't celebrate the destruction of someone's tenuous grasp on reality, but life comes at you fast when you're in denial:
Former game show host Chuck Woolery announced Wednesday his son has tested positive for COVID-19, just days after Woolery accused medical professionals and Democrats of lying about the virus in an effort to hurt the economy and President Trump's reelection chances.

Woolery, who hosted several popular game shows including "Love Connection" and “Wheel of Fortune” and who is a staunch supporter of the president's, has since deleted his Twitter account following the announcement about his son.

“To further clarify and add perspective, Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for of those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones," Woolery tweeted before his account disappeared.
To even further clarify, I hope it all turns out well for Mr. Woolery because I'm a liberal. I don't want him or his family to suffer. I want his son to recover and I want him to remember that the left is not a cult that tears families apart and celebrates death and destruction.

That's what Trump and his allies are all about.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What is an Employee?

This is a really interesting development in the debate over who is considered an "employee" and who is considered an expendable, disposable human being:
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday that she would file a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft, claiming that the companies have been improperly misclassifying their drivers as contractors rather than employees to save millions of dollars in compensation.
“We’re suing because these companies have built their billion-dollar business that misclassifies their drivers as contractors,” she said during a morning news conference conducted on Zoom.

The complaint, seeking a declaratory judgment, was submitted to Massachusetts Superior Court in Suffolk County.
Healey said that these companies do not pay unemployment or workers' compensation benefits, helping them save millions of dollars annually.
“Taxpayers and other companies are essentially paying when Uber and Lyft misclassifies workers,” she said. “The bottom line is that Uber and Lyft have gotten a free ride for far too long.”
 If you're barely paying people a living wage and sticking taxpayers with the cost of providing health care, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation then you're an evil corporation. Wal-Mart, for example, has always deliberately underpaid their workers and skated by on the idea that SNAP benefits will be there to bridge the gap between extreme poverty and starvation.

A fundamental redesign of the system of work starts with deciding who gets to be a worker and who gets to profit from that work. Any discussion of solving America's problems that does not include a course correction on how we compensate workers is foolish.

Dianna Ploss

Dianna Ploss is a bag of nuts:
A New Hampshire radio station cut ties with a conservative host after she filmed herself verbally attacking landscapers who were speaking Spanish.
Dianna Ploss, who hosted the Dianna Ploss Show on WSMN 1590, livestreamed a video of herself on Facebook as she confronted a group of workers and asked if any were undocumented immigrants.
"It's America. You should be speaking English," she says in the video while recording the workers on the job. "Is anybody here illegal? Are these guys illegal?"
Later in the video when a man who witnessed her rant questioned why she was "harassing" the workers, Ploss turns to the camera, and says, "He's a Black man and he's going to protect the brown man from this White woman whose practicing White privilege because she happened to walk by and heard this guy talking to all of these guys doing this work in Spanish."

The video has since been removed, but clips of it have resurfaced elsewhere on the internet.
WSMN 1590, based in Nashua, said on Sunday that Ploss is "no longer associated or affiliated in any way with WSMN or Bartis-Russell Broadcasting, LLC."
"We at WSMN value freedom of speech, freedom of expression and assembly. We will not tolerate discrimination, racism or hatred," the radio station said in a statement. "We continue to present and offer on air opportunities for discussion, education and the exchange of opinions and ideas."
Yet another Trump supporter pivots to institutional racism and gets fired. How many times do we have to tell this story? How many others are out there, waiting for their martyrdom moment?

It is disingenuous to think that this just happened all at once. The folks at WSMN were all too happy to employ Ploss for as long as they did and they were well aware of the fact that she's an active member of the conspiracy theory crowd:
A "Liberate Massachusetts" rally in front of Gov. Charlie Baker's [a Republican, nonetheless] house Thursday seemed to draw more reporters, law enforcement and supporters of the governor than protesters.
The event, organized in part by self-described "MAGA Activist" Dianna Ploss of Gloucester, was for those who are upset about Baker's closure of nonessential businesses to halt the spread of coronavirus.
More than a dozen people, most of them not wearing facial coverings or masks, showed up around 10 a.m. to the front of Baker's house on Monument Avenue to protest what they view as an unjust lockdown of the economy.

There were so few liberators when the rally started that a scrum of reporters and photographers totally surrounded Ploss and a few others holding court in the middle of a crosswalk on Monument Avenue.
Around 11 a.m., a honking line of cars sporting American flags and 'Trump 2020' banners rolled by Baker's house. It was led by a red dump truck festooned with flags, emblazoned with Trump signs and slogans such as "All Lives Matter." The driver announced over a loudspeaker: "Wake up, Charlie Baker, wake up!"
Baker was nowhere to be seen.
"I'm here because we want to reopen the state," said Ploss, an avid supporter of the president's and who has a radio show on a Nashua AM radio station. "People are suffering and we have liquor stores that are open but churches are closed, right?
I hear Sinclair is hiring.

Monday, July 13, 2020

That's Doctor Fauci to You

Incredible as it may seem, the White House is attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci instead of taking steps to save the lives of the American people:
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta shared insight Monday morning into how Dr. Anthony Fauci — the visible face of the White House's coronavirus task force — has been feeling since the White House tried to discredit him.
Asked by "New Day" anchor John Berman about reports Fauci will be at the White House later on Monday, Gupta responded, "I think he wants to stick around. I think he's feeling a little beaten up by all this — I think there's no question about it — but he has seen a lot of support."
Gupta, who speaks regularly to Fauci, continued, "Again, we are learning as we go along here. Nobody knew everything from the very start, including Dr. Fauci, but that's very different than saying the guy was intentionally wrong or somehow misleading in some way, which seemed to be the suggestion."
Any expertise or credibility that threatens Trump's reign of error must be destroyed, apparently. Anyone who has the experience and knowledge to keep the American people safe and stop the spread of the pandemic is a political "threat" to Trump and this should be exposed for what it is by the media--an admission of incompetence and guilt and nothing more.

Chuck Woolery Has Trump's Ear

This is what it looks like when you hand the country over to an incompetent boob:

None of that is true, of course, and the fact that Trump retweeted and endorsed this message indicates that the country is going to go through some things for a good long while until we figure out how to function as a civic-minded democracy again.

Believing conspiracy theories and endorsing them has to be something that the American people should be working overtime to defeat from now on. We cannot have this bullshit. We cannot live in a society where someone can pull nonsense out of their ass, spread it around like a toxic gas, and have millions of followers lap it up. This is the opposite of governing. This is what it's like for an illegitimate ruler to operate. It should be mocked and derided by decent people everywhere.

The danger in all of this is that someone is going to get infected with COVID-19 and die specifically because they believed Woolery and Trump instead of the actual experts. We are seeing this happen to people in real time and it isn't registering with the general public. They continue to believe in conspiracy theories because of who is endorsing them and spreading them around.

It's not that this has to stop--it certainly does. We have to understand how we got here and how we can avoid ever going down this road again. We have to fix this problem in a way that fixes it for good.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Another Hoax is Proven to be True

Trump says that Russian financial support for the Taliban is a hoax. In and of itself, that should have been the moment where Mike Pence becomes president until next January. I mean, wow. That scandal still resonates, no matter how hard the media tries to ignore it happened.

So, when you're nobody's idea of a real Secretary of Defense, you end up saying things like this in public.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed Thursday that he had been briefed on information regarding Russian payments to the Taliban, seemingly acknowledging that Russia's support for the militant group in Afghanistan is not a "hoax," as President Donald Trump has claimed. However, Esper also made clear that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were killed as a result of the "bounty" payments, walking a delicate line between acknowledging a well-known threat and potentially clashing with the President.
Esper's comments came during a long-awaited appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, where lawmakers had their first opportunity to ask the defense secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley about their knowledge of intelligence on Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan.
It was clear that both men attempted to carefully navigate questions from lawmakers, but Esper admitted exercising particular caution while addressing inquiries about whether he had been briefed on the matter and when.
Responding to a very narrow line of questioning from Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, Esper initially told lawmakers that he did not recall a briefing that included the word "bounty," but less than an hour later he clarified that answer when pressed by a Democratic member of the panel.
I think we're well past the point where Esper and Milley should resign. They've made fools of themselves by allowing members of the military to be used to terrorize Americans exercising their right to protest.  We're in that grey area where it just doesn't matter what they say or what the testify to because no sane person is going to either of them to do anything other than shine golf balls and fetch coats and gloves ever again. Esper pretending to make this about whether the word "bounty" was used is shameful.

In January, when Trump is, God willing, forced to leave office, the next president should immediately fire every Trump appointed official in existence. And then the generals and admirals must be removed as well. Milley should not be allowed to stay in his job because, well, one word. Bayonets.

The Russians were paying bounties on American service members. Trump probably didn't even know about it because he has a fetish for making sure Putin is happy with him. Esper and Milley should have told the so-called Gang of Eight and they should have made us aware of it. They didn't, and they've been covering it up, and it's an absolute disgrace, top to bottom.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Yeah, I'm the Taxman

The Supreme Court delivered their (long overdue) decisions regarding Trump's tax returns this morning and it was a predictable shit storm of bad takes and questionable analysis. I think we need to start this off and go with what Neil Katyal has to say here:

I don't think anything else really needs to be added to this because we just don't know what is going to happen in New York with regards to Cyrus Vance and a sitting grand jury.  We need to take a "wait and see" approach here because of what Katyal says above. It was refreshing to see Judge Andrew Napolitano school the Fox News crowd as well.

The reality is, today's pair of decsions are a political debacle for Trump. The decision to not release his tax returns back in early 2016 like every other normal political candidate is now, finally, working its way through the courts. This should have disqualified him right from the start but, because the Republican Party is a broken institution full of complicit lunatics, they embraced the shattering of norms and customs that will likely cost them for the next twenty years or more.

You can call that a fatal mistake. It might not look like it because we've been following this relentless and tiring story for years. But that's also the mistake that Trump and his bad attorneys have been making. They never had an exit strategy from this scandal. They are caught and they know it.

Now, if Trump was smart, and we know from watching him that he is not, he'd dump his tax returns Friday afternoon and tell everyone to go to hell (he's really good at that). He won't. And the reason why is that he never should have run for president in the first place because he is (probably!) implicated in tax fraud and compromised by more than one foreign bank or power and now that carefully constructed house of flaming bullshit is collapsing all around him.

If Trump had won today, he would have gloated. He lost, and so he had a meltdown. The fear is not that Congress might get to see his tax returns. The fear is that he, and his worthless children, are going to be indicted in New York State for felonies upon felonies and sent to prison for crimes that a president cannot pardon.

President Trump is a crook. That's all he is. That's all he's ever been. He's a goddamned crook, and so are his offspring.

And, what's more--he's the guy running the country! Trump is supposed to set an example for other Americans so that they will pay their taxes and he has failed because the GOP represents a cult-like figure who believes that he is above the law. Trump is the antithesis of public service. But he's the guy who decides who will be hired to be the taxman along with all of the other public servants whose job it is to make him look good and run the government properly. I mean, it's crazy when you think of it and I hate to simplify things, but the one person who represents the government is exactly the person who can't even do a reasonable job of looking honest.

He's supposed to be above all reproach.

And yet, he's the crookedest of the crooked.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Senator Tammy Duckworth

This is a picture of Senator Tammy Duckworth. This is from when she was learning to walk again after Iraqi insurgents shot down the Blackhawk helicopter that she was flying in combat.

This is Tucker Carlson being scolded on television.

At roughly the same time in our nation's history, one person was serving in combat overseas. The other was a bow-tie wearing fop on television.

Who's a "deeply silly and unimpressive person" now, Tucker, you asshole?

The thing about white men with conservative views who criticize other Americans is that you can always tell what their hangups are and what their weaknesses are by who they choose to go after. Strong women who have accomplished something in life are their biggest targets and their biggest fear. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Thirty-Eight Percent Approval

Unpopular area man still believes he has a chance at getting re-elected:
President Trump’s approval rating has sunk to 38 percent, according to Gallup’s latest poll, with significant drops even recorded among his most loyal support base: old white men. After reaching a personal Gallup best of 49 percent in May, Trump’s approval rating slid in June and is now 3 percentage points above his all-time low of 35 percent in 2017. Trump’s popularity fell sharply among all demographic groups: Midwesterners, women, white college grads, and more. He fell below majority approval among white Americans, men, older Americans, Southerners, and those without a college degree. Fifty-seven percent of white Americans without a college degree surveyed approved of his performance, a drop from 66 percent recorded from January to May.

The only silver lining: His popularity among Republicans rose from 85 percent to 91 percent. Approval among Democrats sank from 5 to 2 percent, creating the largest partisan gap ever recorded in a Gallup presidential approval poll.
The only path forward for Trump is lawlessness, martial law, and voter suppression. There is no scenario where an incumbent president this unpopular and this bad at his job survives the judgment of the American voter.

I know we like to think in terms of a worst-case scenario, but there is no legitimate way Trump survives the 2020 Election and gets re-elected. The cake, as they say, is baked. The voters now see him as the incumbent rather than a "fresh face" on the political scene. Joe Biden has none of Hillary Clinton's baggage and the voters are probably ready for a return to eight years of Obama-era politics.

The deal is done in terms of motivating people to throw Trump out on his sorry ass. All Biden has to do is stack the Democratic National Committee with election law lawyers who are ready to fight for every state. I hope that's what they're doing and I hope they are ready for the mother of all court battles. They have to already have a strategy to fight the Justice Department and the state election officials where Republicans are in control. Failure to do this is political malpractice.

Come on, man. There is no plan for a second term. If Trump is able to destroy our democracy and hold onto power, the only "plan" is for more stealing.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Trump Has Exploited the White Supremacy of the GOP

It would be far too easy to dismiss this photo as an anachronism and as something that wasn't already in the water in terms of our politics. This was from 2012, and it was a real sentiment at the time.  There were anti-President Obama demonstrations on a regular basis and they were vicious and racist in nature. Thanks to the Tea Party, it was mainstreamed into our living rooms.

The difference then from right now was, neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan would have been caught dead endorsing this message because it would have resulted in condemnation from the larger GOP establishment. That is what Trump smashed through in 2016 and eradicated in the first year of his presidency. In fact, his destruction of these things is entirely why the GOP deserves to lose every election this year.

No Republican fears condemnation from Mitt Romney. They shit themselves at the thought of a swarming horde being unleashed by a Trump tweet. The takeover has been complete for a while.

Without an establishment to protect the party, you get Trumpism and the poison that comes with it. The white supremacy is a feature not a bug with these people. They want it, and they want to create an environment where it exists without having to pay the price for it.

In some rare cases, you will have an unemployed pundit, a former elected official, or a Mitt Romney who will say "Black Lives Matter" but that's only because they were not compelled by shame to say it sooner. In other cases, a figure like Paul Ryan will entirely remove themselves from the political arena in order to escape accountability. And then you have the full-on, white-power people who Trump thinks will be there to get him re-elected. They won't say it because they are the dead-enders who will stand as long as they can until forced to retire.

If this country can bring back the idea of shame, that might make a difference. Without it, the lowest people will continue to parade around like their ideas mean something.

The same force that is driving the name change of Washington D.C.'s ridiculously non-competitive NFL franchise is pushing directly against the history of this country. It used to be fine to have policy positions that delivered whites the supremacy they felt was always theirs. A Romney-Ryan ticket would have been great for suburban whites and a shit sandwich for everyone else. Tax cuts, reductions in SNAP benefits, letting kids at school go hungry remain mainstream Republican principles dressed in neater themes. Your garden variety Liz Cheney lives for the day when they can openly crap on poor people, rake in the donations, and live in a world free of Trump's reign of error.

They are just counting the days until they are in the minority again. They know the public will blame Democrats for everything that isn't perfect. President Obama dealt with that until the day he left office. And the media is trained to be skeptical of equality and tolerant of conservatives who are willing to complain about being treated unfairly. All the shit that doesn't work, that's because a Democrat wanted it that way and not because a Republican president broke every goddamned thing and left the treasury empty and the military disemboweled.

Change is now hitting this country so hard in the face that it is necessary to pause and think about what's happening. The danger is not that the GOP is going to win close races anymore. The elections of 2020, 2022, and 2024 are going to come in rapid fire succession and each one will be more and more of a tsunami that swamps the old establishment of white supremacy in this country. If you don't get everything you want this November, just wait. The anger that will be unleashed will continue to push forward and will gain in strength. We might end up with 12 states that will cling to the idea that the Republican Party is the only way to go. Those states will see precipitous calamities and declining standards of living while they take in more tax dollars than they pay out, and Democrats will still struggle to explain why that is happening.

The only thing that can stop these forces is justice itself. If we don't make that our goal, nothing else is going to be fixed. You can't correct the course of this country without ensuring that everyone is treated fairly before the law. When people can walk down the street and not be afraid of being killed by a police officer, then and only then will you see a return to the focus on external issues and philosophical ideas. We gotta have equal treatment under the law right the fuck now, and we gotta smash the living shit out of Trump's white power ideology.

Nothing else matters until it has all be swept away and discredited. If we don't wipe out these ideas now, they'll continue to seep into the cracks of our failing democracy and break up the country.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Golfing During a Pandemic

Back when there was such a thing as political accountability, this would be a career-ending decision. In the Trump era, it's just a Friday, man.

This is just not the sort of thing we should just "get used to" in terms of commenting on what Trump does and how he spends his time. This is a post that I probably could have written one, two, or three years ago simply because America has a lot of problems. And I would probably have to admit that any president who goes golfing does so at the expense of being focused on the job at hand.

The difference here is that all of our previous presidents didn't spend every working day with a "light" schedule of "Executive Time" and none of them showed up for work at noon, rage tweeted fifty times, and went back upstairs at the White House before the end of the normal working day. You can complain about President Obama golfing all you want, but you'd be wrong. By any measure of effectiveness, he worked harder than most presidents and was available to the press as well as available to the national security apparatus.

If you want to attack America, wait til Trump is golfing. You'll have at least a three hour head start.

No one holds Trump accountable for any of the norms he is breaking except those of us who oppose him. There is no fear from the Senate GOP nor is there any chance the judiciary is suddenly going to grow a pair. We are stuck with a useless, listless president until we can throw his sorry ass out of office.

But you can be well assured of the coming hypocrisy. As soon as the next Democrat is in office, the Republicans will bitch and complain about their down time and their leisure activities.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell

The woman on the left is Ghislaine Maxwell and the Southern District of New York has quite an indictment of her out today:
Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s closest confidante who hasn’t been seen in public since his death, has been arrested by the FBI in New Hampshire, The Daily Beast has confirmed.

Maxwell was arrested at 8:30 a.m. in Bradford, New Hampshire, on charges brought by the Southern District of New York. She’s expected to appear in federal court in New Hampshire later Thursday.

The six-count indictment against Maxwell, whose arrest was first reported by NBC News, states that she took part “in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein.” From 1994 to at least 1997, “Maxwell assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18,” the 18-page indictment alleges. The victims were allegedly as young as 14.

Maxwell is accused of enticing “minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residences in different states, which Maxwell knew and intended would result in their grooming for and subjection to sexual abuse.” The indictment also alleges that in 2016, Maxwell “provided false and perjurious statements, under oath, regarding, among other subjects, her role in facilitating the abuse of minor victims by Jeffrey Epstein.”
I would submit to you that the fact that this woman has been free to live in polite society for over a decade since being identified as a common pimp and an abuser is a serious indictment of our legal system. We should be prepared to see some things that are disturbing. The whole system of elites protecting elites--and these likely involve prominent Democrats as well as Trump and Prince Andrew and whoever else--is rotted and broken. We need to get our house in order, and soon.

And, what's more, she's been in hiding:

Justice will never be done so long as William Barr is Attorney General. I suspect that this woman has survived by holding onto as much incriminating evidence as possible. However, we just don't know for sure. It could certainly be luck and incompetence that has kept her out of prison until now, and if so, that's another indictment of our elites.

The woman in the middle, by the way, was abused by the man on the right. His name is Prince Andrew, and he has likely shit his royal pants several times today.

We already know Trump has.

How is it that the President of the United States of America can be close associates with an endless array of criminals, pedophiles, Russians, pimps and abusers and this does not compel every newspaper in America to call for him to resign?

Criminals Are Still Incredibly Stupid

My theory is that you will never, ever hear about the intelligent and capable criminals because they're too smart to be caught. In Europe, they're rolling up an entire criminal network because someone thought this was a good idea:
A top-secret communications system used by criminals to trade drugs and guns has been "successfully penetrated", says the National Crime Agency.
The NCA worked with forces across Europe on the UK's "biggest and most significant" law enforcement operation.
Major crime figures were among over 800 Europe-wide arrests after messages on EncroChat were intercepted and decoded.
More than two tonnes of drugs, several dozen guns and £54m in suspect cash have been seized, says the NCA.
While the NCA was part of the investigation, it was initiated and led by French and Dutch police, and also involved Europol - the EU agency for law enforcement cooperation.
Wil van Gemert, deputy executive director of Europol, told a press conference in the Hague that the hacking of the network had allowed the "disruption of criminal activities including violent attacks, corruption, attempted murders and large-scale drug transports".

You only need one person to be your single point of failure.

If something similar to this is in use in America, you can well assured that the FBI won't crack it until someone compromises the network and gives up the evidence. Unless, of course, someone issues a search warrant and decides to have a look at the wireless carrier that is allowing these devices to operate.

There is no possibility of a "secret, encrypted, protected" large-scale commercial wireless communication network. No government would ever tolerate such a thing. They can advertise that they provide this to you, but companies like this are likely cutting deals with government agencies to open up their system for inspection.