Paul Ryan Should Call Donald Trump Before Congress

Congress Debt Control

Given everything we know about Paul Ryan, I think it is safe to say that there will be no House Armed Services or Intelligence Committee hearings into what Donald Trump wants Russia to do on behalf of the Republican Party:

In an interview that aired Thursday morning on "Fox and Friends," Donald Trump said he was not being serious when he called on Russia to find and release emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade told Trump that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said that Trump's comments hoping Russia would hack into Clinton's server were a national security issue.

"You have to be kidding," Trump responded. "His client, his person deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with something..."

Kilmeade jumped in to ask, "Are you being sarcastic?"

"Of course I'm being sarcastic," Trump replied. "But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it's disgraceful."

Everything that Donald Trump said in public would trigger House hearings, investigations, special committees, and joint sessions of Congress if a Democrat had said them out loud to the working press. So far, I don't see any stories in the press where Ryan has asked the people who work for him to investigate open entreaties for espionage against the Democratic Party. This is because he really has no idea what kind of a man he endorsed and how big the tiger is after he grabbed onto the tail. 

Only Democrats get investigated under Paul Ryan's watch. Who doesn't already know that?

Satellite TV is Dying Faster Than Expected

I was a one-and-done customer of satellite television. We had to switch to satellite in order to get out from under the horrible service being delivered by Comcast and, as soon as we could, we cancelled our service because, as many Americans now know, satellite television sucks:

"Satellite TV technology is losing its currency faster than anyone would have predicted," says one analyst, while another Wall Street observer says: "This seems to be Charlie (Ergen)'s strategy."

Charlie Ergen's Dish Network on Thursday surprised Wall Street with its biggest quarterly pay TV subscriber decline ever, posting a drop of 281,000 for the April-June period, marking 200,000 more losses than in the year-ago period.

The company's previous high for a quarterly sub loss had been 156,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Leichtman Research Group founder Bruce Leichtman. Wall Street had on average expected a subscriber decline of around 91,000. In addition, Dish posted its first quarter of broadband subscriber losses. The company's stock was down 3 percent in early Thursday trading, but my mid-day was up more than 1 percent, showing investors weren't too concerned.

Did they come up with a way to make it a two-way form of communication? No, of course not. They followed the Blockbuster Video business model--lock people into contracts, shit on them whenever possible, charge them as much as the market will bear, and act surprised when someone offers a better, cheaper alternative that isn't as nasty.

Oh, and broadband for rural customers is the way to go. If you can deliver high-speed Internet to everyone, you can kill off Satellite TV and everyone else.

Lou Holtz and a Bottle of Crown Royal

Someone gave retired football coach Lou Holtz a bottle of Crown Royal. Or he brought it with him. Who knows?

This is really a thing that happened. In the midst of one of the greatest shit shows in all of recorded history, someone had a spare bottle to give away, and they gave it to Holtz because why not? Holtz endorsed Trump back in May because he once played golf at a resort that Trump has bankrupted yet.

Lou Holtz walking around the GOP convention with a bottle of Crown Royal is now breaking the Internet. Yay!

Stephen Colbert Humiliates the Republican Party

I would like to see more of this, please:

The Republican National Convention has barely begun, but Stephen Colbert is already getting kicked offstage.

The impish late-night host — mimicking blue-coiffed “Hunger Games” MC Caesar Flickerman — crashed the Cleveland convention stage Sunday to mock soon-to-be GOP nominee Donald Trump ahead of his coronation.

“He has formed an alliance with Indiana Governor Mike Pence,” Colbert said in his lilting impression, bowing his head in apparent boredom. “Sorry, I blacked out there for a moment. So it is my honor to hereby launch and begin the 2016 Republican National Hungry for Power Games!”

Colbert might end up being the only actual famous person with influence to appear at the GOP convention, and that says more about the D-list celebrities that have agreed to appear than it does about anything else.

By the Way, Republicans Are Still Assholes

There are Republican Members of Congress who don't want President Obama to create any more national monuments. Apparently, they're not assholes--they just care more about the land than anyone else:

Cliven Bundy may be in jail, but he still has friends in Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives next week is expected to vote on a proposal that would exempt 48 counties, primarily in the West, from the law that has been used for more than 100 years to protect archaeologically, culturally, and naturally significant resources in the United States, including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

The counties that would be exempted from the Antiquities Act of 1906 cover more than 250,000 square miles — an area nearly the size of Texas. The amendment, which was authored by Rep. Stewart (R-UT) and Rep. Gosar (R-AZ), appears to have two main purposes.

First, it would block the efforts of local communities in Maine, Utah, Arizona, and elsewhere which have been asking President Obama to establish new national monuments in their states.

In southern Utah, for example, the president would not be able to respond to the requests of tribal nations that he protect the Bears Ears area, which is a hotbed of grave robbing, looting, and desecration of sacred sites. It would also prevent the president from protecting Gold Butte in Nevada, where Cliven Bundy illegally grazed his cows for decades, as a national monument.

[...]

Second, the Stewart-Gosar amendment would make a major concession to the demands of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy and his followers who argue that the U.S. government should have no authority over national public lands in the West. Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan were arrested and indicted in February for their involvement in armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in Nevada and Oregon.

Now, I don't want to make any unfair generalizations, but if one of the outcomes of your amendment is to make things better for Cliven Bundy and his family, you might want to consider whether or not to self-identify as an asshole going forward.

Is There Anything Crazier Than Pokémon?

I am old and out of touch:

Police in Australia have issued a statement following the release of new video game Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go - out now in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - is an augmented-reality edition of the popular game franchise and sees the fictional creatures superimposed into real life settings.

Following the game's release down under, the Darwin Police Station in Australia's North Territory issued a statement telling fans to not visit their station looking for Pokémon and to be aware of their surroundings while playing the game.

The statement reads: "For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokémon Go - whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs."

"It's also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn't going anywhere fast."

And stay off my lawn! GRR!

Guccifer Lied

Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka, "Guccifer"

Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka, "Guccifer"

In what has to be one of the craziest detours in an insane political season, we now have this bit of news:

Comey says FBI interviewed hacker Guccifer (1) and he did not hack Clinton’s server.

“He did not, he admitted that was a lie.”

And, as many of you may or may not know, Guccifer is still alive:

Marcel Lehel Lazar, a federal inmate also known as Guccifer, is at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va. He is alive and has never been missing from this facility.

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne
July 6, 2016

I am so glad that I get to be the one to post about Guccifer today. I was afraid that this would get past me and I would be caught as flat-footed as the House Republicans were today when James Comey ended up being a credible witness before their committee.

Rolling Back the De-Militarization of the Police

Someone should tell Senator Pat Toomey to go pound sand:

During his time in the Senate, Pat Toomey has rarely made an issue of police militarization and law enforcement responses to terrorism.

Which is what makes his current push to arm the police so puzzling.

In a letter to the White House last week, Toomey urged the president to rescind an executive order that blocked transfers of surplus high-caliber military equipment to local law enforcement.

“You have continued to restrict local police access to armored vehicles, explosives, protective helmets, and other lifesaving, federal equipment,” Toomeywrote to Obama. “Specifically, you have restricted local police departments from using federal funds for these items.”

Toomey cited the BearCat vehicle that saved lives while the Orlando attacker was taking hostages inside the nightclub in order to bolster his argument that police departments need access to this type of equipment.

Yeah, about that thing. The Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck (BearCat) is fine for a SWAT team, but not if they're being called out for routine bullshit. It is not appropriate for the Deputy Sheriff of Shit Holler, Kentucky to have as his personal vehicle, which is what happens when local law enforcement begins amassing military-grade weapons and equipment. Despite the fact that these agencies weren't supposed to get this gear, they got it anyway. So much for the rule of law.

Oh, and this happens, too.

The police have too much of this stuff. They are fully militarized and this prevents them from serving and protecting their citizens. Haven't we figured this out yet? 

How about we talk about the lives of the people who are saved when the police aren't using military weapons to kill them during traffic stops and the like? Senator Toomey is not exactly concerned about their body count, is he?

Your College Degree is Why America is Horrible Right Now

I am probably being ridiculous, but oh well:

Both geographically and demographically, the British referendum split the U.K. along lines familiar in America. An extensive election-day survey by Lord Michael Ashcroft, a British pollster, found that the leave campaign carried over three-fifths of those without four-year college degrees, a comparable number of seniors, and a narrow majority of all whites. Election results showed the leave campaign amassing big margins outside of major cities. The campaign to remain won over two-thirds of non-whites, about three-fifths of college graduates, and big majorities among younger and urban voters. In London, which recently elected one of the western world’s first Muslim mayors, 60 percent voted to stay.

All of this replicates American patterns. Democrats now rely on an urbanized coalition of Millennials, minorities, and socially liberal college-educated and single whites (especially women). Republicans thrive among older, non-college educated and religiously devout whites, especially outside of major cities. In 2012, President Obama carried less than one-fourth of America’s counties; he won fewer counties than any presidential winner since at least 1920. But because Obama so dominated the nation’s population centers, he triumphed by 5 million votes.

In a way, having a college degree means I can't join the racist, belching rabble and vote for Donald Trump. I have too much information--I'm a high information voter--and I can't just sit here and write stupid things all day long (since when has that ever stopped anyone, including me?).

What I think gets left out of the equation is that we are faced with choices that have not energized the populations of either Britain or America. President Obama was a once-in-a-lifetime bolt out of nowhere. He energized millions and he promised renewal. His legacy will be that of a largely successful president who could have done more with a reasonable opposition party. The fact that he accomplished anything at all was entirely in spite of the hate expressed towards him as the first black president. 

With Hillary being the first female president, we'll see some renewal of hope and we'll see more women participating in public life, I would imagine. What we'll also see is a mirror image of the racism expressed towards Obama in the misogyny that will be directed like a broadside at Hillary. 

Like Obama, she'll advance the movement towards a more equitable and fair United States of America. And she'll be denied any credit for doing her best to make people's lives better, just like Obama.

Quietly Ending the Death Penalty in America

USA-CRIME/ARIAS

In case you weren't aware of it, the death penalty is going away. Well, a better way to say it might be fading away:

Arizona prison officials told a federal court Friday they could no longer perform executions due to problems obtaining lethal-injection drugs, effectively ending capital punishment in the state for the foreseeable future.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said it amended its execution protocols to omit midazolam and that the state lacked supplies of either sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, according to a filing in a federal district court in Phoenix, Arizona. All three drugs are sedatives used to render inmates unconscious during a lethal injection.

The department’s “lack of the drugs and its current inability to obtain these drugs means that the Department is presently incapable of carrying out an execution,” the filing said. The state’s current supply of midazolam is also scheduled to expire before a lawsuit by five death-row inmates challenging the state’s use of the drug will be completed. 

One of the things that has always brought international condemnation and shame to the United States has been the uneven and unfair application of the death penalty. Many countries do not even have a death penalty. America is really more into revenge and applying the Biblical punishment of "an eye for an eye." This has become impossible in a day and age when companies become aware of the fact that the drugs they are manufacturing are perfect for putting people to death. 

Anyway, it's long overdue for the United States to join the civilized world in 2016. There will always be some asshole who calls for hanging, the guillotine, or the firing squad. Ignore them.

Dennis Hastert to Share Cell With Jared Lee Loughner

I apologize for the click-bait-y nature of this post, but it is a fact that Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will report to the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota. This is where Jared Lee Loughner, the man who killed six people and attempted to kill Gabby Giffords, among others, is currently incarcerated for treatment.

This is about as lenient as the Feds could get in terms of putting Hastert in prison, and, if there is some form of justice out there, then these two could end up sharing some space together. Really, this is what justice looks like in America today? Club Fed for mass murderers and child molesters?

Okay, then.

This is How to Tell the World You Are a Jackass

Write a card like this and send it to the Democratic National Committee, and you can claim jackass status for life.

First of all, these people were not really Democrats. They were independents or people that do not usually vote. How do we know this? Many of them never bothered to vote! If they had actually voted for Bernie Sanders, he probably would have won.

Second, the DNC does not care about your Goodbye Cruel World statements. They have hundreds of other races that have to be won against the Republican Party. If you don't care about working people, women's reproductive rights, veterans, the disabled, LGBTs, and minorities, you weren't going to vote for the Democratic candidate in the first place. Everyone who is an adult is already on board.

Third, this is not how elections and democracy actually works. In our system, you choose one of the two main parties and vote accordingly. Any other use of your vote is a waste because this is the system we use--a two party representative democracy gives you a chance to participate, and if you throw that chance away, that's on you.

We have to stop worrying about these people and their feelings. If they're not on board, they're never going to support Hillary or do the right thing. They will act like upset customers and take their votes elsewhere. Let them. They are irrelevant and they know it.

Stop Covering Trump

I already know the answer--no, large media organizations are not going to stop covering Donald Trump--but that's exactly what they should do in order to show solidarity with The Washington Post:

Donald Trump said Monday that he is pulling The Washington Post’s credentials to cover his events because he is upset with the newspaper’s coverage of his campaign. The move puts the newspaper on a long list of media outlets that the presumptive Republican nominee has banned for reporting that displeased him.

“Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post,” read a post on Trump’s Facebook page.

There's a reason why coverage of Trump is being held hostage right now--he creates massive amounts of revenue for these media organizations by giving them access. The Washington Post will see a downturn in traffic to its website and maybe a few ramifications for its print edition because of this. Fewer flashy headlines and fewer impulse buys at what counts as newstands? I don't know.

Coverage of Donald Trump is driving traffic to the web properties that are not banned; this gives Trump some power over them. By denying them access, he is demonstrating control of the narrative around his dumpster fire of a campaign. This has a chilling effect because the media outlets that have not been banned have been shown clear examples of what will get them booted from the campaign. This, in turn, changes the coverage of Trump and places everything in a more favorable light.

All of the media outlets covering him should go dark, but they won't because of the business ramifications. It's just another sad and pathetic piece of a larger puzzle--how the hell did we get here? We are all fools because he's in control.

This Dainty Fellow

He was no snob. He would eat the meal of the masses. It would suffice.

He had someone on salary ensure that someone else being paid by the hour with no benefits would put rolled silverware into a napkin for him to consider. It would never be used. Form over function. Waste was a way of life. Napkins, oh God, yes.

He was taught to lay out a thick paper napkin and cover it with another. Each and everything before him had to be covered or adorned. He was told that his French fries needed to be laid out end to end and then consumed before his meal but only if the napkin sanitized it all. Ketchup was for morons and wastrels. It was probably rancid stuff but he had never tasted it. He was a rough man who could appear relatable if the media people asked. I'm relating to them, he muttered, but make sure I get something else later.

The world won't wait for a man to sample everything and proceed with his value meal from McDonald's. You can look at his untouched sandwich and know his disgust. He had a limit, and there was no way he was going to eat the grubby lettuce placed there by someone making minimum wages. It was a rebuke for you rubes and your desire to consume the flesh of animals and burp everything back up into a ridiculously small serving of Diet Coke, more so when considering the food was unacceptable on many levels.

But he was hungry, and he needed what Bukowski called fuel so he could create. A big sandwich consisting of produce picked by the brown people who bellowed at him from afar and the rest assembled by humble and underpaid peons was enough for him, for now.

The Apple Pie was missing from his meal, and so he withdrew a dainty hand and ordered an underling to retrieve him another.

He waited, munching and sad.

The apple pie arrived and this was not to be shared. It was jammed into filthy cardboard and overheated. The proletariat had risen against the bourgeois. He burned his mouth. Screams, that was what they heard when he finally tossed the meal aside. Damned thing. That's what apples taste like? Give them to the poor.

Fuckers.

What Are They Going to do With Roger Clinton?

I have to admit that I have not thought about Roger Clinton in what seems like twenty years. In terms of modern politics, that's forever and a day. His arrest on drunken driving charges mere days before the California primary is an indication of something, but who knows what? A cry for help? Dumb luck? A need to feed the right wing hate machine yet another piece of red meat?

He's the former President's half brother, and that former President's wife is about to conclude the race for the nomination for President of the United States. They couldn't get someone to babysit Roger for a few weeks? How about finding something for him to do until the year is out?

You can't ignore this story because it's going to be fodder for right wing news sites. This is basically what they served up throughout the 1990s--every embarrassing aspect of Bill Clinton's life is worthy of a front page write-up in the New York Times, up to and including the time they found a long-lost brother-in-law not named Roger. I expect Maureen Dowd to sympathize with poor Roger and talk about how his manhood has been sapped from him by that woman who will be president.

Free Lunch

This landed in my in-box today, and I had to kind of cringe to keep from laughing when I read it. I still don't understand why we're not just feeding kids for free in school--whatever system is currently in use where many people live is probably antiquated and based on a time when making a lunch for a kid was relatively inexpensive. Now, with rising food costs and shrinking wages, this issue becomes more and more difficult for people to solve.

I like what Hillary Clinton says here:

Contrast that with this:

When it comes to public schools providing meals for low-income children, congressional Republicans have built up a discouraging record in recent years. In 2014, for example, a GOP congressman from Georgia suggested struggling children should either pay more for school meals or tackle janitorial tasks in their schools in exchange for food.

Around the same time, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivered a speech suggesting kids who rely on school lunches aren’t cared for as much as kids who bring their own lunch to school. The far-right lawmaker, we later learned, was relying on an anecdote that turned out to be made-up.

That was the last Congress. In this Congress, Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg made the case in the Washington Post yesterday that Republican lawmakers are eyeing new restrictions on the federal program.

Under current law, changed by Democrats in 2010, schools don’t have to verify which individual students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Rather, if a school serves a community in which 40% of the kids are eligible for meal assistance – called the “Identified Student Percentage” – the schools can make food available to all of its students. It streamlines the bureaucracy and verification process, cuts down on paperwork, and helps ensure children receive the benefits to which they’re entitled under the law.

If you fed kids as part of the school curriculum, and normalized the idea that school means education plus food, it would definitely increase costs for the school districts. That would have to be offset by funding from elsewhere, and, given the many wingnut state legislatures out there, you can count on expressions of massive butt hurt. But, wherever that funding comes from, it would provide several benefits that would have a huge impact on families.

One, it would ensure that kids on the threshold of receiving a free lunch wouldn't be left out and could count on getting food at school. Two, it would ensure that everyone in school had a chance to eat something and not go hungry, thereby making it hard to learn in the first place. Why not eliminate the stigma and just feed all the kids the same thing and make it free (and healthier to boot)? Is the country really that broke or do we just not want to make some hard choices? The schools are already in the business of giving kids free or reduced lunches. Why not get completely into that business, negotiate for better rates and lower costs, and make it part of what makes school important in a community?

There's a lot to be said for the stability that a good school can bring to a neighborhood. It can definitely drive property values up and it can increase participation for parents and students in what happens. Yeah, I get that there will always be apathy. It's not like you have to eat what's put in front of you--kids should be allowed to bring their own food or opt out.

Hillary Wins Washington State Primary

I don't have much to add here, other than noting that defenders of Bernie Sanders were quick to point out that his caucus win in Washington State meant that he got 610,000 "votes" because of that win. Through the magic of questionable math, they asserted that, because he received the support of about 170,000 caucus goers, it meant his vote total would have been much higher.

Well, bullshit. Hillary won the Washington State primary.

That sound you here is the disappearance of any sort of reason why people should think that Sanders can win this or claim he's been robbed. Clearly, the people who support him have a loud voice but do not have the numbers to back it up.

Math With Bernie Bots

You may see this kind of nonsense cropping up in your day to day activities:

Hillary does NOT have three million more votes than Bernie. Her count does not give ANY credit of votes to those 10 states Bernie won by caucus. Take, for example, Washington, with an active voter registration of 3,973,623. 56% voted Democratic in the last election. That's 2,225,229 Democrats. Assuming what would have been a 38% turnout for the primary, that's 845,587 voters. Sanders won 72,2% in Washington, giving an equivalent vote count of 610,514 votes for Bernie and 235,073 for Clinton. Counting all the caucus wins for Bernie that gives him a vote count equal to or greater than Clinton's.

This is demonstrably false when you look at what actually happened:

"Despite predictions that the caucus turnout would rival that of the record-breaking 2008 election, Washington's numbers were exactly what people were expecting. Officials were expecting over 200,000 votes, and Washington Democrats communications director Jamal Raad tells Bustle that he estimates more than 230,000 Democrats turned out to caucus, "nearly matching the record of 246,000 set in 2008."

So, here you have a Sanders supporter correctly pointing out that Sanders won in Washington State. Hooray for him. But notice how they shift the methodology to make up for the three million votes cast in Hillary's favor over Bernie. They take population, then they take ALL Democrats registered, and choose a number--in this case, 38%. That means, in Bernie Bot Math, 230,000 Democrats showed up to caucus, about 70% expressed a preference for Bernie, and that means he got 610,000 "votes."

In other words, the roughly 170,000 people who showed up or "voted" for Sanders in the context of the caucus equals a "vote" total of 610,000. By this methodology, every single registered Democrat in every single state can be apportioned thusly for each of the candidates. I'm not even going to bother pointing out that if we used this methodology in New York State, Hillary would have tens of millions of more votes than Bernie.

I mean, how do you even argue with these people anymore?