The Plea Bag – Mueller outsmarts them all

November 27th 2018

Like everyone, I’m watching the spiral death dance of the Trump with a mixture of wonder and disgust.

We expected major developments from the Mueller probe this week, and we certainly have been getting those. They just aren’t the ones anyone expected.

What we’re getting is a whole lot more twistier and amusing.

Let’s start with Paul Manafort, once and future felon. Mueller’s office dropped the plea bargain arrangement they had up until yesterday, on the grounds that Manafort had been steadfastly and systematically lying to them.

Of course, there are dozens of theories about why Manafort would lie (nobody, as far as I know, has tried to suggest he wasn’t lying and Mueller is simply wrong). Perhaps Trump has been dangling a pardon, in itself obstruction of justice. Manafort may have been afraid of Trump, or some of Trump’s mob contacts, or perhaps Vladimir Putin. Or he may have just thought he could pull it off.

I can just picture Manafort meeting with one or two members of Mueller’s team. As Manafort talks, the Feds are enrapt, scribbling furiously or clacking their keyboards, even though everything is being videoed. Manafort will correctly assume this means they are taking his testimony very seriously, in a way a silent and unassuming camera eye cannot. It inflates Manafort’s sense of self-importance and self-worth.

Suddenly, the agent with the computer sighs and slaps the laptop shut. He sighs. “Damn thing crapped out again.” He looks at his partner. “Do you have yours handy?”

The partner shakes his head. “Died Wednesday. I was supposed to have one for this meeting. You know how important M thinks it is.”

The first agent turns to Manafort, a sad smile inviting sympathy. “You know how it is. You worked on the campaign. It’s the same here. People screaming at each other, in panic, nothing gets done.” He olds up his number 2 pencil. “Why if it wasn’t for this…”

Manafort nods sympathetically. He was the one sane man in the chaos of the Trump campaign.

Later, the agents make a friendly wager on how long it will take for their little “slip” to turn up in a Trump speech. Mueller runs a tight ship, but the White House leaks more than a geriatric ward, and so they know that Trump is trying to use Manafort as a mole into the Special Prosecutor’s activities.

And of course, it did start showing up in the speeches and trumpentweets. You have to wonder how many other false tidbits Mueller’s people fed to Manafort to confuse and divert the already confused and diverted Trump.

Then there’s the thing with Julian Assange. Mueller’s office filed a court document that accidentally named Assange as being under a sealed indictment. The document didn’t say what the charge(s) was, or when it was filed, and people thought it odd the normally legally meticulous Mueller legal team would make such an error.

But it apparently shook something loose. The Guardian reported yesterday that “Manafort visited Julian Assange three times at the Ecuadorian embassy, including once during the 2016 election.” That right there would send Steven Colbert’s right eyebrow clear up into his hairline. Then it broke that the Trump team had been conferring with Ecuador over their somewhat unwelcome sanctuary guest in their London embassy, meeting with them as recently as yesterday. The speculation is that they are begging Ecuador to NOT release Assange over to American authorities.

Gee, I remember being critical of Obama because he did want Assange turned over to American authorities. Strange times we live in, eh?

Manafort and the Trump people are vociferously denying the report, and given the general ethics and moral characters of those worthies, I can’t help but conclude that it means the report is true. Terribly unfair of me, I know, but when the ball keeps landing in double zero, it’s pretty stupid to bet against the house.

When Mueller asked for a ten day extension on the plea bargain arrangement with Manafort, everyone assumed he just wanted more time to draft his next round of major charges, and was just doing due diligence. We now know that can’t be the case, because we’ve learned that Mueller had proof Manafort was lying, and he knew what Manafort was lying about and when. And because he had to know Manafort was feeding information back to the Trump people through some likely-to-get-disbarred-if-not-imprisoned lawyers, he was systematically convincing Manafort he was being believed, and he was probably feeding disinformation for Manafort to send back to his homies.

So why the ten-day extension? The plea bargain deal was already dead. Why extend it to yesterday?

That’s the deadline for Trump to turn in his written answers to Mueller’s questions about cooperation between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

He turned them in with help from his lawyers who, through Manafort, believed they had a handle on what Mueller did and did not know, and thus had an idea what lies Trump could tell that would be safe.

This right here is a major disaster for Trump, but he really sealed his fate hours after he turned his under-oath answers to Mueller, publicly boasting that his lawyers did not write the responses, but that he did them himself. Every word.

The sad thing (OK, the hilariously sad thing) is that Trump is probably bullshitting and in reality probably just signed off on answers his lawyers wrote and probably had at best a dim understanding of their contents.

But his public boast stripped him of his one and only fig leaf, and the cold blasts of the perjury indictments are coming.

Somewhere in Mueller’s spartan offices, a couple of junior lawyers are holding up a number two pencil, and laughing their asses off. And they may have just helped save the country.

The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy – Who knew the Trump White House was infested with libruls?

The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

Who knew the Trump White House was infested with libruls?

November 25th 2018

I’ve been hearing chatter lately about a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. David Bossie, who was one of Paul Manafort’s wing men during the campaign, told an increasingly strained Chris Wallace, “There is a vast left-wing conspiracy that has been going on since the president won this election. All throughout the transition and through his first two years.”

We’ll get back to that facet of the VLWC in a moment. Bossie went on to say, “A vast left-wing conspiracy, similar to what Hillary Clinton used [to say] about a right-wing conspiracy.” Chris Wallace interrupted him, auto-saying, “Which incidentally didn’t turn out to be true,” since they’ve been denying the existence of such since about 1991. Even before Hillary pointed out the deliberate machinations of the right to undermine and defame the Clintons.

Bossie wasn’t buying it. Saying the VRWC really existed, he said, “Chris, there was an effort by the conservative movement to undermine President Clinton.”

Well, duh.

So let’s get back to the VLWC. There’s absolutely no doubt that liberals and leftists have opposed Trump since he announced he was running in 2015. It goes by many names: The Democratic Party, The Resistance, and so on. After three years of being somewhat ineffectual in their opposition to Pissmop, they finally landed a damaging blow on November 6th with a gigantic “blue wave” vote.

Prior to that, about the only thing we managed to do was to annoy Trump, who was in high dungeon over the fact that members of the opposition party might oppose him, or traitors to America who don’t like fascists and racists. We had absolutely zero luck in shaming GOP officials into trying to stop him before he wrecked the country, and even less luck in budging the polls further away from Trump. (His approval is locked at 41%, +/- 3%).

Trump has taken considerable damage already: his business brand, such as it was, is ruined beyond repair. While still capable of doing considerable damage through his sheer genius at mismanagement, he’s lost the House, so he isn’t going to get legislation to the still-barely-Republican Senate, and support in the upper house is eroding rapidly now that the writing is on the wall.

There’s three primary sources to the most damage Trump has taken, and none of those sources qualify as ‘left wing’.

First, there’s the personnel in all the agencies he’s alienated. Right wingers love to talk about how agencies dealing with education, welfare, science, etc., are all “liberal” but the fact is that while they tend to favor Democratic policies by overwhelming margins, it isn’t because they are liberal. It because for decades Republicans have been dumping on them, calling them dupes, liars, anti-American and anti-God for simply stating easily-proven facts.

Hint to Republicans: when you spend half a century pissing on someone’s head because what they know doesn’t jibe with what you want to believe, don’t expect them to believe you when you tell them it’s holy water—and don’t expect them to vote for you. Trump took that on-going abuse and turned it up a notch.

That he managed to alienate the intelligence agencies took real talent. These are the children of J. Edger Hoover and Wild Bill Donovan, and they’re about as liberal as Genghis Khan.

Yes, there are a lot of people in government who hate Trump. But it’s not because they are Democrats; it’s because they hate Trump, and he’s given them a lot of reasons for doing so.

The Mueller Investigation: It wouldn’t even exist if he hadn’t vindictively fired the best friend he had in all of government, the man who single-handed sank Clinton’s campaign in the final two weeks, James Comey. Comey is no left winger. But it brought about the investigation, run by a Republican, Robert Mueller, and supervised until last week by another Republican, Rod Rosenstein.

All the People in the Know expect Mueller to pounce this coming week, and even if the appointment of the Toilet Heist Master to oversee Mueller pressured Mueller, the results should be damning. Given that Trump’s Congressional support amounts to “Can this crazy son of a bitch help me get what I want” the sliderule governing that support is going to shift heavily against Trump.

White House Staff: Ever had a boss like Trump? I have, once. Weak, authoritarian, vicious. Back stabbing. Plays people off against one another, pays no attention to rights and responsibilities of either his subordinates or himself, and demands absolute loyalty from the people he is abusing. Workplace is a nightmare where the ability to betray is the only currency of the place. Working for someone like Trump is a nightmare. I know, because I have. I got out, and saved my sanity.

It’s a pretty safe bet that the white house staff aren’t secret left-wingers, unless you count the cooking staff and the gardeners. Especially the guy who does the roses; the rose is the symbol of the Democratic Socialists of America, you know. It’s a thorny issue.

Most of Trump’s flunkies are absolutely hateful people, partly because those are the only types willing to work for him, and party because they have to front for a hateful person. The public despises them, but many people also pity them.

Some of the most egregious partisans are back-pedaling furiously, trying to save their (generally worthless) asses: Frank Luntz on on Faux News the other day, devoutly declaring he couldn’t call himself a Republican any longer. No blinding lights and fluttering angels to this particular self-apotheosis, though: Luntz went on to say it was both parties, really. He didn’t get enlightenment: he just wants to be standing outside the blast zone when it goes off. That Luntz, always with the liberal sensitivities!

Not to disparage the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: we have been first-most, and steadfast in our opposition to Trump and what he represents. But we weren’t the ones who damaged him. He damaged the people who supported him, including members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and they whipped around and bit him on the ass. They are the ones that did the real damage.

In the end, as always, Donald Trump’s greatest enemy is Donald Trump.

I suppose we should be grateful for that.

Our Rakish President – Trump uses his to start forest fires

November 21st 2018

Obama judges have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.”

Those were the words uttered by the five-and-dime Mussolini in the Oval Office today, and it may be the scariest thing he’s uttered to date. By implication, Trump judges are good for the safety of the country, whereas non-Trump judges are…well, traitors, apparently. It isn’t enough that the judge he originally picked a fight with yesterday, US district judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco has nearly a decade on the bench (He issued a temporary restraining order against Trump’s proclamation that he could incarcerate asylum-seekers). Roberts himself was nominated by George W. Bush in 2005 and while I think he’s far too chummy with business interests, I don’t consider him a threat to the safety of the country.

A relatively straightforward lower court decision, observing the country’s mandate by treaty on how to treat asylum-seekers, seems to have triggered the biggest confrontation between the Court and an Administration since FDR’s famous effort to pack the court in 1936.

The constitutionality of “the court pack” never was resolved. The court began issuing rulings favorable to FDRs New Deal programs even before FDR’s too-smart-by-half idea, and interest in the court pack waned among Congressional Democrats. One judge had a change of heart regarding New Deal Acts that began before the court pack idea was brought up, a fellow named Roberts. Owen Roberts. He had been a swing vote between the four conservatives on the court and the four liberals, the New Deal’s version of Anthony Kennedy.

Our Roberts isn’t that Roberts, and Trump pretty clearly is no FDR. I don’t think we’ll see anything resembling a rapprochement there.

FDR and his allies were slier in their attack on the courts. FDR was the concern troll, fretting that the nine old men, many in their 70s, might find the burden of the many cases before the Court to be an undue burden, and should welcome the help of four or five young, strapping judges who can lift the Constitution over their heads and give it a good stout flapping. His allies are busy, including publishing a book, “Nine Old Men” that inferred that the court might have some problems with senility creeping in.

Trump, of course, is a bit more direct, simply saying that justices not appointed by him presented a threat to the safety of the county. He probably can’t display the same wit and brilliance with the name “Roberts” that he did with “Adam Schitt”. Our President, the third-grader.

Trump has authorized US troops guarding the border against migrant caravans to use deadly force if necessary. Citing “credible evidence and intelligence” (in other words, Trump pulled it out of his ass) Trump believes that thousands of approaching Central American migrants “may prompt incidents of violence and disorder” that could threaten border patrol agents and other government personnel. His order expands the authority of US troops to include “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention and cursory search” to protect the border agents.

Those poor border agents. How will the poor dears deal with a group of unarmed men, women, old folks and children who are still some 800 miles away and won’t even show up until at least March? Or longer, given their travel plans.

You see, those troops that Trump has boldly sent to protect the poor, quivering, border agents from possible contact with aliens? They went to Laredo, Texas. The caravan is going to San Diego, some 1,500 miles to the left of Laredo.

Oh, well, the troops can cover themselves in glory potshotting Mexican kids who look like they might be thinking of tossing a rock at the heavily-armed troops. After all, it worked for Netanyahu. A true hero in Trump’s eyes.

Posse Comitatus? Oh, you’re thinking of the OLD United States, and not the new and improved Trump version.

It’s raining in Northern California right now, and with a sigh of relief, Smokey the Bear can lay down his rake. While this storm won’t bring much to Southern California, the long-range (November 27-December 6th) looks pretty promising. Everybody is ready for a respite in the fires, and I just hope the Camp Fire area doesn’t get too much rain. Montecito is still fresh in our memories (and still at risk, nearly a year later). Likewise the millions of other acres burned in this ongoing nightmare. One clown on Facebook castigated ignorant liberals who probably didn’t know where Paradise was for doubting the acumen of Glorious Leader, showing a picture of a piling cat, saying that this was the ‘rake’ Trump was talking about. A piling cat is about 10-15 feet wide, with 6 or 8 big tines, and resembles the big tilling machines tractors tow around fields. Nobody calls it a ‘rake.’

I see Ivanka was busted for using an unsecured email server for government business. How about it, Pissmop? Gonna chant “Lock her up”? Oh, give it a go! We watched your grotesque turkey pardon thing yesterday: this is your chance to surprise us all with a flash of self-deprecating wit and humor. Or even, “I pardon peas, carrots, Ivanka and myself”.

Of course, if you ever venture out where you can hear crowds, you hear “Lock HIM up” a lot from now on. Unless you feel, as you do with American troops, that if you go out where they can see you, someone might shoot you.

Gosh, that would be a real shame. Stay hidden and stay safe. Keep your rake handy against all the forest fires you’re starting politically.

PS: If Trump is impeached, guess who oversees his Senate trial?

The Constitutional Gerrymander – A proposal to make the Senate more equitable

November 15th 2018

The latest wrinkle amongst Republicans arguing in favor of the Senate system of allocation (and by extension the Electoral College) is that it actually favors Democrats, since seven of the ten lowest states by population have one Democratic Senator and five of the smallest have two Democratic Senators. It’s a perfectly true statement, but it’s also a fact that is cherry-picked. The Senate doesn’t favor Democrats, as this last election showed: Overall, in the 33 states that had Senate elections this year, Democrats outpolled Republicans by some 12 million votes—and lost two seats. (Although three seats are still undergoing the recount process).

There’s an easier way to demonstrate that the Republican making this argument is gaslighting you: just ask him if this means he supports changing the makeup of the Senate to make it more equitable. After all, if the Senate gives the Democrats an unfair advantage, surely he would want to do something about it. At that point the Republican will either tell you that the Constitution is the sacred word of God and must not be questioned, or he’ll just simply scamper away. Either way he’ll suddenly lose interest in defending the underrepresentation of those poor Republicans.

Of the fourteen* states in the 1790 census, four had 2,071,170 people, roughly 53% of the total population**. That 53% covered 28% of the Senate. (If you limited to white property owners, then the Senate representation of people who could vote was much more equitable, since women and slaves could not vote). But even the 53/28 ratio is more equitable than it is today: 70/30. Thirty percent of the population control 70% of the Senate, and the fascist right have been blasting those 35 states with unending propaganda, persuading them that they must defeat the “city elites” or be completely subsumed by those pesky Americans living in desirable and productive states. OK, they don’t put it quite that way. They usually settle for warning about coastal elites.

And yes, these are billionaires with bloated senses of entitlement warning the rural population against elites. Yes, it’s grotesque.

I have a suggestion to alleviate this state of affairs while still protecting the smaller states. It would require a constitutional amendment, and would not be popular in at least ten states, but it should be worth considering.

Change the allocation of the Senate as follows: the smallest ten states by population will have just one senator. The ten largest by population would have three senators. The rest would stay at two senators.

What would the top to bottom distribution be then? The ten smallest states, with 9,582,945 people, would see their representation halved, from 20% to 10%. However, they only make up 3.1% of the population, so they would still be overrepresented. The ten largest states would make up 30% of the Senate rather than 10%, but with about 49% of the population, would still be underrepresented.

I don’t have a problem with the built-in bias in and of itself. There is a certain amount of wisdom in not allowing the population centers to run rough-shod over the more thinly populated regions. It’s just that the existing bias is way out of hand, and gives a handful of rich bad actors a loophole to manipulate the government of the country on the cheap.

How would this affect the Electoral College? As most of you know, the EC gives each state electoral votes that equal the sum of their House representatives and the two senators. (For example, Wyoming has one representative and two senators, thus three EC votes). Worse, most states have a winner take all tabulation. Win California by one vote, and get all 55 of the electoral votes).

As a part of the same amendment reallocating the Senate, I would get rid of the Electoral College altogether. Its only purpose is to allow unpopular political parties to cheat, and steal presidencies. (Oddly enough, all five instances involve Republicans). It’s detrimental to the validity of national elections, and has done far more harm than good.

The amendment would have a provision automatically reallocating Senator seats based on the ten-year census. For example, I was using the figures from the 2010 census and the 2020 census might show different states occupying the coveted #10 position, or the much-less-coveted #41 position. It’s not real likely in this census, but it will occur as states rise and fall. In which case, reallocation takes place before the following election, and is automatic. States losing a Senator may decide in a special election which one to dump.

As things stand, this particular idea has zero chance of implementation, but then, that’s true of most new ideas. Pass it around, let people mull it over, and see if it germinates.

The United States does need to address the issue of allocation, because it is being used as a tool to thwart public will, and that’s always detrimental.

*Maine was counted apart from Massachusetts but was still a part of the state. Likewise Kentucky and Virginia. So you had 16 states in the census but only 14 in the Senate.

**Skewed by the fact that slaves (some 700,000 or so) only counted as 3/5ths of a person each, and could not vote. Even then, bigotry made America grotesque.

Centennial Ghosts And a Present Ghast

November 11th, 2018

It’s the centenary of Armistice that ended the fighting in World War I. As a boy in both England and Canada, I gathered with my classmates under the flags—Union Jack and Red Ensign—and observed a Minute of Silence. We stood, knowing that all who could pause in their work throughout the land was doing the same. It was outdoors, and often it was raining or even snowing, chill and damp, but nobody ever dared complain. From as soon as we were able to understand what war was, we were told of the fantastic hardship and sacrifice the Tommies paid (and, as time passed, speeches included the Yanks, the Froggies and finally the Boche). We wore poppies and thanked the survivors. And honoured the dead.

Yesterday Trump’s flacks announced that he wouldn’t attend a service at the cemetery where many of the American troops who perished lay. It was the weather, you see. And scheduling. Trump may or may not have any reasons to be in Europe other than to see a big parade, but apparently someone forgot to mention that at 11:11 am on 11/11/18, Trump might think about something other than Trump.

As for the weather, well, the fallen in those graves would certainly understand. Bone spurs can really throb on wet days, and with a forecast of showers and temperatures in the fifties, Trump certainly deserves to be inside, warm and cozy, where he can think about the soldiers in comfort. Lord knows the troops knew that being exposed to the elements in France in November could be deucedly inconvenient, what ho?

Still, Trump is a shitstain, composed of the same substance the soldiers squelched their way through in the trenches. He is nothing.

Today, the soldiers who died in that horrific war are everything. I won’t try to honour them; I can’t. I can only respect them. Only those who have given as much as they did could honour them.

Instead, I’ll simply post some of the poetry written by those courageous men who sacrificed so much:

Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

The Latin title of this poem means:
“Sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country.”
(From Horace, Odes, III. ii. 13)

NOTE: Owen was killed on 11/11/18, hours before the Armistice took
effect. He had served in the trenches for four years.

Break of Day in the Trenches
Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)

The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver — what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe —
Just a little white with the dust.

June 1916

For The Fallen
Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

The Rainbow
Leslie Coulson

I watch the white dawn gleam,
To the thunder of hidden guns.
I hear the hot shells scream
Through skies as sweet as a dream
Where the silver dawnbreak runs.
And stabbing of light
Scorches the virginal white.
But I feel in my being the old, high, sanctified thrill,
And I thank the gods that dawn is beautiful still.

From death that hurtles by
I crouch in the trench day-long
But up to a cloudless sky
From the ground where our dead men lie
A brown lark soars in song.
Through the tortured air,
Rent by the shrapnel’s flare,
Over the troubled dead he carols his fill,
And I thank the gods that the birds are beautiful still.

Where the parapet is low
And level with the eye
Poppies and cornflowers glow
And the corn sways to and fro
In a pattern against the sky.
The gold stalks hide
Bodies of men who died
Charging at dawn through the dew to be killed or to kill.
I thank the gods that the flowers are beautiful still.

When night falls dark we creep
In silence to our dead.
We dig a few feet deep
And leave them there to sleep –
But blood at night is red,
Yea, even at night,
And a dead man’s face is white.
And I dry my hands, that are also trained to kill,
And I look at the stars – for the stars are beautiful still.

Election 2018 – And its possible aftermath

November 5th, 2018

It has been brought to my attention that there is some sort of election thingie tomorrow. An unkempt person, disheveled with wild, wide eyes and arms failing in futile violence, screamed at me that the entire future of humanity rested on this election, and that I must implore everyone to vote right away!

I really have to get rid of that mirror. Nobody likes bad-news mirrors, and you don’t even have to be an evil narcissist to have one seriously fuck you up.

There will be no vote imploring from me. If you haven’t decided if you are going to vote or not, you probably aren’t reading this, and are too dumb and apathetic to be reading much of anything more involved than the directions on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

For the rest of you, yes, quite a bit rests on this election. However, the rest of the world, should America fall, will simply close ranks and go around the former world leader. Yes, America is mighty militarily, but it still needs to engage and trade with the rest of the world in order to survive.

Trump is not a negotiator. For starters, he announces up front that he plans to screw the people he’s negotiating with, which deincentivizes those people from negotiations. Would you buy a car from a guy who tells you he has the best profit margins from car sales in the state? If you would, call me: have I got a sweet deal for you! Well, a sweet deal for one of us, anyway. You like sweet deals, right?

Trump boasts himself into corners. Take NAFTA. After announcing he was going to shaft Canada, he was dismayed when Canadians turned down his polite offer to be shafted. Having boasted he could swing a great deal by pressuring Canada, he threatened the Canadian auto industry, which consists of such Canadian enterprises as Ford and GM. Turned out he lost the support of the very people he was trying to protect from those evil Canucks, Ford and GM. Cornered by his own bombast, he finally signed a deal with Canada in which America actually made more concession, because Trump desperately needed an agreement he could lie about and proclaim to be a great victory for Trump America. In poker terms, Canada had a pair, and Trump had a busted flush, and Canada walked away with the pot, leaving Trump to scream that his hand was a lot closer to a real flush than a lousy pair!

Most of the world looks at Trump with a mixture of sadness and apprehension. He’s a pathetic clown, but he is a very troublesome pathetic clown, and what’s more, he is greatly strengthening the hands of other players in the game who are not clowns: China and Russia.

So as Americans vote, American prestige and influence, already plummeting, might go past the point of no return. If it does, that means a lot of problems for a lot of people, but in the end the world will carry on, they way it did following the fall of every other mighty empire.

In a best case scenario, the Democrats take the House, and Trump is in prison by 2020. That won’t solve the problem of Republicans in general, a party gone mad, but it will pin their ears back some. Worst case scenario, Republicans keep the House and Senate, and only the most naive or the most cynical Republican supporters believe America will have anything in common with the America of 25 years ago. Oh, America will still have an election in 2020, but it will be about as relevant as the elections they used to have in the Soviet Union.

The elections won’t save America, and could seal America’s fate. It’s not a great choice, but it’s probably the last best chance most people will get to have a choice.

Just remember that when you wake up on Wednesday, Trump will still be in the Oval Office. Republicans will still control congress, and will have two months to try and entrench as much of their toxic fascist agenda as possible. The Supreme Court will still consist of four liberals, four fascists, and a GOP ratfucker. November 7th will not be rainbows and butterflies, and the real fighting may just be starting.

The other day I wrote about an article by Stephen Marche on a respected blog in Canada speculating on what Canada should do in the event of an American civil war. It was a jarring thing to see.

CBC radio, the heart of journalist decorum and restraint, had a lead story referencing Marche under the headline, “What should Canada do if there’s a civil war in the U.S.?” This is the CBC, which probably started its September 1st 1939 broadcast with something like, “There appears to have been a spot of bother in Poland today as Chancellor Hitler continues to behave in an impolite manner.” They aren’t given to frantic arm waving, or, being non-profit, overly obsessed with ratings and clicks. Such a headline would be unthinkable unless they seriously believed that a civil war or other forms of violent chaos was truly in the offing for the United States.

Despite Trump, Canada remains the closest thing to a friend the United States has. If a friend tells you you look very ill and ought to see a doctor, you should at least consider the advice.

I’m not sure such a calamity can be sidestepped. But all sane Americans need to be aware of the danger, and think hard on how it might be averted. Despite what the history books say, nobody ever wins those types of battles.

The Cowardice – If you are a bigot, you are a coward

November 1st 2018

The main premises underlying bigotry are fear of those who are different in some way, any way, and a desire to twist society to give yourself an unfair advantage over the people you hate and fear.

It is cowardice.

That’s not a descriptive; it’s the absolute basis for bigotry. Without fear there cannot be bigotry.

It’s said that we all harbor racist impulses. If you are walking down a street and you find yourself surrounded by people who are different, it’s normal to feel a slight sense of anxiety. On bad days, we may all see someone who is different do something boneheaded or foolish, and think “typical.”

We all are anxious about the Others, and that transcends all races, all ethnicities, all religions.

It’s what we do about it that either makes us decent human beings, or cowards.

Decent people understand what the animal impulse is, and set it aside. Cowards use it to justify and feed their fear.

You can choose to be a coward. You can choose to be a bigot. You have then chosen to be a weak and vicious person. You have chosen to be contemptible.

I can’t help but wonder what the 15,000 troops Donald Trump is sending to the Mexican border are feeling. They’re under discipline; they can’t express their thoughts and opinions on the matter. But they have to know that in being sent, heavily armed, with orders to shoot “rock throwers” from a group of families with children and grandparents, some barefoot, who are walking the length of Mexico and have 1,300 miles to cover, and that they are being used by a low, loathsome man for a low, loathsome purpose.

The Pentagon knows. They leaked a risk assessment report, something they never do. Their conclusion: there is no threat. There have been previous caravans from the desperate lands colonized by American corporations that used vile fascism to control workers and protect industry. Many caravans of frightened, desperate people, taking everything they can carry on their backs, hoping for a better life. They are sometimes barefoot, pregnant, carrying children. Elders ride in hand-drawn carts.

Mexico is a wild and forbidding land, variated and beautiful, but daunting to hike. These people are walking the equivalent of Maine to Florida, through jungle and desert.

It’s something the Pentagon has seen quite a few times, and very few of the people in the caravan actually make it to the American border. And when they get here, they aren’t interested in throwing rocks; they want jobs, and a chance to educate their kids, and a better life.

There has to be a lot of contempt and disgust for this President and his weak followers amongst the American military leadership. They signed on to defend America and the Constitution, and not a mob of inchoate, cowardly strutting bigots. Trump and his howling followers are as alien to American as Hitler and his brownshirts were to Germany in 1923.

Many Germans thought they were better than that, and most of them were. But enough weren’t.

Forty percent of Americans support Trump. They are the worst of America; the coward, the bigots, the vicious and violent, the ignorant and the godstruck. Their strutting masks deep fear.

So they consider it courageous to shoot Jews at their place of worship. They admire Trump for going and desecrating the grieving and mourning of the survivors. They moan about how they are victims and will be until they have put themselves above the law and all others are subject to their laws. Gays have no rights. Immigrants have no rights. African Americans have no rights. The list of people they think don’t deserve rights is very long, and based on a sense of grievance, an insane notion that people who have the same rights they do have an advantage.


Trump is trying to harvest the Coward-American vote, with grandiose promises to throw hundreds of thousands into tent-cities (with hot and cold running Zyclon-B, perhaps) playing on their yammering fear to crowd around his ersatz aura of Father Invincibility. He vowed to greet the caravan with live ammo, perhaps the most craven moment in American history.

If you agree with Trump, you aren’t just wrong, not just inhumane. You are a coward. You are contemptible. Shooting kids because they look like they could be capable of throwing rocks? It’s why Israel, once the most broadly supported country on Earth, is now met with scorn and disgust. But Netanyahu, another strutting bully and coward and disgrace to his country, seems to be Trump’s role model. Shoot kids. I’ll make you look strong and resolute.

I believe Americans are better than this. The only question is if they contain the ones who aren’t better than this. After all, we have the example of Germany to look to. Lot of good people in Germany.

Just not enough.

Parasites – America being bled dry

October 31st, 2018

Chuck Collins of the Guardian had an article today ( ) that should surprise few and alarm many. Titled “The wealth of America’s three richest families grew by 6,000% since 1982,” the subhead is “Three US families have a combined wealth of $348.7bn.” If you’re curious, the three families are the Waltons of Walmart, the Mars candy family, and the Kochs.

Granted, they satisfied three great American lusts: cheap(ish) Chinese clothing, mediocre American candy, and fossil fuels. They spotted a need, and filled it. The American capitalist dream, writ large.

The like to say they are makers and not takers, the Ayn Rand litany used to justify unbridled greed. Most of them inherited their wealth, and have an army of managers, accountants and lawyers to support their ultra-privileged positions in society, and a similar army of propagandists and lobbyists to legally barricade their positions, a governmental and media fortress devoted to persuading the public that because they are fantastically rich, they are superior and thus deserve to be fantastically rich.

Government and the law are twisted to support them, protecting them from civil and criminal retribution for their increasingly rapacious actions.

“Tort reform” is a euphemism for altering the law to make it impossible for groups of people they have cheated and sickened to sue them. Tax reform took the hundreds of cheats, swindles, and illegals dodges Fred Trump and his wastrel children committed and made them all legal under present-day law.

Media amalgamation ensured that virtually everything in the way of news that Americans are exposed to are bland, corporate pablum, or raving neo-nazi right wing bullshit.

The article continues:

The top three wealthiest billionaires in the US – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population combined.

This is possible because the bottom fifth of US households are underwater, with zero or negative net worth. And the next fifth has so few assets to fall back on that they live in fear of destitution.

Three individuals, according to the article, are wealthier than the bottom 50% of the American population—some 170 million other people—combined. Twenty percent of the population have zero or negative assets, and another twenty percent live paycheck to paycheck, two weeks from being broke. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have more money than all those people.

The article note that allowing for inflation, the wealth of the top 1% has increased sixty-fold since 1982, which coincidentally is when Reaganomics first kicked in.

Even Paul Volcker, no socialist, worried, “We’re developing into a plutocracy.” Much the way Stephen King is developing into a novelist.

The Founders feared the rise of an aristocracy as much as they feared the threats to a democratic government from the churches, corporations and authoritarians. To that end, they favored strong estate taxes (Jefferson proposed that the Constitution include a 100% estate tax on all real property!) and, while not willing to impose progressive income taxes, did worry about the potential for accumulation of wealth.

Since Reagan, estate taxes have all but vanished, and there has been a massive tax shift from corporations and the wealthy to the middle class. How vast? In 1952%, the median 40% of wage earners paid 4% of their income in federal taxes, about 20% of federal revenues. Corporations made up about half of federal revenues. Now, the middle class pay about 60% and corporations less than 25%, and in return for that large tax burden, they get a government spending trillions on a bloated and largely useless military, and scheming to steal the common funds used for old age pensions and what scant medical coverage they have. In the meanwhile, they are ‘entertained’ by propaganda outlets that moan endlessly about how good the penniless have it because they don’t have to pay taxes.

Even as we talk, the Republicans in Congress, in a great, grand finale of a “fuck you” gesture, are trying to eliminate most of the remaining taxes the wealthy and corporations have to pay, another three trillion dollars over a ten year period. But no worries: they plan to cover part of the cost by stealing your pension fund. And Republicans, in a grim, desperate hope that they can fool the people one last time and steal everything else they own, are campaigning on promises to protect insurance companies from out-and-out raping their customers with pre-existing conditions, and still promising to balance the budget (they’ve already more than doubled the annual deficit) and oh, yes, by spending a few billions to send an amazing 15,000 heavily armed American troops to protect shivering, frightened, craven American right wingers from a bedraggled group of families with grand parents and children, all on foot, some barefoot, who are walking towards America, still well over a thousand miles away. You have to be a particularly abject sort of coward to fall for this “threat,” and a particularly vicious, cynical and cruel despot to pretend it’s a threat.

It cannot continue. Regulated capitalist societies lead to unchecked aggregation of wealth and then implode, without exception. And the present aggregation of wealth in America is the greatest the world has ever seen. So the plutocrats are spending billions to persuade the American people that only by sacrificing themselves, their wealth, their livelihoods, and their standard of living, can they help the plutocrats avoid the very destruction the plutocrats are causing.

These parasites—and anyone who makes $100 billion is taking far more than they are giving—have to be checked, or they will destroy the host. You are the host, and you are being bled dry.

Bring back progessivity in taxes. Bring back a strong estate tax. Eliminate Citizens United and make campaign spending from a common fund. Make it easier for people to sue corporations that have cheated them or sickened them. Stop lionizing opulant filth like Donald Trump.

That, or die like a dog in the gutter, convulsed by the actions of a million fleas.

Or perhaps a half dozen fleas, each the size of a hyena.


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