Gaetz and Poses – A government of gangsters

February 26th, 2019

As things continue to crumble for the GOP, and the lunacy and flat-out gangsterism that pervades the party has come into full view.

By way of example, Matt Gaetz, the thug representing Florida’s 1st District, tweeted Michael Cohen on the eve of his public testimony before the Committee Gaetz slithered on to Twitter, and wrote, “Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

In normal times, Congress would be deliberating whether to censure or expel Gaetz for such an illegal act. He’s trying to call it “witness testing,” but it is a clear case of witness tampering: “Talk, and your wifey learns all about that little piece of fluff you have on the side.”

The technical term for that is blackmail. It’s a crime. In fact, it’s a felony. When you use it to intimidate a witness, it’s an even bigger crime, and a major felony.

If Gaetz had enough brains to send that tweet from the floor of Congress, then he is exempt from the law, and only Congress can discipline or expel him. Whether Congress will is another matter: nearly all the Republicans are cowardly and criminal whores, and too many of the Democrats seem afraid of upsetting such vermin. Witness today’s vote in the House, in which only 17 Republicans mustered up the courage and patriotism to put country ahead of Trump.

But if Gaetz was stupid, and sent it from a restaurant or his apartment or whatever…well. Someone call the DA of the district he was in. Open-and-shut case, against a prestige dirtbag. All the DA has to do is show Gaetz sent it, and wasn’t on the floor of the House when he did so. DA s launch political careers convicting morons like Gaetz.

And yes, he’s a moron. Just take a look at his web page:

Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida is one of the finest and most talented people in Congress. Strong on Crime, the Border, Illegal Immigration, the 2nd Amendment, our great Military & Vets, Matt worked tirelessly on helping to get our Massive Tax Cuts.” [bold text his]

OK, he may be one of the finest and most talented Republicans, but talk about a low bar. I guess he doesn’t know that those “massive tax cuts” don’t apply to the 99% of Americans that he doesn’t give a shit about. They got screwed on the deal. Most of the Republicans realize how close they are to getting lynched over that ‘tax cut’ and keep their mouths carefully shut in the hopes that an armed mob won’t give them credit for it.

As if that wasn’t enough, Trump announced what he calls the “Presidential Committee on Climate Security” This committee will exist to prove that there ain’t no sech thing as global warming. More to the point, the committee will stand for the civil rights of CO2 molecules everywhere.

The council will be headed by National Security Council senior director William Happer, and if you think that being on Trump’s NSC is a prestige position, reflect that against strong objections from members of his own transition team and the Obama administration, Trump named disgraced general and probable traitor Michael Flynn to the group, and, for a few days, the clownish buffoon Steve Bannon. National security isn’t exactly Trump’s top priority, and it shows.

But Happer himself is a real piece of work. He’s putatively a physicist, although at the age of 79, his days of physicking are pretty much in the past. Most of his “scientific expertise” is spoon-fed to him by such entities as the Heritage Foundation, or gleaned from websites such as wattsupwiththat. This enables him to say, with a straight face, things like “We’re doing our best to try and counter this myth that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant. It’s not a pollutant at all. . . . We should be telling the scientific truth, that more CO2 is actually a benefit to the earth.” As you might have guessed, he said this at a gathering of the Heritage Foundation. If he had said something like that in front of any actual scientists who weren’t just clowns in lab coats stooging for the fossil fuels industry, he would have been laughed out of there.

CO2 is vital to survival, of course. Plants need it, and we actually have a direct need in that CO2 build-up in the body triggers the instinct to inhale. But too much CO2 is pollution. At above about 445ppm, most plants can’t process any more, and the “greening planet” theory has been shown to be false.

Put it this way: we need oxygen, Without it we can only survive about four minutes. Earth’s atmosphere is about 21% oxygen. If we emitted enough oxygen that that ratio climbed to 30%, we would die. If the wildfires didn’t get us, the corrosive effects of so much oxygen on our lungs and trachea would. Any substance, beneficial or not, is a pollutant if there is too much of it, and too much CO2 is drastically altering our climate. Even Happer can’t come up with a factor that would cause warming when the excess CO2 so neatly fits the bill.

But he previously came up with something that even the Heritage Foundation—which once compared climate scientists to the Unabomber—to possibly reject as too vicious and dishonest. Well, maybe they would.

Happer said this:  “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” and added that “carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Now, don’t get me wrong: carbon and oxygen are two of my favorite elements, and many members of my own family consist of carbon and oxygen. And if a randy carbon atom wants to get it on with a couple of consensual oxygen atoms, well, where’s the harm. (I do have a problem with a monogamous relationship between one oxygen atom and one carbon atom for reasons to involved to go into here). I like CO2 in my soda, and I even exhale CO2 on occasion. I’m not a CO2 hater.

But I think it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that climate scientists have committed genocide against CO2. For one thing, CO2’s population is half again what it was in 1970.

And Jews, as a rule, tend to be life forms. Thank you for not asking about Joe Lieberman. CO2 isn’t a life form and can’t be murdered. I don’t happen to know what Happer’s opinion on Jews might be, but I think he’ll have to admit that a Jew and a CO2 molecule are not the same thing, even if the atoms that comprise both a) include oxygen and carbon and b) are immortal.

Now I’m used to fossil fuel stooges saying ludicrous things. They are paid to lie in the face of overwhelming evidence, and as a result often look and sound extremely stupid and ignorant. But I think Happer set a new standard of sorts, comparing warnings of climate change to the Holocaust.

So what becomes of a whorish moron like Happer in this age of Trump? He’s head of the Presidential Committee on Climate Security.

Perhaps he can persuade Trump to build a wall along the Gulf coast, around Florida, and up to Maine in order to keep huricanes out.

Trumpenstag Fizzle – Even Coulter thinks he’s an idiot now

February 15th 2019

I usually don’t watch Trump on TV any more. It’s not just because he’s a vile jerk and a jackass—after all, I watched George Bush the lesser for eight years—but because he is so fundamentally dishonest the only way you’ll actually learn anything is if he has an unguarded moment and blurts out a truth of some sort.

Yeah, stopped clock and all that. Even the blind nut finds a squirrel.

Sure enough, Trump committed a MUT—Moment of Unintentional Truth, when he blurted out, “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

OK, so it’s not actually an emergency. It wasn’t an emergency for the first two years Trump was in office, and with nothing materially changing on the border in the month since, still isn’t an emergency. The only thing that made it an emergency was Congress changed hands, and Trump wanted to blame the Democrats for not getting his wall. But Trump has put it in terms that no court or Congressman can ignore: as an “emergency,” this is pure bullshit.

Ann Coulter, now the moral compass of the GOP, had her own MUT when she blurted during a radio interview, “The only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.”

Another blind nut, another squirrel. Will wonders ever cease?

I’m sure Ann has her own reasons for hating Trump, and I’m equally sure those reasons reside in an utterly alien universe, but it is sort of fun watching her and Trump get in a pissing match. Two baboons, feces at five feet. Duel of the century, folks. Gitcher popcorrn here.

As mentioned, I watched Trump for as long as I could stomach it. It was hilarious in the way that Rufus T. Firefly was hilarious, or Charlie Chaplin as The Great Dictator. Except this is real. Ann’s idiot, burdened with dementia and underlying personality disorders, is the most powerful man on the planet, militarily speaking, with the ability to kill us all.

But, overlooking his ability to ruin or end your life, it was pretty funny.

He spent a fair bit of time praising Rush Limbaugh, passé radio demagogue, for his ability to speak for three hours straight without taking a phone call. Apparently being able to rant for hours at a time is considered a virtue with Trump. Certainly some leaders have been noted for it: Fidel Castro, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini all spring to mind. Limbaugh is only fair-to-middling long-winded by radio gasbag standards who are free to repeat themselves endlessly and make stuff up for the edification of their audience, whose IQs are generally measured in units of birdseed.

Trump claimed (falsely) that drugs flowed freely over the border in those areas where there is no wall. Since most drugs come in by plane or through border crossings, that’s sort of true, but Trump wants to stop drugs from flowing into the country, he says. To that end, of the $8 billion he wants to steal for his vanity project, $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon’s drug interdiction program.

Very good, Donald. Next, you can shut down the IRS in order to pay for a committee on tax cheating.

Trump admits that his declaration would do poorly in the courts, comparing it to his fatwa against Islamic immigrants. It would lose in the ninth, and then the appeals (he got the order reversed, of course, but “We’ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully get a fair shake and win in the Supreme Court just like the ban.” Yup, you have two partisan hacks who owe you in the Court.

But it’s unlikely to even make it to the courts.

The House will take it up, probably today, and will probably pass a resolution negating the Declaration of Emergency in the following days next week. Already, Democratic congressionals are sidling up to their Republican counterpoints and whispering, “Say, I can’t wait for President Ocasio-Cortez to Declare a State of Emergency in order to make the Green New Deal the law of the land.”

The Republican’s face turns white and his pants turn brown at the thought of such a demonic presidential power unleashed. 2018 taught them the ability to steal elections is not absolute, and public will can thwart corporate design.

Most of them have already realized the only thing worse than having someone other than Trump as a candidate in 2020 is having Trump as a candidate in 2020. It’s an offal thought.

They will decide not to give Trump this power. I’m guessing the resolution might get 350 votes.

So it goes to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell can’t simply kill it by refusing to let it come up for a vote. The law mandates open debate and a public vote on this sort of resolution within two weeks.

Mitch had already crouched and urinated a profession of undying love for Trump and his Emergency declaration, so I’m predicting that Mitch is going to have a really shitty time of it, especially since many Republicans are either unwilling to give any president a blank check like that, and/or are thoroughly fed up with Trump and deeply apprehensive of what bizarre stunt he might come up with next.

So Trump will claim the $1.4 billion he got for border security is far better than the $1.57 billion he was offered in December, and far better than the $8 billion he wanted. That boy spins like the Tasmanian Devil on meth.

Winning is his! Medals for Everyone!

False Alarm – Trump’s State of Emergency

February 14th 2019

By all accounts, Captain Pissmop is going to declare a state of emergency as a last-ditch effort to get funding for his foolish wall. If he doesn’t do that, I’m still covered: I can keep the main title and just write an entirely different piece. It’s all good.

It’ will probably work as well as his efforts to extort the wall out of the country by shutting down the government. The arithmetic on that one, even by GOP standards, was atrocious. Trump wanted $5.7 billion for a wall. The Dems offered to add $1.57 billion for ‘border security.” The Republicans in Congress thought that was reasonable, and voted for the bill. Trump then proceeded to shut down the government, a fiasco that cost the country $11 billion dollars, ruined hundreds of thousands of lives, and in the end, simply kicked the can down the road for three weeks.

The latest bill has $1.4 billion for border security with any mathematician will tell you is less than $1.57 billion. Bizarrely, the GOP and Trump tried to spin that as a victory for the Wallbangers, and when, for some inexplicable reason, that didn’t work, Trump tried vacillating on signing the bill. The Republicans in Congress, who just spent the past two months getting massaged with sledgehammers over the shutdown, elected to not play along. Which led to Pissmop’s final gambit: this state of emergency.

The idea is that Trump can use the declaration to strip funds away from other emergencies, such as Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief, or the fires in California.

Even by his standards, it’s an unbelievably cruel, vicious, and dishonest tactic. Any person who supports him on this is a disgrace both as a person and as an American. At this point, if you support Trump, there is something deeply wrong with you, morally, mentally and intellectually. You have to be a sociopath, deranged, and stupid, or all three.

The question remains: how many Republicans will follow him into this new sewer of a rabbit hole?

There was an interesting exchange on the Senate floor this afternoon that suggests that even the corporate whores have lost patience. Chuck Grassley, a man seemingly willing to eat tons of turds for the GOP, was interrupted by Mitch McConnell, who breathlessly announced that Trump would sign the spending bill, and that he would issue a national emergency declaration to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

McConnell, the biggest whore in the Senate, declared proudly, “I indicated to him I am going to support the national emergency declaration.”

The party spin is that Grassley was having a bad hair day and was only annoyed, yeah, pissy, at being interrupted by the Majority Leader. Because Grassley has such a rich history of snarking at party leadership, you understand.

I’m guessing that Grassley knew exactly why McConnell was interrupting him and didn’t like it one little bit. Earlier this morning, at a prayer function of the sort that afflicts representative democracy, he said, “Let’s all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bills so government doesn’t shut down.” Note lack of support for the politically suicidal tactic of declaring a phony emergency so Trump can steal from victims of natural disasters. Grassley may be willing to sacrifice the country for the sake of the party, but he isn’t willing to sacrifice Chuck Grassley for the sake of the party. He knows that if Pissmop’s scheme to fuck over American victims for his vanity project ever came to pass, it would be the absolute end of the Republican Party and Chuck Grassley.

Hence his barely concealed disgust for the obsequious McConnell.

In an unrelated development, Atlantic magazine printed an excerpt from Andrew McCabe’s book, “The Threat”. McCabe was fired by a vindictive Trump just a day and a half before he was to retire for speaking out against the firing of James Comey.

McCabe wrote, “The president steps over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he encounters them. Everyone in America saw it when he fired my boss. But I saw it firsthand time and time again.”

That’s pretty damning, especially since he discloses that the Department of Justice heads were seriously discussing the possibility of the Cabinet declaring Trump unable to perform his duties and removing him from office. (Trump, perhaps uneasily aware that it could happen, had a spectacular Twitter meltdown today over that one.)

In a telling vignette, McCabe wrote:

Trump launched back into his speech about what a great decision it was to fire Jim Comey, how wonderful it was that the director was gone, because so many people did not like Comey, even hated him—he actually used the word hate.

Eventually he changed the subject. He said that he wanted to come to FBI headquarters to see people and excite them and show them how much he loves the FBI. He pressed me to answer whether I thought it was a good idea. I said it was always a good idea to visit. I was trying to take some of the immediacy out of his proposal—to communicate that the door was always open, so that he wouldn’t feel he had to crash through it right away. I knew what a disaster it could turn out to be if he came to the Hoover Building in the near future. He pressed further, asking specifically, Do you think it would be a good idea for me to come down now? I said, Sure.

He looked at Don McGahn. The president said, Don, what do you think? Do you think I should go down to the FBI and speak to the people?

McGahn was sitting in one of the wooden chairs to my right. Making eye contact with Trump, he said, in a very pat and very prepared way, If the acting director of the FBI is telling you he thinks it is a good idea for you to come visit the FBI, then you should do it.

Then McGahn turned and looked at me. And Trump looked at me and asked, Is that what you’re telling me? Do you think it is a good idea?

It was a bizarre performance. I said it would be fine. I had no real choice. This was not worth the ultimate sacrifice.

In this moment, I felt the way I’d felt in 1998, in a case involving the Russian Mafia, when I sent a man I’ll call Big Felix in to meet with a Mafia boss named Dimitri Gufield. The same kind of thing was happening here, in the Oval Office. Dimitri had wanted Felix to endorse his protection scheme. This is a dangerous business, and it’s a bad neighborhood, and you know, if you want, I can protect you from that. If you want my protection. I can protect you. Do you want my protection? Trump and his men were trying to work me the way a criminal brigade would operate.

For whatever reason, the visit to the FBI never happened.

No. It’s not going to get better from here. It’s going to get worse.

Class War – America is fighting a class war, and losing

February 10th 2019

Gabriel Zucman is an Assistant Professor in Economics at UC Berkeley. Don’t let the “assistant” throw you off; he is one of the leading analysts of global wealth inequality in his field, and has co-written nine texts with the renowned Thomas Piketty, in addition to a large volume of other works.

Emmanuel Saez is an Assistant Professor in Economics at UC Berkeley, has also authored dozens of papers on wealth inequality, including with both Zucman and Piketty. He advocates a high marginal income tax rate (70-90%) on incomes over ten million as a way of equalizing the huge disparity caused by runaway capitalism.

How bad is that disparity? Zucman released a working paper the other day in which he showed the richest 0.00025 percent of the American population now own more wealth than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent.

The obscene increase in wealth for the 400 richest Americans came at the harshest expense of that bottom 60% of the country. Their share of the nation’s wealth dropped from 5.7% in 1987 (and that was one of the worst rates of inequality in the developed world) to just 2.1% now. They have less than half what they did 32 years ago, and it all went to those undeserving billionaires.

It’s perhaps not surprising that both economists are working as advisors for the Elizabeth Warren campaign. She sees wealth inequality and the subsequent twisting of the rules as the biggest threat to America. While she advocates for a high marginal income rate for the highest earners (77% on $10 million/year or more) she also proposes a 2% wealth tax on estates worth more than $10 million, 3% on estates worth more than a billion. Zucman and Saez estimate that such a plan would raise about $275 billion a year on average in its first ten years.

The pushback has been frantic and immediate. The Private Bank of JP Morgan snapped that such a plan was unconstitutional, overlooking the fact that wealth taxes were about the only form of taxation available to the federal government prior to 1917. Property tax is perhaps the best known example of a wealth tax. So is the estate tax.

Other flacs for the rich declared that the tax wasn’t feasible because it was so difficult for a rich person to know how much his assets were.

Um, No. Just No. You don’t get to be a billionaire without hiring some very smart people who know exactly where every dollar of those assets lie. And you have a raft of other very smart people who can ensure the highest possible return on investment for all that money.

The fact is the ultra-wealthy have stopped having any positive affect whatever on the general economy (and it’s always been questionable as to how beneficial they actually were) and have now become voracious and parasitic, a risk to their host. Even the ultra-wealthy who are uneasily aware of the destructive nature of their class, such as Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, can’t give back anything near what they take. Most simply take, and give one half of one percent of their income to charity to try and justify their presence. They spend more in the system of legalized bribery that is the American elections system than they do on actual Americans, and have bought a large portion of elected officials, zombie representatives who oppose high marginal tax rates, wealth taxes, universal health care, workers’ rights, environmental protections, public transportation, a strong social safety net, and anything else that might stand between them and a high appreciation of their already obscene wealth. And to hell with all the rest of us.

The disparity of wealth is already the highest its been in American history. It’s as high was it was in France in the 1780s, or Russia in the 1910s. That’s a very dangerous place for any society to be, especially when the rich overreach and make it nearly impossible for most people to make a decent living.

That’s when you start getting revolutions, and trust me, nobody wants that. No sane person who understands history. The satisfaction wrought by the guillotine is only transitory, and it takes a while for conditions to improve to where they were before the revolution. Even the “successful” revolution in America needed thirty years for the colonists to enjoy the standard of living they had before they broke away from England.

Polls show that between 70% and 85% of Americans approve of Warren’s plan. Similar numbers support similar plans by Bernie Sanders, or the one proposed by Ocasio-Cortez.

Tell everyone not to vote for any multi-millionaire candidates, or any candidate who receives “dark money” from PAC—they are not on your side, cannot be on your side. They work for the people who are trying to take everything from you.

The people are speaking loud and clear, It’s time for the ultra rich to listen, and consider options that they can live with.

The alternative, horrible as it is, is absolutely inevitable otherwise.


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