Gorsuch Nonesuch – He’s our bear to cross

March 30th, 2019

Alleged Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil “Son of Anne” Gorsuch is one of four members of the court who are pretty much indistinguishable from one another. The other three are Clarence “Slappy” Thomas, Samuel “Little Scalia” Alito, and Brett “Hold My Beer” Kavanaugh. They are all members of the Federalist Society, breeding ground for right-wing lice and essentially just the John Birch Society with a makeover and more money. All four are corporatists, authoritarians, and, typically of authoritarians, profess strong religious beliefs.

Of course, authoritarians always stand foursquare for religious supremacy, since there’s nothing like religion to compel obedience from the masses. The entire GOP is hag-ridden with toy despots who love to chant “God is with us” (“Got Mitt Uns”) and disparage the rest of America as socialist atheist Moslem Jews.

Like most of his ilk, Gorsuch regards ‘separation of church and state’ to be a doctrinal error forced upon Americans by a liberal elite.

In the infamous Hobby Lobby case, which ruled employers were free to cheat their employees out of birth control, even when offered at no cost to the employer, Gorsuch said it, “was not, is not, the place of courts of law to question the correctness or the consistency of tenets of religious faith, only to protect the exercise of faith.” It stands as a really excellent reason why employers should have no say in employee health care—at all. Who wants to have their life ruined by a treatable condition just because the boss is a religious nut? That’s basically what the ruling permits.

Gorsuch once wrote in a decision, “[A]ll human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” Note the use of the word ‘private’. The state must always be allowed to kill at will. It’s the Dominionist theology in a nutshell; it’s not piety that drives them; it’s authoritarianism.

Only Gorsuch knows if he subscribes to Dominionist philosophy or not. Dominionists believe that the United States is subservient to the will of god, and that Holy Writ supercedes secular law. Gorsuch has made it clear he believes in freedom of religion, in that religion is free to avail itself of public assets and impose its will on others, and he is absolutely silent on the doctrine of freedom from religion, the right not to be subject to church doctrine and church costs.

There’s a pair of cases pending before the court right now,  American Legion v. American Humanist Association and Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association

The subject of the case is the Peace Cross, a forty-foot tall granite cross that sits on a small patch of land in Bladensburg, Maryland at the crux (no pun intended—OK, I lied, it was intentional) of a three way major intersection in the town. The cross was erected between 1919 and 1925 (six years to do what the Romans could do in six minutes) on what then was private land. While the monument was purportedly to honor the 49 residents of Bladensburg who died in the Great War, the purpose was unabashedly religious. Donors were required to sign a card before even being allowed to donate that read, “WE, THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND, TRUSTING IN GOD, THE SUPREME RULER OF THE UNIVERSE, PLEDGE FAITH IN OUR BROTHERS WHO GAVE THEIR ALL IN THE WORLD WAR TO MAKE THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY. THEIR MORTAL BODIES HAVE TURNED TO DUST, BUT THEIR SPIRIT LIVES TO GUIDE US THROUGH LIFE IN THE WAY OF GODLINESS, JUSTICE, AND LIBERTY. WITH OUR MOTTO, ‘ONE GOD, ONE COUNTRY AND ONE FLAG,’ WE CONTRIBUTE TO THIS MEMORIAL CROSS COMMEMORATING THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO HAVE NOT DIED IN VAIN.” Yes, all upper case. Religionists do like to shout.

There must not have been enough religious louts floating around at the time because in 1922 the project ran out of both money and Christians, and the American Legion took it over. The Legionnaires had a lot of fun with their new toy, holding many religious services (all Christian, of course) and patriotic hootenannies on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day and the like.

But along about 1961, the city elders looked at that big old top heavy stone cross that sat in the middle of a heavily-trafficked intersection with vehicles running around the cross in a tight circle. Possibly, they reflected that it was erected on behalf of a deity with a long and colorful history of arbitrarily smiting people, and it being an era when government actually looked out for the welfare of the citizenry, decided it might be wise to prevent a sudden gust of wind from dispatching some of the town’s good Christian folk to whatever reward they had coming. So they bought the land from the Legionnaires (records don’t indicate the Legion was particularly upset about this) and started doing maintenance. The new owners, the Appellee Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, are a state agency and they have spent a cool $217,000 in tax dollars on that cross since 1961.

Right wingers like to howl that the suits exist only because the plaintiffs were “offended” and unfortunately, that idiotic argument does appear in the court filings. But in reality, and the reason it’s in front of the Supreme Court Biblebangers is because this unabashedly Christian icon is being maintained on the public dime.

Gorsuch has argued that nobody can sue on behalf of separation of church and state unless they have Standing—some sort of direct involvement in which they can show demonstrable loss or impairment of their rights.

Something R. Muse at Daily Kos wrote, “Gorsuch did, in fact, claim that any plaintiffs who challenge government establishment and endorsement of one specific religion should be banned from suing the government to force it to uphold the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. According to Gorsuch, there is no situation that allows any American to have ‘legal standing to challenge’ a Christian religious display on government property; something that is in fact establishing religion. He claims that because ‘their only injury is that they take offense’ at the religious display on taxpayer’s land, in his theocratic mind being offended is not enough to demand the government abide by the law of the land – any more than expecting Christian conservative justices to support, uphold, and decide cases based on the Constitution.”

It seems likely that Gorsuch, along with the other Court godpounders, will ignore the fact that the public is being forced to maintain a Christian icon, but instead focus on whether the offended have any rights. I kinda hope he does. If he rules that religious folk have a right to offend, then I might take up a fundraiser to buy a piece of property facing a prominent church and erect an 80-foot tall bronze statue of a naked Satan, complete with bifulcerated penis with little snake heads on each tip. It would be great for tourism. If the court rules that churches can use public lands to offend, then I’ll start a crowdfund for a 600 foot wide plush Flying Spaghetti Monster to drape over Half Dome in Yosemite, that as hikers walk pasta, they may gaze on His Noodley Appendages and marvel at the wisdom of humanity.

Of course, there is a simple and elegant solution that could have prevented this case in the first place. Just have the Commission sell the land to a private buyer—a consortium of the local churches, a fast food chain, whatever. They assume all costs and responsibilities (including potential flattening of passers-by) and they can have all their little services and whatnot on their own dime.

You see, most people aren’t offended by displays that are religious in nature. If you put up a Nativity in your front yard, I might, at worst, shrug and ignore you. If I think you’re just trying to wind me up, I might respond with a tasteful tableau from a favorite movie, say by Tarantino or Cronenberg or maybe even Larry Flint. I got a holy right to offend too, you know.

But as noted, it’s unlikely this Court will rule from piety. They simply want to assert power, and the best way to do that is by asserting a right to control the rest of us. And there’s nothing like religion to compel obedience from the masses.

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Baseball – The season begins, and I have a few suggestions for the future

March 28th 2019

The Dodgers clouted eight home runs in their opening game, setting a major league record (the poor Diamondbacks set an MLB record for most homers allowed in an opening game, and a franchise record for most homers allowed in a 9 inning game). As a Dodger fan, I was delighted, but as a baseball fan, it pointed out some troubling aspects. The game took 2:48 to play, and by today’s standards, that’s considered a fast game. The average is about 2:55. Three hours is common, and four hours happen about 10% of the time. That’s far too long to watch or listen to a game. Baseball needs to work on picking up the pace. Yes, the typical NFL game is over three and a half hours long and packs perhaps 20 minutes of actual action in that time, but that’s why I don’t follow football. It’s a slow, boring time waster. Baseball is actually faster and more exciting.

But look at real football. Ninety minutes, plus injury time, so a typical game is about 95 minutes, plus 15 minutes for the half time break. You sit down in the stadium at 1pm, and you’re on your way back out by ten to three. And it’s nearly all action.

But baseball couldn’t be changed that much without altering the game out of recognition. I’ll settle for formats that allow games to be played in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

To that end, I propose the following changes: limit breaks between half innings to a minute and thirty seconds. That’s plenty of time for the fielders to take their positions. If a guy can’t get from the home dugout to first base in ninety seconds, he’s too sick to be playing. That would shave 23 and a half minutes off each game right there. Right there a typical game is 2:31:30. The long breaks are for the benefit of the advertisers, not the fans, and with everything from the announcer’s booth to the entire stadium plastered with some sponsor’s name, and even game moments branded by butt creams (for relievers) to security firms (for stolen bases) the advertisers can give a little something back to the fans.

Twelve second time clock on pitches, if bases are empty. Pitcher can only shake off the catcher twice per pitch. From the moment the manager takes the baseball from a pitcher, the reliever only has 1:30 to throw his first pitch, unless brought in for injury and thus not warmed up.

No more than five relievers per team per game. So what happens if you’re in the 15th inning and your fifth reliever is in his third inning and his tank is empty? Simple. There are no more 15th innings.

A game that is tied after nine can go a maximum of 11 innings. If at that point, it’s tied, then it’s a draw. Use a point system like football or hockey, and give teams two points for a win, and one apiece for a tie. Why 11 innings? Stats show that 10% of games make it to the 10 inning, a bit over 5% to the 11th, and only 3% to the 12th. It wouldn’t affect the game that much. Obviously, the playoffs would permit unlimited innings to settle a game.

Those reforms would speed up the games. What about the season?

Spring training starts in mid February, and the final out of the World Series is late October. That’s a long haul, particularly given the amount of travel involved. Even the strongest players are suffering physical and emotional exhaustion by the end of it all. (Incidentally, stats show that teams that play five hour marathons often have reduced performance for up to a month afterward.)

Further, early spring games are afflicted by horrific weather, resulting in many rainouts and make-up games later in the season when neither team is fresh.

So we need to reduce the length of the season and/or wear and tear on the players, and here my suggestions will have a significant impact on the game, but not in a way that baseball hasn’t used before.

First, add two expansion teams (in the example I came up with, I suggested Montréal, Vancouver or Portland but there are other configurations) to have 32 teams. The teams would be divided up into four divisions of eight teams, regardless of present league. Cities with two teams would each have both in the same division. With one exception (Arizona) each team would be one time zone or less from every other team in its division. (Even that could be solved—drop the expansion to Vancouver or Portland, move AZ to the west, and give the South one of several cities fully capable of supporting an MLB franchise—San Antonio, Charlotte, Oklahoma City). There would be no interdivisional play—all the natural rivalries are already grouped together. Each team would play each other team 22 times during the season, for a total of 154 games. The present season is 162 games, but for the previous 90 years of its existence, MLB had a 154 game season. Spring training could be shortened to three weeks and begin around March 15th. Trust me, the mid February start doesn’t make spring come any faster. The regular season could begin around April 10th, and end the first week of October. Playoffs would be two tier—EAST champion against CENTRAL, SOUTH against WEST. The present system of ten teams in the playoffs is ridiculous: yes, a team that lost 80 games could end up the champs, but you’ve reduced that long, long season to a few lucky breaks in a seven game series. Three tier playoffs are for the advertisers, not the fans. The last world series game should be about October 20th, no later.

Shorter season, faster games, less travel time. It will make baseball better.

EAST

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

Washington Nationals

Toronto Blue Jays

CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Cincinnati Reds

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Minnesota Twins

Milwaukee Brewers

Montreal team

SOUTH

Arizona Diamondbacks

Atlanta Braves

Houston Astros

Kansas City Royals

Miami Marlins

Saint Louis Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Texas Rangers

WEST

Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oakland As

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Seattle Mariners

Vancouver or Portland team

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Barr None – A-G’s efforts to subvert Mueller cause confusion

Barr None

A-G’s efforts to subvert Mueller cause confusion

March 25th, 2019

OK, I’m going to beobvious the labor here and tell you that I think William Barr’s third-grade book report version of the Mueller Report is somewhat short of credible.

Barr, you’ll recall, was the architect of the Iran-Contra pardons issued in the final day of the George HW Bush administration that basically destroyed a six year investigation of some of the worst felonies committed since the previous time a Republican was president. Back then, William Safire referred to Barr witheringly as “the Coverup-General” and here we are, some 23 years later, and we still have a Coverup-General, and it’s the same despicable toady.

Safire was a speechwriter for Nixon and Agnew (‘nattering nabobs of negativism’) and he found Barr contemptible in his willingness to subvert the legal process in service to party.

Safire’s dead, but the evil spawn of the far-right takeover of the GOP live on.

Barr’s letter is nothing more than a last-ditch effort to confuse the Mueller Report with Trump administration talking points. We still don’t know what’s in the Mueller report. We know that Mueller did not indict Trump for treason or even conspiracy against the United States, but that was never part of his remit. He could recommend such a course to the Justice Department or the House of Representatives, and he still might. And even Barr couldn’t manage to pretend that serious evidence of obstruction of justice didn’t exist; the best he could manage was that the Report “does not exonerate him [Trump].”

So we watch to see if Congress can wrest the report from Barr’s greasy paws and bring most, if not all of it into the light of day. We’ve gotten the talking points from Trump’s dancing monkey; now let’s see the actual report.

Even if Barr and Trump do manage to bury the report, there are three grand juries and at least a half dozen state investigations underway to determine the extent of Trump criminality in everything from using inaugural donations as a laundry for foreign influence peddling to the wild shenanigans surrounding the Trump Tower in Moscow to the demand that Moscow ferret out Hillary’s emails. Even without whatever Mueller has, Trump faces decades in prison for the potential charges he will face.

But Congress will subpoena the report, and possibly Mueller himself. Barr can’t prevent that, and Trump might face a revolution if he tried.

And remember, we still don’t know what is in that report. All Barr did was show up with an empty plastic bag draped over a hanger and grandly announce our tuxedo was back from the cleaners.

The media, in general, got completely played. I even heard a lot of them transposing Barr’s book report with the Mueller tome, and saying Mueller exonerated Trump. Most TV journalism is a vast wasteland, but even for them, that was a limp performance.

The right wing online circus weighed in, of course. One meme read, “Why are so many liberals in tears over learning that their president is not a traitor?”

I still think he’s a traitor, or at least conspiring against the United States for personal gain. (In just about any other country, conspiracy against that country would be considered treason, but the US has a very specific definition of the term ‘treason’ that sorta takes Trump off the hook.) If anyone’s crying, it’s because they just realized that Trump and the Republicans may have so badly broken the United States that it may no longer have any legal address to rid itself of an enemy in high office. That would be a death knell for any country. That would leave any thinking person in tears.

Well, Barr gave the empty-headed goosesteppers of the far right something to cheer about, and managed to confuse the equally empty-headed fluffers who purportedly keep us informed, but I doubt it’s going to last for very long.

Just the things Trump has openly admitted to should have gotten him impeached two years ago. Maybe the United States is that badly broken, in which case expect bloody and horrible times ahead.

Or maybe it’s like 1940, where the United States was suffering massive attacks on life and property from Germany on the high seas (the equivalent of a 9/11 every two weeks) and needed 18 months or so to gather the resolve to crush their vicious tormentors.

It may be that Trump himself, vicious and heedless in what he seems to believe is a victory, will trigger that himself. He has already said he would “call for organizations to fire members of the media and former government officials who he believes made false accusations about him”.

Ever heard an American President say anything like that? Nope. Not even Nixon.

Still, he needs to maintain the pretense that Barr’s Cliff’s Notes version is a substitute for the actual report, and not the real thing. And he has to do something about all those other investigations going on.

At which point, people will have to decide if they want to simply surrender to this vicious five-and-dime despot and his brown-shirt devotees, or put up a fight.

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An Evil in Christchurch – And Trump can’t even comfort the victims

March 16th 2019

Forty nine dead, eleven in critical condition, another ten or so with lesser injuries, the type that will ache on rainy days decades from now. And an entire nation emotionally scarred, also for decades.

New Zealand has always been a somewhat isolated nation, with Tonga and the Cook Islands about the only land within 1,500 miles. Australia is the only significant nation that comes within 2,500 miles. Most of the world’s problems, even nuclear war, seemed remote. The only exceptions were the World Wars, where New Zealand took the highest human toll in relation to the population of just about anyone except Scotland. Even natural disasters, except for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, were remote events, well over the horizons. Until ozone depletion and climate disruption, even the impact of humanity on the planet seemed distant.

New Zealand had fairly lax gun laws, but this didn’t raise any alarums because New Zealand didn’t seem to have a big gun problem, at least by American standards. Since the turn of the century, the annual gun toll hadn’t exceeded 60, and was gradually declining. The low numbers did hide a disturbing fact: New Zealand only has about 3.6 million people, roughly 1% of the United States population. Multiply the gun casualty totals by a hundred, and you find that it’s actually a quite high rate, nearly a half that of the US.

Yesterday’s attacks on those Christchurch mosques and that hospital may exceed the gun death total for New Zealand in some recent years. While it’s not exactly an identical set of circumstances, the sheer bloodletting was, for NZ, worse than 9/11 was for the States.

Apparently a lot of kids and old folks died. Just because they went to service on their holy day.

The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, noted that the killer had obtained all five guns legally, and said, “I can tell you one thing right now: our gun laws will change. There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change.”

Given the magnitude of the terrorist attack, and the fact that New Zealand doesn’t have a treacherous gun lobby group standing on its collective throat, I believe her. The NZ Attorney General, David Parker, has been warning of the hazards extremist white nationalism presents (“There is a dimming of enlightenment in many parts of the world”), and vows to ban semi-automatic weapons within weeks. I hope he succeeds.

The accused is an emigré from Australia, a land beset by vicious racists and bigotry in its dominant right-wing political party. (Sound familiar?) One utter piece of shit, a member of their Senate, one Fraser Anning tweeted: “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence? As always, leftwing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views, but this is all cliched nonsense. The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

OK, Anning is bigoted filth, and obviously he doesn’t represent many Australians or the whole country would be one vast death camp by now.

Murdoch’s media, classy as always, delighted in showing the footage the accused murderer shot while killing innocent men, women and children. Murdoch would have loved the concentration camps, especially the firing squads. New Zealand shut his channel down for the interim until his blood lust settled a bit.

With Parker’s “dimming of enlightenment” there are Nazi politicians in many parts of the world now, including the United States.

Ardern contacted Trump and asked him to convey condemnation of the bigotry and terrorism of the attack. Trump could manage to do neither, instead tweeting, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Warmest sympathies from a man who has never shown any signs of sympathy in his entire wastrel life. Wow. Must be thoughts and prayers time.

Even John Bolton worked up the intellectual honesty to call yesterday’s attacks an act of terrorism, and he is no friend to Moslems.

Trump couldn’t manage that. He did refer to immigration as an invasion, just as the Australian immigrant did in his 70+ page screed that served as his case for hate-filled losers to fire weapons-grade weaponry at small children and grandparents.

Well, Hitler probably wasn’t too sympathetic to the Jewish victims on Krystallnacht, instead bleating about how the poor innocent brown shirts were driven to acts of violence by the depredations of the Jews.

There may still be a difference between Hitler and Trump, but that difference exists only because Hitler was faster to consolidate power. When Trump can’t even acknowledge that this was a specific terrorist attack against a select group of people because it’s the same people he’s been vilifying for years (along with African Americans and Hispanics and Jews) then emotionally he isn’t far from Hitler. In the end, Hitler may simply have been more intelligent than Trump.

So New Zealand will try to make amends and make things right. Here in America, Trump will encourage similar attacks.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

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Nothing To Be Done For It – Nancy wants to surrender and beat the traffic

March 11th 2019

Nancy Pelosi once again demonstrated today the utter worthlessness of centrist Democrats when she said, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. He’s just not worth it.”

Pelosi, do you not think TRUMP is dividing the country? Saying that impeaching the motherfucker would divide the country is like saying we shouldn’t let a skunk wander into one of those gawdawful pig factories because it would make the place smell bad. Trump is ripping the country to shreds, and as Republicans make utter disgraces of themselves going along with it, Democratic centrists are nearly as bad, looking woeful and sighing, “There’s nothing to be done for it.”

Pelosi doesn’t want to jump on the “Impeach the motherfucker” bandwagon, and I get that. She has to appear fair and willing to hear Trump’s side of the story.

“There’s nothing to be done for it.” The line is from Samuel Beckett’s paean to existential despair, “Waiting for Godot.” (Godot is pronounced ‘Goddo’ for those of you who didn’t get the joke.) In the play, Vladimir (no relation to Trump’s Vladimir) is trying, without luck, to pull off one of his boots. His companion, Estragon, is watching him struggle, and ruminating on the hopelessness of hope and the hope of hopelessness, or words to that effect, and concludes, “There’s nothing to be done for it.” And at that moment, the boot pops right off.

Beckett was being a smartass when he had Estragon say that.

The Dems say it with no sense of irony.

“We mustn’t put up a fight. We mustn’t shout, or make demands, or punish wrongdoers. We might upset the sort of idiot who thinks fighting for what is right is exactly equal to fighting for what is wrong, like Trump and his minions are doing.”

It’s a defeated, placatory attitude that delights Trump and his fascists, and disgusts people who vote Democratic on the basis that someone has to oppose Trump.

Pelosi should have said something like, “I want to see what Mueller’s office and the various House and Senate committees come up with. They have to make a good case for impeachment. If they cannot, then I won’t consider it a viable option, because I’m not Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde, and won’t impeach a man just because he’s a pig.

“On the other hand, if there is a solid case, we’ll come after him with everything we’ve got, and paint every newspaper and media outlet with our evidence, and god help any Republican who dares to stand in our way.”

One big problem that undermines that is the last time she was offered that option, she ran for her life, taking impeachment (of Bush, Cheney and other war criminals) right off the table. So even if she had given a better answer, I would be suspicious. Like most centrist Dems, she doesn’t seem to know how to fight, doesn’t want to fight, and is scared to death that Fox News would convince the country she’s being mean to that nice Mister Trump.

When she realized she might face an intraparty challenge for the speakership last December, she said, “We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we’ll just have to see how it comes,” Now it sounds like she’s backpedelling on that.

“He’s just not worth it.” Pelosi, do you understand that’s been a favorite phrase of people backing down from a fight for centuries? It’s right up there with “Too proud to fight” as an excuse for not getting your fur up and showing some teeth. Given your background on punishing Republicans for criminal actions, you’ve just sent a huge lightning bolt of doubt and uncertainty through the Democratic Party, many of whom were cultivating a hope you would bring this fight to Trump and his criminal cabal.

Now, somewhere in your political calculations, you probably realize that by showing weakness now, you are probably encouraging Democrats who are willing to ‘impeach the motherfucker’ to walk away from the party, along with millions of voters, many of whom have tepidly supported your decades-long line of conciliatory centrist who promise to work well with the fascists. At some point, you might have even wondered how much damage it might do in the next election.

If we can’t raise the gumption to challenge Trump now, there’s a pretty good chance there won’t be a ‘next election.’ You won’t have to worry about damage to the party through bad optics from your utterly imaginary centrist voters because the whole fucking country will be trashed, and ‘opposition parties’ will have gone the way of the Weimar Republic.

So I’ll just close with a reworking of a speech some English bloke, facing someone even more duplicitous and vicious than Trump, said back some 75 years ago: “…we shall surrender on the seas and oceans, we shall surrender with growing confidence we can outrun our adversaries, we shall defend our optics, whatever the cost may be. We shall surrender on the beaches, we shall surrender on the landing grounds, we shall surrender in the fields and in the streets, we shall surrender in the hills; we shall never fight,”

You deserve Vladimir’s boot, Pelosi. The Vladimir that owns your President.

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Zionist Fascists – Opposing Netanyahu is not anti-Semitic

March 5th 2019

For the second time in as many months, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, has raised the issue of the undue amount of influence Israel has in Congress. Republicans, already under immense pressure as the Trump administration implodes in a fog of criminality and incompetence, have decided that Omar, a Somali-born Moslem, is a Jew-baiter and must be punished for the transgression of asking about Israeli influence. She has also raised the issue of influence of the NRA and major corporations, and for less reasons.

Nobody objected to her questioning the undue influence of lobbies and corporations, except, of course, for AIPAC.

The object raised was the “The Jews run everything” meme, long the province of neo-nazis and various other hate mongers. Omar, it was claimed, was raising the spectre of international bankers and vast secret Zionist cabals. If she were, that would be contemptible.

Only she wasn’t. She was talking about the influence of AIPAC, that that is a very legitimate point to raise.

For all the pressure it applies to public discourse, the NRA has never tried to make it illegal to criticize the sale of guns. Major corporations have a variety of ways of dealing with negative public sentiment, ranging from ignoring it to spending significant amounts of money on elevating their image and making their critics look like malcontents. It’s not against the law to say, “WalMart is bad for communities, so please buy somewhere else.”

With Israel, it’s different. Back in 2017, AIPAC managed to get 43 Senators to cosponsor SB 720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. This extraordinary piece of legislation made it a felony to espouse a boycott against Israel, and even Israeli products made in the settlements, which nearly the entire world views as an illegal occupation. The US government itself maintains a list of companies operating in the settlements and avoids doing business with them.

To say the bill was draconian is an understatement. The MINIMUM penalty for advocating a boycott was $250,000. If you wore a T-shirt reading, “Don’t buy Bezeq telecommunications equipment, Teva Pharmaceuticals or Coca Cola products made in the settlements, it would cost you at least a quarter-million dollars. If you explicitly said, “Don’t buy Israeli products from the settlements,” the possible penalties would be one million dollars and twenty years in federal prison.

That would be one expensive T-shirt. For advocating a buying decision that, under all other circumstances, is not only legal, but a constitutional right.

Forty three Senators co-sponsored that constitutional abortion, including, shamefully, 13 Democrats. Fortunately, in the highly dysfunctional zoo that passes for America’s higher legislative council, it never made it to a floor vote. America was saved from this, not by patriotism and courage, but simple incompetence.

Merely arguing that the bill was an assault on American freedoms could get you branded an anti-Semite, an anti-Zionist, and a Jew-hater.

The terms are not interchangeable. Semites are a cultural and linguistic classification that includes Jews, Turks, Kurds and Arabs. The term anti-Semite as an adversary of Jews is a semantic null. Zionism favors the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel. Many distinct groups of people have similar cultural tropes, including many Native Americans and entire populations throughout much of the rest of the world. Zionism is neither less nor more valid than other such claims, and the desire to return to a home, mythical or otherwise, is understandable.

Israel was established after the horrors of Hitler, and human guilt over what happened and outside of the people displaced by the establishment of the state, few objected. But over the years, Israel has metastasized into a dark parody of itself, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who hobnobs with some of the most vicious right-wing fascists in Europe, bonded by a common love of authoritarianism. His son has been known to retweet nazi propaganda when it suits his purposes.

Zionism may have begun as a simple desire to “go home”, but it, too, has metastisized. Zionism has become a cult movement in the US, and the vast majority of adherents are not Jewish, but rather part of a toxic sort of Christianity that view the establishment of the Jewish state as a necessary component of the End of Days. God must destroy the Jews in order to rapture the Christians. Yes, you read that right; they want the Jews destroyed in order to go to heaven. And they call their opponents haters of Jews!

The other day, some trash Republicans in West Virginia, as a fund-raising ploy, put up a poster that showed a picture of the second airline smashing into the World Trade Center with the words “‘Never forget’ – you said… ” followed by a picture of Omar with the words, “I am the proof – you have forgotten.” It was horrific, and greeted by silence by Republicans on a national level. No surprise there: it’s newsworthy when a Republican acts like a decent human being these days. But a lot of Democrats also cringed and remained silent.

Let’s put this in context: suppose, instead of 9/11 and Omar, a similar poster had the gates of Auschwitz, and any prominent American or Israeli Zionist—or any of the 43 Co-sponsors of SB720. The uproar would be immediate and vociferous—and utterly deserved. It’s a vile correlation to make.

But people aren’t attacking that; they are attacking Omar for the mild action of criticizing the influence of AIPAC. I wonder how many politicians condemning Omar for a polite demurrer also supported SB 720, and argue that only a bigot thinks Zionists, and AIPAC, have too much influence in Congress?

The West Virginia Republicans are vile haters. Omar is not.

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Kim & Cohen – Trump didn’t have a chance

March 1st 2019

It’s pretty easy to see how desperate and panicked the Trumpkins in the GOP are by the shrill screams of “liar!” they keep hurling at Michael Cohen. Two of the more prominent whores in Congress, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, asked the Justice Department to investigate Cohen for perjury, saying he lied during his appearance about his efforts to land a White House job and his work for foreign companies, among other topics. Most Republicans settled for screaming “He lied before! He lied before!” while carefully forgetting to mention that he lied at the behest of Party Leader Donald Trump.

The Republicans all attacked Cohen for attacking Trump. None of them could think of a way of defending Trump against any of the allegations.

Cohen testified today behind closed doors, and the reports leaking out are that his testimony was even more detailed and damning than the testimony he gave in public.

Some of the Trump whelps, Don Junior and Ivanka, may be called it to testify under oath as early as next week. I’m sure fearless leader does not regard that as a happy thought. Maybe he can get Congressmen Gaetz to arrange for them both to have skiing accidents before they appear before the Committee. And yes, I can say something like that: it isn’t a threat, it’s just “witness testing.” (Note to FBI: There’s also the fact that I want the whelps to appear before Congress, preferably in open session.)

Joe Scarborough, not exactly a gleaming bastion of liberalism, had this to say about the pathetic performance of House Republicans: “Republican members of the House Oversight Committee exposed themselves in plain sight…in plain sight…as a political party whose goal, whose purpose and whose central organizing principle…is to cover up for the illegal and immoral misdeeds of Donald J. Trump.” Scarborough considered this a giant step toward political oblivion by the GOP. I hope he’s right. The GOP ceased to be a legitimate political party after the Ford pardon.

In just three sessions, the Democrats uncovered more illegalities and malfeasance on the part of the administration than were found by all the thousands of hours of Congressional time wasted on White Water, Benghazi, the emails, Paula Jones and Monica, combined.

The irony of Republicans attacking Cohen for lying on behalf of Trump wasn’t lost on Cohen, who told them, “Republican members of the House Oversight Committee exposed themselves in plain sight…in plain sight…as a political party whose goal, whose purpose and whose central organizing principle…is to cover up for the illegal and immoral misdeeds of Donald J. Trump.”

This won’t stop the Republicans from their smear efforts, though. They are a party that lives in a world of lies, self-delusion, and the belief they can say anything and get away with it. They can’t even see the pieces of the temple falling around their own heads.

Perhaps the most horrifying thing Cohen said was after the second, public day of testimony: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” He knows Trump well. He probably knows whereof he speaks.

Trump must never be permitted to be in a position of trying to consolidate power in 2020. He must be gone from office before then.

It’s a deep shame that America must have to rely on the courage and patriotism of Republicans to ensure that. It’s like hoping the sewer rats will save your child from drowning.

Trump went to Vietnam to meet with Kim Jong Un, putatively to lend some credence to the vague and genial almost-agreement made in the first meeting but realistically to try to detract from the damage the Cohen hearings were sure to inflict.

Kim let Trump know that he would be willing to consider partial denuclearization in return for the US dropping all trade and economic sanctions against his country. Even Trump, hungry for any kind of event he could twist into a triumph of some sort, knew that was a non-starter and stalked away from the meeting.

It was, perhaps, the most total and abject humiliation of an American president in any international meeting. It was obvious to everyone that Kim knew exactly what he was doing, and that his intended aim was to humiliate Trump. There was no “misreading of signs” or any of that balderdash: it was deliberate.

Kim wanted to show the world that he could ride the paper tiger named Trump. He sent the seething American president away with the studied indifference of a hiring officer for a large corporation who invites someone to cross the country to apply for a position, only to tell him the job had been filled.

Korean attitudes toward “face” are quite similar to those of the Japanese, and even in South Korea, where people desperately wanted Trump to succeed with the reclusive dictator, respect for Trump all but vanished in the wake of this travesty. Even as they condemn the perfidy of Kim, South Koreans are asking why the American president didn’t come prepared for something like this—it wasn’t like Kim didn’t already have a track record—and counter measures beyond stalking away in a huff as a weak pretense that is was anything other than a shambolic retreat.

Trump went in needing a big, splashy win against a man whose record for bad-faith dealing and viciousness are about as bad as…well, Trump’s. But Trump was in the position of supplicant. Kim had nothing to lose from blowing up the talks. Trump had everything to lose.

China and the Japanese were secretly laughing and shaking their heads in disbelief. And 6,000 miles to the west, Putin was watching his morning news and smiling. America was weakened further.

Of course, it didn’t help that, in an effort by Trump to ingratiate himself with the North Korean dictator, he absolved Kim of any responsibility for the torture and subsequent death of the US student Otto Warmbier in a North Korean prison. Even Republicans were outraged by that.

And the great unraveling of the Trump regime continues.

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