Maximizing Wages — How to raise wages without the fascists

Maximizing Wages

How to raise wages without the fascists

3/28/2021

There’s a lot of talk about how to raise the federal minimum wage to a still-inadequate $15 an hour. It’s popular with elected Democratic officials, it’s very popular with the public (around 70% support, including 40% of the voters in the fascist party) and it’s even popular amongst big businesses, who often realize that paying a decent wage would pay for itself in terms of employee loyalty, and decreased theft and absenteeism, not to mention increased business from a wealthier consumer base, but need a level playing field where nastier and greedier competition won’t undercut them by screwing their own employees.

Nobody’s sure how to get this badly-needed raise past the fascists. None of the 50 in the Senate will support it because they believe doing anything to benefit working people is a sign of moral weakness. There’s talk of abolishing the filibuster, or at least making it painful and difficult to use. Old fashioned talking filibusters, for instance. Imagine the look on the face of any fascist Senator who has to stand for hours, even days, in front of cameras and the world, shouting about how $7.25 an hour is plenty for those scummy little workers. Personally, I approve of reinstating the talking filibuster. There are times when a Senator needs to make a principled stand against bad legislation, and so it acts as a safety brake. But fascists will be loath to abuse the filibuster because they will be exposed as always being opposed to the needs and wants of the people.

There’s talk of getting a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian on being able to include the minimum wage raise in the upcoming infrastructure bill, and this comes much closer to a viable answer.

The infrastructure bill is going to happen, because like the Covid-19 relief bill (now the American Recovery Act) it is going through the process of reconciliation, a tactical dodge that allows legislation to pass in the Senate with a simple majority. The fascists can vote against it unanimously and almost certainly will, but it doesn’t matter, because the Democrats have 51 votes.

Now, the infrastructure bill is going to be huge: Anywhere between two and four TRILLION dollars. It will include new highways, new airports, new schools, new water and sewage systems, new bridges, and massive investment in clean and sustainable energy. It will create millions of jobs. Not thousands, not hundreds of thousands—millions of jobs.

Further, large infrastructure projects usually pay for themselves dozens of times over. The Interstate Highway system essentially CREATED the modern American economy. The Tennessee Valley Authority pulled millions out of poverty. The Clean Air/Clean Water Acts resulted in savings to Americans amounting to over $25 trillion dollars by the year 2000, and continue to do so despite the best efforts of the fascists. If we spend $4 trillion now, we can expect a return of $20 trillion by the year 2030—and that’s a conservative estimate!

Back in the day of sane Conservatives in the GOP, it was usually a bipartisan issue. Two of the three examples I noted (Interstate System and CA/CW) happened under Republican administrations. But Republicans are dead, replaced by fascists, and even if they see the economic benefits to be had, they can’t allow Democrats and the government credit for doing things that they could do but won’t.

Yes, there will be pork. Every single rep and senator is gonna want a little bit of sugar for their districts, and that’s ok—after all, that’s what they’re there for. Some will be driven by an earnest desire to better the lives of their constituents, and some will just be looking for an opportunity to steal with both hands. Not just fascists, either. Human nature is human nature. We’re going to have to be vigilant, and keep the grifters in check.

But that brings us back to the matter of wages. It would be nice if the $15 minimum wage were somehow tacked onto this bill, but I’m not holding my breath.

However, all those tens of thousands of projects—road work, construction, upgrading and modernizing—will be hiring. Some may be direct government actions, like we saw with FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps. Most of the rest will be contract work. In either case, the government has the power to set conditions of work, including such things as time off, vacation time, union membership, health and safety regulations—and wages.

There’s no reason the bill cannot include mandated minimum wages for employees, either directly or demanded of private companies seeking government contracts. Twenty an hour for custodial staff or drivers, 150% of prevailing wages for more skilled positions. Millions of jobs, many unskilled or semi-skilled.

And remember, this will pay for itself, many times over. Most immediately through what’s called “the velocity of money” – people who were making $10 and hour and now are making $25 will be hitting the local stores for clothing and household items that they have been denied before. On average, each dollar received in wages above the existing amount results in between 2 and 3 dollars in increased economic activity. And if the town also has an new or improved highway, and clean and efficient power, and safe clean water…well, that’s fat city, folks!

In the meantime, all the cheap-ass minimum wage employers are going to have to raise their game if they want to compete and keep their workers. Why flip burgers for $10 an hour when you can do it for $20/hour plus benefits?

All the Dems need to do is include a provision for direct and contract labour: 150% of the norm, plus health benefits and vacation and the like. It would immediately start paying for itself, and create an economic juggernaut.

Instead of $15/hour, make it 150% prevailing rates. It’s a winner, and even the fascists won’t be able to stop it.

Pre-Denouement — Death by a thousand cuts for the GOP

Pre-Denouement

Death by a thousand cuts for the GOP

November 10th 2019

This coming week will see live continuous broadcast of the impeachment hearings from Congress. The testimony is expected to be devastating for Trump, particularly in light of the fact that at this point, there is no doubt that he engaged in extortion and bribery in order to try to force the Ukraine government to fabricate a case against the son of Joe Biden, at the time his most likely rival in the 2020 election.

The GOP have already got the bad news that, by the very rules they set up themselves, they can’t bring in witnesses that don’t have any particular bearing on the issues at hand, so we won’t be seeing Hunter Biden, or Monica Lewinsky, or Alex Jones, or Yosemite Sam. We’ll be seeing the people who testified in closed sessions, and they will be spending the first half of their time being examined and crossed by professional lawyers, and the Congressmen will just have to wait to do their usual five minutes declaiming about how the Deep State caused Global Warming Which Doesn’t Actually Exist, or whatever. In other words, they aren’t going to be able to try by tantrum.

Oh, and they already ruled out making the whistleblower testify publicly. I guess they figure he already got enough death threats from the Trumpentrash, who had to settle for assassinating the Trump balloon.

Republicans are planning to swap out the comically inept Devin Nunes for a live cow…no wait, I misread that. They are planning to swap him out for the quicker witted and more vicious Jim Jordan, who is simultaneously trying to persuade prosecutors that he knew nothing—nuffink—about college athletes being raped on his watch. Nunes is the one suing the cow, I forgot. Creme of the crop, those two. So we won’t see the hoped-for distraction circus of demands for birth certificates, who killed Ben Ghazi, or Newt declaiming that people who bang their secretaries while holding public office are disgraces to the nation and ought to be shot.

But that’s all this coming week. Rachel Maddow isn’t going to get a wink of sleep, but she’ll be wearing a grin you would never want pointed right at you.

For right now, the GOP is doing a magnificent impersonation of the Hindenburg disaster, minus any vestiges of sympathy for the people on board. “Oh, the serpentity!”.

The party is disintegrating before our very eyes. Usually off-off year elections, involving three or four states, grab little attention outside of the states in question. But this year the elections revealed a shift in the electorate of 20-30 points toward the Democrats in all locales and at it’s biggest in the conservative suburbs. In Kentucky, Republicans were so dispirited they didn’t even try to steal the election after the fact.

Another Republican congressman announced his retirement, and I’m guessing that between now and February, another dozen will decide not to run for reelection. That may include a couple of Senators.

Meanwhile, Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is suing Trump – yes you read that right. A president’s chief of staff is suing him. Even the late unlamented Allan Drury would have trouble coming up with a political situation more bizarre than that one. He wants courts to affirm that he can be subpoenaed, and if he is, he must testify, and non-disclosure agreements be damned. Imagine Leo McGarry suing Jed Bartlet. No, I can’t either. But that was a sane White House. In fact, until now, they’ve all been at least more-or-less sane. Goofy and inept, but not flat-out mad. Welcome to Trumptown. Mulvaney, who gleefully copped to several of the most serious charges Trump is facing and told the world to “just deal with it” is sane enough to know he needs a court to protect him from that madhouse.

The State Department professionals are in open revolt against Trump and Pompeo for their treatment of personnel who were guilty of nothing more than obeying the law and serving the public interest. In particular they are furious over the treatment of Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was seen as a impediment to Trump’s efforts at extorting the Ukraine in hopes of dirt on a political rival. Combined with similar reports from Justice, where Barr is seen as a pig and a disgrace, to the EPA and Department of Agriculture, who are being punished for being against pollution and admitting climate change is real, it looks like in-house coups are forming all over the place.

I wonder what the Joint Chiefs of Staff are thinking. Have they decided what they are going to do if Trump unilaterally launches military action against Iran, or California?

Then there’s John Bolton. He’s mad as the mist and snow himself, but it’s a integral kind of mad; he actually has some sort of moral pedestal he uses to support his views. So he’s genuinely unhappy that Trump is kowtowing to North Korea and letting the Russians use him.

The day before leaving office, and without telling Trump—or anyone—he unilaterally released $141 million of the $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine that Trump was holding up in hopes to getting dirt on the Bidens. Even Oliver North wasn’t that audacious when he defied Congressional dictates. It was a stunning development in some genuinely interesting times.

And this morning, he announced that he signed a book deal. I think even Trump is gonna figure that this isn’t going to be a book on Bolton family recipes for lutefisk. Although what Bolton will discuss will smell even more evil. As Garrison Keillor said, “that piece of cod which surpasseth human understanding.” Or John Randolph might describe at “like a rotting mackerel in the moonlight, it alternately shines and stinks.” Bolton may not be friends with Trump, but he’s definitely going to be chummy.

Bigger fish to fry this week. Enjoy.

Impeachment Barriers

Some Dragons are Imaginary

October 13th, 2019

There’s a lot of concern among the talking heads who aren’t just poseurs from the far right about why impeachment simply cannot get rid of the pestilence in the White House because it’s never succeeded before. Similarly, there is endless speculation about what might happen if Trump is impeached, convicted by the Senate, and refuses to leave.

Some of the concerns are well-founded, and some are grave enough that they need to be considered seriously. The coming impeachment is going to be a very tense and dangerous time for the country and anyone who says they know what’s going to happen is lying to you.

However, there is no acceptable solution that allows Trump to remain in office. He himself is the gravest and most immediate danger the country faces, and his behavior and words show that he has absolutely no compunction about sacrificing the country and the people therein to his own desires.

Yes, kicking him out is dangerous. So dangerous that the only thing more dangerous is allowing him to stay.

We’ve already passed a few of the ‘insurmountables’ that people said made impeachment a pipe dream. As recently as a month ago, only a dozen or so Democrats were willing to say publicly that they favored an impeachment inquiry, and it was ‘conventional wisdom’ that with the Republicans united and the Democrats divided, the impeachment process in the House could not begin. Obviously, that has changed, with only a few Democrats silent on the impeachment process, and disarray growing rapidly in the Republican ranks.

Another argument was that the public would never go for it. It wasn’t baseless: as recently as two weeks before he resigned, Nixon enjoyed 50+ favorable ratings, higher than any Trump has seen since he took office. The day he was impeached, Bill Clinton’s approval rating rose to 73%. It’s safe to assume Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was deeply unpopular, even though Johnson himself was unpopular. Johnson and Clinton were both impeached for political purposes, and the public knew that, and detested Congress’ abuse of its power to impeach. In the case of Nixon, when the “smoking gun” tape was released, his support, both in Congress and the public, collapsed, and only his resignation prevented a full-on impeachment and trial which he would have surely lost.

The scandal with the Ukraine, as manifestly, obviously criminal as it was, is just one of many smoking guns. Trump, after all, admitted he did it, and offered the defense that it’s not illegal when the president does it. That defense didn’t work for Nixon, and it won’t work here.

However, there are at least two dozen other criminal acts where any competent district attorney would have little or no reason to avoid taking to trial, based just on the available evidence. At least some of the crimes involve bribery, one of two specific crimes deemed impeachable in the Constitution. The other is ‘treason,’ and while he technically can’t be guilty of that as the United States is not formally at war with anyone, he is still committing actions to the detriment of the country, and in some instances, it can be shown that he did so for personal gain, or to cozy up to other authoritarians at the expense of Americans. This week’s nightmare decision by Trump to allow the Turks to invade Syria and massacre the Kurds has a lot more people questioning Trump’s patriotism than there were last week.

Another objection is that McConnell would prevent a Senate vote on the impeachment evidence. That’s not likely since the Senate MUST hold a trial for findings of impeachable crimes by the House. No wriggle room there, and McConnell may be bent, but he isn’t stupid. The public is watching, the evidence is overwhelming, and the blowback would destroy him and his party. Nor does he have the option of holding a farce process; Chief Justice John Roberts will be presiding, and unlike most of the Republican appointees of late, he seems determined to be a justice first and a member of the Heritage Society second. He’s certainly no liberal, and will vote for corporate interests every time, but he’s not a hack. He isn’t going to let McConnell make him look like an ineffectual clown. And with cracks already showing amongst once-solid Republican ranks, the flood of testimony and evidence should make it impossible for the Senators to stand and vote on a kangaroo trial. Many of them have already figured out that the only thing worse than having Trump as an enemy is having Trump as an ally.

People think the courts will protect Trump. But thus far, he has lost every single court battle relating to investigations into his possible criminality. Every single one. And at the final level, the Supreme Court, while Alito, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Thomas are GOP hacks, the rest aren’t—including, critically, John Roberts. And even Alito and Gorsuch might concede that Trump does not have a valid defense in his appeal. At the very worst, they understand that a blatantly political decision would permanently damage the Court. It’s still trying to recover from Bush vs. Gore.

Most dictators are astute enough to keep their corruption as hidden as possible. Trump couldn’t be bothered with such sublime considerations, and it puts his supporters more and more in the position of appearing corrupt themselves just by blindly supporting him. Republicans know they can’t get away with much trying to protect Trump now, and with each passing day, Trump gives them fewer and fewer reasons why they should protect him.

Trump has already suggested that the Democrats might spark a civil war by persecuting him. Most people took that as a dog-whistle to both the military and his loonier cult followers. While there are a lot of Dominionists and other ultra-righties in the military, it’s not a given that they would take Trump’s side to spark a civil war. While he may be their Commander in Chief, an order to round up his political foes and falsely detain them would be an unlawful order (the technical term is ‘lynching’). In a more practical stance, those members of the military (hopefully a small minority) who dream of staging a military coup to rid the nation of goddless librul commies might reconsider the wisdom of such if it meant Trump would be dictator-for-life.

Among patriotic members of the military, this week’s misadventures with Syria and the Turks and the subsequent slaughter of Kurds destroyed any illusions of Trump’s concern for the national welfare. The deliberate targeting of American troops by the Turks, led to an ignominious retreat by the US military and the abandonment of their allies, the Kurds. It didn’t help that Trump snorted disparagingly that the Kurds weren’t our allies in World War 2. They were, in fact, and played a key role in keeping Hitler from invading the oil fields in the middle east. The Turks, however, were not.

It was a disgraceful moment for America and America’s military, and the most likely motive was that Trump wanted to do Turkish despot Erdogan a solid in order to protect business interests he had in Turkey.

So no, the military isn’t likely to go to war against America on Trump’s behalf.

That leaves Trump’s more lunatic followers. Yes, they are a danger. But to be an effective danger, they would need to form a Resistance to back their terror cells, and a Resistance requires widespread popular support, and that just isn’t there. A lot of his support remains loyal Americans who want to support the GOP, and he’s making it harder and harder for that to remain a tenable position. Few of them are willing to kill or be killed by their countrymen in the name of Trump.

As I said at the start, these are very dangerous times. There’s always a bugger factor. America is weak and divided right now, and that could pose an invite to unfriendly interests abroad. Trump, knowingly or not, could stumble us into a major war. A natural catastrophe could persuade the nation to put politics aside, wisely or not. There’s a million things. I just gave opinions on a half dozen of the most likely scenarios.

Meanwhile, keep a close eye on the news, and be ready to jump.

Trump is Toast – He has created a prima facie case for impeachment

Trump is Toast

He has created a prima facie case for impeachment

September 24th, 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just announced that a full-blown impeachment inquiry will proceed against Donald J. Trump. Clearly, she believes that the evidence supports it, and that the House will support it.

Republican resistance is beginning to crumble: The Senate voted unanimously to demand that the transcripts of the calls to the Ukraine be released. It’s a small concession in a way: the transcripts are of one phone call to one leader, and all reports are that the complaint itself involves at least a half-dozen calls to several world leaders, including Putin and Kim Jong Un. But given the utter solidity of GOP intransigence in the Senate, this relatively small accommodation to the law represents a massive surrender.

Trump himself reacted to this, characteristically, with a self pitying whine. “Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!”

Thank you, Mister President. You may sit down now.

We’re going to hear a lot about how the transcript may not show anything really bad and how Hunter Biden is the one who should be investigated, along with lots of other apologist gaslighting. Trump just said that the transcript will show “no quid pro quo unlike Hunter Biden.” Hunter Biden isn’t the president, and even if he was as corrupt in the Ukraine as Paul Manafort, he didn’t violate the Constitution. Trump, however, did.

By his own public statements, he withheld $400 million in military and foreign aid to the Ukraine while pressing the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. The office of the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, indirectly confirmed this, issuing a statement that they would respond favorably to ally legal request through intelligence channels regarding any activities involving Biden, but not in response to extortion.

There is absolutely no question that extorting a foreign power in order to dig up dirt on relatives of a possible political challenger qualifies as a “high crime or misdemeanor” and there’s no reasonable doubt that Trump did exactly that.

The transcript, even if damning, is small potatoes. The whistleblower complaint addresses a pattern of corruption and subversion, you can be absolutely certain of that. I have my own suspicions as to who the whistleblower is, and when his identity is revealed, he will prove to be someone who did directly witness Trump acting in a feckless and even treasonous manner in his interactions with other world leaders. Voters will recognize treason when they see it.

The complaint is part of a far larger pattern of corruption. Not just Trump, but his adult children, his vice president, and dozens of members of Congress. The fact that McConnell and others may be caught up in this mesh of villainy may result in them throwing Trump, his family, and Pence under the bus in an effort to save their own hides.

Don’t think it will happen? I call your attention to today’s unanimous resolution in the Senate. McConnell has finally realized he cannot stonewall his way out of this, and the known evidence suggests that he, too, is involved in corruption involving favoritism toward Ukraine gangsters. He isn’t going to let himself go down with Trump.

The GOP is disintegrating before our very eyes. Dozens of Congressmen are quitting, and dozens more will quit between now and the start of primary season. They know that the party will be utterly destroyed if they do not rid themselves of this cancer on America.

The impeachment inquiries will produce a huge barrage of evidence showing duplicity and treason by a large segment of the leadership of the GOP, and it will be out there with the public watching, in in a form where Faux News can’t pretend it isn’t there, or that it can deflect the overwhelming evidence with whattaboutery.

It’s unlikely, in my opinion, that we’ll see impeachment come to a formal vote in the House. The GOP cannot afford to let that happen. Indeed, they need to stop this before the lurid public testimony begins, and the real and irreversible political damage sets in.

The GOP cannot survive a full public inquiry into the multiple facets of Trump’s criminality, and their own complicity. They know this. They can no longer stop it by stonewalling.

So right now, behind the scenes, party leaders are debating how much of the Administration they have to destroy in hopes of cutting out the gangrenous parts of their party. They may already be considering forcing Trump to resign, or failing that, a 25th amendment move. They may have to sacrifice Pence (and thus the White House) if that’s what it takes to convince the public they aren’t really anti-American gangsters.

Except a lot of GOP bluster over the next few days. But it’s empty bluster meant to distract from the fact that Trump is finished, and threatens to take the entire party down with him.

Trump is toast. The GOP need to concentrate on trying to save themselves.

Barrbarian Rhatsophy – Barr belongs in jail—next to Trump

May 2nd 2019

William Barr, career criminal and putative top cop of the country, refused to show up before the House for testimony on the Mueller report today. Some wag on the Democratic side replaced the doughy and misshapen Trump stooge with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was an improvement, insofar as the bucket of chicken at least promised to provide some content.

The Republicans, who have descended below the level of kindergarteners in trouble with the teacher, tried blaming the Democrats for Barr’s refusal to testify. One major moron in waiting, Doug Collins, a Republican of Georgia, opined that “The reason Bill Barr is not here today is because the Democrats decided they did not want him here today.”

See? It was all the Democrats fault! Why, they wanted to ask Barr questions about his contradictions and lies, and to explain why Mueller was so pissed at him. That’s all. I’m sure there were reasonable explanations.

Other Republicans blamed Hillary Clinton because they couldn’t think of anything else to say. After all, it’s not like they would ever force Clinton to testify for 11 hours in response to loaded, ideological and dishonest questions. Given the perfect fairness and civility Republicans showed, is it too much to ask that Barr be given a pass?

Perhaps the best rationale came from the perjurer-in-chief, who is of the opinion that the suspect in a criminal trial should be free to refuse to be questioned by authorities if he felt the questions might be biased against him or cause embarrassment.

OK, fair point. When the LAPD asked Charlie Manson if he stuck a fork in Sharon Tate’s belly, that showed great insensitivity and even some microaggression on the part of the police. Better a mass murderer should be allowed to run free rather than to have to deal with impolite and even overbearing police!

Only an overprivileged moron like Trump could, with his bare face hanging out, demand the right for a suspect in a criminal investigation to determine what questions he might have to answer.

And poor Donald has so many other distractions to deal with. Both his nominees to the Fed imploded over the past couple of days, one because he couldn’t handle his household finances, let alone a world economy, and the other because he was the most stupid fucking bastard this side this side of a pile of dog shit. Indeed, Trump nominees implode with such regularity and to such comic effect that it reminds you of that episode of “Russian Doll” where the protagonist dies a couple of dozen times in the space of five minutes. Or Sideshow Bob with the garden rakes.

Now that the clown rodeo has closed for the day and there’s no longer any doubt that Barr is a criminal Trump stooge, the question arises: what is congress going to do about it? Even Pelosi flat-out called Barr’s actions criminal. Dozens of Democrats want him punished: arrest or impeachment, or both.

Make it march, guys. Arrest the guy. If he quits and thus can’t be impeached, he’s still going to face criminal charges. And Trump is starting to realize that the power of the pardon is a dangerous tool, as witness the fact that even as he was schmoozing with the psychotic murderers of the NRA, and despite Vladimir Putin’s howls of outrage, he was letting Maria Butina rot in jail.

If Congress orders Barr’s arrest for contempt of Congress and perjury before Congress, Trump may not dare intervene.

In fact, Trump being Trump, he’ll probably start calling Barr weak, stupid, fat, and a host of other adjectives, and create an enemy where he had an ally. We’ve seen him do that dozens of times before, with Sessions, Cohen, Manafort, and Ryan. It’s a gift, I tell you.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is threatening to sue to prevent Mueller from testifying before Congress. Think about that: the DoJ appointed Mueller to do exactly what he did, with the intent of giving his report to Congress, and now they are suing themselves to prevent Mueller from giving his report to Congress. It’s the sort of clownery you expect from inept authoritarian regimes, whether Rufus T. Firefly or Donald J. Trump.

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!

Shut down – Shut up, Donald—Grown ups are talking

January 22nd 2019

News broke tonight that the Senate is going to take up two bills Thursday regarding the government shutdown.

The first is Trump’s compromise: he gets $5.7 billion in return for extending a grace period for the Dreamers. Like all things Trump, it’s utter bullshit: three courts have already ruled that Trump is legally obliged to continue the DACA program, and just yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that they weren’t going to interfere with the lower court decisions. So Trump is offering something he has to do anyway.

Even worse, the “compromise” essentially eliminates America from honoring its treaty obligations to refugees and asylum seekers. Nobody expects honesty from this administration, but this is particularly egregious, even for them. The “compromise” shows the duplicity and moral bankruptcy of Trump, nothing more.

The second bill, introduced by Schumer, is more promising. It simply finances the portions of government that have been closed through February 8th, and promises open debate on the wall. It’s interesting that McConnell, who had been rejecting consideration of any bill that didn’t include financing for the wall, allowed this one to reach the Senate floor.

Yes, the shutdown is extremely unpopular, and McConnell is seen as first in line behind Trump as being responsible for it. He’s probably realized that the party that caves on this is finished, but Republicans and Trump will remain widely hated no matter what happens. In normal circumstances, a Majority Leader in this position would look frantically for a bill that could resolve the issue while giving him a figleaf. This bill meets that criterium. If it passes, he can claim they haven’t finished the battle for the wall, but merely deferred it for a few weeks. He may even be delusional enough to hope that when the next continuing resolution comes along and Trump digs his bone spurs in, any subsequent closures would be blamed on the Democrats.

But these aren’t normal times. With the party leader in the Oval Office an unstable sociopath, McConnell knows that if it somehow, some way saves his ass from the scandals threatening to tear him apart, Trump will be perfectly happy to sacrifice not only the country, but his own party. There’s precious little evidence that McConnell cares much about his country, but his party? His wonderful, precious party? Nay! Dishonor before Death! The Party must live!

So, there’s three courses of thought he might have followed before deciding to let Schumer’s bill to the floor.

First, he may have decided he could keep 40 Republicans in line, effectively filibustering the bill. Given that would be the same forty Republicans who voted for that very same bill five weeks earlier, only to have Trump double-cross them, dumping them into a nightmare of rising public fury, it’s unlikely that even the goose stepping discipline for which the Senate GOP is renowned could keep them all in line. They have absolutely nothing to gain from continuing the shutdown, and a lot to lose. And most of them don’t even want the fucking wall in the first place.

Second: McConnell finally convinced Trump that the wall was nothing but a loser from the GOP standpoint. Two Republicans in Congress have already announced they won’t be running in 2020, one of them is quitting immediately. While that one probably has a major scandal about to break, there’s little doubt that Republicans are looking at the shifting landscape and realizing that if they didn’t do something now, they would be extinct by 2021. McConnell, a political animal, knows this, and perhaps he’s gotten Trump to agree to fight the wall battle another day. After all, Trump managed to go two years without the wall; he can go a little bit longer.

That’s actually the most likely of the three scenarios, and Mitch, if he has any actual religion, must be on his knees right now praying that the crazy fuck in the White House doesn’t cross him up again.

The third scenario is that he has decided to tell Trump to go fuck himself. That’s the bloodiest of the scenarios. In this one, Schumer’s bill passes in the Senate, but not by 66 votes. Trump vetoes it.

Public outrage swells. The national mood shifts from outraged to flat-out dangerous.

House Minority Leader McCarthy and McConnell take the unusual step of permitting the bill to come up again, and release their membership from party discipline on the vote. The bill passes both houses with veto-proof majorities, a massive humiliation of Trump and one that immediately brings down the temperature of the public, giving the Republicans faint hope for the future.

Between Mueller, the Senate Intelligence Committee (which, unlike the previous House Intelligence Committee, has been reasonably honest and non-partisan in its investigations into Trump) and various committees in the new, Democratically-controlled House, various houses of generally quite large sizes are going to begin landing on Trump. His own lawyer, Rudy the Risible, has blabbed enough to put Trump’s ass in jail. Just imagine what the people who aren’t on his side are going to come up with.

McConnell is probably betting that he can defuse this and it won’t matter how much is pisses off Trump, because Trump is going to be up to his ass in alligators in another week or so (Trump hired THIRTY-FIVE lawyers two weeks ago to start preparing his defense).

Both votes are scheduled for Thursday. Stay tuned.

Send Out the Clowns — Trump in Europe, Congress in Sane

July 12th 2018

“I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk how many times did you look all innocent in your wife’s eyes and lie about Ms. Page.”

And with that, Louie Gohmert, well known as being the most vicious clown in Congress, managed a new personal low, talking that august body, the House of Representatives, with him.

Wait, did I say ‘august’? Silly me. It’s only July. Although a case can be made for Congress being August; after all, that’s the dog days, and Congress has no shortage of curs.

Gohmert was attacking Peter Strzok, the FBI employee who wrote emails to his girlfriend disparaging then-candidate Donald Trump. Gohmert was exercising whatever it is that passes in him for moral outrage to defend the honor of serial adulterer Donald Trump.

It was a low point, but not by much. The Republicans were doing everything in their power to discredit Strzok, the FBI, the Justice Department, and anything and anyone that might bring Donald Trump and much of their own criminal party to justice.

The ones that weren’t vicious were almost preposterously stupid. Paul Gosar, an Arizona dentist who got tired of working for a living and ran for Congress, said to Strzok, “I’m a dentist, OK? So I read body language very, very well. And I watched you comment in your interactions with Mr. Gowdy. You got very angry in regards to the Gold Star father. That shows me that it’s innately a part of you and a bias.”

Well, OK, then. Let’s see if we can recreate the situation in that air conditioned dentist’s office that made Gosar such an expert.

Observe, Watson. The patient has his hands drawn into claws. His back is arched, his face is red, tears are streaming from the sides of his eyes, and he is emitting a loud, shrill, unpleasant noise. Do you note?”

“Amazing, Gosar. I have observed, and noted none of these things. How do you do it?”

“Acute powers of observation, Watson. Nothing more. But what do you deduce from this?

“The patient is, perhaps, a Democrat.”

“That is possible. Likely, even. But it suggests something a more immediate nature, Watson.”

“What would that be, Gosar?”

“That I forgot to administer the novocaine.”

Yes, he’s a member of Congress. Three terms now. The tide brings him in every two years, and the voters keep throwing him back. Bad teeth must be a small price to pay.

Republicans actually tried to threaten Strzok with contempt of Congress for refusing to divulge FBI investigation details that he is forbidden by law to answer. It happened like this: After declaring a motion to adjourn out of order, Chairman Goodlatte, who will never be associated with a tasty coffee drink, erupted in fury that Strzok refused to answer questions pertaining to confidential or secret FBI matters and threatened him with Contempt, despite an existing agreement that the committee honor such restrictions on what they could demand of him. Gleeful Democrats demanded the committee recall Steve Bannon, who also refused to answer some questions, but his basis was that to do so might embarrass President Trump.

They even tried accusing Strzok of claiming Trump supporters stink because he went to a Walmart in the sticks and “could smell the levels of Trump support.” Apparently metaphor is beyond the intellectual capabilities of the moral giants and magic dentists of the GOP.

The Republicans were betting the farm that they would find something, anything, to suggest that a) Strzok was tring to influence the 2016 presidential election and b) that the Russians were not. It’s safe to say they failed miserably, managing in front of a huge television audience, to thoroughly cover themselves in shit. Contempt of Congress isn’t a crime; it’s a sign of mental health.

Congress wasn’t the only branch of government making a complete ass of itself, of course. Trump barreled through Europe, doing all he could go blow up NATO. (Ironically, at the same moment that Strzok was explaining to the Committee that his remark that Trump must be stopped was based on Trump’s campaign pledge to make defense of NATO allies conditional on how much vig they put up.) He deep-sixed his own ally other than Putin by telling Prime Minister Teresa May publicly that she handled brexit all wrong.

(Remember the howls of outrage when Obama told the Brits that Brexit would move the UK down a notch as a trading partner to America? “Monstrous outrage” was one of the terms they used. According to Faux News, “Trump slams British PM over Brexit plan, warns US trade deal ‘probably’ dead in the water.” with the sub header, “Despite anger in London, Trump finds support in England’s pro-Brexit working“-class towns.” Oh, well, that’s OK then. He has support in Sheffield, so who cares what London thinks? )

Obama said Brexit was a mistake, and was clearly trying to interfere in someone else’s election, and that’s not a bit like Trump’s best budyy, that nice Mister Putin, who wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

Speaking of which, Putin and Trump meet in Finland next. No staffers, no aids, no interpreters. No witnesses.

It’s a truly terrifying prospect.

But perhaps Congressman/Dentist Gosar will read their body language as they leave the meeting, and tell us just how badly Trump has sold us all out.

NOTE: Article corrected to reflect that Putin and Trump are meeting in Finland, not Iceland as I originally stated.

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