Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trump Voters Don't Really Support Him. They Just Love To Watch Him Make Liberals Pissed Off.

I was recently asked to answer the following question on Quora.

How many Conservatives are sick and tired of Trump's childish tweets?

I get asked to answer a lot of questions on Quora these days and it's tough to get to them all. I think I'm up to 81 now that I have not answered. I will likely pass on this one because I'm not conservative. Thankfully, however, several of the answers and comments have confirmed what I have asserted many times since the election.

Trump supporters don't really have anything they stand for. They are just against liberals and loving watching them get pissed off. Here are some of the answers and comments from this question..

Not this one. I am loving the way Trump can play the left like an entire orchestra of violins.I'm just waiting for the day when he tweets something that seems like absolute gibberish (like “gerfuffle bdank torg meankforth!” or something like that) and claims he was speaking in tongues. Now THAT is going to make for some interesting television.

Trump is living in their heads rent-free. Glad I loaded up on popcorn, Chris, cuz this is some show!

Some people would say that making liberal heads explode does make the country a better place.

I want to commend these folks on being honest. I’ve suspected that Trump supporters don’t so much support him as they are against liberals and love watching them squirm. Thanks for confirming it.

What does that say when one doesn’t actually support something but is merely against something else? “We hate smug liberal elites” isn’t much of a platform.

As a liberal, I think Donald Trump doesn’t really need liberals to react to anything he does anymore. He seems to be doing a fine job of being his own worst enemy, especially when he tweets. As someone who has raised adolescents and works with them every day as a teacher, the best thing you can do when someone is negatively seeking attention is to ignore them.

So, Mr. President, keep it up! It’s going to make Richard Mueller’s job a lot easier:)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jobs Trump Says He Saved Going to Mexico

As a candidate Donald Trump claimed he would completely stop the flow of jobs to Mexico. In December he claimed he forced Carrier to keep jobs at a plant in Indiana.

But it was all a lie. Six hundred people at the plant in Indianapolis are getting laid off between now and Christmas, even after the state gave them $7 million in tax gimmicks. It was all a scam: the money Carrier is getting will be used to finance greater automation at the plant, not hire workers.

Trump is breaking all his promises: the health care plan Republicans are working will cost more and cover less. The people who voted for Trump will be screwed worst of all.

After criticizing George W. Bush for military adventures in the Middle East, Trump is ramping up the US military forces in Afghanistan, shooting down Syrian warplanes, sucking up to Saudi Arabia and badmouthing allies like Qatar as terrorists while simultaneously selling them billions of dollars of military hardware.

Trump promised a Muslim travel ban, but the courts have shut it down, mostly because Trump sabotaged his own executive order by flapping his big fat yap and Twittering with his fat, stubby fingers in the middle of the night.

Trump complained that Obama golfed too much, and in just five months he's been golfing more than Obama ever did.

Speaking of golf, Trump is so fat and out of shape that he drove a golf cart on a green at the course where the women's U.S. Open will be held next month. I guess that'll put those women in their place.

His staff is divided into at least two warring camps (pro-Bannon and pro-Kushner), all of whom are leaking furiously to the press to make the other guys look bad.

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer has banned the press from recording the daily briefing because Trump keeps contradicting everything Spicer says, and the administration tired of looking like a pack of confused and lying idiots.

After claiming he has accomplished more than any president in history in his first 100 days in office, Trump has in fact accomplished nothing in five months except make himself look like a petty, foolish puppet of Vladimir Putin.

Three different lawsuits have been filed against Trump for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution for receiving money from foreign governments from the businesses he refuses to divest from.

And, of course, Trump is now under investigation for obstruction of justice after firing FBI Director James Comey for refusing to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn's Russian connections.

And what does Trump do? He goes to Iowa to hold a campaign rally when the next election is three god-damned years away!

To quote Trump verbatim: how stupid are the people of Iowa?

Every Year

The Sound of Silence

For all their talk about supporting people of color owning guns, gun rights activists have certainly shut right up about Jerimino Yanez being acquitted in the shooting of CCW holder Philando Castile, haven't they? Nothing but crickets from the NRA about that incident but they still are foaming at the mouth about mentally unstable (white) males not being able to carry guns at Chipotle.

Here are some interesting reactions...

The NRA Shuns a Second Amendment Martyr

The NRA's Silence on Philando Castile's Death Is Shameful

NRA Honors Philando Castile with Unending Moment of Silence

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

To Win Democrats Have to Run Candidates Who Live in the District

Lots of Democrats are up in arms about Ossoff's loss in Georgia. People gave lots of reasons why he lost: it was a heavily Republican district, he wasn't really representative of the people who live there, he made a silly Star Wars video in college, Nancy Pelosi, etc.

But the biggest reason he lost was that he didn't even live in the district. Yeah, it's legal in Georgia to represent a district where you don't live, but Ossoff couldn't even vote for himself.

Ossoff was a carpetbagger. Southerners hate carpetbaggers. Given that, it's amazing that he did as well as he did.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

14 Crucial Facts About Gun Violence

The Trace has up some great information up about gun violence. My favorite fact?

06. The NRA is dominant at the state level.

They are dominant because NRA members vote. So, let's get more people to vote than they have. Only a third of our country owns guns and an even smaller percentage of them are gun rights activists. I would imagine there are more folks that support common sense gun safety regulation than don't. But this majority doesn't vote as intensely and we need to figure out why.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Coal: the Moby-Dick of Energy Production

John Oliver had an excellent (and humorous) segment on coal in his show last night:

He clearly understands the problems that coal miners face, and a hell of a lot of the problems come from the men who run the coal industry.

Management and the Republicans have turned the miners against liberals and the environment. But the real enemy is and always has been the people who run coal mines. Miners were essentially slaves until unions were able to stand up to management and demand better wages, working conditions and safety procedures. Unions are the only reason coal jobs pay well in the first place.

But as Oliver mentions, employment in the coal industry has been declining for decades, mostly due to mechanization, changes in mining techniques and competition from cheaper sources of energy. That decline has been accelerated in recent years by the decrease in natural gas prices. Natural gas is now cheaper, and more importantly, much cleaner and safer than coal in every phase of extraction and energy production.

These days coal is more expensive than renewables for energy production, and it suffers from many of the same problems: you can't turn a coal-fired power planet off and on at will because you're dealing with tons of coal in a giant furnace that boils water. Since coal plants need access to a lot of water, they must be sited by rivers. And they have to be on rail lines to receive thousands of tons of coal a day.

By contrast, natural-gas turbine generators are basically instant-on and instant-off: just twist a valve. They can be built just about anywhere there's a gas pipeline, and can be as large or small as needed and still be efficient.

Most of the natural gas we use to day is extracted from the ground (in unfortunately destructive and polluting ways) and is not renewable. But it's still just methane, and methane can be generated by any number of natural and artificial processes (bacterial decay, for example). That means natural gas can eventually become a renewable resource, and natural gas turbines will always be viable. Coal plants are toxic dinosaurs.

But at this point it has become clear that burning non-renewable resources such as coal and oil to produce electricity is extremely short-sighted. Those resources are needed to make stuff, like plastics, nylon, steel, carbon fiber, carbon filters, various kinds of silicon products, including solar cells.

A couple of weeks ago Trump trumpeted that fact that a new coal mine was opening up in Pennsylvania. This mine produces high-grade metallurgical (coking) coal or anthracite coal, not thermal (steam) coal or bituminous coal. Metallurgical coal is used to make steel and other products. Anthracite is purer, harder and has a higher carbon content than bituminous coal. It's also much rarer.

This is the biggest reason we should be turning away from burning coal and oil for energy. There is only a finite amount of these natural resources, which we can use to make stuff. Manufacturing creates more jobs throughout the economy and sells for a higher price than a kilowatt of electricity.

One day people will shake their heads incredulously at the idea that we just burned coal for heat in the same way that we are appalled at the idea that people slaughtered whales by the thousands to burn the oil from their blubber for illumination.

Just like Ahab's pursuit of the great white whale, using coal for energy production will lead to a bitter disaster.

The Democrats Action Plan

The special election for Tom Price's old seat in Georgia is set for tomorrow and the race is in a dead heat. Jon Ossoff holds a small lead in the poll averages but it's well within the margin of error. The advantage is still held by Republicans because historically they turn out to vote in special elections and Democrats don't. Hell, Democrats don't turn out in any election except presidential ones. So, how do we get them to turn out?

Here's a step by step action plan that will help the Democrats take back both federal and state houses as well as the presidency.

Step 1

Identify all obstacles to voting (including apathy) and work to remove them so more people vote. This would include getting more people registered and jumping through whatever hoops Republicans have put out there to prevent folks from voting.

Step 2

Identify the counties that flipped from Obama to Trump. Oh wait. Here they are. As a side note, take a look at the counties that flipped from Romney to Clinton. Why did this happen?

Step 3.

Find local people in these counties that are willing to work to galvanize voters and turn them out every single election year. The goal should be to get two times the number of voters that the GOP has. National Democratic operatives should stay away from these counties and let the local people do the work since they know the area.

Step 4

Within the ranks of these local people, pull the best and the brightest to run for office themselves. This should include everything from dog catcher all the way to House Representative. Again, there should be no carpet bagging and national folks should stay away. Donations, of course, are fine but that national groups should be acting merely in a support capacity. Delegate, delegate, delegate!

Step 5

Candidates and campaign workers should spend a great deal of time visiting with local voters asking them questions and listening to their concerns. As a teacher, my most effective lessons are the ones where the students have the most input in what and how they are taught. Counties are a small enough pool that there should be consensus on many issues. Identify those voters that flipped from Obama to Trump and pay extra attention to them. Use this information to develop a strong, populist platform that appeals to many different voters.

Step 6

Tell the truth. For example, let the people know in rural Wisconsin that their jobs aren't coming back and they need to retrain for the 21st century. They might get mad but the response could be that you are telling it like it is. At least they will respect that.

If they can carry these steps out in even an average fashion, they will win many elections.

The Ossoff-Mandel special election bothers me because so many national groups are involved. That's why I think the Democrats are at a disadvantage here. If they win, I'll be surprised.

Yet maybe, this is true.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's The People, Not Trump

This article in today's Strib illustrates something I have been saying all along. Trump really isn't the problem. It's the people who blindly follow him. So, starting today, I'm going to call them out, hence the new tag, Trump People. I think they need to start owning their vote and be called out for the insane shit they believe so here goes...

For Carla Dahm, right, yeah, he's a got a that why he tweets like teenage girl any time he's caught in a lie or someone criticizes him?

For Don Marben, you like his brash, take no prisoner's attitude? He calls a spade a spade? Great. You are a moron and a fool for supporting him. He has completely conned you.

For Brenda Sanderson, you sound like a Scientologist.

For LuAnn Hultgren, a tight rein on our country, you say? More control, you say? You'd fit quite well in Germany in the 1930s.

For John Lever, bomb North Korea? Rattle the saber with China? I hope your retirement and gun club salary can pay for the increased cost of...well...just about everything you buy these days.

For Elsie Abrahamson and Beret Ouren, do realize that he was pro choice up until just a few years ago when he found it politically convenient? And Roe V Wade isn't going anywhere.

For Rich Abraham, Obama hurt your feelings? Aw, shucks, precious snowflake, maybe you should take heart that he increased the defense budget every single year of his presidency.

For David Traenor, you are the exact reason why the Russians were able to do what they did in the 2016 election. Thanks, asshole.

For Kenneth Mosser, a Dumbocrat? What are you...five years old?

Honestly, these people and their blind devotion terrify me.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bitch To Your Elected Representatives, Vote Every Year, Run For Office

Yesterday, Officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty on all counts Friday in the death of Philando Castile last year. The aftermath owas livestreamed by Castile's girlfriend on Facebook but that still wasn't enough to convict Yanez. Many folks were arrested last night as protesters took to I-94 upset over the verdict. This one hit me particularly hard as Castile worked in a school and knew all the kids by name. By all accounts, he was a great guy who absolutely did not deserve to be shot seven times for expired fucking tabs.

Yet, I look at the protests and can't help but feel frustrated. Yanez was found not guilty because the law offers multiple layers of protections for the police. Don't  like it? Start bitching to your elected representatives, vote EVERY year, or run for office yourself. Anyone who was out on 94 last night should be organizing in offices and figuring out how to get more people to vote to change this law. These same people should be running for office so they can then vote to change the law. Protests don't do shit unless you are protesting the office of your elected representative. If you want the law to change, you have to dedicate more time and consideration than a few hours of protesting.

Deal with reality otherwise reality will keep dealing with you.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Amazon Is Now Officially the Evil Empire started as an online book retailer 23 years ago. They were great: I started buying stuff from them in 1995. They branched out to CDs and DVDs pretty quickly, and then started selling absolutely everything. 

They became a front-end to thousands of other smaller retailers, helping them get into the online marketplace. They developed the Kindle and started selling e-books in a big way, practically creating the market from scratch.

They started selling online video, mostly reruns of TV episodes and some movies, about the same time Netflix began to offer their streaming service. Like Netflix, they've started producing a their own content, offering series like The Man in the High Castle and The Tick.

Jeff Bezos, the founder, has used his billions to acquire the Washington Post and even started his own rocket launch company, Blue Horizon (his rockets look like flying dildos). And just the other day Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market.

Sadly, Amazon has used its market clout to become a monopoly. It started innocently enough with the Amazon Prime service, which locks you into Amazon's ecosystem by offering free shipping and special deals.

Now small online retailers are being screwed by Amazon. To have online street cred you have to be listed on Amazon, and Amazon always lists their version of your product before your website. That means Amazon is always taking a thick percentage from your sales, a sort of online mafia protection racket.

People think that Amazon offers the best price. They don't. Using the terabytes of data they collect on you and everyone else, their algorithms offer you the highest price they think you'll pay, and hide lower prices from you.

For some time Amazon has been looking into expanding into the brick and mortar world from the online world to better compete with Walmart and Target, having already crushed OfficeMax, K-Mart, Sears and other retailers. They have been building warehouses around the country to decrease shipping time and costs. The acquisition of Whole Foods is another big step in that direction.

Amazon even has a plan to tighten their grip on people who will be shopping in their brick and mortar stores. As reported in the Washington Post, ironically enough:
Amazon was awarded a patent May 30 that could help it choke off a common issue faced by many physical stores: Customers’ use of smartphones to compare prices even as they walk around a shop. The phenomenon, often known as mobile “window shopping,” has contributed to a worrisome decline for traditional retailers.
[Amazon's in-store wi-fi network may] block access to the competitor’s site, preventing customers from viewing comparable products from rivals. It might redirect the customer to Amazon’s own site or to other, Amazon-approved sites. It might notify an Amazon salesperson to approach the customer. 
Yes, now that Amazon is in the real world, they want to stop other companies from doing to Amazon what Amazon did to them.

Well, you say, why should Amazon let customers use their network to access competitors' web sites? Why can't customers just use their cell phone network? For one thing, cell reception is frequently terrible in big steel buildings, which is why stores provide wi-fi. Active cell phone jamming is [currently] illegal, but Amazon could easily turn their stores into giant Faraday cages with a little bit of chicken wire embedded in the concrete to passively block cell reception.

Or Amazon could cut deals with cell phone providers to block or slow customers' access to certain web sites on cell towers near Amazon stores. That would be perfectly allowable now that the Trump administration has dumped net neutrality.

Amazon is also providing Internet service through Frontier Communications. Are they going to use their patent to block access to their competitors through that service as well?

I like the Washington Post. I like Blue Origin. I want to like Amazon. What I don't like is that Bezos is creating a monopoly and using that power to destroy other companies, taking money out of local communities and sending it all to Seattle.

Walmart started this trend, destroying local businesses and replacing them with giant superstores that eliminated millions of small retail jobs, especially in rural America (Walmart has completely wiped out local retail in rural Minnesota). Now Amazon is going to do Walmart one better, replacing employees with warehouse robots, self-driving long-haul trucks, delivery drones and completely automatic checkout.

You'll know the end is nigh when Jeff Bezos announces that he's going to use his New Glenn rockets to launch his Amazon Death Star.

Is It Time Now?

Every time there's a horrific mass shooting, the NRA says it's not time to talk about gun violence. However, in the aftermath of the shooting on the baseball field in Virginia, it is time to discuss the the ridiculousness of the idea that "guns are protection."

People playing baseball can't carry guns. You can't swing a bat or run bases or field the ball with an AK-47 slung over your shoulder. And even if you could, it wouldn't help.

See, the bad guys don't play fair. They shoot you in the back, at a distance, from cover, when you're least expecting it. A shooter who knows what he's doing can fire off 40-60 rounds in less than 30 seconds, easily hitting five, ten, even 20 victims if the targets are closely grouped. By the time anyone realizes what's happening a dozen people are shot.

Ironically, the morning of the shooting the House was scheduled to hear a bill on making it easier to buy silencers. As always, they came up with a phony reason for the bill: hearing protection.

But what it really does is protect assassins, allowing them to kill more people by making it harder for their victims to tell where the shots are coming from. Silencers don't completely suppress the report of a rifle (and they can degrade accuracy), but they make it harder to hear the shots, and a lot harder to identify the shooter's location.

People at Wednesday's incident knew there was a shooting because they could hear the shooting

With a silencer the shooter would have even more time to take pot shots at people on the field: victims would start falling, one by one, with no obvious reason why. He might have shot 10 people instead of just five.

But back to the silliness of the idea of guns providing "protection." Having a gun will not stop you from getting shot. Two cops were on duty protecting Congressman Scalise: they (or the Alexandria police, who responded within minutes) eventually got the shooter, but they were also wounded. Having a gun makes you a high-priority target.

What does provide protection is body armor. Reports aren't clear on this, but the shooter doesn't appear to have been wearing any. However, the Aurora theater shooter was, according to CNN: "Holmes spent 903.67 on body armor: a bulletproof torso and neck protector, bulletproof arm protection and two different bulletproof groin protectors." It's nuts that that nut was able to buy body armor.

If the Virginia shooter had been fully decked out the way the NRA and Republicans apparently wanted him to be, with an assault rifle, high capacity magazines, body armor and a silencer, he could have fired hundreds of rounds for an hour or more before they finally put the animal down.

Conservatives always want to put a political, partisan or racist spin on every incident, to "prove" they're right. But the problem is not right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal, Christian vs. Muslim.

It's really a conflict between those who use chaos and violence against those who advocate for law and peace.

Those who think that assault rifles, silencers and body armor belong in the hands of any random, unbalanced, incompetent civilian are on the side of chaos and violence.

It's true that guns aren't the only way to kill people: terrorists have used bombs, trucks, cars, machetes, and knives to kill. But soldiers don't drive semis and carry machetes into battle: they use guns because they inflict maximum carnage.

Angry, child-beating civilians like the Virginia shooter should not be carrying weapons of war on the streets of America.

Yeah, we can't save everyone. But if we could cut our murder and suicide rates by two, or five or ten, by keeping guns out of the hands of people who have demonstrated they are prone to violence or depression, wouldn't that be worth it to save 15,000 or 25,000 lives?

We put child pornographers who've never even touched a kid on sex offender registries for their entire lives, restricting their constitutional rights to freedom of association and movement forever, banning them from getting any number of jobs and drastically affecting their everyday lives.

Yet we allow wife-beaters and bar-brawlers who have actually hurt real people to own guns when the evidence is clear that such people are much more likely to commit gun violence. Not having a gun would not affect these people's everyday lives. Yes, they could still hunt: there are these things called bows.

Steve Scalise, the Lousiana congressman who was shot in the pelvis on Wednesday, is one of those Republicans who blew a bowel every time someone suggested we do something about the epidemic of gun violence in this country.

Well, this time the shooter blew Scalise's bowel for him. And Scalise may need to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.

Virginia Gun Laws Explained

Since the shooting in Alexandria on Wednesday, we've heard the usual nonsense from  the Gun Cult regarding strict regulations and how if only those members were allowed to carry a gun, things might not have been so bad. They seem to forget that the Capital police (armed) were on the scene and did their job.

Further, gun laws in Virginia are pretty lax. No permit is required to purchase a long gun or hand gun. There is no registration. Virginia is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry. Permits are not issued to non-residents and training is permitted online or in person. Open carry is allowed although Alexandria has an exception for this on assault weapons. These restrictions do not apply for concealed carry permit holders. They have no background checks for private sales and no magazine restrictions.

So, what the fuck is the Gun Cult talking about? Anyone at the baseball game could have been armed to the teeth but they weren't. Why?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trump Now Under Investigation

President Trump has said for weeks that he is not under investigation. He claimed vindication after Comey's testimony last week. But now it appears that Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor in this case, is investigating Trump himself for possible obstruction of justice. As has been the case with past presidents, it's not the crime itself that they get dinged for. It's the cover up.

What could possibly be so bad about Russia that Trump would go to such lengths as to put himself in legal jeopardy?

Anger, Hate, and Fear Come Home To Roost

GOP Congressmen felt the wraith of a psychotic yesterday in the form of one James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois. In ten gut wrenching minutes, Hodgkinson shot up a baseball field where many House reps were practicing for a charity game. At this point, the only fatality is Hodgkinson himself although House Majority Whip, Steve Saclise is still in critical condition after being hit in the hip.

As I suspected, the blame for this is being laid at the feet of the "hateful rhetoric" of the left. That's like the pyromaniac accusing someone suffering from pyrophobia of starting a fire. Worse, the relaxed attitude towards gun violence and total instransigence on enhancing firearm regulation lead to events like this every day. I'm reminding of the following verse from the Bible.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap ( King James Version of the Bible, Epistle to the Galatians, 6:7).

It was only a matter of time before some angry, nut job on the left easily acquired firearms and went after the folks who made it easier to do so. This guy would have never had the guns he did had Republicans taken steps over the years to restrict access to firearms. Under current law, however, he legally purchased the assault rifle used yesterday in the shooting. Rand Paul, who was present at the shooting, said were it not for the Capital police (trained, armed professionals), it would have been worse. I'm wondering if they will learn anything from this horrific event.

Sadly, I doubt it. What will likely happen is a call for Congressmen to arm themselves at all times. Or more about how liberals are all incendiary revolutionists bent on taking down the state. I've been saying for years that this kind of event is what will change the minds of those folks who don't recognize the reality of gun violence.

The reality of their epistemic closure tells me otherwise.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Praising Dear Leader

Quite possibly the most disturbing thing I have seen yet from the Trump Administration. Other than SecDef Mattis, what a bunch of mindless sycophants. Is Trump so insecure that he needs that much praise? And how about all the out and out lying? He hasn't done anything!

I'll be throwing up now the rest of the day.