Monday, October 31, 2016

GMO Crops Only Increase Corporate Profits

An analysis by the New York Times has found that the GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops have none of the benefits they're supposed to have:
The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.
An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre — when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops. 
Over the last 20 years pesticide use in the United States has fallen by a third, but herbicide spraying has increased by 21% — and herbicides are used in much higher volumes, so we're talking a hell of a lot of Roundup.
By contrast, in France, use of insecticides and fungicides has fallen by a far greater percentage — 65 percent — and herbicide use has decreased as well, by 36 percent.
As the article notes, herbicides and pesticides are toxic by design. Many of them are based on neurotoxins like sarin, a nerve gas developed by the Nazis. These chemicals cause measurable IQ drops in children and have a major role in the catastrophic decline of pollinating insects like honeybees.

Biotech seeds cost North American farmers almost double what normal seeds cost. Farmers also have the added expense of huge quantities of weed killer that's keyed to herbicide-resistant crops. Finally, farmers cannot use seeds from GMO crops in the next year's planting: corporate giants like Monsanto have taken farmers to the Supreme Court to stop them from using a practice from the dawn of agriculture.

In the end, GMOs have not increased North American crop yields above Old Europe's. The only thing that has increased is corporate profits.

The Hypocrisy of Our "Justice" System

After literally years of scandal mongering and a dozen investigations into Benghazi and Hillary Clinton's private email server, Congress and the FBI had to finally give up.

This summer the final Republican investigation found Clinton had done nothing wrong with regard to Benghazi. And FBI director James Comey pronounced the email investigation closed and that no crimes had been committed. But Comey couldn't just leave it there: he insisted on offering his personal opinion that Clinton was careless with her handling of email. 

It was highly questionable for the FBI director to make such a politically loaded statement in the first place, let alone in the middle of an election.

But last Friday Comey dropped a nuclear bomb on the campaign when he announced that emails from Clinton's server appeared on Anthony Weiner's laptop, which the FBI was looking at with regard to allegations that Weiner was sexting an underage girl. He offered no details; was Comey being coy, or was he intentionally muddying the waters as much as possible?

Compare this to the treatment Donald Trump received in the Trump University fraud case. In May Judge Gonzalo Curiel delayed the start of the trial until Nov. 28, weeks after the election, even though the plaintiffs had expected a July date. This saved Trump the monumental embarrassment of having to testify in a fraud trial during the Republican National Convention.

For Curiel's kindness, Trump blasted the judge a month later:
In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. 
As for the emails: there are Huma Abedin's emails, not Hillary Clinton's. Abedin used the laptop to connect to the server, so some of Abedin's emails were left on it. Nothing has been said about the content of those emails, or how many were sent by Clinton.

Now it turns out that Comey knew about these emails several weeks ago, but waited until 11 days before the election before telling Congress. Clearly this wasn't that urgent: he waited two or three weeks to tell Congress. He waited exactly long enough to do maximum damage to Clinton's campaign. By the time we find out that there's still nothing to this phony email scandal, it may be after the election.

Comey has been blasted by Democrats and Republicans alike. Among his critics are the chief White House ethics lawyer of the Bush administration from 2005 to 2007, Richard Painter. Painter has filed a complaint against the FBI with the Office of Special Counsel, accusing Comey of violating the Hatch Act.

Painter describes a different email scenario that Comey isn't talking about:
THE F.B.I. is currently investigating the hacking of Americans’ computers by foreign governments. Russia is a prime suspect.

Imagine a possible connection between a candidate for president in the United States and the Russian computer hacking. Imagine the candidate has business dealings in Russia, and has publicly encouraged the Russians to hack the email of his opponent. It would not be surprising for the F.B.I. to include this candidate and his campaign staff in its confidential investigation of Russian computer hacking.

But it would be highly improper, and an abuse of power, for the F.B.I. to conduct such an investigation in the public eye, particularly on the eve of the election. It would be an abuse of power for the director of the F.B.I., absent compelling circumstances, to notify members of Congress that the candidate was under investigation. It would be an abuse of power if F.B.I. agents went so far as to obtain a search warrant and raid the candidate’s office tower, hauling out boxes of documents and computers in front of television cameras.

The F.B.I.’s job is to investigate, not to influence the outcome of an election.
This isn't some fantastical story, it's an exact description of what Donald Trump has done. What Painter doesn't mention is that several of Trump's advisors have close ties to Russian oligarchs, getting paid by Trump and the oligarchs at the same time.

And about the same time the Abedin emails were found on the Weiner laptop, it was learned that one of Trump's advisers has held secret meetings with Kremlin officials.

Yet Comey has not publicly humiliated Trump by commenting on these investigations, or investigations into allegations that Paul Manafort and other Trump cronies are unregistered foreign agents for Ukrainian and Russian politicians trying to manipulate U.S. elections.

Comey is either grossly incompetent or intentionally interfering with the election. Or is he just pissed off that his boss, Loretta Lynch -- who told him not open his big fat mouth, is a woman?

What this incident clearly shows is that Trump's charges of the "system" being rigged against him are completely false. The legal system has come down on Trump's side every single time during this election cycle, while individuals like Comey have abused and misused the system's rules to hurt Clinton again and again.

The irony here is that the first time a woman has a serious shot at winning the presidency, the election is dominated by men's inability to control their lust: from Trump's bragging about pussy-grabbing, to accusations from more than a dozen women that Trump sexually assaulted them, to Trump dredging up decades-old accusations of rape against Bill Clinton, and finally now to Anthony Weiner's obsession with sexting.

Usually the charge against women being president is that they can't control their emotions. But this election makes a far stronger case that men are incapable of controlling their dicks.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Trump Voter Commits Election Fraud

For years Republicans have been claiming that the country is rife with election fraud as an excuse to place more restrictions on minorities and Democrats to suppress their votes. Now there's a bona fide instance of fraudulent voting. By a Trump supporter.
A woman in Iowa was arrested this week on suspicion of voting twice in the general election, court and police records show.

Terri Lynn Rote, a 55-year-old Des Moines resident, was booked Thursday on a first-degree charge of election misconduct, according to Polk County Jail records. The charge is considered a Class D felony under Iowa state law.

Rote was released Friday after posting $5,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7.

The Des Moines Register reported that Rote is a registered Republican who cast two ballots in the general election: an early-voting ballot at the Polk County Election Office and another at a county satellite voting location, according to police records.

Rote hadn’t planned on voting twice but said it was “a spur-of-the-moment thing” when she walked by the satellite voting location, she told The Washington Post in a phone interview Saturday.

“I don’t know what came over me,” Rote said.

She added she has been a supporter of Donald Trump since early in his campaign, after Republican candidate Mike Huckabee dropped out of the primary race.

Rote told Iowa Public Radio that she cast her first ballot for Trump but feared it would be changed to a vote for Hillary Clinton.

“The polls are rigged,” Rote told the radio station.

Leigh Munsil, an editor for the Blaze, noted on Twitter that Rote was the same woman who had caucused for Trump earlier this year.
This kind of fraud is exactly that Trump is implicitly telling his voters to commit. When he says the polls are rigged, he's actually telling his voters to rig the polls. Since Hillary is cheating, the logic goes, Trump supporters have to cheat too. And so they are.

Trump has also told his supporters to "monitor" the polls. This is nothing but a blatant attempt to harass and intimidate minority voters. Trump is asking his supporters to threaten minorities with violence if they show up to exercise their constitutional rights.

The Republican Party of New Mexico is even harassing their own voters, threatening to expose them if they vote for Democrats. The Republicans sent out a mailer that stated, "When the Democrats win the election and you didn't do your part to stop it... Your neighbors will know." Now, how could they know? It's supposed to be a secret ballot. How can the Republican Party know how you voted, unless they commit a crime to find out?

The fact is, over the last four presidential elections there has been a significant amount of manipulation of elections by Republican officials: in 2000 in Jeb Bush's Florida Republican operatives threw a hundred thousand voters off the rolls in coordination with George Bush's Texas. In 2004 Ohio closed polling stations in minority areas, creating huge delays that prevented thousands of people from voting. Bush won those states by the tiniest of margins; there's no question that manipulations by Republican officials threw both those elections to Bush.

The Bush administration fired US attorneys who wouldn't play the voter suppression game at the behest of Karl Rove, who was forced to resign when the scandal was revealed. Voter ID laws were passed explicitly to prevent minorities and Democrats from voting in Texas and Pennsylvania (Republicans in both states acknowledged this publicly). In states like Ohio Republicans gerrymandered Democrats into a few crazy-shaped districts to pack them with 90% Democrats, while creating a large number of districts with only 55-60% Republicans to allow them to win more House seats, even though there are more Democrats in the state.

In the 2012 election Democratic House candidates nationwide got a million more votes than Republicans, but because of gerrymandering Republicans won a substantial majority of House seats. In 2008, before the gerrymandering, Democrats won the majority.

The fact is, in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare. The vast majority of fraud by voters is committed with absentee ballots. The most common fraud is children or nursing home staff filling out absentee ballots for senile elderly, or parents filling out absentee ballots for children who are away at college. This kind of fraud is favored by rich white people, and voter ID laws do absolutely nothing to prevent it.

The wealthy can commit fraud by voting in multiple jurisdictions: rich New Yorkers like Donald Trump will vote absentee in New York and in person in Florida. Anne Coulter got in hot water a few years back for lying on voter registration forms. Typically, they claim residency in one state to get special tax treatment on their homes (homesteading), but then vote in another jurisdiction. A national voter registration database would fix this (and also the problem with people remaining on voter rolls for years after they move to another state), but for some strange reason Republicans resist this.

So when Trump says that the election is rigged, in one way it's true: Republicans officials have been rigging elections for at least the last 20 years. Since Trump has pissed off so many in the Republican establishment, he's afraid they'll use their clout to make him lose.

Chill Out, Dudes

As the political world whips itself into a tizzy about the letter that James Comey sent to Congress yesterday, I find myself very unmoved by all of this. I can see why Democrats are pissed off but what else was Comey supposed to do? Sit on it until after the election? As I have said all along, James Comey is straight shooter. Republicans are pretty hilarious, though. Now, I guess, Comey is great. Poopy head before, but now awesome!!

Here are the facts based on the letter and what we know as of today. The emails did not come from the Clinton server. They were on a laptop owned by Huma Abedin and used by Anthony Weiner for his weener related activities. The emails did not come from Hillary Clinton. They are related to the still closed investigation. There are only three emails being checked as having classified information. And, most important, the Clinton campaign is already calling for transparency.

We won't get it, of course, because the investigation is ongoing. Many in the political world are saying this will make the race close and it certainly might. I'm going to hold out until next Friday before making any judgments in terms of the polls. Let's remember that a significant number of people in swing states have already voted and Hillary has the favor in this department. I also think that we may have yet another Trump bombshell before election day, whether by his own doing or externally.

Ultimately, though, I don't think it will matter in terms of the election. There are very few undecideds out there. Voters know these candidates and this latest information isn't going to change anyone's mind. Democrats need to chill the fuck out and get the vote out rather than bitch about James Comey. I also don't think it will matter in terms of Hillary Clinton's ability to govern save some earth shattering information in the three emails (which I highly doubt). The first woman being elected president as well as all of the challenges she faces will overshadow the continuing email nonsense.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Could Trump blow it in Texas?

Maybe. I'm inclined to say no but the polls are pretty close.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Trump Effect

Sadly, I've encountered far too much of this in the past year and a half. Thanks, conservatives, for bringing your bile and mouth foaming out from a blog comments section into the schools that you say are already broken. What a bunch of fucking assholes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mea Culpa, Right Wingers?

A Lesson in Linguistics from the Little League Candidate

Much of what Donald Trump says is incoherent and simplistic -- his sentences run on and on, he uses fifth-grade vocabulary, he repeats and contradicts himself endlessly. But the one thing that really made him an object of derision was his use of the word "bigly."

It turns out that Trump isn't saying "bigly." He's trying to say "big league." The problem is that he's pronouncing "big league" incorrectly, which makes people hear it as a different word.

Standard American English has a rule for pronouncing vowels when they appear before a voiced consonant at the end of a word. A voiced consonant is spoken with vibrating vocal cords; an unvoiced consonant is not. These generally come in pairs: for example, "d" is voiced and "t" is its unvoiced partner. Other voiced/unvoiced pairs are b and p, g and k, v and f, z and s, the "th" in "that" and the "th" in "thin," the "ch" in "church" and the "j" in "jerk," the "sh" in "shut" and the "s" in "measure."

Now for that rule: when a root word ends in a voiced consonant the vowel preceding it is doubled in length. This is not at all obvious, even though we speak English all the time. I didn't realize this myself until I studied Japanese, which uses double-length vowels in any position in a word, treating single- and double-length vowels as completely different sounds.

You can hear the difference by comparing English words that differ only in the voicing of the final consonant. For example, bed and bet, ride and write, rod and rot, fad and fat, bid and bit, and league and leak. If you pronounce "bed" with a single-length "e", it's harder to distinguish from "bet."

When Trump says "big league" he usually does so very quickly, with two shorter vowels, instead of two longer vowels. Americans are used to hearing those long vowels before voiced consonants at the ends of words. When Trump incorrectly uses shorter vowels our brains try to interpret the sounds using the standard pronunciation rule, and we come up with "bigly."

Additionally, Trump constantly uses "big league" as an adverb (modifying a verb), and since most adverbs end in -ly, the usage doubly reinforces the "bigly" interpretation of the sounds.

Why does this pronunciation rule exist? Doubling the length of the vowel disambiguates the final consonant, providing more time to hear that it is voiced. Not all dialects of English use this rule: in several UK and Irish dialects vowels aren't doubled before final voiced consonants.

Russian and German, on the other hand, always devoice final consonants. In many German cognate words the change is reflected in the spelling. Bed is "Bett," God is "Gott," bread is "Brot." I'm guessing that the American doubling of vowel length before final voiced consonants is partially a result of hypercorrection from German and Slavic immigrants to emphasize the voiced consonant. It's "bed" not "bet," you lousy kraut!

Why does Trump use "big league" as an adverb so much? Is it a real estate thing? A New York thing? A rich guy thing? "Big league" is usually used as a noun, such as "Playing in the big leagues." Most people going for a sports-related adjective would use "major league," such as "major-league yabbos" (from a scene in Animal House).

But then Trump is little-league presidential candidate, isn't he?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Son of Skewed Polls

As yet another severe case of cognitive dissonance descends upon conservatives across our nation, so does the growing cries of skewed polls. Remember how well that worked out in 2012? The polls were accurate in predicting the election.

Nate Silver put up a piece a few weeks ago that should have put all of this to rest. But it didn't. Take a look at this nonsense. Aside from the fact the Silver (and the reality of 2012 outcome) have already pwned this shit, Durden misses a very key point. Polls showing a big lead for Democrats can actually be detrimental to voter turnout. People will see how high up she is and maybe just stay home if their XBox or latest binged watched show seems more alluring.

Perhaps the skewed polls mouth foamers should spend more energy on nominating a conservative candidate who is more appealing to voters. It can't possibly be that voters don't like what we are selling. Or that it doesn't function in reality!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sex and the Presidency

There's a bit in Woody Allen's Annie Hall where Allen and co-star Diane Keaton are talking to their therapists on split screen.

The dialog goes like this:
Allen's Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Keaton's Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Allen: Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Keaton: Constantly. I'd say three times a week.
This is funny because it's so true: most men think about sex all the time, while most women don't. Estimates vary, but some studies indicate that men think about sex 34 times a day.

If men could have sex all the time, they would. And all that sex has consequences. It either requires birth control, or it results in pregnancy. And if those pregnancies are undesired, it can result in abortion.

The American right wing always frames abortion issue as a moral failing of women. But all of those women are pregnant because men had sex with them. That's why women are more hesitant about having sex: they can get pregnant. Men initiate sex far more frequently than women and they often use coercion -- physical or emotional -- to get sex when women really don't want it. For this reason, you can blame most abortions on men.

A lot of evangelicals support Trump, even knowing his history of greed, immorality, divorce, adultery and assaulting women. Evangelicals famously used to say that "character matters," that immoral private behavior disqualified a person from higher office. Well, they don't say that anymore: Trump has endorsements from numerous prominent evangelicals, including Jerry Falwell Jr.

In just five short years evangelicals have completely flipped on this issue: 30% used to say that "an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life." Now 72% say that. The reason? Donald Trump.

Why have evangelicals abandoned their moral high ground and talked themselves into this flip-flop? Because they think Trump will nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

I don't know why they think he'll keep this particular promise. He denies things he's said on video. He's declared bankruptcy multiple times while enriching himself at the expense of investors. He's cheated on his wives, failed to pay people who did work for him, failed to release his tax returns, and screwed Trump University students out of millions of dollars for phony "courses."

Electing Trump will normalize sexual assault
But the worst thing about Trump is that electing him will normalize sexual assault. When his private banter became very public, his supporters passed off his bragging about molesting women as locker room talk. This gives men license to think that this kind of criminal behavior is normal. People at Trump rallies brag about how his pussy-grabbing makes him a real man.

The corrosive influence of Trump's sleaze is already affecting how people think: it has already convinced 42% of evangelicals that immoral and illegal behavior is okay.

In evangelical parlance, electing Trump would embolden sexual predators like him. A Trump presidency would encourage more licentious and aggressive masculine behavior. It would result in more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions -- whether abortion is legal or not. There will always be abortion because the bastards who get women pregnant always bail on them.

So, let's look at the moral implications of this election, as if evangelicals still practiced what they preached:

With Donald Trump as president men will think they can do whatever they want to women, then brag about it, and then lie about it. They will cheat on their wives, their business associates and their taxes. They will get their mistresses pregnant and force them into back-alley abortions.

With Hillary Clinton as president people will think they can delete old emails and make lame excuses about it. They will forgive their spouses, work to cure malaria around the world and pay their taxes. They will practice consensual, protected sex to avoid unwanted pregnancy and reduce the number of abortions.

It seems like a pretty simple choice, based on the morality.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How Everybody Can Win

Mark criticized Trump's debate claim that the United States isn't  making things anymore as false. However, not everything Trump says is an outright lie: sometimes there's a glimmer of truth to it.

Mark's observation that manufacturing in the US has doubled since 1979 may be true, but it ignores important facts. Pretty much all consumer products -- cell phones, clothing, shoes, TVs, computers -- are no longer made in the United States.

We were #1 in manufacturing until as recently as 2002. But by 2012 China had overtaken the United States, producing 22% of the world's manufacturing output, with the United States coming in second with 17%.

Clearly the United States still does a lot of manufacturing and export, but a lot of what we're manufacturing is high tech tools and machinery that are sent to foreign countries that are then used to manufacture consumer products that are then imported into the United States. We also build expensive things like airplanes and gigantic earth movers: things that cost a lot but employ a small number of Americans.

We're mostly out of mass-market consumer goods business -- that's why Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats and plastic Fourth of July American flags are made in China.

But developing countries like China and India are finally developing a middle class and the consumer market has grown drastically. That means manufacturing worldwide is way up, but the US share of worldwide manufacturing has declined markedly; more to the point, the number of people employed in manufacturing in the US is way down.

This is why Trump's claims on US manufacturing are false. To do make the US the largest manufacturer of consumer goods again we'd either have to pay Americans the same slave wages that Chinese factory workers are paid, or our factories would be totally automated.

In 1960 manufacturing had a 25% share of employment in the United States. In 2011 it was about 9%. Manufacturing as percentage of GDP has remained stable at about 12% the whole time.

This is the "gotcha" that Trump isn't mentioning. If we bring manufacturing back to the US according to Trump's plan, it'll mean a huge cut in pay for American workers, or it will mean more automation and fewer workers in manufacturing. We can't create more well-paying manufacturing jobs unless other conditions change.

We do lead the world in some export categories, notably agriculture and aircraft. If Trump starts a stupid trade war with the rest of the world by slapping tariffs on imports, we will lose all our export markets.

This is the key: in order for the people in developing economies to be able to afford to buy American goods, they need jobs that pay enough to afford to buy our stuff.

The current problem is that large parts of the world pay their workers a lot less than the American or European middle class wage: their labor markets are cheaper than ours. Those people want to make as much as Americans, and it's in America's best interests for people in those countries to make more: their countries will lose the advantage of lower labor costs.

It might seem contradictory, but for Americans to prosper, the rest of the world needs to prosper -- so they can afford to buy our stuff.

That should inform how we write the trade agreements. We shouldn't be shutting out products made in foreign countries with Trump's prohibitive tariffs, we should be making sure that companies in other countries pay their workers salaries commensurate with Americans. One way is to require that all trade agreements with the US have anti-corruption clauses and strong protections for trade unions -- something we should have in all states of the Union. The agreements should also eliminate tax havens, like Ireland.

This would have another benefit: if people in Mexico and China are paid salaries that approach American levels, they'll have no incentive to leave their countries and come to the United States.

History shows this to be true: in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Europeans flooded into the US by the millions. But after Europe stopped being a war-torn hellhole, they stopped emigrating here in huge numbers.

If we use trade as tool to improve the lot of people of in other countries, they will want to stay home and they'll be able to buy American stuff.

Everybody wins.

Trump does not think this way. For him, and an awful lot of Republicans, life is a zero-sum game and there can only be one winner.

This, in a nutshell, is why someone like Hillary Clinton will make a far better president than an egotistical narcissist like Donald Trump.

Third Debate Post Mortem

While the rest of the media falls into yet another Trump Trap (OMG!! He's not going to accept the results of the election), I'd like to focus on a few other items from last night.

Donald Trump said "We're not making things anymore, relatively speaking." Well, the relativity dial must be broken because US factory production has more than doubled since 1979. The problem is that computerization has taken the place of the human worker. That's simply the free market doing its thing and if you are one of these workers, time to get a college degree or be retrained in another line of work.

Hillary Clinton would add more than a penny to the national debt...about $200 billion dollars over 10 years. That's what independent analysts have said of her economic plan. Donald Trump's plan would about $5.3 trillion dollars to the debt with all of his tax cuts.

I could give two shits that Hillary Clinton wants an open, global market, for energy or any other economic sector. Free trade prevents wars. Period. If we go back to protectionism or mercantilism, we raise the risk of blood conflicts again as we saw in World War I and World War II.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Latest 2016 Election Map

Here's my latest 2016 Election Map.

Click the map to create your own at

As we can all see, Hillary Clinton is poised for a landslide. Most of the major polling outfits and predictors are seeing a flip to a Democratically controlled Senate. And now it looks like House is in play with Republicans scrambling to retain their majority.

One thing to note about this map is the grey shade of Utah. I don't Hillary will win Utah but I do think that the presence of popular son, Evan McMullin, on the ballot will take away votes for Trump. They could end up tied or McMullin could just win it.

Donald Trump has been in a tailspin since the first debate. He's made it much worse with this complete and utter lovemaking to right wing bloggers in the last week. Arizona, Alaska, Georgia and Missouri are now in play. I actually think that Arizona will go for Hillary. The rest, we'll see with some more polls. Even Texas is getting tight now.

As I have said many times, she needs a landslide in order to govern effectively. On the day of the last debate, it appears that she has one in the making.

Crocodile Tears

Boy oh boy, have we heard a lot of mouth foaming and "See? I told you sos" from Republicans these days regarding the Affordable Care Act. They've even pointed to Mark Dayton's recent comments about rising insurance rates as evidence that Obamacare has failed and stuff.

Today, my esteemed governor has penned an op-ed which offers a more insightful analysis.

As disturbing as the falsehoods is the hypocrisy of some Republican politicians, who are crying crocodile tears over problems with the Affordable Care Act, which they have prevented solving. Time after time, Republicans in Congress blocked changes to the ACA because they want to destroy the law, not improve it — and because they believe that the worse the ACA’s current problems, the better their chances of re-election.


The real challenge with the ACA is that we need more young people to get insurance. They'd rather take the hit on taxes than pay a premium every month. Better marketing, more incentives and perhaps stricter punishment for being uninsured should all be pursued. The rate increases were going to happen anyway and likely be worse without the ACA.

And in that world millions would have been uninsured and thousands would probably be dead. I think I'll take the whining...:)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

America Is Already Great

Here's why...

Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm Just Askin'...

The day after three Kansas militiamen were arrested for plotting to blow up a mosque and an apartment building where hundreds of Somali immigrants live, someone threw a firebomb into a Trump campaign office in North Carolina.

Trump blames "the animals representing the Clinton campaign" for the firebombing, even though no one knows who is behind it.

At least one of the militiamen is a confirmed Trump supporter. By Trump's own logic, if we can blame Clinton for the firebombing, can't we blame Trump for the plot to kill Somalis in Kansas? The assault was planned for the day after the November election: clearly they anticipated Trump will lose, and wanted to exact revenge for a humiliating loss.

Trump has adopted the style and rhetoric of right-wing neo-Nazi hate groups and conspiracy theorists, normalizing racism and misogyny and bringing it to the forefront of a presidential campaign. Trump has advocated violence repeatedly: he's told his supporters to assault protesters at his rallies. Trump has said that if Clinton wins she should be dealt with by "Second Amendment people." Trump has advocated torture and murdering the wives and children of terrorist suspects.

One of Trump's more vocal supporters is Alex Jones, of InfoWars infamy. Jones is an alt-right conspiracy theorist, who has put forth various conspiracy theories, including several about 9/11, that the Sandy Hook shooting was faked, and that the Orlando shooting was a "false flag operation."

Lately Jones has been pushing the conspiracy theory that Clinton will somehow steal the election. Jones was apparently prodded to do this by Trump campaign operative Roger Stone, a dirty trickster who has worked for Republicans since the days of Dick Nixon (he even has a tattoo of Nixon on his back).

I myself don't go for conspiracy theories. But since Trump and his supporters are so enamored of them, here's one: what if the firebombing of the Trump campaign office was a false-flag operation ordered by Roger Stone to distract attention from the arrest of Trump supporters who were plotting to murder hundreds of Muslim immigrants?

Put on your tin foil hat for a moment: if "truly evil" people were behind the firebombing, why would they do it when the office was empty? Why was no one hurt?

Doesn't that seem more like a Roger Stone dirty trick? Or at least a shady landlord trying to collect on an insurance policy, taking a page from Donald Trump's playbook?

There's no possible benefit for Clinton's campaign in the North Carolina arson. Isn't it more likely the Trump campaign itself staged the fire to elicit more outrage from his supporters?

I'm just askin'...

Dedicated To Right Wing Bloggers and Commenters Everywhere

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

What would it take for Trump to lose your vote?

At this point, it's safe to say these are same sorts of people that drove Germany to where it was in the 1930s...

Quoran Quickie

It's weird how things can go viral on Quora. My answers that I think will generate many views and upvotes invariably don't. The ones I think are just throwaways, like this one, get thousands of views and upvotes.

I guess now that extends to comments. A recent answer on who won the first presidential debate led me to this comment on it.

My hope is that Trump loses by a large margin and the GOP returns to the party of Reagan and Bush 1. Even though I am a Democrat, I want an opposition party that can keep the left in check on some of the more outlandish ideas (all corporations are evil, globalization is always evil etc). They have to get rid of all that anger, hate and fear, though, and I’m not sure how that happens.

As of this morning, it has 129 upvotes, the most I have ever had for a comment and the most I've seen on Quora in a while. It took me less than a minute to write but I guess it had an impact.

Other Men Have Said Worse

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lock Him Up!

When I was in fifth grade, I took up the trumpet. Kids in band had to stay after school for practice. On the way home a gang of bullies from the parochial school would ambush me. To avoid them, I gave up the trumpet so I didn't have to walk home late.

In sixth grade I was a police boy, what they call a crossing guard nowadays. In the 1960s the older kids were given bright orange crossing flags and were responsible for making sure the younger kids crossed busy streets safely. (They don't seem to let kids do this anymore -- adults are crossing guards, in the few locales where they let kids walk to school.)

These duties made me late again and the same bullies went after me. Instead of ratting on them, I quit being a police boy to avoid them.

The next year I went to junior high at a public school, while the bullies went to a parochial school two miles in the other direction. The bullying ended, partly because our paths rarely crossed, but partly because I had grown to almost six feet tall.

I relate these incidents to establish that I know a bully when I see one. Donald Trump is a bully. His every word and action for the last 40 years has established this without question. No one, not even his supporters, tries to deny this: they glory in it.

Now Donald Trump stands accused of sexual assault. At its core, sexual assault is essentially a more aggressive and perverted form of bullying. I've never been molested personally, but I've seen it happen.

One day in eighth grade I was walking home. Across the street a gang of bullies was attacking a girl from my class. Lori was a thin, shy, quiet girl. She was nice. They were grabbing her breasts. She was crying and afraid. I didn't intervene, I just ran home. As far as I know Lori never reported the crime, and neither did I, I'm ashamed to admit. I suppose I didn't want to get in trouble with bullies again.

So Lori suffered in silence, like the vast majority of women and girls who are sexually assaulted.

Why did they go after Lori? She wasn't the prettiest or most curvaceous girl in class. She was very quiet and never bothered anyone.

The bullies chose her because she was available, vulnerable, and powerless against them. If she told on them they would deny it, and no one would believe her. Later, they would go after her and do something even worse...

Today Donald Trump says he wouldn't have sexually assaulted the women who are now accusing him of because they aren't attractive enough. Because I know bullies, I know Trump is lying.

Sexual assault is bullying: it's about establishing dominance, not sexual pleasure. Many of the women Trump attacked had come to him for help. Like any street bully, Trump assaulted them because he wanted to show he had the power. He could count on their silence because he could destroy their lives through crushing lawsuits and social ruination: if they ratted him out he would drag them through the mud, making their husbands and boyfriends think they had somehow invited the attack.

That woman on the airplane that Trump felt up? Today Trump scoffs at the idea that he would do such a thing. But just like the eighth-grade bullies in the street, Trump attacked that woman because she was available, vulnerable and powerless against him (who'd believe a billionaire would do such a thing?). Last Friday we heard Trump admitting that he just can't control himself around women, assaulting random women on planes is completely consistent with that.

And just like the eighth-grade bullies in the street, Trump's gang of thugs rallied and cheered him on. Listen to the comments of Trump's supporters when interviewed by the Daily Show's Jordan Klepper. One said, "You know what? So what if he wants to grab pussy. I wanna grab pussy."

Hey, Republicans: your voters are wanna-be sex offenders!

I am completely baffled by this clown. How is grabbing a woman like that in any way pleasurable for either party? What kind of demented, sick people are these guys? Trump supporters -- even the female ones, incredibly -- think that rich, smelly (Tic Tacs), fat, old, bald men are entitled to molest women and girls. For them sexual assault is completely normal and to be expected, and women must submit without complaint.

The fact is, these are sex crimes.

After the news of Trump bragging about molesting women broke, writer Kelly Oxford shared her story of being sexually assaulted. When she was 12 an old man on a city bus grabbed her pussy and smiled at her. By Saturday evening a million women had responded with stories of their own. The behavior Trump brags about is appallingly common in this country. But that doesn't excuse it: it's a sex crime.

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for a bully, a vote for a sex offender. Supporting Trump is condoning the violation of women. Trump's election would mean the normalization of molestation and invite a wave of sexual assaults against millions of American girls and women.

America needs to stand up to bullies, molesters and sex criminals like Donald Trump. Trump may not have any regrets, but I do: I regret that the thirteen-year-old me didn't stand up to the bullies who molested Lori.

Donald Trump is a bully and a criminal sex offender. This time around I'm not going to stay quiet and let a molester get away with assaulting women. Donald Trump's repeated molestations of women are sex crimes, plain and simple. The man should go to jail.

Let's get a chant going: Lock him up! Lock him up!

State Department Bans Superman Disguise

WASHINGTON — To prevent terrorists from using Superman's foolproof disguise, the State Department is banning applicants from wearing eyeglasses in photos taken for passports.

In a notice published Friday, the department says that effective Nov. 1, applicants must remove glasses for passport and visa photographs. It says the step is being taken to "ensure aliens from extinct planets that used to orbit red suns" do not pose as American citizens. Only in rare circumstances, such as when the applicant's eyes "emit powerful energy blasts that can rupture steel plate and pulverize rock," will glasses be allowed.

The department says it expects to process a record number of passports — more than 20 million — in the current budget year that ends next October.

Minneapolis StarTribune

Cease The Lying

The facts on the Affordable Care Act as of October 13, 2016. 

Now stop lying about it because you had some kind of an issue with authority in your adolescence and get catty every time the federal government does something in the best interest of this country and succeeds at it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Unrealistic Corporate Growth Expectations Caused Wells Fargo Debacle

Wells Fargo's CEO was just forced out after testifying before Congress about the scandal at the bank. The company created a quota system for employees to sign up existing customers for additional accounts. These quotas were so unreasonable that thousands of employees created accounts for customers they never asked for and never knew they had.

Honest employees who refused to cheat their customers to meet the unreasonable quotas were fired (and have since filed a $2.6 billion lawsuit for unlawful termination).

The problems at Wells Fargo are not unique. Wall Street has totally unreasonable expectations for revenue growth: companies that don't meet "analyst expectations" are hammered in the stock market. CEOs are given bonuses when their stock price increases, and are fired (albeit with a golden parachute) when they don't meet those unreasonable expectations.

There are only a few ways that revenue can be increased: 1) sell more products, 2) reduce costs, 3) increase prices, 4) create more customers, 5) create new products, 6) create new markets.

Wells Fargo tried to do #1: sell more products to their existing customer base. The problem was these people didn't want these products, but since Wells Fargo had all their financial information it was trivial to rip them off.

This fails when customers already have all the product they want, or can't afford to buy more products. Since salaries have been pretty much stagnant since George W. Bush was in office, there is little hope for growth here.

Most companies try to do #2: reduce costs. This typically involves reducing the cost of production (like Apple switching touch screen suppliers, or cutting employee salaries, or moving production to Asia), or improving productivity (firing employees and making the survivors pick up the slack, reducing the number of employees by replacing them with machines, or using technology to improve the productivity of existing employees).

Problem is, cost reduction often reduces the quality of the product or service. It's also hard for employees whose salaries have been cut (or never rise) to afford to buy the products and services that companies need to sell to increase their revenues.

However, there is a huge potential for cost savings that remains untapped in the vast majority of corporations: executive compensation. CEOs and their executives can pull down billions of dollars in compensation: in 2014 the average Fortune 500 exec made $16 million in salary -- 300 times the average employee, and oodles more in retirement and stock grant benefits. In 1965 the average exec made only 20 times as much as an average employee.

Since execs are just management overhead, the quality of products and services will be almost completely unaffected.

Wells Fargo will save tens of millions of dollars by firing John Stumpf. Not as much as the $185 million in fines they'll have to pay for bilking their customers, unfortunately.

Method #3 -- increasing prices -- is a problem for most companies for the same reason as #1: customers don't have the money. But certain companies can get away with it: in particular, drug companies who have a monopoly on life-saving treatments. Like, for example, Martin Shkreli increasing the price of Daraprim fifty-foldMylan jacking up the price of the EpiPen several hundred percent, or the tripling of the cost of insulin for diabetic patients.

Drug companies can get away with this extortion because people will sicken or die without this medicine: they are holding a gun to their customers' heads and saying, "Your money or your life."

Number 4 -- creating more customers -- used to happen automatically: for centuries population increased geometrically. But population growth has stopped in most developed economies. The United States' population is still increasing but only due to -- you guessed it -- immigration.

Many young people today don't have very good jobs and don't anticipate that they'll be making enough money to afford a home and a family. So we won't be procreating our way out of this problem. Conservatives, afraid of losing their tenuous grasp on political power, are also afraid of immigration, so there's very little hope on that front.

In any case, population growth is not a solution: at 7 billion people, the world has already exceeded its carrying capacity. As the effects of climate change really start to hit hard and natural resources decline, the number of people the earth can support will decrease.

Item #5 -- create new products -- is the favorite of entrepreneurs. The problem is, again, that customers don't have the money to buy new doodads. And truly new products are extremely rare: the personal computer, the cell phone, the Internet were revolutionary.

But every time you come up with a new "killer app" it kills off some older product or service. The personal computer killed off the typewriter and jobs like secretary, file clerk, etc. The cell phone and the tablet are killing off the personal computer. The Internet is killing off newspapers and television networks.

And a lot of "new products" are just recycled garbage. The Great Recession was due to financial institutions selling failing mortgages by repackaging them in more and more obscure bundles to hide just how toxic they were.

Creating new markets -- #6 -- sounds great, but the only place to create new markets is to move into new countries. That means international trade. This is a hot topic in this election as Donald Trump touts gigantic tariffs on foreign countries' products to "punish" them for unfair trade practices. If we do that, they'll do the same to us, making it impossible to create new markets.

Also, in order for these new markets to buy our stuff, their citizens need the money to pay for it. The only new markets left are places like India, Indonesia, and Africa, where average incomes are generally very low. The only way for them earn the money to buy our products is if they have well-paying jobs. And the only way they can do that is if they're selling products and services to people who can afford to pay for them, and that means selling into western economies -- like ours.

(Creating new markets by going into outer space is intriguing, but impossible until we develop compact nuclear fusion generators -- something that doesn't look any closer than it was 50 years ago.)

All of these factors produce one inescapable conclusion: we are entering a steady-state economy and only a few small new companies can experience 10 to 15% revenue growth.

What this really boils down to is: what is the purpose of corporations? To make a small number of people filthy rich? Or to provide products and services to the people of the United States while giving a living wage to the people who actually do all the work?

The outcome of this election may very well answer this question, and determine the fate of the planet.

Wells Fargo Chief=Out

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf steps down amid sales scandal

"The San Francisco bank said Wednesday that Stumpf is retiring effective immediately and also relinquishing his title as chairman. He won't be receiving severance pay and the bank announced earlier that he will forfeit $41 million in stock awards."

To my friends on the right: This is the direct effect of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. (See also: Tea Party Movement RIP)

To my friends on the left: Stop whining about how you don't have any power. You do.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Russian Lawmaker Threatens to Nuke U.S. If Trump Loses

Trump has been kissing Vladimir Putin's ass for quite some time, and now other Russian politicians are returning the favor. In addition to regaining the endorsements of some Republicans who had dumped Trump only days before he threatened to torpedo their reelection campaigns, Trump picked up the endorsement of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, one of Russia's most hateful men.
Americans should vote for Donald Trump as president next month or risk being dragged into a nuclear war, according to a Russian ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin who likes to compare himself to the U.S. Republican candidate.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant veteran lawmaker known for his fiery rhetoric, told Reuters in an interview that Trump was the only person able to de-escalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington.
How would Trump de-escalate tensions? Obviously, by rolling over and caving in to Putin on Ukraine and Syria. Putin's tactics of propping up Bashir Assad in Syria and widening the war there have destabilized Europe and Turkey with a flood of refugees, allowing several ISIS terrorists to launch attacks in Europe and heightening fears of terrorism in the United States.

Russia's corrupt leaders can hardly contain their glee over the prospect of the United States joining the tin-plated dictator club.

Loyalty to the Republican Party's John Wilkes Booth

After the tape of Donald Trump bragging about committing sex crimes was released, dozens Republican legislators and governors withdrew their endorsements of him. Trump responded by blasting them as "disloyal."

What does loyalty mean in this case? These Republicans claim to be loyal to the Republican Party and its ideals of morality and decency, small government, and all the rest. Trump does not represent any of those ideals, and his candidacy will damage the party, perhaps irreparably. So not supporting Trump is in fact expressing loyalty to the Republican Party.

Donald Trump has never been loyal to the Republican Party. Since 1987 he has variously been registered with the Republican Party, the Independence Party, the Democratic Party (starting in August 2001, during W's first year in office), and with no party as recently as 2011.

Now, there's nothing wrong with this for a private citizen. But it demonstrates that Donald Trump has absolutely no loyalty to the Republican Party. Why should lifelong Republicans feel any compunction to remain loyal to Donald Trump, since he has never shown them any loyalty?

When Mitt Romney ran for president he gave state and local politicians money for their reelections and helped them campaign. Donald Trump didn't do this. He flew around the country on a self-promotional tour. He didn't give local politicians any money. He didn't help them campaign. He used them as props for his own self-promotion.

Donald Trump has been disloyal to lifelong Republicans: has blasted George W. Bush over and over for his blunders in the Iraq War. He insulted John McCain's war record. He has claimed Bush created ISIS (he also blames it on Clinton and Obama; Trump's not known for consistency). Trump has spent this entire election cycle blasting Republican "elites," the very people whose loyalty he's now demanding.

So what possible motivation should Republicans have for being loyal to Trump? He has never been loyal to them. He has only insulted and demeaned and stabbed them in the back.

Some establishment Republicans still support Trump, because they feel not doing so will "hurt the party." The problem is that political parties are not unchanging moral monoliths: they are simply the collective will of the people who claim membership in them.

Once upon a time the South was solidly Democratic. Southerners despised the party of Lincoln because of the Civil War. But over time the Republican Party became the party of fat old rich men. Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt popped up every once in a while, but more and more the Republican Party become the party of bankers, millionaires, industrialists. It was headed by men like Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. The laissez-faire attitude of Republican administrations over the wealthy ultimately led to the Great Depression.

The Democratic Party became the party of the people. The Democrats joined with unions to fight the power bloc of the Republican Party and the wealthy. They fought to create the Social Security program. They joined with minorities to fight for the right to vote, end segregation, achieve medical care for the elderly, and campaigned for equal rights for women.

White Southerners, dismayed by the Democrats' policy stands, fled the party in droves. Republicans picked up on this and started courting the Southern white vote, intentionally talking in code about crime, "inner city problems" and "welfare queens."

Were Southerners "disloyal" for abandoning the Democratic Party when it would no longer promote segregation and disenfranchisement of blacks? No: the people who become its majority had renounced white supremacy and embraced equality for all. The philosophy of the Democratic Party had completely shifted.

The Republican Party has continued its racist shift haltingly, sometimes pulling back with Republicans such the Bush family and John McCain, who, for all their warts, seemed earnest in their desire for racial equality and economic fairness. But though many Republicans have paid lip service to those ideals, they did nothing to stop the nativist and racist forces within their Party. They stood by and cheered when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and campaign finance reform. They have actively assisted in the disenfranchisement of millions of voters with "Voter ID" laws that Republicans have bragged were enacted solely to prevent blacks and Democrats from voting.

Donald Trump has staged a hostile takeover of the Republican Party: he has inflamed its racist and nativist elements even further. But worse than that, Trump's entire campaign has been about Trump, not the Republican Party -- he's only been a Republican since 2012.

Donald Trump thinks he's the godfather of a New York crime family, the capo di tutti capi of the Republican Party. To him, party loyalty means subservience to the boss. And he's the boss. Acknowledge his primacy or be snuffed out.

To real Republicans, loyalty to the party means loyalty to the ideals that the party is based on. Candidates come and go, but the party and its ideals are supposed to be eternal.

But that idealistic notion is false: parties are just the people who join them. When Trump put the agenda of misogynistic racists front and center in this presidential election, he shot the party of Lincoln in the back of the head.

Donald Trump is the Republican Party's John Wilkes Booth.

Locker Room Talk

Don't Hurt Their Feelings

In Spanish!

Vote November 28th!

Donald Trump tells supporters to vote on November 28

I guess is what happens when the shackles come off...:)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Do Democrats and other Hillary supporters have the fear of God in them?

This recent piece from Reuters has me more worried than anything else has in this election. With Hillary up anywhere from 7-11 points nationally and well ahead in several swing states, complacency could creep in with voters thinking that she wins so they don't have to vote.

If I were a Democratic leader, I'd shift my strategy to focus on the down ballot elections. Let the Democratic base know we want a strong majority in the Senate and, with Trump at the top of the ticket, we now have a shot at the House. Paul Ryan certainly knows this.

And if I were Hillary Clinton, I'd start talking more about her positive message for the future and how that will be in jeopardy if voters don't turn out.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Second Debate A Go Go

Last night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump looked much like the first debate. Media pundits have been saying that Trump "won" it merely because he stopped the intense bleeding from the previous 24 hours. Polls say otherwise. A CNN poll taken last night showed 57% percent of viewers say Hillary Clinton won with Donald Trump getting 34%. A YouGov poll had Hillary Clinton winning the debate against Donald Trump by 47% to 42%.

Many pundits on Morning Joe this AM felt like Hillary didn't deliver a knockout punch. I'm not sure what that would have been given Trump's weekend which saw GOP Senators and House members fleeing from him in droves. Paul Ryan has effectively given up and will now focus on Congress. Did she really need to do anything? His pre-game shit show of trotting out former Bill Clinton accusers was par for the course. "You did it too!!" was classic right wing blog commenter redirect heavily rooted in emotional immaturity.

Hillary spend most of the night pointing out specifics on policy points while Trump would throw out one thing and then repeat it over and over as an answer. What is he actually going to do as president, other than act like an 8 year old having a temper tantrum? The one thing he was very successful at last night was speaking directly to his supporters who all suffer from CDS (Clinton Derangement Syndrome) and live the bubble of the Bubble of Self Referential Confirmation. They aren't enough to win an election.

The latest polls-plus has been drifting Hillary's way since the last debate and I expect to expand even more in her favor in the coming days. She's at 260 according the RCP map and I can see her expanding into Arizona and maybe even Georgia with the weekend of the sex tape. And what if there are more tapes that come out about Trump? We are officially back to the possibility of a landslide for Hillary Clinton.

Best Tweet From Last Night's Debate

I'm a Muslim, and I would like to report a crazy man threatening a woman on a stage in Missouri. 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Evangelicals Say "We're electing a leader, not a Sunday school teacher"

A lot of Republicans are cutting Donald Trump loose today after the release of a tape of him bragging about how he molested women using the shield of his stardom. But a lot of evangelicals are, incredibly, standing by Trump.

Corey Lewandowski summed up the attitude of many evangelicals when he said, "We're electing a leader, not a Sunday school teacher." It's curious that Corey mentions Sunday school teachers...

The number of priests and pastors who have sexually abused congregants and children is staggering: American churches have spent hundreds billions of dollars settling lawsuits with victims whom priests and pastors have abused in exactly the same way Donald Trump bragged about.

Yet these evangelicals still support Trump. What is going through their minds?

Apparently they believe that those who have been appointed to their position "by God" can do no wrong. Since God chose them to "lead," and God is all-knowing, God knew this would happen from the get-go and was just fine with it. Who are we to question God's judgment?

But of course, God has nothing to do with who becomes a priest or a pastor, and He certainly had nothing to do with Trump's nomination.

Trump characterized his vile comments as mere "locker room banter," and it started out that way:
“Your girl’s hot as s---, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.

“Whoa!” Trump says. “Whoa!”

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the p---y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
But by the end of the exchange Trump is admitting to criminal sexual conduct. Depending on the jurisdiction this varies from second to fifth degree sexual assault. It's "just" a misdemeanor in most places. But "forcible touching" can still get you on the sex offender list.

Trump bragged about committing a crime. He counted on his celebrity to prevent the women from reporting it. He also has a large stable of lawyers on retainer, and given his propensity to sue anyone who crosses him, a woman who dared accuse him would be inundated by a withering barrage of extremely expensive lawsuits.

One woman was brave enough to challenge Trump: Jill Harth, a woman he was briefly in business with. But that wasn't the last of it: Erin Burnett reported that Trump was still pulling this kind of crap in 2010, five years after bragging about it to Billy Bush.

How many women did Trump victimize who have been intimidated by his celebrity status and his army of lawyers? When these kinds of stories began to leak out about Bill Cosby there was a great deal of disbelief because Cosby was such a nice guy; with Trump there are no such illusions.

Are Republicans and evangelicals really just fine with their president being a sex offender? Or do they condone it because, in their minds, "them bitches is askin' for it," or, "they knew what they were getting into," or "that's all women are good for?"

Or worse: "It's God's will."

Boys Will Be Boys

Well, it looks like the Donald is in deep shit now! With the release of this video,

the GOP nominee's chances of becoming president have sunk to zero. Universal condemnations from fellow Republicans have rained down from everywhere over the last 24 hours. What amuses me about all of this is that they seem to be acting shocked. Is this really anything new from Trump? He's been like this all along and they have still supported him.

This video will probably be enough to turn Iowa back blue with all its evangelical voters. Arizona has been looking for an excuse to go blue as well lately. Given the likelihood that Trump won't drop out, a Hillary landslide, something that seemed implausible just a few weeks ago, now seems likely.

The best thing the GOP could do would be to dump Trump and have Pence be at the top of the ticket. Here's why that won't happen. I think that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders see an opportunity here to wrest control back from the short wave radio listener turned email forwarder turned blogger turned all social media believer crowd.

No doubt, the debate tomorrow night just got a whole lot more interesting. This is especially true given Trump's late night apology (see also: hostage) video in which he quickly shifted the blame to the Clinton...just like a good little conservative should:)

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Bubble of Self Referential Confirmation

I posted a question on Quora regarding the Trump supporters video I put up yesterday. There are really some great answers. The top one included this sentence.

Since they live in a bubble of self-referential confirmation, there can’t be substantial amounts of people who disagree.

A bubble of self referential confirmation...that pretty much explains every right wing blog which I have ever read. So, that's now going to become a tag for future posts regarding the right wing cocoon they have all ensconced themselves in.

The best answer to the question was this....

They seem to be the kind of people who are taught from a very early age not to trust authority figures. Of course, the funny thing is, it’s always authority figures that tell them this, but it they won’t see that disconnect or even think about the double standard. The intellectual, people with “book smarts” (“Ever met someone who was so smart they were stupid?” is a favorite tag line), are just as dangerous as “niggers and Jews”, even more so, because “they look like us”. Since they are so smart, they must be using them smarts to “get over on us”. Why do they believe that? Because it’s what they would do if they were smart!
I have had to do a little self analysis to understand this phenomenon. Back in the 7os, there was a rumor going around that Ray Kroc, head of McDonalds, tithed to the Church of Satan. Here is how I fell into the pit of repeating it:
It originated at church. I do not recall that it was started or spread by a pastor, but it was in the church environment that I heard it. I was a naive, devout 16–17 year old who thought that all the people who went to our church were just as devout and would never lie about something that important…or slanderous. If “so-and-so” said it, it must be true. This was pre-Internet, so there was no way to Google it and very hard to squelch such things.
I also found that when I repeated it to like-minded people, their response was almost universally also acceptance, wide-eyed, “You don’t say!” kind of acceptance. WOW! This FELT GOOD! I experienced a frisson of superiority and authority that I had never felt before. I KNEW a secret, and by repeating it, I was elevated through the ranks to the dizzying heights of “the Aware”. It’s an incredible ego boost. Here we were, ready and prepared to boycott Mickey Dees, and I was in the vanguard, leading the way…with the pitchforks and torches.
Word finally reached the office of the man himself, Ray Kroc, and I just so happened to read the paper containing his response. It was pitiful; the gist of it was, “Look, I don’t know where or how this rumor got started, but it’s not true! I’m a Presbyterian for cryin’ out loud!” (may have been Catholic or Episcopal or somesuch). I don’t wish to pat myself on the back, especially after admitting to be one of the purveyors of the vicious rumor, but I differ from the Trump-type conspiracy theorist in my ultimate response. I felt sick. I had slandered a perfectly innocent man, and for what? Christian virtue? An ego boost? A game? Pure gossip, which is wrong even if true if the intent is to hurt (unless it is public knowledge).
I wish someone had had the courage to ask a simple question from the beginning: “How do you know this is true? Are you really willing to potentially damage a person’s reputation based upon such an unfounded accusation?” I might not have taken part, especially since I was young and teachable, in spreading the rumor. As it was, I learned my lesson and learned it well. NO, I am not willing to risk ruining a person’s reputation with unfounded and scurrilous rumors. I refuse to “follow the crowd in doing evil” (“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.” Exodus 23:12) If anyone wants me to believe something, they damn well better have evidence to back it up.

Amazing...if only more people inside the bubble of self referential confirmation had such a high level of reflective ability...

The problem with authority thing is also important to note. It's like they never got over...BEING AN ADOLESCENT.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Beware of the....RIGGERS!!

Offshoring to India Results in Massive Fraud

For the last 20 years American companies have been offshoring their call center operations to India, Asia, Ireland and even Jamaica. Here's the result
Computer savvy criminals posing as Internal Revenue Service officers at call centers in India may have bilked unsuspecting Americans out of millions, police in India said Thursday.

Police in Mumbai conducted a dramatic midnight raid at a call center in the country’s commercial capital of Mumbai on Tuesday, and detained 770 employees for questioning, of which 70 were later charged with fraud, wrongful impersonation and violating the country’s internet safety law.

The call centers were making more than $150,000 a day through these scams that took place for a little over a year, police said.

The callers told their American victims they were conducting a “tax revision” or that they had defaulted on payments to the IRS and would then obtain their personal finance information and withdraw money from their bank accounts, according to Param Bir Singh, a senior police officer in Mumbai who led the raid.
How many times have you gotten one of those scam calls from "Microsoft Windows" to help you get rid of viruses on your computer?
Meanwhile, in another call center in the suburb of New Delhi, police say workers allegedly duped thousands of American citizens by offering to remove a virus from their computers. On Sunday, police in Noida arrested six people for running a call center that sold insurance to Indians by day, but by night, also allegedly duped American consumers with fake offers of tech support to correct malware and viruses. 
Numerous American banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, have moved their call centers to India and the Philippines. These call center employees make peanuts, and they have total access to their customers' most sensitive financial information.

American companies have unwittingly provided criminals in foreign countries with the office space, hardware, training and information to defraud American citizens.
Wells Fargo is undergoing a PR crisis because their American employees committed fraud on a massive scale as a result of unreasonable quotas placed on them. They are opening their customers up to even worse kinds of fraud and identity theft by putting their call centers in third world countries, where poorly paid call center employees come and go without any kind of background checks.

How safe are these call centers from attacks by Russian and Chinese hackers? Or someone just walking in and using the computer of someone who went to the bathroom?

The president of the Philippines has been on an anti-American rampage for the last month, comparing himself to Hitler and threatening to cut military ties to the United States. This man controls the Internet infrastructure that connects Philippine call centers to bank databases in the United States. Do you trust Rodrigo Duterte with your financial data?

As Wells Fargo has shown, American employees are not angels. Wells Fargo management was in the same building where agents were creating fake accounts for customers, racking up billions in phony fees. But with call centers in foreign countries, management has no control over what happens to their customers' information.

I'm not an isolationist. If companies want to put tech support in India and Jamaica, that's fine. But putting all our financial data on the Internet in foreign countries seems extremely unwise: the US government has no jurisdiction over what goes on there; we're totally dependent on foreign governments to find and prosecute the people stealing our information.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. It has the potential to be blow up even bigger than the Great Recession.