Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Twenty Five

In the season four finale of The West Wing, terrorists kidnap the president's daughter. President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, invokes section three of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, temporarily ceding the presidency to the speaker of the House (there is no vice president). Bartlett (correctly) believes he is incapable of making decisions in the best interest of the country while his daughter is being held hostage.

Now imagine that the president has dozens of unguarded children scattered around the globe, susceptible to kidnapping, murder and extortion. Could any decision he makes ever be considered in the best interests of the country, when his babies are constantly under threat?

That scenario will come to pass when Donald Trump assumes the presidency in January. The targets won't be Trump's actual children, but his office buildings, golf courses, hotels and resorts, which terrorism experts call "soft targets." I alluded to this problem in an earlier post, and now security analysts are voicing the same concerns.

Trump has now acknowledged as much, and claims that he'll be separating himself from "business operations" to avoid conflicts of interest. This is totally bogus. He will still own the properties. He will still derive income from them. They will still have his name on them. He will still know and communicate with the cronies who will control them. They will still be his babies.

This vast network of mostly unprofitable properties (i.e., tax dodges) will be a drag on Trump's presidency, making him vulnerable to terrorism, bribery, blackmail and extortion. His ego will never allow him to truly let go of his babies.

He could, of course, ameliorate these concerns by actually selling these properties on the condition that they be renamed, and by releasing all his tax returns from the last 20 years so that we can see that he really has divested himself of these conflicts of interest. But what are the odds he'll do that?

After the first couple of terrorist attacks on Trump properties questions will arise about whether Trump is caving in to terrorist demands. Will the vast majority of Republicans in congress that Trump insulted throughout the election have the balls to invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and install their dream guy Mike Pence as president?

Donald Trump's paranoia is going to make Dick Nixon look like Pollyanna.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump Supporter On Airplane

What am I not supposed to think about Trump supporters again?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Memo To Media: Shut the Fuck Up About Rural White Voters

At this point, the media really needs to shut the fuck up about rural white voters. Let's see...some people have lost their jobs because of globalization (along with a steadfast refusal to retrain in a different field) and technology versus hundreds of years of systemic oppression which still continues to this day.

If I were a person of color in the US today, I'd be way past sick over this hyper obsession with people who have honestly enjoyed privilege their entire lives and refuse to accept it.

Not Compromised

The Obama administration effectively threw cold water on the idea that the Russians were involved in hacking voting machines in the 2016 election.

In its statement, the administration said, “The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”

I think it's a good idea to do a recount in the states where the margin was so close but at this point, I do not think the election was rigged or hacked. Donald Trump won the electoral college.

Of course, the fact that he lost the popular vote by over 2,000,000 votes is a whole other story. At what point does the electoral college become absurd?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Five Ways To Disrupt Racism

Own It, Bitches

Being Liberal has asked Trump voters to own their vote.

It is your right to vote for an extremist racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic candidate unconcerned with consent, let alone reproductive rights. It is your right to vote for someone who literally built a campaign on a "great wall" and a promise to profile people based on their religion. It is your right to vote for a candidate who actively incites violence and got the loudest cheers at his rallies for vowing to "carpet bomb" other countries (and then to say that he does not want war). It is your right to cite "due process" on multiple sexual assault and rape charges for your candidate and vote for him anyway. 

It is psychological warfare/gaslighting to do that and then say that you do not intend to silence those who disagreed, those who will be affected by the radical changes you signed on for.


Of course, being the adolescents that they are, they won't take responsibility for it.

As Long As I Live...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump's Unspoken Deal for Not Prosecuting Clinton

Donald Trump and his mouthpieces have now said that he won't call for Hillary Clinton to be prosecuted for the phony email server and Clinton Foundation scandals.

Trump is making the "I'm such a nice guy" excuse for stopping the persecution: “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about. I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”

Rush Limbaugh is making the "It's just not done" excuse: “I never expected Trump to actually prosecute her. And the reason is…I’m falling back on what some of the standard protocols for politics are after victory and this just, we in America do not prosecute defeated political enemies...If he did it, it was going to be icing on the cake for me. But I never expected him to do it.”

In other words, Limbaugh knew Trump was just blowing smoke when he said that. Many of Trump's supporters seem to believe this about his other promises as well: the ban on Muslims, the deportation of immigrants, draining the swamp, firing lobbyists, starting a trade war, bringing back jobs, and on and on. It was all just red meat to fire up the crowds.

Trump's more delusional supporters are fervently hoping that Trump is lying now rather than lying back then: by saying he'll stop persecuting Clinton, Trump will give Obama a false sense of security so that he doesn't preemptively pardon Clinton before he leaves office. That's what Republicans Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush did when they preemptively pardoned Dick Nixon and the Iran-Contra conspirators. They nobly pardoned their cronies to "heal the nation."

But the most logical reason Trump won't push this is that there's no chance that it would actually result in a conviction: after literally years of congressional and FBI investigations into the email server, Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation, it's obvious that there's nothing there. Trump was just throwing out tired, disproved allegations to fire up the know-nothings at his rallies, giving them something mindless to chant and rant about.

It is these nitwits who are outraged that Trump is breaking his promise to "trump the bitch."

But the real reason he's calling off the dogs is that Trump is making an unspoken deal with the Democrats. And that has to do with Trump's own foundation.

The Clinton Foundation is a legitimate charity that has served tens of millions of the poorest people in the world, helping to prevent malaria and unwanted pregnancies, treat HIV, pneumonia and diarrhea, as well as sponsor midwife and childhood nutrition programs. It does real charity work.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation, however, doesn't do anything of the sort. Trump doesn't even contribute to it. It's basically a slush fund that Trump uses to buy things like a portrait of himself and a Tim Tebow helmet. He also used the foundation's money -- donated by other people -- to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal settlements incurred by his businesses.

Going after the Clinton Foundation would almost certainly invite retaliatory investigations into the Trump Foundation, which is clearly just a money-laundering and tax avoidance scheme. The most damning evidence is the fact that Trump's foundation paid an IRS fine for making an illegal $25,000 donation to Pam Bondi's reelection campaign for the attorney general of Florida.

This looks like a quid pro quo: it appears that in exchange for the donation and a fund raiser Trump hosted that raised $150K for her campaign, Bondi dropped the Florida Trump University fraud investigation. Just last week Trump settled three other fraud cases for $25 million. Buying Bondi off for $25K probably saved Trump another $10 or $20 million. What an investment!

This is why just yesterday Trump was forced to announce that foundation money wouldn't be used to pay off the $25 million fraud settlement.

No, by letting Clinton off the hook Trump is clearly angling to pressure Democratic attorneys general in New York and California to ease up on the Trump Foundation. He can always change his mind and go after Clinton if the Democrats don't play ball.

On the other hand, investigations into the Trump Foundation could be a blessing in disguise for Republicans. A lot of them still despise Trump, and would love to see him go down. They may quietly urge New York A.G. Eric Schneiderman to go ahead with his investigation. Then they can use whatever Schneiderman digs up at Trump's impeachment trial.

And then they can install the man they really want to be president: Mike Pence.

Heil Trump!

Tell me again about how references to Nazis and Trump supporters is overblown, Godwin's law, nonsense and just like what liberals did with Bush...

And the go fuck yourself. It's morons like you that have helped shit like this happen over and over again throughout history...

Trump's Businesses Make Him Vulnerable to Extortion

One of the biggest concerns over Donald Trump's presidency has been his conflicts of interest and the potential for influence peddling.

Republicans tried to cast Hillary Clinton as corrupt for talking to foreign diplomats whose countries had made donations to the Clinton Foundation, which does things like fight malaria in poor countries.

With Trump it'll be much worse: foreigners are reportedly flocking to the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC to curry favor with the president-elect. When they rent rooms at Trump hotels, play golf at Trump golf courses, buy jewelry from Trump's daughter, they're not helping cure malaria. They're putting money directly into Trump's pockets.

This is what bribery looks like in the age of Trump: naked money grubbing.

Trump was "too busy" preparing to assume the presidency to defend himself in court against the Trump University fraud suits, so he settled for $25 million. This was after he claimed he would never settle because only losers settle.

Trump, however, had plenty of time to meet with business partners from India and Nigel Farage to lobby against wind turbines near his golf courses in Britain. And ask the Argentinian president for a building permit for an office tower in Buenos Aires.

Trump argues that everyone knew that he owned these properties. So it's okay that foreigners would be forking over millions of dollars to Trump businesses to get on his good side.

But there's a darker side to this: Trump is vulnerable to threats against his business interests. Any country could threaten to shut down his businesses unless they get the special treatment from the United States that they want. Trump would be hard-pressed to retaliate diplomatically against such threats because it would underline how vulnerable he is to blackmail.

Worse, criminal gangs have a lot more power over Trump than over past presidents. Mexican drug lords could threaten to burn down a few of his hotels unless he calls off the DEA. Unlike a country, he can't sanction them diplomatically. And once he buckled under these threats, they'd have him forever, pulling him in deeper and deeper by threatening to expose the deal.

The worst, though, is how a Trump presidency empowers and encourages terrorists.

His businesses depend on people having free and easy access. But Trump has already cost high-end restaurants and stores in and near Trump Tower a lot of business due to beefed-up security. Every time he's in residence they shut down Fifth Avenue. Anyone going into the building is searched. Wherever Trump goes, the Secret Service will follow, and that means everyone will be hassled endlessly.

That can't be good for business.

In the past terrorists have targeted U.S. embassies and consulates: the Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in 1979, Al Qaeda bombed our embassies in Africa, and then there was Benghazi. Terrorists targeted the World Trade Center in New York twice.

With Trump the terrorists' job will get a whole lot easier.

Trump's (unprofitable) real estate holdings make him extremely vulnerable to terrorist extortion. Hotels, golf courses and office buildings are soft targets: not only do they have to accommodate lots of customers and visitors who want easy access, they also employ a lot of poorly-paid staff.

How will Trump be able to ensure guests at his properties across the world that every minimum-wage janitor, security guard, maid, busboy and masseuse who has total access to a Trump property has been totally vetted and isn't a member of ISIS?

Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, where he'll be spending Thanksgiving, hires foreigners from countries like Romania in preference to Americans. How can Trump be sure that his Romanian masseuse isn't  really a Moldovan of Russian extraction planted by the Russian FSB, or a Chechen ISIS sympathizer? How can he reliably vet hundreds of employees from former Soviet bloc countries?

Terrorists won't have to fight their way past American marines to invade the walled compounds of our embassies. They can waltz into the lobby of any Trump hotel or office building with a machine gun and start shooting. They can hold the new president hostage with a bombing at a Trump resort, or just by doing doughnuts on the greens at his golf courses.

How many of the ultra-wealthy crowd are going to patronize Trump businesses after a few dozen of them are gunned down by radical Islamic terrorists?

With all these vulnerable interests worldwide Trump is totally exposed to blackmail by anyone with an axe to grind. All they need to do is phone in a threat against a Trump property and suddenly they have the ear of the president.

Trump's businesses aren't just conflicts of interest and fetid cesspools of bribery. They are pressure points that enemies of the United States can use to force the new president into decisions that benefit him personally, but aren't in the best interests of the United States of America.

How will we know whether anything Trump does is for the good of the American people, or is part of some scam to profit him or protect one of his interests?

Given Trump's history of deal-making and bankruptcies that make him rich and screwed everyone else involved, the answer is already clear.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

An Optimistic Note

I have to admit that I've been pretty bummed since Donald Trump won the presidency. How can someone with such an ugly personality be representing our country? Further, consider how he would do, minus his celebrity, if he was applying for a job. His background check? Fail, due to poor credit and the bankruptcies. And most companies look at social media activity which would be a giant red flag. The video of him bragging about sexual assault would be an automatic disqualifier.

Yet I am optimistic about a couple of things. With the Republicans controlling all three branches of government, they are going to be held accountable for what they do. No more bitching about the Democrats ruining everything. Sure, they will try to blame the liberal media but they are the ones running the show so they have to do a good job. No doubt they will try to dodge the responsibility but the people that voted them in likely won't let them.

It's also nice to see that Trump is nominating old guard Republicans, going back on his promise to "drain the swamp," to key posts in his administration. Bannon by himself can likely be handled. Thankfully, there won't be a cabinet filled with Bannons, although ol' Steve-O is also going to see just how fun it is to be the responsible one. I'm going to be very interested to see a right wing blogger try to spin away mistakes.

If Trump ends up nominating Mitt Romney as Secretary of State, that would be his first good move. It would also be a sign that his cozying up to Russia was all an act. We'll see...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Outrage Over Outrage

I've been very amused at just how clueless conservatives have been over the protests and anger over the election of Donald Trump. How dare they question his racist statements and stated policy paths? He doesn't really mean those things so why should people be upset? Silly, silly liberals...

Even more hilarious is how fucking dense they over what exactly happens when leaders use scapegoats to cement nationalistic rule. Surely they can't be so ignorant to have forgotten about what happened in Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia in the early 20th century. Getting angry over people (Muslims, Hispanics) being naturally worried that they are now targets of either civilian or government oppression makes you more than stupid.

It makes you a dick.

In fact, it makes you like these guys...

Oh, and by the way, Godwin's law no longer applies in this situation. Reality is not the internet. And when someone openly advocates for the registration of an ethnicity or religion, it's time to recognize it for what it is.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Ivanka Babysits Trump at Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka attended the meeting with Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan. 

The New York Times headline says her presence "raises questions:"
WASHINGTON — The potential for conflicts of interest between President-elect Donald J. Trump and his family’s business ventures emerged again Thursday evening, when a photograph was distributed that showed his daughter Ivanka at a meeting between Mr. Trump and the prime minister of Japan.

News reporters were not allowed to attend the session, Mr. Trump’s first with a foreign head of state, and no summary was provided about what was discussed. A separate photograph was distributed — press photographers were not allowed to cover the event — showing that Jared Kushner, Ms. Trump’s husband, was present for at least part of the gathering.
Questions like, was she there to make sure he didn't talking about pussy-grabbing? Or start yakking about how Japan is killing us?

Or was she there just to hawk the $11,000 bangle from her jewelry line?

The Trump administration is shaping up to be the most ignorant, uninformed, incompetent, corrupt and nepotistic in history.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hi. My Name is Dennis Carstens. And I am 14 years old...

The liberal elites finally got their walking papers

I voted for Donald Trump because I am one of the millions who are tired of the liberal elites — the politicians, academics, media people and self-absorbed celebrities constantly telling me that they know what is best for me and everyone else. Now they are practically hysterical in their shock at finding out that so many of us don't see the world through their smug eyes. How could we not see the world the way they do? What is wrong with us? Actually, nothing. We simply are tired of you.

You know what I'm tired of, Dennis? People who are so fucking adolescent that they refuse to reflect and think that maybe there are people out there who know more than they do...

It's not really very difficult.

My name is Mark Ward. And I know that there are people out there who are smarter and more accomplished than I am. Some are leaders in the public sector and some are leaders in the private sector. I support them in their endeavors and trust them to do the right thing, most of the time.

See how easy that is?

And I really don't feel like I've lost any sort of control of my life:)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Communists Past and Present

The Times has a great piece up about Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's new Chief Strategist. Everyone knows how much of a racist asshole the guy is but what I can't figure out is why right wing bloggers like him so much. After all, he said this:

I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment. 

Wow. made the quote red on purpose so the right wing bloggers and commenters that I know still read this site every day have a hurt head the rest of the day. Seriously. How the fuck does this guy rate so high with the alt right? Aren't they the ones who foam at the mouth about how liberals are turning us into Russia?

It seems like they are the ones that have some bromance issues with communists, both past and present!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Two Articles of Warning

Two great pieces popped up in my news feed this week. The first was written right after Brexit on July 23 of this year.

History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump

At a local level in time people think things are fine, then things rapidly spiral out of control until they become unstoppable, and we wreak massive destruction on ourselves. For the people living in the midst of this it is hard to see happening and hard to understand. To historians later it all makes sense and we see clearly how one thing led to another. During the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme I was struck that it was a direct outcome of the assassination of an Austrian Arch Duke in Bosnia. I very much doubt anyone at the time thought the killing of a European royal would lead to the death of 17 million people.

This is, of course, what the right wing bloggers have been predicting for years would happen for years if Democrats were allowed to lead. But, as is usually the case, they engage in projection and completely fail to see that it's THEM that are taking steps toward this. If they could only see how they are secret authoritarians...

The other article is about the value of alarmism,

Alarmism saved my family from Hitler: Why I won’t tell anyone to calm down about Trump

Again, the alt right has been saying for years that Obama is Hitler but that's more of an adolescent whine about doing things they don't wanna do, dad gubmit! Hitler rose to power by using an ethnic group as a scapegoat (the Jews) to cement his fascist power. The Democrats never had such a scapegoat.

But the alt right and Donald Trump certainly do. In fact, they have several.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

This Photo Says It All

And when this happens, Republicans win...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post-Election Fears

Each time Barack Obama was elected president, gun and ammo sales went through the roof. Gun nuts were afraid that the government was going to come and get their guns. Obama never advocated taking guns away, he only proposed rigorous background checks and making it harder to obtain military grade weapons.

Of course, there were no confiscations. It was all a huge lie, baseless fears stoked by paranoid conspiracy theorists, who incidentally owned stock in weapons manufacturers, whose stock prices went up. But when Trump was elected gun stocks dropped:
While industries like construction, biotech and private prisons saw their stocks rise on Wednesday, companies like Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger & Co. fell sharply, dropping by 15% and 16%, respectively.
Trump's election has stoked different fears, causing people to rush out and buy a different product: long-term birth control. IUDs can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years, while hormonal implants work for three to six years -- hopefully long enough to survive the Trump administration.

Unlike the irrational paranoid fear gun nuts felt, the fear these women feel is totally justified.

Whereas Obama never proposed gun confiscation, Trump has promised to eliminate the birth control mandate for insurance policies. He has promised to repeal Obamacare, which will eliminate health care for millions of Americans, including women of child-bearing age who can't afford to be pregnant without health care.

Trump has promised to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control, prenatal care, abortions and women's health care.

Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion. This allowed many Catholics and evangelicals held their noses and vote for the thrice-divorced pussy-grabber.

Trump has said that women should be punished for having an abortion. He unconvincingly walked that back after this aides told him he wasn't supposed to actually say out loud the truly disgusting things that conservatives believe.

Trump has promised to deny women access to birth control, health care, and abortion. So of course they fear that they will get pregnant during next two or four years that Republicans hold the presidency and Congress.

Does Trump's presidency mean it's open season on women?
But darker fears may also be at work. Trump's candidacy has exposed a lot of sexism and outright misogyny, which Trump voters tacitly or explicitly condoned. When Trump was caught bragging about sexually assaulting women, his supporters defended him. They said that Trump was just lying to impress Billy Bush, or they denied such assaults are criminal, or said they wanted to grab pussies themselves.

Are women afraid that a Trump presidency will start an all-out assault on women by dickheads who want to emulate the president-elect?

That's probably a paranoid and irrational fear. But unlike the unreasonable fear of government gun confiscation that never happened during the Obama administration, the fact is that thousands of women are sexually assaulted and raped every single year.

And there's a disturbing trend in the court system to let rich white rapists off with a slap on the wrist (here are more).

So, all you gun nuts out there: your confiscation fears were all paranoid fantasies. But women's fears of getting assaulted, raped and pregnant in a country run by a sexual predator are all too real and ever-present.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Wave?

I've been reading a lot today about the Trump wave and Trump's America and how the disaffected white man came out to finally vote for the first time. What a bunch of nonsense.

A key thing to remember in all of this is that Hillary and the Democrats blew it...Donald Trump did not win it. With the popular vote still coming in, we have Hillary at 60.1 million and Trump at 59.8 million. John McCain got 59.9 million in 2008 when enthusiasm for Republicans was at an all time low. Romney got 60.1 at a time when Barack Obama's approval rating was below 50 percent.

My point is that Trump didn't awaken droves of voters that have been pissed off at the elites. Hillary FAILED to awaken those voters and bring them to her side. She needed the same levels that the president had (69.4 and 65.9, respectively). Trump's "enthusiastic" voters are still less than McCain's unenthusiastic voters. That says FAIL on the part of Democrats to put up a candidate to beat a shrinking party.

And that's what they should be focusing on for the next four years. Who is out there who is young and can speak to a broad coalition (heavy on the younger side) as Barack Obama did? I've Monday morning quarterbacked the idea that Bernie Sanders could have beat Trump as many of my liberal friends have told me. He probably would have won Michigan and Pennsylvania. But the south? Doubtful. People of color? Much less than Hillary.

What really should have happened is this....Barack Obama doesn't run in 2008 and Hillary wins easily at a time when the Dems had a lock on the race. She takes out bin Laden and likely does a better job than the president did with Congress. Maybe she wins a second term, maybe not. With no Obama, Trump never really comes on the scene so he's not a factor in 2016. In comes the skinny guy with the funny sounding name and we elect our first black president this year when people are even more hungry for change...

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Loss For The Ages

Last night's election stunned the nation. Many are finding themselves asking how it could happen. The answers are obvious.

Barack Obama got 69 million votes in 2008 and 67 million votes in 2012. Hillary Clinton got 59 million in 2016. That says it all right there. If you are a Democrat running for president, you need 65 million votes to win because the GOP will always get around 60 million (McCain got 59 million in 2008 and Romney got 62 million in 2012). As Nikto mentioned in the previous post, Trump lost the popular vote. He will get at most 310 electoral votes (Arizona, Michigan and New Hampshire aren't official yet). He won states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by very small margins.

What this all tells me that is that the Democrats completely failed to get out the vote. There as no invisible white vote. The Republicans turned out and voted. Period. People were not excited about Hillary Clinton like they were about Barack Obama. She just didn't excite that coalition that can get Democrats elected president. She was too much of an undesirable candidate. The Democrats also failed to read the electorate and realize that this really was a change election. Bernie Sanders might have done better. Even a younger and hipper progressive candidate would have seemed a better fit with taking the baton from Barack Obama.

I have to admit that I'm really at a loss for words. Abraham Lincoln...FDR...JFK...Ronald Reagan....and Donald Trump? Really??!!

If his past behavior is any indication, our country is going to be run like a banana republic with the world looking upon us in disdain and pity. All of the apocalypse dreamin' by the alt right is finally going to come true...except for real this time.

I hope we can all live with it.

Don't Pack Your Bags for Canada Just Yet

There are reports that the Canadian immigration website went down last night due to excessive volume. Maybe it was Americans looking to flee to Canada, or maybe it was Trump's Russian hacking team performing yet another DDoS attack.  In any case, it's much too early to start thinking of moving to Canada.

Remember, in 2004 George Bush won reelection and Republicans took the House and Senate. That only lasted two years: they lost the Senate in 2006 and the House in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected. The same thing happened again when Republicans took the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

Republicans will try to spin the 2016 presidential election as some kind of mandate for Trump and their party. This is far from the truth: Trump lost the popular vote by more than 200,000, receiving only nine more than the 270 electoral votes required. Republicans lost seats in Congress: Democrats gained one seat in the Senate and at least five in the House, though Republicans do still retain control.

Democrats made gains in the Congress despite highly gerrymandered congressional districts, fielding a highly unpopular presidential candidate, and a never-ending drum beat of voter suppression and intimidation.

Trump won by playing the race, fear, and man cards against Hillary's diversity, progress and woman cards. Groups that had come out strongly in support of Obama (younger and minority voters) stayed home this time around, either because Republican manipulations of the system stopped them, swallowed the groundless Benghazi, email and foundation nonsense, or they just weren't into Clinton. Some of them may have swallowed Trump's "What have you got to lose?" line.

If Trump actually carries out all the promises he's made, people will quickly find out what they've got to lose. He has threatened hundreds of millions of Americans:
  • Blacks: stop and frisk street harassment by cops
  • Latinos: deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, which will inevitably mean harassment of millions of legal residents
  • The press: threatening to sue anyone who writes anything bad about him (his supporters also threatened to string them up)
  • Women: making abortion even harder to get and punishing women who get one
  • Gays: Trump didn't talk about it much, but Republicans have vowed to overturn the Supreme Court gay marriage decision, and with Trump appointing Scalia's replacement they will almost certainly try to relitigate gay marriage
  • College students: Sanders' and Clinton's college tuition proposals will go nowhere in the Trump administration
  • Anyone with a pre-existing medical condition: Trump's plan to repeal Obamacare will allow insurance companies to reject anyone for any reason, and charge those they do enroll obscenely high premiums. Plus there won't be any premium subsidies from the government, just tax deductions -- which only the rich can use.
  • Single parent households: Trump's plan will increase their taxes.

If Trump doesn't carry out those threats, he will turn out to be just another lying politician who made a bunch of promises he never intended to carry through on. He would face a huge backlash from the noisy minority of anti-establishment people who elected him. They would likely stay home in 2018, just like the people who were disappointed by Obama stayed home in 2010 and 2014.

Trump may even face mutiny from within the Republican Party if he tries to exact revenge on all the Republicans who denounced him after his pussy-bragging went public.

What this all means is that Republican electoral gains in this election will probably be short-lived.

The real question is how much damage will Trump and the Republicans do to the country in the meanwhile. Will they pack the Supreme Court with political yes-men? Will they destroy the tax system, the education system, the environment, the economy, the balance of trade, and relations with our closest foreign allies? Will they disenfranchise even more voters with pernicious laws to suppress Democratic and minority voters as they desperately cling to dwindling numbers and fading power?

Will the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, militias and alt-right nutjobs that Trump dredged out of the shadows be emboldened and harass more Latinos, murder more Muslims, burn more black churches, occupy more government facilities, and blow up more federal buildings?

If you pack up and go to Canada, yes they will. If you stay here and fight -- and vote -- the people who elected Trump will be dying off in greater and greater numbers in the next four, eight, sixteen years. They realize this, which means they're only going to get more vicious and desperate.

Sadly, the next few years promise to be very ugly. But time is not on their side.

The 2016 Election Was Decided in 2010

Before the election Donald Trump was saying that the election was rigged. It was, but not the way he meant it.

It was rigged by Republican legislatures elected in the off-year elections of 2010 and 2014. In the 2010 election Republicans won control of many state legislatures, such as Wisconsin. First they gerrymandered legislative districts to ensure Republican congressional majorities. Then they began passing laws to suppress voter turnout by Democrats and minorities.

This was a project that had long been in the works. Recognizing demographic trends, Republicans started their voter suppression campaign during the Bush administration, when Alberto Gonzalez fired US attorneys who wouldn't play ball.

It wasn't enough to prevent Obama's re-election in 2012, but over the next four years, with the help of the Supreme Court's neutering of the Voting Rights Act, they got their voter suppression machine into high gear in time for the 2016 election. Trump won several states by the thinnest of margins, entirely due to changes in election laws enacted by Republicans to prevent their enemies (and that's how they think of Democrats and minorities) from voting.

I can't say that I predicted this election's outcome, but I have always disputed the nonsensical myth that Democrats can't lose a presidential election because of shifting demographics. "The numbers," we were told, make it impossible for a Republican to win the presidency.

The problem with this is two-fold: the first is Republican voter suppression of Democrats and minorities, and the second is that much of the Democratic voter base is less experienced, less committed and less reliable than the elderly white people who have for centuries gamed the system to get what they want. For example, as contradictory and crazy as it seems, it looks like about a third of Latinos voted for Trump.

I have also disputed the value of polls in predicting election outcomes in recent years. Once upon a time they might have worked, but they are worthless now. In this age of endless telephone scams, no one with a brain answers the phone without caller ID. And no one responds to a telephone poll unless they're hopelessly naive and altruistic, or they're trying to game it.

Poll respondents are self-selecting. Selfish and self-centered people won't bother to waste their time on a poll. That means Trump voters were not adequately represented in the final tallies, just as his campaign claimed.

Even though Trump won the electoral college, it appears that Clinton won the popular vote: 59,163,675 votes nationally, to Trump's 59,027,971 — a margin of 135,704.

Trump will be the second president in 16 years to be elected by a minority of the voters. This is possible because of the electoral college: small rural states, which are more Republican, get more electoral votes per capita than large urban states, which are more Democratic. Republicans now control the presidency, the Senate and the House with comfortable margins.

The last time we gave Republicans this much control we got the World Trade Center Attack, the Iraq War, tens of thousands of dead and wounded Americans, handouts to big Pharma, Hurricane Katrina, warrantless wiretapping, the Great Recession and the Wall Street Bailout. Plus an endless litany of scandal after scandal: Bush ignoring the intel on Al Qaeda, his lies on WMDs, Jack Abramoff, Hurricane Katrina, the creation of ISIS by Bush's blunders in Iraq, Alberto Gonzales' resignation when the voter suppression firings were uncovered, the missing emails from Karl Rove's secret account (odd how no Republican ever mentioned that during this entire election cycle). And on and on.

By contrast, the last time we gave Democrats this much control we got health care for everyone.

George Bush's daddy issues and his lack of attention to detail got us into endless war in the Middle East. But Donald Trump makes Bush look like Einstein: Trump knows nothing about foreign policy, military doctrine, law, governance, or the economy.

Trump has a huge rat's nest of financial conflicts of interest. Every move he makes will immediately bring into question whether it's for the good of the country, or to feather Donald Trump's gilded nest.

Worse, Trump has a whole host of psychological problems: racism, misogyny, narcissism, greed, an inability to concentrate for more than a few minutes, an endless thirst for vengeance, and a constant need for attention and showing off. And then there's his incipient Alzheimer's.

Given the horde of sycophants and lackeys Trump has surrounded himself with, his administration is shaping up to be the most incompetent and corrupt in living memory.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Final Election Map

After months of back and forth, we have finally arrived on the eve of the election. Here is my final map.

Click the map to create your own at
The early voting in North Carolina, Florida and Nevada (especially Hispanic voter turnout) will push Hillary over the top.

How to Shorten the Wait for Voting

There have been numerous stories in recent days about terribly long lines for early voting, like this one in LA County:
Thousands of Angelenos braved long lines and, in some cases, waited up to four hours to take advantage of early voting this weekend at half a dozen polling stations set up around Los Angeles County.

From West Covina to Culver City, voters woke up before sunrise for a chance to be the first in line to cast their ballots and beat the inevitable crowds ahead of Tuesday’s general election.
We've had the same thing in our suburban Minneapolis city: both Saturday and today the line was an hour and a half long at the polling place where my wife works as an election judge. On the the Monday before the election proper, city officials say that a third of registered voters have already cast their ballots.

People are saying things like, "I have never seen such long lines." This should not be a surprise: only a few polling places are open for early voting compared to election day.

In LA County it's six polling stations for an area with 10 million residents. In our city, there are 22 polling places on election day, but only one for early voting.

In these last several presidential elections there have been many complaints about long lines. In some locales that's because election officials underestimate turnout, or close polling stations or supply an insufficient number of ballots in minority areas to intentionally suppress the vote.

But that's not always the case: in areas like ours people show up at polling places an hour early, then complain about having to stand in line for hours as the huge crush of voters clears. Then, during the middle of the day, the polling places are empty.

One of the biggest problems people experience voting is that don't know where their polling place is: they try to vote at a location near their work, or the polling place they see just down the street from their house. Lots of people show up at a polling station only to find that they're in the wrong place. This wastes a lot of time.

Why are polling places so picky? Ballots are extremely specific: if you go to the wrong polling station, they won't have the ballot for your place of residence. Ballots contain races ranging from president of the United States, US senate, US House, governor, state senate, state house, county, metropolitan regional authorities than span multiple cities and counties, city council, court of appeals, district court, watershed district, park board, school board, county and municipal clerks and even dog catcher. All these different jurisdictions have different boundaries, which means the ballot for the house across the street from you may well have several different set of races on it.

So, how do you minimize the time it takes to vote?

In many locales you can vote absentee without any lines at all. Apply for an absentee ballot before the deadline, then mail it at least a week before election day. If you don't want to use the mail, in many locales you can fill out your absentee ballot and turn it in at an early voting polling station to be tallied immediately without having to wait in line.

In Oregon all voting is done by mail.

Voting by mail has its attractions, but it is vulnerable to fraud, both official and unofficial. Mail-in ballots can be intercepted by third parties, filled in by the wrong people, and altered by unscrupulous election judges who open them (which has happened this election cycle).

If you vote in person, the first and most important thing to do is go to the right polling place. Polling stations aren't permanent. They can change for all sorts of reasons: shifting demographics, security concerns about holding elections in schools, churches that host elections can close or have scheduling conflicts, etc.

Like any bar, restaurant, or movie theater, demand for voting varies during the day. The easiest way to minimize your wait is to vote on election day at your local polling place during an off time. Around here, early morning is always busiest because so many people vote before work. Lines are usually shortest in early afternoon here, but this may vary in areas with different demographics. Taking a late lunch with a stop to vote may be your best bet.

When you vote this year, ask the election judge what their deadest time of the day is, and come in at that time the next time you vote. 

In most places, voting after work is usually less of a wait because most polling stations are open till 8 PM and people get off work at all different times. They arrive at polling stations in a staggered fashion during late afternoon and early evening than in the morning, when everyone shows at once when the polls open.

Going forward, there are many things that should be done to make voting easier.

Employers are supposed to accommodate workers' right to vote, but it never seems to work out. Businesses should be required to allow workers to vote at whatever time works out best for the employee.

Making election day a national holiday would theoretically make things easier, but that seems unlikely. People would try to use the election holiday for some other purpose, like a four-day weekend. Or they'd use it as a day to get chores done, which would mean they'd all try to vote early in the morning to free up time for something else, replicating the problem we currently have.

There are things that we should not do as well. We should not vote on the Internet, or use computers to record votes. With all the computer hacking going on, it's clear that computers cannot be trusted.

If you use a computer to enter your vote, there is no guarantee that it will be counted properly: a paper "audit trail" is meaningless. People need to be able to look at a ballot and count the votes by hand to guarantee an accurate tally is produced.

Republican-controlled states like Wisconsin have placed restrictions on early voting in order to suppress minority and Democratic turnout. Courts have struck down many of these laws, but the patchwork of local differences means all Americans aren't being treated equally under the law.

National standards should be established for voting: minimum numbers should be set for opening hours, weekend hours, days of early voting, polling stations per capita, travel distance, etc. In this new voting rights act states should also be able to exceed these minimums if they wish to make it easier for their citizens to vote.

Historically, the elderly are the most reliable voters: they have a sense of duty and have little else to do with their time. It should be just as easy for voters of all ages and backgrounds to carry out this most basic duty of democracy.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Comey Clears Clinton. Again

As expected, the tempest that FBI Director James Comey created in the campaign teapot a week ago Friday turned out to be nothing:
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusion that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” Mr. Comey wrote in a letter to the leaders of several congressional committees. He said agents had reviewed all communications to and from Mrs. Clinton in the new trove when she was secretary of state.
Emails from Huma Abedin's account on the Clinton email server were found on Anthony Weiner's laptop a few weeks ago during an unrelated investigation of Weiner's sexting scandal. Individuals within the FBI started leaking the existence of these emails to people in the Trump campaign (Rudy Giuliani and Jim Kallstrom), prompting Comey to write a letter to Congress informing them of the their existence.

In July Comey announced that, while Clinton had violated State Department rules by having her own email server, she had broken no laws. He needlessly got himself into hot water by editorializing about the investigation, calling Clinton "extremely careless."

Then, nine days ago, Comey himself violated Justice Department rules by releasing information about an ongoing investigation during an election.

The problem is that voting is already under way. How many thousands of votes did Clinton lose when Comey lent a fleeting phony air of legitimacy to the Trump campaign's portrayal of this new email revelation as somehow disqualifying?

It has become clear that certain elements in the New York FBI office are conspiring with Rudy Giuliani and the Trump campaign. In particular, the agents investigating the Clinton Foundation are buddy-buddy with Jim Kallstrom and Rudy Giuliani. They have used FBI resources to wage a political war against the Clintons.

The agents involved appear to be the prime Trump demographic: conservative, old, divorced white men who dread the possibility of having a female boss.

The next announcement Comey needs to make is about an investigation of the political machinations in the New York office of the FBI. But that can wait until Wednesday, after the election.

Why isn't the FBI investigating a real crime: Melania Trump worked illegally in the United States as a model in 1996. She made about $20,000 before she obtained the proper papers.

Trump's entire campaign has been based on the idea that we have to kick out all the illegal immigrants who do the jobs Americans don't want to -- picking our tomatoes, cleaning our hotel rooms, mopping our floors, cooking our food, roofing our houses, and butchering our meat.

Yet Trump's own wife is guilty of violating these same immigration law, to do a job that is in no way necessary to the economy or the national good, stealing jobs from -- as Trump would say -- beautiful, beautiful American women.

Like, say, Karen MacDougal, the woman that the Wall Street Journal says was paid off by the National Enquirer to keep her affair with Trump quiet.

If Trump is elected, he will have to set an example: his first act upon assuming the presidency must be to deport Melania.

Trump will secretly be overjoyed: he needed an excuse to trade her in for a younger model anyway. Melania has gotta be hitting menopause any day now. Clearly not a 10 anymore.

Dear Americans

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Second To Last Electoral Map

As of Saturday evening, this is where the electoral map is at if the election were held today.

Click the map to create your own at
It looks like Trump is going to win Iowa and Ohio but I think the Hilz will win North Carolina and Florida.

This is a lot closer than Dems would like at this point. Nate Silver has Hillary Clinton at a 2 in 3 chance to win with Trump at a 1 in 3. It's going to depend on turnout and early voting has shown that Clinton has the advantage here.

I'll put up my last map on Monday night.

If Congress was your co-worker....

Specifically, Republicans...


Friday, November 04, 2016

Did Trump Use Veteran's Donations to Pay for FBI Leaks on Clinton Emails?

Last week FBI director Comey announced that the FBI had found additional emails from Clinton's email server on Anthony Weiner's laptop. Comey thought he had to do this because of leaks about the FBI investigation.

It looks like Donald Trump gave millions of dollars to a former FBI agent who provided the Trump campaign with inside information from the FBI about the emails on Weiner's laptop.

From Politico:
[Jim Kallstrom, a] former top FBI official who has claimed insight into the bureau’s rank and file's outrage over the handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton[,] confirmed Thursday that he has been in touch with active agents after denying it in an interview published earlier in the day.

Kallstrom, a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, is the founder of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, which was the beneficiary of the fundraiser Trump held last January instead of attending a GOP primary debate in Iowa. According to the Daily Beast, Kallstrom’s foundation has received at least three major gifts from the Manhattan billionaire, two of which came during the campaign, totaling over $1.3 million.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who Kallstrom told the Daily Beast is "a very good friend" of his, has similarly claimed to have a pipeline of information coming from the FBI's rank and file, offering a similar assessment of its mood to the one Kallstrom has. A week ago, Giuliani teased "a couple of surprises" from the Trump campaign just days before Comey announced that the FBI is examining additional, potentially new evidence related to Clinton's email scandal. He declined to elaborate at the time what those surprises would be, but said they would be "enormously effective."
This brings up a serious question: did Trump pay off Kallstrom with money raised for veterans in exchange for Kallstrom to use his connections at the FBI to get dirt on Clinton?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Nasty Bitches, Delicate Fawns: Sexism, Gay Men, Conservative Religions and Trump

For months the media have been wondering how anyone could possibly support such an unqualified and intemperate candidate as Donald Trump. Are his vocal supporters worried about the economy? (They are, but they're mostly not personally hurting). Are they being left behind by the federal government? (No, they typically receive massive government subsidies of one sort or another). Are they authoritarians? (Some are, but some are libertarians.) Are they racists? (Oh, yeah, a whole lot of them are -- but not all of them.)

In a recent interview Barack Obama touched upon what may the biggest reason: sexism. That's a kind of "Well, duh..." observation, given that Clinton is the first serious female presidential candidate. But it's more than that.

According to a recent study, Trump support is highly correlated with hostility towards women. It turns out there are two kinds of sexism: hostile sexism -- the outright hatred based on the idea that women are inferior, conniving and untrustworthy; and benevolent sexism -- the idea that women are weaker, though morally superior, to men, and must be cherished and protected.

Hostile sexism portrays women as nasty bitches, while benevolent sexism portrays women as delicate fawns. Neither type of sexism is good for women -- or men, no matter how well-intentioned the benevolent sexists might be.

If you look at Trump supporters through this lens, things start making a whole lot more sense. Trump has splintered the Republican Party largely along these lines. When you line them up, it's clear that the woman-haters and -abusers are all in the Trump camp: Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, and so on.

The Republicans who consider women to be fawns have disavowed Trump, or at least condemned his behavior while holding their nose as they vote for him. These include men like Mitt Romney, the Bush men, Norm Coleman, Vin Weber, Jon Huntsman, Ken Mehlman, Glenn Beck, Paul Ryan, etc.

It's most telling in the support Trump enjoys from men who you wouldn't normally consider Republican: Julian Assange of WikiLeaks (who has been accused of rape and is on an anti-woman tear), and Libertarian Peter Thiel (who believes that women should never have gotten the right to vote). 

Assange has been working with Russian hackers to sabotage Clinton's campaign. Russian President Vladimir Putin is another Trump supporter, whose government constantly attacks and undermines women in Russian society. Putin notably threw the women of Pussy Riot in jail for two years for singing a song critical of him in a church.

Thiel is known for cofounding PayPal and his Libertarian fantasy to create island countries (seasteads) in the Pacific Ocean. His other claim to fame was his crusade to destroy Gawker: Thiel secretly financed Hulk Hogan's invasion of privacy lawsuit against the gossip website. Why? Because Gawker outed Thiel as gay. But Thiel's misogyny and homosexuality may be intimately intertwined.

Just as there are two kinds of sexism, there are two ways to be gay: some gay men just happen to like men, while some gay men simply hate women. Milo Yiannopoulos, who has written for the alt-right website (whose editor is running Trump's campaign), is a notorious misogynist. His hatred of women is, according to the man himself, why he is gay: "I mean, look, I don’t mean to be rude, but most of the reason I went gay is so I didn’t have to deal with nutty broads." (Is it any surprise that only nutty broads would go out with Yiannopoulos?)

Clearly Donald Trump and most of his lackeys like having sex with women. The question is, why do they hate women so much? Maybe it's these men's own weaknesses.

As Trump himself has stated, when he sees a beautiful woman, he can't control himself. That gives women a great deal of power over him. Trump resents that power, so he tries to put them down and minimize their power by bullying, insulting, threatening and assaulting them.

The identical dynamic is at work in the Taliban and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia: they cover women's bodies and keep them locked away because these men simply cannot control their own lusts. Some forms of Christianity and Judaism have the same mindset: women are temptresses so they must be covered and locked up and controlled to prevent them from tempting men.

The obsession with sex is obvious in the most conservative religions, Wahabbi Islam and old Mormonism: they allow men to take multiple wives. As with Donald Trump, it's all about pussy.

Clearly, the problem isn't women: a man like Trump is so weak and morally corrupt that he can't control himself. Instead he blames women for his own weakness.

It's like an alcoholic blaming a liquor store for his drunkenness, or a fat man blaming a restaurant for his weight problem.

Yeah, some women are nasty bitches. Some are delicate fawns. But most are just normal people, who have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016