Monday, July 31, 2017

The Real Reason the Mooch Had to Go

President Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, the White House announced, ousting him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.

“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”

Mr. Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.
Just this morning Trump tweeted: "Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!"

This looks pretty chaotic to me. By all accounts Trump loved the Mooch just last week: Scaramucci did everything the Trump way. The Mooch was so good at being Trump that many had already started calling the Mooch Trump's "Mini Me." He even had Trump's gesticulations down cold. So why was he fired?
Mr. Trump was initially pleased by Mr. Scaramucci’s harsh remarks, directed at Mr. Priebus and Steve Bannon, the chief White House strategist. But over the weekend, after speaking with his family and Mr. Kelly, the president began to see the brash actions of his subordinate as a political liability and potential embarrassment, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
This makes Trump look crazy for inciting a food fight between his employees. Even worse, he appears ridiculously stupid and weak: his short attention span and renders him incapable of making decisions that stick for more than a few days. Picking the Mooch was always a catastrophically bad choice. The entire episode makes Trump look irrational and senile, like some doddering old man who spent a thousand bucks on miracle hair restorer he saw advertised on Fox News, who then has to enlist his children to call Mastercard to get his money back.

But I would venture that the real reason Trump fired the Mooch was that they pointed out to Trump that Scaramucci is better at being Trump than Trump himself. The Mooch is slicker, more eloquent and a better public speaker than Trump. He is more coherent and less repetitive. (In case the Donald is reading this, that means the Mooch has better words.) He is younger, thinner, better-looking and he has real hair.

That was great when the Mooch was a talking head kissing Trump's ass on Fox Business News. But that cannot stand for a spokesman that works for Trump directly. Spicey and Huckabee Sanders were much less threatening to Trump than the Mooch because they are both overweight and Trump considers them unattractive. [You can just hear Trump saying, "I would give the Huckabee woman a two, two point five tops. And then only if there's a bag on her head."]

Trump told us himself that he fired Comey because Comey was a showboat and a grandstander. But Comey was a piker compared to the Mooch, who even ended his press conferences with air kisses. And everyone knows the worst offense any employee can commit is to outshine Donald Trump.

Again, we see the Trump brand of loyalty at work: the Mooch sold his hedge fund to work for Trump, to avoid a conflict of interest. Now Trump has stabbed him in the back, kicked him in the curb, and threw him under the bus after the Mooch publicly humiliated himself with profuse declarations of undying love for Trump. Trump even destroyed the Mooch's marriage: his wife filed for divorce just after giving birth last week.

Tell me again why would anyone voluntarily go work as a zookeeper in the monkey house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and let Donald Trump fling poo at them?

Defining Critical Thinking

Here's a recent post from my local paper about critical thinking. I thought it very appropriate in the Age of Trump and the Right Wing Blogger/Commenter, specifically...

Q: How do you define critical thinking? 

A: Let’s focus on two ideas: Is your claim supported with evidence? And, are the sources you’re using for your evidence valid? A lot of our debate today is just hurling claims at each other without any effort to support them. It’s claims of fake news and “gotcha” journalism and false balances and the non-reply reply. As for sources, one of the effects of the internet is that it allows you to live in a much narrower world. If I don’t like what someone is saying on Facebook, for example, I’ll unfriend them and I don’t have to think about them anymore

Q: This sounds like confirmation bias. 

A: The extreme version in academic circles is called “epistemic closure.” That means that your only criteria for deciding what someone is saying is true is if you already believe it to be true. This is dangerous because now you’ve become insulated from any argument that might challenge your point of view.

Right. Today's conservative supports nothing withe evidence, hurls claims, bitches about fake news, espouses false balances, and is a master of the non reply reply. They live in a narrow world and shut out (defriend) the world because facts that they don't believe in hurt their head.

I challenge all of you to find arguments that are supported by evidence and have valid sources that challenge your point of view.

Here's a great example.

Here is another one.

Here is another one.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Democratic Senate Majority in 2017?

This article in Politico poses a very interesting question: could Democrats get a majority in the Senate this year, and not in 2019 after the next congressional election?

Apparently John McCain was considering switching to the Democrats in 2001, after Republicans screwed him over in the 2000 primary. After his vote against the Republicans' health care bill and his speech about bipartisanship, people are wondering whether McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski might leave the dumpster fire that the Republican Party has become under Donald Trump.

It seems unlikely that they would actually join the Democratic Party. Instead, they might become independents, like Bernie Sanders, and caucus with the Democrats. They could call themselves "Independent Republicans," which is what Republicans in Minnesota started calling themselves in 1975, after Nixon trashed the Republican Party's name.

McCain, Collins and Murkowski could quite legitimately claim that they are not leaving the Republican Party, but that Trump staged a hostile takeover and has been threatening and holding the Senate hostage to his ever-changing whims.

Trump has tried to blackmail several Republicans in the Senate who object to his misogyny and bullying rants, including Jeff Flake and Dean Heller. They are Mormons, like Mitt Romney, and many Republicans have never liked Trump's immorality, mendacity and mockery of religion.

The so-called president claims that his coat tails are what gave the Republicans the last election, but that is -- like so many things that spew from Trump's contorted lips -- a lie. Republicans lost seats in both the Senate and the House in 2016, because of Trump. Additionally, among the Republicans who voted no against various versions of this year's health care repeal efforts, all but two received more votes than Trump. Which means the approval ratings of those congressmen would go up even more if if they turned against Trump.

Because he's president, Trump thinks he holds all the cards. He thinks the president is a king, answerable to no one. But he can be removed by the vice president and a simple majority of his own cabinet. Had Trump ever served as CEO of a public corporation with a board he would understand this: but he's always headed up private companies, answerable to no one except his own vanity and greed. He thinks he can lead with bluster and intimidation, while betraying his own people every step of the way.

Stupidly, Trump has spent the last six months making the lives of at least three cabinet members a living hell: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health Secretary Tom Price. The rest of the cabinet have surely taken notice: does Trump even know that the 25th Amendment allows the cabinet to dump him?

Trump has shown a complete lack of loyalty to the people and the Party that supported him and got him where he is today. Since Trump appointed them, it seems unlikely the cabinet would sack him.

But it's not so far-fetched that three to five moderate Republican senators and 20 to 30 moderate Republican representatives would form a new Independent Republican caucus that aligns with the Democrats to oust Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, putting a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats in the leadership of both houses of Congress.

If John McCain was truly serious about going forward in a bipartisan fashion on health care legislation, it is clearly impossible with the power-hungry Mitch McConnell as leader of the Senate.

McCain would be another Abraham Lincoln if he could lead Republicans and Democrats on a bipartisan path out of the mess that Trump and the cowards of the Republican Party have led us into.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The World Of Predators Is Watching

Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal has just written the ultimate characterization of our president. The first paragraph sets the tone.

The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.

And then, the dagger...

He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.

Yep. But this is what you get when you elect a right wing blogger/commenter for president. His actions remind me EXACTLY of all those discussion on Kevin Baker's blog over the years. And the ones here that saw some of those commenters migrating here with their hysterical nonsense. Reading the rest of Noonan's piece makes me wonder if they can possibly see themselves and their dear leader for what they are. They are completely incapable of leading and should not be allowed out of their little bubble. Consider Noonan's last paragraph.

Meanwhile the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators. How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion and chaos and thinking it’s a good time to cause some trouble?

Noonan wrote this piece a couple of days ago. Look what just happened today.

Well, assholes? Are you willing to admit error yet? Or are you going to stick with your dear leader as he continues to fuck up our country and its standing in the world?

Trump's Insults Are Coming Home to Roost

The Senate bill to repeal Obamacare was defeated last night by a vote of 51 to 49, with three Republicans voting against it. Those three were Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona.

The bill deserved to fail on its lack of merit: its express purpose was to cause the Obamacare exchanges to fail. It would immediately cause rates to go up at least 20%, causing millions of people to lose their insurance. Many Republicans wanted it to fail, saying they would vote for it only if the House promised to reject it.

But the real reason the bill failed may be Trump's incorrigible habit of insults and boorish, vulgar behavior.

Just last week John McCain found out he has a malignant form of brain cancer. Many have speculated that the diagnosis caused a sudden surge of empathy and bipartisanship in McCain. That may certainly be the case.

In the past McCain has cooperated with Democrats after undergoing a personal shock. The most glaring example was the shoddy treatment McCain received during the 2000 Republican primary at the hands of George W. Bush's campaign, when they insinuated McCain fathered a black child. McCain subsequently cosponsored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, which has since been gutted by a deluded Supreme Court.

McCain knows it would be the height of hypocrisy for him to vote for a health care bill that would take away coverage from 16 million Americans while he himself is undergoing treatment for brain cancer on the government's dime.

But McCain is a good soldier, doing whatever he thinks is best for the Republican Party. The accepted wisdom is that the Republicans have to repeal Obamacare, otherwise the base will desert them in the next election for failing to deliver on their promise.

But the reality is that Donald Trump needs the repeal far more than the Republican Party does. He needs to show that he has accomplished something, anything. Trump has been in office for half a year and has nothing to show for it, except a seat on the Supreme Court that Mitch McConnell stole from Obama.

You can sense Trump's desperation for Congress to pass some kind of health care bill, any bill, no matter how petty or useless. Trump needs a win, right now, especially after months of self-inflicted wounds. He just got walloped by the Senate and the House with the Russia sanctions bill, which was passed by a veto-proof 99% majority, with only five total votes against it.

But Trump has been sabotaging relations with fellow Republicans for the last two years. These insults and lack of loyalty are finally coming home to roost.

During the election Trump insulted John McCain by denigrating the war hero for being captured by the Viet Cong. It is something Trump has never apologized for: Trump doesn't do apologies. It may not be the reason for McCain's vote, but Trump certainly made it easier for McCain.

Trump insulted Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and all Republican women with his constant sexism against not just Hillary Clinton and Rosie O'Donnell, but Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, and Mika Brzezinski. He has bragged about sexually assaulting women and watching them undress at a beauty pageant. And he still hasn't learned: his demeaning remarks about Brigitte Macron, the wife of France's president, were an international embarrassment.

And earlier this week Trump tried to blackmail Murkowski into voting for the health care bill. Trump had Ryan Zinke, interior secretary, threaten to cancel Alaska energy projects unless she toed the line.

Why would Collins and Murkowski stick their necks out for Trump after this behavior?

Finally, Trump's constant badgering of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned from the Senate to serve Trump, has shown Republican senators that he has no concept of loyalty. Trump is filled with petty anger at people who have tried, but can't save him from his own easily avoidable mistakes.

After all the insults and boorish vulgarities Trump has showered upon fellow Republicans, why should any of them show him loyalty?

Trump is looking weaker and weaker. He's trying to oust real Republicans like Sean Spicer, Jeff Sessions and Reince Priebus, and hiring Trump-fluffing clowns like Anthony Scaramucci who think, act and swear just like Trump does. People whose proclamations of love for Donald Trump are simply too far over the top to be at all genuine.

Is this what Trump meant when he said we'll win so much that we'll get tired of winning?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Mooch Is Already Losing It

After just one week, Anthony Scaramucci, Donald Trump's new communications director, is already losing his mind. He called New Yorker columnist Ryan Lizza in an attempt to find out who leaked the story of Trump's dinner with the Mooch, Melania, Sean Hannity and Bill Shine, one of the several sexual predators who were fired from Fox News in the past few months.

Here's a sample of the Mooch's insanity:
“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ” (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)
The Mooch really has it in for Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, accusing him of a felony on Twitter:
Scaramucci was particularly incensed by a Politico report about his financial-disclosure form, which he viewed as an illegal act of retaliation by Priebus. The reporter said Thursday morning that the document was publicly available and she had obtained it from the Export-Import Bank. Scaramucci didn’t know this at the time, and he insisted to me that Priebus had leaked the document, and that the act was “a felony.”

“I’ve called the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice,” he told me.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“The swamp will not defeat him,” he said, breaking into the third person. “They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to work. I’ve done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves.”
I imagine that this is how every meeting in the Oval Office is conducted, with Trump whining incessantly about Sessions, Mueller and Comey, punctuating every sentence with "fuck," "shit," and "cocksucker," with an occasional "pussy" thrown in for good measure.

These are the people who are supposed to be running our country, but instead of doing their jobs they're spending their every waking moment backstabbing each other. They sound like a bunch of middle-school mean girls trying out the new cuss words they just learned.

Congress: please get your act together and dump these guys. End this embarrassing national nightmare before these clowns do permanent damage to the country.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's 2004 All Over Again

Remember the 2004 election? The second election that George Bush barely won by the skin of his teeth, mostly due to the hysteria generated by the anti-gay marriage fervor that swept the nation? 

As it turns out, Republicans weren't really all that much against gay marriage. Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, was gay and came out in 2010. Dick Cheney, Bush's vice president, has a gay daughter, who married a woman in 2012. In 2016 Pope Francis said that Christians should apologize to gays for marginalizing them.

Gay marriage is now the law of the land, and while there are still some homophobic dead-enders, for the vast majority of Americans gay marriage is a non-issue.

Now Donald Trump is trying to pull the same gimmick again, but this time with transsexuals.

Trump is being investigated by the FBI for colluding with the Russians, and -- mostly likely -- for laundering the ill-gotten gains of Russian oligarchs through real estate transactions. He really wants to change the subject.

So today he announced via Twitter that he's going to ban transsexuals in the military, completely surprising the Pentagon. But just last year Trump said this:
"North Carolina, what they're going through with all of the business that's leaving and all of the strife, and that's on both sides — you leave it the way it is," Trump said. "People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble."
Several states are fighting over bathroom bills. But, just as with gay marriage, this issue will eventually fade away. Who cares which pot you piss in? If it's that big a deal, make all lavatories more private so no one has to endure the stares of others in their vulnerable moments.

And, just as Bush and Cheney weren't really against gay marriage, Trump doesn't give a damn whether you're transsexual. For him the only currency that matters is notoriety -- positive or negative. By that measure Caitlin Jenner and other high-profile transsexuals are killing it, as Trump loves to say.

The question isn't really about transsexuals in the military: it's about whether Christians will sell their souls by supporting the entire agenda of self-aggrandizing lying demons like Donald Trump who don't give a damn about Christianity, or Christians.

Look how Trump is treating Jeff Sessions, the lion of the Christian right. Trump is on Twitter trying to badger Sessions into resigning because he won't break the law to cover Trump's ass.

Christians should stop letting immoral scumbags like Trump play them for fools. As his "Two Corinthians" and "I never asked God for forgiveness" fiascoes showed, he knows nothing about Christianity and cares nothing about it.  Look how he ridicules the eucharist as "his little cracker:"
"When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed," he said. "I think in terms of 'let's go on and let's make it right.'"
Trump's not the ally of evangelicals. As his disgusting speech in front of the Boy Scouts showed, he's leading this country into moral rot: he has normalized lying, cheating, bullying, fornication and sexual molestation.

By continuing to support Trump and his phony agenda evangelicals are tarnishing whatever moral high ground they ever had.

One of the main reasons so many millennials are abandoning religion and declaring themselves
"nones" is the sheer hypocrisy they see in Christians who preach chasteness, forgiveness and humility, yet support politicians like Trump and commentators like Rush Limbaugh.

These men are corrupt, arrogant, womanizing blowhards who with every breath and action betray the very essence of Christianity.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

This Is What the Republican Party Has Become Under Donald Trump

Meet Blake Farenthold of Texas, Republican congressman from Texas:

This creepy leering fat guy wants to shoot an old lady because she's standing up for the right of Americans to have affordable health care:
Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, Tex., on Friday criticized some Republican “female senators from the Northeast” for their opposition to efforts to pass a health care overhaul.

Then, he said, “if it was a guy from south Texas I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.”

Speaking to local radio host Bob Jones, Farenthold was referring to the 1804 duel in which Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton, former treasury secretary and Burr’s long-standing political rival and personal enemy.
Farenthold was just joking, he says. But casually threatening to murder fellow Republicans is par for the course in Trump's Republican Party. Trump himself continues to insult his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, because Sessions considers following the Constitution a higher duty than serving as Trump's lackey.

Susan Collins, the "female senator from the Northeast" that Farenthold wants to kill, hit Farenthold back:
First, she asked Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), “Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?”

Reed said, “You could beat the shit out of him.”

Collins responded: “He’s so unattractive. It’s unbelievable. … Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this bunny?”
Collins should accept the challenge, and propose that the duel take place at the top of the Washington Monument, which is currently closed because the elevator is being updated. Which means Farenthold will have to take the stairs.

He'll be dead of a heart attack half way up.

The New Indentured Servitude

For the last 10-15 years Americans have been slowly drifting into a new form of indentured servitude. Wages have been flat, especially since the Great Recession. Many people are stuck in jobs that they don't really like because they're afraid that can't find something better, or because they'll lose their health care coverage, or because they're 50+ and nobody will hire someone at that age at the same salary.

And it's only getting worse. These days companies seem to think they own their employees. Here are three examples of the new indentured servitude.

"Unlimited" vacation: My wife used to work at Honeywell, the company that made the round thermostat that almost every house in the country had on their walls. She recently went to a party for a friend who was taking early retirement.

He was quitting because of the "unlimited" vacation policy the division was instituting for non-union employees. Under this policy, you can ostensibly take as much vacation as you like, as long as your manager says it's okay.

The problem is, if your manager thinks he needs you, you have zero vacation. You don't accrue any vacation. At all. Your time off is completely at the whim of your manager.

This guy's parents were in poor health and he needed to go out of state to help them. But because this division has been laying off workers for years and not replacing anyone, the only person who could work on a critical project for the military was this one guy. So they told him he couldn't take time off to help his sick parents.

High-performing  personnel are penalized for their competence, while less competent employees can take time off because they're not essential. It's completely backwards.

So he quit. He can afford to, because he's got a large pension coming. But most people can't do that.

Non-compete contracts: 20 years I wrote software for a company that got bought out by a competitor. The buyers were jerks and they were losing in the market place, but they had big backers. The investors who financed the company I worked for wanted to cash out and sold the company out from under the founders, who were good friends of mine. My friends went off to form another company in a related field that didn't interest me. A year later -- when their non-compete contracts expired -- they expanded back into the same business. They asked me to work for them. I said yes.

But my current employer said they'd sue if I went to work with my friends. I had signed a non-compete contract with my employer when they were getting ready to sell (which I didn't know was happening), long after I'd been hired. We should have guessed what was going on. The contract was one-sided: I couldn't work for anyone in the same field, but they offered me nothing in return. Executive non-competes always offer some kind of golden parachute to make up for not being unable to work.

This kind of contract -- where they prevent you from working but don't offer compensation -- is not enforceable in my state. But the new company didn't want to risk litigating it, so they said they'd hire me when my non-compete ran out.

So I quit my job and cooled my heels for several months. My friends hired me as promised. Incredibly, on my first day my new boss asked me if I would sign a non-compete agreement. I declined of course, and with a smile he said, "I can understand that. I just had to ask."

I worked for them for several years, and we became the leading company in the industry, edging out the guys who bought us out. But eventually my new company got bought out by a third company (they were fine) and then that company got bought out by a giant conglomerate headquartered in Britain. That company had a policy of not hiring Americans in favor of software contractors from sweatshops in India.

So I quit. I was tired of corporate nonsense. I could afford to. But most people can't do that.

You can argue that companies whose business depends on intellectual properties such as software should have a right to protect their IP. But they shouldn't be able to prevent employees from earning a living in their field of expertise.

After all, the right to work is the battle cry of conservatives. They use it to hammer uninons: when aren't stopping companies from preventing Americans from working? States like Minnesota and California protect the rights of workers to earn a living by banning non-competes that don't offer compensation (though as my case shows, the threat of litigation often hinders getting a new job).

But conservative states like Idaho give employees the shaft: they allow companies to enforce non-competes, making it all but impossible for workers to get jobs in their fields if they quit. Worse, companies with no intellectual property to protect, such as Jimmy John's, the sandwich maker, have forced employees to sign non-compete contracts. Jimmy John's was sued in New York and Illinois, where such contracts have since been nixed.

But Jimmy John's can prevent delivery drivers in Idaho from working for Domino's because they might have some secret knowledge that would damage Jimmy John's business model if Domino's got wind of it.

It's starting to get creepy: A lot of people are getting their pets chipped so they can be quickly identified if they get lost. A small RFID chip is implanted under the skin, which can be read by a scanner.

Now a company in Wisconsin is chipping their employees. They are literally treating their people like animals. There is a myriad of health and privacy concerns. The company pooh-poohs these:
Todd Westby, the chief executive of Three Square, emphasized that the chip’s capabilities were limited. “All it is is an RFID chip reader,” he said. “It’s not a GPS tracking device. It’s a passive device and can only give data when data’s requested.”

“Nobody can track you with it,” Mr. Westby added. “Your cellphone does 100 times more reporting of data than does an RFID chip.”
This guy is flat-out lying. Anyone can scan that RFID chip with a reader. Any time you walk into an office, or a store, or drive past a police station, you can be scanned. It doesn't constantly broadcast your location like a cell phone, but it can have a range of 20 or 30 feet, depending on the size of the antenna. And unlike your cell phone or your access card, you can't leave it at home.

The CEO say the RFID chip is "encrypted," but this is nonsense. Anyone can Google "spoofing RFID chips" for specific directions on how to hack these systems. This gives the company a totally false sense of security: implanted chips are passive, which means that they just spit out a number when they get pinged by a scanner. Since can read that number, with the right software and hardware they can clone that RFID tag and spit out that same number, impersonating that employee.

Why would a company even think of doing this? At my last job I had an access card with an RFID chip in it. Why isn't an access card sufficient? Why does this company think it has to literally get under their employees' skins?

Do they think they own their employees, in the same way a dog owner owns his pet? Do they think their employees are too stupid to remember their access cards, or don't they trust them to not lend them to others, or do they want to track how long they spend on the toilet?

Companies are increasingly firing employees for things not related to job performance. Companies have fired smokers for smoking at home. Companies have fired employees for using medical marijuana legally. Companies try to force their employees to lose weight, exercise and do other things for their health (so that they can get a better deal from the health insurance company).

Conservatives think that the government is evil when it tries to force Americans to do things that are "good for them." Why are they silent when multinational corporations do it?

It would be insult to African Americans to say that corporations are treating Americans like slaves. But it is completely apt to compare modern employees to the indentured servants who toiled in the fields of Colonial America alongside the slaves.

Indentured servants, at least, had the prospect of freedom after their term of servitude ended. Modern Americans only have the bleak prospect of greater corporate power further eroding their freedoms under the rubric of "productivity" and "corporate profitability."

A Better Deal

The Democrats rolled out their new brand yesterday in Berryville, Virginia in the hopes of wooing back those voters that flipped from Obama to Trump and cost Hillary Clinton the election. They are calling it "A Better Deal." I like the message. It's one most US citizens support. My issue is not with the policy but with the bearers of that message. Schumer is OK. Warren is fine but getting long in the tooth. Pelosi is a disaster and has to go.

Where are all the young Democrats out there? Heck, they don't even have to be young. Where is my age cohort, the Gen Xers? The Democrats keep rolling out these fossils to push policies that are going to affect millions of young people. Barack Obama was a very effective communicator because he was YOUNGER than previous nominees. I realize this can sound ageist but do we want to win or do we want to lose?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Keep it up, Donald. Keep it up.

After Jeff Sessions lied about meetings with Russians on his security clearance forms, in his FBI interviews and in a Senate hearing -- all in service to Donald Trump and his election -- Trump threw him under the bus the other day, blasting Sessions for following the rule of law.

And today Trump tweeted this while out playing golf (again!):
It's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.
What a whining little baby. Trump is lucky Republicans aren't holding impeachment hearings this very moment.

With every passing day there's another major revelation about Trump and his cronies caught lying about their dealings with Russia, or some other skullduggery.

When are Republicans going to learn that he will never have their backs? He is going to shaft every last one of them in the end. With a man like him loyalty only flows up.

He thinks that he's the one who carried the Republicans? They created the base, kept it enthralled with anti-abortion rhetoric and pseudo-racist innuendo for decades: Trump didn't originate the tactics that gave him the win, he just picked up a fumble in the end zone. The Republican Party existed long before Trump was born, and it will exist long after he is gone -- unless they let him destroy it.

This incompetent, immature, whining dope has done nothing constructive in six months as president, even though he has total control over all three branches of government. His only accomplishments have been to play golf, sign pointless executive orders, play golf, pass a few useless bills revoking some regulations, play golf, go to Europe to escape all the negative publicity he himself constantly generates, play golf, pull one stupid stunt after another that makes him look guilty (fire Comey, meet with Russians in the White House, secret meeting with Putin), play golf, and bomb a Syrian airbase that was empty because Trump told the Russians he was going to attack it and play golf.

Trump thinks "his voters" are going to make "disloyal Republicans" pay for not doing enough to "protect their president."

Trump is not acting like their president. He's acting like a five-year-old having a temper tantrum because someone else broke open the pinata at his birthday party.

Trump has to remember that "his voters" are extremely fickle. They're tuned out now, ignoring all the dirt coming out on him, dismissing it as fake news. But if Trump makes one wrong move, they'll turn on him like a bitch, as Trump loves to say, so fast it'll make his head spin. His voters love to hate the elites. In the end, Trump is just another wealthy Russian-loving New York elitist, who scorns the religious Southern Republicans who make up the bulk of the "base" as ignorant white trash. When Trump is finally caught voicing his real opinion of "the base" the Republican Party will dump him for Pence, there will be so much head-spinning...

The congressmen Trump keeps insulting are the people who can impeach him, or doesn't Trump get that? Most of them never wanted him to be president, and he never helped the Republican Party before he staged a hostile takeover of it last summer. He's never shown them any loyalty, so why should they show him any? In the end the Never Trump Republicans and will be praised as heroes who were never fooled by Trump's bragging lies.

Keep this up, Donald. The same Republicans you keep bitching about will be swinging bats at that big fat orange pinata in the White House.

Beyond Paid Leave

Friday, July 21, 2017

“I can’t even remember why I opposed it,”

The Times has a great piece up about how the citizens of this country have finally embraced the fact that the government should provide health care to its people. My favorite part?

“I can’t even remember why I opposed it,” said Patrick Murphy, who owns Bagel Barrel, on a quaint and bustling street near Mr. Brahin’s law office here in Doylestown. 

He thought Democrats “jammed it down our throats,” and like Mr. Brahin, he worried about the growing deficit. But, he said, he has provided insurance for his own dozen or so employees since 1993. “Everybody needs some sort of health insurance,” 

Mr. Murphy said. “They’re trying to repeal Obamacare but they don’t have anything in place.”

Perhaps Mr. Murphy engaged the rational part of his brain and stop listening to conservative propaganda.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Time for Tillerson to Resign

Washington is abuzz with rumors that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to resign, after Donald Trump criticized Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation. In essence, Trump said, "I would never have hired Sessions if I had known he had a smidgeon of honesty. I thought he was rotten to the core!"

That's not to say that Sessions is a nice guy: his plan to ramp up civil forfeiture, allowing cops to literally steal money, cars and property from anyone they merely accuse of drug crimes without any kind of due process is as corrupt as any scam the Russian oligarchs are running.

But it's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who should resign immediately (via the New York Times):
The Treasury Department has fined Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating sanctions that the United States imposed on Russia in 2014 while Rex W. Tillerson, now the secretary of state, was chief executive of the oil company.

“Exxon Mobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements,” the Treasury said in a report announcing the penalty.

According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Exxon Mobil violated the sanctions when the presidents of its American subsidiaries did business with an individual whose assets were blocked. They did so by signing legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, the president of Rosneft OAO, and an another person.
Exxon did not voluntarily disclose the signings [emphasis added], according to the Treasury, which called the infractions “an egregious case.” 
Exxon has been secretly conspiring with the Russians to avoid sanctions for years. It is clear that collusion with Russia did not begin with the election: like Tillerson, Trump has been at it for years, making deals with Russian oligarchs, mobsters, and murderers who have been ripping the Russian people off in much the same way Trump is trying to rip off the American people.

This also explains why Trump made such a weird choice for secretary of state: the only qualification Trump was looking for was a deep and corrupt connection to Russia.

It's no wonder that Trump is upset that special prosecutor Robert Mueller might be looking into Trump's finances: Trump and his entire administration are up to their eyeballs in dirty Russian money.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trump's Brand of Loyalty

Showing what a great guy he is, Donald Trump blasted his attorney general for recusing himself on matters dealing with Russia:
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
Trump is blaming Sessions for problems Trump himself created: why didn't Trump and his army of lawyers ask Sessions about his contacts with Russia before they nominated him? I'm sure they knew Sessions had talked to the Russians, and they didn't care. Because they never thought it was a problem. They still don't. This is all on Trump.

Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign manager were the ones who met with a Russian lawyer who represented a Russian charged with money laundering, a Russian spy and a representative for a Russian oligarch close to Putin. The same oligarch Trump was in bed with at the Miss Universe contest in Moscow.

Trump is the one who proudly stated on national television that he fired James Comey because of the Russia thing: he literally confessed to Lester Holt that he was obstructing the Russia investigation. In this latest interview Trump also accused Comey of using the Golden Shower dossier as some kind of leverage over the president. This is patent nonsense: the FBI got the dossier more than eight months ago and its contents were widely known to the public before the election, as this article from Oct. 31, 2016, shows.

Trump is the one held a private meeting attended only by Putin, Trump and Putin's translator. Doesn't Trump understand how incredibly bad this makes him look? It looks like he's receiving instructions from his KGB handler, getting rid of his translator so that there are no American witnesses.

Trump has no record of what was said (I'm sure Putin does -- it's one more bit of leverage over Trump), but Trump thinks they talked about adoption. "Adoption" being Russian code for removing sanctions on wealthy oligarchs who want to launder money in the United States through Trump real estate "investments."

This is all on Trump. If he hadn't fired Comey there wouldn't be a special investigator because there wouldn't be an investigation into his obstruction of justice. If Trump hadn't constantly sucked up to Putin and Russia for the last 30 years he wouldn't be in this predicament. If Trump had been an honest man and had taught his son ethical and moral behavior, Junior would have called the FBI when he got an email from a sketchy Brit with the subject line "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential," instead of taking the meeting and then announcing to the world that he had tried to collude with the Russians to win the election for his dad.

Trump's dishonesty, greed and lies are the cause of his problems. Not Jeff Sessions.

Republicans, take note of the kind of loyalty Donald Trump has to the Republican Party: Trump is throwing Sessions under the bus. Trump tried to blackmail fellow Republicans into supporting the suckiest health care bill ever conceived, a bill that even most Republican voters hate, by threatening to primary them. Trump ran attack ads against a fellow Republican, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada to force him to support the bill. Trump even accused Ted Cruz's dad of assassinating Kennedy.

Trump's crass behavior, sexual harassment, lies, backstabbing and disloyalty have been known this for years. Yet Republicans still support this turkey? Why would anyone ever make any kind of deal with this guy, or even more incredibly, why would anyone ever agree to work for this jerk?

When are Republicans going to realize that Trump is lower than the brown scum you find on the inside of a toilet in a crack house?

Crickets From The Blue Lives Matter Crowd

Last Saturday night, two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call about domestic violence in the Fulton neighborhood. Several minutes later, Justine Damond was dead...killed b;y a gunshot from one of the officers. My first reaction when I heard the details of this case was this: here we go again. It's yet another example of  "act first, think later and justify with fear" that we've seen far too often from police in the last few years.

Of course, this case is a little different. Why? The victim looks like this.

And the cop looked like this...

...which explains why we are hearing the sound of fucking crickets from the Blue Lives Matter brigade. It's these same folks that are probably wondering why Trump hasn't deported Officer Noor yet. Their hypocrisy is sickening.

So, we have another candlelight vigil in a devastated neighborhood, more nonsense from public officials, and shattered family members wondering why the police have so many laws that allow them to do shit like this.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Cast of Characters is Complete

Because the Trumps never tell the truth, we only now have found out who the eighth person in the meeting Donald Junior took to get dirt on Clinton from Russians spies (via the Washington Post):
An American-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged as a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians.

Ike Kaveladze’s presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs’ company and attended as their representative.
Here's how it shakes out:

Ike Kaveladze: personal representative of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Putin crony.

Rinat Akhmetshin: a former Russian spy, who traffics in information stolen by Russian hackers.

Natalia Veselnitskaya: a Russian lawyer who represented a company called Prevezon that was charged with fraud and money laundering by former US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump after initially being asked to stay on. The Prevezon case was settled for a paltry $6 million two days before trial.

Rob Goldstone: publicist for Emin Agalarov and go-between for Trump Junior.
Anatoli Samochornov: a Russian-born American translator, who apparently doesn't like Republicans.

Not at the meeting were Aras and Emin Agalorov: a Russian oligarch and his pop-star son. Trump has a long history of dealings with the Agalarovs, most notably with the Miss Universe contest.

The theory of the crime now looks like this: the Russians promised dirt on Clinton that they had or would obtain from Russian spies/hackers (Akhmetshin's area of expertise). In exchange, the Russians wanted the Magnitsky Act to be repealed (which Veselnitskaya had been working on for years), allowing oligarchs like those charged in the Prevezon case to freely launder their dirty Russian money in American real estate and casinos (things the Trumps know all about).

The subject of adoption came up because Veselnitskaya would have told the Trump campaign a future Trump administration could justify the repeal of the Magnitsky Act as a humanitarian action,  allowing Americans to adopt Russian orphans once more. Putin instituted the adoption ban in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act.

Getting rid of sanctions on Russia was one of Trump's constant themes throughout the 2016 campaign. Trump frequently talked about removing sanctions on Russia, and recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea. Why? Trump voters didn't give a damn about Russia, but this was always a top priority for Trump because he has lots of ties to Russian money.

The Trump Justice Department settled the Prevezon case in May, for $6 million even though their own brief claimed the scheme involved $230 million. This was two months after Preet Bharara, who brought the original charges, was fired by Trump. Did this come up in discussions that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had with Sergei Kislyak?

Trump's Justice department claimed the case was too complicated for a jury to understand, and there were no longer any witnesses willing to testify. The main witness, lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov, "fell out a window" in Moscow and nearly died in March. I.e., the Kremlin tried to kill him.

Or was the Prevezon case settled because Trump shell companies were involved with the money laundering? Trump tax forms may answer this question, which is probably why he doesn't want to release them.

Or was the Prevezon case settled for pennies on the dollar because the Russians have dirt on the Trumps and Jeff Sessions?  There is a very real possibility that the entire Trump administration has been compromised by Russia, and vulnerable to Russian blackmail and extortion.

The whole scheme is a classic quid pro quo: the Russians offered to help Trump get elected, and in exchange he would help Russian oligarchs launder money in the United States, quite possibly as "investments" in Trump real estate ventures (something Don Jr. bragged about, saying that he didn't need American banks because he could get money from Russia).
The Trumps now claim that "anybody" would have met with the Russians to get opposition research, but even before the meeting it was self-evident that this "research" was the fruit of Russian espionage and therefore illegal and likely treasonous. 

Trump Junior claims he was ignorant and naive and didn't know what the hell he was doing (his father calls this 39-year-old man a "boy"). For once Junior is telling the truth: he is ignorant, naive and doesn't know what he's doing. But he knew he was dealing with Russian spies and criminals, because he had been doing business with these criminals for years.

Some experts think that this has little to do with the election, and everything to do with good old-fashioned corruption and money laundering.

Here's hoping that Mueller can get the straight dope on all this before witnesses like Goldstone, Akhmetshin, Samachornov and Veselnitskaya start falling out of windows.


Well, well, well. It looks ol' Donny Boy isn't quiet the deal maker he made himself out to be. He has officially failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What happened to all that draining of the swamp stuff? Looks like the swamp got him.

And it got the GOP as well. Remember back when the Democrats had both chambers and the presidency and they really couldn't get much done (except saving tens of thousands of lives with health care, of course)? I distinctly remember being chided for my party being ineffective. Where is the taunting now?

Even more hilarious is just how popular the ACA is right now (over 50% approve). I guess Nancy Pelosi was right. Once it passed, people saw what was in it, experienced it and turns out, they love it!

The president says he's just going to let the ACA fail. That might be a problem.

Despite doomsday rhetoric, Obamacare markets are stabilizing

Fake News!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Good Words

She’s the most royally screwed-over person in the history of American politics. She should be in the White House, right now. And she’d have been good. Maybe not great. They wouldn’t allow that. We’d be having impeachment hearings underway already, I assure you, over far smaller matters than the things we know the Trump family has done. 

That would be rough, but I know this much: She wouldn’t be suddenly discovering that health care is complicated, she wouldn’t have her son-in-law on the White House staff and in charge of Middle East peace, and she wouldn’t be an international embarrassment. The free nations of the world wouldn’t be trying to find ways to work around the United States of America.

---Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast. 

Cognitive Dissonance of ETSIK

Me: Hey, did you read the emails from Trump Jr?
Every Trump Supporter I Know (ETSIK): No. It's all a witch hunt by the liberal elites and the media. It's all lies.
Me: But it was his email with Russian contacts. Here's part of it.

---On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Good morning
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Rob Goldstone
On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:53, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
Sent from my iPhone--

ETSIK: Witch hunt. Liberal media. Don't believe it. Hillary is probably behind it. Fake news. Deep state nazism.
Welcome to the United States in 2017.

Seriously? Now Cops are Shooting Blonde 40-year-old Women

There's been a lot of outrage over the deaths of black men like Philando Castile who have been shot by police while obeying their commands.

Now two cops in Minneapolis, just a few miles from where Castile was killed, have shot and killed a 40-year-old blonde white woman:
An Australian woman was fatally shot overnight Saturday by Minneapolis police officers who did not have their body cameras turned on, officials said.

The woman, Justine Damond, was shot as the officers were responding to her 911 call of an assault near her home in the suburb of Fulton [Note to the Times: Fulton is not a suburb -- it's an upscale neighborhood of Minneapolis]. Ms. Damond, 40, who is from Sydney and who also went by the name Justine Ruszczyk, was engaged to be married to an American man, according to Australian news media reports.

Police officials said they were looking into the circumstances of the shooting, and why the officers were not using their body cameras.
What the hell? Did they shoot her because they thought she was some dangerous illegal alien, with a suspicious Australian accent?

What is wrong with these cops? And what's wrong with the police department? The killer has been put on paid administrative leave, instead of being fired on the spot.

I know being a cop is dangerous. I know cops are deathly afraid of being shot any time they venture out. That fear is almost completely due to the fact that there are too many guns on the streets, thanks to the NRA and the Republican Party.

This shooting is no more and no less outrageous than the shooting of Castile. It shows what a load of crap the cops are spewing when they try to justify shooting black men. It's clear that cops who shoot innocent civilians are cowering ninny who pull their guns and fire at the slightest thing that spooks them before properly assessing the situation.

This is criminally negligent homicide. Which is also what Castile's killer, Jeronimo Yanez, should have been found guilty of.

Yanez excused the killing by claiming he smelled marijuana smoke and was afraid for his life because Castile was slowly killing a child with second-hand smoke (Yanez really said that!). What excuse will these guys use? "When I saw her hair I thought she was the Atomic Blonde and I would get radiation poisoning!"  "When I heard that Australian accent I immediately thought of Crocodile Dundee and was afraid she had a really big knife! Or maybe a crocodile!"

Can we stop making excuses for bad cops? When they shoot innocent people they are committing crimes. It is the worst possible dereliction of duty for a police officer to kill the person who just called them for help.

Yet this happens all the time: in Seattle, in Indianapolis, in Chicago, and so on. To be fair, cops have also been shot by people who called 911: in Georgia, for example. So, yeah, I get why cops are trigger happy. But that's no god-damned excuse for killing innocent people!

The real problem, again, is that there are too many guns on the street. Police are rightly paranoid that they could be shot by some nut job. But these people are supposed to be trained professionals paid to protect the public, not kill them because their panties get in a bunch.

These killings are not "tragic accidents." They are catastrophically stupid blunders of sheer incompetence. We have got to find a way to train cops to handle these situations and weed out trigger-happy cops who are not up to the job.

But the real questions is why these cops are so trigger happy?

The sheer quantity of guns in the United States has put the entire nation under a pall of fear and paranoia, with the NRA, gun manufacturers and the Republican Party constantly stoking that fear with lies and hatred, all the time pumping more and more guns into our communities. All those guns are making it harder and more dangerous for the competent cops to do their jobs. All these guns do not make us safer -- Castile's gun got him killed.

In the final analysis, Justine died so the NRA could have their toys.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Target. Manipulate. Brainwash.

I wonder how all the right wing bloggers and commenters feel now that the truth has come to light regarding how they were microtargeted by members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Boom, son!

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

Double boom, son!

I posted this the other day but it's worth repeating. Several times.

A Second Look At Russians Officials

US Intelligence officials are taking a second look at conversations that took place among members of the Russian government in the run up to the 2016 election, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. In some cases, the Russians in the overheard conversations talked about meetings held outside the U.S. involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers, these people said.

According to the report, it looks like a lot of this began at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. The players are starting to come out of the woodwork and it's only a matter of time before all the pieces fall into place. The more Trump denies collusion the more he reveals himself to be more of an idiot than I thought he was.

Good Words

Donald Trump is an American who ran for office under a slogan of patriotic pride and love of country. People who love their country do not help rival powers intervene in their country’s elections, even if that intervention might have the lovely side effect of getting them elected.

--Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View

But, hey, as long as those liberals are squirming, who gives a fuck about our country?

Criminals or Morons?

Donald Trump formed a commission formed to investigate "electoral fraud" early in his presidency. Of course, there's no evidence whatsoever that there's any serious amount of in-person voter fraud (of the few cases found most involved Republicans). But Trump says there has to be because he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.

A couple of weeks ago the commission asked all the states for confidential information on all voters, including names, party affiliation, addresses, birth dates, and even the last four digits of the Social Security number.

This is exactly the information that Russian hackers need to commit identity theft, allowing them to empty out your bank account. Or screw with the voter registration system in the states, preventing Americans from voting in the next election.

Did Jared Kushner want that secret back channel to the Russians so he could send them this data?

The Trump administration's plan for this data was to have the states upload the data to a server and then store it on "someone's" computer in the White House. Apparently, no consideration was made for the security of the data.

Just recently it was discovered that a Republican operative had left voter data for 200 million Americans on an unsecured server. Was he just incompetent, or was this the cyber equivalent of a dead drop for Russian hackers?

Trump's commission insisted they could be trusted to keep the data safe. They then showed exactly how incompetent they are at keeping people's personal details confidential:
The White House on Thursday made public a trove of emails it received from voters offering comment on its Election Integrity Commission. The commission drew widespread criticism when it emerged into public view by asking for personal information, including addresses, partial social security numbers and party affiliation, on every voter in the country.

It further outraged voters by planning to post that information publicly.

Unfortunately for these voters and others who wrote in, the Trump administration did not redact any of their personal information from the emails before releasing them to the public. In some cases, the emails contain not only names, but email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and places of employment of people worried about such information being made available to the public.
Rule #1: if you want people to trust you, don't do the very thing they're telling you not to do.

Most states -- even the Republican ones -- have refused outright to comply with Trump's dictates, so our data should be safe for now.

But the question is: did these clowns intentionally release these details to get even with their critics, letting the Russians and Republican doxxers know who they should target? Or are they complete idiots, oblivious to the harm they can cause with this kind of information, and especially, how bad this makes them look?

In the Bush administration, it was always a question of whether Bush and his people were lying or incompetent -- about the WMDs, the war in Iraq, Katrina, etc.

But with the Trump administration, the lies are a given. They always lie. Over and over. They never tell the truth. For them truth does not exist: everything they say is just another scam crafted to sell some swamp land on a Florida sinkhole. As Junior's meeting with the Russians shows, their story changes five times in two days, and in the end they will still never tell the truth. Because, in the end, they're covering up intertwined crimes and conspiracies that go back decades.

So now you've gotta ask: is the Trump administration filled with criminals or morons? No -- why choose? Criminal morons it is.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Good News on Cancer

Nearly everyone I know has had their lives adversely affected because of cancer. Today's news about the FDA universally recommending a new treatment that attacks the disease with the bodies own living organisms is amazing and most welcome.

To use the technique, a separate treatment must be created for each patient — their cells removed at an approved medical center, frozen, shipped to a Novartis plant for thawing and processing, frozen again and shipped back to the treatment center. 

A single dose of the resulting product has brought long remissions, and possibly cures, to scores of patients in studies who were facing death because every other treatment had failed. The panel recommended approving the treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has resisted treatment, or relapsed, in children and young adults aged 3 to 25.

Good news is hard to come by these days. It points to something I have predicting for years. People are going to start living longer thanks to advances in medical technology and it's going to happen exponentially.

But Her Emails...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Irony 101: a single email may seal Trump's fate

After years of yapping about thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails, it turns out that a single email may tear down the entire Trump administration.

On Saturday the New York Times published an article about a meeting the Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign manager had with a Russian lawyer.

The first excuse Donald Trump Jr. had was that they didn't know who they were meeting and they talked about adoption. Then he said that he had been promised some unspecified dirt on Clinton, but that the Russian lawyer had lied to him and had nothing, and was talking nonsense!

Nonsense? Nonsense like "DNC's emails that criticize Bernie Sanders," "Wikileaks," "Julian Assange," "Guccifer?" perhaps? The same stuff that was leaked a few days later and probably caused millions of Bernie supporters to stay home on election day instead of voting for Clinton?

Now Donnie Jr. said he had gone to the meeting intending to collude with the Russians, but got mad when they punked him and just wanted to talk about letting wealthy Russian fatcats buy up New York real estate again.

Then, finally the truth came out: Donnie Jr. had a Russian friend whose dad is in Putin's inner circle. This guy sent Donnie an email saying that the Russians wanted to help Trump win, and that they had evidence of foreign contributions to the DNC.

That's what convinced Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to take a meeting with an agent of the Russian government. Of course, there was no collusion between the DNC and the Russians, because the Russians wanted Trump to win. The email, though false, baited the hook and the Trump campaign swallowed it, the line and the sinker.

Now everything makes a lot more sense. The reason Kushner was so intent on getting FBI Director James Comey fired was that he knew this meeting would eventually come to light if Comey kept looking at Kushner's meetings with Russians.

Trump Sr. didn't want his son to go to jail for soliciting in-kind campaign contributions from an agent of the Russian government, so he went along with Comey's firing. Besides, he was almost certainly in the loop -- he would have been pleased to learn that his best friend, Vladimir Putin, wanted to help him win the election.

The interesting thing is that all this information is being leaked directly out of the White House. It looks like Steve Bannon is stabbing Jared Kushner in the back.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Trump Proudly Announces He Will Collude with Russia

During the presidential campaign Donald Trump called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's email, which has ultimately lead to an investigation of whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to win the election for him.

Always tone deaf, after meeting with Putin at the G-20 Trump proudly announced that he will collude with Russia once again on hacking (calling it "cybersecurity" this time around).

This was met with ridicule in most quarters, many of them Republican:
[Sen. Marco] Rubio suggests that partnering with Putin on cybersecurity would be like partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a “Chemical Weapons Unit” (Assad is widely believed to have carried out chemical weapons attacks on his own people).
Other Republicans were equally derisive:
When asked for his response on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.

“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” he said of the cybersecurity proposal.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) similarly scoffed at the suggestion.

“I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort ― since he’s doing the hacking,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, equated Putin’s involvement in a joint cybersecurity venture to “letting the fox guard the henhouse.” He tweeted a clip of a fox from a Discovery Channel documentary.
Democrat Adam Schiff tweeted that Americans “might as well just mail our ballots to Moscow.”

After Trump's meeting with Putin Russian media claimed that Putin denied he had interfered with the US election, and that Trump had accepted his denial. Trump's comments afterwards suggested that he accepted the denial, repeating the same sort of weasel words he has since the election ("I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries.").

Other members of the Trump administration basically said that Russia hacked the election and Trump didn't know what he was talking about.

All in all, Trump's performance at the G-20 was an embarrassment: a video from an Australian reporter illustrated how isolated and clueless the American president was at a meeting that the United States has historically dominated.

Despite his speech in Poland about defending "the West," Trump has completely abdicated America's leadership position in the free world to Germany and France, choosing instead to enroll in the Putin University for Third-World Dictators.

An Excellent Summation of President Trump

Oops! Trump's Guys "Forget" Another Meeting with the Russians

It's a crime to hide meetings with hostile foreign nationals when applying for a security clearance. But Jared Kushner has done it over and over again. This time it was with a Russian lawyer who defends Russia's policy of holding babies hostage:
Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.
The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has waged Russia's attack on the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress after Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky died (probably murdered) in a Russian prison. Magnitsky had exposed a huge corruption scandal in the Putin administration.

In retaliation for the passage of the Magnitsky Act (which sanctioned Putin's oligarch pals), Russia banned adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans. Yes, Putin is trying to blackmail Americans who desperately want to save Russian children from a grim and hopeless future by taking them into their homes at great expense to themselves.

Kushner's story is that the meeting was about adoption, though it was really about getting Trump to repeal the Magnitsky Act so Russian oligarchs could go back to snapping up New York real estate.

And then there's this:
One of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s clients is Denis Katsyv, the Russian owner of a Cyprus-based investment company called Prevezon Holdings. He is the son of Petr Katsyv, the vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former deputy governor of the Moscow region. In a civil forfeiture case prosecuted by Mr. Bharara’s office, the Justice Department alleged that Prevezon had helped launder money tied to a $230 million corruption scheme exposed by Mr. Magnitsky by parking it in New York real estate [emphasis added] and bank accounts. As a result, the government froze $14 million of its assets. Prevezon recently settled the case for $6 million without admitting wrongdoing.
This story hits the trifecta: Russians, Trump and real estate money laundering. Robert Mueller, take note.

Trump's conspiracy theory cronies fabricated a story about child sex slaves in the non-existent basement of pizza joint out of an obscure reference in an email from John Podesta. They were so convinced something terrible was happening that one nutjob shot up Comet Ping Pong Pizza to "rescue" the nonexistent children.

Here we have Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meeting secretly with the lawyer of man who laundered hundreds of millions of corrupt Russian dollars through New York real estate. Yet Trump supporters obliviously insist that there was absolutely nothing going on in the dozens of meetings Trump campaign operatives and associates had with Putin, Russian bankers, Russian lawyers, Russian diplomats, and Russian spies.

Why so many meetings with Russians? And why are these secret meetings constantly being uncovered, one after another, six months after Trump took office? The "I forgot" excuse is wearing thin.

The next time Kushner remembers one of these "forgotten" meetings he should be fired, lose his security clearance, and charged for lying to the FBI.

No, scratch that: Kushner's security clearance should be revoked and he should be fired today. His credibility is damaged beyond repair. There are so many questions swirling around Kushner that he is completely exposed to Russian blackmail: he's lied so many times about the Russians that there's almost certainly another bombshell out there waiting to explode.

Worse, even if there aren't any other secret meetings forthcoming, there may be "tapes" of Kushner's contacts with the Russians, they could blackmail the Trump administration by threatening to release recordings of Kushner saying any number of incriminating things.

No wonder Trump is always so complimentary to Vladimir Putin...

No More Fire Pits, Please!!

Folks, I have a confession to make. I hate fire pits with all of my heart and soul.

I realize this will cost me in MN street cred because just about everyone in this state absolutely loves fire pits to the point of insanity, obsession and OMG why don't you have one??!! But I hate them. HATE them!! Why?

1. I deplore obsessive, keep up with the Joneses trendy crap. Only in Minnesota could a campfire be a hipster thing to do.

2. The smell. I hang out by a fire pit for more than three seconds and I stink to high heaven. I have to shower twice and do an extra load of laundry just to smell normal again.

3. The lack of fresh air. I like to have fresh air in my house but I rarely can open my windows because all my neighbors have fire pits blazing 24-7. I live in the beautiful North Woods where the air would normally be immensely fresh if it weren't for the fucking fire pit festival every year.

4. With fire pits come drum circles and I really can't stand those dumb ass things. Join a band (rock or pep) and put all that energy into something creative rather than being a wanker trying to impress some hippie chick with how in touch you are with your "soul."

Most of you who know me recognize that I'm not an outdoors-y guy. Fire pits represent an intrusion of camping into my suburban bliss that I find deeply offensive on a number of levels.

Here's to hoping I can bring more anti fire pitters out with this message and give them the courage to join me in saying enough of this! I want to smell fresh air again!!