Thursday, August 31, 2017

Trump's Wall is Just Another Con: Because Boats

Donald Trump is still at war with Republicans who he should be treating as allies, attacking men like Arizona senator Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham. Trump is also trying to blackmail the Senate, threatening to shut down the government unless they fund his border wall.

Now, in the best Trumpian tradition, I am announcing that I have a secret plan to finance the border wall. But instead of promising to reveal it "next week," as Trump always does but never gets around to, I will reveal it later in this post.

Flake is opposed to the border wall for personal as well as economic and moral reasons. But there's a much better reason to oppose the wall: it's a senseless waste of money that won't accomplish its stated goal.

The main reason? Most illegal immigrants just overstay their visas: they don't sneak over the border.
In each year from 2007 to 2014, more people joined the ranks of the illegal by remaining in the United States after their temporary visitor permits expired than by creeping across the Mexican border, according to a report by researchers at the Center for Migration Studies.
To further illustrate how oblivious Trump is, consider this: last year Europe was inundated by illegal immigrants arriving from Syria by boat.

Doesn't Donnie know Mexicans have boats too? Here's a story from 2010 about how illegal immigrants use boats to enter California from Mexico.  Here's a story from last Saturday about people using a boat to enter the United States from Haiti. Here's a story from Breitbart in 2014 about pangas bringing illegal immigrants by sea to San Diego. And of course there was the Mariel boat lift in the 1980s...

Yet in Trump's first budget he cut Coast Guard funding by a billion dollars. Doesn't Trump understand that the Coast Guard stops boats entering the United States illegally? A later budget restored the cut, but because the Guard's budget is already drastically insufficient, they can't even do their job as it is:
The White House has dropped plans for a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard, instead promising a budget that “sustains current funding levels.” The bad news is that “current funding levels” are already too low. The Coast Guard has to give almost 600 drug shipments a pass each year because they don’t have the ships or planes to catch them — and that’s their top-priority mission. Elsewhere, the Coast Guard has cut corners on everything from patrolling the Pacific, to maintaining its bases and to working with the Navy, the Coast Guard Commandant told reporters today.
From this you could deduce that Trump is just plain stupid. And you would be correct. But the real reason is Trump wants the wall is to con his supporters. The wall riles up the racists, haters and white separatists who call him the "god emperor." It plays well at his Nuremberg-style rallies. In his mind, it boosts his ratings, and ratings are everything.

If Trump's voters want the border wall, let them pay for it.

Now for my secret plan: instead of making Mexico or American taxpayers pay for Trump's vanity project: let the people who want the wall pay for it. If Trump wants to spend $20 billion on his "beautiful" wall, that's only $307 for each of the 65 million fools who voted for him. Why waste federal dollars on something most people don't want?

Trump could create a non-profit "Beautiful Wall" foundation. What could possibly go wrong?

The thing is, it doesn't matter to Trump that the wall will be an expensive failure. Many of his businesses have been expensive failures: the casinos, Trump University, Trump Shuttle, the United States Football League, and so on.

But all those things boosted his notoriety, and a splashy failure is good for business if your business is just selling the Trump name. Especially when he's always able to leave someone else holding the bag for his mistakes.

The Mexican border is 2,000 miles long. Trump has already admitted he's not really going to build a wall along its entirety, but just a short segment to feed raw meat to the animals.

Now, the coastline of the lower 48 states is 6,000 miles long, half of that on the states closest to Mexico, the Caribbean and South America -- Texas, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. There are tens of thousands of square miles of open sea around those coastlines, making it very difficult for a thinly spread Coast Guard to intercept all the smugglers.

If the wall was 100% effective -- and it won't be, because people will just tunnel under and climb over it -- drug smugglers and illegal immigrants will just switch to other means: cars, boats, planes, and overstaying visas.

To stop illegal immigration you need to remove the incentive to come to the United States illegally. But Trump's preferred method -- making life miserable for illegals -- doesn't work very well. Because life for many immigrants is even worse at home.

If it were more attractive to stay in Mexico and South and Central America -- if people had jobs that paid better, drug gangs were defanged, government corruption was rooted out -- the people living in those countries would stay home. And a lot of the immigrants that Trump wants to deport would voluntarily go home to their families.

If we fixed American drug policy to make illicit drugs unprofitable, drug gangs would stop smuggling drugs over the border.

The United States should pursue a set of "everbody wins" policies for trade, immigration, cross-border employment, illegal drugs, etc., with Mexico and Latin America. NAFTA should be renegotiated to make life better by raising the wages for the citizens of our trading partners, so they can afford to buy our products, and they're no longer the lowest cost producers, making our workers more competitive.

But that's impossible under Trump: the only thing he understands is him winning personally, and that means everybody else -- even his own allies in the Republican Party -- have to lose.

Cop at Traffic Stop: "We only shoot black people"

You would think this was a Saturday Night Live sketch, but video shows this really happened in Georgia in July, 2016:
A white Cobb County police lieutenant has been moved to administrative duty for telling a white woman during a traffic stop, “Remember, we only shoot black people.”

The footage shows the officer speaking through the car window to a female passenger in a vehicle who had been stopped for suspected DUI.

Channel 2 Action News reported that its request for body camera footage of the traffic stop prompted an internal investigation of Lt. Greg Abbott, who has been on the Cobb force for 28 years.

The woman tells Abbott that she is afraid to reach for her cellphone because “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops ... ”

At that point, Abbott cuts her off.

“But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people,” the police veteran of nearly three decades can be heard saying. “Yeah. We only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed?”
It's clear from the cop's tone of voice that he's just telling her what he thinks she wants to hear, appealing to her racism: You're safe, he's saying. You're white, and cops don't shoot white women.

Except they do. Just last month a Minneapolis cop shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white woman, behind her house when she was in her pajamas. Authorities say that it'll take until the end of the year to decide whether to charge the cop.

So that Georgia woman was right to be afraid of the cops shooting her: they even kill middle-aged blonde white women when they're afraid or surprised.

Because they don't know who's got a gun when they stop a car or someone approaches them from behind. As long as cops are afraid of being ambushed by some nut packing heat, innocent people are going to die needlessly at the hands of the cops.

You can blame a lot of this on incompetent, or racist or trigger-happy cops -- but the biggest share of the blame should be placed on the NRA and Republican office holders who keep pushing the fallacy that more guns make us safer.

The prevalence of guns makes the cops feel like someone's going to shoot them at every traffic stop or when they're parked in their cruiser having a coffee break.

Justine -- and a lot of innocent black men -- died so that gun nuts can have their toys and feed their power fantasies.

The Limits of Power

With Donald Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio for a federal contempt of court conviction, Trump is threatening to destroy the power of the judicial branch of government. He seems to think that his power to pardon is absolute:
In his Saturday morning tweets, the President referenced the fact that he holds presidential pardoning powers, saying, "While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS."
Sorry to break it to Donnie, but he ain't all powerful. Realistically, he can't pardon himself. And he can't pardon someone in exchange for a bribe -- that in itself would be a crime.

And, more to the point, he can't pardon anyone for crimes charged under state law:
The Constitution gives the president “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”  
Since Trump has never actually read the Constitution, he doesn't seem to realize that. But Robert Mueller does:
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.
With all of Trump's questionable financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, Trump himself is likely open to prosecution in New York, New Jersey and Florida for money laundering with his real estate and casino transactions.

And remember, the FBI took down Al Capone for tax fraud. Perhaps Trump's reluctance to release his tax returns is that if all the states where he does business could see the entirety of his financial manipulations they could convict him of tax evasion.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Does Texas Want to Secede Now?

The flooding in Texas is horrible. It's unprecedented, everyone is saying.

But it was predicted. Climate scientists have been predicting this kind of catastrophe for decades. And it's only going to get worse.

People are praising the citizens of Houston for being civic minded, checking on their neighbors, helping each other out. Yes, helping people you know and live near is praiseworthy.

But so is helping people who live in other states. Every Republican member of congress from Texas is hell-bent on repealing Obama's health care law, taking away health care from people who live in New York and California. Yet now they are all demanding that New York and California -- through the Federal government -- literally bail them out of this horrific flood, right this very minute.

I have no problem with that. We should help Texas get through this terrible disaster. But things have got to change.

People have to stop denying the truth of climate change and sea level rise. They have to stop burning so much fossil fuel. They have to drive more efficient cars and use more wind and solar power.

They have to acknowledge that oil and gas extraction has caused the coast to subside in Texas and Louisiana, and has made flooding and storm surge worse. Houston has been overbuilt -- they have paved over the entire area, making it impossible for rain to seep into the water table normally.

People who live in houses that have been flooded two or three times have to move -- and that's according to a Texas Republican. This is the third year running that Houston has had a 500-year flood. This timely article was written six months ago:

Following historic floods across the Greater Houston area last spring, county and city entities have worked on a number of projects to address flood mitigation and water rescue challenges in the Tomball and Magnolia areas.

Local officials said the April 2016 and Memorial Day 2015 floods were 500-year events—meaning affected areas have a 0.2 percent chance of flooding in a given year, according to the Harris County Flood Control District.

“[It was] unprecedented to have two 500-year storms back to back,” Tomball Public Works Director David Esquivel said. “With that being said, I don’t know if there’s any one entity that’s going to design for that kind of storm event.”
Americans across the country should be helping Texas. And Texas should want to return the favor and help the rest of the country in two or three years after they've recovered and something bad has happened to us.

During Barack Obama's presidency many Texans wanted to leave the Union. They thought Obama was going to impose martial law. They didn't want their own citizens to have access to health care. Those same citizens that they're now pulling out of their flooding houses.

Why do Texans work so hard to save their neighbors in a disaster, but kick them to the curb every other day of the year?

The United States works because we're a huge country. We're extremely diverse -- when one sector of the economy tanks, or there's a massive hurricane on the Gulf Coast, or a crop-killing drought in California, or six feet of snow gets dumped on Boston, or dozens of tornadoes clobber Missouri and Arkansas, the rest of us can pick up the slack.

The separatist mind-set of the white supremacists and Texas nationalists weakens the Union. There was a saying once, it's hard to remember how it goes with all the crap Donald Trump keeps throwing around (now he's threatening to shut down the government unless he gets his useless wall). What was that saying?

Oh, yeah. "United we stand, divided we fall."

Sunday, August 27, 2017

It's Not a Coincidence Anymore...

The confluence of three recent stories shows that climate change is really happening, in a very big way.

The first was a study that showed that for decades, the research of Exxon's own climate scientists, indicated that the climate was warming, but Exxon publicly stated that it wasn't. Exxon misled the public about climate change, sowing doubt that it was happening. In recent years, however, Exxon has admitted the severity of the problem.

The second was a report that a Russian tanker went across the Arctic from Europe to Asia in record time, thanks to thinning sea ice at the pole:
Sailors have for centuries sought a navigable Northwest Passage: a shorter, faster route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that transits the Arctic. Historically, thick ice made the journey impossible. In the last century, specialized ice-breaking vessels made the trip plausible, but prohibitively expensive, and then only during the summer, when the ice was thinnest. 
But rapid changes to the climate have significantly altered the region’s ice, and Sovcomflot said in a statement that it believed the ship could make the journey “year-round in the difficult ice conditions.”
The third is, of course, Hurricane Harvey. Though this hurricane wasn't caused by climate change, higher temperatures in the ocean and the atmosphere have increased the amount of water vapor that storms pick up. That in turn has caused a drastic increase in the amount of rainfall.

Houston has been hit by terrible flooding, with some areas being inundated by two feet of rain in 24 hours. Some parts of Texas may get as much as five feet of rain over the course of the storm.

The United States hasn't been hit by many hurricanes in the last decade, but Mexico hasn't been so lucky. Asia, however, has been hammered by some of the biggest cyclones in history in recent years.

Things are shaking out just like the climate forecasters predicted: places like Texas and California have been hit by terrible years-long droughts, then they get walloped by torrential thousand-year downpours. Sea level rise is hitting the south Atlantic coast particularly hard.

The Gulf states -- Florida, Texas, Louisiana -- have been home to the loudest climate change deniers, yet they stand the most to lose.

Will they will stop lying about it now? Will they instead admit the truth and blame all the rest of of us for climate change because we burn the oil they extract, and we drive the gas-guzzlers they have fought so hard to keep inefficient so they can sell more oil?

One thing we know for sure is that they will demand we rescue them, yet again. They'll insist we rebuild their houses and businesses in the same flood-prone areas that have been hammered again and again by every storm that comes along.

This does point out another reason why the Keystone XL pipeline shouldn't be built: does it really make sense to build a pipeline to a place that's prone to such massive flooding? They're just going to load it on oil tankers and send it to Asia anyway.

Best not to put all our eggs in one basket.

Better In Than Out?

I came across a reader letter today in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune that struck me as very interesting. The gist of it was that Trump is better for the liberal agenda in office than out of it. Every time he tries to work with Congress in pursuing the conservative agenda, he gets in his own way with something. Whether it's his child like behavior, another thread pulled in the Russian scandal or some other buffoonish gaff, nothing is getting done in Washington in terms of what the GOP wants. Isn't that a good thing?

I thought it about it for a while and realized there needs to be a cost benefit analysis performed. On the one had, the reader is right. Trump is the GOP's worst enemy in terms of policy change. Yet, the damage he is doing to our hegemony in the world is significant. Which is worse?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

This is How Little Congress Trusts Trump's Judgment

U.S. President Donald Trump would be required to notify U.S. lawmakers before creating a joint U.S.-Russia cyber security unit -- an idea that has drawn criticism across the political spectrum -- under legislation advancing in Congress.

The proposal, if it became law, would be the latest in a series of maneuvers by Congress that either limit the president’s authority on Russia matters or rebuke his desire to warm relations with Moscow.

A provision contained within the annual Intelligence Authorization Act and passed by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee 14-1 would require the Trump administration to provide Congress with a report describing what intelligence would be shared with Russia, any counterintelligence concerns and how those concerns would be addressed.
It is crazy when lawmakers are forced to write preemptive legislation to prevent from Trump from catastrophically stupid blunders.

Trump Pardons Ex-Sheriff, World Shrugs

Since the stated goal of Trump and his supporters is to make liberals' heads explode, why give them what they want?

Consider Trump's recent pardoning of Joe Arpaio, the ex-sheriff of Maricopa county in Arizona. It was done with the specific and most adolescent intent of getting a rise out of liberals. So, the best thing to do is ignore it and counter with questions of how the president and his supporters are fulfilling their promises to the American people. Where's tax reform? Health care? What up with the wall?

Arpaio isn't sheriff anymore. He's 85 years old and not in the best of shape. Honestly, how much of an influence is he going to have on anything? Pardoning him really makes no difference in the grand scheme of things.

The best thing that the two thirds of the nation that does not support Trump can do is ignore him when he does stuff like this.

An Open Letter to a Trump Supporter

Dear Trump Supporter,

What do you stand for?

I ask this because, as someone who has voted for both Democrats and Republicans over the years, I still don't know. Actually, that's not true. I do know one thing you stand for and that's watching liberals' heads explode. Even that, though, isn't really standing for something. It's still being against something, in this case, liberals.

Being angry and yelling against _______________ seems to be what you are all about. You hate the media, Hollywood, elitists, globalists, immigrants (illegal or otherwise), multiculturalists, scientists, LGBTQ folks, career politicians, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, socialists, news outlets that don't agree with you/Trump, and all citizens of the United States that offer any criticism or the tiniest amount of contrary view to your tribe. Of course, this is what your dear leader is all about (being against a whole bunch of stuff) so it makes sense that you feel the same. But what does that say about you?

If someone's raison d'etre is to be against everything and stand for nothing, I think that's the very definition of cowardice.

So, take a stand. Pick a position and support it. I challenge you to do so without mentioning liberals, the media, the elite, the political class and all the other "ghouls" that you continually blame for our nation's problems. Stop bitching and do something. Consistent whining wears on people over time and you need to show the nation how you will lead, especially now that you control all three branches of government. I ask you again...

What do you stand for?

Friday, August 25, 2017

How Many Statues of Union Generals Are There?

Recently the alt-right has been stirring the pot over the removal of Confederate monuments. There has also been a lot of discussion about renaming schools, roads and public buildings named after Confederates. And there are a lot of Confederate monuments: literally thousands, scattered mostly across the South, but also in states like New York, Idaho and Montana.

But how many statues are there of Union generals? Does anyone even know the names of any Union generals besides Ulysses S. Grant? Even I wouldn't remember him, except that he was also president and showed up in the Wild, Wild West TV show in the 1960s.

Sure, lots of things are named after Abraham Lincoln, but you can't really count them because he was president. Ditto for Grant. But the other generals who actually won the Civil War? Unless you're a Civil War reenactor or a history buff, most Americans have no idea who those other generals were.

Look at this list of Union Civil War commemorations. Most entries are for places named after Union figures, and most states have only a few. A lot of them are in the South. The Civil War is not a thing for most Northerners.

But every Southern state has dozens, and some hundreds, of Confederate memorials. Monuments to losers who betrayed their country and got their own people killed to perpetuate a corrupt and immoral system of slavery that benefited a tiny minority of wealthy elites.

The majority of Northerners view the Civil War as ancient history. We know we won, it's over and done. It was a bad time in our history that we shouldn't forget, but shouldn't belabor either. Let a century and a half of bygones be bygones.

White supremacists in the South have been unwilling to do that. They have spent the last century rewriting history by erecting monuments to the people who lost the war that tore this country in half, killing more than half a million Americans. They've whitewashed that treachery, reframing the root cause as "states rights" instead of slavery and white supremacy. They have tried to ennoble a bunch of immoral skinflints who thought they were better than the people they abducted from another continent, who they didn't want to pay for working their fingers to the bone in the fields.

If Donald Trump doesn't want to "destroy history" by tearing down statues to Confederate traitors, fine. Then he should erect a statue of Lincoln, or Harriet Tubman, or Sojourner Truth, or a Union general, or an unknown Union soldier or slave right beside every one of those Confederate memorials. Then hang a sign around the neck of the Confederate traitor with a body count of the hundreds or thousands who died because that man betrayed the United States of America.

If Trump wants to remember our history, he should erect a memorial in every place a crazed white mob lynched an innocent black man, or lynched a white man for helping blacks, or lynched Union loyalists during the Civil War. That would mean building another five or ten thousand monuments to the victims of racism and treachery.

But, no, that would be too divisive. It would stir up unpleasant memories. We don't want to wage the Civil War again.

Better to just move the Confederate memorials out of our parks and squares. Remove the Confederate flags from our state capitols. Put those symbols of a bygone age in dusty museums where the sins of our forefathers can be viewed dispassionately, without pride or shame.

At The Barbershop

I learned a lot at the barbershop today from the barber and some of the patrons. First, all black quarterbacks are bad because all they want to do is run around. Second, Fox News is the only station that tells it like it is. Third, Donald Trump is going to go down in history as the greatest president of all time. Fourth, ALL lives matter. Fifth, Colin Kaepernick should be banished from the Earth.

Honestly, it was like watching a cartoon...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Trump's "Don't Lose" Plan for Afghanistan is a Loser

This morning we talked about how easy it will be for the Taliban, the Russians and Breitbart to get Trump to flip-flop on Afghanistan once things start to look ugly and people are blaming Trump. But let's look at Trump's plan (what little there is), and see if it holds water.

First of all, it's the same as Bush's and Obama's plan: don't lose. Rex Tillerson, Trump's putative secretary of state, admitted this in an unusually candid press conference. Addressing the Taliban, Tillerson said, “You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you.”

Now, this is probably true. It's always been true.

The war in Afghanistan will not end unless there is an all-out invasion, waged not by one country, but a huge international coalition with troops from NATO and Muslim countries, removal of the Taliban from Pakistan, a peace treaty agreed by all Afghan parties, Pakistan and India, followed by massive post-war intervention at every level of society, assistance from all the surrounding countries and a commitment to keep thousands of international peacekeeping troops (mostly Muslim) there for fifty or a hundred years, similar to what we did in Germany, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.

Despite all his bragging about what a great deal maker he is, Trump is totally incapable of negotiating something that big and complex, much less understanding it. Instead he announced that he has given up on nation building. He's only going to kill terrorists. He's going to give our soldiers free reign to do whatever the hell they want in Afghanistan.

This will increase the number of civilian deaths and Afghan military casualties due to friendly fire. But every time we kill a civilian or a government soldier we make their families into Taliban sympathizers. Every time we kill an Afghan family, we motivate another Afghan soldier to shoot Americans eating lunch in the mess hall.

Trump's screw-'em-all attitude gave us the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which was likely the turning point in the Iraq War. In that debacle Americans tortured Iraqis in humiliating ways -- and took pictures of the torture, laughing the whole time. After Blackwater's slaughter of Iraqi civilians in Nissour Square there was no way that Iraq would trust our forces to stay in the country. George W. Bush could not convince the Iraqis to renew the status of forces agreement, and agreed to remove all American troops from Iraq by 2011.

Republicans blamed Obama for not trying hard enough to keep our troops in Iraq, but after Nissour Square the Iraqis refused to give American troops immunity to prosecution for civilian deaths. At home it was clear that the American people were tired of our troops dying in Iraq getting stuck between Iraqi Sunni and Shiite factions who keep trying to kill each other. So Obama did what Trump was screaming for him to do: pull out of Iraq.

Trump rightly criticizes Pakistan for giving Taliban terrorists refuge across the border in Pakistan. I have said for 16 years that this war will go on forever until Pakistan stops supporting the Taliban. The problem is that Pakistan has neither the will nor the ability to root out those terrorists. And it's not just because they're cowards and incompetent. They want Afghanistan in chaos. They have been playing both sides of this war since the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Back then it was the United States and Pakistan backing the conservative Islamic revolutionaries of the proto-Taliban and Osama bin Laden's proto-Al Qaeda organization. We fought to take down a modern secular government backed by Trump's pals, the Russians. Women used to wear miniskirts in Kabul before we started meddling there. With our help Afghanistan collapsed into the Middle Ages.

Pakistan is starting to align with China against the United States. China wants rare earth metals in Afghanistan to supply their manufacturing. Instead of getting Asian countries to side with us against the Chinese, Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific trade pact, driving them into China's orbit.

But the biggest mistake Trump made in his speech was to brag about how he's going to get India to "help" in Afghanistan. Trump doesn't seem to understand that the main reason Pakistan has been letting the Taliban run riot in Afghanistan for almost 40 years is that they're afraid India will gain a foothold there.

Now Trump stupidly announces that he's going to actively pursue Pakistan's worst nightmare: handing Afghanistan over to its arch-enemy, India, and surrounding Pakistan with a sea of Indian allies.

Trump must think this is a smart negotiating tactic that will trick Pakistan into kowtowing to us. They almost certainly see this as a total betrayal by the United States. But they can't be surprised. They've seen how incompetent Trump has been dealing with the people in his own political party: as a political negotiator he has proven to be an idiot who talks big and can't get anything done because he can't pay attention, has no knowledge of the issues, has no follow through and keeps screwing over his allies.

Then Trump threatens to cancel foreign and military aid to Pakistan, making us seem that much less reliable, giving them no reason at all to stick with us. He is driving Pakistan further into China's orbit.

On other fronts, Trump is weakening the United States by alienating our NATO allies, who have been a big part of the war in Afghanistan. Trump has spent the last year trashing NATO, bullying Australia and lashing out at Canada over NAFTA, threatening to cancel it.

Given Trump's self-admitted reluctant embrace of the mission in Afghanistan, how much political capital will our NATO allies invest in helping Trump in a war that he hesitated for seven months to continue, which his most rabid supporters don't want him to fight at all? Will they let him go hang when he asks for more help, or will they demand something outrageous in exchange?

Trump can't stay on message for two days, much less two years. When Afghanistan starts going to hell (again), and Trump starts taking heat for dead American soldiers, corrupt Afghan politicians, and Afghan allies who hold boys as sex slaves, does anyone believe he won't cut and run, like he has every other time the going gets tough?

I outlined the only path to success in Afghanistan above, but no one is interested in doing the right thing: everyone has their own agenda to undercut their enemies, including Trump.

In the end Trump's plan isn't even a half measure, it's a recipe for failure. Worse, instead of just failing, it will almost certainly backfire, worsening the conflict and drawing other combatants into the war, perhaps Russia, Iran and India. In the end Trump himself is almost certain to bail on it.

Then, as now, Trump will start blaming everyone else for his mistakes, issue snarky Twitter rants, and demand resignations. You can't run a war that way. Or a country.

What Did Charlottesville Teach the Taliban about Trump?

Monday Trump announced his bold new Afghanistan plan: it was the same as Obama's plan and Bush's plan, which he had roundly criticized. But with less nation building and more killing. Trump threatened and bragged, the way he always does.

But he did one thing that he rarely does: admit that he changed his mind.
My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life, I have heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. In other words, when you are president of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle. After many meetings over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David with my cabinet and generals to complete our strategy. I arrived at three fundamental conclusion about America's core interests in Afghanistan.
Now, imagine that you're the Taliban. You've watched Donald Trump for seven months, whining, bragging, complaining, tweeting. He calls reality "fake news." He attacks Mitch McConnell for not getting legislation passed, but without whom Trump cannot get any legislation passed. He praises the GOP's health care plan, then calls it mean. He promises a giant wall on day one and seven months on there's nothing there.

And then Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan march in Charlottesville, killing a woman and hurting 19 others, and -- speaking from his gut -- he says that many sides were responsible for the violence. Two days later Trump condemns the violence in a statement his aides forced him to read. The next day he backslides and says there were some very fine people on the Nazis' side. Then he whines about how no one likes his perfect words, none of which he meant or believed.

What does that teach the Taliban? That Trump is not loyal to the people or the institutions of the United States, or even his own allies. He flip-flops. He cannot stick to the script. He brags and whines, and talks tough but has no follow through or ability to get the job done. He has an overweening pride, but he's morally weak and cannot abide criticism. He's flabby and physically weak: the Taliban spend their lives fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan; Trump can't even walk up a hill in Italy.

Given all these character weaknesses a PSYOP campaign against Trump could defeat the United States in Afghanistan. Trump's flaws are so obvious that even the Taliban can see how to manipulate him. Maybe it'll be the Russians, who have already been helping the Taliban, to use the same tactics they used to elect Trump to defeat him in Afghanistan. Or maybe it'll be Breitbart and Bannon, who know even more about Trump's weaknesses.

It's easy: plant fake news on various outlets, such as Fox News, to convince Trump that his gut was right. As Trump showed last week, he cannot maintain discipline for very long.

Trump won't say how many troops he's sending to Afghanistan. They're not supposed to fight, just train Afghans. But they're still exposed: dozens of Americans have already been killed by Taliban infiltrators posing as Afghan army.

How will it play to Trump when Fox News starts reporting that Afghan soldiers are murdering Americans who are there to help Afghans? How long will it take Trump to turn on our Afghan allies, as he turned on Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake and other Republican senators he absolutely needs to pass his agenda?

How long will it take Trump to repudiate his own decision to stay in Afghanistan, which he himself admitted goes against his gut, once people start blaming Trump for the same things Trump blamed Bush and Obama for? Bannon and the Trump groupies will shout "Trump was right in the first place!" and "Let Trump be Trump! Out of Afghanistan!"

What will happen when Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller start leaking dirt on the people who convinced Trump to stay on in Afghanistan? Will Trump start rage-tweeting about his generals and his chief of staff, undercutting them in exactly the same way he undercut Mitch McConnell?

How long will Trump stick to the plan when Breitbart starts quoting polls that say Trump is losing support among his base because of his decision to stay in Afghanistan?

To the Taliban -- and pretty much everyone -- Trump appears weak and stupid, flighty and inconstant. Disloyal and undisciplined.

The United States has the most powerful military in the world (even though we can't seem to stop our destroyers from getting rammed by cargo ships). But we have the weakest commander in chief this nation has ever seen.

Monday, August 21, 2017

This Flag Belongs Only in a Museum

The only place a Confederate Battle Flag should be displayed is in a museum: like this one, which is in the Minnesota Historical Society.

This flag was captured at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The First Minnesota Regiment suffered an 80% casualty rate to win it.
Virginia has asked for return of the flag for more than 100 years — and each time Minnesota has refused to return the hard-won symbol of victory. A president demanded return of Confederate flags, Congress passed a resolution ordering return of the flags, Virginians even threatened suit to get their flag back. And the answer has been the same: No.

In 1961, Virginia asked for the flag back to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, according to a Roanoke Times article. Minnesota said no.

In 1998, Virginia Civil War re-enactors asked for the flag and eventually threatened legal action. A Minnesota historian said: “Blood has been shed for that flag. . Who are we to return it?” And Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III said that despite a 1905 order that Civil War relics be returned, Virginia had no right to it.

In 2000, when Virginia legislators requested the Southern Cross flag once again, Gov. Jesse Ventura said: “Why? We won. … We took it. That makes it our heritage.”

In 2002, the U.S. Army’s chief of military history even decided the wool flag should be housed in a Virginia military history museum. But the flag remained in Minnesota.

In 2003, Virginia officials — including Democratic Gov. Mark Warner — demanded the flag. Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in response: “They’re not getting it. … We believe it’s rightfully ours, and we’re not giving it back to Virginia.” 
When you get Pawlenty, Ventura and Humphrey to band against you, there's no doubt that you're in the wrong.

Somewhere In The Dark Corners of the Internet...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Trump Supporters Still Cheering Their Guy

The latest "worst week" for President Trump does seem a little different than the other ones in that some members of his party, the business world, and the military are abandoning him in terms of his "both sides are bad" comments last week in references to Nazis and the Antifa movement. It's not different for his supporters, though, as we see in this front page story from the New York Times.

The Times has done a very good job of keeping the focus on Trump's supporters (the real problem) because they are the ones that put him in office. In looking at these folks in the piece, one can see why they still support him. They are very tribal and their tribe hates liberals and anyone they deem elitist. They are naive and are loathe to give an inch to the concerns of liberals. They feel to picked on and see Trump as their champion. They are experiencing the sunk cost fallacy i.e they are too emotionally invested to back out now.

I was particularly struck by the naivete of Parson Hicks, the young black woman who has failed in an epic fashion to see how her dear leader is emboldening Nazis. Worse, she seems to be cheering on his inability to reflect and take criticism. Her comments in this piece made me realize ignorance doesn't excuse guilt and complicity.

I LMAO when I read the comments from Larry Laughlin.

Larry Laughlin, a retired businessman from a Minneapolis suburb, compares Mr. Trump to a high school senior who could “walk up to the table with the jocks and the cheerleaders and put them in their place.” That is something that the “nerds and the losers, whose dads are unemployed and moms are working in the cafeteria,” could never do. Mr. Trump may be rich, he said, but actually belonged at the nerd table.

“The guys who wouldn’t like me wouldn’t like Trump,” he said. “The guys who were condescending to him were condescending to me. 

“I feel like I’m watching my uncle up there. Where me and Chuck Schumer — that’s like going to the dentist,” he added, referring to the Democratic leader in the Senate.

This goes back to a theory (now completely confirmed) that I had back when I posted on The Smallest Minority. These guys were bullied back in school and now the nation has to pay for their psychological trauma. Worse, they have hitched their wagon to a con man's star who has always been the guy who was at the elite's table and picked on the nerds. The fact that they are falling for this act illustrates just how fucking poor their judgement is.

The Chuck Schumer comment also confirms another one of points. Like adolescents, they don't want to be responsible and go to the dentist. Why on earth should we trust them with the security of this nation?

These people represent a very real danger to our country. I have no doubt that Donald Trump could, in fact, stand in the middle of 5th Avenue, shoot someone and get away with it. Many would call him a murderer and Trump's supporters? Their first reaction would be contrary. They would get angry at the liberal media for reporting fake news. They would blame the person Trump shot for being anti-American and elitist.

Given all of this, what should we do about them?

Listen To Those Who Lived It

The front page of my paper today had this article as its lead.

Nazi resurgence alarms Minnesota World War II veterans, Holocaust survivors.

The message is pretty clear. When you are tolerant of intolerance, bad things happen.

What A Week!

Hey, conservatives, Mike Pence looking more attractive these days?

The presidency of Donald Trump really went into the shitter this week as he all too willingly fell into the "Cult of Both Sides" defense of the Nazis and other white supremacists that were marching in Charlottesville, VA last weekend. Like the right wing bloggers and commenters that worship him, Trump tried to dodge the responsibility of fomenting racist assholes by making it seem like liberals are bad and stuff too. 

This drew swift condemnation from many people across the political spectrum and Trump has grown increasingly isolated from his own party. Senator Corker from Tennessee recently questioned his competence and capacity to serve as president. Business leaders withdrew from his economic councils, ultimately causing their collapse. Steve Bannon was fired from his position as Chief Strategist. What does it all mean?

Not all that much when you take a look at the polls. The problem isn't really Trump and we need to start shifting away from him. The problem is his supporters. The polls show they are sticking with him even if the majority of the country is not. I saw a lot of liberals in my news feed delighted at Bannon being gone. Who cares? Bannon isn't the problem. Trump isn't the problem. They are merely playing to a need that's out there. This need is pretty fucking dark if you consider they are willing to excuse literal Nazis being emboldened and moving to act. So, what are our options in deal with these people?

The best option is to build a larger and sustaining coalition that buries them at the polls in EVERY SINGLE ELECTION, including the odd year, local elections. The only reason why they win is due to complacency. It has nothing to do with their message being more popular. They simply are better voters. The good guys need more and better voters.

The second best option is to let them fuck up in the sunlight. The age of social media means you can't really do anything anonymously anymore. Take a look at what happened to some of the marchers in last week's protests in Charlottesville. Or how about Crying Chris Cantwell? Most of these folks talk a good game but, in the final analysis, they are limp noodles. Don't try to ban them from your college campus or stop their open and lawful protest. Give them a mic and let them talk. Put them out in front of every major news organization on television and online. If good people are going to build larger and sustaining coalitions to stop them, they need to have a continual reminder about what we are up against.

Stop attacking Trump. That doesn't mean that you can't relay what he has done or said. Since he thrives on the attention, take it away from him and put it on the people that support him. They are going to be around a lot longer than he is. The good news is that there are more of us than there are of them. Let's use that advantage wisely.

Raising Kids In The Age Of Social Media

Friday, August 18, 2017

What General Lee Thought about Civil War Monuments

After the terrorist attack in Charlottesville during protests over the statue of of Gen. Robert E. Lee, we've heard from the Nazis, Trump, the Baltimore City Council, and countless others.

What did General Lee think? Here's an article from the Republican Vindicator, September 3, 1869, about erecting memorials in Gettysburg, to which Lee replied.
The widely heralded meeting of the officers, (U.S and Confederate,) who took part in the battle of Gettysburg, to mark the operations of both armies on the field, by enduring memorials of granite, has proven, as many expected a great farce. But few of the prominent Northern officers were present and only two Confederate officers of minor grades. The Hotel man did not make as much as he expected, when he got up the idea.

Gen. Lee was invited and forwarded the following reply:
Lexington, VA., August 5, 1869.
Dear Sir--Absence from Lexington has prevented my receiving until to-day your letter of the 26th ult., inclosing an invitation from the Gettysburg Battle-field Memorial Association, to attend a meeting of the officers engaged in that battle at Gettysburg, for the purpose of marking upon the ground by enduring memorials of granite the positions and movements of the armies on the field. My engagements will not permit me to be present. I believe if there, I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject. I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered. Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee.
The whole point of these monuments, most of which were erected 50 and 100 years after the Civil War, was not to record history, but to protest the advancement of the civil rights and glorify the cause of white supremacy by commemorating the men who enslaved African Americans.

This memorial, erected after the massacre of 150 blacks after a contested election in Colfax, LA, shows the true intent of the vast majority of Civil War monuments:

White supremacy. Who'd a' thunk?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Some armed antifa thugs heading to disrupt a peacefully-assembled white nationalist gathering.

A Loser's Idea of a Winner

Donald Trump always talks about winning, winning, winning. Winning so much we'll get tired of winning (he must be exhausted with all the "winning" he's done in the last seven months).

But Trump isn't a winner: he's a loser's idea of a winner. He has a loser mentality, thinking that if he surrounds himself with ostentatious trappings of success he'll be a winner. But he's a terrible businessman who bankrupted six companies, a conman whose only ability is self-promotion. Trump succeeded because his daddy set him up with an inheritance and some smart lawyers so he could always weasel out a win somehow, screwing everyone else in the process.

Trump knows this, and it's why he acts like a loser even when he wins. After the election, he whined bitterly, like a sore loser, lying about the popular vote total and the size of his inauguration crowd. No matter his success, he carps about how unfair everything is, like a five-year-old who was forced to share his toys with his brother.

Trump says he loves winners, ripping into John McCain and implying that McCain was a loser for getting captured in Viet Nam.

So why is Trump tweeting about the "beautiful statues and monuments" of a bunch of Civil War losers? Confederate soldiers betrayed the United States to defend the corrupt, evil, doomed and losing institution of slavery.

The Confederate traitors whose statues are being taken down in the South were losers: they lost a war that killed half a million Americans. That blood is on their hands. Why would we keep statues of them?

Lincoln was gracious in victory: instead of imprisoning and executing the traitorous losers, he granted amnesty to all but the officers in 1863. For that act of kindness he was assassinated. Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, was paroled after two years in prison and went to Canada. President Andrew Johnson issued a pardon for all Confederates on Christmas day in 1868.

Trump has leapt to the defense of people who chant slogans of the Nazis. The Nazis were a bunch of losers, who fought a losing war against the world, propagating a losing creed that Aryans are superior to all others.

Even if you strip out the racist aspects of the alt-right, their goal is the same as another loser, apartheid-era South Africa: Richard Spencer, an alt-right leader, wants to create a separate white homeland for whites.

The alt-right are a bunch of losers who think they can't compete with women, Jews, Asians and African Americans. They say it themselves: "We've lost our country and we have to take it back." But instead of buckling down, working harder, going to college, studying longer, they march with torches, wearing symbols of lost causes -- swastikas and Confederate flags, rally around statues of Civil War losers and whine about reverse discrimination.

They want to kick their competitors out rather improve their own performance: they're admitting they can't win in a fair fight. Just yesterday Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and former Breitbart editor, called white nationalists "a collection of clowns."

The fact of the matter is, rich white men run everything in this country: the presidency, the congress, the judiciary, state and local governments, police forces, the military, corporations -- everything, even the basketball and football teams on which African Americans are the majority.

The alt-right loves Trump because he's a kindred soul: they're a bunch of white male losers who can't make it in a country totally dominated by white males, and Trump's a born loser who stumbled into the presidency.

In the same way that Obama provided hope for blacks, and Hillary provided hope for women, Trump provides hope for born losers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hate Is Bad for Business

After several CEOs criticized Trump or quit his business advisory council (representing Merck, Intel, Campbell's Soup, 3M, Under Armour, three labor and nonprofit groups, and Walmart), Trump has thrown in the towel, disbanding the councils.

If ever there was a tweet on this account that Trump didn't write, this is it: polite, no sniping, and spelled correctly!

For a man who claimed that he was such a successful businessman, the dissolution of this council is a complete embarrassment. Being linked to some of the most reviled and violent organizations in world history -- the Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Confederacy -- is bad for business. And don't forget the FSB (the Russian security service), who helped Trump win the election through hacking and fake news.

It turns out that real businessmen have to worry about what their customers think of them. They can't afford to alienate 95% of the country to appease the stormtroopers and murderers that Trump thinks are very fine people.

In related news, the neo-Nazi pro-Trump propaganda organ The Daily Stormer lost its domain name when GoDaddy said it violated its policies. The site was briefly was registered by Google, which kicked them out, then it went with an .onion domain on the Dark Web (the marketplace for hit men, drug dealers and human sex traffickers), but now it has finally landed in Russia with a .ru domain.

What a surprise: the only place Trump's neo-Nazi propaganda mouthpiece can find to host it on the Internet is Russia. At least now the fact that it is fake news is implicit in its web address.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trump Just Does Not Know When to Shut His Big Fat Mouth

After being forced almost at gunpoint by his staff to woodenly read a script condemning the Nazis who killed a woman on Saturday, Trump just could not shut up:
President Trump reverted Tuesday to blaming both sides for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., and at one point questioned whether the movement to pull down Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.
Trump categorically refuses to admit that all the alt-right marchers have evil intent: they denigrate the humanity and want to take away the rights of people they don't like -- Muslims, Jews, Mexicans, blacks, women, Democrats, liberals -- and forcibly eject many of them from this country. That's what "take the country back" means, Donald, and they mean it literally.

With his various statements it is now obvious that Trump either shares their goals, or he is going to great lengths to con them into believing that he shares their goals to use them as stormtroopers to keep his hold on power.

By doing this he condemns himself in the eyes of the vast majority of the country.

His statement is loaded with crap. Trump pretends that the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Odinists and Confederate sympathizers were marching quietly peacefully to prevent the destruction of the statue of an American hero, General Robert E. Lee. If so, why were they shouting "Sieg Heil" and "Jew cannot replace us?" Why did they carry torches like angry villagers in a black-and-white horror movie from the Thirties? Why were they wearing helmets and body armor, carrying shields, clubs and automatic weapons?

Trump says that if we "change history" by getting rid of statues erected to honor traitors, George Washington will be next. It is preposterous to compare George Washington to Robert E. Lee. Both were slaveholders, yes. But Lee was a traitor to the United States and killed thousands of Americans. At a time when the country -- the entire world -- was dismantling the most evil institution mankind has known, Lee took up arms in rebellion to kill his fellow citizens.

Many of the Founding Fathers knew that slavery's days were numbered, and many wanted to abolish it outright in the 1770s. But they knew the South would never stand for it, and it was essential for the Union to remain whole if the Revolution was to succeed. It was a change that they knew would have to be addressed at a future time.

Sixty-four years after Washington was president, it was time for the institution of slavery to end: by then it had been dying for centuries. The Atlantic slave trade had been banned by the United States in the 18th century. Slavery was abolished across Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century. The Haitian slave revolt (1791-1084) showed that slavery's days were numbered, that it was impossible for modern societies to keep slaves: ultimately the number of guards required would outnumber the slaves. Mechanization and industrialization were making slave labor inefficient.

States throughout the north passed laws against slavery and indentured servitude throughout the early 19th century, and banned repatriation of escaped slaves. In 1820 slavery was banned in the United States north of the 36th parallel. Britain banned slavery throughout the empire in 1833. In 1845 the Royal Navy had a fleet of 36 ships dedicated to wiping out the slave trade. Even the Russians abolished serfdom in 1861.

But the American South kept slavery because the slave owners told poor whites that if the plantations lost their Negro slaves white southerners would have to take their place in the fields. Poor Southerners didn't fight the Civil War for God and country: they fought because they were being threatened with enslavement themselves. Plantation owners subverted the clergy to justify slavery with religious nonsense like the Curse of Ham.

It was only after the war that the South changed course and started making up excuses about states' rights being the just cause they were fighting for. Most of the Civil War monuments erected to honor and ennoble Confederate traitors were put up in the early and mid-20th century, coinciding with attempts to repress the civil rights of blacks.

With his conflicting statements on Charlottesville, Trump is just doing what he always does: create chaos. He says one thing, issues a statement contradicting it, makes a joke, reverses course, contradicts himself, sometimes in the same sentence. He says nothing and everything, hoping something will stick. This way, no matter who he's talking to later on, he can always claim that he said the thing he thinks they wanted to hear. He insults the intelligence of his listeners, thinking they won't remember what he said a month, a week, a day, an hour or a minute ago. Sadly, far too many people don't remember.

The guy is a con man, and a bad one at that: anyone listening to him talk should be able to tell that Trump is either lying or stupid.

But, ironically, the biggest reason Trump voters say they like him is that, "He tells it like it is." They, too, are either lying or stupid.

This is why Trump is always in such hot water, and why his popularity is in freefall. He never knows when to shut up, whether it's about Russia, or neo-Nazis, or women, transgendered military members, or the media, or North Korea. He seems to think that if he keeps yelling louder, nastier and more outrageous things, he will eventually bully everyone into submission.

Here's hoping he's wrong. Again.

Who Is Less Evolved?

A couple of psychologists have created a "profile" of the alt-right, trying to elucidate what they're thinking:
A lot of the findings align with what we intuit about the alt-right: This group is supportive of social hierarchies that favor whites at the top. It’s distrustful of mainstream media and strongly opposed to Black Lives Matter. Respondents were highly supportive of statements like, “There are good reasons to have organization that look out for the interests of white people.” And when they look at other groups — like black Americans, Muslims, feminists, and journalists — they’re willing to admit they see these people as “less evolved.”
In general I am suspicious of making broad generalizations about a group of people and drawing conclusions about individuals from those stereotypes: that is the definition of racism and bigotry.

That being said, though, the study does underline a common thread of fascist and racist thinking over the centuries: that blacks, Jews, etc., are somehow “less evolved.”

The researchers had sliders allowing the subjects to rank how evolved certain groups are:

The alt-right's cumulative response ranked Muslims at 55.4, feminists at 57, blacks at 64.7, Democrats at 60.4, Jews at 73, and whites at 91.8. Yes, I agree, this is a totally bogus line of questioning: you can't really equate genetics (white, Arab, African) and social affiliation (Muslim, Democrat, feminist). But they're measuring attitudes here, not scientific reasoning.

What's interesting is that there is an actual measure of evolution: the percentage of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in a person's genome. Neanderthals and Denisovans were archaic hominids who lived in Europe and Asia and died out tens of thousands of years ago, after modern humans left Africa and colonized the rest of the world. Neanderthals are typically characterized as violent, ape-like brutes with beetled brows and subhuman intelligence.

It turns out that Neanderthals were not as primitive as they are portrayed: their brains were as large as modern humans, they made comparable stone tools, and they appear to have buried their dead ceremonially. They were less adaptable than modern humans, however, which is probably why they died out.

And, before they became extinct, Neanderthals interbred with modern humans. Not all humans. Just non-Africans. Whites have 2% Neanderthal DNA and some Asians have as much as 5% Denisovan DNA.

Africans have zero Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA -- they are 100% modern human, while those "ethnically pure" Northern Europeans Hitler ranted about are descended from the thick-skulled, hunched, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.

Does that mean whites are less evolved than Africans? Neanderthal ancestry has been linked to several diseases and psychiatric and mood disorders. However, Neanderthal DNA may have contributed tougher skin and better adaptation to high altitudes.

No, the presence of Neanderthal DNA has not condemned whites to subhuman status. Just as dark skin does not make Africans or aboriginal Australians dumber, or epicanthic folds make southeast Asians smarter. The genetics of human intelligence is extremely complex and variable, dependent on thousands of interacting genes, as well as epigenetics, nutrition, education, and exposure to environmental toxins like lead and pesticides -- not a few minor physical characteristics.

But since people mix terms like Muslim, feminist, Mexican, Democrat and European when they talk about how evolved someone is, let us charitably assume they are talking about culture or behavior, not genetic heritage.

"Primitive behavior" is aggressive, violent, murderous, unthinking, selfish and reactionary; motivated by coarse biological and emotional imperatives such as sex, greed and hunger, rather than cogent reasoning.

If you look at the behavior the alt-right (and Donald Trump) display, they are aggressive, greedy, violent, selfish, unreasoning, and motivated by sex -- manifested as antipathy towards women, since feminists are one of their hated groups -- frequently employing physical and verbal intimidation.

And yes, murderous: Heather Heyer wasn't the first person a white supremacist has killed. A lot of the alt-right considers Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh a folk hero, like the white supremacist who was just arrested for trying to detonate the same sort of bomb McVeigh did.

By any objective standard, the alt-right -- and their F├╝hrer Donald Trump -- are no more evolved than the Neanderthals they descended from.

Desperately Seeking Dirt

Just past sunrise the morning after a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond, more than a half-dozen state agents piled into the victim’s house on Washburn Avenue, searching for blood, hair, guns, ammunition, knives, drugs or “writings” that would help them understand what happened.
She was shot in the alley behind her house, after calling the cops to report a suspected assault. She apparently slapped the trunk of the squad car, scaring the cops. The officer in the passenger seat shot her through the driver's side window, right past his partner's head.

We don't know what the shooter was thinking, because he has so far refused to give any kind of statement. He's still on paid administrative leave.

The cops found nothing and took nothing from the house. But they killed her, and suddenly she's a suspect and her house is being searched. It really seems like this was a fishing expedition looking for some kind of dirt so they could blame the victim.

That was how the case against the officer who shot Philando Castile went. They searched Castile's house, looking for some kind of dirt. When they found THC in Castile's blood they had what they needed: a pretext for killing him. The killer then based his defense on the idea that Castile was a murderous madman because he had exposed other people to highly carcinogenic second-hand smoke. Smokers beware, the cops are gonna come gunning for you!

It's crazy how the judges and prosecutors and cops circle the wagons to find some way to sully the reputations of the victims of incompetent, trigger-happy officers who make horrendous errors in judgment.

Do the police search the houses of the cops who shoot innocent civilians? Do they test their blood for the presence of alcohol and drugs? Do they search their cars, lockers, Internet search history and cell phone call logs? I don't know -- that part of the investigation never seems to be performed, or at least reported on.

The lawyer representing Don Damond, Justine's fiance, doesn't think there's anything wrong with getting a search warrant for Damond's house because a phone call reporting an assault originated there.

That is sheer lunacy: who is going to call the cops to report a crime if doing so suddenly puts you in the police crosshairs, you become a suspect in the investigation, your privacy is invaded and your reputation is destroyed? Getting your house searched is not just an inconvenience: cops frequently bust down doors, guns drawn, and trash the place while serving a search warrant. And all too often they break into the wrong house and kill completely innocent people, like a mechanic in Mississippi last month.

Any time you have an interaction with a cop -- or any person with a gun -- you run the risk of getting shot. Why would any sane person want armed people inured to the dangers of guns rummaging around in their house?

Back in the Sixties America was aghast after a murder in New York, when no one called the cops as Kitty Genovese was knifed outside her apartment building. Her assailant stabbed her twice, ran away when someone yelled at him to leave her alone, then came back ten minutes later and killed and raped her, stealing $49. Eventually someone did call the police. Genevose died en route to the hospital. If someone had called the police immediately she would have likely lived.

Will you have second thoughts about calling the cops if you see someone sneaking out of your neighbor's house? Will you go outside to help someone crying for help after calling the cops? Or will you be afraid that the cops will try to pin a crime on you? Or maybe even shoot you?

Those same thoughts are probably going through your neighbors' heads.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nazis Must Be Destroyed

Trump Voters Following Up on Trump's Fifth Avenue Boast

Today the white nationalist who killed a woman in Charlottesville and injured 20 others in a terrorist attack was denied bail. Why, people moan, why is this happening?

Well, I'll tell you. Remember Trump's infamous campaign boast?
Sioux Center, Iowa (CNN) Donald Trump boasted Saturday that support for his presidential campaign would not decline even if he shot someone in the middle of a crowded street. 
"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," Trump said at a campaign rally here. 
After the event, Trump declined to answer when asked by CNN to clarify his comments.
The GOP front-runner has repeatedly pointed to the loyalty of his supporters, many of whom tell reporters and pollsters that almost nothing could make them change their mind about voting for Trump in the presidential race.
After Charlottesville, we know all too well why these "Trump's voters" would still support him if he shot someone in the street: they want to kill people in the street. Now these "Trump's voters" are actually following through on Trump's campaign promises to beat people up and commit murder.

These "Trump voters" are a bunch of violent, murderous thugs. They want to start a race war, and they don't even care if they kill white people in the process (many of Saturday's victims were white). He has been egging them on for years now, starting back when he falsely claimed Obama wasn't born in the United States.

Whether they call themselves alt-right, KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, National Socialists, white nationalists, Hitler Jugend, or Odinists, they are a bunch of torch-carrying, gun-toting fascist racists who parade around wearing emblems of our WWII enemies and Civil War traitors and assassins. They're not even Christian: they use pagan runic imagery from the worship of Norse gods.

These are the people that love Trump and the people that Trump loves. Up until this very hour, two full days after what Jeff Sessions himself called a terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Trump had refused to condemn these thugs and racists.

Now Trump finally caved in to his chief of staff and read off a statement that he clearly did not author and clearly does not believe, because it lacks all the insults, personal attacks and petty asides that Trump lards into his own heart-felt rhetoric.

The neo-Nazis and KKK supporters at the Daily Stormer website gloated Sunday that Trump still loved them because he issued a bland condemnation of general violence of "many sides" at the demonstration. Today's statement will not anger them. They will understand that it's meaningless because Trump said it under duress, with chief of staff John Kelly holding a figurative gun to Trump's head.

If Republicans in Congress don't have the guts to impeach Trump, they should at least demand the resignations of white supremacist sympathizers on Trump's staff, including Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.

These people have no business being in government, as they have clear sympathies with white nationalist terrorist groups. They are a huge security risk: even Trump believes that Bannon is leaking information to the white nationalist propaganda mill in order to undermine national security advisor H. R. McMaster.

Trump's daughter and son-in-law are Jewish, for God's sake. How can he look them in the face while he still has these thugs on staff?

But Trump cannot fire these people: Bannon has too much dirt on Trump. It's the same reason Trump can't quit Putin.

Pulling Out of Climate Accord Hurts American Industry

The Trump administration is pulling out of the Paris Climate Treaty. In addition, Trump's people are hamstringing the EPA and appear to be considering gutting emissions standards for automobiles and power plants:
The Trump administration gave notice it intends to relax the rules governing greenhouse gas emissions on new model cars Thursday, in its latest move to undo President Barack Obama’s climate policies.

In a notice on the federal register, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department announced they were considering rewriting emissions standards for cars and light trucks made between 2021 and 2025.

While other climate-change initiatives spearheaded by President Obama — like the EPA strategy for reducing emissions from power plants, called the Clean Power Plan — received more scrutiny from industry and conservative critics, emissions standards for cars are just as consequential for curbing the buildup of atmosphere-warming gases, analysts said.
The problem with this plan is that the rest of the world is going forward with clean energy and reduced emissions. Germany is planning to have only electric cars by 2030, and other countries are considering similar moves.

If the United States doesn't have a domestic market for such automobiles, American companies won't build them. They won't develop the technology. They will fall behind and be taken over by foreign companies, much like Chrysler was.

The same thing is true for power generation: Americans pioneered semiconductors and solar cell technology. But we've lost out to the Chinese in photovoltaic technology. We have a fairly robust wind power market, especially in Texas, but European companies have the upper hand in wind technology, and the Chinese have 70% of the market for rare earth magnets used in wind turbines and all manner of electronic devices.

American car companies and electrical utilities are famously short-sighted: they have no incentive to plan for the future. CEOs get compensated for daily and hourly stock increases. Note the GM's big bold announcement in 2017 wasn't about new technology or new production lines, it was a $5 billion stock buyback program aimed at jacking up share prices.

The US auto industry has historically been more interested in selling high-end, high-profit gas guzzlers to fat and lazy Americans than increasing their world market share. But this is a doomed strategy: as economic inequality continues to grow in the United States Americans will be less and less able to afford expensive cars.

Tesla's electric cars are cool and everything, but they're pricey. Unless the US government does something to address growing gap between rich and poor Americans, or encourage domestic production of inexpensive cars, foreign companies will step in to sell their cheaper and more efficient vehicles to Americans.

The downward spiral Trump voters are worried about will only get worse as his policies (and lack of them) turn the United States into just another third-world country.

Russian Engines Used in North Korean Missiles

The Times has another story about how Russia is screwing over the United States yet again:
North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program, according to an expert analysis being published Monday and classified assessments by American intelligence agencies.
The studies may solve the mystery of how North Korea began succeeding so suddenly after a string of fiery missile failures, some of which may have been caused by American sabotage of its supply chains and cyberattacks on its launches. After those failures, the North changed designs and suppliers in the past two years, according to a new study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. 
It's not clear that Putin himself authorized the sale of the missiles to North Korea: the factory involved was a target of North Korean espionage several years ago.

But the factory is in dire economic straits because of cutbacks in Russian missile programs and is in the part of the Ukraine affected by the civil war instigated and backed by Putin and Russian troops.

The American rocket launch company, United Launch Alliance, also buys engines from Russia, though members of Congress have pushed to end this and use American sources. Which is probably putting further economic pressure on Russian rocket companies to sell to the North Koreans.

The chaos sown by Putin in Ukraine has now spilled over to the Korean peninsula, and has threatened the United States. The chaos in Syria, allowing the spread of ISIS, was sown by Putin with his continued propping up of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. That in turn caused a massive crisis, flooding Europe with millions of refugees, sparking several terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe. The hysteria has also spread to the United States, helping spark the rise of neo-Nazis, the KKK and Confederate dead-enders, assisted by Russian fake news and social media trolling, helping power Trump to the presidency.

Putin's foreign adventures are now directly threatening the integrity of the United States and Europe. Russia is directly threatening America and American interests, and Trump is still making kissy-face with the Russian dictator.

It's long been assumed that North Korea got their nuclear technology from Pakistan, but I'm not so sure of that now. After the Cold War many Russian nuclear scientists were abandoned by their government and wound up in North Korea.

In a way this is good news: if the North Koreans are dependent on Russian engines, their capabilities will be reduced if the supply line is cut.

Now the question is: will Trump call Putin out for screwing us, or will Trump bend over for the Russians again?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tribes+Trolls=Epic Fail

The last few days have seen me come to a stark realization about Trump and his supporters. They don't know what to do now that they are governing so they can't govern. How do you lead when your core ideology is to be contrarian?

I base this on two cold and rational facts. First, these are very tribal people. If you are in The Cult, you can do whatever you want. You can stand in the middle of the 5th Avenue and shoot someone and no one will care. Fareed Zakaria explores this in depth in the video below.

Take this information and couple it with this.

So, we have a very tribal people who exist only to troll. Where does that leave us? With this...

If you had told me six years ago that the American Left would be self-destructing as rapidly and violently as they appear to be today, I'd have had you committed. But bear in mind, their "long march through the institutions" has secured their (ever more tenuous) grasp on the reins of power. They own academia, the media, and the entertainment industry almost completely, and that's still a lot of power, power they won't surrender easily.

Before I get back to my original point...hmm...let's see...Donald Trump has been a successful member of the media and entertainment industry for several decades. And he's their champion? Wow, Just about being conned...hook, line and sinker...

More importantly (and back to my original point), this proves that they can't fucking govern. It's still all the liberal elite's fault and all they know is plots, secret conspiracies, and being a whiny troll. Never in my life have I seen a group of people so incapable of reflection. They won. They run the entire government. And still, somehow, they take ZERO responsibility for their fuck up after fuck up.

When they lose next year (and it's going to be massive), the cognitive dissonance is going to be nuclear.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Trump's Chaos Spreads to Charlottesville

Nazis and Klan members are marching in the streets of Charlottesville. They beat up counterprotesters and rammed a car into a crowd.  They are protesting the removal of the statue of a traitor to the United States:
The turmoil began with a march Friday night and escalated Saturday morning as hundreds of white nationalists gathered. Waving Confederate flags, chanting Nazi-era slogans, wearing helmets and carrying shields, they converged on a statue of Robert E. Lee in the city’s Emancipation Park and began chanting phrases like “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.” 
We all remember who Adolf Hitler was: the murderer of millions of Europeans, Americans and Jews. We don't have statues of him in the United States: instead we have a Holocaust Museum and WWII memorials to remember his victims. And why do these supporters of Trump, who professes such love for Israel, have so much hatred for Jews?

Robert E. Lee and the other Confederate leaders were traitors to the United States. We do not "erase history" by tearing down monuments to those traitors. I'm actually related to General Lee: it's not a point of shame, but neither is it a heritage to celebrate: his actions do not reflect poorly on his descendants unless they endorse his treachery by honoring him. Statues of Lincoln, Union generals and abolitionists serve as reminders of the heroes of the Civil War: we should not commemorate the calumny of the villains.

The Nazi sympathizers in Charlotte venerate Confederate traitors, Hitler, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump all in the same breath. Make no mistake what their intentions are:
“We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back,” Mr. Duke told reporters Saturday. Many of the white nationalist protesters carried campaign signs for Mr. Trump.
This is what Donald Trump has turned the Republican Party into. A bunch of Nazis and Klan members who advocate race warfare and anarchy. Republicans have been tiptoeing up to this line for decades, with Nixon's and Reagan's dog whistles to racist Southerners. But Trump has completely obliterated it, winking and grinning as his followers pledge fealty to him with Nazi salutes and Nazi slogans.

During the campaign Trump played dumb, pretending he didn't know who David Duke was, and what the Klan was. Now his followers are inciting race war at the same time he's threatening nuclear war with North Korea. He's apparently thinking of invading South America as well, saying that we have "many options for Venezuela."

Republicans in Congress, wise up: Trump is an incompetent, senile madman intent on destroying the United States out of sheer spite. He is filling his own pockets with money from the treasury, paid to his own businesses so the Secret Service and the Pentagon can provide "security" when he takes vacations at his own properties.

Trump has had more than a year to disavow these Nazi sympathizers, and he has never done so. These are "his voters." This is why they'll never turn their backs on him: they are died-in-the-wool racists and fascists, and they are convinced he is as well. Whether Trump himself is is irrelevant: he's happy to take their fealty and give them license to rain chaos down across the country while he rains chaos down in Washington, dismantling the rule of law.

At this point the Republican Party has to disavow Trump and impeach him. Unless Congress or the cabinet removes Trump from office, and soon, he will start to pull the same gimmicks that other dictators have in the past. If Congress doesn't act soon, it may well be too late.

Trump will continue to fuel strife between his supporters and everyone else, inciting more violence. He will attack his erstwhile allies in Congress, such as Mitch McConnell and John McCain, in an attempt to intimidate and silence them. He will purge government of officials who refuse to pledge personal loyalty to Donald Trump alone. He will sic the FBI and the Justice Department after his enemies, perhaps starting with Hillary Clinton. He will corrupt the military, firing any generals who will not follow illegal orders. He will use his voter fraud commission to take away the right to vote from Democrats and minorities. A majority of Republicans would even back Trump if he canceled the next presidential election. The next step would be to declare martial law.

Trump is using the standard dictator play book, drumming up fear and paranoia over foreigners (ISIS, immigrants), cozying up to the foreign country that vaulted him to power (Russia), alienating our democratic allies (Europe), then stoking a foreign war (North Korea, Venezuela) to terrorize Americans so they will acquiesce to his future despotic measures to shore up his power.

If Trump remains president the chaos in Charlottesville will spread across the entire country.