Contributors

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Waving Buh-Bye To the House Intel Investigation

Now that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has shown that he is compromised in terms of the investigation he is running regarding ties between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign, the House investigation is officially dead.

So, it's now the Senate's turn and my hope is that things will be taken a little more seriously in the upper chamber. Honestly, there is no more important story than this one. This is not a legitimate presidency until we find out what's going on in terms of all of these connections. I'm happy to see that both Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner will be testifying before this committee.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Definition of Corruption

If you look at any tinpot dictatorship, banana republic, or post-communist oligarchy a pattern quickly emerges: the leaders' relatives and friends all suddenly start making amazing deals with people who have business before the government.

Witness the Putin cronies who have controlling interests in state-run businesses, the incestuous business relationships among children of the Chinese elite, the ties between Latin American political leaders and the oil companies.

Now look at what's going on in Washington:

After Jared Kushner conducted diplomatic negotiations with China, the Chinese company Anbang gave his family business $4 billion to finance a building with the ominous address of 666 Fifth Ave.

A Chinese woman with ties to Chinese Intelligence recently bought a condo in a Trump property for $15.8 million.

A Chilean billionaire who was denied mining permits in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota bought a mansion in Washington, DC, and rented it to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner for "fair market value." The billionaire is suing the federal government to get at the land in the BWCA, which the Obama administration ruled was too sensitive for the toxic runoff from a copper mine.

These are just a few of the conflicts of interest that have arisen since Trump took office; the pre-existing conflicts still stand. Just one example: his ownership of the hotel in Washington is in clear violation of the lease agreement which forbids office holders from benefiting from it, though the agency in charge of it released a ridiculous ruling that it's okay because Trump "resigned" and gave control to his son Eric.

And then there's the issue of Trump taking golf vacations every god-damned weekend to his resorts and golf courses, which charge the government and arm and a leg for housing the secret service detail, which goes directly into Trump's pockets. This after Trump whined incessantly about Obama playing too much golf on secure courses at Camp David and during his vacation in Hawaii.

And then there's the expense of all the extra security that's required for Melania in New York, Trump in Florida, Ivanka and Jared in Washington, and Trump's two sons who go gallivanting around the world at government expense making more crooked business deals.

And then there's the economic devastation of the local governments, police forces and businesses that are adversely affected by the huge security presence Trump brings. Not to mention the delays and irritation suffered by the people who live and work nearby.

At the rate Trump is going, over four years he will spend half a billion dollars with his Mar-a-Lago and New York trips alone. All together, Trump and his family will cost the American taxpayers a billion dollars with their lavish lifestyles.

Which is far more than all the money Trump wants to save by cutting funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, etc.:
The president’s budget would eliminate the NEA’s $148 million budget, the NEH’s $148 million budget and the CPB’s $445 million budget, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums across the country. Additional cuts could affect the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.
If Trump and his family want to be involved with all this extra-curricular activity, that's fine. But they should pay for their fun themselves, instead of taking Big Bird away from American kids.

Learning the Hard Way

Over the years, I've interacted with many folks like Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart editor and current senior adviser to the president. The right wing blogger/commenter mentality has a few key characteristics that have been on display quite often during the young, Trump presidency.

They are absolutely convinced they are right about everything, issuing imperial edict after edict on how they would "fix" Washington. They view liberals as being autocratic dictators who constantly are telling them how to live their lives. They are xenophobic, nationalistic to a fault, resistant to any sort of new information and truly believe that bullying folks will win them the day.

Last week's health care debacle showed just how ineffective all of these qualities are and it was summed up quite nicely by John Podhertz.

"I'm Steve Bannon. i've been in politics since August 2016. You will bow before me, elected Republican officials! I ran a website!"

If you peal back each one of these traits that the right wing blogger/commenter has, you see insecurity, projection, and poor people skills. More importantly, you see an arrogant belief that they can beat Washington DC and their ongoing enemies, the press.

They can't.

And they never will.

Sure, they have their candidate in Trump, that was ironically elected by a coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans, but he's simply not all powerful. That's a lesson the Democrats should learn from all of this. They have an opening now to work with the president and pass bipartisan legislation. They could get all sorts of things passed that the right wing blogger/commmenter would hate but most Americans would love. Things like actually fixing the issues with the ACA, tax reform, and expanded background checks for all gun purchases.

Of course, none of this may happen because I don't think the president is going to be in office for his full term. He might not even last the year given the ongoing investigations into his campaign and the Russian government. I'm still baffled that his supporters are ignoring all of this and calling it a witch hunt. But that's cognitive dissonance for ya!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm President and You're Not!


Pretty much sums up the attitude of every right wing blogger and commenter as well... 

And yes, Trump did actually say this...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Con Man



The best part of the video above is the comparison between Trump and infomercial hucksters...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Let's (Not) Make A Deal

Donald Trump has always been a con man. The fact that people bought into his act shows how fucking stupid people are. That's right, STUPID!.

Now, I'm sure this will offend all those uber sensitive white rural voters whose precious little egos need coddling every single fucking day but I don't care. They elected a guy who talks like this all the time so they better be able to take what they dish out without whining about "smug, liberal elites" who look down on them. How is it my fault that they are ignorant?

Take health care, for example. Trump promised them the moon and assured all those Republicans who hate Obamacare with all the heart and soul that he would give them something better. He would "art of the deal" that mammajamma and deliver. Well, guess what?

He fucking failed.

The so called "repeal and replace" American Health Care Act couldn't get enough votes in the House because of GOP infighting. The actual reason is that children can't govern. When you put people in charge that are not adults, they can't accomplish anything. All they know is how to be against something.

The GOP in Congress and their soon to be impeached leader got a big does of reality today. Health care is all tough and stuff. And maybe the adult who was in office from 2009-2017 knew what the fuck he was doing after all.

Somewhere, Barack Obama is laughing his ass off.

I am too, actually. This is what right wing bloggers governing looks like.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Good Words

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.

---FBI Director James Comey, testifying today before the House Intelligence Committee.

The question now is how long Trump will be in office.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tin Foil Hat or Playing the Part?

The last couple of weeks has seen President Trump accuse the former president of wiretapping his office, the British of wiretapping his office, and President Obama of wiretapping both himself and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The icing on the cake was this.

“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway said as the Trump presidency marked its 50th day in office during the weekend. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways.” 

Conway went on to say that the monitoring could be done with “microwaves that turn into cameras,” adding: “We know this is a fact of modern life.”

Wow.

We've officially entered the Tin Foil Hat Brigade territory. Microwaves? Really??

Perhaps not, though, because I've been wondering of late if Trump and his team are merely pretending to be batshit nuts in order to appeal to their batshit nuts constituents. After all, his supporters are the short wave radio turned email forwarders turned bloggers turned social media fake news voracious consumers crowd. They really do think that the government is spying on them via microwave ovens.

Trump is a reality TV star so it wouldn't surprise me if there is some sort of directive out there to play up all of this nutty shit.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

Another Law & Order anti-immigrant, Kenyan-socialist-hating, abortion-hating Republican bites the dust in the Conservative Paradise of Oklahoma:
Acting on a tip, the police in an Oklahoma City suburb swarmed a Super 8 motel shortly after midnight March 9 and found [Republican State Senator Ralph] Shortey and a 17-year-old boy together in Room 120, according to the authorities.
The teenager told officers he and the senator had met a year ago through a Craigslist ad and had exchanged sexually explicit texts over the messaging app Kik. He said they had been smoking marijuana before the police arrived, and officers reported finding condoms in a backpack belonging to Mr. Shortey. 
The more they rail against forbidden fruit, the more it seems they've tasted it...

Nope. No Racism Here...


Completely Tanking

President Trump's approval ratings are officially tanking. Every major polling outfit, including Fox News, show him underwater. His first weeks in office have been an absolute train wreck. It's one paranoid disaster after another.

But that's what you get when you elect a right wing blogger who is essentially a Russian asset.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Legacy of the Affordable Care Act

Here's a great piece about how the legacy of the Affordable Care Act will endure forever. People don't like to have things taken away from them and that's why the American Health Care Act is essentially Obamacare lite.

They can’t erase the fact that millions of Americans have now received subsidized insurance coverage via the federal government, however. That’s changed many voters’ expectations for health policy in the United States, and moved the Republican debate over health-care legislation from whether it should be to what it should be.

Yep.

Ou Est The Donald?

Is it just me or has the Donald been out of the news of late? The media seems very focused on the new health care bill proposed by the House Republicans. Things seem...weird...when they aren't hyper obsessing about the latest thing that Trump did. Perhaps it has something to do with this.

Trump's poll numbers have been on the decline...even more so than usual. Rasmussen has him seven points under water. This was the poll that favored Trump and relies on robotic data collecting. So, if there are any "shy" Trump voters, they can say they favor him without any social recriminations. Gallup has him sixteen points down which is really fucking bad. Perhaps he's just not getting the ratings anymore.

He's likely in the low 40s right now and if the health care plan fails (which it will) then he's going to drop below 40.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What The President (and all of us) Could Learn About The Economy

Great piece in today's Times about the economy, especially if you want to know the basics about economics. Here was my favorite part.

Oh, and about the dollar. Finally, the president’s economists will need to answer his question about the dollar. Here’s the simple version: The value of the dollar in foreign-exchange markets is just a price. Like other prices, whenever it changes, some people gain, and others lose. It is not useful to think of a stronger or a weaker dollar as either good or bad. One has to look at the situation at hand and the underlying drivers of the change.

Yep. I've heard so many arguments over the years for both strong and weak dollars that it gets frustrating after a while. This sums one simple paragraph sums up why it should be analyzed as such.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

News Flash: A Non-Idiot Discovered in Florida!

A retired police captain who shot and killed a man in a movie theater will stand trial for second-degree murder after a judge ruled that Florida's "stand your ground" law is not applicable in this case.

Following two weeks of pre-trial testimony, Judge Susan Barthle ruled against Curtis Reeves' claims that he used his gun in self-defense when he fired his weapon, CNN reports.
Of course, the story started with a typical Florida idiot: the moron who shot a man who was texting in a theater.

The non-idiot in this case is the judge, who rejected the notion that you can shoot anyone who pisses you off:
"Because the defendant's testimony was significantly at odds with the physical evidence and other witness testimony, this court has considerable doubts about his credibility, and is not willing to come to the conclusion that these circumstances are those envisioned by the Legislature when the 'stand your ground' law was enacted," Barthle said, according to CNN.
But this shows why the stand your ground defense is indefensible: the judge rejected the defense because there were witnesses.

If you shoot someone in cold blood without any witnesses, you can claim the stand your ground defense and no one can gainsay you. You just need to perform a few forensic countermeasures, say, banging your head on the pavement after you commit murder, like George Zimmerman did when he killed Trayvon Martin after stalking the boy in his car.

Any law that lends more weight to the lies and excuses of a murderer than the life of his victim is inherently evil.

But the trial isn't over yet. The killer is a geezer, while his victim was a big, tough Navy man. The jury may still swallow the story that Reeves' feared for his life.

If they do find Reeves not guilty, it'll be open season on anyone who seems the slightest bit scary: big guys, veterans and bikers. As we saw with Martin, black teenagers were already fair game.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Basket of Incompetents

When Hillary Clinton made her famous comment regarding Trump supporters as a "Basket of Deplorables," she should have said "Basket of Incompetents." Yesterday's revelation that former NSA adviser Michael Flynn acted as a foreign agent for Turkey during the campaign last year is yet another sign that Trump and his team are completely clueless.

That's assuming, of course, that they didn't know. If they did know, then that pretty much negates all their bitching and hysteria about Hillary Clinton and the pay for play shit with the Clinton Global Initiative. Regardless, I find it hilarious, in a tragic and sad way, that, once again, we see conservatives accusing liberals of doing the very thing they are doing. All of this brings up a larger issue that has crystallized for me recently.

Conservatives are putzes.

A putz is defined as a stupid or worthless person that engages in inconsequential or unproductive behavior That's really their biggest problem. While they hyper obsess over the Clinton Global Initiative and whether or not Hillary got the debate questions ahead of time, they ignore the larger problem of Russian involvement in the election and serious issues like climate change. They take offense and whine about smug liberals who call them names (basket of deplorables) while bemoaning PC culture and safe spaces. I guess they appreciate all that straight talk but only if it's denigrating ideological opponents.

Digging deeper, I think they know they are putzes and that's why we see the poor behavior, including their current leader. They lash out, throw tantrums, spout nonsense, and then whine that we don't understand them. Why? Because they feel inferior, inadequate and insecure (the dreaded three I's!) in the face of intelligent and accomplished people.

I guess we are going to have to pay for this as a nation for a while.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Life in the Conservative Paradise

Conservatives have had control of the nation's breadbasket -- Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma -- for quite a few years now. And it's a paradise.

In Kansas, Gov. Brownback's massive tax cuts have not brought more jobs or prosperity. But they have destroyed the schools and left a gigantic hole in the state budget. Kansas Republicans are now in open revolt against Brownback.

In Omaha, Nebraska, the city's finances are in such a mess that they've stopped fixing pot holes. Instead, they grind the asphalt into gravel. Upper-class neighborhoods have dirt roads. Kids can't ride their bikes on them and people can't leave their windows open because dirt blows in.

Oklahoma has been inundated by earthquakes caused by injection of fracking wastewater deep into the earth. Magnitude 2, 3 and 4 earthquakes occur constantly, two, three, four times a day -- just today there have been four .

In the past few days 2300 square miles of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri have been scorched by wildfires. This time of year it should be cool and wet -- maybe even still snow on the ground. But instead they're having wildfires because it's so hot and dry.

It's no surprise. It was almost 100 degrees in Magnum, Oklahoma, on February 11th.

This year has been ridiculously warm across much of the country. It was 71 in Boston and Buffalo in February. Massachusetts had a tornado the same month.

In Minnesota, where I live, it was in the 50s and 60s in February and people were outdoors playing volleyball outdoors in the sand. We had a thunderstorm the other day and there were two tornadoes. Spring is coming a month or two early.

Last year set tons of high temperature records, but it was an El Nino year so climate denialists brushed it off. Now El Nino is over, but high temperatures continue to crush previous records by 10, 20 and 30 degrees.

Conservatives from breadbasket states, like Jim Inhofe, continue to insist that climate change is a hoax, even as literally thousands of new record highs are being set:
February marked the 27th month in a row where daily record highs outpaced record lows in a record-setting fashion. Data through Feb. 26 — the last date for which data is available — show there were 6,045 record highs to only 112 record lows. That puts the ratio at 53-to-1, making it the most lopsided month on record. November 2016 previously held the record.
Clearly, the earth is getting hotter faster. And yet Donald Trump just put a climate denialist from Oklahoma in charge of the EPA.  He still pretends global warming is a hoax and that fracking doesn't cause any problems, even though his own state is ground zero for the rolling catastrophe caused by our excessive consumption of fossil fuels.

The lies people will tell for money...

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Wikileaks (Russia) Outs the CIA

Wikileaks has released a treasure trove of documents that detail CIA hacking operations. These documents essentially state that our intelligence agencies can hack any phone or computer whenever they want. Is anyone out there shocked?

What's really not shocking is the timing of the release. Wikileaks is essentially Russian intelligence and this act is clearly a message for those intelligence gathering agencies within our government: don't fuck with our guy. That guy being Trump.

The Russian thing is really sinking in now for the president and he's not making matters any better for himself by continuing to insist that Barack Obama has been hacking his offices. Loving the chaos in our government, the Russians have now thrown this monkey into the wrench to make things even worse.

I feel like I'm reading a spy novel in the 1980s...sheesh...

Monday, March 06, 2017

Your Unreality Is Not Going To Hijack This Country

The media needs to start covering President Trump differently. When the right wing blogger/commenter in chief makes his usual assertion to deflect and redirect attention away from the real issues at hand, the media needs to call him on it. Simply stating that there is no evidence isn't enough.

They need to call him a coward. And that's just what I am doing today.

In fact, I'm asserting that Mr. Trump, like nearly every conservative I've ever had an online conversation with regarding politics, is a coward. They refuse to face the responsibility of what they or the people they support have done. Instead, it's invariably "Look! Squirrel!! The Democrats do it too!!" This is a common tactic that is deeply rooted in flawed logic.

The latest example of this is Trump's accusation that President Obama had him wiretapped. There is zero evidence of this (other than Mark Levin's ravings) but who cares? About 20 percent of eligible voters will believe it. Both the media and the left have to get to the heart of why these folks are so easily taken in. Or they need to merely get more people to the ballot box every year so these people lose. Perhaps the latter might be the best route to go because I doubt the Trump voter can be saved. When you are that filled with spite and hatred, change is most difficult.

President Trump is going to continue to behave this way until he loses. Why not? He's won so far with this tactic so why change. It's up to all of us to make him lose and send the alt right a message.

Your unreality is not going to hijack this country.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Creating Their Own Safe Space

Today's Strib had a piece in it about pro Trump supporters and their protest at the state capital today in St. Paul. Two parts jumped out at me.

The rally was one of several held around the nation Saturday by a loosely organized group called March4Trump. Word about it was spread largely via social media. Many at the Capitol expressed deep mistrust of the mainstream news media, with some livestreaming the event on social media.

Most on the right think the media is liberal, liars, fake news etc. Doesn't this mean that they are just like liberals in creating their own safe spaces?

Yes. Yes it does.

They refuse to accept any information that isn't to their liking. They summarily reject critical thinking and, well, FACTS. Worse, they think liberals do the same thing. Hint: we don't. We read and see all the same news they do but recognize nonsense when we see it.

Here was the other part that interested me.

Steven LaMont, a 30-year-old plumber from Rush City in Chisago County, came to St. Paul with a group of friends. He, too, blasted negative characterizations of Trump supporters, saying voters like him backed Trump because the middle class has been squeezed by policymakers in Washington. "I'm sick of the hard left always putting a label on individuals, like you're a racist, you're homophobic, you're this or that, and they don't even know who we are," LaMont said. "People voted for Trump not just because of who he is. We voted for him because we're the squished middle class."

This is why Trump won. The same people that voted for Obama twice voted for Trump. Democrats need to figure out exactly why and use that going forward. It's going to be easy because Trump isn't going to deliver.

Oh, and btw, why are Trump supporters just normal folk when they protest but liberals are "paid" protesters?

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Tied Up Phone Lines


Friday, March 03, 2017

Lock Him Up!

During the presidential campaign Trump supporters chanted "Lock her up!" because Republicans thought Hillary Clinton had committed some horrible crime by having her own email server. There was no evidence of nefarious deeds or serious security breaches after years of FBI investigations and congressional witch hunts.

It turns out that Vice President Mike Pence has an email problem of his own. At the very same time he and the Republicans were blasting Clinton for her private email server, Pence did this:
Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.

Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.
This violated Indiana law on government record keeping, the exact thing Republicans accused Clinton of.

Worse, Pence was hacked:
Cybersecurity experts say Pence’s emails were likely just as insecure as Clinton’s. While there has been speculation about whether Clinton's emails were hacked, Pence’s account was actually compromised last summer by a scammer who sent an email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and in urgent need of money.
Like a total noob Pence fell for a phishing attack.

Pence claims he didn't conduct any significant state business with the private email account. But then there's this:
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's office released 29 pages of emails from Pence's AOL account, but declined to release an unspecified number of others because the state considers them confidential and too sensitive to release to the public. 
If they're so sensitive they should never have been sent via an AOL account!

Furthermore, since hackers had access to his account, Pence's security breach has exposed him (or others) to extortion and blackmail at best, and possibly divulged intelligence on terrorist suspects at worst.

Now, why did Pence use a private account to conduct some state business? Technological ineptitude? Laziness? Or was he hiding something, keeping correspondence off the record?

Because Pence's email account was on AOL it means that pretty much any AOL employee with the right privileges had access to his emails. Clinton's server was on the premises and was handled by her own people, limiting exposure. There's been no evidence that Clinton was hacked, but we know Pence was, through his own stupidity.

Clinton never tried to hide what she was doing: she had a single server and email address that she handled all her correspondence through. Everyone who sent her email knew it. You can complain about her record keeping, but she made utterly no attempt to hide what she was doing. It might have broken some rule, but it was totally open and transparent.

Pence used a private AOL account to send sensitive emails and got hacked in a very open and embarrassing way:


At least when people got an email from Hillary Clinton saying she was in the Philippines, she was really there on State Department business.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Busing That Works

In Hartford, Conn., voluntary desegregation is diversifying classrooms...



Sessions Under Fire

Another day, another Trump administration official under fire for his links with Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had two contacts with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, last fall.

What was the subject of these conversations? Sessions has issued several contradictory statements. He testified in his confirmation hearing he had no contact with the Russians. Now, he's saying he had contact but it was in a Senatorial capacity. Several Republican leaders have called for Sessions to recuse himself from the ongoing investigations into Trump's Russian ties. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for Sessions to resign.

I think he should definitely recuse himself. Resign? Eh, not yet anyway. I'd rather have him hold out as long as possible so if he is really guilty of lying and the Russian connections, he'll get taken down while AG.

That would leave a mark!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Rally 'Round The President, Boys and Girls!

Last night was the first time in nearly two years that Donald Trump acted presidential. Or, at least that's the narrative for today. I think Trump and his people came to the realization that they couldn't get anything done if they kept on the way that they were. They had to at least put up an appearance of normal, hence the "new" Trump complete with a different take on immigration, asking for compromise with the Democrats and even sporting a new tie!

Well before the speech, Politico put a piece up about the president and how he is a great performance artist pretending to be a manager. I think there is a great deal of true to this. Last night, he turned up the volume to 11 with this tack and is now REALLY looking presidential (emphasis on the word "looking")

Every single American needs hold him accountable to act on what he said last night. His actions, not his words, will tell us how serious he is. If he passes a law on immigration reform and signs a bill for a trillion dollar infrastructure plan, he's going to have my support.