Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hope Abandons the White House

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, reads the inscription over the gates of Dante's hell.

Now Hope (Hicks) has abandoned the White House, which has become Hell on Earth:
Her resignation came a day after she testified for eight hours before the House Intelligence Committee, telling the panel that in her job, she had occasionally been required to tell white lies but had never lied about anything connected to the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
At least one person in the Trump administration appears to have a conscience, but that person is leaving.

Turnover in the White House and the Trump administration has been phenomenally high, and it appears that it will be accelerating.

Jared Kushner and several other White House aides have just been denied top-secret clearances, which means they can't do their current jobs. Which means they serve no useful purpose and should be fired.

Ben Carson is under fire for spending tens of thousands of dollars on dining room furniture for his office. For some reason, Carson's wife -- who has no official position at the Department of Housing and Urban development -- demanded that staff violate federal law to spend $31,000 on a table. Incredibly, this was Carson's reaction:
Mr. Carson “didn’t know the table had been purchased,” but does not believe the cost was too steep and does not intend to return it, said Raffi Williams, a HUD spokesman.
$31,000 is more than most people spend on their cars, and is more than the starting teacher salary in Montana, South Dakota and Missouri!

Other Trump administration officials are under investigation for flying first class or using private jets at taxpayers' expense.

Trump has resumed badgering his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on Twitter, presumably an attempt to get Sessions to resign so that Trump can appoint a new attorney general who will fire Robert Mueller and stop the Russia investigation.

During Hicks' testimony before Intelligence Committee she refused to answer any questions about what happened during the transition and Trump's first year in office, specifically, what happened when Trump crafted multiple mendacious statements about the Trump Tower meeting Don Jr., Kushner and Paul Manafort held with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.

When Robert Mueller comes calling, Hicks will no longer be able to demur. But at least she will have escaped from Hell.

And this Is What Happens When Teachers Have Guns...

Donald Trump thinks guns should be in the hands of teachers in schools. This is already the case in some states, and guess what happened:
A North Georgia teacher, known as the longtime radio voice of Dalton High School football and basketball, is in custody after he fired at least one shot inside a classroom Wednesday, police said.

The incident at the high school, about 91 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, sent panicked students running through hallways and alarmed parents who were already on edge in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

About 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, some students tried to get into Randal Davidson’s classroom and he would not let them in, Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said.

They alerted Principal Steve Bartoo. When he came to the door and used his key to try to open it, Davidson forcibly closed it on him, Frazier said.

At that point, Bartoo heard one gunshot. The bullet went through a window and outside, Frazier said. Police have not said what type of gun was used, only that it was a handgun.
No one was shot, but it shoots holes in the NRA's idiotic plan to arm teachers.

This wasn't the first shooting by a teacher in a Georgia school:
In August, Lithia Springs High School closed after a teacher shot himself in his classroom office before students arrived. Jonathan Freeman, 43, fired one round from his own, recently acquired, handgun. He survived the shooting.
Guns have no place in schools. Arming more teachers will simply result in more accidental shootings in schools, more suicide attempts in schools, more angry teacher outbursts involving guns, and eventually students will attack armed teachers and use their weapons to shoot fellow students.

A Sin Tax on Guns

To see how seriously the Trump administration takes school safety, consider this:
Two days before the school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, the Trump administration proposed cutting millions in federal education programs meant to help prevent crime in schools and assist them in recovery from tragedies.

Funds targeted for reduction or elimination in the Trump administration's fiscal 2019 request have helped pay for counselors in schools and violence prevention programs. Such funds were used for mental health aid for students and teachers in the Newtown, Conn., school district following the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
These funding cuts would have hit the very mental health programs that Donald Trump now says are needed to stop school shootings. If this isn't evidence of Trump's total cluelessness, what is?

Now Trump and the NRA are proposing training teachers to be armed guards and hardening school facilities and turning them into prisons. Okay, fine. But it'll cost a lot of money. How are we going to pay for all that?

Gun violence is a serious health problem, as deadly as cigarettes, and should be treated as such.

Research has shown that one of the most effective ways of curtailing cigarette and alcohol use (which can also be quite deadly) is to raise taxes on things that cause societal problems -- so-called sin taxes.

Since murder is a cardinal sin, the instruments of death should be highly taxed. If Congress won't ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, then they have to do something to keep them out of the hands of kids.

A hefty sales tax should be levied on all firearms and ammunition to pay for increasing security at schools and other places of business. The deadlier the weapon, the higher the tax. The larger the magazine capacity, the higher the tax.

In addition -- just as there is for cars and other property, including homes -- there should be an annual licensing fee for each weapon owned to recoup the ongoing social costs of so many guns circulating in society.

It's clearly constitutional to tax guns -- we've been doing it for centuries. Now gun owners need to start paying full freight for the social costs of their hobby.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Surprise! Companies Use Tax Cuts to Buy Back Stock!

When Republicans sold the giant tax cut for corporations they promised that all the money would go to workers in the form of raises. I predicted that the tax savings would be almost exclusively used to buy back stock and pay dividends to investors. Guess who was right?
Almost 100 American corporations have trumpeted [plans to buy back shares] in the past month. American companies have announced more than $178 billion in planned buybacks — the largest amount unveiled in a single quarter, according to Birinyi Associates, a market research firm.
A small number of companies have announced plans to increase wages or pay bonuses, with bonuses being preferred because they have no lasting effect -- they're a one-time publicity stunt to make Donald Trump look good.

In effect, bonuses are just donations to Republican political campaigns.

Money going to workers is dwarfed by stock buybacks:
S&P 500 companies have devoted about $5.6 billion to bonuses and wage hikes because of the tax law, according to research from academics Rick Wartzman and William Lazonick as well as the Academic-Industry Research Network. The group added up commitments from the 50 companies in the S&P 500 that had announced plans to reward workers through February 15.
And it's just the beginning:
Bank of America recently predicted that S&P 500 companies will use repatriated foreign profits to buy back about $450 billion of stock.
CEOs are judged by the performance of the company's stock, not by the company's performance in the marketplace (they're not the same). CEOs are more frequently compensated by receiving additional stock rather than higher salaries because salaries are taxed at higher rates.

Investing in capital equipment, raising wages and increasing production aren't rewarded by the stock market. Stock prices increase most when there are rumors of acquisitions and moves to reduce expenses (i.e., firing workers). Companies that raise wages are hammered by the market, as witnessed by American Airlines' plan to raise pilots' wages last year.

Thus, the incentives for American companies are perverse and destructive. Even worse, companies whose products mostly waste people's time -- Facebook and Apple -- have sky-high stock prices, while stock prices of companies in sectors that people need to survive -- food, transportation, housing -- are moribund.

The stock market simply does not reflect the real economy, and it's insane that CEOs are compensated based on rumors and fantasy.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Archie Bunker on Gun Control

The above was 45 years ago and supposed to be a parody. Look at what's happened today...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

One More Time, with Feeling: Guns are Not Protection

There are reports, as yet still unverified, that more than one Broward County deputy failed to confront the Parkland shooter:
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating allegations that multiple deputies failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after the shooting rampage there, adding to the mounting internal probes examining the department’s response to the attack and its prior interactions with the suspect.
Donald Trump and others are casting this as cowardice. But what it really does is emphasize the fact that guns are not protection.

These deputies were probably armed with handguns and shotguns. I would wager that they could tell that the shooter was using an AR-15. They knew they would be outgunned, and they were probably waiting for SWAT to show up. SWAT has ballistic armor and weapons like the MP5/10 submachine gun, Colt M4 carbine, sniper rifles, etc.

It should be obvious by now that civilians have no business owning weapons that are more powerful than what the police carry. Civilians should not be allowed to own assault rifles like the AR-15, or ballistic armor, or silencers (which the NRA was still trying put into civilian hands, and into children's hands after the Vegas shooting!).

Gun nuts whine that many hunting rifles can be categorized as assault rifles. Read this article about what the AR-15 does when it goes through a human body.

Any weapon that purees your liver when its bullet goes through your body is a weapon of war. Such firearms should not be in civilian hands, any more than civilians should own machine guns, hand grenades or nuclear weapons.

What the...FUCK?

Guns + Classroom=Epic Fail

Former marine Anthony Swofford wrote an excellent piece on why having firearms in classrooms is really bad idea. Here are some highlights.

The military issue M-16 is the model for the AR-15 assault rifle that the accused shooter used to kill 17 people this month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The shooter bought the weapon lawfully. He received zero hours of mandated training. There is no reason that any civilian, of any age, should possess this rifle.

Yep. Based on the response to this shooting, I think the AR-15s days are numbered. In fact, I think anything beyond a single shot rifle/shotgun and a handgun aren't going to be in civilians hands much longer. If there is one more school shooting between now and the time they try to pass some kind of legislation, they are toast. The people that support them are going to be voted out of office.

This is absurd. More likely, had Mr. Feis been armed, he would not have been able to draw his weapon (a side arm, presumably) quickly enough to stop the shooter, who with an AR-15 would have had the coach outgunned. Even if the coach had been able to draw his weapon — from where? his athletic shorts? — any shots he managed to fire would have risked being errant, possibly injuring or killing additional students. As some studies have shown, even police officers have missed their targets more than 50 percent of the time. In firing a weapon, Mr. Feis would have only added to the carnage and confusion.

I have to wonder what goes through the head of a gun humper when they read this. Here's a guy who was trained with all sorts of weapons speaking the cold and logical truth. A handgun is no match for an AR 15. According to The Shooter's Log, "a properly configured AR-15 is easily capable of good performance at 500+ yards. Good performance means it can hit a 1-foot-square target all the time." Yet, most handguns average out at effective ranges of around 100 yards or less. So, do we arm all teachers with AR 15s?

Here is something I didn’t think about: I did not think about arming myself to protect my students. President Trump on Thursday specified that he wants only certain teachers — “highly adept people, people that understand weaponry” — to be armed. I will immodestly state that among professors in the United States, I am almost certainly one of the best shooters. But I would never bring a weapon into a classroom. The presence of a firearm is always an invitation to violence. Weapons have no place in a learning environment.

No, they do not.

But it's important to note that this debate is a purposeful distraction. The gun humpers are trying to shift the responsibility away from themselves and into a silly argument that will drive their opponents nuts. The focus should stay on voter registration, calling lawmakers out who support the NRA, and finding people to replace them who will change our gun laws forever.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Gun Humper Logic With The FBI

So, let me see if I follow this (ahem) logic correctly...

The FBI is to blame for the Florida shooting, not the loose gun laws that allowed Cruz to so easily obtain an AR-15.

The by the guy they elected...Donald Trump...

This kinda reminds me of how 9/11 was not Bush's fault but Benghazi was Obama's fault and Hillary's fault.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran=Fucking Moron

Like most US citizens, I've been very impressed with the young people from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who have galvanized the nation into acting on gun violence. They are relentless and will not stop until lawmakers like complete fucking moron Richard Corcoran, the Florida Republican House Speaker, are voted out of office. Check out what he said recently.

"All of these shooters have one thing in common — they are abject, absolute cowards,” Corcoran said. “Here’s what a coward doesn’t want to do — stare down a marshal with a gun the second he goes through a door.”

Seriously? What a dumb ass...

Cruz knew there was an armed security guard at the school. He didn't care. He was trying to be all stealth like and shit. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold weren't stopped at Columbine by an armed guard. Cookie Thornton shot a police officer, took his gun and then proceeded to shoot up Kirkwood City Hall. What kind of fantasy world do these people live in?

People who decide to shoot up a school are NOT RATIONAL. They also aren't cowards because they are NUTS.

I hope that all the new Florida voters will eject this asshat from the capsule come November.


I thought I'd beat Mark to the punch.

Time Again to Blame Movies and Games for School Shootings

Instead of blaming the NRA for the glorification of guns, Donald Trump is blaming the Internet, video games and the movies for mass shootings in the United States:
We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, and they’re so violent. And yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.
A rating system? Gee, what a brilliant idea. Why didn't the MPAA (the organization that rates films) think of that? Wait -- they have! If Trump ever went to a movie like a real person, he would have seen the MPAA ad that runs during the previews that explains how the rating system works.

The movie Republicans really enjoy attacking these days is John Wick, a 2014 Keanu Reeves film about a former hitman who hit back at the mobsters who killed his dog. Its MPAA rating is “Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use.”

Video games also have a rating system with the ESRB, something Trump would know if he paid any attention whatsoever to what his son Barron does. How can Trump run a country when he doesn't know anything about anything?

Incidentally, guess who the bad guys are in John Wick? The Russian mob! Imagine that! Republicans are attacking a movie where Russians are the bad guys! Where do Republicans get their talking points from? RT News? Sputnik? Pravda? Izvestia? Vladimir Putin?

The fact of the matter is, Hollywood movies like John Wick make as much overseas in countries like China, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and Russia as they do in the United States.

And the entire rest of the world doesn't have weekly school shootings like we do. Because they don't let any random idiot buy guns.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trump Needs A Cheat Sheet To Be Human

Remember back in those days of Obama, Barack when the right used to foam at the mouth about his teleprompter? Check out Trump's cheat sheet that he had yesterday when he was talking with the families of victims of gun violence.

Really? He needs fucking crib notes to be a human being and say, "I hear you." He can't fucking remember to be a human being?

Completely. Unfit. For. President.

The Obvious Cowardice of Gun Humpers

Every gun humper with a whole bunch of firearms and a dream of being Jack Bauer will tell you that he can save the day should the need arise in a school shooting. President Trump himself has been touting arming schools since the the Florida shooting. Yet I have to wonder if these gun rights folks would actually jump in and save the day or would they just run?

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had an SRO (Security Resource Officer) so there was a good guy with a gun on site. Today, he resigned because he never went into the building. SRO's are police officers that are supposed to take bad guys out. He didn't. This was someone who was trained to do this shit and he failed. Do the gun humpers actually expect me to believe that they are going to rush in and save the day where the cops failed?

I don't believe it for a minute. The first thing they would do is likely shit their pants because the only thing they have the courage to do is troll gun grabbers on the internet from the parent's basement. They've never been trained nor do they have the training to take out a live shooter. Playing Call of Duty doesn't count, by the way.

So, yeah...I think they would just run. They wouldn't save anyone but themselves.

And Yet Again: Guns Are Not Protection

Following the NRA's lead, Donald Trump is suggesting that teachers get paid more to carry guns in the classroom. Sharing the NRA's delusion that more guns make people safer, he thinks that armed teachers with Glock 17s in their purses or desk drawers will somehow stop "cowardly sickos" who bring AR-15s into the classroom.

How will Trump explain it when a teacher's gun is stolen and a dozen kids are dead?
Think about it: arming teachers and coaches makes it trivial for school shooters to get guns in schools: all a shooter needs to do is bash a coach with a baseball bat and now he's got a gun provided by Donald Trump and the NRA.

But let's pretend that students will never be able to take the gun from a teacher. Having a weapon does not protect you from gunfire. It just makes you target number one. When a gunman enters a room he will simply put six rounds in the teacher before firing on his ex-girlfriend or the bully who's been picking on him since sixth grade.

Look at Afghanistan. Sure, the Taliban carries out attacks on soft targets like markets and government ministries. But they more frequently attack police stations and military outposts where everyone has guns. A high percentage of school shooters are suicidal and know full well that they'll eventually meet armed resistance from security guards and the police. They are hoping to go down in a blaze of gunfire, glory and blood spatter. That's their endgame.

Armed teachers will not deter these shooters -- the idea of armed teachers may even excite them, making it an even bigger challenge. More shooters will wear Kevlar, something that is easily bought on the Internet because of its great popularity among the gun cult and conservative survivalist "preppers."

At best arming teachers will only reduce the number of victims. The shooter will enter a classroom by stealth, shoot the teacher and twenty or thirty students. If an armed teacher in another classroom hears the attack, he'll fetch his gun and seek out the shooter. Odds are basically 50-50 that the teacher will die, because his handgun will be less powerful and less accurate than the AR-15 the mass murderer is carrying, and the killer may even be wearing ballistic armor, since he came prepared.

For years the NRA has been lobbying for silencers, which will make school shootings even more deadly.
If the shooter has a silencer -- something the NRA has been lobbying actively for for years because they want kids to use them -- the shooter may not be detected for many minutes because no one can hear the gunfire.

Arming teachers will also kill many students who would not have otherwise died: teachers will shoot kids they think have guns, but don't -- cops do this all the time. Kids will take guns from hesitant teachers and shoot them. Shooters will use other students as cover and teachers will shoot innocent bystanders. Ricochets will hit innocents. Kids will be shot accidentally when guns fall out of waistbands in the hall.

This shows the hypocrisy of the NRA. They don't want to stop gun violence, they want to sell more guns and more gun accessories. They want to turn this country into an armed camp, where people live in walled neighborhoods patrolled by armed guards and a machine gun nest on every block. They want schools to be prisons in perpetual lockdown mode, where teachers are armed guards and principals are wardens.

For the NRA school shootings are a marketing opportunity to increase the prevalence of guns in American society. They like school shootings because they can use them to sell the delusion that more guns make us safer.

The NRA opposes any and all gun control measures because, they say, gun control won't stop all shootings, and the bad guys will be able to get guns "somehow." By that same logic, arming teachers is an even bigger waste of time and money, because it can't stop all shootings because bad guys fire first.

Why should the NRA's Second Amendment trump every other American right, including the right to life?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Queen of Katwe

Everyone is talking about how great a film Black Panther is, and it's a fine superhero film for all the reasons others have stated. But there's another recent Disney film with an all-black cast, about a real person from a real African country who accomplished a truly superheroic feat: The Queen of Katwe.

The heroine, Phiona Mutesi, lives in a slum in Uganda. Despite her father dying of AIDS when she was three, despite her single mother being too poor to pay for school, despite not knowing how to read, despite being a girl who had to sell corn in the street and carry her family's water home in big plastic gas cans, she learns to play chess. And she's good at it.

She played at the 39th Chess Olympiad in Moscow in 2010, and in 2012, at the age of 16, she became a Woman Candidate Master at the 40th Olympiad in Istanbul. She currently has a rating of 1628, 300 points better than I ever was when I played chess.

She is now 21 and is attending college in Washington state.

As all movies that are based on real life do, the film exaggerates Phiona's skill level, which is described by chess journalist John Saunders as "a competent club player."

But considering that she started from absolutely nothing, supported only by a chess coach whose attention was divided between tutoring hundreds of other kids and playing soccer, her accomplishments are truly astounding.

Her story puts the lie to people like Donald Trump who call African countries shitholes (or shithouses, as Trump's defenders insist). Given the opportunity, people in every country can accomplish great things. And they work that much harder because they have nothing to fall back on.

The Queen of Katwe is available for streaming on Netflix.

Why Not Give Teachers Tasers?

Every time there's a shooting the NRA says the solution is more guns. Now they’re saying that every teacher needs to be armed. Many schools are seriously talking about doing it.

It's idiotic, of course. More guns means more deaths.

Teachers will drop their guns in the can and accidentally shoot themselves or the person in the next stall. Teachers will shoot their wives accidentally while cleaning their guns. Teachers will lose their guns and kids will get hold of them. And what happens when an armed teacher loses his cool and kills a student in class after the kid screams, “What are you gonna do? Shoot me?”

Most teachers don't like the idea of killing people, and would be hesitant to shoot someone, especially a former student. When guns are involved, any hesitation means your gun will just be added to the arsenal of the shooter.

But something the NRA never mentions is giving teachers tasers. Yeah, tasers aren’t perfect. You can still kill someone with a taser, but they're much less lethal.

And tasers could be an even greater deterrent than guns. The idea of going down in a hail of gunfire and blood spatter is attractive to gun nuts. But being shocked by a taser, collapsing like an old man, then drooling and jerking spasmodically on the floor is not romantic at all.

And it doesn't have to be just tasers. Tear gas and mace can be especially effective in enclosed areas like hallways and classrooms. If we put our minds to it, we can probably come up with a lot of non-lethal ways to deter gun violence, rather than surrender to the NRA’s guns everywhere, all-the-time mentality.

So why push for guns in schools when there's a non-lethal alternative that no one has even tried?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The "We Do It Too" Fallacy

Now that Robert Mueller has released his indictment of Russian nationals and companies for hacking the 2016 election, some conservatives have come to the defense of Russia. "We do it too," they say.

Yes, we have done it in the past. And it has cost us dearly. The 1979 Iranian Revolution was a direct outcome of CIA meddling in that country during the 1950s. Supporting Saddam in the 1980s backfired when he thought we gave him a green light to invade Kuwait, leading us into two wars. Our support for terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban during Russia's 1980s invasion of Afghanistan backfired when those same people turned against us in 2001.

Now we're the ones stuck in an eternal war in the desiccated mountains of Asia, and Russia is backing the Taliban (as well as North Korea, Iran, and Syria).

But, as former CIA Russia operations chief Steven Hall says, equating Russian and American activities “is like saying cops and bad guys are the same because they both have guns — the motivation matters.”

The United States has -- mostly -- tried to promote democracy and transparency with our actions. Our greatest failures have occurred when we let private concerns (mostly oil) interfere with our mission of democracy. We've promoted democracy with programs like the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, which were often the only source of real news that communist countries had during the cold war.

Russia doesn't have  free and fair elections -- Putin files fake criminal charges against credible opponents and prevents them from even running. So the United States can't do what Russia did to us.

Russia is attacking us to show their own people that freedom of speech and democracy are untenable and undesirable. The election of Donald Trump and the chaos, discord and corruption he sows are intended as much to weaken the United States as it is to prove to the Russian people that they're better off with a stable, autocratic dictator like Putin than whatever nutjob free and fair elections would put in power.

But saying that "we do it too" to excuse Russian attacks is tantamount to treason. It is condoning a foreign power's attempt to sabotage the basic exercise of our democracy.

Mueller's indictment didn't tell Donald Trump or his advisor anything they didn't already know. But Trump has declined to impose any new sanctions on the Russians, as required by a bill passed almost unanimously by Congress last year.

Why not?

Trump's actions sure do seem like a conspiracy: until last week he had constantly denied an attack had ever occurred, he has tried to cover up the attack by firing the FBI director and attempting to curtail the investigation, and he has refused to punish the foreigners behind the attack.

When Trump met with Russians in the Oval Office he said, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Sure does sound like an admission of guilt, doesn't it?

Russia, the NRA and the Parkland Massacre

Donald Trump's other attempt to discredit the FBI is to suggest the investigation into Russia's hacking of the 2016 election is somehow diverting attention away from dangerous gun nuts who are shooting up our schools, concerts and nightclubs.

There is a connection between the Russia investigation and the shooting in Florida, but it's not the one Trump is suggesting: the NRA is colluding with Russia to turn America into a warzone where school kids are shot by the hundreds every year.

In recent years the NRA has become involved with Russian oligarchs (apparently receiving illegal contributions from Aleksandr Torshin), and phony Russian "gun rights" organizations.

As they frequently do, the Russians have set up a "honeypot" trap by having an attractive woman be the face of their "gun rights" group in the United States, in the person of Maria Butina.

Russia has reasonable gun laws, so any Russians coming to the United States to talk about gun rights are obvious liars. Their support of the NRA is yet another social engineering scam to divide public opinion in the US and set us at each others' throats.

As Trump would put it: Every time there's another school shooting in the United States the Russians are laughing their asses off.

Blame the State of Florida for Parkland, Not the FBI

Having now been forced to admit that the Russians hacked the 2016 election, Donald Trump and the Republicans are attacking the Mueller investigation by trying to discredit the FBI.  

Now they're attempting to use the massacre in Florida to their political advantage by blaming the FBI for not taking action against the shooter after receiving a tip. The problem is that the FBI gets thousands of tips like this, because there are so many unstable gun nuts out there who behave exactly the same way.

Republicans always complain about how libtards look to Washington to solve their problems. "Why don't they do something themselves?" conservatives whine.
Well, it turns out that several Florida agencies were well aware that the shooter was mentally ill, but did nothing to stop him:
A Florida social services agency conducted an in-home investigation of Nikolas Cruz after he exhibited troubling behavior nearly a year and a half before he shot and killed 17 people at his former high school in Florida, a state report shows.

The agency, the Florida Department of Children and Families, had been alerted to posts on Snapchat of Mr. Cruz cutting his arms and expressing interest in buying a gun, according to the report. But after visiting and questioning Mr. Cruz at his home, the department determined he was at low risk of harming himself or others.

The report is the latest indication that Mr. Cruz was repeatedly identified by local and federal agencies as a troubled young man with violent tendencies. The F.B.I. admitted on Friday that it had failed to investigate a tip called into a hotline last month by a person close to Mr. Cruz identifying him as a gun owner intent on killing people, possibly at a school. The local police were called to Mr. Cruz’s house many times for disturbances over several years.
The problem is not the FBI. The problem is that Florida knew this kid was bad news, and did nothing about it. The state of Florida let him buy an AR15 assault rifle! Why didn't they add this kid to the list of people who can't buy guns?

The deaths in Parkland are the fault of the NRA, the gun cult and Republican legislators in Florida.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Children Continue To Speak

Cutting the Cord, or Why We Need Network Neutrality

Cable TV companies are among the most despised in the nation. Their employees are surly and uninformed, their service is terrible, their prices have risen two or three times faster than inflation, and they make you pay for hundreds of channels you don't care about and will never watch. That's because they're monopolies, and have been free to do whatever the hell they want after Congress deregulated them 20 years ago.

When cable companies started using their monopoly position to provide Internet access, it only got worse. They claimed they had the right to charge not only their customers for their Internet access, but the companies that sent their customers data. They claimed they had the right to slow down or block any company that they felt used too many "network resources," but really they wanted to shut down companies like Netflix that provided streaming video that competed with their core entertainment business.

Obama's FCC instituted "network neutrality" to prevent cable companies from screwing their customers and other businesses. The FCC classified internet providers as common carriers (like phone companies) who can't discriminate against other businesses.

The Trump administration, of course, is getting rid of the policy because the cable industry has given Republicans tons of campaign contributions.

Net neutrality can save many Americans $1,000 a year.
To see why network neutrality is important, let's look at a real-world scenario. A scenario that could save many Americans $500 to $1,000 a year.

For the last eight or ten years there's been a lot of talk about cord cutters -- people who get rid of their cable TV subscriptions and use antennas to receive broadcast TV over the air, or subscribe to services that stream cable-TV content over the Internet.

These services have historically have not been very good. They don't have all the channels people want and quality has been rather choppy. Worse, they didn't have the local TV stations that people depend on for weather forecasts and local news.

That has all changed: it's now possible -- in many areas of the country -- to cut the cord and get pretty much the same local and cable programming that your cable company provides. For a fraction of the price!

Last year CenturyLink, our DSL provider, ran a fiber optic cable down the main street near our house. Recently they offered a life-time guaranteed price of $50/month for 80 megabit internet. It's not the gimmick that the cable companies always offer, where they give you a deal for three months and then triple the price. In 20 years our DSL provider has never raised the guaranteed price. Instead they drastically increase the data rate for a marginal, guaranted-for-life price increase.

In that same time frame Comcast's prices has more than doubled, to more than $100/month with no improvement in service. They just keep adding more worthless channels we never watch. So we decided to dump Comcast.

We tried an antenna, but we live in a very hilly suburb and the transmitters are 20 miles away. The signal is awful with indoor antennas, and putting an antenna on the roof is a hassle and might not even work. So we decided on streaming.

We looked at four services that stream cable programming and local channels: YouTube TV, Hulu, Sling and DirecTV Now (which is not the satellite TV service). They're all comparably priced and have similar features: full HD, live-streaming of local and cable channels including movies and sports, a DVR feature (with varying release dates, capabilities and costs), and access to on-demand libraries of shows and movies that appear on the supported networks. All of them let you try the service for a week for free, and they're all in the $35-40 price range. Some of them have 4K capability.

Their channel lineups aren't identical, and will vary by region. We picked YouTube TV, which has all the channels we care about except for the local PBS affiliate, but as public TV supporters we have access to PBS's streaming service, which gives you access to episodes of shows like Victoria before they're aired on local stations.

But we would have been happy with DirecTV Now or Sling; both were fine. DirecTV Now has a distinct advantage of charging only $5/month to add HBO. Hulu had more restrictions, was more expensive, and was less reliable than the others, but it does include access to a huge library of TV shows going back decades.

YouTube TV includes some channels that Comcast charged extra for (like TCM, ESPNU, the Olympic Channel), so we're paying $50 a month less to get more of the things that we want.

Some of the services don't have access to Comedy Central, the local CBS or the CW affiliates, perhaps because Comedy Central, CBS and CW have their own streaming services (CC's and CW's are free, CBS's is $6), or they just haven't finished negotiations yet. YouTube TV is still actively adding channels (TBS/TNT came online just last week).

Furthermore, if you have limited viewing habits, you can save even more money. ESPN is introducing their streaming service this spring for only $5/month. HBO's streaming service is $15/month. There are also tons of other on-demand streaming services, like Amazon and Netflix, that have large libraries of shows or offer pay-per-view movies and shows.

You can stream through a browser with your computer, through an app on your smart phone, or through several different streaming devices. We went with a streaming device because using a computer is a hassle when you're sitting on the couch, and would rather use a remote than our phones.

Most of these streaming devices are tiny compared to computers or even cable TV set-top boxes: Roku's Streaming Stick, Google Chromecast, Amazon's Firestick use WiFi and connect invisibly to your TV's HDMI port. We went with the Roku Ultra because we wanted a traditional TV remote and a wired connection. Many of these devices allow you to "cast" the stream from your smart phone to the TV screen, if that's your thing.

You will, of course, need a decent Internet connection to use these streaming services. Looking at the stats on our Roku box, it looks like it uses about 4 megabits, so at least an 8 megabit connection is needed.

Sadly, TiVo does not work with most of these streaming services, though there's no technical reason it could not: it works fine with Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. TiVo with cable has a better interface and user experience than Roku or YouTube TV. TiVo's wishlists are very nice, and the commercial skip feature is great. But it's just not worth almost a thousand dollars a year.

We're lucky that we live in an area that has two Internet providers: Comcast and CenturyLink. But a lot of people don't have any choice: they only have Comcast or some other giant cable company that has a government-sanctioned monopoly on cable and Internet service.

These streaming services are bringing competition and innovation into America's living rooms. Net neutrality is needed to guarantee that all Americans have equal access to the information and entertainment services, and that new companies have an equal opportunity to compete against companies that were granted monopolies by cities and states decades ago.

This kind of competition could save the average American consumer $500 to $1,000 dollars a year. Which is a hell of lot more money than middle-class Americans will see from Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy.

But without net neutrality Comcast can shut out millions of Americans from these services, taking billions of dollars out of their pockets.

The Children Continue To Speak

Donald Trump's tweet about the Florida shooting has garnered many comments from students who were actually at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Here's my favorite.

“I don’t want your condolences you fucking price of shit, my friends and teachers were shot,” she tweeted. “Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again.”

I'll extend Sara's fucking piece of shit comment to all the gun rights activists in the United States along with this promise. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that YOU are held responsible for the deaths of every single person who has died in a school shooting.

If I were in charge, you'd be at Gitmo right now and you'd never see the light of day again.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another Shooting by a White Supremacist Terrorist

Several news outlets are reporting that the Parkland Florida school shooter, Nikolas (spelling Amerika with a 'K') Cruz, was a member of the "Republic of Florida" white supremacist group:
The [Anti-Defamation League] said ROF leader Jordan Jereb told them Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tallahassee, said Cruz was brought into the group by another member and had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, the ADL said. Law enforcement officials have not confirmed the link.

ROF has mostly young members in north and south Florida and describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics” and seeks to create a “white ethnostate” in Florida.
Three former schoolmates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group frequently and was often seen with Jereb, who also confirmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group. 
If this kid had even the most tenuous connection to any form of Islamic or liberal group, you can be certain that Donald Trump and the Republican echo chamber would be screaming bloody murder about the scourge of Middle East immigrant terrorists and the evils of Mohammedanism.

But since Cruz was a MAGA hat-wearing white supremacist gun nut Trump and the right are only talking about mental illness.

The one thing that all these mass shooters have in common is an infatuation with guns.
The one thing that all these mass shooters have in common -- from Columbine, to Sandy Hook, to Las Vegas, to Parkland -- is an infatuation with guns. Like Cruz, lots of people are depressed and have other mild forms of mental illness. But most don't pose a danger to anyone, except perhaps themselves.

The real danger to society at large is not run-of-the-mill depression or even schizophrenia -- it's this infatuation with guns. It is so common that it needs a name: let's call it Gun Infatuation Syndrome. Gun infatuation is a form of mental illness, like drug addiction, bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

People suffering from GIS make guns a basic part of their daily lives. GIS progresses as its sufferers come to devalue human life: since the only purpose of guns is to kill, killing is normalized in their minds. Their positive view of guns metastasizes into a positive view of killing and killers -- Cruz and other mass shooters idolize past mass shooters.

Conservatives are all about profiling people: they were livid when New York gave up the racist Stop and Frisk program, claiming that there would be blood in the streets. But the murder rate dropped precipitously during after stop-and-frisk ended, prompting honest conservatives to admit they were completely wrong about the policy.

Some conservatives want to profile American Muslims and ban all Muslim immigrants because some Muslims are terrorists. Even though the fact is more Americans die at the hands of right-wing racists like Dylann Roof and Nikolas Cruz than Muslims.

The simple fact is: the people most likely to commit mass shootings are those with lots of guns. People who have no compunctions about shooting other people. People who have a chip on their shoulder and feel that they have the right to use lethal force against those they think have wronged them. Narcissistic people obsessed with vengeance.

With a vengeful narcissist in the Oval Office actively promulgating this mindset, is it any wonder that we've already had 18 shootings at schools just six weeks into 2018?

People are blaming the FBI for not doing anything about Cruz after they received warnings about him. But there are literally millions of gun nuts out there like Cruz who post exactly the same crap on the internet that he did.

And whenever the FBI does go after these gun nuts they scream bloody murder about the Deep State and their Second Amendment rights.

So, sure, let's profile the people who are most likely to commit shootings -- people who have lots of guns and are suffering from Gun Infatuation Syndrome. Let's take their guns away and get them into treatment.

Before they shoot up your kid's school.

"We're Children. You Guys Are The Adults"

A Victim's Repsonse

Keep The Gun Humpers Safe!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers

Surprise, Surprise: Trump Lawyer Admits Stormy Daniels Payment

After a month of claiming that Donald Trump never had an affair with that woman, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen admitted that he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her affair with Trump.
In the most detailed explanation of the 2016 payment made to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, Mr. Cohen, who worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said he was not reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the campaign for the payment.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
Of course, everyone knew that Trump had an affair with Daniels and had paid her off. Nobody ever believed the denials: Trump just denies things, hoping that the nonstop chaos he generates will make everyone forget the impeachable offenses we learned about the day before.

A couple of questions about this: how much money has Trump paid Cohen over the years? How much has money has Trump paid Cohen in the year and half since the payment was made?

It's irrelevant whether Cohen submitted a expense report with a "porn star payoff" line item. That's the reason the wealthy pay lawyers $1,500 to $2,000 an hour: so that they can make problems like these go away as quietly as possible. Cohen will just bill Trump an additional 90 hours for, say, "legal research," "discovery" or the old standard, "services rendered," and poof -- he's made his $130,000 back.

And despite what Cohen says, paying hush money to a porn star weeks before an election is a campaign expenditure -- an illegimate and illegal in-kind campaign expenditure, to be sure, but a campaign expenditure nonetheless.

Had Daniels' story about Trump banging a porn star without a condom appeared while his wife was still nursing their child come out immediately after the pussy grabbing tape, it might have been too much even for the soulless vipers that Republicans had become. It might have cost Trump the election.

It's all part of the pattern that Trump and his family use to buy off politicians and prosecutors to escape prosecution. In 2012 Ivanka and Jared's lawyer bought off the Manhattan DA with a campaign donation to avoid indictment for fraud. In 2013 the Trump Foundation donated $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's reelection campaign in exchange for dropping her fraud case against Trump University, as well as giving her a large in-kind donation of a campaign event at Mar-a-Lago. Other states proceeded with their fraud case and Trump admitted guilt in the form of a $25 million settlement. Pam Bondi screwed over her constituents -- Trump's victims in Florida -- by not pressing their case against Trump: they got nothing, while Trump's New York victims got compensation.

Any one of these illegal transactions should be sufficient to put these people in jail. But, as Trump loves to say, the system is rigged: the rich can get away with anything.

And this is why the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling is the most corrupt and corrupting ruling in American history.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pulling a Putin

Donald Trump finally released his budget, and of course it massively increases the federal debt. When Barack Obama wanted to jump-start the economy with infrastructure spending in the aftermath of Bush's economic meltdown, Republicans refused, claiming that the federal debt was absolutely horrible.

Now, with the King of Debt as president, Republicans are now completely in favor of having the federal government go on a huge borrowing spree to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and a massive increase in military spending.

Trump ran for president on promises of extracting us from foreign wars. But he has increased troop levels in Afghanistan, and sent troops to Syria and back to Iraq. American troops have died in Africa on secret missions. Trump is on course to start wars with North Korea and Iran. He's starting programs to build new, smaller, nuclear weapons to respond to "extreme circumstances" and non-nuclear attacks. This is the same idiot who wondered during the campaign why we couldn't use nuclear weapons.

But the biggest lie in Trump's budget is the "infrastructure plan." The plan claims to spend $200 billion over 10 years. Notice how they always do these things over 10 years to make it sound like a lot of money? The budget is redone every year, so these 10-year budget proposals are a total joke -- it'll all be thrown out next year.

But Trump's budget actually includes $168 billion in infrastructure cuts to programs that Trump doesn't care about, such as mass transit. So Trump is really only proposing to spend an additional $3 billion a year on infrastructure, which is only a hundred miles of interstate or a couple of big bridges.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated last year that $4.6 trillion is needed for our roads, bridges, ports, drinking water supplies, dams, airports and mass transit. Trump's plan does absolutely nothing to address those needs.

What it does do is to privatize billions of dollars of federal assets, including airports, roads, and federal land. Trump is doing what Vladimir Putin did: give away government assets to his pals so they can get rich.

Trump wants to turn every interstate in the country into a toll road so his buddies can soak you every time you drive to work. Trump wants give his campaign contributors a private monopoly on airports so they get a cut every time you fly. Trump wants to sell federal lands --including parklands -- to Canadian and Chilean mining companies that will leave the land a toxic mess for centuries.

This is the very definition of crony capitalism and corruption.

Monday, February 12, 2018

More Bari Weiss, Please!

If the #MeToo movement is going to succeed, it's going to need more people like Bari Weiss. Logical, rational, civics minded....all traits she has in abundance.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Boo Hoo! Trump Feels So Sorry for His Wife-Beating Aides

Donald Trump is whining again about unfair everything is for powerful, rich, white men, and how their stupid and worthless wives are destroying their lives just because their husbands slapped them around for mouthing off:
President Trump on Saturday appeared to side with men accused of domestic abuse or sexual misconduct, following a week of turmoil surrounding allegations of spousal abuse against two male aides that brought the national #MeToo movement inside the White House.

In a tweet, Trump questioned whether “due process” is being given to those accused of wrongdoing and expressed sympathy for their damaged careers and sullied reputations.

“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Yes, Donald, there still is something called due process. And these men have received it. They are still walking around free, and have not been charged with a crime, even though they abused their wives, multiple times. They are not in prison. They were never charged with crimes. Law enforcement is not harassing them or forcing them out of office. They either resigned voluntarily or were fired by you because they embarrassed you.

Their rights have not been violated: no one has beaten, bruised and bloodied them, or falsely imprisoned them. Which is not true for the wives they've assaulted and divorced.

These men have been paid big government salaries for the last year, even though they still only had temporary security clearances. That's because they were still being investigated by the FBI. They had access to top secret government documents even though they had embarrassing secrets that they could be blackmailed with. Secrets dark enough that, when revealed to the general public, forced them to resign.

Their terminations show exactly why people like this should not have security clearances and work for the president.

Yeah, Trump says these guys deny they beat their wives. That's so lame -- everyone knows they did it. How stupid does Trump think we are? Wife-beating is a badge of honor among these clowns. They brag about slapping the missus to keep her in line, just like Trump bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

These men have no inherent right to work in the White House. These weasels sealed their own fates when they assaulted the wives they had pledged to love and honor till death do they part. These weren't one-time temper tantrums -- Porter has assaulted at least three women. Only now, years later, has he finally been held to account, albeit in the most minor way. Because we all know that by next week Porter will have a seven-figure job working as a lobbyist for some billionaire Republican or foreign government, because he has the ear of the president.

Working for the president is a privilege that should be reserved for people with the highest moral character and integrity. Not lying, cheating, wife-beating scumbags.

But when the president himself is a lying, cheating wife-beating scumbag with the morals of an alley cat in heat, the only people who will agree to service him are incompetent, corrupt and immoral thugs.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

An Epidemic of Black Lung in Trump's Coal Mines

Donald Trump got elected with the promise of bringing back coal mining, an industry that has been failing for years. Trump blames renewable energy sources like solar and wind for coal's decline, but the real culprit is fracked natural gas, which is much cheaper and cleaner than coal. Natural gas is also technically far superior because natural gas turbines can spin up in seconds to satisfy shifting power demands, while coal power plants are big, slow dinosaurs.

Trump's big promise was to bring back coal mining jobs. But the problem with these jobs is that working in a coal mine is getting deadlier and deadlier. Miners are coming down with black lung disease (progressive massive fibrosis, or PMF) at an increasingly horrific rate:
"When I first implemented this clinic back in 1990, you would see ... five [to] seven ... PMF cases" a year, says Ron Carson, who directs Stone Mountain's black lung program.

The clinics now see that many cases every two weeks, he says, and have had 154 new diagnoses of PMF since the fieldwork for the NIOSH study concluded a year ago.
That a 50-fold increase. Black lung kills miners by destroying lung tissue: they literally suffocate to death. Last year NPR found that the rate of new black lung cases had increased 20 times, and it has continued to get much, much worse. The only "cure" is a lung transplant.

Why is this happening? Because we're running out of coal:
The NPR investigation also found that the likely cause of the epidemic is longer work shifts for miners and the mining of thinner coal seams. Massive mining machines must cut rock with coal and the resulting dust contains silica, which is far more toxic than coal dust.
The large (and profitable) deposits of coal have already been mined. Yes, there's a lot of coal in the ground, but it's spread very thinly now. It is much more expensive, dangerous and environmentally destructive to mine these inferior seams. Coal is already more expensive than wind and solar in most  parts of the country, and it's only going to get worse.

How has the Trump administration responded to this epidemic? The Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, has literally embraced Robert Murray, a climate change denier and mining executive. Perry's department bent over backwards to propose regulations that would have raised electricity rates for all Americans to give special treatment to coal mining companies.

This is the same guy who has sued HBO and John Oliver for defamation of character, for simply reporting the truth about what is happening in Murray's mines. The guy is a real-life Dr. Evil, as evidenced by an ACLU amicus brief for the HBO suit.

Trump promised coal mining jobs, but what good is a job that destroys the land you live on, poisons your water and and slowly suffocates you while your family members watch helplessly?

A Message From The NRA

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Great Bald Spot

Well, one of Donald Trump's coverups has been exposed: the man is bald. Here's the evidence:

For years Trump has insisted that he's not bald. He has maintained that the thing on his head is his real hair. But, surprise, surprise: he's been lying the whole time. Hair stylists say that it's just a bad weave.

Now, generally I don't make fun of things people don't have control of, like having to wear glasses, baldness, or obesity (which is mostly genetic and societal). But Trump has a long history of making fun of people for things they have little to no control of, like that disabled reporter he mocked in a campaign rally. Then he had the gall to call women like Rosie O'Donnell "fat pigs, dogs and slobs" when Trump is such a porker himself. And in the late 90's he ranted that then-current (and gorgeous) Miss Universe Alicia Machado was fat, embarrassing her in front of a phalanx of photographers. But check out the wattle on Trump when he kisses her (he just can't stop himself!). He was already a fat slob 20 years ago.

So Trump deserves every bit of ridicule he gets for trying to cover up his baldness in such a tacky and phony way.

Trump is ridiculously vain. He thinks baldness is a sign of weakness (Washington and Churchill were such wimps!). After his presidential physical we learned that Trump takes a drug for baldness: finasteride. This has a number of side effects, including many with which Trump is afflicted: confusion, bloating of the face and redness of the skin. And impotence!

Trump even went through a painful and obviously pointless surgical procedure to reduce the size of the Great Bald Spot  (a "scalp reduction"). Afterwards he reportedly yanked out his wife Ivana's hair and raped her (an accusation she withdrew when Donald dangled millions of alimony dollars in front of her).

Trump's hair has always been completely ridiculous. It's an obvious combover, looking like a helmet of hair-sprayed yak fur. Even his daughter Ivanka ridicules it.

Trump's baldness is nothing to be ashamed of or made fun of. What he should be ashamed of is how he insults other bald men, how he lies about his own baldness, and the ridiculous lengths he goes to cover it up, and how stupid the result makes him look. And he has so little self-awareness that he's completely oblivious to all of this.

That makes the Great Bald Spot a perfect metaphor for every other disaster in the Trump administration.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Will He Answer?

Please Do So, Mr. President

Despite all advice to the contrary, President Trump thinks it's a good idea to sit down with Robert Mueller and talk about Russia. I hope that he does. Let's consider both men for a moment.

Robert Mueller is a cool, savvy investigator with decades of experience in criminal justice. As the head of the inquiry into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian intelligence, he has been the consummate professional.

Donald Trump is an arrogant dumb ass.

Who is going to win this battle?

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Memo Was A Giant Yawn

After a week of breathless hand wringing, the GOP and Donald Trump finally released the Congressional Memo that supposedly illustrates how biased the FBI is towards Donald Trump. Before it came out, I was most amused at the notion that this was some sort of smoking gun that Devin Nunes uncovered in the deep, dark bowels of the FBI on a super secret agent spy mission.


By this same measure, I could write a memo about how Donald Trump secretly formed ISIL back in 2011. Then I could release and claim that it was so. Sheesh...

After reading through the memo, I was please to see confirmation that the investigation into Donald Trump and his ties with Russia began with George Papadopolous and his drunken night of bragging. It did not begin with the FISA warrant on Carter Page based on the Steele Dossier. Carter Page was also under scrutiny long before the Steele Dossier.

So, the whole thing was full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Honestly, it's not surprising given the fact that Republicans are madly scrambling to somehow blunt what's sure to be coming this year: an indictment of President Trump for money laundering. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

The Stock Market Just Took a Giant Hit. Will Trump Accept the Blame?

Just the other day Donald Trump bragged in the State of the Union that he was responsible for the increase in the stock market. The market had just hit its highest ever value, 26,616.

Since then -- because of Trump's speech, or the release of the stupid memo? -- the market has plummeted more than a thousand points, to 25,521.

Will Trump accept the blame for that?

To be honest, the market is overheated and a correction has long been overdue. But the real problem is that the stock market consists of scumbags trying to outguess other scumbags. The market dropped because the Friday unemployment report was good and there have been some meager wage increases.

That raises the bogeyman of inflation, a fear Republicans falsely raised throughout the Obama administration. Inflation was always around the corner, they said, and businesses used that as an excuse to keep wages down.

Now that they think inflation's really here they're ready to tank the stock market. It's just a scam to get corporations to fire a bunch of employees, lower wages, increase stock buybacks and increase dividend payouts to shareholders to make their stock more attractive.

Whenever something good happens that benefits the people who actually do all the work that makes the country run, the stock market tanks. The second it looks like companies will have to pay workers more, the greedy bastards bolt or demand a ransom payment. And since CEO bonuses depend on stock price, they always screw the employees to make themselves richer.

That's why communism happened. You can blame Marx. You can blame Lenin. But no one would have listened to Marx and Lenin without the greedy bastards who kept forcing more work out of people for less money.

And the scumbags like Trump and his cronies are trying to force us down that road again.

Best Meme Ever