Monday, July 16, 2018

The Tipping Point

I was going to try and write about the entire Strzok hearing but just couldn't stomach it. And trust me, it was horribly bad even before you get to the vile comments by Louie "Gomer Pyle" Gohmert. It was political grandstanding at its worst, nothing more.

It's hilarious to hear the Republicans go on about Strzok's anti-Trump bias, and how that presumably affected his professional work, and yet all of the House Republicans are obviously biased, 100%, no doubt. Yet we're expected to presume they're unbiased in their investigation about the 2016 election.

What's most obvious is the Republicans are desperate and in deep-panic mode. The only goal of the hearing was to discredit Strzok, and by association the Mueller investigation, because they know what's coming. Friday's twelve indictments were just a prelude.

And with today's press conference following the Trump/Putin meeting, that desperation and panic became even more palpable. More than a few Republicans have criticized Trump for his comments, and even Fox's Neil Cavuto said it was "disgusting."

I believe today marks the tipping point. From here we should start to see Republicans increasingly flee the sinking ship that is POTUS Trump. This historically awful and treasonous press conference was likely the last straw. How can the Republicans continue to support this man and his administration, abdicating their duties of oversight and being fully complicit?

As I said, bad things are coming down the road from Mueller and they know it. They've been banking on enough Americans simply not believing the bad news when it's revealed (thanks to the discrediting efforts of Republicans and Fox News).

But Republicans are taking a big chance, one that can blow up in their faces and decimate the GOP for many years to come.

With Trump defending Putin today and denying the findings of our own American intelligence agencies, Republicans are breaking out in flop sweat behind closed doors. Many are starting to realize they may have made a bad bet in siding with party over country.

Get ready to observe the rats turn on their orange leader....

Friday, July 13, 2018

Strzok Congressional Hearing, Part 2

Rep. Jerrold Nadler's opening statement:
  • He rightly points out that this hearing should really be about the nearly 3,000 children wrongfully separated from their families, how this happened and how it will be resolved. As opposed to this sideshow that will only play well on Fox News and to "the base."
  • Nadler goes on to state that post-election, the House Dems requested that the House conduct investigations into Russia's interference in the election, and Repubs said "no."
  • Note: the CSPAN replay had "CLINTON EMAIL INVESTIGATION" posted in the lower left corner the entire time. It's a helpful reminder since this entire hearing was NOT about Hillary's emails. It was all about trying to make Strzok look bad and not credible. This hearing was just another effort by Republicans to smear Mueller and his investigation, to further plant seeds of doubt in the minds of "the base."
  • Nadler requested that his Republican colleagues treat Strzok with common courtesy and respect -- almost as if Nadler knew how this hearing would play out.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Strzok Congressional Hearing, Part 1

Rep. Bob Goodlatte's opening statement:
  • He wants to get this "off the front pages." The Mueller investigation has had zero leaks.  
  • He talks about "text message after text message, dripping with bias." Someone please name the volumes of biased text messages that he's referring to....?
  • He says "the FBI director predetermined the outcome of the case months in advance." Huh? Mueller? Comey? (both Republicans) What is he talking about?
  • It's very telling that he feels the need to state that the House investigation has been "legitimate" in its oversight duties, AND he specifically lashes out at those "who continue to disparage our investigation." When you're defending, you're losing.
  • It's a joke, really. Goodlatte spent most of his time defending the farcical House investigation, trying to rebut the justified criticisms of how the House has completely divorced itself of proper oversight, in this case, of the Executive Branch, and namely the POTUS. But he ends his statement with a LOL howler, saying, "no one is above the law." Really?! How about Trump, the POTUS, will that apply to him down the road? Will Goodlatte abide by whatever comes of Mueller's investigation? And if it is found that Trump is guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors," will Goodlatte remember that "no one is above the law"??
After all is said done, Strock's texts are but a speck on a GOP elephant's ass. Goodlatte tries to make the case that Strzok is Mueller, is heading the entire investigation into Trump, that it's really about Strzok vs. Trump, mano vs. mano. What a joke.

And when it comes to the election, Strzok's presumed and supposed efforts to stop Trump amounted to zilch, notta, whereas Putin and Russia wielded tremendous influence and had a real effect -- and yet Goodlatte and Repubs spend no time on this. It's all about Mueller and Hillary and Comey -- or anything that stands as a threat to their hold on power.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump, creator of criminals

Trump claimed Mexico was exporting their rapists and murderers to the USA.
The usual horse sh*t from him.

But by separating these kids, he (and Stephen Miller) has greatly increased the likelihood that many of these kids actually grow up to be murderers and rapists.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Telling Quiet

Conservatives and those on the right have clamored loudly against abortion for many decades. Yet finally when overturning Roe v. Wade is within their grasp, they suddenly go quiet.

Why the silence?

I liken it to sneaking a fox into the hen house. You must be very quiet, don't make a sound, no sudden moves, don't breath until you finally get the fox inside. Then it can pounce and go crazy!

Anti-abortion proponents are going to try and deftly sneak through their pick. The relative quiet is telling and foreboding.

Trump's pick will undoubtedly dance, dodge and attempt to finesse his/her way through the hearing(s). For an example of what to expect, watch Al Franken grill SCOTUS pick favorite Amy Barrett. It basically becomes an exercise in running out the clock without saying anything especially controversial or of substance. Feign ignorance, experience memory lapses, act naive -- whatever it takes to get through unscathed.

And nearly all the senators will oblige. For those few who choose to look tough and determined, just hold the line, it won't last long.

Such a charade allows senators like Susan Collins to later claim she was duped, that she was told X during the hearing and can't be blamed for the new Justice siding with Y or Z.

Yes, an incredibly lame defense for those who have at least half a brain, but that's beside the point.

However, all of that said, voting for Gorsuch is quite a different matter compared to this time around. Yes, Gorsuch did the dodge and dance regarding Roe/Wade, offering his respect for "settled law" and precedence. Right. But everyone knows, everyone, that push come to shove, Gorsuch will help to overturn Roe/Wade.

Yet there was always Kennedy to serve as a ballast, to keep the Roe/Wade decision intact. And in effect, Kennedy offered cover to "moderate" senators like Collins to vote for Gorsuch.

But that cover is now gone.

This next SCOTUS vote will directly target Roe/Wade. If a senator votes for Trump's pick, he/she will be voting to overturn Roe/Wade, period. No lame excuses allowed later about how you were misled or if you knew then what you know now. Nope, no one's gonna buy it. This vote is plain as day.

Such a reality should make the likes of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski sweat a bit and force them to do some earnest soul-searching. Clearly their legacy is at stake. Do they want to be forever remembered for the key votes that turned back the clock 50+ years, to an awful era of coat hangers and maimed women? Not to mention the possibility of criminalizing mothers??

It's one thing to give empty rhetoric and then cave, voting the party line. It's quite another to be the deciding factor in establishing a dystopian nightmare.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Conservatives and the SCOTUS opening

Jeremy Peters was on Morning Joe this morning to discuss his NY Times piece concerning conservatives and the soon-to-be SCOTUS opening.

Some brief comments:
  • Jeremy said conservatives bemoan the fact that historically they've been on the wrong side of many SCOTUS verdicts.
Hmm, maybe this is because they're on the wrong side of the law and Constitution. Yet instead they perceive it as the fault of a person, the Justice(s). See Souter, or Kennedy or Sandra Day O'Connor. They want someone who is not going to properly interpret the Constitution or what the founding fathers intended. Rather they want strict ideologues, to side with narrowly-focused beliefs, not legal mumbo-jumbo.
  • Many evangelicals and/or conservatives voted for Trump for one reason only: abortion. In other words, SCOTUS picks to ban abortion. That's it. They ignore all of the voluminous filth and repugnant aspects of Trump, believing they're good with God & Heaven if they just ban this medical procedure. Trump may ruin the USA as we know it, but that's not going to stop these people from entering the pearly gates. And let's ignore the fact that the founding fathers specifically designated for the separation of church and state. We are NOT a country founded on religion, but rather a secular nation founded on laws. 
  • Jeremy said on MJ that it's amazing to think Reagan -- "the conservative lion" -- appointed O'Connor and Kennedy. 
But not before the Democrats fought hard and got Bork borked. And note also that Reagan today would be a moderate centrist compared to the far right positions of the GOP. I maintain that if Reagan were alive today, running for president, and yet did not look like Reagan, Republicans would cast him out with fervent animus. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Eagles, Trump & Fox News

Every morning I watch both Fox News and MSNBC, flipping back and forth to see the difference in coverage. It's really incredible. This morning I watch Doocy, Kilmeade and whatever beautiful babe sits between them go on and on about the Eagles visit to the White House being cancelled by Trump due to disagreement over kneeling during the national anthem. 

But the FACT is no Eagle player ever kneeled during the national anthem. It's another Fox News lie. And the pictures Fox showed of Eagle players kneeling were NOT during the national anthem but rather during prayer gatherings well before the game and anthem -- meaning Fox News purposely showed pictures out of context to prove their (false) narrative. Outrageous.

Fox does this all the time, I see it every morning, lies and distortions to mislead viewers. They violate Journalism 101 ethics regularly. The sad truth is too many Americans rely on Fox for supposedly real news and actually believe what they're being told, never fact-checking (as I do).

The FACT is most Eagles players had refused to show up at the White House because they disagreed with Trump on many political issues. Reportedly only 9 out of 70 Eagles were going to show, and because that made Trump look bad (which can NEVER happen), he cancelled the visit. It had NOTHING to do with kneeling and the national anthem, but that is what Trump tweeted and that is what Fox News conveyed to their viewers.

Speaking of facts, I'm still numb about Trump saying he can pardon himself. Yes, we have a president who has decreed himself a king, above the law. If he commits a crime, it doesn't matter, he believes he can just pardon himself. Imagine if Obama had said this, or Hillary as president, there would be nonstop calls for impeachment by Fox News and Republicans. But with Trump, nothing, silence.

The word "hypocrisy" has lost all meaning at this point.....

Sunday, May 27, 2018

What is the point?

Rudy Giuliani is usually wrong about everything (esp. of late), but recently he likely got something right. He reminds us that any judgement by Mueller would probably have to be handled by Congress when it came to punishments or reprimands. Quoting from the NY Times, "any finding of wrongdoing would be referred to Congress, putting it squarely in the realm of politics."

That said it's absolutely conceivable the Mueller investigation could result in proven acts of "high crimes and misdemeanors" and ultimately amount to 100% non-action by Congress. Such balking would be entirely consistent with everything we've seen thus far by the Republicans, who have if anything been complicit with Trump as opposed to fulfilling their Constitutional duty to serve as a check on the Executive Branch. And even if the GOP loses the House in November, it's doubtful the Senate would have enough "brave" Republicans to vote for impeachment. 

So where does that leave us as a country?

It's become obvious that the founding fathers never conceived of a Donald Trump, a sociopath compulsive liar who has no moral foundation, no sense of ethical principles. Or should I say, they likely never conceived that such a person would ever be electable to president. Yet here we are.

It goes back to the truism, "we get the government we deserve." Yes, Russia meddled, and yes Hillary was deeply flawed and made the horrible decision regarding her private email server, and yes Comey made an infamously horrible decision just before the election, tilting the scale. But Trump was so bad he still should've lost, and yet just enough voters were conned. 

And now he's in there and we can't get him out. 

Trump has been hard at work trying to once again con just enough people that Mueller's investigation is a partisan witch hunt. He knows that at end of the day, this is more of a political fight than legal. Trump will most likely take the Fifth, not meet with Mueller and the political fallout be damned. Any ensuing blowback he will survive, given the gutless backing of Republicans. 

So remind me again, what is the ultimate point of the Mueller investigation? To present us with the facts for what purpose? To presumably act on, right? Does anyone really see that happening at this point...?? 

Sadly, my fear is Mueller's report will become a for-the-record historical document, much like a Blue Ribbon Commission study. Lengthy, filled with facts, suggesting certain actions be taken, but in the end nothing comes of it, relegated to becoming an ignored effort. 

Hopefully I'm wrong.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Josh Barro can be very silly

I all but laughed when I read this piece by Josh Barro.

There's been many Republicans who have left the party due to Trump. Some have done it for personal reasons involving principles, and others have seemingly done it more out of public appearance, that it would be too embarrassing to remain given the buffoonery of Trump. I believe Barro falls in the latter camp.

After following him on Twitter for several months, Barro appears to be something of a provocateur. Whereas other journalists are hard at work trying to come up with scoops and sourced stories of substance, Barro seems to be all about clickbait. Try to put together that piece that has lots of sizzle, is tantalizing, and couple it with a controversial headline (key to clickbait). Then sit back and (hopefully) watch it catch fire.

To wit, this Clinton piece.

Barro claims that the Clintons are a big reason why Trump supporters are not shocked by Trump's many transgressions and wrong-doings, that they don't care because of the prior awfulness of Bill and Hillary. Really? Such an assertion makes both Clinton and Trump supporters scratch their heads, saying "huh?!" -- which is exactly what Barro wants. Twice the audience = more clicking to read what the heck he's putting forth.

Ding ding, mission accomplished.

Barro's employer, Business Insider, is arguably a web site all about clicks. Much like say Buzzfeed, the writers are judged by the number of eyeballs viewing your piece, as opposed to the actual veracity and quality, which while important, are seemingly secondary considerations. First and foremost, tantalize, provoke, create an immediate stir. Above all else, get people to click on your story for ad revenue purposes.

Barro is all about that. It's to the point where I think he frequently sits back and wonders, "Ok, there's this generally accepted narrative out there about X, how can I say it or position it differently that will cause people to get upset or to say 'WTF?' and click on my piece?"

Ergo this Clinton story.

I'll be the first to admit the Clintons are no saints. To the point where when Bill was caught lying about Monica -- yes, an entirely unserious matter on its face (marital fidelity is not on par with treason or acts of criminality) -- I was all for Bill resigning. NOT for reasons involving giving in to a true witch hunt, led by Newt Gingrich, but rather he did lie and he was a lame duck, so best to clear the way for Gore to run in 2000. Stepping down would establish Gore as presiding POTUS, allowing voters to already have that title attached to his name. And Gore would've been able to "adopt" much of the good resulting from Bill's eight years and yet give him time to distance himself from the lingering hangover questions concerning Monica and the impeachment crap.

But to relate Bill, and Hillary for that matter, to the willful blindness and ignorance of Trump supporters is absurd, and just silly.

To prove it, I posit this: would Trump supporters be this jaded and quiet if all this was going on with Hillary as POTUS? I highly doubt it. They'd be screaming "IMPEACH" and "TREASON" and "LOCK HER UP," much like they were doing before the election. According to Barro, the Clintons helped to normalize corruption to the point where diehard Trumpians have accepted all kinds of wrongfulness, or Trump is simply the Clintons on steroids.

That all sounds conceivable, especially when Barro selectively whips together incidents and facts into what he sees as a believable thesis. Yet once you start to question this and assert that, it begins to unravel, and he no doubt will start refuting and backpedaling a mile-a-minute as he often does on MSNBC, until you're forced to go to a commercial....

If what Barro is suggesting is true, then Trump supporters should be just as cynical, and therefore not care, if it was Trump, Hillary or any politician for that matter. But we all know that's simply not true. The many Benghazi inquiries went on for years, with no wrong-doing to show for it, but the Mueller investigation turning all of one-year-old has already dragged on too long for most Republicans and Trumpians. But I thought they were jaded? Numbed by the corrupt Clintons? Why are they even keeping track of days or months?

The fact is Trump supporters are all about extreme tribalism, hypocrisy and purposeful ignorance. If all of what has been going for Trump as POTUS had also occurred under a President Obama or Hillary, they'd be up-in-arms upset -- and rightly so. But it's Tribalism 101: because he's a Republican (who also happens to be a TV celeb), it's OK, but if a Dem, 100% unacceptable. And therein lies the bald-faced hypocrisy. Yes, the Clintons got taken to the woodshed for much less, BUT the screaming and outcry was FAR louder against them. It's not quieter now because of the normalization of corruption, rather it's quieter now simply because the Clintons are not in office! And because a Repub is POTUS! Hell, as POTUS, Obama had perhaps one of the most scandal-free eight years in history, yet Republicans tried their darndest to make a big stink out of whatever trivial thing they could find.

As for purposeful ignorance, Trump is a consummate con man and a pathological liar. And his supporters are putty in his hands. I imagine most Fox News viewers are ardent Trumpians, and therefore willfully and purposefully ignorant. It's been widely circulated that Fox News is less than truthful, to the point where many FN viewers I know acknowledge this fact. But they don't care. Fox News confirms their preexisting notions and tells them what they want to hear and believe. That it's fiction or heavily distorted does not matter. They are A-OK with being conned. And Trump knows this, completely. One of the few true things to escape his lips was that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters. Sadly, that is VERY true. In fact, if a Russian "pee tape" does exist, what is he worried about? He wouldn't lose one supporter (and may actually gain a few perverts).

There are many studies confirming what we're seeing with Trump supporters. Their outright willingness to be conned and to knowingly believe in non-truths, with the primary motivation being confirmation of preexisting, strongly held convictions. And NONE OF THAT has anything to do with Hillary or Bill.

Josh Barro is just being silly, but more so attempting to provoke for the sake of clicks. As per usual. Quite sad.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Normalizing Collusion

We're now seeing collusion get normalized. See Giuliani on The Ingraham Angle. Rudy admits to collusion with a foreign country, getting dirt on Hillary from Russia. As if that's OK in itself. And then saying because (supposedly) the info was not used, that also makes it OK.

And keep in mind, as with Trump's tweet this morning:

He claims "NO COLLUSION," period. He doesn't say anything about criminality. Rather he just categorically states "NO COLLUSION." Yet his lawyer Rudy just admitted on Fox News that there indeed was.

Watch for this to evolve into there was collusion, but it's no crime. It will morph from there was no collusion, at all, to there was collusion, but so what? It's not technically illegal (in their view). Rudy just started that ball rolling....

And as per usual, just imagine if this were Obama or Hillary. The Fox News world (Hannity, Ingraham, Newt, etc. -- and all Republicans) would be apoplectic, screaming "IMPEACH" and "TRAITOR" 24/7. 

But with Trump, they don't care, all is forgiven. This is tribalism and hypocrisy at their worst possible.

Monday, April 16, 2018

James Comey ABC Interview

My thoughts as I watched the interview with George Stephanopoulos:

* Mafia. Loyalty to the family first. Period. You don't snitch, instead go to jail. This is indeed Trump's entire way of life and thinking. But, whereas the mafia can buy off & influence high-placed people, Trump can "only" pardon.

* Comey said that with that now (in)famous walk-across-the-room encounter with Trump, it was all about Trump "establishing dominance" and making him part of "the family."

* George should have stated that the Steele dossier was initially financed by the GOP, an often not-mentioned crucial fact. 

* Look, when all is said and done, Hillary was just really really stupid regarding her personal emails. To decide to use a personal server, while knowing you were going to run for president in 2016, was just dumb. In the end, to the extent the emails hurt her, it was all her fault. And if she was paranoid (why?), was it worth the risk of an eventual hugely distracting perceived scandal? (which is what happened)

* True point by Comey, that the reason he felt more of an obligation to disclosing Hillary email developments vs. Russian election meddling was because the Hillary "scandal" was fully public, whereas the Russian election was not. It's easy to look back now and blur the two, as if they were equally known then, but was not the case. Therefore if he chose to not comment on the Hillary email controversy he'd potentially be viewed as favoring her, and yet if he commented on, at the time, hazy Russian meddling, he'd be viewed as disfavoring Trump.

* Regarding Obama's inauguration crowd size vs. Trump's, Comey said this was empirical fact, no dispute. And from that he believed Trump was just a liar. But Comey didn't go far enough, he pulled back on the reigns. All politicians shade the truth or lie. But Trump is beyond that, instead an outright pathological psychopath re lying. In fact, many if not most politicians can't even relate to Trump's "talent" for lying!!

* Honest loyalty?? George is right, he said Trump likely took that as "we have a deal." If there's one thing Comey clearly came off as during this interview it's he's very naive. He may be different within the FBI, but this interview had him looking like Opie in the Andy Griffith show. Too much "aw shucks" and not enough healthy cynicism. Even if he was just trying to be polite or get through an awkward dinner, he NEVER should've agreed to honest loyalty. Did he forget that he headed FBI? And he already knew "the family" was all about loyalty! it appears he simply didn't have the guts, as he admitted. A very honest admission, but still sad. I ask, didn't he need such guts in the FBI on a daily basis given the constant tough decisions? Is Comey honest but spineless?

* George says, re Trump asking Comey to let Flynn off the hook, shouldn't Comey have said more?! Comey says maybe -- maybe?!! Another too polite moment? Gutless? Comey's way of escaping awkward moments?? Look, that's OK if you're a very proper and polite host of a dinner party and not head of the FBI! We of course want the FBI head to be honest and upstanding, but also confidently forthright and able to speak out forcefully at all times. So when does Comey finally get that gumption?  Oct 28, 2016, the Hillary email announcement. Ugh.

* Watching this interview, the video backdrops, it occurred to me: why is the FBI building still named after J. Edgar Hoover?? Given all we now know about Hoover, this shouldn't be.

* We're reminded that the day after the Comey firing, Trump has Russians in the Oval Office. OMG, just the optics!!! But it's Trump showing us who are his true friends. Comey reminds in this interview that no other Americans were in room. Plant surveillance bugs everywhere!

* When Trump tweets he hopes there's no tapes, Comey (correctly) is hoping for tapes. Innocent people who tell the truth want tapes! Compare that to Trump's behavior regarding Mueller, where it's all about shutting it down and fear of discovery. Oh yeah, that screams "innocent."

* Trump clearly obstructed justice as per the Lester Holt interview, plain as day. How does Trump's base not see this? Unless they're unaware because they only watch Fox News (which is completely possible).

* Where is Obama?? His last tweet was March 25th, about Loyola-Chicago in NCAA tourney. Really? No comment about Comey, or Trump, or Syria, or.... I've been asking this question for months on Twitter, where is Obama? Given an atypical POTUS with Trump, to say the least, I would think Obama would sh*t-can the obligatory respectfulness of a prior POTUS and instead speak out. But no....

* If Trump fired Mueller, Comey says it would be a shame if Trump were impeached, that instead the voting public should decide in 2020. WTF? 

* The interview concludes with Comey stating the obvious: Trump is unfit to be president, due to a lack of morality. But c'mon, there are multiple reasons why he's unfit, we can debate the order, but key point is it's a list. Plural. But then Comey says don't impeach? That it would "short circuit" the process? 
But doing so could save lives! And if it's agreed Trump's unfit to be POTUS, get him out now!! We have a REPRESENTATIVE democracy, the people we voted in need to back the Constitution for us today, not in 2020!! More proof that Comey can be very dense. Comey is opting for that McConnell chicanery re Garland, wait till next election -- no, do it now!

* Comey concludes with, "This president does not reflect values of this country. " True dat! But unfortunately Trump's values DO reflect the values of Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, the alt right and the too-many angry Americans who have been brainwashed into believing Trump's BS. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Corporations Need To Force Fox News To Be More Responsible

At some point, Laura Ingraham must've decided that Ann Coulter's act was getting old and it was time for a new right-wing, repugnant blond she-devil. Fox News agreed, hiring Ingraham to host her own prime-time show. Along with Sean Hannity, she has been one of Trump's biggest cheerleaders.

But like Hannity when he went too far with Roy Moore, Ingraham has had to eat crow for going too far with criticism of Parkland survivor David Hogg. And why did she apologize? Because she actually realized how wrong she was? Hah! As with Hannity, it was due to corporate advertisers boycotting her show, i.e. it was due to $$$.

There's no changing the likes of Ingraham and Hannity. They're craven dim-bulbs that make a very nice living by being provocative and outlandish, speaking hate and vitriol, fabricating lies and fake news, anything to get their lemming viewers riled up and pissed off.

But what cuts all the crap is $$$. Threaten to take away dollars, and suddenly Laura and Sean (via Fox News directive) get responsible and attempt to retract whatever garbage they spewed.

This should become a trend. Corporations should increasingly use their tremendous ad $$$ leverage to make Fox News act responsibly. It's sad but it seems to be the only thing that works with Trump TV. Perhaps the constant threat of advertisement boycotts could force Fox News to change its ways, to lessen the misrepresentations, distortions and outright lies, and actually broadcast fact-based news.

David Hogg obviously understands this power structure and immediately called on people to pressure corporations to pull ads. It worked. He didn't waste time with what Laura likely wanted, to get into an infantile back/forth tweet war of insults and barbs. Instead, Hogg outsmarted her (even with his meager 4.1 GPA).

This won't be the last time Ingraham, or Hannity, or Tucker Carlson go too far with their ignorant tweets or comments. And we just need to remember what young David Hogg did.

Monday, March 26, 2018

David Brooks is making me bald

Another column by David Brooks, another instance of my reading and trying hard not to pull my hair out.

As is usually the case with Brooks, he is convinced he's writing about very profound and "deep" ideas, when it's just not the case. I am too often embarassed for him, making reading his columns that much more cringe-worthy. (And please, in no way do I profess to be a Mensa candidate -- all the more worse for Brooks).

In his latest "thought piece," Brooks is apparently struggling (surprise!) with a chicken and egg dilemma: do we arrive at opinions on our own independently, or do we just adopt them from membership groups? Original thought or groupthink? Meanwhile, Rome (aka USA) burns, but I digress.

Brooks writes:
Busy fighting communism and fascism, people back then emphasized individual reason and were deeply allergic to groupthink.
We don’t think this way anymore, and in fact thinking this way can get you into trouble.
This is exactly the kind of Brooksian generality that drives me nuts! Just lazy prose. People back then what? Oh sure, back then people were all about "individual reason" and were not in any way susceptible to "groupthink" -- really? Show evidence! Brooks is much like Fox News: say or write it, and -- poof -- it's true. No need to provide proof with facts and sources. Just sound off with generalizations that seem to sound right (to him), don't bother doing any actual research to bolster and support your claims.

It's like my older relatives who wax nostalgic about the "good old days" (1950s), mentioning several positives, but of course selectively leaving out many negatives. Preferring to just broadly generalize based on memories and notions. I'll dare to say to them, "But what about the many diseases then (now gone)? What about how women were regarded as second class citizens? What about racism? What about intolerance for gays? Bullying in schools? What about the pollution and lack of protective regulations?" By then, I get brushed aside with a hand gesture, not wanting to be heard. Facts are often inconvenient and bothersome.

More from Brooks:
How many times have we all heard somebody rise up in conversation and say, “Speaking as a Latina. …” or “Speaking as a queer person. …” or “Speaking as a Jew. …”?
Now, when somebody says that I always wonder, What does that mean? After you’ve stated your group identity, what is the therefore that follows?
The inference being that the person is about to say something that stems from his/her group identity and not anything originating independently from the individual. Again, more lazy thinking based on a tired notion and assumption. How does Brooks draw this conclusion? And frankly, I believe when a person makes this sort of intro to a statement, it's not to then expound a groupthink-derived idea or sentiment, but rather is simply letting the listener know that the person has at least some direct relevance to what is about to be said. In other words, rather than saying something that is likely an assumption or commonly-held notion (Brooks' forte), the person is giving a helpful heads up "been there, done that, i.e. I know at least a little about what I speak."

But no, Brooks just assumes that whatever comes next is group-based dogma or platitudes, the person just regurgitating cliches adopted from his/her "kind."

Brooks continues:
When I started, it was very important for opinion writers to never think of themselves as a Republican or a Democrat. We were individual inquirers, not polemicists for some political team. Over the years, many people stopped making that distinction.
Classic Brooks. He writes about something almost not realizing that it tends to go against the point(s) he's trying to make. Brooks is Republican (he may deny it -- ignore). What political party is known for lemming-like behavior, in which the members all predictably circle the wagons, fall into line and back the chosen candidate 100%? It's certainly not the D party!! Herding cats is easier than getting Democrats to universally agree on most things. But Republicans started with 17 (?) presidential candidates, narrowed it down to Trump, and despite many in the party complaining, we've seen GOP voters staunchly back Trump. No groupthink there!

But I'm sure Brooks will claim he's spreading the blame and his criticism. It's meant for all sides, not just one. Right. Read the column, you tell me.

Brooks writes:
[I]n the 1990s, African-Americans strongly supported tougher criminal justice laws. Now opinion has shifted and a majority of African-Americans strongly oppose them.
Why are people’s views of global warming, genetically modified foods and other scientific issues strongly determined by political label? That seems ridiculous.
Is that true about African-Americans in the 1990s? Am I to just assume Brooks is correct?

As for science-based, factual issues such as global warming and GMOs, yes, it is ridiculous that the Republican Party has increasingly become about non-science and non-facts and nonsense.
Our political system is based on the idea that persuasion and deliberation lead to compromise and toward truth. 
Just hilarious. Which political party is more to blame for lack of compromise? Which party steadfastly refused to work with Obama as president? In 2012, which political party was Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein referring to when they wrote, "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition"? And which party is willfully ignorant of facts and the truth, and repeatedly looks to mislead and distort and con? You guessed it, the Republican Party.

But it's more dignified and "fair" for Brooks to employ the oft-used false equivalency canard, that both sides are guilty. And he gets to then shake his head and hands in frustration, stating that "he's confused."

Oh please.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another reason why Democrats lose elections (despite being on the right side of issues)

Question: Why did it take horrific pictures of ex-wives with black-eyes to alert everyone to the security clearance problem in the White House? More so, how is it Democrats in DC didn't first get word of this serious problem and inform the media?

I have to believe if Obama or Hillary were POTUS, Republicans would've been all over this scandal, early, finding out about it through leaks and word of mouth (which flow like water in Washington). Next thing the Fox News channel is covering it 24/7, demanding resignations and even impeachment.

As it was, Obama had to run a super-tight ship ethically because he knew that even a hint of scandal, no matter how baseless, would get out and spread like wildfire. Republicans are forever trying to find wrong-doing to hopefully hang Democrats -- to the point where they usually just fabricate "scandal" (see Benghazi).

Yet with Trump, we have a scandal-o-rama, seemingly nonstop incidents of real wrong-doing, often involving very serious violations. But how often are Democrats credited with uncovering any of these? Again, in this case of Porter's security clearance problem, which gravitated to Kushner and others, we the public can thank the media after explicit photos were released. Initially, it was a MeToo scandal with Porter needing to leave for prior domestic abuse, but then with further scrutiny it morphed into a national security scandal. And only then did we see a bunch of Dem politicians scurry to MSNBC and CNN to pile on condemnation.

This is one reason why Democrats lose more elections than they should, especially since they tend to be on the right side (the side most Americans favor) with most issues. They're simply too polite and respectful when it comes to playing hardball politics. They need to be more cagy and savvy when it comes to uncovering "dirt" on the other side. (And of course I mean real, actual scandal -- unlike Republicans and their many fake BOMBSHELL scandals (yawn)).

With this administration, uncovering scandal is as easy as falling out of a boat and hitting water. However, Trump doesn't have to worry with Schumer, Pelosi et al on the beat.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Conservatism In Exile -- Really?

This morning on Morning Joe, Joe and the gang were waxing nostalgic for the good old days of true blue conservatism. You know, like it was back when Reagan was in office.

I'm no spring chicken and I fully recall those days. I call "fake news!" What are Joe et al thinking about?

Look, I get that Trump and today's GOP would have anyone wanting to disassociate from anything even remotely resembling this rotten cast of characters. But let's keep it real.

As I've said repeatedly, Trump didn't just appear on the scene out of nowhere. He's not some invader from outer space who seduced one party into having him as their nominee.

Rather it's been a gradual evolution (actually devolution) of the Republican Party that has resulted in Trump as POTUS. Admit it! Don't rub your eyes in disbelief, trying to figure out how we got here. The lineage has been fairly straightforward. Reagan to Gingrich to GW/Cheney to Tea Party to Trump. Go ahead, wince, but that's more or less been the regression.

I have argued that today's GOP and Trump simply represent "conservatism" on steroids, to its extreme. And it's just very difficult for many to accept this ugly reality -- understandably.

Joe Scarborough never actually explains what he means by the conservatism he longs for, other than to just mention the name of Reagan and his supposed legacy (much of which has become folklore).

Let's revisit much of what occurred in the 1980s or during the heyday of "real" conservatism.

  • Reagan cut taxes and blew up the deficit. So has Trump and today's GOP. 
  • Reagan's tax cuts were skewed towards favoring the rich and wealthy. So are Trump's tax cuts. 
  • Republicans then were against government spending -- unless a Republican was POTUS, then it was OK. The same holds true with Trump and today's GOP.
  • Re spending, Reagan emphasized the military. Trump and today's GOP the same.
  • Reagan was big on rolling back regulations. Trump and today's GOP the same.
  • Reagan was not hugely pro-environment (see James Watt). Trump and today's GOP same, to say the least!
  • Conservatives then were very much pro-gun, pro-NRA, don't infringe on their rights to bear arms. Not true today?
  • And of course the anti-abortion holds true then and now....

What am I missing? What is Joe Scarborough recalling that I seemed to have either forgotten or misinterpreted? Seriously. Enough with this mushrooming group of "recovering" Republicans (Scarborough, Frum, Kristol, Will, etc.) who seemingly pretend that their party was once something wholly different than what we're observing today. Me thinks they doth protest too much. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Obviously Undemocratic

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently ruled that the state's congressional district map needed to be redrawn. Of course, Trump weighed in against the Court, tweeting, "Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new 'pushed' Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct!"

The original map was correct? Really? I suspect that like everything the POTUS says, the truth is likely the opposite.

Before Trump won PA by the slimmest of margins (with the help of Russian meddling and Comey's preelection letter), the state had sided with the Democratic presidential candidate for the last six elections, going back to Bill Clinton in 1992. That's right, 6-0 for the "D" candidate.

As for registered voters in the state, here's the breakdown:

Democratic: 48%
Republican: 38%
Other: 14%

Clearly, Democratic voters outnumber Republican in PA.

And yet Pennsylvania has 13 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and just 5 Democrats. That's right, 72% of their 18 U.S. House seats are Republican despite PA obviously being a "D" state.

At the state level, Pennsylvania has 155 Republican state representatives and just 98 Democratic reps, or 61% of the state House seats are Republican.

I think the verdict for the Supreme Court was a no-brainer, one a 5th grader could've deduced.

The unfortunate reality is this type of egregious gerrymandering remains in place in several other states. It's fair to surmise that with a more level playing field, Republicans would not be able to win House majorities at either the federal or state levels, so they must rely on these undemocratic district maps to jerry-rig the vote count in their favor. (Not to mention the enactment of widespread voter suppression measures).

With the 2010 Republican gerrymandering combined with Trump as POTUS, the United States has likely never been more undemocratic.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Trump and the plunging stock market

Over the last few days, the stock market has been plunging, effectively wiping out two months worth of gains.

But where are the Trump tweets now concerning the market? He's been stone silent on this topic, a topic he has loved to comment on repeatedly since taking office. Whenever the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit a new high, we heard about it. The rising stock market became synonymous with Trump, largely due to him taking full credit for its rise.

I cannot ever recall another president in history so frequently commenting on the market. Past presidents likely realized that:
1) The stock market is an incredibly complex apparatus that moves for many reasons, most of which even the "experts" cannot fathom at the time (markets discount the future, making it difficult to ascertain why prices are rising or falling in the here and now). That said the POTUS is only one of several factors impacting the market at any given time.
2) If you bought it, you own it. Prior presidents fully understood that if you want to take credit for a rising stock market, you better be ready to likewise accept blame for when stocks inevitably head south.
But as we know, Trump is "different" and likely too ignorant to realize both #1 and #2.

The fact remains that Trump's constant tweets and reminders about the market hitting new highs was and is incredibly irresponsible. We all know he's a shameless huckster, a two-bit salesman who will hype the hell out of anything that benefits him. But there are laws and regulations about "selling" when it comes to stocks, bonds, etc. Financial advisors and the like have to be very careful about what they say when it comes to hyping or promising investment performance. They're expected to err on the side of caution, to be prudent and transparent when discussing not just reward but more importantly, risk.

All of these laws and regulations are to protect the investor. It's very easy for someone to get caught up in the hysteria of a rising market, which increasingly makes them susceptible to acting on emotion as opposed to reason. An unscrupulous, dishonest advisor could take full advantage of this situation -- if not for the laws and regulations.

Yet laws and regulations to Trump are just bureaucratic red tape that stand in the way of prosperity. They're a hindrance and not to be taking seriously.

Just imagine how many people were overly influenced by Trump's tweets and incessant mentions of stock market highs, allowing it to color their judgment and perhaps they increased their allocation to stocks above and beyond what was prudent for them. Which was great while the market climbed higher each day, but now with stocks seemingly in free-fall, it's not so fun anymore.

So how many millions or billions of dollars of stock market gains were due to Trump's deliberate, non-stop hyping? And isn't he then on the hook for the losses too? If this stock market downturn continues, can we expect to see investors increasingly blame Trump for their losses? I mean, according to him, it appeared stocks could only go in one direction.

I'm just curious to see how he'll blame things on Obama and/or the Democrats.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Who's to blame for the government shutdown?

I would argue -- as Sen. Graham apparently does -- that Trump's staff (specifically John Kelly and Stephen Miller) is to blame for this shutdown, and therefore ultimately Trump himself.

It's my understanding that more than one bipartisan compromise has been presented to Trump, and given he's an awful negotiator AND has no real strong policy beliefs, he was ready to go with any of these compromises -- BUT Kelly and/or Miller convinced him to decline. Both are immigration hawks, but more so they likely reminded Trump that compromise would not go over well with "his base." 

And if there's one thing we can learn from his one-year in office, Trump will do anything to appease or please his "base" supporters. 

Just another lie when he said, "I will be president for all Americans." Nah, more like 30%-35% of Americans.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Trump knows only one thing about Norway....

It's not surprising Trump mentioned the country of Norway amidst his "sh*thole" ordeal. Norway is somewhere between 85%-90% white. That fact is likely one of the few that Trump knows cold.

Of course, the irony is lost on clueless Trump that Norway also happens to be one of the most socialist countries in the world. As in Bernie Sanders socialist. Norway has universal health care, tuition-free college education, one-year paid maternity leave, 52% of workers are unionized (vs. 10% in U.S.).

And despite being so socialist, Forbes magazine ranked Norway as one of the top-10 best countries in the world to do business (U.S. was just #18).

Finally, Norway is perennially near the top of the list when ranking the happiest countries.

No doubt Trump knew none of these other facts, only the one about Norwegians' predominant skin color.