Friday, July 27, 2018

You’re doing a hell of a job there, Brownie. I mean, Donny.

Actually, screwing up on one of his own promises may be among the few things — if not the only thing — Donald Trump has done right.

Nevertheless, The Trumpster has failed to deliver on one of the key assurances he made to his followers — that he would restore the place of filthy-burning, air-polluting, lung-poisoning, cancer inducing coal as a major source of American energy.

Using U.S Energy Information Administration data, Fidelity reports:

As a percentage of its contribution to US power generation, coal has slipped below where it was before the 2016 presidential election. As of early June 2018, coal produced just 24% of America’s power mix, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s roughly 5% below coal’s market share in November 2016 (and about half its market share during the early 2000s). Cheaper natural gas and growth in renewables have been the primary reason for coal powering down.

Source: US Energy Information Administration

Uh oh. Looks like somebody at the Energy Information Administration is going to get fired. The Trumpster doesn't like people who go around telling the truth. Chartable truth at that. 

It also looks like the Trumpster's incompetence and lying is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he's wasting his time trying to shove lumps of polluting coal down the throats of Americans.

On the other hand, he's failed so badly at a court order to return immigrant kids held in ICE baby prisons by a deadline now past, that he's had to invent a new lie to explain his incompetence. The kids are "not eligible," his administration claims.

Not eligible? What did they do, hold up a bank? Join a deadly gang of toddlers? Cry too much?

Sorry, kids. The Trumpster explains that all you little children, five years old, down to about 18 months old, shouldn't have come here in the first place. So it's your own fault. Shut up and stop crying like a bunch of babies. 

I'm not sure what the Trumpsters are going to do with you. But I wouldn't be completely surprised if they trafficked you. Or rented you out as farm labor, and pocketed the profits. (They've already got you scrubbing toilets.) Or maybe even ate you. In fact, if they take the last option, they could then look up from their golden dinner plates at the end of a meal, blink innocently, and say, "What babies?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

And you thought there was no evidence that Trump is guilty of a capital crime. Or should I say, CAPITAL CRIME?

Follow @realDonaldTrump

8:24 PM - 22 Jul 2018

Really? A capital crime?

I’m talking, of course, about treason. 

The law is quite clear on this point. Giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States is treasonous and is punishable by death. To quote the pertinent U.S. Code:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)
And how has Donald Trump given aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States? Let me count the ways.

Well, come to think of it, there may be too many ways to count. Besides, just a trio of highlights ought to do it.
  • He has adhered to and in fact embraced Vladimir Putin, a former KGB (Russian and before that Soviet secret police) agent, who was President and now is Prime Minister of Russia and who is almost certainly behind one or more, or perhaps numerous “hacks” of the last presidential election and perhaps other elections, thus subverting the democratic  practice upon which American democracy is founded.
  • He has adhered to and in fact embraced  “Dear Leader” Kim Jon-Un, the kind of adorable dictator who has his own uncle, Jang Song-thaek executed, along with — why the hell not? — all Uncle Jang’s blood relatives. Dear Uncle was put to death by being shot with anti-aircraft weapons, the better to make bigger holes in his corpse, I suppose. But I’m straying from my very abbreviated bill of particulars.
  • He has turned on our allies and insulted, denigrated and weakened an American alliance with Western Europe, thus weakening our national defenses and leaving us essentially on our own should Russia, or North Korea, or any other nation such as Iran turned against the United States and, for example, bomb our cities or our territories, block our shipping, counterfeit our currency, bring down our electrical grid, or evaporate the bank savings, pension credits and stock holdings of every single American via Internet hacking, to name just some of the possibilities.
Yes, there’s plenty more. Other particulars might range from subverting our system of justice to psychologically and perhaps physically caging and effectively torturing small children with loneliness, disgusting tasks such as cleaning toilet bowls, and inadequate food,  in what are effectively juvenile concentration camps — because their parents tried to come to the United States to escape persecution and tyranny. Feel free to add charges that you feel are indispensable.

Some Trump sycophants, profiteers, self-dealers, and evidently many haplessly deluded fools have claimed there is method to Trump’s madness, that it is all part of a clever plan to fool our enemies and thus, by some as-yet undisclosed means, to defeat them.

You bet, undisclosed. They’re undisclosed because there is no means. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s all-caps tweets are laying the groundwork for a not-guilty-by-insanity defense should Americans finally have the courage to arrest Trump and bring him and those who significantly aid and abet him to trial. 

What also needs to be said is that justice in this case should not stop at impeachment. 

Impeachment is only where it should begin.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What idiot says I have to like you to prosecute you?

Total canard? the whole "biased investigators/biased prosecution claim is a
giant Trump canard. By an interesting coincidence, Trump is already showing
up in rubber ducky stores in Amsterdam. The sticker on the cap he's holding
says, "TAKE QUACK AMERICA." — Photo by The New York Crank. And
sorry for the lousy line breaks. There's a glitch somewhere that I can't correct.
The snowflake-y whining by Donald Trump and his apologists that some of the investigators looking into his case are “prejudiced and biased,” is a load of superfluous baloney.

I won’t get into whether a few of the investigators slightly dislike, intensely dislike, or utterly loathe Trump. It doesn’t matter. 

Imagine what it would do to American jurisprudence if grounds for dismissal of a prosecution — or of a conviction — were, “Your honor, both the police and the prosecutor are biased against my client because their evidence makes him look like a murderer. The prosecutor clearly said — and you heard him say it — that murder is a despicable crime. And you further heard him say that he hates murderers. Hate, hate, hate! The prosecution is so biased and corrupt that it's practically guilty of a hate crime against my client.”

So what’s a poor judge to do? Throw out the case because somebody in the process that led to the conviction was biased against crooks and murderers? Or that they didn't like a specific crook and murderer?

Juries need to be impartial. Judges need to be impartial. Investigators need only to produce honest evidence, and prosecutors need only to honestly present it to the jury. So long as the evidence is real and not — dare I say it? — trumped up, the accused has no grounds for complaint.

Little wonder that a former Watergate prosecutor trashed a claim by the Trump camp that the poor little snowflakes had their case damaged because the investigators looking into their behavior don’t like it or them. Said the former prosecutor, Jill Wine-Banks:
The fact that people have opinions does not make them biased. It’s like being a juror. You can have an opinion. You just have to be willing to set it aside and to follow the evidence wherever it takes you.
And here’s Cynthia Alksne, another former federal prosecutor, on the same topic:
For example, I prosecuted the Klan. I don’t like the Klan. I never say anything nice about the Klan. And if you looked probably at my emails you would find that I’m very open about that. But when the time comes to make a decision about whether or not the Klan burned a cross in somebody’s yard , that’s a decision that’s straight facts. Either the guys were there and burned the cross or they didn’t.
So there! And either Donald Trump is a colluding puppet of Vladimir Putin or I’m the Emperor of Mexico, you sniveling White House snowflake.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Republican right wing is beginning to discover that it just shot itself in the … no, not in the foot. It’s another part of the anatomy.

With the inevitable addition of Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court is about to swing hard to the right, no matter what Democrats do. And in the long run, Roe vs. Wade is dead. The only question is whether Roe will die hard and fast, or suffer a slow death of a thousand cuts.

So the so-called conservatives are out there dancing in the streets, right? Wait a second, not so fast.

The Federalist, a right wing journal that would warm the cockles of Justice Antonin Scalia’s wicked heart (were he still among us to have his cockles warmed) just put its finger on a small, umm, problem. It’s a replacement parts shortage. Human replacement parts.

To keep the wealth engine of the One Percent growing, the  United States population also has to keep growing. Otherwise, the very rich would have to pay more and more in taxes as the population declines, while having fewer and fewer people to sell their goods to.

Moreover, the rich need worker bees. You know, people who do the real work, whether that relates to picking fruit, picking up the toddlers after school, or picking their noses in front of a computer screen. But guess what?

Here’s what, according to Melissa Langsam Braunstein, who writes the “parenting” column online for the Federalist: 
“It’s just not clear we all enjoy raising flesh and blood miniature humans anymore.”
Quick Jeeves, the smelling salts! Oh my blinking stars! Say what, Melissa? 
“…it seems clear that millennials will either have fewer children than they’d wanted or opt out of parenthood altogether .”
What a terrifying thought! Who will keep our economic engine’s gears oiled and its wheels turning, and its innovations hatching if we don’t have enough replacement babies? For that matter, who will keep the ranks of our enlisted military populated? 

We used to have immigrants for all of that. But no longer, what with Trump slamming the gates shut, and a Supreme Court about to solder our national rudder in place so that hereafter we can turn only in rightward circles. Trump and his merry band of idiot bullies have just shot themselves — and the United States of America — in the testicles.

No wonder that  social conservatives, in addition to trying to eliminate abortion are going after birth control. Damnit women, they need your babies, even if it means confiscating your birth control pills so you’ll be forced to become a baby machine. Who knows? If it's deemed necessary, armed cops may be able to haul you away to the hospital and pry out your IUD with a wire cutter and a pair of pliers. But only to save the lives of the unborn, of course. Already one conservative publication, The National Review, is shrieking that IUDs are “contraception that kills.” 

But throwing you in the slammer if you dare to sell or swallow a birth control pill (or perhaps for using an IUD, you child-killing thug-ette) is a slow way to grow the population. Can’t we get all those potential handmaidens popping out babies any faster? What do we have to do? Arrest women caught with implanted IUDs for murder? And perhaps execute a few?

Not to worry. Federalist columnist Melissa Langsam Braunstein, has a solution: encourage millennials to have babies more often by brazenly misleading and confusing them. In a recent column entitled “6 Reasons Millenials Should Stop And Embrace Parenthood,” Melissa tries to sell you on having more pregnancies with reasoning like this:

1. Focus on What You Can Control. Among millennials with fewer children than they’d wanted, 49 percent said they’re “worried about the economy,” 37 percent are “worried about global instability,” 36 percent are “worried about domestic politics,” 33 percent are “worried about climate change,” and 27 percent are “worried about population growth.” Whew, that’s a lot of big worries!I understand wanting to err on the side of caution, but the world has never been problem-free, and sometimes we need to act in spite of that. Further, the most meaningful things in life often require a leap of faith at the outset. Or, in the wise words of a mentor, “Leap and the net will appear.”
Right, Melissa. Don’t fix the economy so that people can afford to have babies. Just encourage everyone to close their eyes and jump. Tell you what, Melissa. Go jump out of a window, preferably the window of a very tall sky scraper. If a safety net appears, as you promise, to prevent you from becoming a sidewalk serving of scrambled brains, I’m sure a lot more millennials will be convinced. Personally I prefer the old maxim, “Look before you leap.”
2. Paid Family Leave Is On The Rise. Parents, 39 percent of you say you’re having fewer kids than your ideal because there’s “not enough paid family leave” and 38 percent said there’s none. According to Working Mother, however, “Since late 2017, an increasing number of private employers have expanded their paid maternity leave and paternity leave offerings, some doing so dramatically,” all to attract and retain employees like you. Employers hear you, and they’re responding.
There's a small problem with that one, Melissa. You’re asking people to have babies on spec — the speculations that their own employers will read Working Mother,” take the cue, and “dramatically” increase parental leave. Not very damn likely in a nation that more and more is being run by so-called conservatives. 

More likely, FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, will be repealed, either by Congress or by Supreme Court fiat. Employers who are freed from workplace discrimination enforcement will find your pregnancy a reason to not promote you, or even to fire you. Oh right, that’s already happening.
3. Child Care Is Tough But Not Impossible. Sixty-four percent of current parents and 31 percent of would-be parents cited the high cost of child care. I’m with you. It’s not only tough, but can also be expensive to find people you trust to care for your children.The good news is that it’s not forever. For most families, the first five years are the most costly in this category. Every family has different needs and preferences, but there are ways to control costs, whether it’s help from family members, parents adjusting work schedules to be home, or a trade between families who alternate watching one another’s children.
Right-O, Melissa. Parents can just go and tell the boss, “Now see here, I need to adjust my work schedule to take care of my child, so I won’t be able to come in Mondays and Thursdays. But I’m trading baby-watching schedules with my friends from the bowling alley, the Smiths. So Muffy or Chip Smith will be here to attend status meetings instead of me on Mondays.” 

Know what the boss is likely to say? Hint: It’s a favorite phrase of Donald Trump’s. It starts with the word “You’re...” and ends with an exclamation point. Your next persuasive point, Melissa?
4. Babies Don’t Need Houses. Now, among those without children, 24 percent of respondents remain so because they “can’t afford a house.” If you think you need to buy a house in a great school district, consider: You have five years and nine months (at least!) before your firstborn starts kindergarten. That’s several years to save and buy into your ideal district or devise an acceptable Plan B. Apartment living works just fine in the short-term.
Save how much, Melissa? How can you save a dime, especially in cities like, say, San Francisco where the median home value is now $1.61 million and rising fast. But you say, “apartment living works just fine in the short term.” In the short term, rents in the same city have risen 40 to 50 percent and the average rent for a two bedroom apartment in that town is now $4,382 a month. 

But do people have to go to San Francisco? Isn't life lots cheaper in Nowheresville? 

Yes, assuredly. The problem is, there are no jobs in Nowheresville. That’s why it’s so cheap. And that’s why everybody’s trying to squeeze into cities like San Francisco. So yeah, Melissa, saving up for a $1.6 million house in five years while paying $4,382 a month for rent and a wad of money for child care is no problem, no problem at all. Are you also selling bridges? How about the one in Brooklyn? People could buy it from you and live under it. Babies can live under bridges just like other homeless people, right Melissa?

Oh, and I'm not even going to think about what you mean by "a good school district." Well actually, I am. I think you mean, a district that doesn't have too many of "those people."

Next, Melissa suggests reducing student debt. I got all excited and upbeat about that one, until I read what she had to say about it.
5. Let’s Reduce Student Debt. Thirteen percent of respondents say they’re not sure about parenthood because they have “too much student debt.” Everyone’s situation is different, but this could be a good time for students, parents, and alumni to start pressuring the federal government to weigh practical solutions to the student loan crisis, including reducing the flow of federal dollars to universities (since that actually raises students’ costs).Here in Washington, DC, American University allows students to graduate in three years, saving families a whole year of tuition. Perhaps more schools should introduce such programs, and we should encourage students to talk to potential employers before choosing majors, so they know they’re employable post-graduation.
Right Melissa, by starving universities, you’ll force them to lower tuition. Could you show us how that works, please? No? The article you linked to certainly doesn't. It just makes what appears to be a baseless claim. 

And you’d also recommend turning college from a learning experience to a pressure cooker experience, blasting through four years of courses in three. The one thing you seem to have forgotten is Bernie Sanders’ proposal for student loan forgiveness, which would reduce student debt to zero instantly. While  we’re at it, tuition-free college supported by the government, working pretty much the way the GI Bill of Rights worked immediately after WWII, would prevent most student debt from ever happening. And that policy was part of an effort that unleashed a great wave of post-war prosperity. Oh sorry, I forgot who I was talking to.

Lastly, Melissa threatens us with self-inflicted death. 
6. Family Isn’t Your Jam. This is the group that most concerns me, amidst our crisis of loneliness, crisis of meaning, and the rise in suicides....
She goes on but I won’t, save to repeat that Trump and the Republicans have shot themselves and this nation in the testicles, aided and abetted by people like Melissa. We won’t be able to sustain the population internally. We won’t be able to replenish the population by letting in immigrants. Instead, we’re in danger of becoming a withering-away nation, our population aging, our ability to create prosperity falling, our future slowly going down the drain.

So the only solution the so-called Conservatives see is to force the majority of this nation’s women to effectively become unwilling handmaidens — baby machines serving the state. 

Very smart, conservatives. Very smart.

Friday, July 06, 2018

When Donald Trump sinks the economy and puts his followers out of work, will they still cheer for him? Probably.

The “master race” masters the art of surrendering with its hands 
on its head in this 1945 photograph of captured German troops. 
Are the troops of MAGA next?

During the Second World War, one of my aunts joined the Red Cross and ended up just behind the front lines, mostly serving donuts and coffee to war-weary GIs as they came back from combat.

But she had a chance to see plenty more than just tired American dogfaces. Her sightseeing, if you can call it that, included the insides of field hospitals where the patients were not only American soldiers, but also some of the wounded Nazi troops. She wrote home about her experiences. Some of what she saw was on a disturbing spectrum that spans the space between harrowing and hilarious.

I recall one paragraph in particular. It’s impact was so ironic, and yet so horrendous, that I’ve committed it to memory. Permit me to reproduce a few lines. She was speaking about Nazi soldiers in an American field hospital.

“I saw one soldier who was blind from his burns. His arms and legs were blown off. He was still waving his stumps and raving, at the top of his lungs, that Germans were the master race and that they were going to conquer the world.”

A few months later, the war was over. Germany lay in ruins. Der Fuhrer of the “master race” put a bullet in his  own brain, immediately after similarly executing his girlfriend.

I bring this up because there’s something about Trump’s followers that brings to mind the armless, legless, battle-blinded nincompoop Nazi. They are insanely raving in support of an evil cause that was built on ridiculous assumptions and doomed not only to fail, but to create misery for themselves and countless others in the process. 

In this case I’m talking about the assumptions that the Trump Administration has made concerning the economy. The information has been out there for a while — along with a constant gush of news about strategic and tactical mistakes made by the White House and Trump’s cabinet — mistakes that are plainly becoming catastrophes, either in the making or already made.

The sheer number of in utero calamities staggers the mind. Like Trump’s projectile vomiting of tweets — unrelenting, sometimes mutually contradictory, often completely false, overwhelmingly outrageous and disgusting — there have been so many that it’s hard put them in some kind of meaningful order. Or is even thinking that Trump’s assumptions and pronouncements can be put in a meaningful order inherently an oxymoron?

At any rate, let me start with one of Trump’s earliest declarations about how he’d defend and build the economy, “Trade wars are easy to win.”

To see what that can mean for China, check this out.

And to see more ramifications of Trump’s “easy-to-win” war, check out this clip.

Then, for some of the excruciating details concerning Trump’s economic policies, see Paul Krugman’s recent article here, from which I quote just a few paragraphs to raise the hair on the back of your neck:
On Sunday, Canada — a country that, by the way, imports about as much from us as it exports in return — announced retaliatory tariffs against $12.6 billion of U.S. products.
     The European Union and China have also announced retaliatory tariffs. Mexico, with its new leftist president-elect, is hardly likely to be accommodating. And the E.U. has warned that it will go much bigger if Trump follows through on his threat to put tariffs on European cars, potentially imposing retaliatory tariffs on almost $300 billion of U.S. exports.
     The U.S. is now behaving in ways that could all too easily lead to a breakdown of the whole trading system and a drastic, disruptive reduction in world trade.
And then this:
[American] Exporters will be hurt, of course — and exports support around 10 million jobs. Some industries that compete with imports might end up adding jobs. But they wouldn’t be the same jobs, in the same places: A trade war would cause huge worker displacement.
     And what’s especially striking right now is that even industries Trump claims he wants to help are protesting his policies, urging him to reverse course. General Motors warns that proposed auto tariffs could lead to “less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages for our employees.” 
     The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association has urged the administration to stand down, declaring that “counterproductive unilateral actions” will “erode U.S. jobs and growth” while doing nothing to protect national security.
But Trump isn’t budging. He won’t back back down because that’s simply not what he does. And doubling down instead will just double the misery — and the wave of unemployment to come — generated by his ridiculous notions.  The rest of the world retaliates by blowing our economy to smithereens with tariffs that have a nuclear impact. Moreover, we can’t say that Trump wasn’t asking for it.

And yet, as all this begins to unfold, Trump’s base remains firmly behind him.

He may get their jobs blown out from under them. His actions may render them essentially helpless and unemployed, perhaps even unemployable. But Trump’s die-hards are blinded. They’re waving their stumps and raving in the dark that they are conquering the world and making America great again. 

They shout ever more loudly as the world draws away from us and we turn our friends into enemies, leaving us isolated, economically disabled, and ready for conquest, perhaps by the Russians.