Archive for August 2017

De Flood, De Flood (De plane, De plane)

You remember that show, Fantasy Island, where Tatoo announces the arrival of the plane and rings the bell. Then there is de flood, de flood. I have many questions about this one. Foremost is that the flood was forecast and few seemed to get out. Maybe they couldn’t. Maybe it was not practical. One thing I do not see is indepth aftermath planning. You are going to have tens of thousands that cannot go home, or can go home, but can’t live there. What are Texas and the Feds planning? If we had a competent President, he would have convened a task force to plan this and another for lessons learned. Oh I know! What was I thinking.

This is a president who has proposed to cut FEMA’s and other disaster response agencies budget in his plan to afford tax cuts for the wealthy:

The proposed cuts would include programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose new administrator was praised by Trump in a tweet last weekend for “doing a great job”; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes, parks, hospitals and community centers; the National Weather Service, which forecasts extreme storms; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose research and community engagement help coastal residents prepare for disaster.

Certainly Congress will change its tune after this, right? Sandy only happens to those East coast elites right. How short their memory is. I would bet if California ever gets the big one (earthquake) we would see Ted Cruz screaming pork and fat again. Even Chris Christie called this one (for Sandy) detestable lies and reprehensible. If you are wondering, this is typical Republican conservative bull shit. If it is funding for someone else, it is waste, pork, and graft. He will sing a different tune for Texas.

But it gets better. The Village Idiot in Chief and his Republican cohorts have petitioned and successfully removed an Obama era rule to do more cautious flood plan planning:

Just 10 days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the White House rescinded one of the most progressive flood-risk management tools on the books, an Obama-era executive order that added caution when building structures in flood-prone areas.

 

This issue was handled deftly by the Obama administration. In January 2015, Obama issued Executive Order 13690, which established the new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS). In brief, this standard called for a more cautious approach to construction at the boundaries of flood hazard zones. The approach was flexible and didn’t even require an admission of climate change as being the cause—just more caution.

 

Within days, eight Republican senators sent a letter opposing the new standard as an impediment to land development and economic growth. Among the signatories was John Cornyn of Texas. Within three months of sending that letter, large areas of Cornyn’s district were underwater, including damage to new buildings that may not have been there had the FFRMS been in place earlier. Then severe flooding happened again in 2016 on the Brazos River. And now Harvey is wreaking havoc.

Oh, don’t you just love these people? But it is cheaper with less “gov’ment regulations”! And dumber than a rock. I get this reaction all the time as people who hate government because it interferes with their life style and taxes their hard earned money. Yet when shit happens, and it will, they squeal the loudest. Small government is really nice when we were a rural nation with a small population, oh, and before global warming an global market places, but now we really need it to be effective and Republicans and conservatives continue to try to gut it.

Let’s face it, Republicans are not long term planners. They look for short term cheap. See our investments in infrastructure (Democrats also have played this game, but any infrastructure bill in the last 9 years had to get past the filibuster and Mitch McConnell). When everything is fine and dandy, works out well, but when shit happens and it always will, it leaves us exposed. Sure there are dumb rules, but that does not mean that regulations are bad, just not smart. It would be easy to put together panels of stakeholders (small and large business, scientists, and workers) to review and adjust, but it is so much easier just to rant. Government is bad! Regulations are bad! Well those two might have saved some lives in the past and certainly are saving some today.

So let’s look at Houston. Did they use global warming warnings and data to project future floods and regulate growth and plan for water runoff? Ha! Right now a chemical plant is blowing up because of the unforeseen flooding and loss of power. Will Texas put into effect regulations for the future that take these new trends into effect. Oh, that would be the government messing in business. North Carolina and Florida, two states who will be greatly impacted by rising oceans have banned the use of global warming data in planning. Yes Virginia, not only are they evil but stupider than a rock. Even our military plans for global warming, but out Village Idiot in Chief and his brethren continue to deny it, even though it is smacking them in the face.

Maybe they will learn something and change their ways? Ha! Why would you leave people in charge who are this ignorant? I wouldn’t and neither should you. So let’s watch what happens when they actually have to spend money and do the responsible thing. I will give you a hint. What was the Village Idiot in Chief out selling yesterday? Unrealistic tax cuts for the wealthly. At least I live on high ground.

Quick! Send Money. Oh the Hypocrisy

Now let me just say up front that we need to do our part to help our Texas brothers and sisters, because there for the grace of chaos, go we. We are all in this together. I do wish they would remember that when they elect their senators who did not see fit to help out the Sandy folks.

Money to help those in need from a lawmaker’s homestate isn’t a particularly tough vote. At this point, no Texas Republican has declared any sort of condition for their support of an emergency aid package. But when it was New York and New Jersey hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, all but one Texas Republican in Congress ― Rep. John Culberson ― voted against a $50.5 billion package to help people in those states.

Then there will be other problems because they have a village idiot in charge of their Republican government who does not seem to connect the dots that if he shuts down the government over his wall, money does not flow. And let’s not forget that last time they played games with how to fund it.

An emergency aid package hasn’t surfaced yet, but Congress almost certainly will have to approve a spending bill to help those affected by the hurricane-force winds and widespread flooding in southeastern Texas. The question is whether that money will be offset by cuts to other government programs, whether extraneous spending will be attached to the package, and whether, under any circumstances, Texas Republicans will have a problem voting for it.

I think we will find out that they will have no memory of their hypocrisy before, but will choke on the cost. My thoughts here are fairly simple. We have to gut up and pay for it, but with strings. Instead of just restoring what was there before, the money has to be spent building a more secure and damage resistant Houston and surrounding area. That means you have to recognize that global warming means more severe storms and then build accordingly. For Houston, who as long as I can remember was boastful of their, no stink’in land control regulations which may have contributed to the runoff problem, they have to start rebuilding with bigger storms in mind, protecting infrastructure, and hardening utilities. No more building in flood zones without tight controls. No planning ignoring the predictions of global warming.

Back in the day, I lived in New Orleans (Algiers really). We had a flood when the pumps failed during a minor rain event and we woke up to ankle deep water in our house. It turned out to be a giant boost for the economy as federally subsidized flood insurance kicked in and everybody got new everything. In Houston that could be on steroids and the best thing that could happen down there. So do you think the Republicans can figure all this out? I doubt it. They have that debt ceiling thing, a budget being held hostage by a wall, and they are loath to admitting there is global warming we need to plan for. I still haven’t figured out if the deficit really bothers them or not as they do not seem to ever care when they are in charge.

So we have this amazing opportunity to seize the moment that the challenge of Harvey has provided us. Taking any bets on whether they can finally admit they were wrong and do the right thing?

Update: The storm and its real impact haven’t even started yet. And that thing people where I live love to hate is what will save them if they will let it. That would be government. Ice and food will be shipped and gotten to where it is needed by government. Temporary living facilities will be trucked in. Restoring roads, power, and drinking water will be done by government. And finally when people find out that their insurance is inadequate, government will fill the gap with low interest loans and grants. Oh, and if these folks have flood insurance, guess who underwrote it because the marketplace would not take the risk? Yeah, that would be government. And as I like to say, you get the government you deserve. If you kick it, beat up on it,hate it, blame it for everything, and then starve it, don’t expect anything more than what you deserve.

Not Connecting the Dots on God

A woman who was rescued and returned to her extended family by two volunteers using their own boat in the Huston floods raved on on on about thanking God and how great he is. Say what? If you believe in God who saved you, then he caused the flood that has killed eight people, and what were the two guys in the boat that actually did save you, chopped liver? Good stuff is attributed to God, bad stuff to Democrats. It is just a Texas thing.

The Real Crisis or Yes, Republicans are Evil

No it is not global warming, because when we come to our senses, if we can’t stop it, we can get prepared for it and it will create an amazing economy that will help with economic inequality. Assuming the Village Idiot does not start a nuclear war, it won’t be a nuclear holocust and down the road when we have thrown all these jackals out, we can begin rebuilding international relations based upon diplomacy. In fact almost all the damage being done today to transsexuals, blacks, immigrants, Muslims, the environment, the safety net, we can really start to turn around and restore our basic values. We can reacquired the lands he is about to give away to industry and start a smart path to alternate energy and energy independence. No, the real threat is the one Paul Krugman so well described this morning:

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

So Paul makes clear what we have here, and for those doubting Toms, if you enable white racist fascist behavior, you are one. Now comes the really important call to arms and what should be causing alarm bells to go off everywhere, Republicans are enabling Trump and failing in their Constitutional duties. They are facilitating the end of democracy and law and order.

Given the powers we grant to the president, who in some ways is almost like an elected dictator, giving the office to someone likely to abuse that power invites catastrophe. The only real check comes from Congress, which retains the power to impeach; even the potential for impeachment can constrain a bad president. But Republicans control Congress; how many of them besides John McCain have offered full-throated denunciations of the Arpaio pardon?

…This bodes ill if, as seems all too likely, the Arpaio pardon is only the beginning: We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does? [See Paul Ryan]

As I said, there’s a word for people who round up members of ethnic minorities and send them to concentration camps, or praise such actions. There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.

We are out of control because we have found that those pious and principled Republicans are neither, but craven individuals holding on to power by selling out our Constitution and with it our democracy. Yes Virginia, evil has a name and it is Republican. If you voted Republican you enabled this mess and you are now my public enemy number one. If we don’t figure this out soon, that will be the real disaster. Thanks Paul. Hopefully lots more people read your stuff than my stuff.

Sherrod Brown Just Made My Point

Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was just on Meet the Press responding to Chuck Todd’s question about what the Democrats stand for except against Trump.  Sadly he failed miserably at the task and failed to really understand the question.  He kept pointing out where he stood on issues when that was not the question at all.  And when he did respond on the issues, well sadly it was against Trump, not a cohesive strategic view of the future that Democrats can sell to America.  It was a jumble of policies that are hardly believable in light of the last eight years and the failure of that tactic.

The Democratic Neo-liberal* approach has failed.  The idea that the system just needs tweaks with new policies to protect the working man, and minority rights does not sell.  The message of the last election was loud and clear, a rejection of the present system represented by both sides.  Now, I don’t mean to disparage Senator Brown as his heart is in the right place, but he represents loud and clear the message that Democrats don’t seem to be getting, where is the strategic vision that tells me you understand that our economic system is failing, that it only works for a few?

So my point that Sherrod Brown made was that they are never going to get it.  They are the problem.  They are too wedded to the status quo and cannot see the forest for the trees.  Sorry for all the clichés.  The Democratic Party must be Tea Partied, just as the Republicans were, but in this case with clear-eyed Progressives who see that the Establishment Democrats are the problem.

*”During the 1990s, the Clinton Administration also embraced neoliberalism by supporting the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, continuing the deregulation of the financial sector through passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act, and implementing cuts to the welfare state through passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. The neoliberalism of the Clinton Administration differs from that of Reagan, as the Clinton Administration purged neoliberalism of neoconservative positions on militarism, family values, opposition to multiculturalism and neglect of ecological issues.”

Democrats became enamored of Wall Street and bought into the idea that innovation is the way forward and education will solve all problems.  They still don’t recognize that while the capitalist system is the best way forward, it has to be controlled sufficiently so that wealth generation is not its sole focus, and the benefits are shared more fairly across the entire population.

One More Time and Confirmation

If Friday’s shenanigans were not enough for you, hold on for Monday when the Village Idiot gets a chance to destroy some of the land set aside for posterity and give it back to rape and pillage by modern man:

 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended Thursday that Trump scale back national monuments. Because the process has been mostly secretive, we do not know all the details. But based on reports of people briefed on the recommendations we know that, egged on by Trump, Zinke is proposing getting rid of large portions of national monuments in Utah and Oregon, and likely in California, New Mexico and in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The administration is also pushing to allow logging in a national monument in Maine and commercial fishing in marine protected areas.

Can’t you just see how the next few months are going to turn out? My point is not to depress you, but to motivate you to do something about it. He has to go. So does the Republican Party. I can actually see some utility in having some conservatives around, to balance out Progressive exuberance, but only as a minority element of our government. Moderate Democrats would work for that. It is the only use I see for them. They are what is killing the Democratic Party.

And yes, sometimes I have to check whether my weather vane is pointing in the right direction. A good intellectual human being is not so smart that he is ever sure of himself , but mostly always checking, weighing against the winds that blow in his face from popular public opinion. Could they really all be wrong? Yeah, sadly they can. He knows what knowing means, and knows what he does not know. This morning I got a little reality check from Noam Chomsky, intellectual and philosopher and how he sees the world. Happily it aligned fairly well with my view:

Noam Chomsky: The Sanders campaign showed that a candidate with mildly progressive (basically New Deal) programs could win the nomination, maybe the election, even without the backing of the major funders or any media support. There’s good reason to suppose that Sanders would have won the nomination had it not been for shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton party managers. He is now the most popular political figure in the country by a large margin.

Activism spawned by the campaign is beginning to make inroads into electoral politics. Under Barack Obama, the Democratic Party pretty much collapsed at the crucial local and state levels, but it can be rebuilt and turned into a progressive force. That would mean reviving the New Deal legacy and moving well beyond, instead of abandoning, the working class and turning into Clintonite New Democrats, which more or less resemble what used to be called moderate Republicans, a category that has largely disappeared with the shift of both parties to the right during the neoliberal period.

What we saw in the last election was a profound distrust of the establishment. The Democratic Party thought they knew better than what the amazing campaign of Bernie Sanders was telling them and they anointed Hillary. All the rest is history. Had Bernie been the candidate I think he probably would have won. And then we would have seen a clash of ideas between our retrograde Republicans and a Progressive, that just might have started changing the face of the Congress. Sadly the Democrats (establishment) seemed to have learned nothing, still believing the conventional wisdom that America really wants both sides to work together and moderation. Isn’t that how Trump won?

In the second paragraph he made a point I have made many times about Barack Obama, that it was a failed presidency. Sure he got a lot done, and changed nothing. Republicans are about undoing it and seem to be fairly successful, so real change, did not happen. My own analysis of this is that he really, really believed in compromise to make government work and failed to understand that compromise with the enemy he faced was capitulation. I believe he is an honest and decent man who simply failed to grasp the nature of the battle or had the “there there” to understand failed conservatism and to fight it. He left Americans with a feeling of dysfunctional government (no matter that the Republicans were the primary culprits), and looking for change away from the establishment. He always believed the solution was somewhere in the middle, when the Republicans couched no middle.

Then when Noam was asked about how religion may save us, he gave the answer I know in the bottom of my heart, that religion can be used for any purpose, good or evil, and is why the Founders tried to get it out of government:

 G.Y.: But what is it, Noam, as you continue to engage critically a broad range of injustices, that motivates this sense of social justice for you? Are there any religious motivations that frame your social justice work? If not, why not?

N.C.: No religious motivations, and for sound reasons. One can contrive a religious motivation for virtually any choice of action, from commitment to the highest ideals to support for the most horrendous atrocities. In the sacred texts, we can find uplifting calls for peace, justice and mercy, along with the most genocidal passages in the literary canon. Conscience is our guide, whatever trappings we might choose to clothe it in.

There is an element here that I will extend a bit (“for sound reasons”). Religious thinking is faith-based, not reality based. Oh, some have evolved to let their religion be informed by reality (acceptance of gays for example), but generally religion allows a way of thinking that is rewarded by ignoring reality, faith. When that kind of reasoning is brought into the political sphere, as Noam pointed out, “one can contrive a religious motivation for virtually any choice…”. Our way forward must not be based upon feelings, because they are informed by what we want to believe, but good solid reason, rational fact checking, and science. That is the opposite of where we are right now, whether you are talking about the Democrat’s moderate approach, or the Village Idiot sitting at the helm of our government. Debate cannot have two sets of facts, which is what we have today.

Noam gives his view of the Republican base and note how it is based on facts, not assumptions, and shows that they are really not that much different than the Republican Party of old that Republicans so want to bring back.  The old one just spoke in better code:

 G.Y.: Yet despite his unpredictability, Trump has a strong base. What makes for this kind of servile deference?

N.C.: I’m not sure that “servile deference” is the right phrase, for a number of reasons. For example, who is the base? Most are relatively affluent. Three-quarters had incomes above the median. About one-third had incomes of over $100,000 a year, and thus were in the top 15 percent of personal income, in the top 6 percent of those with only a high school education. They are overwhelmingly white, mostly older, hence from historically more privileged sectors.

As Anthony DiMaggio reports in a careful study of the wealth of information now available, Trump voters tend to be typical Republicans, with “elitist, pro-corporate and reactionary social agendas,” and “an affluent, privileged segment of the country in terms of their income, but one that is relatively less privileged than it was in the past, before the 2008 economic collapse,” hence feeling some economic distress. Median income has dropped almost 10 percent since 2007. That’s apart from the large evangelical segment and putting aside the factors of white supremacy — deeply rooted in the United States — racism and sexism.

For the majority of the base, Trump and the more savage wing of the Republican establishment are not far from their standard attitudes, though when we turn to specific policy preferences, more complex questions arise.

A segment of the Trump base comes from the industrial sector that has been cast aside for decades by both parties, often from rural areas where industry and stable jobs have collapsed. Many voted for Obama, believing his message of hope and change, but were quickly disillusioned and have turned in desperation to their bitter class enemy, clinging to the hope that somehow its formal leader will come to their rescue.

Another consideration is the current information system, if one can even use the phrase. For much of the base, the sources of information are Fox News, talk radio and other practitioners of alternative facts. Exposures of Trump’s misdeeds and absurdities that arouse liberal opinion are easily interpreted as attacks by the corrupt elite on the defender of the little man, in fact his cynical enemy.

It is the I got mine group and I am not going to share. It is the selfish on steroids who use laziness and lack of discipline to explain away and justify not acting for those less fortunate because the world is not fair. That is government’s job, to level the playing field and that is why they hate it so much. It is those who want to turn back the clock when the clock cannot be turned back. And to believe all this, they have created an alternate reality with alternate facts.

Now Noam goes out of my comfort zone and has given me food for thought, and this is about the Russian interference. Is it really the evil thing that changed the election or are we focusing on the wrong enemy:

 Is Russian hacking really more significant than what we have discussed — for example, the Republican campaign to destroy the conditions for organized social existence, in defiance of the entire world? Or to enhance the already dire threat of terminal nuclear war? Or even such real but lesser crimes such as the Republican initiative to deprive tens of millions of health care and to drive helpless people out of nursing homes in order to enrich their actual constituency of corporate power and wealth even further? Or to dismantle the limited regulatory system set up to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis that their favorites are likely to bring about once again? And on, and on.

It’s easy to condemn those we place on the other side of some divide, but more important, commonly, to explore what we take to be nearby

Who is the real evil we (Democrats) should be focusing on, the Russians or the Republicans. Well I guess from my many blogs themed “Yes Republicans are Evil” (search under Republicans are Evil and you will get many posts), you know where I stand. Finally Noam, back in his discussion of Bernie, gives us a way forward:

Activism spawned by the campaign is beginning to make inroads into electoral politics.

…Such prospects may not be out of reach, and efforts to attain them can be combined with direct activism right now, urgently needed, to counter the legislative and executive actions of the Republican administration, often concealed behind the bluster of the figure nominally in charge.

There are in fact many ways to combat the Trump project of creating a tiny America, isolated from the world, cowering in fear behind walls while pursuing the Paul Ryan-style domestic policies that represent the most savage wing of the Republican establishment.

So in summary, Republicans are evil, Democrats (Establishment) are clueless, and the way forward is to Tea Party the Democratic Party with Bernie type candidates. I knew I was on the right track.

Note:  Noam also identified the existential crises we face, global warming and nuclear war.  I would add economic inequality as the driver that allowed the foolish to elect and put in power and leader who does not believe in the former, and makes the latter much more likely.

WTF! Find Some Good News Somewhere

No you won’t find it here. But you need to find some. I was one who used to argue that we could put the Republicans in charge and then Americans would finally learn the error of their thinking. I had no idea they were so dumb. What do I see right now? Well, the Republicans control everything, even the courts, and can’t seem to pass their ruinous policies, the nation is in a mess, we are led by a man unfit to lead and quite possibly mentally impaired, a Republican Congress at war with itself, and I can’t find a Democrat anywhere. Does that about sum it up?

I see where Paul Krugman was telling us how Scott Pruitt is quietly re-polluting America.  President dumb shit pardoned Joe Arpaio, and showed contempt for American courts and justice in general. Janet Yellen, our Federal Reserve chairwoman, is warning us not to forget the last financial meltdown as Republicans rush to tear down all the rules we put in place after the last one. Korea is firing off more missiles and in response, the Village Idiot put out rules baring transsexuals from entering the military. Chaos reigns as he attacks those he needs in Congress and the White House staff has more resignations or firings, we are not sure which. Oh did I mention the hurricane, Harvey, in Texas? As the planet heats there is more energy for more severe storms and global warming does not exist.

Oh, and did I mention that baseball itself has devolved into a brawl? The Tiger/Yankee game had three on field brawls and 4 hits batsmen, with the ejection of eight. WTF! Just as an aside, I have an answer to the intentional hit batsmen or the accidental fastball to the head (which happened in this game). Make it an automatic home run. Maybe that will cool the testosterone. So if you are looking for good news, as I stated this, you won’t find it here. But as I like to ask Trump supporters, got any of those jobs back yet? Calling them morons defames real morons.

Meanwhile, the people who serve the Village Idiot, or so the press narrative goes, do so to save the nation by reigning him in. Bullpucky. See Gary Cohen, Chief of his economic council, who wrote a letter of resignation after Charlottesville, but then rescinded it because he believed “he could be more effective as a public servant inside the White House than out of it.” Horse shit. He and the generals are simply enabling a demented man to remain president instead of quickly crumbling. When you have a nation of morons who support him, putting lipstick on a pig (again, sorry pigs), just enables the destruction of our democracy. It also makes a mockery of principles. Don’t tell me any of them are principled. Kind of like saying you worked for Hitler because you could make the slaughter more merciful.

But to document the sad state of our Republic, when the general public was asked what advice they would give the Village idiot, the number one answer was to get off Twitter. So if he does the same stuff, but doesn’t expose who he is regularly, then things would be better? Would they prefer a body double who reads canned speeches all the time and looks presidential, while behind the scenes the same idiot is in charge? Really, that is their advice? We have a mad man at the helm, demonstrating the worst of American behavior, and their advice is just smile more? Don’t sound crazy even if you are? My advice would be for him to take a flying fu…

So that is where we are. Government is a shambles and going backwards, we may default on our debt and destroy the world economy for a Wall that nobody mentions is an environmental and humanitarian nightmare, and people just don’t want him to say that out loud. I think we should be screaming it at the top of our lungs. My biggest fear is we are starting to get used to this insanity and it is becoming the new normal. Can’t wait to see how that war with North Korea is going to work out.

The Moron Attractant (Bug Light)

A sea of white, a sea of ignorance.

That would be any speech or should I say rally by the Village Idiot in Chief. Last night was a gathering of people who you have to rate them on the extremely dim bulb scale, half a bubble width off level, not carrying a full load, a few fries short of a Happy Meal, depriving their home villages of their village idiot, and fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down*. I say that because as the President (that actually hurts to write that) spoke expressing his open racism against Mexicans, or slammed the free press, or basically misrepresented about everything, the morons, and I will use a euphemism here, Trumpees, cheered and applauded. Who applauds the demise of their country? A convention of village idiots.

Oh, did I forget to mention he promised (in code) to pardon Joe Arpaio. So justice has nothing to do with what our court systems and laws require, but what the Village Idiot likes or does not like? That’s how our democracy works right? The guy in charge gets to make the rules? And they cheered? I know I will get criticized for this, but if you would have dropped a bomb there, the national IQ would have gone up 10 points. What ever happened to critical thinking?

But our national leaders are catching on. Mitch McConnell, who I happen to think is more evil than Donald Trump, but just more crafty at hiding it, doesn’t think his presidency can be salvaged. But what should worry you more are the comments of James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, told us this morning:

“I really question his ability to be — his fitness to be — in this office, and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it,” Clapper told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight.”

Hours after Trump delivered a defiant speech in Phoenix, Arizona, Clapper said he found the President’s rally “downright scary and disturbing.”

Clapper denounced Trump’s “behavior and divisiveness and complete intellectual, moral and ethical void.”

“How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?”

“He should have quit while he was ahead after last night,” Clapper referring to Trump’s announcement on US strategy in Afghanistan. “Again, I think the real Trump came through.”

In a fit of pique he decides to do something about Kim Jong Un, there’s actually very little to stop him,” Clapper said. “The whole system is built to ensure rapid response if necessary. So there’s very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.”

That ought to wake you up. Of course for those who fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down, it makes no difference. He is a business man who will fix everything with his CEO style. Did it ever occur to the Trumpees that he could not survive if he wasn’t it a family business more than likely laundering money for the Russians?

This morning I heard several people who were appalled by his speech and behavior then try to normalize it by saying he is an unconventional candidate and this is how he got elected. I think they are way behind the power curve here where the Trump show is getting old and people are looking for jobs and a better economic outlook. Steve Karnacki from MSNBC) made an observation that as crazy as he is, he did strike a nerve in many Americans and future politicians need to figure that out.

Of course they do and we have already discovered it for them. See Bernie or James Kwak who nailed it in terms probably more palatable to the mainstream. It is about economic inequality and making the system fair. It is not small changes around the fringes, but real reform of our tax structure and the rules that decide how the fruits of our labors are distributed. In the meantime, while we are trying to wake up the Democratic Party, the Village Idiot in Chief is reeking havoc. Hold on to your ass with both hands.

*For a complete list go Here.

Afghanistan

Remember when the Russians left? Maybe they are smarter than us. I listened to parts of the Presidents speech only because my Donald Trump over flow light is on and I can only take so much. I found it interesting that a man who has never served his country can think he can inspire the troops. His flights of fantasy were there for all to behold as he talked of an all-inclusive military when on the campaign trail he bashes Mexican immigrants and his famous tweet on transsexuals. But the fantasy I thought was the biggest was thinking we will make a difference.

Let’s throw some more boys and girls into that meat grinder because I don’t like to lose. And like every one before him, no grand strategy, just fighting till the Afghanis are ready. How long have we been building facilities for them and getting them ready? Well I started working on projects over there about 2005 so at least since then. And they are never ready. If we were going to really do this where is the grand strategy and the funding? I fear we have a man devoid of the lessons of history, ready to repeat its mistakes over and over.

And what of this war? Is it really conflated to the ISIS car attack in Barcelona as he did last night or is it a civil war with the Taliban? I do care about the rights of women and a stable country, but at what price, and where is our national interest? I fear his has nothing to do with the rights of women or democracy, but not losing, oh, and did I mention the vast mineral wealth in Afghanistan? But we lost Vietnam, which he conveniently forgot last night and it turned out that our national security was still in tact.

So before we go back into a war of attrition and the odds are on the home team, what is the goal, what is the strategy to get us there, and is it really in our national interests. We don’t seem to care about Somalia. Wait, what about Argentina? For that matter what about Ukraine? For all the reasons laid out there before about fighting someone else’s war, why are we going back into Afghanistan? Unless they become a training camp for ISIS, why is it our blood to bring them into the 21st century? No, I think the Russians knew when to quit and we don’t. That is the problem being lead by a man ignorant of history.

Free Speech – What a Quandry

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved,

Who knew free speech would be so hard? The ACLU took major criticism after fighting for the White Nationalists to march downtown and the result was a death. Here is from Vox.com which kind of lays out the issues:

In the days before the Unite the Right rally, it became clear that Charlottesville would be a gathering point for both right-wing rallygoers and left-wing counterprotesters. The city of Charlottesville attempted to defuse the situation by moving the Unite the Right rally away from its original location — Lee Square, in downtown Charlottesville, featuring the statue of Robert E. Lee that was the ostensible cause of the rally — to a location farther away from the center of the city.

The city argued it was trying to prevent confrontation. But to free-speech activists — including the ACLU of Virginia — it was a pretty standard attempt to use a rally permit to marginalize unpopular speech. So the organizers of the rally sued, with the ACLU’s support, and won the right to keep the rally downtown.

…With more “alt-right” rallies planned for the weeks after Charlottesville, and mounting pressure on the ACLU to stop “defending Nazis,” the ACLU’s California affiliates issued a statement on Wednesday declaring, “We review each request for help on a case-by-case basis, but take the clear position that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence. If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution.”

Is that the right answer? I can think of speech against, say a President Trump, that the government could define as leading to revolt and therefore illegal and no protected. So then you ask, is the Declaration of Independence covered? Remember that that document was a justification for Revolutionary War with Britain. From the Vox article cited:

To be specific, government can prevent speech in the case of an “emergency” — when it’s clear that there’s no other way to prevent or protect against violence. But for more than a century, the courts have wrestled with what responsibility someone has when their speech results in violence — and when it’s okay to outlaw the former to prevent the latter.

Okay, these folks were carrying guns, clubs, and prepared for battle. Then we have another right that might be in play:

 “The cases acknowledging an individual right to bear arms are very recent,” White points out. After decades of maintaining that the Second Amendment applies to groups of people (a “well-organized militia”) instead of individuals seeking to own and carry guns, the Supreme Court sided with the “individual right” in the 2008 case Heller v. District of Columbia. That puts it “like 50 years behind where the First Amendment is,” White says, in terms of case law about what that right actually means: who it refers to, when it applies, and what if any “emergencies” justify the government curtailing it.

Yikes. We know that protecting the speech of what most of us consider abhorrent speech is necessary, but that also protects us from our government when we want to criticize them. But what if the speech is violates our Constitution. Clearly trying to deny the rights of anyone but white people is totally antithetical to our Constitution and basic values. Yet what if the Congress passed an Amendment against say flag burning. By the above metric were used, could my right for free speech be curtailed if I wanted to criticized that or even the Supreme’s ruling about individual rights to bear arms?

If you think there is an easy answer here, you are wrong. But how do you define probable violence? The Vox piece does a good job of pointing out the problems here. But then they offer this:

 From a leftist perspective, there’s more to violence than physical aggression — it’s also violent to promote ideas that see other groups of people as less than human, marginalize them, or prevent them from speaking. Those are the people who believe that “hate speech” either isn’t protected as free speech, or that it shouldn’t be — because in the case of “hate speech,” speech and violence are the same thing.

I would argue that this may be the way forward. I can think that say Republicans are totally wrong and in the process of destroying our country. I should have the right to shout that from the roof tops. But I cannot and should not describe them as subhuman or not deserving of the same rights as I do. My argument should not evolve around the personal, but on policies. Oh, and calling them morons, unless you are wondering, is not hate speech.  The morons still get all the rights of you and I.

I am not sure where this is going, because as vox.com points out, even my hate speech criteria has its problems. I guess from an ACLU point of view, they have to decide which cases to take and not take. Do you want to defend racists marching with guns, or a college professor who is being censored for his views. I would spend my limited resources on the latter. It is a terribly important thing to sort out and we have not really even scratched the surface yet.  And we are not really talking about it, except for us bleeding heart liberals.