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I Don’t Know Who The Fed Is Working For, But It Ain’t You And Me

I’m no economist. But economics seems to be one of those fields that you can be trained in for years and years and still not know what the fuck is going on. Not even a savvy investment giant like Warren Buffett can tell which way the wind is blowing all the time. Economics is a guessing game, judging by the amount of divergent opinions one can help themselves to in the news on a daily basis.

So the field is open for a layperson like myself to learn the fundamentals. But even the “laws” of supply and demand elude people interested in the subject. Some people think that is the end of the discussion, that all economic activity comes down to that raw tension between those two concepts. Their relationship is definitely very much a thing and weighs hard on all economic discussions, but it is not the end of them. What I have learned so far is that there are several forms of market warp that transcends the simplicity of laissez- faire notions of how money moves.

Peoples’ memories and attention spans being shit as they are, they often don’t remember events that changed the face of history. Just for an easy example, Trumpers like to point out the price of gas when he was president as compared to what it was this summer while Biden presided. Now of course this is dumb on its face because of the easily understood fact that the president does not really control gas prices. There are things that can be done, like releasing oil from our strategic reserve, employing gas tax holidays, and diplomacy with oil-producing nations. But most of that will not bring significant results that people are clamoring for. Stupid people think that presidents are like CEOs, where everything that goes wrong on their shift is attributable to them. But there’s this little thing called current events, and a president would have to have a crystal ball to head them off. History has to run through the course of a presidency, and to truly understand the efficacy or failure of a presidency we must know what happened during it, looking at phenomena that haven’t got a thing to do with who sits in the Oval Office.

So anyway, why was gas so cheap during Trump? Well, let me get right to it. It’s the prime mover of every calamity we have had and are continuing to have.

COVID-19.

If you don’t understand what the epidemic did to the economy, you have shit for brains and should shut up on the subject of economics for the last three years or so.

We literally didn’t leave the house for a year and a half. Businesses were destroyed. Supply chains mangled. Workers laid off. Oil actually traded in the negative, which technically meant we were running out of places to put the oil that no one needed and were on the verge of giving it away. We were worried about how we were going to wipe our ass. It took Trump begging the Saudis to shut their taps off to keep American producers afloat.

An event like this only comes perhaps once a century. It changes everything, and sometimes it just doesn’t matter who is the unfortunate chump in office is when they do occur. Mind you, Trump’s response to COVID was as bad a response as could be imagined, first denying the danger for months and then hawking quack treatments for people who were encouraged to have vaccine hysteria.

By the time Biden entered office, America was back at play, footloose and fancy free. Mask restrictions were done away with, vaccine proof was no longer needed to do certain things and we were off to the races. Demand skyrocketed.

But supply did not. A good chunk of manufacturing is coming from China, who has a zero COVID policy and if they catch a whiff of a breakout they literally go on lockdown. This would and still is causing a crimp in our supply capabilities. Oil company investors, who had their profits pared down seriously by COVID, went on a wild greed spree this summer, refusing to up production to meet the demand, citing a labor shortage, drill parts shortage and the events in Russia and Ukraine. Some of that may have been true-but much of the rise in price in oil was partly attributable to stock buybacks and and insistence on not growing to maximize the barrel price.

So what happens when too much money is chasing too few goods because supply cannot meet demand?

Inflation. It’s as natural as a newborn. Now during COVID under Trump, we printed seven trillion dollars to keep the economy alive. Another two trillion was printed in the first months of the Biden administration. Now those seven trillion under Trump had no effect on inflation. The Fed kept rates at near zero, allowing cheap money to flow wherever it needed to. Once again, it is stupid people who don’t understand that debt is not tied to inflation in a sophisticated economy like ours. Had this been true, we’d be like Argentina since we’re already 23 trillion in the hole and debt to GDP is almost 100%. We absolutely had to borrow that money to just keep basic services going. Some of it went to bad places but on the whole it was necessary debt, which some nitwits cannot tell from bad debt. But anyway, America is taking risks and are back in society, buying what they want. But they’ve noticed big time that what they want is going up in price quite a bit.

What’s the real problem? Did we overdo quantitative easing? Or is this inflation just a function of low supply and high demand? Or do we have yet more greed coming from monopolistic elements within the economy? Either way, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell thinks he has the answer. He’s gearing up for several aggressive interest rate hikes to combat inflation. People I have been reading say he’s going to crash the economy if he keeps it up, and that may be his plan-which sounds insane for a society that just got let loose into the marketplace to buy, buy and buy. Yes, some tightening is probably necessary. Some. But not recession-causing tightening. Apparently Powell doesn’t think the market has the know how to heal itself, and is going to instead contract us into a manageable size, where wages are lower as well as prices. This is madness. COVID-19 warp has shit to do with monetary policy. Those trillions were on the books and they could have stayed there a bit more while we got on with business. Once again, incremental adjustments to the interest rates make sense, but not these ham fisted moves Powell is making. He’s not going to squeeze inflation out of the economy if he is not taking into account what is causing it.

It’s not the balance sheet, folks. It’s the bug. And if Jerome Powell thinks he’s doing us a favor by making the cost of of money expensive and halt this economy’s gains, he doesn’t understand the American consumer nor the pandemic. Give America a minute to actually be a free market. Or to be free, period.

Loose Lips Sink Ships-The Closing Democratic Window Of Discourse

“Shut up, be happy”-Jello Biafra

It’s taken me a little while to figure out in which “skin” I belong in as far as left of center politics goes. There are many hashmarks between say, moderate and communist. You can be a moderate, a liberal, a progressive, a social democrat, a democratic socialist, a socialist, a libertarian socialist, all the way to communist. I’m sure I’ve missed some.

I have done some thinking about all these waypoints along the left side of the axis. I have found that progressive suits me best. I’m not looking to overthrow the capitalist system (not yet at least). I am searching for fairness in this one. I am searching for forward movement, the continual betterment of the common man’s condition.

There’s 101 of us in the federal government. I hate to break it to the moderates, but we are the future of the party. The young generations will sweep status quo candidates from office in due time. I will probably help them, if I see we can win.

Now there are definitely problems as we transition to new generations of voters. The youngest are angry, confused, scared and think the system doesn’t care about them. Who can blame them? To them, the old guard just sits back, tells them to be quiet, watch the planet burn, see the cost of living skyrocket so high that they can’t see a way to live independently, see corporations and the filthy rich take over every facet of life with their money, witness a culture where they have to worry about being shot at any given place and time, observe militarized police who will beat you if you assemble improperly, worry about wars and international beefs we may not have an existential stake in, and see civil and constitutional rights disappearing because of an out of control white christian authoritarian minority…you’re all reading the news. I could go on.

I have criticized the Do Something mentality in the past, but the more I learn the more I see why it exists.

They say that perception is reality. While that maxim is flawed, it does mean that leadership must pick up its tin ear and listen to the concerns of its potential constituents. It is especially important now seeing as how we Democrats are on track to lose the House and we’ll be needing the lefty vote and the young vote to get to the place where we can spring into action and remove this cursed filibuster, expand that wreck of a Court, and legislate back the rights we’ve lost over the past ten years.

So it really doesn’t make much difference at this point to continue to list the positive things that Joe Biden has done, of which there are many. He has done what has needed doing to repair the damage done by Trump. For that, we should all be grateful. But unfortunately, politics and time moves on and has a “but what are you doing now” and a “what are you going to do” vibe running through it, and now that the honeymoon is long over, the Biden administration and other leadership are short on ideas and even shorter on enthusiasm. Everyone is asking the administration and other Democrats questions about what it can or will do about this or that. And we often get no good answer. The brilliant flak-catcher Jen Psaki is gone, leaving the White House short on professional ass coverage. The president is not taking questions from a querulous press and when he does, he’s grumpy about being challenged. All we get are angry Biden apologists teeming on social media, and those apologists don’t want you to speak a single ill word about the president or the party.

This will not fly. No matter how hard you tell Democratic Biden critics/questioners to shut up, it will not go away. This is not the Republican Party; we don’t have a hive mind. We are a coalition of diverse thinking groups, and those groups are increasingly at odds with each other. And we need to work together, not hiss and spit. That is how Republicans win. Moderate Democrats will have to give air to the more left element’s grievances, and the more left among us will have to understand better our limitations. We need to talk, not throw slime. Share wisdom. Exchange knowledge. It will make us much stronger if we have a healthy dialectic.

Discourse should be acceptable within our ranks. I don’t like the idea that questioning things is bad for the party. There’s something…undemocratic about it.

Biden must give succor to both wings. That is part of his job description, keep the party together. Especially now that democracy itself is on the ballot.

This post basically evolved from my increasing irritation with the mass blowoff of the more left wing of the party. And that blowoff is translating into poll outcomes like this:

I was repeatedly told not to share that poll because it would help depress turnout and lose us the ’22 election. I simply thought the numbers were eyebrow-raising to say the least. But I am also repeatedly being told I have some sort of “agenda” (a paranoid Republican babbleword), accused of helping Republicans (or in some cases, being one) if I even so much as acknowledge fucking reality. Sorry. I will call balls and fucking strikes like I see them. If we tell ourselves and others lies about the current efficacy of the administration we risk our integrity. That poll ain’t my fault. The truth is still out there whether I share it or not.

There was also this stupid statement from the White House recently:

Oh, so the people who marched and protested and screamed for answers to a severe crisis are “activists”? This is the kind of bullshit that chafes voters. This rhetoric will lose Democrats more votes than any poll. Does anyone know what the mainstream even stands for at this juncture? If our “activist” values aren’t theirs, what business do they have calling themselves part of The People’s Party? What intrinsic good is there in just being the Not-Republican Party?

That’s just taking the slow train to hell instead of the express. I find this increasingly unacceptable, and avoidable.

We can stop blaming “the media” right about now and making up screwy conspiracies about their aims. Again, that’s another dumb Republican idea that we’ve somehow assimilated into our yaksacks. We’re cutting our own throats with the message (or lack of one), not the coverage. Papers of record are awful right now, but not for the reasons we think. Personally, I’d rather read the muckrakers who don’t give a good god damn what either party thinks. Generally, they don’t shade the truth.

To a great degree, this next election is an all hands on deck moment and it’s important to understand that Republicans have gamed ’22 and made a circus of the electoral system. I am working hard personally to GOTV in my county and make sure as many Democrats as possible show up to vote. I run media on several social platforms for the party and maintain the county website. I will soon be tasked with phonebanking and canvassing. However, what I share as a private citizen with my followers that I find interesting is my business and you can fuck off if you don’t like it. Last time I checked, that account is mine, not the Democratic Party’s. I barely have 1100 followers. I have no influence. Go crawl up David Hogg’s ass, who, while perhaps well-intentioned, has literally discouraged people from voting and donating to the party. Millions of people see him online daily. He’s a spokesperson for the young whether he knows it or not and he has to get smarter quickly.

Let’s just keep the conversation and the reality free and flowing. Telling people to be quiet will not make more Democratic voters, nor will sharing uncomfortable truths make less. It will just make people think and consider, and we need that more than ever in America.

And be fucking polite out there. I am still learning this one myself, but if you know something that someone else doesn’t, share it. Don’t be a dick. Save that shit for Republicans.

Let’s Talk A Little About Steve Bannon, Putin and The Future of Global Fascism

Sometimes I feel pretty fucking clever when I’ve sussed out that America is about to enter into its second dalliance with fascism and its characteristics. It will be Christian, white, and male-centric. Like Jello Biafra said once, it’s bedtime for democracy and there is no telling when it will wake up.

Now it’s awfully hard to believe that Steve Bannon, who looks like some weird mixture of Baron Harkonnen from Lynch’s Dune and a wino, is of any particular threat to American democracy. It’s almost hilarious that he has Mike Lindell on his “War Room” on the regular. He’s probably facing jail time soon, depending on how much he pisses a judge off by turning his contempt trial into a media circus.

However, as far as the right wing goes, he’s the daddy-o of American neo-fascism, or populism, or nationalism, whatever you want to call it. And when he fell out with Trump, he moved on to bigger and better things. After the White House, he went abroad to spread the populist word, powwowing with right wing parties, dictators and autocrats around the globe. He’s a Putinist, and I guess now is a great time to introduce a notorious living Russian fascist, often referred to as “Putin’s Brain”, Aleksandr Dugin. (More on the Dugin-Putin relationship here). The guy appears to be completely insane, a mad monk advocating for a Russian empire that stretches all the way to Ireland. I am sure that Putin, while a little touched in the head himself, listens to Alex’s counsel, smiles in his mind, takes the good parts and leaves out the absurd. He did come up with the idea of annexing Crimea, and thinks Russia should treat Ukraine as theirs, which they have done de facto by invading and robbing Ukraine of its ability to trade freely. I’m not going to get into an argument with any of you chuckleheads out there who seem to have no clue about military tactics and realpolitik, the end game of this invasion is that Russia gets good cream and lots of political leverage over the rest of the world from Ukraine’s food and energy markets. And there isn’t shit the West can or will do about it. (UPDATE 4/2: Zelenskyy isn’t giving up territory for peace, and NATO is now sending deadlier assets. He’s either going down with the ship, or this is going to be Afghanistan II: The Return Of The Bear Trap.)

Anyway, back to this character Dugin for a minute. He is quoted as saying, “We, conservatives, want a strong, solid State, want order and healthy family, positive values, the reinforcing of the importance of religion and the Church in society”. Sound familiar? That’s word for word what the Republican Party in America has come to stand for. Coming from the mouth of a Russian fascist. A “traditionalist”. Democracy, liberalism, and individualism are all anathema to his thinking, a refutation of the principles of America’s revolutionary ideas. He said of Putin as early as 2007: “There are no more opponents of Putin’s course and, if there are, they are mentally ill and need to be sent off for clinical examination. Putin is everywhere, Putin is everything, Putin is absolute, and Putin is indispensable.” It’s not dissimilar to the cult of personality that surrounds Trump, or any other “strongman” who can control people. The main difference between Putin and Dugin, is that one is pragmatic and one is a romantic. He wanted Putin to take Georgia as well as Ukraine. Putin took the chunks he could hold, probably knowing from Hitler at Stalingrad that when you spread yourself too thin, you will get your ass kicked. He believes that COVID is a “kind of divine reprimand, a divine decree against humanity.” and “It is a kind of punishment for globalization.” Dugin attacks the arts and the schools for their decadent thoughts (again, sound familiar?), even finding physics and chemistry to be “demonic”. The man is a mystic, looking for signs of the apocalypse.

So let’s circle back to Bannon: what’s the connection between him and Dugin? Well, they met once, in 2018, in Rome. While they agreed philosophically, the meeting did not go well, as Dugin was focused on the United States as the great evil, and Bannon felt it was China. I guess we should be glad they did not agree or join forces, but the idea that America is engorged with “evil” is becoming chapter and verse for more and more Republicans, no doubt to Putin and Dugin’s glee. We will be rid of Steve Bannon soon enough. But if we continue to share a traditionalist fascist destiny with Russia, then I am afraid the world over will become a dark place to practice freedom.

Now Is The Time To Stop Tom Cotton

Well, I’ve been waiting for this day for years. Tommy Cotton is officially eyeballing the presidency.

To Republicans, he may be the man for their times, should Trump decide not to run. He’s fairly well educated and served his country honorably. That’s more than you can say for the majority of the Republican Party. He’s certainly smarter and has more gravitas than a wannabe tough guy doofus like Ron DeSantis.

All of this is to say that makes him very dangerous. His ideas are, to put it mildly, radical as fuck. When the New York Times published a Cotton editorial in 2020 calling for the military to crack down on protestors, The Times almost lost its shirt due to the number of subscription cancellations. Went out on a limb to scotch the Iran nuclear deal. Wanted to use the Espionage Act on journalists. May have engaged in a little stolen valor by claiming to be an Army Ranger when all he did was go to Ranger school. Hates SNAP. Loves waterboarding. Steve Bannon is into him. Wants to lock up as many people as possible. Doesn’t want teachers to teach slavery. Anti-immigrant. ACA opponent. Supported Defense of Marriage. Refused to support Violence Against Women Act. Hyper anti-choice. Believes China purposefully leaked COVID-19.

All of this and more can be found elsewhere, some behind paywall journalism.

Until now, Republicans had some pretty piss poor choices for ’24. But put Cotton in there minus a Trump run and the calculus changes.

If we don’t expose this creep for who he is now, it may be too late to do so soon. Jen Psaki took the first shot today condemning his warmongering nature and just talking the talk but not walking the walk, and many need to follow. I’ve been right about his ambitions, and I suspect I will be proven right that Tom Cotton is going to be a contender.

Mitch McConnell Is On Something

This isn’t the first time we have heard this from a Republican, but it’s testament to the profound degree to how out of touch these frilly clowns are with regular people:

During an appearance on Fox News, host Martha McCallum posed the question to McConnell.

“Do you think the checks that are going out — you know, there’s some unemployment benefits, additional benefits that would run out in March — do you believe that these checks prevents some people from wanting to work?” McCallum asked.

“Well, there is a concern,” McConnell replied, “about making it more advantageous to stay home rather than going back to work.”

None, I repeat none of us are going to kick up our heels and give up our jobs or give up looking because of a very, very minor windfall. That money that’s coming can’t even sustain an ordinary household for two months. And the unemployment benefit pays for a week of groceries for a family of four. Furthermore, most folks are going to find plenty of uses for that money for things they are putting off, like bills and repairs. There is no upside to staying out of work. Ever. All working stiffs know this.

Why don’t they know? Is it that fat salary with the perks getting in the way?

Stunning-Kruger

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2017. We now know what a full year of a Trump presidency feels like. It’s been like a psychic dog-year to some of us, his antipathetic, weary subjects. Every moronic tweet, every sensible regulation tossed on the pyre, every golf outing is a painful reminder that we have the stupidest, least qualified leader in American history, voted into office by the stupidest, least informed electorate in history. I’d like to say we as a nation have reached something of a nadir, and much like a drunk who has woken up in the gutter missing his shoes we have realized we have hit the bottom.

But I can’t make that call. Yes, it will take some digging to out-stupid Il Douche, but I rest assured you small-minded fuckers on the right will find someone else who can dog whistle the tunes you always come running for who is again just as mercurial, incurious, vacuous and terminally vain as you are.

Yesterday, we learned that you fucking dumbasses made Fox the most watched cable news network of the year, and that irritating cunthair Sean Hannity was the most popular opinion shaper. These are existential danger conditions for the country. Fox is The Mouth, and Sean is your Lewis Prothero blathering about how America Prevails every night. We used to know what to do with fascists. Now we’ve brought it to the homeland, happily indulging in love of party,  profit, The One True God, and that goddamned flag over regular, struggling people. And Merry Christmas, or else. Don’t take a knee if you know what’s good for you.

Have we gone too far to be redeemed? Have our worst impulses turned life in this country into a dull, hostile, nerve-racking gauntlet from which there is no surcease? If the depression epidemic is any indication, perhaps. We have become strangers to each other, on our own when we need us the most. We have enough automation to end the most stultifying of jobs, enough that we could work less and enjoy more of this 18 trillion dollar economy. But instead we’re working more than ever and earning less. Work is our religion, often the only polite thing that people can talk to each other about when they’re not doing it. We’ve taken the yoke so easy, that we barely feel the pain of the prod or the whip anymore.

This is NOT where I planned to go with this post. I wish I had Milo Yiannopoulos’ editor sometimes. I just want to put on the record that Donald Trump must have recently lost one of the two marbles he’s had rolling around in his noggin all this time. I want to mark it because I am re-joining the ranks of people who are not going to normalize the shit he says. I’m gonna get loud instead of get numb.

For some inexplicable reason, now and then the New York Times will allow Donald to get on the record about whatever diddlyshit pops into his empty helmet holder with little or no drilling down. It’s perhaps akin to a wild animal show, where you just get kinda close and observe how they behave. Lemme tell ya, If you are into liars extraordinaire, you will not want to miss this last stream of consciousness “interview”. CNN could not help itself from compiling nearly 50-bullet points detailing the craziest shit he let fly. Charlie Pierce brandishes the interview as prima facie evidence that we are no doubt witnessing a deteriorating mind. “In denial”, remarks Vanity Fair.

One of Donald Trump’s favorite things to do is brag. Dude never misses a moment to aggrandize his achievements, or outright lie about them. The jury is still out on whether or not he knows he’s making things up. There’s a little part of me that thinks he’s doing it to drive liberals insane. And even if he disagrees with us, is this the kind of “poke in the buzzing nest” a real president should engage in? Or is he talking to the millions of people who think he’s sent by God, knowing that none of them will ever question the bullshit he spews?

Yesterday, Trump tweeted about the weather in New York. I ain’t no meteorologist, but I was curious enough at some point to learn that weather =/= climate. Donald didn’t even bother. Like the simpleton that he is, he thinks that short term cold weather snaps mean the globe isn’t heating. And that’s as smart as he or any of his voters will get on the subject because further study runs counter to their heavily vested beliefs that it’s all a hoax perpetuated by scientists so they can keep their jobs and so that the Chinese can outgrow us and that the good Lord would never again let the earth go barren having gotten a guarantee regarding the issue in a 2000 year old book. I don’t have to exaggerate this-legislators and pundits alike keep these legends alive.

There is a third, more troubling explanation for his outrageous bullshitting. He’s doing it to drive liberals insane AND talking to his base who thinks he’s sent by God. That’s a long shot, though. It would mean that Donald Trump has enough agency to divide and conquer. I’m not ready to accept this third hypothesis yet as to why this motherfucker is full of it constantly. But I’ll put it out there anyway-in this unsure world we live in, he might, just might be pulling some sort of rope-a-dope. Again, it’s unlikely that Trump’s a strategic genius, and I’m getting my strings pulled by a master con artist who thrives on disorder. He’s more like a disagreeable Chance the gardener. I have to remind myself that he gets his news of the world through an imbecilic morning show that your racist grandmother watches instead of the president’s daily brief. Let’s not dwell on this third possibility too long.

Best guess really is he is just an ignorant boor who loves the sound of his own nonsensical voice. So if you are feeling a bit masochistic today, do stop by at the links above to remind you what we are all up against. You will find many choice nuggets of horsehockey, like the part where Trump claims that Hillary only wanted the popular vote while Trump The Wise deployed a “50-state” strategy instead. No collusion. And how the way they handled things during the race was much like how one approaches golf or track in that…well, the differences are pure philosophy to hear Trump tell it. No collusion. And how the Mueller investigation is bad for the country (so is colluding to ratfuck an election with a hostile world power). Or that he knows more about big bills than anyone EVER! Yeah, while the country flailed about trying to understand the jury-rigged screw job that Republicans cobbled together in secret, this piece of shit could have led and quelled fears, but didn’t see fit to let us in on his incredible understanding. Some fucking salesman. No collusion. You can also read that he blithely predicts an easy 2020 win, because he’s been so good for all the failing media outlets.

And even if there was collusion, which there wasn’t, it’s not illegal.

The Washington Post tallied that Trump lied 24 times in 30 minutes. That’s 0.8 lies a minute, if I got the division right. That is an amazing pace for making things up.

Tens of millions of people think this is OK. We have our work fucking cut out for us. Y’all have a Happy New Year if I don’t say it on Monday.

Knockdown In Round Two

Yesterday, it seemed like the end for the struggle to preserve benefits, protections and entitlements for millions of people across the country was imminent. The GOP looked unified enough to pull it off and take it all, desperate for some sort of victory no matter how Pyrrhic it would be once regular people felt the bite. They were ready to commit massive legislative arson just so they could please their wealthy donors in this cussed Citizens United era.

There was a snag last night when deficit hawks had reservations, but we’re all still on the hook at the moment. We might be losing the light yet.

But fuck all that. I know it’s important, but hang on.

Robert Mueller pulled another string.

He’s got Michael Flynn in his talons and he ain’t going to jail even a minute for one Donald J. Trump.

As they say in chess: Check.

And it looks like an ugly check, a nasty, sickening game-fucking fork that will cost King Dipshit his protective pieces, and when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before white chases him around the board where no space is safe.

I knew something was up yesterday. Trump is erratic at best on normal days, so it’s hard to read anything into his behavior. But he went berserk this week. It started with “honoring” Native American veterans in front of a portrait of the asshole who signed the Indian Removal Act, and like the 6 year old imp that he is, he proceeded to take a bizarre shot at Elizabeth Warren (as if to say “While I’m on the subject of Indians…“), a shot that no doubt confused the honorees and eventually pissed off much of the Native American community. He accused Joe Scarborough of murder, mused as to whether the pussy grabbing recording was real, told people in private that he still isn’t sure about Barack Obama’s birthplace, dribbled something about a fake news contest, dragged NFL players, CNN, The New York Times, I mean he whipped out all the greatest hits and made up some new ones. And then yesterday, he’s out there retweeting British anti-Islamic/white supremacist material, material that was without basis in reality. Now since Trump has been in office, he has NEVER taken responsibility or apologized for anything he has said or done and that did not change here. Sarah Sanders dutifully put on her ever increasing volume of warpaint (perhaps to unnerve the press corps) and basically said Trump is right, even when his proof is wrong. Oy vey.

All of it made my spidey senses tingle. I’ve never been fond of the notion that this twat of a president has any clue what he is doing. So many pixels have been wasted positing that Trump is a master of distraction. But the sum total of his miscues and outbursts this week suggested to me that his nerves were frayed about something. There may or may not be a little bird who has seen Mueller’s flop cards whispering in Humperdoo’s ear. This may be causing a bit of mania and rightfully, paranoia. Again, the things he does, says and types unintentionally muddies the water. Put simply, the dude is spazzing out. And the level of spaz might be a hint that trouble is coming…coming for him.

We may yet lose this country, what’s left of it for us normal folks anyway. But Justice, a severe and merciless bitch of a goddess, will not be denied her sacrifice. Maybe we will come out the other side of this caring more about each other after having been lied to and treated so badly by our putative leaders. My hopes are chastened, though. It only took five short years after Nixon left town in disgrace to bring us to Ronald Reagan’s senile reign of error.

We don’t learn from our mistakes here in America. We repeat them, with pride. But for now, let’s celebrate that our modern Caligula, this mad hatter of a misbegotten president is going down soon, hopefully taking his conspirators with him.

 

 

 

America Bleeds Blue

So, what, if anything, do last night’s election results mean?

It seems that the American people are out for incumbent heads once again. Non-presidential elections always seem to be bloodbaths for the majority party. And while I am glad the pendulum is swinging leftwards-politics being what it is here, nothing will get done that helps anyone because of the incredibly steep hill we as a Democratic Party must climb to triumph, and when we don’t make it to the summit, then the pendulum will swing right again (sorry about the mixed metaphors). If there’s anything you can count on in this world, it’s the shitty memory of the average US citizen. It doesn’t help that they are being lied to by half the radio dial, hundreds of crap dailies, and a major “news” channel either about what’s good for them. We’re a perpetually unsatisfied bunch, on the whole, and that is probably by design.

That’s my cynical take.  I could be wrong, last night’s blue wave might be a harbinger of things to come. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, because we’ve gotten to the summit  before(2008 until we lost Ted Kennedy and got Scott Brown). Really, the big important takeaway is that Donald Trump is really only good at one thing, and that’s alienating people. If there is any meaning at all to yesterday, it’s that Trump is not magic like he’d have you believe. In his mind and his stunted supporters’ minds, it was his charisma and vision that propelled him to victory in 2016. His statistically improbable win gave rise to a variant of The Trump Effect, which posited that his upset victory made him and Republican candidates who hewed to him invincible, all the way to 2020 when he would be elected again.

Now I was dead wrong about 2016. I fully expected an establishment election, with Bush losing to Clinton. But because of the weaknesses in the Republican field there was room in the national conversation for a blustering, self-promoting demagogue to turn the right wing in this country into a cult of personality seething with hatred and resentment towards its neighbors and anything else that wasn’t ‘Murican, which is to say white, male, straight and Christian. But I don’t think I’m going to be monumentally wrong again in that manner, and if I am, I should just turn in my pundit pin and go think in a dark room for a few months. Donald Trump is a fraud, a phony, a Pied Piper for idiots, and most of us have already figured that out. There will always be that perpetually blind 25% or so of people who really are Nazis, alt-righters, supremacists and racists, to whom Donald Trump seems like a godsend. But no one who wants to keep their job in Washington really wants to get any closer than arms length to Trump, and Republicans may forgo the huckleberry vote in a bid to hold the center, which is the sweet spot every perennially successful movement wants to be in.

That sweet spot is currently held by Democrats, if we can impose a little discipline on ourselves( looking at you, Donna Brazile, Bernie-hangers on, etc.). My best self is socialist, but I will wait patiently while we discover ways to make its principles palatable to a country obsessed with outmoded caricatures of “individuality”, which may have made for good novels while we were still stealing land expanding as a nation but is wholly incompatible with the modern interdependent society where we don’t have to leave our neediest behind, work our lives away and grossly enrich ourselves as others struggle simply because they weren’t born fortunate. Now, I’m white, male and straight, and taken care of by the Veteran’s Administration and so I realize that my ability to “wait” is privileged to the point of being odiously gauche. But there it is; calls for revolution will not sit well at the center. We must nudge and not shove. It’s either that or a second civil war, one that crushes all the oppressive forces of patriarchy and racism and sexism and superstition and lack of understanding. I mean, I know what side I’ll be on if it goes down, but do we have to get to that point before we tolerate each other? Who of us will be counted when we do? Most of us have work in the morning.

Let’s hope politics is the answer. Indeed, it may be our last.

 

Race To The Scoop

This country been on a steady diet of terrible news in the last year. It was like castor oil and thin gruel and we hated every miserable minute of it, like in most diets.

But yesterday, the sane wing of this country broke their fast and supped mightily and greedily.

It was Motherfucking Mueller Time.

The venerated counselor made his first moves as special counsel after a five-month investigation. Paul Manafort and an associate are facing life in prison, on charges stemming from false statements to conspiring to defraud the United States. A parallel and equally damaging (some would argue more damaging) story ran today that another Trump advisor, George Papadopolous had pled guilty to lying about trying to get at the “dirt” the Russians were offering on the DNC and Hillary Clinton. A separate and lesser known case is being assembled against him for having entirely too many vowels in his last name.

Truly delicious. But as people starved of hope for so long, we want Mueller to feed us yet more. We want a shock and awe campaign that will make dumb Donald’s head spin every damn day, revelations that he can’t possibly tweet his way out of.

We don’t know what cards Mueller has, and that’s sort of a good thing. I think letting the ramifications of these two cases sink in is sensible. There’s plenty of places for Mueller to go with Manafort and Papadop…whatever. Flipping Manafort is a strong possibility, because his life is effectively over if he is convicted unless Chump pardons him, which is probably a bad move that would indicate his own guilt while the investigations intensify. There’s really no good move here for President Fumblefingers-he’s acting like the proverbial frog in the simmering pot of water at the moment, tweeting denials and lies like usual and my hope is that things stay that way until he is cooked through.

So. Now that Black Monday is over, where do we go from here? It’s 7AM here in the East and Robert Mueller is still brushing his teeth, so anything could happen that negates what I’m about to proffer.

Yesterday afternoon, something interesting was noted by a McPaper reporter in the DC court docket. I tried like hell to reproduce this graphic by searching the court’s website but got nowhere so I couldn’t really tell you where this is from. His name was Steve Reilly, and he tweeted this image.

indict

Papadoodledoo was the case prior to the ones above. And I can confirm that 17-201 was Manafort. I got at least that far on the site. So this raises some questions as to the nature of the sealed indictments between Felix Pappalardi and Manafort’s. Are they more bullets in Mueller’s bandoleer?

Well, truthfully, we can only speculate for now. But that hasn’t stopped a couple of news outlets from letting it fly and claiming these mysterious “in between” cases are aimed at Trump.

I became aware of this graphic because a friend, who is smarter and more perspicacious than I am, posted that to Facebook.

No sources were given by the person who she got the graphic from. So I decided that it would be best if I did due diligence and seek out more information on these sealed indictments.

I googled.

I googled some more.

I continued to refresh my searches for hours after her post.

Nothing…until later in the evening. Boom. The Palmer Report and Patribotics were claiming that more indictments were forthcoming.

Now, this is not the first time these websites have been seen together in a search. In fact, it often looks like Louise and Bill are trying to outdo each other. If Palmer claims five, Louise claims infinity kazillion.

The two sites were alone in reporting more Trump indictments. No one in the above ground media wanted a bite, which is important because if you have proof of those indictments you don’t wait for another paper to scoop you. It’s also worth mentioning that McPaper, who Steve Reilly works for, did not publish a story based on the graphic.

So: either these two sites are dodgy as fuck, or they are somehow Chosen by a Deep Throat-type insider to get the news out.

A little history of Mensch and Palmer is in order.

Louise was a right-wing ex-MP before she became an internet sleuth. She moved to America with her husband, and began work in online journalism which was aimed at conservative women. She has always been something of a rogue wherever she goes, getting embroiled in controversy.

She hates Vladimir Putin. So much so that the subtitle of Patribotics is “Exposing Vladimir Putin’s War On America”. By extension, she hates Donald Trump for going balls deep on Vlad. So, even though she’s a conservative, she’s yet another strange bedfellow in the quest to remove Trump from office.

Can she be trusted, though?

A media bias website calls her work “questionable”. To wit:

A questionable source exhibits one or more of the following: extreme bias, overt propaganda, poor or no sourcing to credible information and/or is fake news.

While Patribotics does produce factual content, they also promote numerous unproven conspiracies…Overall, this source does produce some quality investigative journalism, but there are also many unproven and un-sourced claims that render this blog questionable.

Oh, and she’s rather hostile when challenged.

I don’t know about you, but when my media isn’t consistent, it’s useless to me. I don’t have the time to separate fact from fiction just so I can get a jump on certain stories, because there is too much fiction out there to wade through as it is.

Let’s begin to discuss Bill Palmer by talking about one of his writers, Claude Taylor. Claude, an old Clinton hand, has a Twitter feed called TrueFactsStated. He has a habit of tweeting outrageous unsourced bullshit that cynically uses peoples’ confirmation bias as bait to his feed. I got taken in by Claude a while back, posting on Facebook a tweet of his in August that said that high level Trump indictments were forthcoming soon (Louise Mensch, incidentally, also promulgated this story as well). My perspicacious friend waved me off of the story. In my defense, I gave people fair warning that it might not pan out to be truth. But anyway, Claude Taylor is dead to me. I don’t give a shit what he says even if it is right-he’s not to be trusted. We need to fight left-wing fake news just as hard as we fight right-wing fake news. In fact, we should fight lefty horseshit harder, because we need to be as correct as possible. It only takes one fuckup and the wingnuts will present it as evidence that the entire left movement is untrustworthy. They do it all the time inside their alternate media universe. We good liberals have to work harder because the opposition has traded truth for propaganda, and propaganda is much simpler than the facts and therefore easier to spread to the uncurious that need their news spoon-fed.

This is my way of saying that Bill Palmer has one strike on him for associating with a liar. Yet, my perspicacious friend loves the guy. I’m torn, because a) my friend is whip-smart, b) I have been burned by his staff and c) there’s enough skepticism of his work that suggests I probably ought to pass on his bombshells.

Not much is really known about Bill. He’s been behind the creation of several online publications, most notably the DailyNewsBin, an anti-Trump site which kind of morphed into Palmer Report. To me, he came out of nowhere. Snopes is a bit wary of Palmer, who notes that several blasts of his have no foundation in provable veracity (Palmer is derisive of the site’s usefulness).  And the same media bias/fact check website I used to observe Louise Mensch’s record finds Palmer’s record mixed and questionable as well. Palmer is embroiled in a fight with that site too, and has angrily lashed out at other critics much like Louise Mensch has. To me, this type of combativeness indicates an inability to let the facts speak for themselves, if indeed they are facts.

Anyway, Palmer published a story on the USA Today graphic. He’s hedging, as you can see by the title, filing the story in his “Opinion” section. It’s a fairly thin piece, with strange leaps of logic like “That doesn’t prove that the four cases are all Trump-Russia cases, but it means that they most likely are.”

Huh? How does that follow?

Am I too dense to understand that? That is entirely possible. Is the Palmer Report like a soap, where I need to have been with the story from the start to know what is going on?

After a bit of time had elapsed last night, someone/something recognizable went with the story.

Fucking Hot Air. Michelle Malkin’s old folk’s home for conservative bloggers. Many of you old bloggers will know some of the names. There’s Ed Morrissey, who ran the fever swamp “Captain’s Quarters”, and Jazz Shaw, who was honest enough back in the day so I was surprised he was consorting with a crazy bitch like Malkin. There’s also Allahpundit, who I never read but I know the name.

Allahpundit wrote up the piece on the potential Trump indictments. Much as it pains me to say this, it’s a good read, better than Palmer’s for sure-even with the conservative bias. He raises the point that sealed indictments are common and typical, and with a little math and a tip from a lawyer, finds that four sealed indictments over 22 days is in line with their frequency as a whole.

That’s the kind of skepticism I can use, especially when we are just guessing at the contents of those sealed indictments. I have enough trouble with my own confirmation bias as it is without somebody dangling a juicy “exclusive” scoop at me.

I need to go to a doctor’s appointment. It’s 10AM, and I will close this piece by doing one last google search for something that corroborates the speculation that there are sealed indictments related to Trump all ready to drop.

12:30PM

Nothing. Same returns as last night. So here is what I’m gonna do: I’m going to watch this story and only this story from Palmer as a test because I believe my friend would not steer me wrong. But if he can’t produce the goods, I wash my hands of him. If he is correct about the nature of the indictments, I’ll become a fan and issue a mea culpa here and say sorry to my perspicacious friend for doing a hit job on their favorite newsbreaker. I’m no stranger to being wrong, so do your own research about sources and come to your own, hopefully better conclusions.

 

 

 

Driven To Distraction

I’ve spent a good deal of time maintaining that the things that Donald Trump and Co. do on a daily basis are NOT the products of any particular rational, intellectual or logical machinations. It was fact to me that they simply didn’t know what the fuck they were doing because the president is a miserable, pathetic, deranged mental midget. People cried “distraction” from this or that ad infinitum. Like Martin Sheen said to Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”, I didn’t see any method at all.

But around about Thursday, my spidey senses tingled as I watched Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy inexplicably open investigations into Hillary Clinton, on spurious charges that a Google search could have debunked. Duh Fuhrer eagerly seized on the news, making the outrageous claim that she was the target of the Russia investigation and that it was already “common knowledge” that he was innocent.

I said to myself, “Now THAT’S some damn distracting”.

Ham handed as it was like anything involving Trump, it all smacked of desperation that had a different vibe to it. There were so many people muddying the waters in the last few days to conceal headlines that put the lie to the new allegations against Clinton-like the one that found that a conservative newspaper asked for what became the Steele dossier. Fox News began a concerted misinformation campaign (even more hysterical and obsessive than the usual bullshit they peddle)to hastily report all the truffles that the Trump cabal dug up.

Something was up. All hands were on deck to try to get people to focus on hackneyed headlines about Hillary Clinton, hoping that enough people were blissfully unaware of the fact that she wasn’t the president.

Now we know what the sound and fury was all about.

Mark yesterday on your calendar so you can tell people where you were and what you were doing when the worst scandal in the history of this country broke wide open.

The next two days are going to be full of follies trying to pretend that some Trumpist is not  gonna be wearing cuffs soon. When the charges were publicized, Hannity barely blinked and asked when Hillary would be indicted. Ben Stein tried to downplay the scandal by downplaying Watergate. So pop your popcorn, because this weekend and beyond is gonna be hilarious if your gallows humor is still intact.

 

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