Take a memo. Please.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

The reverberations of Trump’s rampaging State of the Union speech had barely faded before he started tweeting like an arrested tween. His wild claims about the Nunes memo, reflective of the fevered rhetoric proffered daily by his favorite network, were contradicted by the content of the memo itself, a selective, shabby attempt to draw the public’s attention away from the Mueller investigation with an almost laughable claim of concern for Carter Page’s civil liberties. Why do major modern political scandals always turn on weak spindles like Page and – for Hillary Clinton – Weiner? Maybe that’s the only kind of spindle we’ve got.

Porter sighted with two notorious racists.This, again, feels like a big distraction from what the administration and the congressional majority are actually doing. If we’re obsessing over one or the other revealing memo, we’re not thinking about recent surveys – including one by CNBC – that indicate that the vast majority of large businesses have no intention of spending their tax savings on hiring people. That’s no big surprise, but it’s probably worth mentioning once in a while, right? After all, misguided workers who voted for Trump should be given the opportunity to understand that you can’t trust the rich to help anyone but themselves, and that tax cuts are a poor investment in job creation.

Still, the administration will trot out the handful of examples that seem to fit their narrative, even if they don’t. I’m sure they’ve crowed about AFLAC, even though practically none of their sales workforce is eligible for the bonuses they promised so loudly. This is what they do with immigration and other issues – they essentially hold up the exception and claim it’s the rule. Doesn’t matter … think about the memos! The last few days they have been pushing this story about the FBI agent texts suggesting Obama was “keeping tabs” on the Clinton email investigation – subgenius senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is their wingman on this conspiracy theory. My guess is that they are using this to distract attention away from the fact that one of Trump’s chief aides is a serial spouse abuser who can’t get security clearance to save his life … and yet he STILL handles top secret, burn-after-read briefings for the President. In other words, they don’t want you to think about what an insufferable ass General Kelly is, not to put too fine a point on it.

Just another week in paradise. Is it November yet?

luv u,


State of the Yum-yun.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Seems like a good time to respond to some choice bits from Trump’s first state of the union (or state of the umion, pronounced Yum-yun, if you’re reading the official announcement).

First, the big fat entrance. Rep. Claudia Tenney gets a word in Trump’s ear as he’s working his way down the aisle. Always wearing some bright color and right up front when Trump is in town.

First flub goes to Ryan: “I have the distinct privilege of preventing … presenting to you the President of the United States.”

Now, on to Trump’s remarks, delivered in a slithering, slow voice, lots of breath. Kind of nauseating, frankly.

The chief and his enablers.“A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land,” he tells us, referring to a year ago, then  jumped right in with the anecdotes and the guests of honor. “We always will pull through together, always.” Runs through a litany of lifesavers, mostly from disasters of our own making, through climate change, gun violence, etc. “The state of our union is strong because our people are strong. And together we are building a safe and strong and proud America.” Platitude.

Touting more jobs for Black and Hispanic people. Big cheer for “massive tax cuts,” of course. More take home pay! (Mitt Romney, come back – all is forgiven.) Calls out “cruel” tax of the individual ACA mandate, which very few people actually paid – big cheer from Republican recipients of government subsidized health insurance. Crowing about the titanic benefits of this “new American moment.” “You can dream anything, you can be anything, and together we can achieve absolutely anything.”

Some short takes:

  • “We share … the same great American flag …The motto is ‘In God We Trust,'” he says, then makes a big point about standing for the national anthem. So much for Mr. We’re All In This Together.
  • We’re “…totally defending our second amendment and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.” Shoot ’em up.
  • Calling on congress to empower cabinet secretaries to fire people. Is that novel?
  • “We have ended the war on American energy and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal.” So much for the section on climate change.
  • “Companies are roaring back, they’re coming back. They want to be where the action is.” Well, it’s a kind of silent roar.

Trump starts talking about reducing the price of prescription drugs, and he gestures to the Democrats to stand and applaud. He does it again as he talks about repairing infrastructure, though the focus of this section sounds like he wants to roll back the environmental impact review process. He proposes $1.5 Trillion plan for infrastructure, but it must provide for streamlined permitting. Smell a rat?

Starting to talk about lifting people out of “welfare”. “Let’s invest in workforce development and let’s invest in job training, which we need so badly.” Calls for vocational schools and paid family leave – probably the Ivanka plan. A bleat on prison reform – very vague.


“For decades open borders have allowed drugs and gangs come pouring in.” Now he’s naming “guests” whose kids were killed by immigrants! MS13. Using them to call out “alien minors”. This section is fucking disgusting, worthy of Der Sturmer. He is “calling on congress to close deadly loopholes” in immigration laws. Dirtbags are clapping.

He wants to protect all Americans. How? He wants to defend Americans. “Americans are dreamers, too.” Oh, I see. Pretty much the only immigrants he’s talking about is gang members. MS13 again. Talking about arrests of gang members. So what is the problem? They’re going to prison. But Trump is talking about sending reinforcements. Now talking about bipartisan immigration reform – his draconian plan. Building a “great wall”. His rhetoric on immigration is all about violence by immigrants, merit and race based rules, and “protecting the nuclear family by ending chain migration.” Then he’s blaming opioid deaths on immigrant drug dealers. Just a lot of thinly coded language aimed at racial division.

Next, he’s praising cop – another guest in audience – who stopped a pregnant woman from shooting heroin. Then he adopted the baby. Point? This is not a speech; it is a series of extended anecdotes. It’s like a fucking variety show. He’s using these people as human shields.

Foreign policy and military section:

  • “Weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means to our true and great defense.” Calling for end to defense sequester. Well, the GOP created it, so why not, right?
  • Taking credit for eliminating ISIS.
  • Calling terrorists “enemy combatants”. Sounds like the start of an argument for torture, Gitmo, etc. Just signed an order to re-examine detention policies and keep open Gitmo. Score one for the jihadist propagandists.
  • Touting new rules of engagement. Calling out artificial timelines. Recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Asking to cut off aid to countries that criticize us at UN. “Enemies of America.” “America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.” “Terrible Iran nuclear deal.” “Communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.”
  • Threatening North Korea again. “Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite … aggression.” Applauding that kid Warmbier. Extended anecdote about Korean guest who crawled to freedom and a further tirade against North Korea. Jesus H. Christ.

Big fat ending:

Patriotic claptrap roll call. Republicans chanting “USA, USA, USA!”

“The people dreamed this country, the people built this country, and it’s the people who will make America great again.” Yep. When they get rid of you.

Step one.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

There’s a lot to say about the Republican’s craven plan to push through a massive tax plan in a matter of days. I needn’t point out that the final bill is likely to be a cobbled together mess, one that we’ll be struggling with for many years to come if it ever finds its way to Trump’s signing hand. Nor do I need to repeat the obvious fact that this is a tremendous giveaway to the richest Americans, to corporations, and to the GOP’s donor base, one that demonstrates the degree to which the Republicans’ supposed concern over budget deficits is just another ploy.

Rich folks get THIS much.What I find most infuriating about this legislation is that it is being proffered at a time when its chief beneficiaries – the richest of the rich – are doing just fine, thank you very much, and corporate America is sailing from strength to strength. The last thing they need is more money in their pockets. This is also a time when our armed forces are deployed in conflicts all around the world. Trump just signed into law a $700 billion defense bill, subject to repeal of the sequester agreement. When we’re spending this kind of money and putting people in harm’s way, why the hell are we cutting taxes? What effing justification is there for that? It is beyond shameful, frankly.

Even worse, this is just part one of a two-step routine the Republicans have been rehearsing for a generation now. Step one: cut the hell out of rich people’s taxes, and blow a huge hole in the federal budget. Step two: almost immediately afterward, feign panic over a ballooning deficit and use that as a rationale to cut core social programs, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other extremely popular programs. They have tried this numerous times before, with only limited success. This time might be different, as they are more craven than in previous decades and control every lever of power. They really don’t need any Democratic votes to push these cuts through.

The GOP has always hated Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, largely because they are defined benefit, pay as you go institutions. To the current crop of crazies running Congress, insurance is now tantamount to Soviet-style top-down socialism. Don’t think they won’t try this: Paul Ryan has been working on setting this up for many years. We have to be ready to fight back, or you can kiss these vital public institutions goodbye.

That fight begins with killing this tax bill. Best get started.

luv u,


Pappy’s back in town.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

The 100-day mark is fast approaching for the Trump administration, and this week they kicked it into high gear in an attempt to create the impression that they accomplished something over the last three months – namely, something that was on the President’s list of promises he made over the course of his craven campaign last year. With this in mind, they tossed out a few desperate efforts towards meaningful legislation, one of which being a one-page tax break proposal announced by Mnuchin on Wednesday.

This is a clear return to the G.O.P. presidential playbook, in a Trump kind of way. Of course, it smells more like a scam, the sparsely written outline providing very little detail or guidance for what would likely be a contentious legislative drafting process. But the outlines are there, and what it means effectively is that old Pappy Tax Cut is back once again. We haven’t seen Pappy since the days of Dubya Bush and his high-earner tax cut that blew a huge hole in the budget – one that we’re still grappling with, even with the minor clawback Obama extracted from the Republicans.

Shocker: more breaks for the rich.What’s in it? Prepare to be amazed. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations. Reducing the top corporate tax rate to 15% and eliminating the estate tax altogether. If anything resembling this vague framework were to come into effect, it would shower enormous dividends on the most well-heeled people in the United States and cost the U.S. treasury about 2 trillion dollars. Suddenly Republicans aren’t worried about the deficit/debt anymore – astonishing! And why wouldn’t they give a massive break to the only people in the country – the one percent – who did well throughout the financial crisis? No reason at all.

Trump allies in congress were touting a new compromise on the “American Health Care Act” between the right and the extreme right, but that’s probably a non-starter. The act has been changed up to reflect more of the “Freedom Caucus” (i.e. a bunch of white dudes) agenda, including allowing states to make core benefits optional, letting health insurance providers charge a lot more to people with pre-existing conditions, like … I don’t know, pretty much anything that happens to you.

Then there’s impending war with Korea. Don’t even get me started on that. There’s such bad thinking on that issue from both major parties that it’s hard to know where to turn next.

luv u,



Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Time to face facts: I’ve got newsitis. Can’t take my mind off of the ongoing cycle of awful public policy stories. In homage to this obsession and temporary ADD, I will run through a few top of mind items and attempt to keep them brief.

Motor mouth cityNuclear summer. Here in New York State, our always forward-looking government recently decided to sink up to around $7 billion over the next dozen years to subsidize our aging nuclear power plants, particularly the Fitzpatrick plant up in Scriba, NY. Part of an effort to advance so-called “clean” energy, we will now be further subsidizing this moribund industry, underwriting the transfer of this 40-year-old plant to another massive electrical utility. Meanwhile, in my home county, they have canceled a major solar energy generation project. What’s wrong with this picture? (Actually, what’s right with it?)

His ass said it. Trump is making that pivot all right… pivoting right into where he was before. I think some of the pundits got a little excited when he delivered that sorry-sounding speech to the Detroit Economic Club last week – an overly long amalgam of wild, unfounded promises and tired old GOP favorites, like the three-tiered tax system and the 15% top rate for business. Pappy tax cut is back, folks! Then, of course, being a good cartoon neo-fascist, he piped up with this:

Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if — if — Hillary gets to put her judges in.

Being the bad comedian that he is – essentially, all set up and no punch line — it’s not hard to see how he would get around to this. He’s playing the crowd, of course, and many standup comedians riff on a certain topic, try to get a little edgy. Suggesting assassination is just where you would expect a comedian/politician to go.

Assholes vs. Fuckers. There was a fair amount of Clinton news this week as well. A lot of it was just email fodder about what amounts to the usual networking bullshit anyone who has worked in an office runs into almost constantly. Other stuff relating to the Clinton Foundation is more problematic, and I have little doubt that there would be plenty for the GOP to mine through four or eight years of Hillary. I tend to think concentrating on the Clinton’s finances is shaky ground for Trump, seeing as his own “billionaire” finances are pretty much opaque, but we’ll see.

As for me, I’m still voting for the assholes. Why? Because they’re better than the fuckers, that’s why.

luv u,


More old wine.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

We were treated to the spectacle of another Republican debate last night. I’ll dispense with my usual comments about the format, style, and proprietary nature of the event – suffice to say that as a wholly-owned property of CNBC, it met the usual low standard of reality television production values. That said, on to what might be referred to euphemistically as “the substance”.

First off, it’s worth noting that there are way, way, WAY too many candidates on that stage to allow any kind of reasonable debate. Setting politics and policy aside for a moment, I have to wonder what the hell is wrong with the Republican party that they can allow this to continue? The policy distinctions between these ten are minor, at best. Hasn’t it occurred to any of these people that, for the good of their party, it might be best to just sit this one out? In other words, sacrifice your own petty political ambitions so that there might be ample opportunity for substantive debate? Apparently not, as not only are there ten main debate candidates, but a kids table with 4 more. Talk about vanity.

Peterson Institute shill.Issues wise, we heard a lot of recycled crap about simplifying the tax code. The flat tax is presented as something new; it’s basically Jack Kemp 3.0. The unifying principle is, of course, massive deficits coupled with massive tax savings for the super rich. Sound familiar? Sure it does. Nine, nine, nine, anyone? Yesterday’s nines are today’s “tithing”.

The ironic thing is that there was some talk of stagnating wages for working people, particularly from Fiorina and Huckabee, but the prescription for that ailment is always just more of what’s screwing the common folks now. The contextual narrative these candidates are operating with identifies Obama as a socialist who has gotten his way for seven years. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We have been living under a kind of modified austerity, more of less following the principle set by Grover Norquist that Democrats in power should be forced to “rule like Republicans”. That has stagnated growth and increased inequality. They want to make it far worse.

Some of the most despicable posturing came from Governor Christie, a media favorite (particularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe), who wasted no time in throwing the media under the bus. Far worse, he continued his practice of carrying water for Pete Peterson:

Let me be honest with the people who are watching at home. The government has lied to you and they have stolen from you. They told you that your Social Security money is in a trust fund. All that’s in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs for money they spent on something else a long time ago.

This is the kind of gas that’s been emitting from New Jersey’s blimp-like governor for some time now, and it’s bogus as hell. Where does he get the notion that money that has been borrowed has somehow been “stolen”? So, is he saying China isn’t getting their money back from us?  In fact, they are. We can pay ourselves back the same way we pay back all of our other creditors. It’s called keeping promises. New concept for that fucker.

Christie’s just trying to advance the narrative that Social Security is bankrupt and that we need to privatize it and hand it over to his friends in the financial services industry. I think the fact that those pirates are still slathering over the prospect of getting their greasy hands on it is proof positive that Social Security has plenty of life left in it.

There are other points to cover, but let me stop here and maybe resume next post.

luv u,


Austerity rules.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Just a few things I want to comment on this week, not at any great length. Bear with me, please.

Human Rights. In what appeared to be an effort to elicit Vietnam’s cooperation in the looming Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade agreement” – really an investors’ rights agreement – Secretary of State John Kerry recently paid a visit to Hanoi to discuss new maritime security cooperation measures, against the backdrop of China’s recent declaration of a kind of demilitarized zone in the South China Sea. None of this is surprising, but what kind of made my jaw hang open was the reporting around the visit. The main hook was that Kerry had been part of America’s expeditionary force in South Vietnam during the war, and he toured some of his old haunts in the south. NPR (not to single them out – everyone else did this, too), practically in a single breath, made reference to this trip down memory lane, then referred to problems with Vietnam’s human rights record, which Washington complains about.

Kerry greets a survivor.Really? Just a little bit of context might be nice. What was Kerry doing there in the 1960s again? Vacationing? No. Oh, that’s right – he was part of a massive invasion force that was grinding Vietnam – particularly southern Vietnam – to a bloody pulp, leaving probably 2 million dead and three countries destroyed; a massive crime that we have never been held accountable for. I think it’s a little premature to lecture Hanoi on human rights, frankly.

Work release. The Fed will be dialing back their “quantitative easing” policy in the coming year. I have mixed feelings about this, frankly. The central bank has been the only organ of American power – public or private – seemingly willing to invest in this economy. Much of that investment has been in vain, as the banks the Fed lends to have been extremely reluctant to lend that money out. Corporations are sitting on their money, not hiring at any great clip. And of course, at every level of government, it’s cut, cut, cut; thousands of public sector jobs eliminated. Austerity rules, once again.

I have this nagging feeling that American capital is unwilling to invest in American workers – that they feel it’s a bad risk, and so they seek richer pastures elsewhere, where workers rights are even less protected the meager safeguards we enjoy here. What we need is some public investment entity to pick up the slack. We need to commit ourselves to full employment – if someone is willing and able to work, and the private sector has nothing to offer them, let the government provide them with work. They, in turn, will spend that money in their local economy, supporting private sector jobs and growth. At the same time we need to stop incentivizing corporate off-shoring of jobs (see the TPP, above).

Austerity isn’t inevitable. It’s a choice, a bad one, and we have to reject it if we want a better life.

luv u,


Let’s make a deal.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

There are few things in life more certain than eventual bipartisan agreement on screwing large swaths of our fellow citizens. While I’m glad there won’t be a repeat of the government shutdown / debt ceiling self-immolation ritual, this pattern of gradually ratcheting up the austerity gets very tiresome after two or three cycles. This time, the unemployed get thrown under the bus. What a great way to save money – take food out of the mouths of people who have been down on their luck for more than a year. Freaking 7% unemployment and they’re acting like the jobless are just plain lazy. That’s a truly criminal level of ignorance on the part of elected officials.

One thing, though. Let’s dispense with this notion that the Republicans are somehow against raising taxes. This has been thoroughly debunked since the House went red three years ago. Even before they took office, they killed the “Making Work Pay” tax credit, costing families like mine another $800 a year. Just last year they canceled the payroll tax holiday – another hike. Thanks, Mr. Boehner. This year, it’s a “fee” on air travel. Not something I take personally, but still … a tax by any other name.

And yet they still cling to this label, and the corporate media repeats the myth because it’s the simple thing to do, the path of least resistance. We are supposed to see the disagreements between the parties as a clash of equivalent versions of extremism, when the positions Democrats stake out in this decade are almost identical, save marriage equality, to those held by the Republicans fifteen to twenty years ago. They were conservative then. Democrats, by and large, are conservative now. Republicans are now driven by their hard right, which is more delusional than ever. This week, their leaders chose not to take their lead, but the path they are cutting is a highly conservative one, an extension of the austerity narrative, and one that will keep our economy in stasis for the foreseeable future.

Well, no shut down. Something to give one cheer for. Then it’s back to work.

luv u,


Cheapskates “R” us.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

This will be brief. I’m in the middle of a take-home mid term in Semantics. (Still a student at 54; Christ on a freaking bike.) Anyway…

Today is the day that extended SNAP (food stamp) benefits expire. Happy Halloween, everybody! SNAP was allocated some additional money in the stimulus package, way back in early 2009, when it almost seemed possible that our national government would do what needed to be done to rescue the economy. The assumption back then was that the economy would be generating enough prosperity by this time that SNAP benefits wouldn’t be needed.  Obama’s chief economic adviser at the time – a certain Dr. Pangloss, I believe – was certain Congress and the president would remain committed to putting people back to work.

Help us, Austerians!Then, of course, the Austerians came to power in 2011 and set us on the righteous path of Japan in the 1990s – the path we are crawling along today on our bloody hands and knees. Millions are still out of work, millions more under-employed with zero security, many more working their asses off and still needing SNAP benefits, still needing the support of food pantries. These millions of people are now the favored target of the Austerians. If people are in need, surely it’s their fault and not the fault of policymakers who will do anything rather than invest in economic growth. SNAP has grown to $80 billion a year! they exclaim. What’s their solution? Allocate money for, say, public works projects while interest rates are low so that we can repair and replace our aging infrastructure, invest in our future, and create jobs? God, no! Cut SNAP by $40 billion.

The Democrats, true to form, have an alternative to this draconian policy: Cut $4 billion from SNAP. Screw the poor, only not so much; that’s their considered answer. Now they’ll work on a compromise that will cut somewhere, I suspect, closer to the GOP number. While they hash this out, today’s expiration of the SNAP extension means the average family receiving the benefit will get $35 less a month with which to feed their families. This makes an enormous difference to families already on the edge.

This is why we suck. Let’s just stop sucking, right?

luv u,


Another bag of it.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

A couple of quick swipes on the political front this week. No time to ‘splain, man … just too damn busy.

Sequester. Well, it’s here. Big surprise. Note to the President: Never tell yourself they’ll never do something THAT stupid … because they always will. I know, the sequester was a collective enterprise, strongly supported by Boehner and passed into law by his knuckle-dragging caucus. But thinking that there is some precedent this group will not break is living in a fantasy world. Wake up, people!

Another screaming success for Boehner.

Syria. Secretary Kerry is pledging additional non-lethal support to the Syrian opposition. It’s hard to know how best to approach this crisis, but I know this much – whenever we get deeply involved somewhere, particularly in that region of the world, the result is not good. (What’s the opposite of good again? Ah, yes.) No good answers here, but I know that the motives behind whatever policy we advance in Syria are not likely to benefit the Syrian people, nor the people of the region. We are obsessed with the notion of Iranian domination of the Middle East – a sentiment echoed by our principal allies in the neighborhood. Any sympathy for the opposition, I’m sure, is driven more by the desire to deny Teheran and ally and to quash what they see as a conduit to Hezbollah. However, if they think the opposition in power in Damascus would mean harmony with Israel, they should think again. The most determined fighters in their midst are Sunni jihadist-types. Just saying.

Chavez. Venezuela’s president is in a pitched battle with cancer, and I can hear some chortling around the edges. He gets very little sympathy here in El Norte. It bears remembering though that he is the first Venezuelan leader in my lifetime that has ever done anything for the poor in that country. That’s why they love him, and that’s why he deserves our sympathy and moral support. I tend to judge a person by his/her enemies as much as by his/her faults and virtues. Chavez has definitely got the right enemies. Get well soon, big mister.

luv u,