Sunday, April 15, 2018

Americans Want Things Only Liberals Will Provide, and Polls Show It.

Below is a list I found in Salon of policies Americans would rush to enact.

And the trouble is Democrats are afraid to totally embrace this, for fear of what, alienating non-college-educated white men? Er, maybe.

Here's the list:
  • Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices (supported by 79 percent)
  • Offering students the same interest rates as big banks (78 percent)
  • Universal pre-kindergarten (77 percent)
  • Fair trade that protects workers, the environment and jobs (75 percent)
  • Ending tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas (74 percent)
  • Ending gerrymandering (73 percent)
  • Letting homeowners pay down mortgages with 401k funds (72 percent)
  • Debt-free college at public universities (71 percent)
  • A $400 billion infrastructure jobs program (71 percent)
  • Requiring the NSA to get warrants before collecting our data (71 percent)
  • Disclosing corporate spending on politics and lobbying (71 percent)
  • Medicare buy-in, available to all (71 percent)
  • Closing offshore corporate tax loopholes (70 percent)
  • A "Green New Deal," creating millions of clean energy jobs (70 percent)
  • A Full Employment Act (70 percent)
  • Expanding Social Security benefits (70 percent)
How many of these things are you against? Thought so.

Get out and tell your representatives what you want. Then vote 2018.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Scott Pruitt's Corruption of the EPA Might Be the Worst of the Trump Effect

Scott Pruitt's living arrangement can only be considered classic corruption, deserving (in any rational, moral administration) of termination, even legal actions. In Trumpworld? Who knows, and that's an ominous result of the overall corruption Trump seems to relish.

We are and should be moving away from coal. Trumpworld wants it back. Why?

Paul Krugman presents all we need to know in a Twitter thread:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Trump Can't Find a Lawyer? It's Because He Can't Tell the Truth.

Donald Trump is coming up on the moment when he has to talk to Robert Mueller. If he can't pack some truth for the trip, he's fried, seriously fried. Lying to Mueller has been more than one man's Waterloo.

Trump is always needing to reinforce, for his base, the notion that he's delivering on his promises. (That's why he's started trade wars by putting tariffs in place, only to roll them back when the shit hits the international fan. Real tough guy!) So he's "tough" on trade like he promised.

Congress, though, even a Republican-controlled Congress, won't give him the border wall he promised Mexico would pay for. But, goddamit, he's getting his wall after all! Or maybe not
The project, which started in 2009, will replace a 2.25-mile section in the California-Mexico border wall, according to a statement last month from US Customs and Border Protection.

The original wall in that section, built in the 1990s, had been built from recycled metal scraps and old landing mat materials, the agency said.

"Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years," CBP said.

The project will replace the old wall with a 30-foot-high, bollard-style structure.
Great. Not only is it an old wall built during the Obama years, it's been breached so many times it's laughable. But it'll be a GREAT WALL! For his base, at least.

He can't even brag about his wall without constructing a large fraud -- mostly because nobody's building a goddam wall for him. Congress won't give him the money. So he resorts to, well, his usual tactics. He'd better not try that with Mueller. Any lawyer worth is salt is pretty sure Trump can't help himself. Why should they believe otherwise? Hence, no legal team worth a damn. Pity.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Why Bolton and Trump Will Fail at Their Alt-Diplomacy

The Bobsey Twins of America First Militarism are bound to fail because their tough-guy diplomacy is beyond ham-fisted.

When all options are on the table, you need to use all options.

This is not original thinking in that I gleaned it from two articles I just read, but alarm bells did go off when I grasped the implications. On the Twitter, Ross Douthat pointed to a Reuters bit that had John Bolton schooling Trump on required parameters to a North Korea meeting, at this point tentatively scheduled for May. Bolton went on Radio Free Asia to pontificate:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, said Trump should insist that any meeting he holds with North Korea’s leader must be focused squarely on how to eliminate that country’s nuclear weapons program as quickly as possible.
Bolton, a hawk who Trump named on Thursday to replace H.R. McMaster in the key security role, told Radio Free Asia on Monday that discussions at the proposed summit with Kim Jong Un should be similar to those that led to components of Libya’s nuclear program being shipped to the United States in 2004.
Great. Bolton chooses an Asian venue to tell Kim he'll insist on a Libya-style solution -- in which, years later, Qaddafi is pulled from a culvert and ends up beaten to death by the side of the road. Yeah, Kim's totally going for that offer.

Then, in the next article I read, we've got Vox pointing out the implications of Trump pulling out of the Iran deal:
What does Donald Trump’s stance on the Iran deal have to do with his relationship with North Korea? It turns out, quite a lot.

That’s because the president’s desire to pull out of a historic nuclear deal with Iran could likely hurt his chances of reaching a significant weapons agreement with Pyongyang.

There’s a simple reason why, experts tell me: If Trump backtracks on America’s promises to Tehran, then North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has no reason to trust Trump during negotiations about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
Game, set, match. What's worse is that the next review of the Iran deal is set for May (the U.S. revisits the deal every 90 days to check if Iran is complying), ostensibly the month the North Korean talks are set, although Kim hasn't actually signals it's on. I guess this is supposed to be set up by the South Koreans, or something.

So, here's the deal. Bolton wants a pre-condition that North Korea will end its nuclear program in order to meet, and Trump is set, at Bolton's encouragement, to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal just as the two sides are scheduled to meet. Why, then, would Kim agree to anything? So he can agree to something you can't trust the Americans to uphold, or agree to something that ends with him dead in a ditch?

I don't think so. Way to go, Monsters of War™.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Arm Teachers. That Will Fix Everything.

We are insane.

Uh, could it possibly be the guns? And, hey, why not universal concealed carry?! (They want it in the omnibus budget bill on Friday.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Trump Says So Many Ridiculous Things, It's Hard to Keep Track

In a speech to donors, Donald Trump admits to lying to Trudeau. And that's not the worst thing in the speech.

The master deal maker can't be trusted. Who, now, will make a deal? No one.

Much has been made of Donald Trump making stuff up in a conversation on trade with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Aside from admitting to lying, there's something deeply pathetic about the whole business. Not only does Trudeau know that Trump's full of shit, he also knows that Trump can't win in a negotiation about NAFTA, primarily because he's revealed that he has a losing hand. The U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada!

And that's not even the worst thing in the now-infamous donor speech. Here, buried in an article about it, Trump threatens to blow up our mutual defense deal with South Korea, over what? Naturally, trade:
Trump also implied during the speech that he could pull U.S. troops stationed in South Korea if he didn’t strike a trade deal favorable to the U.S. with the country, the newspaper reported.
“We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them. We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military,” Trump said. "We have right now 32,000 soldiers between North and South Korea. Let’s see what happens.”
Let's get this straight: Trump has just agreed to meet with Kim Jong-un to, possibly, negotiate a deal on denuclearization, and as they ramp up for the meeting, Trump announces that he'd consider pulling our forces out of South Korea if it doesn't reduce our trade deficit. I can hear Kim yucking it up across the DMZ.

Trump and The Art of the Deal? More like The Art of the WTF.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

John McCain, Victim of Torture, Hints He Will Lead the Charge Against Confirming "Ms. Torture."

More than a decade ago, the public editor for NPR explained why she was dropping "torture" as a term and substituting "enhanced interrogation." (Her rationale was that we didn't know what defined torture.) A long-time contributor, I haven't given NPR a dime since. We know what torture is, and Gina Haspel enabled it, directed it, then covered it up.

John McCain's less than stellar medical care in captivity was a form of torture.

It's gratifying that Rand Paul has already announced his vehement opposition to Gina Haspel for CIA Director. John McCain hasn't stated opposition but has declared what he needs to see from her even to consider a "yes" vote:
The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history. Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process. I know the Senate will do its job in examining Ms. Haspel’s record as well as her beliefs about torture and her approach to current law.
Such a statement invites those on the Senate Intelligence Committee to offer no quarter to Ms. Haspel in her confirmation hearing. Will she get by? Should she even be considered in light of her horrendous career as a mocking, almost celebratory practitioner of torture?
One declassified cable, among scores obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit against the architects of the “enhanced interrogation” techniques, says that chief of base [Haspel, in Thailand,] and another senior counterterrorism official on scene had the sole authority power to halt the questioning.

She never did so, records show, watching as Zubaydah vomited, passed out and urinated on himself while shackled. During one waterboarding session, Zubaydah lost consciousness and bubbles began gurgling from his mouth. Medical personnel on the scene had to revive him. Haspel allowed the most brutal interrogations by the CIA to continue for nearly three weeks even though, as the cables sent from Thailand to the agency’s headquarters repeatedly stated, “subject has not provided any new threat information or elaborated on any old threat information.”

At one point, Haspel spoke directly with Zubaydah, accusing him of faking symptoms of physical distress and psychological breakdown. In a scene described in a book written by one of the interrogators, the chief of base came to his cell and “congratulated him on the fine quality of his acting.” According to the book, the chief of base, who was identified only by title, said: “Good job! I like the way you’re drooling; it adds realism. I’m almost buying it. You wouldn’t think a grown man would do that.”
Gruesome. Do you want someone like this in charge of the CIA, an institution that has operated black sites and black ops around the globe for decades? The answer can only be a loud no. Write your senator.

Note. When NPR disavows that position and apologizes, I'll gladly start contributing again.