Tuesday, February 28, 2017

This Week in Trump's Travesties: DeVos Celebrates the Segregated South!

In the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up department, Trump's cabinet may bring the Lucky Strike Hit Parade back. It's at least that retro.

When all those billions and a cabinet seat can't stop you from being stupid.

Yes, Betsy DeVos has decided to praise all-black colleges as being innovators in school choice.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have done this since their founding. They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.
HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.
That's right, Betsy. Blacks institute colleges for themselves because whites wouldn't let them into white-only colleges. Innovation and school choice!

It's going to be a long four years.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Okay, I Get It. Trump Has a Political Philosophy. Trouble Is, It's Horrible.

Aside from the fact that Trump is a REAL JERK and handles his job hobbled by an infirmity (his narcissism overwhelms his personal honor at nearly every turn), he brings a despicable outlook to the Oval Office.

Which one is the other's pit bull? Hard to tell. They probably think the other one is.

The political and cultural maelstrom we find ourselves in is the result of a number of factors, and the swirl makes it hard to pinpoint what's happening and why. First, there's the utter incompetence. Then there's the adoption of Hitlerian propaganda practices (okay, I went there. Get over it. Trump literally read the book and follows Hitler's techniques.) Mix in a set of advisers and spokespeople that emulate his "brand." And we haven't even gotten to policy yet.

The policy is emerging but was for a while obscured by what I suppose could be called the Trump Effect. That Effect may be a permanent fixture of his administration (may it be mercifully short!), but in the end it's the policy that will matter.

It can be best summed up as We the People being supplanted by Me the Person. This applies both domestically and internationally, depending on scale. Me the Country is our new nationalism, and Trump embodies it horribly. He was born to be this thug of a guy. He bullies at home and abroad. Fucking his contractors over during his real estate career was fueled by the same instinct that drives him to bully Mexico. Mexico, for Pete's sake!

That instinct drives him to use the Bully Pulpit as the best toy he's ever found. He can turn it on Germany, France, or any country that pisses him off because they might get over on him. It's as simple as that. He trashes NATO because the members are a little slack on their "dues." Other presidents got that the answer there is "So what? NATO lets us extend our power right up to Russia's borders and actually lets us do it on the cheap. NATO for the win!"

Not good enough for a bully. The same instinct that wants Mexico to pay for the wall is what drives him to flail at NATO. The result is the same as any schoolyard bully. He rules the schoolyard and everyone hates him to the core. That's not winning, dude. But bullies never get that.

America First is the schoolyard bully's equivalent of a foreign policy and demonstrates the shortsightedness of the bully's approach. Sure, he controls the schoolyard, but in the end he's isolated. He's got everybody's lunch money, but no one wants to eat with him.

This metaphor works, so I'm going to run with it.

Domestically we can view Trumpism as a battle for supremacy at school. A typical school has an administrative approach to education. Chaos is not a school principal's friend. Harmony and regularity -- following school rules, being on time, doing your homework -- is key and applies to students and staff alike. A bully walks into this harmony and disrupts it. Breaking rules and tossing norms aside is the bully's stock-in-trade, it's his superpower.

So Bannon and Trump want to deconstruct the administration, destroy the norms, abandon the regulations, essentially render government impotent. All they really want is the force, the power, which is, in their minds, rooted in two things: wealth and the military.

First, get the money, which involves soothing the donor class, who'll let them have the military, which insures them of being the preeminent bullies, the toughest kids on the block. The donor class looks at them with a certain disdain, seeing them as the crude ruffians they are. They're to be tolerated because the elite have been placated, bought off with tax cuts and deregulation.

The balance of power is thus achieved. The true ruling class, the hyper-wealthy elite, allow the petty thugs to "run things" while the elite summer in the South of France.

This might be Trump's special sauce. His supporters are not of a piece, not all in the same basket, so to speak. The donor class tolerates him because he gives them their due. The Christian conservatives tolerate him -- heathen though he obviously is -- because he'll give them the Supreme Court picks, keep women barefoot and pregnant, and slap down the gays and other perceived perverts of the newly evolved Free World. The white working class admire him because they aspire to be like him: successful, in charge, and grabbing them by the pussy. His swagger is the swagger they wish to make their own. If only the rubes knew how little he'll do for them, how little he cares.

And so it goes. Putin, by the way, appeals to Trump in the way that one bully might give another bully his props. Trump admires Putin, aspires to be like him (Putin could give a shit about Trump, by the way, most especially because Trump he regards as a patsy), but it's a dangerous game. A Hitler can be useful to a Stalin, even become an ally, but that generally can't last. You know what happened with them!

But thugs, even crude ruffians from Queens that have their day, cushioned by Daddy's money, will come to their end, flaming out in all their glory, or snuffed in a diner like Tony Soprano, never seeing it coming. When the Trump Team runs its course, hopefully America will survive, and Me the Person will return to We the People reasonably unscathed.

In the meantime, Bannon and Trump will run the country through their policy mill and deconstruct what we've built and come to know and love as America, crumbling though it already is from years of underfunding and neglect. Hopefully, we'll recognize it when we get it back, and get back to work.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trump's Econ 101 -- The Sam Brownback Mistake: Predicting Wild Growth That Can't Happen.

In 2012, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback cut income taxes on top earners, aka "the rich," as well as eliminating them for some 330,000 small businesses, promising an economic miracle. The opposite happened.

The Brownback experiment: Mess up your economy, then go after the judges.

Zombie lie n. Lie that just won't die, no matter what the facts are. Tax cuts lead to higher tax revenue is a zombie lie.

Donald Trump is going the classic Republican route with his "tax cuts on the rich will make everybody rich, believe me," and guaranteeing that "Nobody cuts taxes like I do, in fact I'm the best tax cutter you've ever seen, possibly in the world." Okay, he didn't say that, but he could have.

He's guaranteeing income tax cuts -- along with corporate tax cuts and elimination of the estate tax -- will stimulate growth so much that he's basing his budget on something like 3 to 3.5 percent annual growth. Then he's ordering his budget estimators to back-fill the budget using those growth numbers over ten years. Ordinarily, presidents use the Congressional Budget Office for these numbers, but they're lower, so, no, he says use his numbers.

Can anyone say catastrophic deficits? Anyone? Bueller?

Savvier economists don't simply say, "Who knows, Trump could be right!" They say maybe we're at or near the top of a growth cycle, and it's hard to project high growth. In fact, the Fed is already looking at rate hikes to cool off the economy to stave off inflation. The technical term is "taking away the punch bowl." Oddly enough, Trump is in favor of raising interest rates.

Cooling off the economy just when we get to something like full employment is the same as saying, "Sorry, no more wage growth for you, workers." But that's another hard-to-fathom matter for another day. Suffice it to say lower wage growth is no way to grow the economy at Trump-like projections.

Another reason not to expect a boom is that, unlike Reagan and Clinton, who came into office during economic downturns with plenty of room for an upturn, Trump is coming in during what will probably be called the Obama Recovery, which allows less growth. Also, with the boomers retiring in droves, they're not around to put back to work anyway, not to mention they're saving, not spending.

Finally, Trump wants to shrink the federal workforce while freezing their wages, round up undocumented workers -- even though they make up much of our agricultural and construction workforce -- and send them to Mexico, not to mention trashing Obamacare, roiling the healthcare market that happens to amount to seven percent of our economy, and all at the same time! Oh, and how about a trade war with Mexico and China? That will deliver growth, right? We could put a tariff on goods coming from Mexico and Canada and totally disrupt our supply chains, and that will mean jobs, right?

But, hell, he wants to expand America's number of nuclear bombs, so maybe that'll take up the growth slack.

Here's an article that examines what kind of growth we can reliably anticipate. Here's what Paul Krugman thinks. Here's Larry Summers' dim outlook for secular stagnation, though he feels substituting Keynesian fiscal stimulus for monetary stimulus could help us out of the trap (Republicans hate fiscal stimulus). And here's a look at what Brownback economics have yielded.

Trump, are you listening? (No, he's probably tweeting. Sad!)

Note. It's easy to attribute economic growth or recession to presidents during their terms when they didn't have any control over them. While that's generally true, Barack Obama came into his presidency with a TARP program that he accepted and allowed to run its course. That turned out to be a good move. He also can be given credit for the ARRA stimulus act that has been credited with helping in the recovery from the Great Recession, and his saving of the auto industry can be chalked up to his actions, as well. Finally, he didn't get in the way of the Fed, which under Bernanke and Yellen have guided monetary policy well, keeping interest rates low when they had to be. Quantitative easing worked, and the current low interest rates prove it. (How it unwinds is another story. Stay tuned on that one.)

When I referred to an Obama Recovery that will accrue to his credit, in all fairness what's happened since Trump's election can be properly added to the Obama Recovery while simultaneously being referred to as the Trump Bubble. Businesses and the wealthy are suitably feeling the "animal spirits" unleashed by Trump's promises of tax cuts and deregulation. Give Trump his due.

But here's the rub: Bubbles tend to pop with the gusto with which they are inflated. And, if the Trump Bubble is inspired by wildly erroneous predictions of growth and too much interference with markets in the name of America First, then Trump will write into history his own Trump Crash. He -- and we -- should be forewarned. Don't expect conservatives to do the warning. They've been waiting for this tax-cut and deregulation party for too long.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Donald Trump Is Downplaying Protesters at Town Halls. Dumb Move.

Isn't that how the Democrats lost their majority starting in 2010?

Don't see how this ends well for Republicans. See any "liberal activists?"

First, the tweet that tells the protesters they're on the right track.

The problem for Trump is that they're not "so-called." They're freaking angry, and they're not "liberal activists," they're called constituents. Also, they're angry about losing Obamacare. And the Republicans are intent on taking it away and giving back a shittier plan.
WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Thursday presented their rank-and-file members with the outlines of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaning heavily on tax credits to finance individual insurance purchases and sharply reducing federal payments to the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan and two House committee chairmen stood with the new secretary of health and human services, former Representative Tom Price of Georgia, preparing Republican lawmakers for a weeklong Presidents’ Day recess that promises to be dominated by angry or anxious questions about the fate of the health law.
But the talking points they provided did not say how the legislation would be paid for, essentially laying out the benefits without the more controversial costs.
It also included no estimates of the number of people who would gain or lose insurance under the plan, nor did it include comparisons with the Affordable Care Act, which has extended coverage to 20 million people.
With the House proposal’s rollback of Medicaid payments to the states, it appears likely that the number covered would be smaller.
House Republican leaders asserted in a document describing their plan that they would not “pull the rug out from anyone who received care under states’ Medicaid expansions.”
But Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, expressed alarm, saying the proposals would “put a huge amount of pressure on state budgets and put many Americans at risk of losing health care coverage.”
Sketchy as the outline was, it envisions major changes.
It would fundamentally remake Medicaid, a Great Society program that provides health care to more than 70 million Americans, not just the poor, but also middle-class people who have run out of money and need nursing home care. Under the plan, Medicaid, an open-ended entitlement program designed to cover all health care needs, would be put on a budget.
The Affordable Care Act’s subsidies, which expand as incomes decline, giving the poorer people more help, would be replaced by fixed tax credits to help people purchase insurance policies. The tax credits would increase with a person’s age, but would not vary with a person’s income.
And new incentives for consumers to establish savings accounts to pay medical expenses still assume that workers would have money at the end of a pay period to sock away.
The picture so far:
  • The essential features right now of the Republican plan is to remove the original funding for Obamacare and pay for it with reduced spending on Medicaid. That can only reduce the number of people who can get Medicaid and/or reduce the amount of care available.
  • Also, they want to block-grant Medicaid money to the states and cap it for the future.
  • Next, they want to remove subsidies and replace them with tax credits that favor age over income. That leaves the young and middle-aged poor and lower-income people with reduced care.
  • And they want to push health savings accounts, which working-class people have little or no money to invest in, though it's a boon for the wealthy who can use them as tax deductions. 
  • They also are proposing that we tax work-based health insurance previously protected. That will increase the costs for people currently getting their insurance from work.
  • They also want to reintroduce insurance plans that offer bare-bones coverage that young shoppers favor. The problem is that the income from these plans don't help pay for high-risk customers like those with preexisting conditions.
  • Those with preexisting conditions they want to put into high-risk pools with subsidy support. Those were tried before and mostly became prohibitively expensive.
  • They also won't promise coverage to those with preexisting conditions unless they have "continuous coverage," which looks to be a mechanism for letting people lose their coverage.
  • When the risk pools get out of whack, insurers will drop out of the insurance exchanges, leaving some with few or no choices, leading to the collapse of the exchange system. But that's feature, not a bug, of the Republican plan.
Talk like this won't discourage people from swamping town hall meetings. It will make them yell louder. Those of us who wish to improve Obamacare rather than destroy it, will hope the din increases exponentially.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn Gets Ready for a Town Hall.

Apparently she knows how beloved she is in the Era of Trump.

A little freaked, dear?

Hey, Marsha, why don't you tell them how you're going to repeal and replace Obamacare?

Monday, February 20, 2017

The News Is Real. Trump Is Real. The Lies He Tells Are Real.

If we are to defeat Trump, it will not be by using his framing of ideas and events. It will be by reporting our reality and framing our story and beliefs. Trump is real. His lies are real. A solution to him is real.

I borrowed the above graphic from Juan Cole's clear-minded presentation of Trump's current set of misinformation, focused on a terror attack in Sweden that never happened and an indictment of immigrant crime that is not real. Read it here. Visit Juan Cole's informative blog -- I've been reading it for years -- to get the inside track on events in the Middle East with fewer of the filters the media uses in its regular narrative.

Here's the Trump tweet explaining how he came up with a Swedish terror problem:

Great. It's from Fox News. Our real president relies on a known fake-news site. Got it.

The real story on Sweden? Here's a good look.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Freedom of the Press Is the Enemy of America. So Says Trump.

Right there in the First Amendment, which includes our most important rights, we establish the freedom of the press as the birthright of all Americans. Who knew the press would end up our principal enemy? I mean, who knew?

Donald Trump: What's he doing, practicing giving the evil eye?

I know. I read Donald Trump's tweets just to gauge his mental state. Today:

And Rush Limbaugh, voice of the people, knows better!

Okay. Just an observation here: Calling them the FAKE MEDIA might make you feel good, Trump, but I'm pretty sure they're REAL. It's the news you want to call FAKE. Might work on getting that together. I mean, if you want to make sense. Oooh, maybe you don't. Sneaky!

No Choice: A Full-Frontal Attack on Trump and What He Stands For

In a way -- after watching him froth at the mouth at yesterday's press conference -- we have no choice anymore but to work, 24/7, to get rid of this monstrosity. And of course I mean politically. Our nation's very survival, our way of life, is at stake.

Donald Trump is not fit to lead the U.S. Period.

There are a couple of ways of doing this. We can march, and all of us should attend as many anti-Trump marches as we can. Pick your cause and march. But we can't march every day. But we can do a lot of things to resist:
  • Contact your senators and congressman. I live in blue-blue California, so mostly that's a waste of energy, although sending the email to moderate Dianne Feinstein once or twice is wise. I do on most issues where I think she can be squishy. If you're in a red state, have at 'em, early and often.
  • Contact more than just your own congresspeople. Email as many as you can, and CALL THEM WHEN YOU HEAR THEM ACTING IN CONCERT WITH DONALD TRUMP. Example: You hear or see a senator or congressperson on the media that obfuscates or otherwise buys into the false narrative that Trump and his people perpetuate, call him and tell his office that you're not buying his or her bullshit, and that WORKING WITH TRUMP IS A TICKET TO GETTING PRIMARIED, and you're willing to send bucks out of state to help do just that.
  • Yes, make a stand on social media -- any of them and all of them -- regardless of comments that you're "too political." Tell your friends that we're on dangerous ground. Don't hesitate to engage Trumpsters with logic and truth, at least up to the point where they go into alternative-facts-land. Then just disengage.
  • This is not a "political" moment. This is Trump and his crowd making an all-out assault on the environment, our safety net, our health care, our well-earned retirement security (what little we have), our financial protections, our legal system, our free press, our alliances in Europe and Asia that we've spent generations crafting and preserving. It goes on and on. They want to destroy public education, as well as public health. And make the rich richer while they're at it. So fight back whenever you hear of another outrage. And there will be many.
  • Find ways to work against the alt-media. Let Fox News, Breitbart, etc. know that you'll be looking for ways to boycott their sponsors. Google ways of doing just that. It's worked in the past!
The Internet will provide ways of emailing lots of public officials. Go to the websites and launch the attack. Email members of the media. Join product boycotts.

Trump went on TV yesterday and said, "The leaks are real, but the news is fake." Does that look anything like what George Orwell warned us against? UH, YEAH!

Think of your own ways of resisting and putting the bastards on notice. We can't just drink beer and barbecue anymore. (We can do that, but...) We need something to claim for the Resistance, several times a day. Then have that beer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blink, and Trump Effs Up Worse.

Just some OMG tweets to share!

ROFLOL and pulling my hair out...

A Real Scandal Builds Around Trump. Congressional Hearings? Don't need 'Em.

There were something like thirty-three hearings on Hillary Clinton's nothing-burgers of scandal. Trump gets embroiled in a real scandal involving real breaking of the law, and what? Yawn.

Jason Chaffetz: We don't need to show you no stinking hearings!

At least if you're going to be hypocritical and ridiculously partisan, you might as well do it both ways.

Investigate Clinton? Sure! Investigate Flynn? Nah! Clinton never got her emails hacked. Flynn called the Russians -- it's on tape! -- and cut deals to cut sanctions, breaking at least one clear law. So, of course, no reason to investigate.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday he will not pursue an investigation into what contacts Michael Flynn had with the Russian government before Donald Trump took office, and whether Flynn then lied about his communications.
Another congressman suggested it's the leakers that should get busted, not the perp:
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday he may carry out an investigation ― but regarding the leaks of details about Flynn’s call, rather than his actual conduct.
And, of course, who's waiting for Comey -- who's been on this for a while now -- to announce an investigation? Er, everyone. Any bets on what will happen?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Intelligence Community Doesn't Trust Trump. I Wonder Why.

Does Russia have ears in the White House? Many in the IC believe so, and they're actively searching for ways to limit the intel Trump receives. How do we prepare for the next crisis?

Flynn was fired by the Obama administration. Will Trump make it two in a row?

Former General Michael Flynn, ostensibly head of Trump's National Security Counsel, has a Russia problem, as in he talks too much with Russia. That's led the intelligence community to distrust him and others in the security confines of the White House. If spooks can't trust Donald Trump, how can he be prepared for future crises? The answer is he can't. Yikes.

Read this article in the Observer. A taste:
There is more consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump’s lackadaisical attitude toward the President’s Daily Brief, the most sensitive of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly. The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points. Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.
In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.
Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.
What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.
Yikes, indeed. But there's more. The National Security Council is itself in horrible disarray:
WASHINGTON — These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.
Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks.
The leaks have reached a fever pitch inside the White House, partly due to the well-worn practice of using leaks to cover one's ass and to place blame on rivals. As chaos reigns and staffers begin to wonder whose head is going to roll, self-protection is the name of the game.

What that's produced in the White House is scant policy and lots of toxic ideology, which dribbles out in the form of Trump's tweets and his surrogates' appearances on news shows. That stuff is pretty bleak. If the Trump Team hasn't got a handle on the job in three weeks -- and a couple of months of the "transition" -- then when will they? People are beginning to think never.

Even if it could be fixed, who would do it? Who is going to "fix" Trump?

Of course, this is only foreign policy and military stuff. That's not as important as banning Muslims, deporting Mexicans, and building walls.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Does Trump Make People Lie in Order to Join His Administration? Jeff Sessions Thinks So.

Holy crap. At Jeff Sessions swearing-in (his swearing-in!) the new AG dissembled right out of the chute.

Welcome aboard, Jeff. Get ready to distort facts because that's what we do here.

At his swearing-in, Sessions included this in his remarks:
...We have a crime problem.  I wish the blip -- I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip.  My best judgement, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.  We will deploy the talents and abilities of the Department of Justice in the most effective way possible to confront this rise in crime and to protect the people of our country.
Okay, emphasis mine. Points:
  • The dude can barely string a sentence together.
  • blip noun
     an unexpected, minor, and typically temporary deviation from a general trend.
  •  So, is it a blip or a permanent trend?
  • trend noun
     a general direction in which something is developing or changing.
  • So, a trend, by definition is not permanent, it's a direction that has come about through a change, which then can change.
So, what's real and what's not? The public -- probably due to numerous factors -- thinks crime is up, especially among conservatives:

And what's the truth?

So there we are. Despite public perception, especially among conservatives, violent crime has gone steadily down for years, except for a couple of minor "blips" that disturbed the downward "trend."

See how easy it is to use words correctly? Someone tell Sessions. Don't bother with Trump. Truth and meaning is too fluid with him. Let's go to the tape:

Trump's good, though. He got Sessions trained in his bullshit ways in record time:

(Couldn't stop the autoplay after the segment I chose. Just stop the video if you don't want to hear Trump run on about our horrible, horrible, double-horrible, crime-infested country.)

Remember: This is all based on the Richard Nixon model of a dangerous, dark, crime-ridden America that only he could save through his commitment to law and order. This is out-and-out fear-mongering of the worst kind. Don't fall for it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Intel Visits Oval Office to Announce Arizona Plant It Shut Down in 2014. Whaa?

Yeah, makes your head spin how much bullshit is spun out of the White House these days.

I've liked Intel as a corp. for a long time. Don't make me go all AMD on your ass.

(Updated below)

Okay, WTF. Here's TPM's story about Intel CEO announcing a big investment in an Arizona factory:
"It's an honor to be here today representing Intel and to be able to announce our $7 billion investment in our newest most advanced factory, Fab 42, in Chandler, Arizona," Krzanich said.
The executive said the factory will produce 7-nanometer semiconductor chips and create about 3,000 direct jobs, with over 10,000 more created in support of the factory.
"Thank you, Brian," Trump said. "We have something over there that will show a little bit about the new product."
Fine. Sounds good. But, er, I followed a link later in the story and found this from The Oregonian about Intel shutting construction of the plant down in 2014:
Intel has indefinitely postponed opening a new, $5 billion factory in Arizona amid slack demand in the chipmaker’s business.
Construction began three years ago, but The Oregonian reported last spring that manufacturing tools slated for the new Fab 42 in Arizona were being diverted to Intel’s factories in Hillsboro. The Arizona Republic reported this morning that Intel will make its new, 14-nanometer chips in existing Arizona factories and mothball Fab 42.
Okay, I get it. Intel builds a plant, finds out that demand is slack, and shuts it down before production begins. Three years later, it decides to activate the plant. I have no doubt that companies do this all the time, here and abroad.

But do you have to go to the White House to make your company look somehow patriotic because, er, demand has increased? You're trashing your brand playing Trump's game. Watch out for blowback, because it's coming.

I'm only one guy, and there are only about one and a half companies that make processors -- yeah, AMD rates a "half" -- but I'm not going out of my way to make my next device have an Intel chip. Techies have memories. Time to use mine. AMD chips work, BTW.

Update. That didn't take long. First blowback was 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Ordinary Truth? Ordinary People Enforced Trump's Muslim Ban, and Might Again.

This is how authoritarianism works, with everyday people going to their everyday jobs and doing what they're told. Someday maybe -- maybe -- they wake up and say "Holy shit, what have I done?" Or not.

...but Americans enforced Trump's ban anyway. It's the way fascism works, whether
they sense the cruelty or not. So, yeah, marching helps build much needed awareness.

We don't know what will happen -- at this hour -- with President Bannon's Trump's Muslim ban, but while it was on the books, much cruelty happened:
A week ago, men and women went to work at airports around the United States as they always do. They showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, perhaps dropped off their kids at school. Then they reported to their jobs as federal government employees, where, according to news reports, one of them handcuffed a 5-year-old child, separated him from his mother and detained him alone for several hours at Dulles airport.
At least one other federal employee at Dulles reportedly detained a woman who was traveling with her two children, both U.S. citizens, for 20 hours without food. A relative says the mother was handcuffed (even when she went to the bathroom) and threatened with deportation to Somalia.
These and many other inhumane acts happened before these ordinary people who perpetrated them went home, had dinner, watched TV, and tucked in their kids.

Many people will say, "This is not my America." But will it be loud enough? And will the courts hear? Let's hope so.

(Thanks to here via Eschaton)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bad to Worse to Worst: Spicer Says Anti-Trump Protesters Are Paid.

Who is directing this crap? For, by now, we have to confront that the misinformation campaign (Trump just accused the "dishonest" media of covering up terrorist attacks, claiming "they have their reasons, and you understand them.") is all-encompassing. They will lie about practically anything without pause.

What can't he make up shit about? I don't know, maybe
he's only following a script. Ya think?!?

We're getting bowled over, but I'm sure that's part of the reason for the incessant crash of accusations, executive orders, denials, crazy-ass tweets, and so on. It will not stop until we cry uncle or move to Canada. I'm almost not joking.

Who knows? Maybe they're right. But if the liberals have a force of hundreds of thousands of paid protesters ready within hours of Trump's latest outrage to take to the streets in cities around the globe, I'll be fucked if we shouldn't have or couldn't have crushed Trumps balls in the recent election. How, then, didn't we?

Note. It was well-documented that much of the Tea Party movement was actually professionally organized and often paid astro-turf demonstrations. Fox News alone spent hundreds of hours advertising events and exaggerating their size afterwards:
Media Matters also noted that,
While discussing the April 15 protests on his April 6 program, Glenn Beck suggested that viewers could "[c]elebrate with Fox News" by either attending a protest or watching it on Fox News. Beck stated that in addition to himself, hosts Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity would be "live" at different protests. While Beck spoke, on-screen text labeled those protests as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties."
According to Jane Mayer in Dark Money,
"Freedom Works, it was later revealed, also had some hired help. The tax-exempt organization quietly cemented a deal with Glenn Beck, the incendiary right-wing Fox News television host who at the time was a Tea Party superstar. For an annual payment that eventually topped $1 million, Beck read "embedded content" written by the Freedom Works staff. They told him what to say on the air, and he blended the promotional material seamlessly into his monologue, making it sound as if it were his own opinion. The arrangement was described on FreedomWorks' tax disclosures as "advertising services."

Hmm. Fox News hosts hosted Tea Parties and promoted them.

What did FreedomWorks have to say about its role?

FreedomWorks, by its own admission, then, helped organize and fund the so-called Tea Party protests.
FreedomWorks is not required to disclose its donors. However, documents filed by donor organizations show that conservative foundations, trusts, and individuals, some with close ties to the Koch brothers, have donated large sums to FreedomWorks. These funders include the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, FreedomWorks "received nearly 60 percent of its $15 million in revenues from just four donors in 2012" who "gave between $1 million and $5 million each." According to documents leaked to Mother Jones, in 2012,
"Eight donors gave a half-million dollars or more; 22 donated between $100,000 and $499,999; 17 cut checks between $50,000 and $99,999; and 95 gave between $10,000 and $49,999. Foundations contributed $1.6 million in major gifts, and corporations donated $330,000."
Notice the DeVos money. That's connected to Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's pick for Education secretary. Of course, DeVos was a big contributor to Trump in the recent election.

So, to sum up, the Tea Party protesters, ostensibly in reaction to Obama's election and the move to pass the ACA, were heavily financed and organized by the right and supported openly by Fox News, with at least one its hosts, being openly paid $1 million to promote its events.

And Spicer has what on the worldwide resistance against Trump? A gut instinct or a script? I'd say a script. He hasn't shown any guts so far in his job.

Now Trump Is Claiming the Media Is Covering up Terrorist Attacks!

From bad to horrid is how Trump may always move. If you can't realize he's either gearing up for war (we've always been at war with Eurasia) or trying to continually ratchet up the fear, you're not listening. One way or another, the world must be a dark place for Trump to flourish. Who thinks this way?! Trump, Bannon, Pence? All of the above.

The media is hiding terrorist attacks. They don't even need to happen for us to be afraid!

Donald Trump is one barrel of laughs, you got to hand it to him. There's no dystopia that he can't make dystopier.

(When you click on the video, it autoplays the next in the WaPo loop. Click to quit anytime.)

Read the accompanying article. By the way, watching the video, don't you get the clear feeling Trump thinks he can bully-scare the courts into letting him have his Muslim ban? I don't think his odds are very good, but holy shit, he's going hard on them. Pretty sickening.

Trump's Fake News Trope Is a Purposeful Attempt to Assassinate Facts

Epistemic closure and cognitive bias aside, autocrats and would-be dictators rely on a constant stream of challenges to the truth. After all, truth is not the friend of those who would chase power by any means.

Trump is deeply unpopular, so polls have to be "fake news."

Trump is at it again. And I do mean again. He's been at war with the media from the beginning. Here's a reminder:
 The operating principle behind the Trump administration’s communications strategy appears to be to flood the zone with a litany of lies in order to obfuscate the facts.
But obfuscation alone isn't sufficient for Trump. He also needs to do away with the distributors of facts, the news media. Trump's approach here follows the authoritarian playbook — denigrate and delegitimize the news media while simultaneously building up an alternative media of sycophants.
To him, everything has been "rigged," especially when he wants them to be. The election was "rigged" until he won it. He lost the popular vote, though, so that part of the election was "rigged." Now he more than remains unpopular -- his numbers continue to slip -- so the current polls are "fake news," a nomenclature that grew up around actual efforts by his supporters to create a stream of misinformation mostly aimed at maligning Hillary Clinton. Some of these fake news efforts were driven by conservative allies, and some were managed by Russia, two facts that, naturally, Trump would contest.

Okay, the most recent poll says that American are against the Muslim ban -- and the wall against Mexico -- but, hey, that's a CNN poll. Advantage Trump? Who knows anymore? (That's the point.)

The Times itself pointed to the story they thought Trump hated, the one about his early stumbles. (I dunno, sorta looked like he's been stumbling a lot.)

These efforts to denigrate mainstream media are purposeful. As chief adviser Steve Bannon has declared, the Trump White House believes that the media is "the opposition party." How best to deal with the media? Marginalize them. How best to marginalize them? Make as many people as possible begin to doubt the media. Clearly the effort is not new but continues its success.

For concrete, measurable reasons, conservatives are victimized by fake news more than liberals. According to recent studies, both liberals and conservatives tend equally to believe stories about beneficial things, while conservatives believe stories about hazardous things to a far greater extent, regardless of their truthfulness (the stories used in the study, except two, were fabrications).

Yes, conservatives envisage a dark, dangerous future, while liberals see the arc of history bending toward progress. It's apparently in their particular DNA. And, boy, does it show up in their relative trust in the news.

Conservatives have always been more skeptical, while independents chart their usual centrist path. Only liberals remain trusting of mass media, though that has slipped, too.

As for now, Trump doesn't want you to trust mass media. Not that it's uniformly against him -- he's got the Wall St. Journal and a smattering of other newspapers on his side, not to mention talk radio and Fox News -- but that ANYONE is against him is more than he can stand. Being more or less still a 12-year-old, we can count on him tweeting in his own defense for the bulk of his presidency, which, one can only hope, doesn't run its full course.

Yes, I know I'm putting this Samantha Bee interview with Masha Gessen in to counter Trump, but he needs countering. And as Samantha Bee says, "We love Masha Gessen for so many things, but chief among them is her calming way of reminding us we're fucked." Watch the whole thing for so many reasons.

To wrap up this Trump-as-truth-denier mashup, let's throw in some thoughts about Trump and Putin from Garry Kasparov, noted Russian activist who also decided living in Russia wasn't life-affirming (or life-preserving). Except:
Trump also refers regularly to how he will demolish any and all critics and obstacles, from entire nations like Mexico to elected officials like Speaker Paul Ryan. He doesn’t talk about boring things like legality or procedure or how any of these threats and promises will be carried out. Before anyone can even ask, he’s on to the next audacious claim. “It will be taken care of!” “He’d better watch out!” “We’ll take the oil!” “They’ll pay for it all!” “It will be amazing!” Bold, decisive, fact-free, impossible, who cares? His followers love it.
All of these rhetorical habits are quite familiar to me and to anyone who has listened to Russian media—all state controlled—in the past decade. The repetition of the same themes of fear and hatred and racism, of victimhood, of a country beset by internal and external enemies, of how those enemies will be destroyed, of a return to national glory. How the Dear Leader apologizing or admitting error shows weakness and must never be done. Inspiring anger and hatred and then disavowing responsibility when violence occurs. It’s a match. As is the fixation with a leader’s personal strength and weakness, intentionally conflated with national strength and weakness.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bernie Says Trump's a Fraud, Mitt Says Trump's Off to "a Strong Start." Who Ya Gonna Believe?

I wonder how long Trump's base will put up with his betrayal. Answer: as long as they watch Fox News, InfoWars.com, and read Breitbart and Drudge Report.

Trump and the bankers, BFFs. The working man? Stiffed!

Bernie comes out with the truth of the matter:

And Trump admits it.

And Mitt Romney says Trump is off to a "strong start." As Krugman points out, forget the notion that Romney is "a good guy" for initially calling Trump a fraud. Now that Trump's cozying up with the right people, Mitt's all in. Sheesh. What did we expect?
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is praising President Trump's "strong start," citing his early push to fulfill various campaign pledges.
"We're all watching with interest. He’s obviously gotten off to a very strong start in terms of making a series of executive orders and making the changes that he promised during the campaign," Romney told the Deseret News on Friday.
The 2012 GOP presidential nominee acknowledged that Trump has faced "some bumps in the road."
Yeah, bumps in the road. Like the Constitution, for instance.

Donald Trump Is Playing a Losing Hand (Too Bad It's Ours...)

With poll numbers sinking like a stone, it's hard to maintain the narrative that Trump is "shaking things up." Flopping bigly is more like it.

It's hard to look at a graph and figure out exactly what's going on. Trump's numbers had already headed south prior to announcing his Muslim ban on Jan. 27th, and they even perked up a bit as his base probably generally supported it. But as the administration flailed with maintaining the ban in the face of court orders -- actually ignoring them for a time and flirting with contempt-of-court citations -- his approval sank precipitously.

As the most unpopular president in modern history at the outset of a presidency, Donald Trump managed to skip the honeymoon and move straight to "how did this guy get elected?" territory. With so much going on, it isn't even possible to say why his numbers dropped on Feb 3rd. Was it his yelling on the phone at the Australian prime minister? Was it asking at the National Prayer Breakfast for the nation to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger's Celebrity Apprentice ratings to approve? Was it Kellyanne Conway's making up a massacre to justify the Muslim ban? Was it White House meetings with Wall St. tycoons instead of advocates for working-class jobs?  Who knows, but this is obviously no way to run a presidency, that I can tell you.

What's even more alarming -- if you're Trump watching your poll numbers or simply an American citizen with a modest grasp of what happens in political life -- is what will proceed from this administration once it gets its cabinet of deplorables™ firmly in place. Each was chosen to dismantle their agencies, not to promote the value of their programs. (Yeah, three exceptions, luckily, might be Defense and Homeland Security, as well as CIA Director.)

Trump's base might cheer as he destroys Washington DC, but the resulting chaos will cost more jobs than his Wall St. bromance will ever produce. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, more and more Americans agree.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Businesses Were Supposed to Like Trump. Changing Their Tune?

Businesses welcomed Trump with his talk of corporate and personal tax cuts, but you can take only so much crazy before realizing that 800-lb. gorillas in the room are called that for a reason. Plus, there's some validity to Trump's-Actually-Deranged Syndrome.

Businesses being wary of Trump is actually a thing.

About being deranged? A case could be made.

And this was ten days ago.