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Monday, September 18, 2017

Emboldening White Collar Criminals

In 2002, hot on the heels of the most aggressive deregulatory moves in fifteen years, the Bush Administration opened the doors for egregious risk taking and poor bookkeeping by three large corporations: Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom. While the CEOs were punished with fines and brief jail time, the deregulation continued on for years -- until everything came crashing down in 2007.

Jump ahead another decade and here we are in 2017 with the broadest financial scandal in history, one that brings back memories of Enron. The Equifax data breach affected 143 million American consumers -- largely because someone thought it would be a good idea to set the username and password for the network admin to: admin, admin respectively.



But sloppy security only scratches at the surface.  Apparently Equifax had been hacked twice, with the most recent hack coming in March 2017, nearly six months prior to their news release. What took them so long to announce the hack? Equifax executives were busy dumping $1.8 million in their stock holdings:
It’s the stock sales by several executives that are likely to get the most scrutiny in light of the new timeline. On Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, regulatory filings show that three senior Equifax executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million, with none of the filings listing the transactions as being part of scheduled 10b5-1 trading plans. Equifax’s Chief Financial Officer John Gamble sold shares worth $946,374; Joseph Loughran, president of U.S. information solutions, exercised options to dispose of stock worth $584,099; and Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $250,458 of stock.
And from today's Twitter Moment: 
This goes beyond insider trading.  Doing the math, those three executives sold out 143,000,000 people to avoid losing $235,000 in stock value.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Do We Need a Recall Process?





I just undertook a relatively spontaneous week to detox from a number of things... I did a three day news cleanse (no food), a six day overall nutrition cleanse (no non-plant-based and few processed foods), a five day liver cleanse (no alcohol), and a week-long brain cleanse (no politics, and especially, no Trump!).


I pulled it off somehow, but in the same way I came back from those cleanses somehow not craving meat, cheese, carbs, fat, and alcohol, I find myself today returning to the internet with still very little desire to read or watch anything about politics and can't even look at Trump's face. We'll see if I can ease my way back into it, and if I can't, I might turn this blog back into its original topic -- the consolidation of industry, money, and power in this country, which did get some attention a week or so ago.


After getting back to the news late last night, the only thing that stood out to me (beyond the hurricanes) was Ta-Nahisi Coates' latest piece for the Atlantic on race relations:
In a recent New Yorker article, a former Russian military officer pointed out that interference in an election could succeed only where “necessary conditions” and an “existing background” were present. In America, that “existing background” was a persistent racism, and the “necessary condition” was a black president. The two related factors hobbled America’s ability to safeguard its electoral system. As late as July 2016, a majority of Republican voters doubted that Barack Obama had been born in the United States, which is to say they did not view him as a legitimate president. Republican politicians acted accordingly, infamously denying his final Supreme Court nominee a hearing and then, fatefully, refusing to work with the administration to defend the country against the Russian attack. Before the election, Obama found no takers among Republicans for a bipartisan response, and Obama himself, underestimating Trump and thus underestimating the power of whiteness, believed the Republican nominee too objectionable to actually win. In this Obama was, tragically, wrong. And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.” And in that perverse way, the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled.
The American tragedy now being wrought is larger than most imagine and will not end with Trump. In recent times, whiteness as an overt political tactic has been restrained by a kind of cordiality that held that its overt invocation would scare off “moderate” whites. This has proved to be only half true at best. Trump’s legacy will be exposing the patina of decency for what it is and revealing just how much a demagogue can get away with. It does not take much to imagine another politician, wiser in the ways of Washington and better schooled in the methodology of governance—and now liberated from the pretense of antiracist civility—doing a much more effective job than Trump.


Coates is right -- Trump's "appeal" (as it were) has been to white resentment, and his voters love it. Racism is still rampant, and today it's more apparent than it had been in a couple of decades.


However, I'm not 100% discouraged -- 10 months ago, we came 70,000-odd votes from electing a Democrat for the third term in a row since the '40s. The Obama presidency was an incredible success, and without Republican cheating that involved serious treachery, some missteps by the FBI, and/or voter suppression, Hillary Clinton is in the White House, with a mandate to build on Obama's accomplishments. Frankly, we were within reach of having as many as eight Democratic terms in the White House in a row. During that span since 1992, each Democrat that has won has done so fairly easily:


  • 1992: Clinton by 5.8 million votes and 202 electoral votes
  • 1996: Clinton by 8.2 million votes and 220 electoral votes
  • 2008: Obama by 9.5 million votes and 192 electoral votes
  • 2012: Obama by 5 million and 126 electoral votes


While not so for the Republicans:


  • 2000: Bush *lost* the popular vote and won by 5 electoral votes
  • 2004: Bush by 3 million votes and 35 electoral votes
  • 2016: Trump *lost* the popular vote by 2.9 million votes and won by 77 electoral votes (and many of those states when to him by tiny margins)


Prior to 1992, Reagan-Reagan-Bush slaughtered their Democratic opponents. So, while he Republicans have gotten very openly racist again and it certainly helps them among whites, they're still trending downwards at the presidential level to the point that when they do win, it's always controversial (and two of those three elections were definitely stolen and a third very suspicious).


When Democratic Presidents have been elected since 1992, they stayed in office relatively easily for two terms. Both Clinton and Obama won reelection by at least 5 million votes. They entered office popular, endured insidious beatdowns by the Republicans that hurt their approval ratings for a stretch of their presidency, but left office fairly popular (and in Obama's case, much more shortly after).


Republicans lose their shine within months of the beginning of their terms (Bush was in the low 40s on September 10, 2001, and Trump is historically unpopular for someone this early.


Additionally, two of those narrow three Republican "wins" happened on the back of a sudden spike in a political environmental factor favoring them. 2004 was really a war year and also would've gone against Bush if it weren't for the groundswell against gay marriage (yes, that was really a thing!) because of anti-gay marriage legislation on the ballots in many states. In 2016, the Comey letter torpedoed Clinton unexpectedly for two weeks. It's been said by Nate Silver and others that Clinton would've won had the election been held on October 25th. I'd also assert that if the election had been held on November 25th (which is an egregious counterfactual because that wasn't a Tuesday, but it works rhetorically), she would've won, as well. The Comey "retraction" happened on November 6th and never got time to register with voters.


Nothing in particular happened at the last minute to tilt Clinton to reelection in 1996 or Obama in 2012, and the 1992 and 2008 recessions turned elections that were already leaning towards the Democrat into a Democratic landslide.


The trend appears to be in our favor. The problem is, that unlike in in many other countries (and a number of U.S. states), we lack the ability for the to recall a President at the popular level. The end result is that the length of a President's term has no ability to correlate with a President's long-term job performance and a premium is placed more on the equivalent of a political insulin spike rather than keeping the populace properly fed (both literally and figuratively) over a longer span of time. To use a metaphor that's morbidly apropos, the odds of a Republican hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. are less likely than a nice spell of Democratic sunny days, but the citizens on the coast get the exact length of time to rebuild their homes as the hurricane does to destroy them. That's not a recipe for much, if any, new construction. Or, in the real world, constructiveness. It's a wonder we ever make any progress at all. It would be really helpful if we could shorten the length of those storms. 2020 and 2024 will tell us whether our political oceans are cooling (going "blue") or warming (going "red"). If we had a way to fix our impulsive mistakes in the middle of a term, I think we'd be far better off. I'd posit that there'd be a good chance Trump would be recalled if there were a recall election held today.


In the meantime, I find myself wondering whether, as one person who values his sanity, I should ride this out in the storm cellar with less awareness of what's going on in the rest of the world, or whether I should stay above ground trying to scream for someone to save me ("Barack? Mr. Comey? Mr. Mueller? Frau Merkel?") while watching the debris fly dangerously close to my brain...



Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Don't Understand How This Is Helpful

About 24 hours ago, I received this e-mail from the DCCC:




Since then, I've received two more e-mails with the subject line "we keep e-mailing" and "we're. SO. desperate."

Does this really work?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Late Night Track -- The Sky Is a Neighborhood


Show Your Work







One of my complaints about the #ImpeachTrump crowd is their tendency to scream into a void (I'm talking to you, Keith Olbermann). Who are they scolding? Impeachment is not a passive process. Someone has to actually do it, and in this case, that's a serious chunk of Congressional Republicans.


Very few Republicans have shown any evidence of listening to those calls, and it would take a lot of them in both houses to remove the President.



In Newsweek, Ronald Feinman took a step in at least providing some theoretical framework of a plan to impeach and convict Trump:


The centrists and moderate conservatives who are uncomfortable with Donald Trump are known as the Republican Main Street Partnership, estimated at 67 members of the House (about one out of every four Republicans) and a minimum of 4 in the Senate.
The members of this group are often called RINOS (Republicans in Name Only), and are often challenged in Republican primaries by the Club For Growth, FreedomWorks, and The Tea Party Movement. They’re frequently the target of the Alt Right movement represented by Breitbart News.
A lot of these Republican House members come from the Northeast and Midwest, as well as California and the Pacific Northwest and even a few from South Florida, belying the idea that all Republicans come primarily from the South, the Great Plains, and the Mountain West.
It would seem reasonable that at least 24 and more, likely up to half of the 67 members of this GOP group, would be susceptible to being convinced to vote to bring Donald Trump up on impeachment charges.
No one can be certain which specific members would do so, but among those who would seem likely to do so, without any guarantee of course, would be, in alphabetical order, Barbara Comstock of Virginia; Carlos Curbelo of Florida; Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania; Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida; Lynn Jenkins of Kansas; Peter King of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Darin LaHood of Illinois; Leonard Lance of New Jersey; David Reichert of Washington; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; Elise Stefanik of New York; Fred Upton of Michigan; Greg Walden of Oregon; and Lee Zeldin of New York.
This totals 15 members, just a dozen or so shy of the needed number, leaving only about another dozen needed to join them.
.
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So who in the Senate would be likely to vote to convict Donald Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in office?
Alphabetically, the list might include the following: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Richard Burr of North Carolina; Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Bob Corker of Tennessee; Joni Ernst of Iowa; Jeff Flake of Arizona; Cory Gardner of Colorado;   Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; Chuck Grassley of Iowa; Dean Heller of Nevada; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; Mike Lee of Utah; John McCain of Arizona; Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (after the embarrassment his wife suffered sharing the stage with Trump last Tuesday, and Trump's constant attacks on McConnell himself);  Jerry Moran of Kansas;   Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Rand Paul of Kentucky; Rob Portman of Ohio; Marco Rubio of Florida; Ben Sasse of Nebraska; Tim Scott of South Carolina; Dan Sullivan of Alaska; John Thune of South Dakota; Thom Tillis of North Carolina; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; and Todd Young of Indiana.
This is a list of 28 Republican Senators, of which just 19 are needed, and it seems like a legitimate list, when one studies these Senators and their records and utterances in the age of Trump.


He concludes:


So the idea that we cannot get rid of Donald Trump is clearly false. It is urgent that these members of the House of Representatives and Senate, of the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan begin the process.
It’s time for them to put country above party. 


I don't believe they will put country above party; they're Republicans. I continue to think that if Trump were to be removed from office be Congress, it would only be in the aftermath of a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterms (which isn't impossible). But I agree that if someone were to start a grassroots effort to tip the Republicans in that direction, these would be the targets.


When you want to discuss the feasibility of removing Trump, this Feinman piece should be the skeleton of your roadmap.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Don't Go Away


Wednesday Morning Twitshit








Which is why he's gutting the State Department. I don't even know what extortion money he's talking about. Food aid?





It took 24 hours of public shaming (again!) to make him spend 140-ish characters to say something he doesn't mean. He couldn't possibly mean it, because he doesn't have a heart.




Is he crying? It's hard to tell on Twitter, but it sure sounds like it.







Why does he have to go to Missouri to give that speech? Is he just trying to find another crowd that will emotionally fondle him?7

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What the Fuck, America?




A new Pew poll finds that Trump not only is incredibly unpopular, but that he was last year, too. Per WaPo:


Polling Donald Trump is one of the most difficult and confusing exercises in modern politics. In Trump, we have a guy who won the presidency by surprisingly beating the polls in key Rust Belt states, of course. We also have a guy who maintains the loyalty of his base despite major flaws that this base readily acknowledges. As I wrote in June 2016, nearly half of Trump supporters — 46 percent — said one or more of the following: He had made a racist comment, was prejudiced and/or was unqualified to be president. Not half of all voters; half of his supporters.
.
.
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Pew asked American adults how they felt about Trump's conduct in office: Whether they “liked” it, had “mixed feelings” or “didn't like it.” It won't surprise you to see about 6 in 10 (58 percent) don't like it; that tracks with the number of Americans who disapprove of Trump overall.


The other two pieces of the pie are where things get interesting. According to Pew, another 25 percent of American adults say they have “mixed feelings,” and just 16 percent “like” it. Only about 1 in 6 voters say they like the way Trump has conducted himself as president.


So how did he get enough people to vote for him to make it over the top in the Electoral College? Look at this:







Straight-up hate for Hillary Clinton.


As I write this, I just received an e-mail from Hillary's mailing list:


Like many of you, I've been following the news coming out of Texas with a heavy heart this week. The damage and destruction left behind in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is devastating, and my thoughts are with everyone affected.
We've also seen some incredible acts of kindness. From the rescue workers and volunteers who have gone without sleep for days, to Texans of all ages setting out in boats and kayaks to rescue their neighbors, to elected officials on the ground working together to put community ahead of political party, the best of America has shown up in Texas.
The Houston Chronicle has been collecting ways to help -- it's easier than ever to click and donate (I just did!).
Our friends and neighbors in Texas are counting on us, and I know we won't let them down.
Thank you,
Hillary


She's never running for anything again, but she's using her resources to do good for people.


Meanwhile, the walking orange disaster is using the suffering of others to sell fucking hats:


Trump arrived in Corpus Christi wearing the white “45/USA” hat that’s available for $40 on his own website, shop.donaldjtrump.com. This marks the third time in four days that the president has worn on-sale campaign merchandise during events related to Harvey, including two previous meetings for which the White House released photographs.


How can nominating literally the most admired woman in this country in the last three decades end up electing the most loathsome person in America? Obviously, we know the answers at this point, but this is just sticking in my craw today. I've had some degree of optimism lately that we will start to turn things around in the next several months, but I keep wondering if Trump is an anomaly, or whether Obama might have been. Coincidentally, the talk of the liberal intellectual interwebs is about a post that Jack Balkin wrote about exactly that question today:


A week after Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, I predicted—using Stephen Skowronek’s model of cycles of regime politics—that Trump would turn out to be a disjunctive president. He would preside over the end of the Reagan regime, just as Jimmy Carter had ushered in the end of the New Deal/Civil Rights Regime and Herbert Hoover had presided over the end of the long period of Republican dominance following the Civil War. That was not because Trump was anything like Hoover or Carter—both honest, intelligent, sober, and serious-minded men. It was rather because the Reagan regime is in a slow-motion collapse, a point I made in a speech at B.U. Law School in the fall of 2013 (and published the following year). The Republican Party, I argued, was in the midst of either a civil war or a nervous breakdown.
As a political regime grinds to its conclusion, the dominant party turns to heterodox outsiders who promise to restore past greatness, but instead find themselves overmatched by circumstance. They unravel the regime and create an opening for a new regime led by another political party.
Like Hoover and Carter, Trump is overmatched by forces beyond his ability to control. He has not ended the processes of decay; if anything, he has accelerated them.
The Trump Administration is now in its eighth month. My analysis remains largely unchanged, and recent events have only confirmed its basic outlines.


Are we waiting out a storm, or are we postponing the inevitable? I still lean towards the former, but as I wrote back in December, American electoral history keeps repeating itself. Republicans can continue to cheat, like they always do. Ralph Nader happened in 2000 and some people were dumb enough to fall for charlatans like Jill Stein in 2016. Americans can get wrapped up in anti-(small and large)democratic/Democratic propaganda, and through tactics like voter suppression and gerrymandering might very well ensure Karl Rove's permanent conservative majority. Or John Judis and Ruy Teixeira could be correct and that the long arc of history is bending in the Democrats' direction. Will America ever learn? A year ago, it felt decidedly like the Bush years taught us a permanent lesson. But apparently 2001-2008 didn't kick us hard enough in the ass and America said, "Thank you, sir, may I please have another?"


This crap is making me bipolar.


In related news, fuck Jill Stein and anyone who ever supported her.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Late Night Track -- Wait for Her


Afternoon Open Thread -- Whatever Edition

Just reopened the comments for the first time in months. What's going on today?

Earworm of the Afternoon -- The Hero's Return


A Faint Whiff of Gunpowder


I was a bit too wrapped up in Westerosi politics last night to pay much attention to American ones, but boy, does this seem significant:

The Trump Organization was pursuing the plan in late 2015 and early 2016, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by the company's lawyers. As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Donald Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.

And here it is in black and white (thanks, @Sativa888):




Isn't that basically everything in three sentences?

I still don't think the Republicans are going to do much about this until after the 2018 midterms, but I think at the very least, the Dems should hold mock televised Watergate-style hearings before 2017 is over.

Just damning.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Arya's Theme






Sunday Morning Twitshit










Trump is apparently off his ADHD meds today...


Starts by praising a fascist; that's par for the course.



He's bragging about the government doing its job (honestly, I'm not up on what's going on yet, so he might be doing great). Also standard Trump.




MY STORM IS THE BIGGEST! #MAGA!





Life, safety, and golf.





Remember when John McCain faked suspending his campaign six weeks before the election in 2008 because of the economic crisis? Trump can't even do that for fifteen minutes 3 1/2 years before the election in the middle of what "many people" (voices in his head) say is the worst storm since Noah.




My flood is bigger than Obama's!



I love "reimbursement/other." Just amazing.





Trump's spent enough time watching Fox News that he's apparently finally learned to use the Cavuto Mark.







This was all in a span of about two hours... I'd theorized that Trump was off in isolation at Camp David to try to prolong the last of his marbles. It's not working.



Meanwhile, General Kelly has spent all morning knocking on the bathroom door.


Friday, August 25, 2017

What a Fucking Evening

Stealing this from @Karoli....






Putting this into context... Trump ran off for another vacation to Camp David as potentially the largest hurricane since Katrina approaches large Texas cities and wishes its denizens "Good luck."


He then bans transgendered soldiers from the military, pardons a racist icon, and lets a Nazi go from the White House in the dead of night (so the Nazis don't notice too much).


This all happened in like two hours. MSNBC and CNN's ratings are going to be through the roof tonight.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Hate It Here


Friday Morning Twitshit



Seven tweets over about six hours this morning. That's about par for the course lately; he really may be trying to distract from something coming down the pike... maybe 5 PM EST today?





He's obsessed with this. He posted the same thing yesterday and probably another dozen times over the past couple of months. What he doesn't realize is that the bigger an asshole he is, the more likely the Republicans are going to find themselves in the minority again sooner rather than later and they will need to desperately hold on to the filibuster, which has always helped conservatives.





I get such a kick out of him using the word "spirit" for some reason.






He's so cute when he lie-brags. All he's missing is a #MAGA!


Who's Nick Adams? Is that the Dilbert guy? In any case, the guy is stroking Trump's thighs.




I'm willing to guess Corker hasn't asked him that question once. But PLEASE primary him, Trump! Let's see what happens. Make Tennessee happy!










I despair for Texas.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- No Quarter


 
 
Inspired by this:
 


GET HIM!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

When Fascist Bear Comes...



Introducing Trumpy Bear (h/t Bob Cesca)... this is real. This is real!





I'm a little surprised we haven't seen any of these at the neo-Nazi rallies. Though not all of these bears are Neo-Nazis. Some are fine bears.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Joy Reid Speaks for All of Us


This guy, too....

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Are We On Timeline 191?




Between yesterday's tragedy/travesty at #Charlottesville and the talk of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss's ill-conceived upcoming Confederate series on HBO, I'm reminded of Harry Turtledove's alternate history book series entitled "Timeline 191," or "Southern Victory."

The Southern Victory series or Timeline-191 are fan names given to a series of eleven alternate history novels by author Harry Turtledove, beginning with How Few Remain (1997) and published over a decade. The period addressed in the series begins during the American Civil War and spans nine decades, up to the mid-1940s. In the series, the Confederate States of America defeats the United States in 1862, thereby making good its attempt at secession and becoming an independent nation. Subsequent books are built on imagining events based on this alternate timeline.
The secondary name is derived from General Robert E. Lee's Special Order 191, which detailed the Confederate States' Army of Northern Virginia's invasion of the Union through the border state Maryland in September 1862. Turtledove creates a divergence at September 10, 1862, when three Union soldiers do not find a copy of Special Order 191, as they in fact did historically. Historians believe their find helped General George B. McClellan of the Army of the Potomac prepare for his confrontation with Lee, and contributed to the Union's eventual victory at the Battle of Antietam.

The two nations remain separate right into WWII, and the Confederates are genocidal Nazis.

Make that series, HBO.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Some Light Weekend Reading



This is the creepiest thing I've read about Russia's cyberwar against the U.S. and its allies:

One night in mid-March, Alan Malcher, a British military veteran, dropped into the Queen’s Arms, a working-class pub in north London. He took a seat at the bar and ordered his customary pint of Foster’s. Within a few minutes, a stranger sidled up, ordered a drink and started a conversation. He soon brought up Russian President Vladimir Putin and began saying positive things about the Moscow-backed separatist civil war in Ukraine.
“He was going on about Putin being a strong leader,” Malcher recalls. “Somebody to admire.” The stranger’s comments, delivered with a thick Slavic accent, made Malcher’s security antennae vibrate: He had recently joined a Washington, D.C.–based think tank involved in combatting Russia’s stealthy infiltration of American social media. So when the stranger made passing reference to Malcher’s army service, he felt a twinge of apprehension. “There’s no way he could have known that except via LinkedIn,” Malcher says, referencing the professional online networking site where he and other critics of Moscow had been active in international affairs discussion groups. An expert in information warfare, Malcher reasoned that the Kremlin had dispatched the stranger to the Queen’s Arms with a message: We know everything about you. Watch your step.

I guess this hits close to home because so many of us need to keep a LinkedIn presence for professional purposes. I'd also recently been wondering when Putin might start to deepen his attacks, going after more of his and Trump's online critics in person rather than just online. Obviously, Putin has a history of killing journalists and dissenting politicians, but this feels bigger than that.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Morning Twitshit



Tons of really gloaty tweets and retweets this morning from Trump after last night's rally in Nuremberg, WV, and some OK job news. But what I noticed was this:


It's his predecessor's birthday and the only thing he's sending birthday wishes to is a boat. Yeah, that's not deliberate.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Don't Think You Can Call It Diplomacy...



The Washington Post has released leaked transcripts from the calls Trump had soon after his inauguration with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, and they're even worse than we originally thought. A taste:

Now getting back to the taxes for second, I have been given as President tremendous taxation powers for trade and for other reasons – far greater than anybody understands. The powers of taxation are tremendous for the President of the United States and if you study that you will see what I mean. That is why I did not want to have the meeting, I just wanted to tax the border. With all that being said, I would love if you want to reinstitute the meetings between Luis and a staff that I will assemble in the United States. Our Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Ross, will be approved very soon and we have a great team of people – Gary Cohen and lots of others – we have lots of great talent. And talent that wants things to happen. They are dealmakers, they are not obstructionist. We have some of them, but so do you of course. With that being said, if you would like to try and work a deal, that is okay. But if we cannot work a deal, I want to tell you we are going to put a very substantial tax on the border coming into the United States because, honestly, we will not want your products unless your products are going to be taxed. I do not want the products and lesser tax. And what that will mean is factories and plants will start to be built in the United States because the taxes will be too high in Mexico. I do not want to do that if we can work out a deal, so Jared Kushner and Luis can have the teams work out the deal. The only thing I will ask you though is on the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, “Mexico will pay for the wall” and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language. But the fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to. I have been talking about it for a two year period, and the reason I say they are going to pay for the wall is because Mexico has made a fortune out of the stupidity of U.S. trade representatives. They are beating us at trade and they are beating us at the border, and they are killing us with drugs. Now I know you are not involved with that, but regardless of who is making all the money, billions and billions and billions – some people say more – is being made on drug trafficking that is coming through Mexico. Some people say that the business of drug trafficking is bigger than the business of taking our factory jobs. So what I would like to recommend is – if we are going to have continued dialogue – we will work out the wall. They are going to say, “who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?” to both of us, and we should both say, “we will work it out.” It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, “we will not pay” and me saying, “we will not pay.”
Because you and I are both at a point now where we are both saying we are not to pay for the wall. From a political standpoint, that is what we will say. We cannot say that anymore because if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. I am willing to say that we will work it out, but that means it will come out in the wash and that is okay. But you cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall. I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about. But in terms of dollars – or pesos – it is the least important thing. I know how to build very inexpensively, so it will be much lower than these numbers I am being presented with, and it will be a better wall and it will look nice. And it will do the job.

Read the whole thing. Each conversation features an adult speaking to a monstrous, stupid, lying child. And I'm not even sure that's fair, because I've never encountered a child that monstrous, stupid, or patently dishonest.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Warm Fuzzy Feeling


The Hubris of the "Before Time"



I'm working on a project with my friend, "S," that we were planning to get to right after the election. One of the reasons I'm not writing here so much these days is because I wanted to take the time to get back to it.

Last night, I was transcribing our conversation from what turned out to be a fateful night in mid-October...

J: My friend just texted me that Donald Trump did something else outrageous.
S: No, shocking.
J: Well, he’s been great the last 24 hours, let’s see what he’s up to.... Something with Billy Bush. He insulted another woman, apparently.
S: Oh, no, shocking.
J: Oh, this looks like something really good, actually. “The video that was leaked and obtained by the Washington Post, revealing a lewd and sexist conversation with Donald Trump and a former Access Hollywood host. That host, Billy Bush, deleted his Twitter account after  it was released. Apparently, the pressure of knowing, of the world knowing what you really think about women was too much for Bush. It was a cowardly move for Bush, who so easily made comments about a woman being ‘hot-ass shit’ and enthusiastically responded to Trump after he bragged about his constant and incessant pursuit of women. Trump told Bush that because he’s a celebrity, he can do whatever he wants. Whether, that’s when Trump wants to grab women by the pussy… Trump said that! Wanting to grab women by the pussy. Or just kiss woman without asking or waiting for consent.
S: Mmmmm….
J: “It’s a disgusting way for men to even think about interacting with women that way, and hearing Trump and Bush saying these things out loud made the entire conversation as lewd as I’d feared. By deleting his Twitter account, it’s quite literally hiding from his problems, trying to evade accountability for his very sexist actions, he certainly was not shy about participating in a crude conversation about women’s bodies with Trump while he was on that Access Hollywood bus in 2005…” So it’s not really that long ago. “Seems things have changed, and he’s not quite as manly as he thought he was in that video.” Oh boy. THAT’S AWESOME.
S: That is just…
J: That is gonna stick.
S: I really want that to be true… but I don’t know...
J: Aside from the fact that Hillary jumped six points after the last debate…
S: (SIGHS)
J: She got this.
S: I wish more people would watch it.
J: She got this.
S: I couldn’t even watch it all in one shot.
J: I loved it.
S: She, like…
J: I loved it loved it loved it so much. She’s gonna crush him. I’m so excited about this.  I can’t wait until Election Day. I just have to hear this clip, because I want to hear Trump say he’s grabbing someone by the pussy.
 
Yikes and more yikes. Well, that was the day it became OK to say "pussy" on the news. So that's something.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Wooden Ships


Well, That Was Quick...

Mario Cantone Anthony Scaramucci is already out on his ass, and Cat West nailed it:






Sunday, July 30, 2017

What a Difference a Year Makes


 


What's Scaramucci Up To?



As we've all seen unfold over the last week or so, culminating (thus far) in the firing of Trump's Chief of Staff Rinse Penis, the Trump White House's equivalent of It's Always Sunny Frank Reynolds (obnoxious-but-hilarious character brought in early on to class the show down) and human-ish embodiment of "naked political ambition" has had quite the last few days:



Tweeter and former blogger Cat West had a very interesting prediction about where things are going with Scaramucci:






 






Cat was kind enough to let me share some more of what she had to say via DM:

... I've seen this act play out before, over and over again, and the pace is the same, the actions are the same... He courted trump and like a really good abuser, convinced him that he never meant all those horrible things he said about him. Then the hand gestures... That is a classic "mirroring" technique. And what's the one thing that holds trump's attention more than anything else? His mirror. His image. So to have it reflected back to him as younger, smoother, more "him" is seductive as hell and 45 cannot resist. We're all seeing it.
I really suspect this long vacation is Mooch's idea. He'll be at his side the entire time. Trump won't look the same or act the same when he gets back. He'll be way different, way way worse, and he'll think he's way better. Seducing an old vain man who is suffering from dementia takes a particular talent...

Tillerson is trying to find his dignity. It's gone. He'll be gone in a month or so. Soon as he's done selling off resources to Russia. Trump will make statements like he's going on 'retreat' or 'spa' something that implies pampering

Scare Baby (i'll decide on a moniker soon enough) is going be the tyrant, the Infant Terrible, so-to-speak, who strikes fear into the hearts of everyone around him. This is going to trigger a palace coup. But everyone is going to count on Trump remembering their loyalty to save them, not realizing that his relationship to ScareBaby is a drug right now. "Tell me who my enemies are!" "I trusted them and they betrayed me!" "That's why I'm having such a hard time!" "They are my enemies!"

Two weeks into August, the Circus Elephants will rampage and the crowd will stop cheering, start screaming. Scare is a man in search of a cult, ready made, that he can take over. Trump is an easy target. Flattery. Boom.  What you've seen in Sarah Huck is the beginning of it for her. She's changing her style. He's showing her how to "walk like a lady". She's enthralled by him, he flatters her, then insults her to keep her off balance. "Don't walk like a a farm frau." ScareBaby knows better than Trump, how to take over and run a cult. He's Jim Jones on steroids.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Late Night Track -- Take Me Out


Saturday Morning Twitshit



Haven't done one of these in a while, but Trump's been plopping 'em out like mad lately... Today's fun:

This is just fantastic. The Republicans have been trying to push it for a few days now. Despite EVERY GODDAMNED SHRED OF EVIDENCE, now the Russians were really trying to help Hillary. Though last week Putin convinced him that he was so good that we'd never know if he got involved in our elections. But Trump thinks he can tell that Putin was manipulating the election on behalf of Hillary?



Dude, if you were better at leading your party, there wouldn't be a backlog of bills. Screaming at them like they're children hasn't worked before, but keep fucking that chicken.


He doesn't realize that the reason the Republicans haven't eliminated the filibuster is because if they didn't have it when they're in the minority, the country would look like a goddamned Bernie Sanders utopia.


The pot calling the kettle fools...


I know one R they're definitely laughing at...


I think America will accept that.


Is that a threat? I don't think you want to go up against the insurance lobby, Donnie.


You didn't build that...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Where My Head Is Now (Fuck These Guys)

I don't know when or if I'll get back to posting regularly (after Labor Day?), but I think I'm going to drop in occasionally...

As most of you know, yesterday, the Republicans in the Senate passed a Motion to Proceed on the repeal (and maybe replacement, but probably not) of Obamacare.

For the first three months of the Trump regime, I thought repeal of Obamacare was inevitable. But the actions of #TheResistance and the Democratic Party have combined with the absolute incompetence of Donald Trump and the Congressional Republicans to make that unlikely.

Side note: I really do believe keeping Trump in office but beleaguered -- maybe impeachment without conviction? -- is better than elevating Pence. I think we can pretty much guarantee that without the Trump drama, 20+ million people would definitely lose their health insurance.

While the Republicans are technically procedurally closer to repealing Obamacare, it seems unlikely to me that the Republicans will be able to put together a bill that not only unites all of their factions in the Senate, but also does so in the House, and passes the muster of the parliamentarian. MJ Lee and Lauren Fox at CNN explain what to expect.

So, my nerves aren't (that) shot over this. But this is where my head is:




Also, it doesn't help things that despite the fact that I don't think Obamacare will be repealed, the potential impact on real lives of Americans that the small chance that this evil bill (whatever it looks like) is SO horrible that it's excruciating to contemplate.

I'll try to check in a bit more often over the next few weeks, but in the meantime keep fighting.

Also, fuck John McCain. Nathaniel Friedman has pretty much the same feelings I have about him, and he's been letting loose on Twitter:




He's never been a good guy, he's no hero (maybe the *only* thing I agree on with Trump), and while I hope he recovers, I also hope he stops having any involvement in our politics and never appears on a Sunday news show again.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gone Fishin'



Dear TGC Readers and #TheResistance members (and those dropping in),

After a lot of deliberation, Ari and I realized that, at least for the next couple of months, personal commitments on both of our parts are going to make it difficult to maintain the blog. So we're going to take a bit of a summer vacation. I wouldn't be surprised if we post here and there, but we won't be posting consistently, likely until after Labor Day.

We'll still be on Twitter, and if any writers want to have a forum to guest post over the summer or to join up with us when we get back, please drop us a line at greatconsolidation@gmail.com. Also, e-mail us if you have thoughts on anything in our archive.

It's been a lot of fun (though we were writing through a serious dark cloud for the first few months), and we hope we can return energized later in the year.

In the meantime, keep on resistin'.

Best,

Jason and Ari

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Over Now


The Daily Combover - June 20, 2017

First of all, an apology for missing Monday's post -- my family received a wonderful new addition yesterday and we cannot wait for her to come home in a few days.

And now, on to the Daily Combover:

Let's start with the bad news: 
The race was far closer than a rural GA district should be, but Dear Leader did score a victory here.

And now for the strange news:

Jared Kushner spoke!



His topic was technology-based But nobody seemed to even notice. And unfortunately, he's on the wrong side of history -- again.

Finally, just a quick reminder that war with North Korea is getting closer to happening:
Catch you on the flip side.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Late Night Track -- A Song for Sleeping

Earworm of the Afternoon -- The Rock Show


A Reminder That Steve Bannon Is Not Just a Nazi, He's Also a Dick

Yup.

Neither Spicer nor deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to queries about the changes to the briefings. Asked why the briefings are now routinely held off-camera, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in a text message “Sean got fatter,” and did not respond to a follow-up.

That's this guy: