Lordy

Lordy, I hope... well, a lot of things...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Late Night Track -- The Hanging Tree



This one's for you, Paul.

Are We Forgetting Something?

Serious question -- are the writers of Saturday Night Live the only people who are still thinking about the whole issue of Russia interfering with our election and Donald Trump's role in that? Feels that way.

The Daily Combover - January 31, 2017 - 9PM Late Edition

Today more details were uncovered about the Muslim Ban. We learned that the Trump Administration enlisted Hill staffers to secretly work on the text of the executive order, and that plan was likely either conceived by Sessions directly or at the very least by Sessions and Trump aide Stephen Miller.

So where does that leave us? As Agent Orange continues to pressure the Senate to move quickly on the Sessions confirmation, the reluctance to support him continues to grow. 

Sorry Dear Leader, it took them nearly 50 years but it appears the Democrats have found the backbone they lost in 1968. And it's not just Yates's martyrdom. The Democrats are standing up to Trump by embracing the grassroots marchers and even joining them at a recent rally in DC.

So Trump did what he does best, turn to insults. He has a new one for Schumer, penned after Schumer cried on Holocaust Remembrance Day:
The dark memories of losing 10 of your ancestors is never pleasant. But, if Trump learned one thing from his Klan-supporting father, it's that the deaths of "sub-humans" like Jews don't matter.

Unfortunately for our collective human capital, Betsy DeVos was not DeNied after all. Trump proudly announced her as the Secretary of Plagiarism Education, at least until the two of them eliminate the Department of Education and a half million teacher's jobs along with it. As I said yesterday:
For someone who wants 4% GDP growth, he really does not understand the first thing about Human Capital -- something that economists have been telling the public for nearly 60 years -- there is empirical proof that education increases human capital which then increases GDP. There's no better way to achieve growth than to educate your populace.
And that leaves us with the big story of the day. Who will Trump nominate to steal the Supreme Court seat that rightfully belongs to Merrick Garland?
We'll watch the clock and update when it's announced.

UPDATE and it's more awful than you'd expect. Trump is turning it into a reality show:
And the winner is: Neil Gorsuch!

Here's a list of his accomplishments:
1. He clerked for Justices White and Kennedy.
2. SCOTUSblog calls him a Scalia clone.
SCOTUSblog, the leading Supreme Court blog, described some of Gorsuch's parallels to Scalia as "eerie."
"He is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia)," the blog wrote.
3. Oh yeah, he's also the guy that decided for Hobby Lobby on behalf of "religious freedom" when they didn't want to provide contraceptive health care coverage. So I guess that makes him somewhat of a Pence clone as well.

To summarize, Scalia and Pence had a baby and named it Gorsuch. And now we're fucked.

More as it comes. Until then, catch you on the flip side.


How Democracy Ends







The Threat We Face

Monday, January 30, 2017

Strangely Plausible

Tweet of the night, for sure:

Late Night Track -- Amnesia



The final solution's back in style
We are the ones letting it ride
I never knew we were so blind
Amnesia in comfort, so unkind

Tell me
When they come for you
Who will there be to speak
And when they come for you
Who will there be left to speak for you?

This Could Be Significant

The Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has taken a stand:

In a letter to the Justice Department, Yates wrote: “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
“At present,” she added, “I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

Yes, Trump will fire her. But if we can block Sessions (if we can't get three Republican motherfuckers to vote against Jefferson Fucking Beauregarde Sessions III we should resolve to dissolve the Republican Party next time the Democrats are in power; they're domestic enemies), we could slow some things down.

Or maybe it will accomplish nothing.

Still, Sally Yates is a hero tonight and I'll be raising a cold one to her later this evening. And next time we have a Supreme Court opening we get to fill, she should be on the short list. But goddamn, that seems so far away.

UPDATE (1/30/2017, 7:52 PM): Dear Leader responds as of course he would:


UPDATE (1/30/17, 10:51 PM): As expected, the axe fell while I was in the gym.





Yup.

The Daily Combover - January 30, 2017

What a weekend!

Dear Leader Agent Orange did not look happy that his inaugural crowd was once again emasculated by a protest crowd.  This time it was a series of timed protests at international, national, and even regional airports across the country.

From a few hundred people in Springfield, IL to tens of thousands in larger cities like Boston and Washington, we, the people, did not stand in silence as Trump signed executive orders banning people (almost all Muslim) from 7 nations from entering the United States as well as the plans for a border wall between the US and Mexico.

How did our Dear Leader respond? With a very nice 31st memorial for the crew of the Challenger:
Oh yeah and there was something about a bunch of people dying in some event around the time of World War II. But since it involved Jews, Dear Leader didn't really want to bother with it.

Apparently, Fox News didn't cover the protests, so Trump didn't have any talking points for that. What was on TV? Possibly a Mountain Dew commercial like this one,

because Trump decided that the best way to defend his Executive Orders was to talk about how extreme they were.
And we also learned that clearly Dear Leader isn't a fan of "dudes"
Don't worry Dear Leader. The Dude gets it.

In other news, Trump continued his quest to uneducate our youth by announcing the elimination of a half million teaching jobs as part of his noble effort to eliminate the Department of Education. For someone who wants 4% GDP growth, he really does not understand the first thing about Human Capital -- something that economists have been telling the public for nearly 60 years -- there is empirical proof that education increases human capital which then increases GDP. There's no better way to achieve growth than to educate your populace.

And then, of course, this morning we received the chilling news that our next Supreme Court Justice will be announced shortly:
Now might be a good time to get on the phone with your Senators and remind them how important it is to keep Agent Orange contained. For the next four years, the only vote in a Supreme Court nomination is a nay.

Keep up the pressure and I'll catch you on the flip side.

Let Me Correct You Politically




Because of all of this protesting and a need for a Star Wars fix, I've fallen way behind on my DVR. I probably wouldn't have gotten to this Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher until at least next weekend if someone who I met yesterday hadn't leaned over to me at an event and asked, apropos of nothing, "Hey, did you see Bill Maher this week? He said something we've all been thinking for a long time -- Democrats lose because they're defensive and tell people what they can and can't say about each other."

While cooking dinner, I tuned to this week's Real Time to see the segment so I could respond to the comment. Essentially, after I got home from protesting the prick in the White House, I made it a point to watch Maher behave like a prick in L.A..





A major fallacy in marketing is assuming that many people feel a certain way about something because that's how you feel about it (if that were the case, Halt and Catch Fire wouldn't be ending after only four seasons). Bill Maher has made his ENTIRE CAREER from telling people to "get over it." And yes, people sometimes overreact to perceived slights. But who has changed his or her vote because they didn't like that Steve Martin had to take down a Tweet or Hillary Duff had to apologize for taking a selfie with a dude dressed as a stereotypical Native American at a Halloween party?

There's no evidence that a little bit of opprobrium towards Hollywood figures for expressing questionable sentiments affects our elections at all.

First, the type of people we're ostensibly trying to win over (racist-adjacent white men in East Sisterfuck, Arkansas [thanks, Driftglass]) HATE Hollywood. Seeing Democrats attack a Saturday Night Live writer for a tweak against Barron Trump (yes, kids are off limits, but Katie Rich was really throwing shade at Barron's father for his parenting skills -- or lack thereof). Fox News, where said relative-copulator gets much of his news, rests on a pillar of outrage against Hollywood liberals. Some years back, Lewis Black did a bit on the Daily Show about how the Fox channel airs things that Fox News later condemns without acknowledging the connection. It's so true. That's their sweet spot.

Second, have you seen any polls indicating that slight "political correctness" is tilting any elections? Yes, Trump voters do tend to be racist and sexist (I'll always be the first to tell you that), but it's significantly deeper than something they clicked on about some actor's Facebook post from their AOL homepage:


Third, that study that Maher cites about 90% of Native Americans not being offended by the name "Washington Redskins," aside from probably not being highly scientific, also is irrelevant. The name "Redskins" IS offensive from a generally human perspective:
Spencer Phips, a British politician and then Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Province, issued the call, ordering on behalf of British King George II for, "His Majesty's subjects to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians." They paid well – 50 pounds for adult male scalps; 25 for adult female scalps; and 20 for scalps of boys and girls under age 12.
I'm pretty sure that the guy who brought this up to me yesterday, who was Jewish, would be pretty offended by a German billionaire buying a Southern California MLS team and renaming it the "Los Angeles Lampshades" (and heck, given that we put Steve Bannon in the White House, it's not a trivial concern). Pretty much the same thing.

Finally, these little stories aren't really distracting Democrats from running on more important issues. For one thing, we do convey a lot of the right messages. It wasn't the Democrats' fault that the press would rather fill hours of airtime with panel discussions about Hillary's e-mails instead of Hillary's economic policy. Democrats aren't losing school board elections because they're arguing over semantics. They're losing because Republicans figured out that those seats were important 40 years before Dems did and because they have donors who are willing to pay to put their flunkies in those seats so they can plunder the education system and local government.  And anyone in the media who isn't already wasting ink on frivolous topics is writing about this stuff at the expense of serious journalism. Do I care if Maureen Dowd pens 800 words on something Kanye said instead of insinuating that Al Gore is a pussy? Paul Krugman is still going to use his column-space on wiser subjects.

Bill, admit it. You're just pissed off because back when you were doing standup in a leisure suit, someone withheld a dollar from the collection jar by your mic stand because you called a woman a "cunt." It's not that much better than when your crazy uncle drunkenly slurs, "Why do only black people get to say it?" Why would it hurt to err on the side of being a little nicer to people? I happen to think people who aren't assholes are pretty cool. Mean People do, in fact, Suck.

It's not liberals who need to get over it. It's YOU. That particular schtick has been old hat since this tie was in fashion:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why Protest?

I mentioned earlier that I've been finding protesting really exhausting. But as I was working out in the gym this evening trying to restore myself, I read this great point from Erik Loomis:

Despite the strange belief by those who are personally uncomfortable with protest politics that protesters are a bunch of wankers who engage in purity politics and don’t show up to vote, in fact, protest creates the most possibly engaged voters who find new ways to influence the system. Even on last night’s post, there were some comments (and there really were on the LGM Facebook page about it) saying that protest didn’t really matter in the judges’ stay of the Fascist Trump’s executive order and that it all was a sign that “the system works” and we don’t need protest. This is ridiculous. First, judges do not operate in a vacuum. If you don’t have thousands of people take to the streets and shut down airports, this is not nearly as immediate. The judges won’t work as fast. Second, politicians don’t come out against the ban without the protests. This is all everyone’s talking about, except of course for the fact that a Nazi is running American foreign policy. If you want to fight Trump, you need active resistance. And that resistance is quite likely going to need to be escalated to placing bodies between state security and our most vulnerable comrades. This is how preparing for that starts. We need lawyers and politicians and judges. We also need activists and organizers. They are the ones who made the JFK protest happen last night, not the ACLU, although that organization is great and played a key role. But it was grassroots activism that started it. And of course we need you. And me. And everyone else.

Right on. I'm going to get back out there as soon as I can.

And then a friend tipped me off to this a few minutes ago:

Five people detained at San Francisco International Airport under President Trump’s executive order were released Sunday afternoon, airport officials said, as a second day of protests drew thousands to the transportation hub
People chanting “Trump Out, Refugees In!” protested for a second day at SFO against the president’s immigration ban.
Accompanied by a brass band, the Sunday crowd divided into three large groups that stood at passenger exits in the arrival area of the international terminal. A group of lawyers worked on computers huddled in a corner under signs in English, Farsi and Arabic that read “Family Members Detained? Legal Help Here.”

We just directly impacted the lives of five people. And if this is working, I think there's more to come.

Keep going!

Late Night Track -- Center of the Sun

I just got home from the gym, and there was a college student there who for some reason was playing Mr. Big's "To Be With You" on repeat; I have hated that song since I first heard it in, what, 1991?

I could subject y'all to that, but I won't. Here's something neat from a band to which a friend just introduced me:

Protested Out (Thoughts on the Battery Park Protest)

Whew. I really don't know how all those protesters on Soros's payroll do this, day in and day out!

This was another anti-Muslim-ban protest, and it drew over 10,000 to Battery Park City.

I tried to livestream it, and did what I could, but the reception in Lower Manhattan wasn't great today.

There were a number of distinguished speakers, including (from memory):

  • Senator Chuck Schumer
  • Senator Cory Booker
  • Representative Nydia Velazquez
  • Mayor Bill DeBlasio
  • New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer

I arrived about half an hour after it started, and it continued for another hour and a half. Some of the speeches were especially stirring; I don't remember the names of a few of the best, but the crowd was very energetic (and had some great signs! - I have to remember to take some stills even when I'm streaming). The police didn't give us any trouble and were pretty helpful.

After the protest was over, thousands of people marched up Broadway to Foley Square, chanting and waving signs and flags. I had to part ways with the group to attend an event held in memory of Elie Wiesel. The Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Folksbiene Yiddish theater group had organized a marathon reading of Wiesel's Holocaust memoir, Night. A number of notable personalities took turns reading passages from the book; among the ones I saw were Dr. Ruth Westheimer (pictured below), Ann Curry, Geraldo Rivera, and Abe Foxman. Some read in English, others in Yiddish. It was very powerful. They did three read-throughs during the course of the day. I was hoping to stay for two, but I just didn't have it in me.



Dr. Ruth Westheimer reading an excerpt from Night
A friend of mine was one of the organizers, and I'm pretty sure he told me about this several months ago, so I don't think they knew when they conceived of this that we would have a White House that would refuse to acknowledge the unique victimization of Jews in the Holocaust.
Yeah, that's where we are. Trump and Bannon and company are full of awful surprises, and they just keep on coming. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people protesting all over the country and beyond every day. Is this accomplishing something? I think it is, but are we going to have to do this for four years? There are going to be so many things to protest -- immigration, racism, civil rights, the Supreme Court, health care, and on and on.


Protesters at LAX

As I said, I'm totally wiped from a few hours of protesting two days in a row and I'm going to have to take a break for a few days. I'm wondering how ragged this entire country is going to run itself if this is what it takes to keep America recognizable.
But if there's a better way, I haven't heard it. So we'll keep marching and protesting as long as we can.

Battery Park City Protest

Heading over shortly to the March & Rally: We Will End the Refugee & Muslim Ban.

Like yesterday, I'll be Periscoping, so go to my Twitter feed starting around 2:30 if you want to see what's going on.

Today, I'm bringing extra batteries!

Light Blogging Sunday

I probably won't have much time to write tomorrow, as I have to go to a couple of events.

Sometime around 2:30, I'll be heading to the protest in Battery Park City. I'll likely be Periscoping from there on my Twitter feed if you want to check it out and you can't be there in person.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Few Thoughts From the JFK Protest

I set out for the protest at JFK tonight partially as a spectator and partially to bring hand warmers and booze to the protesters. The truth is, I've done very little protesting in my life; I imagine that means I've been pretty privileged.

What I saw there was astounding; several thousand protesters who were more coordinated than I would've expected, and a lot of extraordinarily positive energy. Solidarity through and through.

I spontaneously decided to live stream the protest through Twitter and immediately felt much more part of it. It was amazing to have hundreds of people all over the world watching and to be able to communicate with them as well as the people in the crowd at the same time. It's something I plan to do a lot more of going forward.

There was a lot of press there; I saw ABC and CNN there, and the viewers on my stream said they were watching on Al-Jazeera and BBC, among others. There were probably 5,000 people there. At one point, they tried to start a march, but asked only American citizens to join, as they did not want to get any immigrants arrested. That never materialized, as the group ended up just stopping to disrupt traffic, which they did very effectively. It stinks that we have to do that, but we got a lot of attention without hurting anyone.

There were two groups of police at the event. The first were those in regular uniforms. I was very impressed by their patience and cooperation with us. They had no problem with us stopping traffic, as long as we let some of it through here and there.

The second group wasn't so friendly; they were decked in riot gear (so unnecessary!) and were keeping protesters from leaving via AirTrain. When my battery died, I decided to go home to charge it and then go to the Cadman Plaza protest. However, the militarized police would not let anyone leave without a plane ticket, and laughed at me when I asked to get on using my Metrocard. Less of that, please.

The bottom line, though, was mission accomplished, at least for now:

A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump's travel ban.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly issued the order Saturday evening after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations who were detained at airports across the country as the ban took effect.

But we're going to have to keep fighting. While we were protesting, this happened:

In another series of executive orders on Saturday, Pres. Donald Trump restructured the National Security Council (NSC) and created a position on it for senior aide and former Breitbart.com CEO Stephen K. Bannon.

Bannon is basically the root of the worst of the evil in the Trump regime. We cannot allow this to go unnoticed. If there's a protest against this action, I'm there, as we now have a white supremacist on the National Security Council.

Eight days down... Tomorrow's another day. I'm on it.

Professional Left Podcast, 1/27/17 -- This All Must End

Heading shortly to JFK to join the anti-Muslim-ban protest.

I'll be listening to the members of the Cornfield Resistance (BlueGal and Driftglass) on the way there.

This week's episode can be found here. Listen and join the resistance!

This post has been brought to you by MacGuffin's Muffins -- making strong plot points, twelve ways!

Splitting the Ticket?

Tom Perez and Keith Ellison
Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)

It feels like the selection process for DNC Chair has been quite long, at this point (and it kind of has; we've been talking about it since at least mid-November).

The race has mostly been between former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Congressman Keith Ellison. I think there's another guy named Captain Queeg or something in the race, too.

Truth be told, I'd prefer someone really high profile now -- Hillary or Barack, anyone?

However, I like both Perez and Ellison. They're both better human beings than Debbie Wasseran Schultz, and I think more effective than Donna Brazlie. They both have pretty good personalities and there's not that much daylight between them on policy. Perez is a bit more of an establishment guy and Ellison is kind of an insurgent, but ideologically, those groups have gotten really close and the more they come together, the better. I think combining idealism with pragmatism (what I refer to as work as "instead of thinking outside the box, bringing some of the best stuff from outside the box into the box." [I'll make that pithier at some point :)]) It could  serve our party really well.

Not only do we need to unite the party, we also have SO much to do. So I'm wondering -- is there a provision for Co-Chairs? It doesn't appear that there have been Co-Chairs before, but I think this would be a perfect time to make it happen. Thoughts?

What You Would Have Done

Just loved this quote from David Slack, because I've been trying to live with a similar attitude since the horrors of 11/9:



Apparently in Germany in 1939, I would've whined on a blog. But I'd be thinking about doing other things.

Late Night Track - Rooster

Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Daily Combover - January 27, 2017

Donald Trump in an adult diaper



Our fearless leader, Agent Orange (h/t Dr. Paul Krugman), had just one event circled in gold sharpie on his calendar today. None of the others mattered as much as this one. He was going to call that scoundrel of a President, Enrique Pena Nieto today. So he pulled out his phone this morning and laid out the following Tweet:
Nothing really came of the phone call but the fact that there is open dialogue means the media is probably playing this one out a little more than they should. And that means something more important is being ignored. Let's see...

Trump tried to get McConnell to dissolve the Electoral College. But that obviously wasn't something the Republicans would want. After all, they've lost the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 elections.

Hmm... Let's check today's Executive Orders. Here we go:
President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order to implement “new vetting measures" after the ceremonial swearing-in of Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis.
"I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America," he said after congratulating Mattis on his appointment. "We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people."
On the campaign trail, Trump promised “extreme vetting” of people traveling to the United States from “terror-prone” countries, all of them majority-Muslim. But exactly what "new vetting measures" the order laid out were not immediately clear.
Before actually signing the order, Trump said, “this is the protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States."
“We all know what that means,” he added.
Trump also signed an executive order he said would “begin a great rebuilding of the armed services.”
The order would develop “a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform,” Trump said.

Today is Holocaust Remembrence Day and with that I'd like to share the full-text of a famous poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller, "First They Came."
 First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

In Agent Orange's case, it's first the Muslims and Mexicans and then it will be the rest of us. Speak out now and resist against Trump, Bannon, Kushner, and the other fascists that have been installed in the White House by Putin. The Holocaust can never happen again. We must never forget.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Nanci


Trump's Imagination



This is unreal (h/t Booman):

On Monday, President Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception, served them tiny meatballs and pigs-in-a-blanket, and quickly launched into a story meant to illustrate what he believes to be rampant, unchecked voter fraud.
Mr. Trump kicked off the meeting, participants said, by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the three million to five million ballots cast by “illegals.” He followed it up with a Twitter post early Wednesday calling for a major investigation into voter fraud.
When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,” whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting…
..The three witnesses recalled Mr. Langer being the protagonist of the story, although a White House official claimed the president had been telling a story relayed to the golfer by one of Mr. Langer’s friends.
The witnesses described the story this way: Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany — a winner of the Masters twice and of more than 100 events on major professional golf tours around the world — was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote.
Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.
Mr. Langer, whom he described as a supporter, left feeling frustrated, according to a version of events later contradicted by a White House official.
The anecdote, the aides said, was greeted with silence, and Mr. Trump was prodded to change the subject by Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.
Just one problem: Mr. Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., is a German citizen with permanent residence status in the United States who is, by law, barred from voting, according to Mr. Langer’s daughter Christina.
“He is a citizen of Germany,” she said, when reached on her father’s cellphone. “He is not a friend of President Trump’s, and I don’t know why he would talk about him.

So it seemed like Trump made this story up out of whole cloth. But it turns out, not exactly:
Mr. Langer said on Thursday that he had merely heard the story from a friend and passed it on to someone who then relayed it to the White House, the Golf Channel reported.


Trump is making statements based on what's essentially a game of telephone. He's never met Bernhard Langer, but describes him as a "friend" (this appears to be a pattern with him, but he really doesn't have any friends).

So most of this did come from his imagination. And note that his imagination is quite racist: he ran off the names of three Latin American countries, because in his head, they have to be Latino.

He really is off-the-hook crazy. It would be justified to remove him from office if it were possible, but the 25th Amendment solution that people keep talking about is unrealistic. This is the text of Section 4:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

If I'm reading it correctly, using the 25th Amendment to remove a President from office is even more difficult than impeachment/conviction. We need 1/2 of the House to vote to impeach the President, and 2/3 of the Senate to convict. The 25th Amendment requires 2/3s of BOTH houses to remove the President.

So, really unlikely to happen.

We're stuck with the Combover Caligula, no matter how crazy he is or how many golfers he's imaging himself speaking to.

Is Our Jake Tapper Learning?



It appears he might be!

The Daily Combover - January 26, 2017

Praise to our Dear Leader as we celebrate the one-week anniversary of the start of his glorious eternal reign.

Today Trump learned that Trump cannot trust anyone in the State Department. How dare they all uniformly quit on him before he had a chance to say "You're fired!"?

And Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled too. <alt-fact>couldn't come up with the money for the wall so Trump had to cancel the meeting </alt-fact>.

But Trump didn't stop there. He demanded that Congress pass a 20% import tariff on Mexican goods to pay for The Wall. This would be horrible. I don't know any economist that thinks a tariff would be a good idea. And there could be all sorts of negative impacts on consumers in both USA and Mexico. As I mentioned in a November post,
Stop and think about that for a moment. How does that affect you personally? At $80 a box, the average retail price for a single avocado approaches $3. But what if we begin to restrict trade with Mexico? What if we impose a tariff on Mexican produce? The global average tariff on produce according to the USDA Economic Research Service is about 50%. Suddenly that $3 avocado is now $4.50. And in the winter, when almost all of our avocados are imported, that probably means fewer stores will stock avocados because that is a lot of money to spend on fruits that probably will not sell very well at retail given its exorbitant price.  
Just the first of many examples of micro-level impacts of Republicanism on our economy.

Of course with all that hullabaloo, Trump didn't have time for this any more:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I'll Believe It When I See It

Politico has some details about the Democrats' plans, including about that meeting David Brock pulled together last week in Florida. According to them, the Democrats are planning a "no quarter" strategy for Trump:

According to interviews with roughly two dozen party leaders and elected officeholders, the internal debate over whether to take the conciliatory path — to pursue a high-road approach as a contrast to Trump’s deeply polarizing and norm-violating style — is largely settled, cemented in place by a transition and first week in office that has confirmed the left’s worst fears about Trump’s temperament.
“They were entitled to a grace period, but it was midnight the night of the inauguration to 8 o'clock the next morning, when the administration sent out people to lie about numerous significant things. And the damage to the credibility of the presidency has already been profound,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “They were entitled to a grace period and they blew it. It’s been worse than I could have imagined, the first few days."

Does anybody feel like they've been seeing anything resembling such a strategy? It seems like all of Trump's nominees are going to float through, and I haven't heard much in the way of discussion of viable plans.

Brock’s Florida conference outlined some of the philosophical fault lines. In one closed-door session, Chicago mayor and former Barack Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel advocated a measured approach to Trump opposition, one in which Democrats choose only specific fights with a tight game plan. Sitting opposite Emanuel, former Joe Biden chief of staff Ron Klain shared his rules for a “100 Day Fight Club” — a battle royal he advocated to mark Trump’s opening stretch, according to people in the room.

We'll see what happens, but I've liked a lot Klain has had to say since the election, and my advice to the Dems is to never listen to anything Rahm Emanuel has to say. Why is he still even allowed in the room?

The Sides Are Starting to Form

Ari's been talking to me about WWIII, and while I've become increasingly sure that Putin is trying to form some sort of right-wing Axis, I haven't been able to figure out who the Allies would be in a World War III, other than perhaps China. This might be a hint:


Keep an eye on France [UPDATE (1/26/17, 3:54 PM): if Le Pen wins in April, we know which way they'll go] and Mexico. And, according to Wikipedia:

In modern times they are members of the AUSCANNZUKUS military alliance including the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance with the US, Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are members of NATO and participate in UN peacekeeping operations . Before 2011, the two countries' main areas of defense cooperation was in Afghanistan, where both were involved in the dangerous southern provinces. Both have provided air power to the NATO-led mission over Libya. Though still close allies militarily, it is no longer a given that Canada will follow Britain's lead in international conflicts.

This has been prophecized:



Well, credit where credit's due. Trump made the perfect pick for Secretary of the Air Force to fight against Canada's particular type of treachery.

My god, what oracle were our animated TV writers watching circa 1999?

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Erase/Rewind



Wouldn't it be nice to erase and rewind a few months?

2017

As I started to comb through blogs and news sources this morning, I stumbled on this:



Is there anything you can't express perfectly through Patrick Stewart?

Here's something you should brace yourself if you read. Trump did an interview last night with ABC's David Muir and it was atrocious. I mean that in the literal sense; there were atrocities:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we should've kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it's very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS because they fuel themselves with the oil. That's where they got the money. They got the money from leaving -- when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn't a government. It's not a government now.
And by the way, and I said something else, if we go in and do this. You have two nations, Iraq and Iran. And they were essentially the same military strength. And they'd fight for decades and decades. They'd fight forever. And they'd keep fighting and it would go -- it was just a way of life. We got in, we decapitated one of those nations, Iraq. I said, "Iran is taking over Iraq." That's essentially what happened.
DAVID MUIR: So, you believe we can go in and take the oil.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should have taken the oil. You wouldn't have ISIS if we took the oil. Now I wasn't talking about it from the standpoint of ISIS because the way we got out was horrible. We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil something else would've very good happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world.
DAVID MUIR: You've heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil. But I wanna get to the words ...
(OVERTALK)
DAVID MUIR: ... that you ...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wait, wait, can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools.
DAVID MUIR: Let, let me ...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't call them critics. I call them fools.
DAVID MUIR: ... let me talk about your words ...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should've kept -- excuse me. We should've taken the oil. And if we took the oil you wouldn't have ISIS. And we would have had wealth. We have spent right now $6 trillion in the Middle East. And our country is falling apart.
(OVERTALK)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Our roads -- excuse me. Our roads, our bridges, our schools, it's falling apart. We have spent as of one month ago $6 trillion in the Middle East. And in our country we can't afford to build a school in Brooklyn or we can't afford to build a school in Los Angeles. And we can't afford to fix up our inner cities. We can't afford to do anything. Look, it's time. It's been our longest war. We've been in there for 15, 16 years. Nobody even knows what the date is because they don't really know when did we start. But it's time. It's time.
DAVID MUIR: What got my attention, Mr. President, was when you said, "Maybe we'll have another chance."
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, don't let it get your attention too much because we'll see what happens. I mean, we're gonna see what happens. You know, I told you and I told everybody else that wants to talk when it comes to the military I don't wanna discuss things.
I wanna let -- I wanna let the action take place before the talk takes place. I watched in Mosul when a number of months ago generals and politicians would get up and say, "We're going into Mosul in four months." Then they'd say, "We're going in in three months, two months, one month. We're going in next week."
Okay, and I kept saying to myself, "Gee, why do they have to keep talking about going in?" All right, so now they go in and it is tough because they're giving the enemy all this time to prepare. I don't wanna do a lot of talking on the military. I wanna talk after it's finished, not before it starts.

I'm not just talking about the war crimes; the entire thing was an atrocity against both the English language and truth.

I wouldn't read the transcript over lunch or on a full stomach.

Wonder what 20 minutes from now has in store for us?

Trump Stole My Brain


It really is just one thing after another.

I was walking from work to the subway today, and it occurred to me that for nearly the last three months, I can barely think about anything outside of Trump and just how fucked we are. It consumes at least 90% of my mental energy. I visited my doctor yesterday and told her that I've experienced pretty much constant anxiety since Election Day, and she told me that she has been seeing many patients with the exact same issue.

In some alternative dimension, I'm just about to resume a month of a self-imposed break from politics. I would not likely have started blogging. I would've continued my normal life, without constantly feeling dread in the pit of my stomach.

Instead, it just gets worse. I don't expect that pattern to change anytime soon. Which means that what's going on in my head is the best it's going to get for the next four years.

All I'm saying, I think, is that I want my brain back.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Late Night Track -- Wannabe


The Daily Combover - January 25, 2017

We are now in Day 6 of Dear Leader's glorious eternal reign.

Today we learned that researchers at the EPA and USDA (and possibly the CDC) are joining the Resistance and ignoring the Trump Regime's command to stay silent. But even such minor victories as these appear to be few and far between.

Trump is moving forward with his plans to make America a much whiter place.

All indications point to a massive series of Executive Orders that will target Hispanic immigrants (both legal and undocumented). The list of upcoming Executive Orders follows:

End Catch and Release
Stop Central American border crisis
Increase border patrol by 5000
stop asylum fraud
allow border patrol to patrol national land
DHS publicly detail aid given to Mexico
Increase Transparency
End sanctuary cities
Empower ICE to enforce the laws
Identify criminal aliens
Triple ICE enforcement agents
Create victim’s advocacy office for victims of illegal alien crime.
 Luckily, people aren't taking this sitting down. In NY and DC, there are massive protests over these orders:
And the actions we saw yesterday in which he halted new visa issuances for seven Muslim countries appears to just be the tip of the iceberg. We are closer than ever to a Muslim Registry -- which is something that most of us thought was inconceivable.

To that I say that if such an atrocity occurs, we are all Muslims.
Never give up hope. Fight it with everything you've got and we'll emerge stronger.

Catch you on the flip side.

This is Insane

Ari said today that there's so much coming out about Trump that he just can't keep up. Here's a particularly crazy one:


This is nuts. Does he think he can do anything he wants? Maybe he can!

Earworm of the Afternoon -- The Hardest Button to Button


President Sassy!

Don't know if this is a running thing, but I love it!

Late Night Track - Zero


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Daily Combover - January 24, 2017 - The Dam Has Broken

It's Day 5 of Dear Leader's tenure and it looks like the past four days have just been practice.

Fine AI, not practice. Let's call it warm-ups.

As the #DailyCombover was going up yesterday, Dear Leader was working on another massive shutdown. This time he put a gag order on the EPA (similar to the one placed on NPS a few days ago) and suspended their grants. More on this below.

And you may ask yourself, 'how did I get here?' And the answer is by being distracted. Just as the Tennis Ball Machine of Terror was on auto-fire during the campaign season, now Trump has his underlings distracting us with stories of #CrowdSize and #VoterFraud which keep the media off-kilter. Today's false narrative delivered by Baghdad Bob Spicer was about conflicts of interest. Oh the irony. Luckily, the interwebs know all.

Today Trump began his day even earlier than yesterday. At 2AM as he was headed to the salon, he notified us that he was preparing for a 9AM meeting with automobile executives.
That meeting couldn't have lasted too long because a little before 11 AM Trump showed us why he gagged the EPA when he signed an order authorizing his first major American Infrastructure project -- pipeline expansion.  Well at least he created jobs... for Canada's TransCanada Corp.
Now that EPA gag order makes sense, right? But what about the impact on commercial agriculture? Oh yeah, Trump also gagged the USDA and apparently stopped them from making new agricultural and economic reports via ARS and ERS. Your diligent chronicler now has to find a new project for his students. (Side note: Couldn't they have said something other than 'this database is no longer being updated'?)

On to the appointments. Trump got a clean sweep today of all of his nominees. From sending Nikki Haley to the (soon-to-be-defunct) UN to keeping Comey on for another term, Trump really has had so much winning that my head is spinning.

UPDATES:
1. Trump is threatening to send in the National Guard into Chicago because of the 24 gun murders they had last year. Why not just pass and enforce a gun ban? Now more people will die.

2. Trump just banned visas to individuals from 7 Muslim countries. He'said fulfilling every one of his twisted promises.

Keep up the pressure on your Senators and Congressmen and remember to stay safe out there.

Catch you on the Flip side.

More Media Failure in the Election

The New Republic puts it very well:

Since his inauguration, Trump has ordered not just the global gag rule, but a non-defense federal hiring freeze that will disproportionately harm veterans (whom Trump claimed to champion on the campaign trail). His vague demand that cabinet secretaries begin easing enforcement of Affordable Care Act has yet to impact federal policy, but it has the potential to loose chaos in the Obamacare marketplaces, and begin the law’s unwinding. Trump’s pick for FCC chair, Ajit Pai, wants to take a “weed whacker” to net neutrality.
Like the gag rule, none of this comes as a surprise. Most presidents sign orders that change executive branch policy shortly after they take office. When partisan control of the White House changes, the policy swings can be pretty severe. But they are generally well understood within the political class.
In this election more than in most, these shifts were not relayed to voters. This is nearly as true of more visible policy fights. Trump was able to run a populist campaign, in part, because his and Republicans’ undisguised desire to deregulate Wall Street was subordinate to a focus on Trump’s false promises to battle the global elite and Hillary Clinton’s speeches to financial companies. Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, but the fact that many of his supporters benefit from that law, and are now scared of what he might do, only became major news stories once his power to rescind their health insurance was locked in.

All correct. And there's really very little we can do.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

but her emails


We seriously need an alternate timeline.

Is Hillary Coming Back?



Not to run for something, mind you, but I think someone who just got 66 million votes should have a role to play going forward. According to Politico, she's thinking about her next steps:

There have been no conversations about starting her own political group but Clinton has spoken with leaders of emerging Democratic-leaning organizations about their work, and has discussed possible opportunities to work with Organizing For Action, former President Barack Obama’s initiative. Among the potential political priorities she has mentioned to associates are building pipelines for young party leaders to rise and ensuring that a reconstructed Democratic National Committee functions as an effective hub that works seamlessly with other party campaign wings.

We need her, we need Bill, and we need Obama; heck, we need Kerry and Gore. Our leaders should not leave the scene after a loss. They've all been effective leaders, and they've all gotten 50 million+ votes. I'd love to see them raise money and recruit candidates to run local and state races. We need to counter the money the Kochs and others are putting up. They also could help raise the money we need to build the lasting infrastructure we need to fight on all fronts, all the time.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Pretty Penny


The Dismantling of the EPA Begins Quietly

Just like the White House, the EPA is starting to leak like a sieve, and we're not hearing anything good:

EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants ― an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things ― and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation.
An EPA staffer provided the information to the congressional office anonymously, fearing retaliation.
.
.
.
The Huffington Post also received a message that was reportedly sent to staff Monday that seems to cover the current agency guidance on talking to the press in general, not just about the directive on grants. The memo states that the agency is imposing tight controls on external communication, including press releases, blog posts, social media and content on the agency website.

This isn't very surprising in general, but the speed at which all of this is happening is really disorienting. That's probably the idea.

How the Hell Did We Miss This?

Why isn't this all over the internet?




That's THIS Heather Wilson!



Our Air Force is going to be run by a woman who cries at the sight of nipples! That can't be a problem, right?

Only if You Run

Another addition to the new "Get Involved" area of the right sidebar -- Only if You Run:

Only If You Run will support any Democrat that runs for a seat held by a Republican in one of our seven target states: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Michigan. We have two election cycles left before Congressional Districts are redrawn in 2021 and we want to help you win your seat so they are drawn more fairly.
If you are planning to run or are already running, reach out to us and tell us who you are. We will make donations of no less than $5,000 to qualifying candidates. In Virginia and North Carolina we will begin making contributions this summer. For candidates in our other five target states we will begin in January 2018.
We know what a difficult decision it can be to run for political office, and our pledge is that we will make that decision a little bit easier for you. We need to ungerrymander America to ensure a resilient future, and we want to help you do it.

Don't know if it's sustainable, but worth a shot.

Late Night Track -- Special


Monday, January 23, 2017

The Daily Combover - January 23, 2017

Dear Leader began his 4th day in office at 2:30AM because he had a 9AM meeting with "top executives" and had to be sure he was out of the salon in time.
Look at that dedication. 6 hours later he was out of the salon and ready to go so he tweeted some anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda and started his day.

Dear Leader knows it's America First or the foreign children will take over. And his job is to get that message out. One way to do that is to control the American media. And he'll do that via traditional Republican methods (calling them too liberal, liars, etc.) and also through new methods. He's giving press credentials to crack-pot conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. And by adding "Skype" seats for other, let's call it, "alt-media."

The other way? By making sure your party is absolutely unified behind you. Anyone expecting Graham, McCain, and/or Rubio to buck their party is delusional. Republicans will always put Party First. And that's the other half of the America First slogan.

And finally, unwilling to tell the truth even when everyone knows he's lying, Trump sent Conway and Spicer out to double down on the latest "alt-facts" about his tax returnscrowd sizes, and business ties.

Meanwhile, here's what Dear Leader accomplished today:
1. He backed out of the TPP trade deal. Jason and I have done some research on TPP and found it to have very marginal economic effects. Some businesses will benefit, others will be hurt. Some workers will benefit, others will be hurt. Some countries will benefit, others will be hurt. But all seem to be very minor movements up or down.  TPP received a lot more attention than it probably should have, but now it's off the table.  So at the very least, that's one completed issue.  Net economic effect of backing away: basically nil for us, but it puts China in position now to become an even larger economic player.  As Obama said, TPP was going to occur with or without us. By being at the table we at least preserved a bit of our hegemony in the Pacific.

2. An executive order implementing a complete hiring freeze by the Federal Government. A really interesting move considering the following:

That spike in 2010 was US Census workers which will come back again in 2020. But as you can see, aside from that, Federal employment fell by 356,000 workers over the course of Obama's tenure in office. Aside from that, Dear Leader still has thousands of positions to fill by appointment or by staffing. How exactly is that going to happen?

3. He dismissed the validity of the Emoluments Clause lawsuit as being "totally without merit"
President Donald Trump said Monday morning that a lawsuit alleging he violated the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution is "totally without merit."
"No," he said, responding to a reporter's question during a pool spray as he signed executive orders in the Oval Office. "Without merit. Totally without merit."
The liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit Monday accusing Trump of violating the Emoluments Clause, which bars presidents from receiving payments from foreign governments, including businesses owned by governments.
4. A dismissal of foreign aid benefits to countries that have legal abortions.

Remember that too much social media can rot your brain. Catch you on the flip side.