Travails of the Children of the 1%

A Canadian “pom-pom” hat, also known as a toque.

Wealthy NY School Begs Kids to Leave Home $350 Moncler Hats

In Canada, we call “pom-pom” hats “toques.” You can pick up a decent one at Canadian Tire for, oh, $25 Canadian. But apparently at this New York Middle School “fashion is “very important” to the children of the 1%. So they are paying $350 US for a fancy toque-like hat. And apparently losing them, which has led to much sturm and drang.

“We understand that fashion is very important to our middle schoolers,” administrators at Great Neck North Middle School wrote in a letter to parents obtained by the New York Post.

Which only goes to prove two things: 1) A fool and his or her money are soon parted and 2) George Carlin was right when he said if you stuck together two things that have never been stuck together before, some schmuck will buy it.

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“The Soul of America”

Trump claims he never said Mexico would cut a check for the wall. Let’s go to the tape.

I just finished reading Jon Meacham’s wonderful book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.” It is both a delightful read and at the same time a cautionary tale. Meacham cautions us, as the New York Times reviewer notes, that America’s survival is not automatic. The book examines times in the past when fear, confusion, and hatred have gripped the country in situations very similar to our own.

I took two main things away from “The Soul of America.” Something that I have told my own children many times – that the struggle never ends and never will and that we have to keep fighting for what’s right because the forces that would haul us backward never stop striving to undo the progress that we have made as a nation. And secondly, when faced with a crushing tsunami of lies and obstructions to the truth, the media needs to continue to publish the facts, even if those facts are unpopular.

Sometimes this requires the media to publish or broadcast those facts again and again. Such is the current situation in which we find ourselves. President Donald Trump is the master liar. He lies, and lies, and lies… And then lies again. He continues to lie even when his lies have been totally debunked and shown to be lies and half-truths. Trump never uses reasoned arguments against his critics but attacks and slanders them as unworthy or cowards or haters of America because they are unwilling to accept his malignant vision of the nation.

The same is true of those minions that doing his bidding like his children, Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Homeland Security Sec. Kirstien Nielsen, to name just a few. They lie in service to Trump. One senses occasionally that they wish they could be more truthful. But access to power numbs any personal misgivings they may have.

This is not the first time a demagogue has sought to rend our country asunder and to divide us into camps. Never before, however, has that person been the president of the United States. As Meacham points out, flawed as they were, past presidents were the ones that help the country move beyond these moments of crisis even if they sometimes did so halfheartedly.

Now we face a crisis unlike any the country has known before. Our president is a man totally devoted to mendacity, to egotism, to personal gain, to the retention of power and not the welfare of the people. This crisis will not be solved easily. Even if Trump is impeached and through some miracle, enough Republican senators voted to convict him and throw him out of office, his malicious and dangerous spirit would survive to haunt us. For, as Meacham again notes, you do not get someone like a Trump without some of the people wanting someone like a Trump.

And so, at the end of his wonderful book, Meacham calls for Americans who care about their country to take up the struggle. And for most of us, that means to take up the struggle politically. To knock on doors, lick envelopes, put up signs or even run for office. We must not shrink from that struggle, and to find a way to talk to and communicate with those who feel differently than we do.

Because the reality is that now that we’ve had one Trump, the chance that we will have another Trump-like politician in our future will be that much more assured. The struggle never ends.

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The Canadian Busily Blowing up Pseudoscience – Musings 01/01/19

Has Tim Caulfield become the Canadian nemesis of pseudoscience?

A very nice piece on Tim Caulfield, who makes his home in Edmonton, Alberta, and his efforts to blow up the pseudoscience of people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Deepak Chopra. Like Caulfield, I believe that if it doesn’t have a scientific basis it is just so much humbugery, not very different from the snake oil peddlers who used to sell their wares across the American frontier. Just a new group of suckers easier to reach because of social media.

“If you are willing to believe this one magical thing, I think it’s easier to believe other magical things,” he says. “And I think this is a significant problem in this day and age: This deep erosion and loss of trust and critical thinking in how our world works.”

Homeopathic cures, anti-vaxxers, GMO haters, vaginally eggs, the endless stream of bogus health cures and wellness routines that never ends especially when these phonies realize that coming up with bogus concoctions can make them millions. Thank the stars above for people like Caulfield.

In the same vein, I would also recommend the podcast “Sawbones” which is done by one of the normally very funny McElroy brothers and his doctor wife which relentlessly seeks out and demolishes bogus medical theories while alternating with interesting looks at medical history.

This Western Mass. town rejected Comcast and will build its own broadband network

The Western Massachusetts town of Charlemont said thanks but no thanks to Comcast. And who can blame them? Especially after the FCC did away with Net Neutrality rules, largely thanks to the interventions and “donations” made by large networks to Republican politicians to support the measure. There is also the reality that when the deal with Massachusetts runs out in a few years, how much do you think Comcast is going invest in new equipment in small towns in western Massachusetts? Probably not much.

I think it is very smart of the people of the town to build their own network. I hope many other small towns in America make the same decision.

What the Believers Are Denying (The denial of climate change and the denial of racism rest on the same foundation: an attack on observable reality.)

When I heard that Chuck Todd would no longer allow guests on Meet the Press who are climate change deniers I wanted to add him to my Christmas card list. I, like Todd, also believe that it’s time to stop messing around with these foolish people. Climate change is an undeniable fact and because so many people in power, like Pres. Trump, choose to ignore it means really bad things for our planet, some of which we are just starting to see now.

“I don’t believe it,” President Donald Trump said in response. “No. No. I don’t believe it.”

I have heard this before. I can relate.

“No. No. I’m not racist,” Trump has said repeatedly. Evidence be damned.

It would also be nice if some national TV host said: “I’m not going to interview racists on the show anymore.” This, of course, would mean that Pres. Trump could never be interviewed, not to mention too many Republican members of Congress to enumerate. Heck, if Fox News ever adapted such an idea (I’m not an idiot, I promise you, I’m just daydreaming here to make a point) almost their entire nighttime lineup would be off the air not to mention three-quarters of the guests they interview.

Racism, like climate change, is an observable fact in the United States and the people who deny that are just as wrong as the climate change deniers are.

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How Russian Money Bailed Out Trump

How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business

A great investigative piece by Foreign Policy that shows just how much Donald Trump owes to Russian oligarchs and banks.

As the early 90s, American banks were finished with Trump and his money-losing ways. He was a terrible businessman. As late as 2003 he was in desperate financial trouble and pressed his siblings to sell off his late father’s estate which Fred Trump had warned them not to do when he was alive. Then he declared bankruptcy again in 2004.

But Trump made a comeback largely due to an influx of foreign capital in particular from Russia.

But remember, he has no business dealing with Russia. The Donald told us so himself…

Faces of a new capitalism: How Millennials are embracing socialist values

I’m not sure why socialism is a “new capitalism,” but this is still a good piece from the Christian Science Monitor and spot on. As a longtime socialist myself (and a strong supporter of the NDP in Canada) I have seen much of this change in my own children and their friends. It’s been seven years since the Occupy Wall Street movement. While it didn’t make big inroads at the time, its ideas spread, particularly among young people.

On the one hand, you see the growth of corporations like Amazon, which has been tagged as being anti-worker for many of its practices. Yet even Amazon is paying its workers more money these days, attuned to the change in public perception about the way businesses treat workers.

There is something happening in the American economy. It’s not gonna happen all at once. But ten years from now the American economy will be a much socialist (in the Canadian or European model) as capitalist. Can’t happen fast enough for me.

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A 14 member and two chamber Supreme Court?

(My apologies for not posting recently. Battling a wicked cold.)

Trust in the justices of the Supreme Court is waning. Here are three w ays to fortify the court

An interesting article from the Los Angeles Times written by Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale. He argues that the current Supreme Court which heard 250 cases in 1970 and only about 65 last year is being overwhelmed by the number of petitions for review. He advocates a court structure similar to the one used in Germany – two chambers consisting of seven justices each, one to hear constitutional matters and one to address questions of statutory interpretation. On truly monumental issues the 14 justices would rule together.

He also thinks the Senate should return to a 60 vote minimum to confirm a Supreme Court justice and that while justices should be appointed for life, they should only serve on the highest court for 14 years. After 14 years they would move to the appeals court.

Whatever the solution, there is no doubt that the Supreme Court needs to be reformed. I find some of these ideas intriguing.

The most popular fact-checks of 2018

A Christmas bonus from the Washington Post! A cornucopia of four Pinocchios from Donald Trump, of course. But also Bill Clinton’s stammering performance trying to defend his past behaviors with women and two posts from Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who apparently needs to learn that people pay attention to hyperbole when you come to Washington. Oh yes, and Beto O’Rourke’s claim that he did not flee the scene when he was involved in a drunk-driving accident many years ago.

Church knew for years L.A. bishop had been accused of abuse

Another good piece from the Los Angeles Times about how the Catholic Church protected an LA bishop accused of abuse as far back as 2002. He was actually made a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Somehow when the Vatican released a list of bishops who have been accused of sexual crimes, Bishop Alexander Salazar’s name was left off the list. The first time the abuse became public was when he passed in his resignation to Pope Francis on Wednesday.

Needless to say just another case of the church covering up a nightmare of sexual abuse. Pope Francis more or less came out today, Friday, December 21, and said that priests guilty of sexual abuse were on their own and that their fate would be left to secular authorities.

Well, I’ll wait and see how that goes. I won’t hold my breath.

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Musings, 12/10/18: “Don’t Insult My Country, Dotard”

French Government Slams Trump: Stop Interfering And ‘Leave Our Nation Be’

Having grown up Canadian, I remember very well the last time a French politician tried to interfere in the affairs of another country. I refer to, of course. the late French president Charles de Gaulle and his “Vive la Québec libre” comment made while visiting Québec in 1967. Lester Pearson’s Canadian government sort of told dear Charles to shut up and get out and he left the country.

More or less the same thing happened this past weekend, only it was France who was on the end of obnoxious comments, in this case tweets, by another world leader. That obnoxious world leader, of course, was Donald Trump. Trump, who hates not being the focus of every story no matter where it is happening in the world, decided to toss in his two cents worth about the protests by the yellow vests in France. Trump made the protests all about the Paris Accord on climate change and deluded himself into thinking that the crowds were chanting “We want Trump.” (This is only because this is what Donald Trump chants when he is alone by himself in the bathroom.)

And while some members of the French government politely told der Trump to back off, some people did not use diplomatic language at all. Joachim Son-Forget, a member of the French National Assembly, responded to Trump’s comments, by tweeting himself the unforgettable phrase that Trump was suffering from “cerebral incontinence.” (Ah, the French do have a way with words.) He followed this up by borrowing Kim Jong Un’s insult about Trump, “Don’t insult my country Dotard.”

The yellow vest protests have been extremely violent and widespread in a way that only protests in France can be. America had a similar protest over the way our government is being run. It was called the 2018 midterms.

Ontarians, we’re all living in a Dukes of Hazzard show now

I don’t think my American friends can truly appreciate what a brainless nincompoop Doug Ford is and what a mystery it is that he was elected premier of Ontario. The true reason was, of course, that the former Liberal government was so hated and despised by the average voter in Ontario they would’ve elected a blowup sex toy as the next premier. Doug Ford is not a blowup sex toy although he probably has the intelligence of one.

This is a great column by my friend and fellow Canadian Nieman Stephen Mayer that paints Ford with just the right brush. He not only acts like Boss Hogg and runs the government of Ontario like Boss Hogg ran Hazzard County, he looks like Boss Hogg. As Stephen points out in this column, it appears he’s installed his own version of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane as the head of the Ontario Provincial Police.

I think the voters of Ontario must feel like they were on this wild bender, are slowly starting to sober up and asked themselves “Oh my God, what did we do?”.

Tumblr’s New ‘No Sex’ Rules Show The Problems Of FOSTA And EU Copyright Directive In One Easy Move

While the Boomer Generation and those over the age of 40 have been fascinated by the recent court filings by special counsel Robert Mueller concerning our dear president, younger people have only one topic on their mind – the decision by the popular social media network Tumblr to ban pornography from its site in the very near future. Tumblr, which is owned by Verizon through its purchase of Yahoo, made this decision because of a report of child pornography on Tumblr, which led to their app being pulled off of the Apple App Store. Tumblr reacted to these reports by immediately taking down these deeply offending images.

But Verizon, which has decided to surrender rather than fight for free speech, has decided to ban all “pornographic” images on Tumblr. They are using bots to hunt down these images. Which of course has led to complete chaos and the banning of anything that has a flesh tone (or in some cases is nothing at all to do with sex). Tumblr has been a safe space for many members of the LGBT community and some sex workers who used Tumblr to alert each other to the potential dangers of particular customers. But it’s the average user who is infuriated by Verizon’s move. In my own home, my children who are of the ages between 23 and 18 can talk of little else and how angry they are. They plan to leave Tumblr and I predict millions more will as well.

What lies behind this is a new law known as FOSTA (or SESTA) which was put into effect in April of this year. Before they became law, the Internet was ruled by the “safe harbor” provision of the 1996 Communications and Decency Act which basically protected Internet sites from third-party postings. FOSTA, which creates a runaround to the CDA, was enacted as a way to curb sex trafficking on sites like Backdoor (which has since gone out of business) but has done little to stop sex trafficking and only endangered free speech on the Internet. In fact recent statistics show that there are more sex trafficking posts available on the Internet only now they are located on sites which have no interest in cooperating with the police, which Backdoor did do.

This is yet another case of moralistic do-gooders using a sledgehammer to solve a problem that needed a thumbtack. Politicians who want to connect to the millennial generation need to pay attention to this issue. They need to study it and talk intelligently about it if they want to harvest the votes of young people.

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Musings:12/09/18 – Say Hello to the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

William Barr Is Jeff Sessions Without the Baggage

Just in case anyone thought that William Barr will bring a new approach to the Justice Department needs to remember that this is Donald Trump’s administration. Trump would not have chosen Barr, who’s been auditioning for the position for several months now, if he did not think that Barr would not only continue Jeff Sessions’ far-right approach to issues like police reform or criminal justice reform but also give him a man in the Department of Justice who he could count on to obstruct the Russia investigation as much as possible.

As this article in Slate explains, Barr is basically Jeff Sessions without the baggage. Perhaps not as racist, certainly as homophobic and who can certainly be counted on to continue Sessions’ battles against civil liberties and civil rights. Really not much of an upgrade.

Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

It really must be embarrassing for Canadian conservatives almost every time Andrew Scheer opens his mouth. Because every time he opens his mouth he seems to stick his foot in it. Scheer, who wants to pretend he is Canada’s Donald Trump (only without the money and the “big brain”) does share some of Trump’s greatest features: he doesn’t seem to care much about reading or actually learning the facts of the situation.

It’s pretty embarrassing when a member of your own party and former minister in the government of Stephen Harper (a group not known for being warmhearted towards any issue of immigration) basically tells you not only are you wrong but you are very wrong.

Watching Andrew Scheer’s performance from afar is like watching a car wreck unfold before your eyes. You really can’t do anything to stop it but it’s fascinating to watch.

Harvard’s Bipartisan Congressional Orientation Under Fire For Being Too Corporate

Boys, there’s a whole bunch of new sheriffs in town and they are not just going to go along to get along. If the Democratic Party thinks that the new progressive members elected in the 2018 midterms will just quietly lineup support the status quo, I think they are starting to realize that it ain’t gonna happen. The great danger is, of course, that this new progressive group within the Democratic caucus will become the “Freedom Party” of the left. Time will tell.

But it is obvious from the reaction to the overwhelmingly corporate nature of the orientation at Harvard, and its complete lack of any voices from labor or from any other progressive area, that these new voices are going to demand some changes and they are not going to do so quietly.

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Musings 12/06/18 – The Celebration and the Denunciation

George H.W. Bush’s funeral was a powerful renunciation of Trump
Bush’s Funeral Wasn’t About Trump. But Of Course It Was.

How odd it must’ve been for a man who insists that everything be about him, to sit through a 90-minute service about another person, and to listen to speaker after speaker extolled that person’s virtues when every virtue was a repudiation of how the listener conducts his life.

As John Harris writes in Politico, in Washington DC subtext is text. While each of the four speakers eulogizing the late Pres. George H. W. Bush focused on his service to his country, his understanding that the opposition is not the enemy, his desire for America to have a prominent place in the world, and perhaps most of all his kindness, they were also denouncing the lack of these traits in the current occupant of the oval office.

Trump sat through the service like a caged animal, arms folded in a defensive posture, restless, unable to tweet, not bothering to sing the songs or pray the prayers (probably because he didn’t know them – Trump probably has been near a church since he was baptized).

But the most stinging and straightforward rebukes came from a former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, who praised Bush for his work on NAFTA, in NATO, on environmentalism, and in international leadership, all things which Trump has derided or debased.

For me, watching the service I had mixed emotions. I was not a huge fan of the 41st President of the United States (I will never forgive him for the Willie Horton ad) but he understood service and you cannot question his love of country. More than anything else I came away with a feeling of nostalgia. A nostalgia for a time when the president of the United States, regardless of his political party, actually tried to make the office more about the people of the country than about himself.

Huawei CFO arrest ‘violates human rights’, China says

Hearing China condemn another country for violating human rights is a bit like listening to the Ku Klux Klan condemn another organization for being racist.

Nonetheless, I was a little surprised to read of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer. The daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom giant was picked up by Canadian authorities in Vancouver because her extradition is wanted by the United States for some reason. We don’t know what for yet, because Ms. Meng asked for a publication ban of the details of her arrest, which you can do under Canadian law. (Reporting on court cases and court proceedings in Canada is completely different than what is done under American law.)

Coming so soon after Pres. Trump and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping seemed to momentarily put aside their trade differences for 90 days, this will not help smooth that road.

Recently several Western countries have restricted the use of Huawei technology in the building of infrastructure for the new 5G networks. That tells me that Western security services are concerned that the Chinese are building lots of backdoors and ways to disrupt a country’s technology through the use of Huawei equipment.

Facebook discussed cashing in on user data, emails suggest

The more I read about Facebook, the happier I am that I am leaving it on December 15. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff recently compared using Facebook to having an addiction to nicotine. As he said, Facebook is the new cigarette. It’s hard to leave, I won’t lie, but with each new bit of news about Facebook, it reaffirms my belief that I’m doing the right thing. Good riddance to bad garbage.

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Musings for November 29, 2018

Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior in regards to the Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation shows that he knows the jig is up. He has done everything he can to undermine this investigation, including behaving in a manner absolutely abhorrent for a president of the United States. I think that’s what bothers me the most. There has never been an individual to hold the highest office in the land who worked so hard to degraded it, to defame it and make it look ridiculous.

Yes, his election was the will of the people (not all the people, he lost the popular vote by a few million ballots) but he triumphed fairly under the ridiculous electoral system that exists in the United States. But you know what? Sometimes people make the wrong decision and American voters made the wrong decision electing Donald Trump. He is, without any doubt, the worst president in the history of this great country. Not even a close call.

Mueller’s Steady Stream of Russia Revelations Is Driving Trump Crazy (4:59 PM)

Canada imposes sanctions on 17 Saudis over killing of journalist Khashoggi (8:27 p.m.)

Cowards. The evidence is there to name MBS. And Trudeau runs away from it.No better than Trump.

Any day now, this house of cards will come tumbling down.

For those who are wondering why Trump doesn’t just go ahead and pardon Manafort and the rest, or have his new thug Attorney General Matthew Whi
taker shut down Mueller, I suggest the answer is simple: Someone has gotten it through Trump’s head that such blatant moves will not prevent Mueller’s stories from getting out, not successfully protect all the president’s guilty men (and possibly women) from criminal exposure, and not necessarily be constitutional if the aim is to exchange pardons for silence. What Trump would succeed in doing instead is adding another chapter or two to still another Mueller true-crime tale, the one about obstruction of justice.

Investigators Raid Offices of President of U.S. Catholic Bishops (4:50 pm)

The Catholic Church has finally run out its string. After decades of lying, coverups, and moving pedophile priests around from parish to parish – not just in the United States but all around the world – it’s time to pay the piper. Time for priests and cardinals and archbishops who have abused children, or who have a have hidden abusers, to go to jail. For a long time.

Trump Is Wrecking the Constitution, the Presidency—and Now, Romaine Lettuce, Too (6:48 a.m.)

The daily antics of Donald Trump constantly leaves people gasping “It can’t get worse.” But it does, of course.

What we are missing, however, is the way that the Trump administration is dismantling important regulations brought in by Pres. Obama and past administrations designed to protect the air quality, the water quality, and the food supply in order to protect the health of Americans. This Romaine lettuce outbreak can be directly traced to the policies of the Trump administration. They don’t care if there is crap all over your Romaine lettuce. They just want to save their friends in big Agri a few bucks. If a few people die because of inadequate food production, well, so be it. There’s money to be made.

Trump-led GOP grows increasingly tolerant of racially divisive politics

Let me translate that headline for you. The Republican Party is becoming a party of racists and bigots and they don’t care about trying to hide it anymore. It’s been moving that way for half a century, since the development of the southern strategy under Richard Nixon.

Five years after the GOP produced a self-examination that called for reconciliation with minority voters, the party has grown increasingly tolerant of racially divisive politics, making its support base even whiter as potential minority voters and candidates are driven away.

The shift has been led by a president who in the final days of the Mississippi Senate race said the Democratic candidate, an African American who was born here to a well-known family, doesn’t “fit in.”

These efforts of course are being led by a man who has a well-known history of racism and bigotry throughout his life and doesn’t seem to care if people know it. The GOP has become the party of less-educated white people, primarily white males. It’s a shame really. In about 20 years or so, less than 50% of the American population will be white. And as college-educated whites move increasingly towards the Democrats, the GOP’s base shrinks and shrinks. No doubt more than a few Republicans will deny this trend, but if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. A racist and bigoted duck.

Redskins ignore Colin Kaepernick, sign Reuben Foster and remind us of who they are

If you want to know something about American football, this story kind of sums it all up. The NFL makes a big deal about “defending the shield” and being solid, upright citizens in their communities. Well, maybe some teams fit this description. The Washington team does not. (I will not use their racist last name.) In a sense, the move by the Washington team to ignore a talented quarterback who protested racial injustice by the police and instead select a linebacker who has been accused of domestic abuse more than once, is a great reflection on where we are as a country right now. Basically, it’s okay to beat your partner but don’t you dare say anything bad about how the police treat black people in this country.

The Algorithms of August

Very good piece by Foreign Policy about how the US is losing the artificial intelligence race to countries like China and Canada. I hate to keep bringing us up, but this is another place where racism and bigotry are keeping the best people away from United States. Countries like Canada, which have a much more open door policy towards immigrants, are actively recruiting scientists who specialize in artificial intelligence research. The government has actually allocated millions of dollars to do so.

Since Trump has become president, however, with his incessant wars on both legal and illegal immigrants, scientists who might once have come and settled in the United States are now looking in other directions. Americans, for their part, failed to understand how stories about racism and bigotry in the United States resonate around the world. The Indian engineer who was murdered by a white racist in Kansas sent a shiver through the scientific communities of other nations around the world. Why come to the United States when you can go to a country that appreciate your talents and want you to settle there?

NRATV: Boys Should Be Trained To Charge At Active Shooters

Fortunately for all of us, the NRA is doing its very best to reduce its membership even more than it has in the past two years. If you want to find the epicenter of so much of the darkness that threatens to engulf the United States in the 21st century, you can begin that search at the NRA headquarters just outside Washington DC.

MSNBC declines to allow Sarah Sanders to dictate its programming

I know, MSNBC is seen as the left-wing counterpart of Fox News. It’s a bit disingenuous. Fox News programs like “Fox and Friends” or Sean Hannity’s Trump love-in or Tucker Carlson’s snoozer of a program regularly just make stuff up out of whole cloth, have never missed a chance to promote every conspiracy theory possible no matter how ridiculous or untrue, misuse videos to underscore their lies and make absolutely no attempt at fairness. There are times when I would accuse MSNBC of leaning too hard towards a liberal viewpoint but I would never accuse them of making stuff up.

And that is why I totally agree with their decision not to carry the Sarah Sanders lie-a-thon formally known as the White House press briefing. Ms. Sanders (or as I affectionately refer to her, Baghdad Bobbi) would no sooner be truthful during the press briefing than you would expect the sun to rise in the west. Sanders spreads misinformation like a farmer in Iowa spreads fertilizer on a corn field. So why bother covering it when you know everything that’s going to be said by Sanders is not true? I applaud their decision and I hope other media outlets do the same.

CA Dem Party Chair Takes Leave Of Absence Amid Misconduct Allegations

I read the other day how New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is taking a lot of friendly fire because of her position on the Al Franken resignation. She was one of the most outspoken voices of the need for Franken to resign. I thought that was the right call then and I think is the right call now.

I think this guy also needs to resign. This “leave of absence” nonsense is just so much horse manure. We are not talking about one person making this complaint. At least 10 women have come forward to talk about this man’s behavior. And while the Republicans have no problem nominating men who abuse women to the Supreme Court, the Democrats absolutely have to send a different message. This guy needs to resign and he needs to resign now.

Finally, for fans of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”…

Margaret Atwood announces The Handmaid’s Tale sequel, The Testaments

The novel ambiguously ended with Offred being placed in a van that will possibly deliver her to freedom outside Gilead. The novel’s epilogue is narrated by an academic giving a lecture about the authenticity of Offred’s story decades later, based on cassette tapes he had discovered in Maine.

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American musings for November 28

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won the Senate runoff in Mississippi last night but it was a heck of a lot closer than people thought it would be. The day when an African-American Democrat would lose to a Republican by single digits in the state that is so Republican and so racist that it still has the Confederate flag in its state flag portends greater changes down the road.

I will make a prediction right here and right now. In two years Texas will go blue. This is especially the case if Beto O’Rourke is the Democratic nominee for president. The solid South has become the Purple South.

Trump Says He’s ‘Far Greater’ Than Reagan

I know Donald Trump is an egomaniac in public. His accomplishments are far below what most other sitting presidents (Republican or Democrat) have accomplished by their first two years in office but that never stops him from saying everything is the greatest, or the biggest, the best, yada, yada, yada. But if you ever needed more proof that Trump has verbal diarrhea it is his claim that he is actually greater than Ronald Reagan. Now, I’m no Reagan fan (my last name was misspelled for eight years when he was president) but I know he had some fairly major accomplishments. I could sense true conservative across America cringing as they read this report. Every time Trump opens his mouth he just shows how much of a snake oil salesman he is.

The NRA Just Reported Losing $55 Million in Income

Boo-hoo. And they would’ve lost even more money except that a single donor gave them $19 million. Membership in this domestic terrorist organization is definitely down. Let’s hope they just keep doing what they been doing for the last two years and that one day, like a puff of smoke, the NRA will just fade away like a bad dream.

What To Know About New York Judge’s Ruling Against The Trump Foundation

This is a little time bomb that is ticking away in Donald Trump’s background. Basically, the judge in the case ruled that it is totally allowable for a sitting president to be sued for activities that have nothing to do with his conduct in office. Basically, the Trump Foundation, which more or less operated as a charity organization for the benefit of one person, namely Donald Trump, “willfully and intentionally” engaged in serious misconduct. I also like the attempt by Trump to get the case switch to a federal court. (Gee, I wonder why? You would almost think he had a ringer in the Atty. Gen.’s Department.) That didn’t work either. If you pardon my language, this is going to to to be a huge shitstorm for the Trumps.

A Shadow Over Europe

This is a very good report from CNN about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, provoked by the far-right. Memories of the Holocaust are slowly fading away and about 1/4 of Europeans believe that Jews play “too big a role” in the world.

Before the midterm elections in the United States, a friend of mine asked on Facebook what we needed to do if we didn’t get a blue wave. Although we did, my answer was that it didn’t matter. This is not a one-time thing. This is a struggle that goes on all the time. The forces that desire to pull us back into a darker human past are never quiet, never still. If we relax for a moment, they will take that moment to push their agenda that much farther. It is a struggle that will never end and we just might as well face it. Our children and our children’s children will be fighting many of the same battles a hundred years from now. While we may be making progress in areas like racism, bigotry, misogyny, or homophobia, the far-right will always push back and try to take it all away.

Maybe They’re Just Bad People

But Trump is unique as a magnet for grifters, climbers and self-promoters, in part because decent people won’t associate with him. With the exception of national security professionals sticking around to stop Trump from blowing up the world, there are two kinds of people in the president’s orbit — the immoral and the amoral.

I’m glad someone in the mainstream media has finally said this out loud. The people who surround Donald Trump reminded me of the Obi-Wan quote from the first Star Wars:”You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” And for me the biggest villain is Stephen Miller. Drones like Sanders, Conway or Kelly are little more than Trump puppets. But Miller…If I was casting a horror movie and I need someone to play a soulless demon without any conscience and totally capable of any evil, I would just give the part to Miller right away. Call it typecasting.

The Dangers Junk Science of Vocal Risk Assessment

A great piece by the Intercept on a company who is trying to persuade corporate leaders in Washington that their software allows them to listen to people’s voices and detect if they are possible troublemakers. Almost every expert on the subject calls a totally bogus and even a dangerously misleading practice. The Trump administration is, of course, interested because totally bogus and dangerous misleading practices are kind of their thing.

Chancellor admits UK will be worse off under all Brexit scenarios

There is no good Brexit for the UK. The United Kingdom loses under every single scenario. It’s what we’ve all known from that first night when Britons allow themselves to be misled by a band of lying miscreants. Brexit is the “New Coke”of British politics. Well, they asked for and boy are they going to get it.

And finally…

The World’s Highest-Paid TV Hosts 2018

It’s not Ellen. It’s not Dr. Phil. Definitely not Dr. Oz. Not Steve Harvey or Ryan Seacrest.

It’s Judge Judy! Last year Americans favorite cranky judge made $137 million. Not only that but she has three times the audience of Sean Hannity. I daresay that if Judge Judy promoted a presidential candidate on her show, he would always guarantee him or her election.

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