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Showing posts from December, 2020

The Clown Prince Throws Another Hissy

Donald Trump has been angrily blaming his election loss on just about everyone and everything he can imagine. Among his notable whipping boys are former A.G. Bill Barr, the entire Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, those plotters at the FBI, the incompetent Supreme Court, and the weak GOP leadership in the House and Senate, especially Mitch the Bitch. Now Melania has run afoul of the Mango Mussolini . She thought she would spruce up the Trump residence at Mar-a-Lardo in preparation for the exile from Main Street.   President Donald Trump returned to his beachside Mar-a-Lago resort for a restful Christmas break last week but was so displeased with redecorations overseen by his wife, Melania Trump, that he ordered them to be torn out, CNN reported . "He was not happy with it," a source told CNN, adding that Trump berated resort staff members upon arrival, telling them to remove "white marble and an abundance of dark wood." The staff quickly o

Federal Court Judge "It's Not Surprising a Criminal Like Trump Pardons Other Criminals"

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Them's fightin' words from Iowa District Court judge, Robert Pratt . Pratt said, “Apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer or a turkey.” Pratt was referring to Trump’s Republican allies in the government, security contractors convicted of killing civilians in Iraq, and the turkey that is pardoned each Thanksgiving. The AP reports that Pratt’s statement came when he was asked by the news outlet for a comment on the recent pardoning of former aides for ex-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who were convicted on corruption charges related to the Iowa caucuses. Jesse Benton and John Tate both worked on Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, reports the AP, and were convicted of hiding $73,000 worth of payments to former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) in exchange for his endorsement of Paul. Both men were sentenced to six months of home confinement and probation before Trump pardoned then. Pratt oversaw Sorenson’s case in 2017 and sentenced him t

#Guillotine2020 - Is Celebrity Losing Its Mojo?

  Wonderful article in The New York Times about how celebrities are starting to piss people off with their platitudes over the Covid-19 pandemic. The "common man" appeal is losing its currency . Some celebs are trying to spread the message through social media that "hey, we're all in this together." It's a message that's falling flat. I heard a fine retort to this the other day. Yes, we're all in the same stormy seas but that's where the togetherness ends. Some are riding out the breakers comfortably aboard their mega yachts.  Others are bobbing around in their skiffs, too busy bailing out the bilges for anything else. Others still have no boat and are treading water.  When JLo sends a message of solidarity from her palatial compound it can rub people the wrong way - people who don't have manicured yards, swimming pools, screening rooms in their cribs. People who had no money to give their kids presents at Christmas. People who are just one s

Match, Meet Gasoline

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We're told the latest variant of the Covid-19 virus isn't more deadly except that it is much more transmissible. It's more easily spread. A greater number of people may be infected for each carrier. In a situation in which deaths are weighed against economic impacts that gives rise to a number of dilemmas. First detected in the UK, the "new and improved" virus is said to have originated in South Africa. Who cares? As we saw yesterday, that didn't stop a lot of British holidaymakers from defying their government's appeals to get in a ski vacation to various Alpine resorts. When the Swiss ordered the Brits into quarantine they stole away into the night. Quelle surprise! I think Covid-19 Mk. II needs to be taken very seriously. Now those who defiantly choose to reject precautions - masks, social distancing, isolation - become a far greater threat to the public welfare and our healthcare systems and must be dealt with accordingly.  Then there's what could

The Gomer Effect

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He's been called the "Dumbest Man in Congress" and more than once at that.  Texas representative, Louie Ghomert, has filed suit against vice president Mike Pence . Gohmert's lawsuit against Pence asks a Trump-appointed judge to rule that the vice president is authorized to throw out the already-cast electoral college votes and instead appoint his own slate of pro-Trump electors to give the president a second term. Legal experts are broadly dismissing the lawsuit, with  Georgia State University School of Law professor Anthony Michael Kreis dubbing it "insane."  

A "Never Trump" Conservative Writes Trump Has Burned His Bridges to 2024

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It might be wishful thinking but Washington Post columnist, Jennifer Rubin, writes that this time (as opposed to every previous 'this time') Donald Trump and the GOP are quits . Trump's 'burn the house down on your way out' routine has gone too far for some, not yet far enough for others. There's no way in hell he could win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.  Ms. Rubin, like George Will, David Frum and many others, is an old school Republican, no longer the mainstream in today's GOP that finds itself about as divided as the country itself. There are conservative Republicans, the old school; fickle Republicans, the sort who sail to the prevailing winds, like Mitch McConnell; and then there are the radical Republicans, the Freedom Caucus whose origins trace back to the Tea Party lunacy.  The Freedom Caucus loves Trump. The Fickle Faction fear Trump. The Old School loathe Trump, the Fickle Faction and the Freedom Caucus. How they will sort out thei

When the Going Gets Tough, the Brits "Di Di Mau"

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Every time someone tells you how we're all in this together think Verebier, a ski resort town in Switzerland. There were some 420 Brits holidaying in Verbier when the virulent strain of Covid-19 was detected in the town causing Swiss authorities to order South African and British visitors into quarantine. Overnight, that 420 shrunk to 12 .  Asked about the runaway tourists, the Swiss health minister, Alain Berset, said: “We are aware of that. It’s obviously a problem. There was an order to quarantine that has not been respected.” He added: “One shouldn’t underestimate what an impossible situation it was. We had to decide within hours what to do … That things don’t work perfectly in such a situation, that problems surface is a reality we have to live with.” When the going gets tough, the Brits get going - I suppose. I heard a wry retort to the idea that, when it comes to Covid-19, we're all in the same boat. The response went something like this - we are all in the same storm-to

Navigating the Minefield of Short-Termism

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Its disappearance went largely unnoticed. There was no post mortem, no eulogy, no deep sighs for what had been lost. Posterity slipped from our consciousness as we ushered in the neoliberal era 40 years ago. Populations would now be administered, not led. Grand vision was a quaint artifact of generations past. Besides, the invisible hand of the marketplace would see to all our needs today, tomorrow, forever. Politicians grew smaller and smaller until they shrunk to fit the mold of technocracy.  Like sheep being dipped we were plunged into a world of supply-side economics in which lower taxation and deregulation would deliver manna from heaven. We focused on skinning the economy, and society, right to the bone. Everything would be maximized, nothing would be wasted, not even the offal.  We were surrendered to a world of short-termism. We elected governments of technocrats - grey suits stuffed with wet cardboard - whose horizons were measured in electoral cycles. They would do what they

Coming Soon - How to Fix the World

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What a great present, full online access to the MIT Technology Review year-ender magazine, "The Long Term Issue." A glance through the index page produced a bevy of terrific articles on often overlooked issues such as "How to Escape the Present," an exploration of the damage short-term thinking is causing and how to escape its hold. "When More  Is Not More." The failure of capitalism to solve our biggest problems. "How the Truth Was Murdered." We're awash in conspiracy theories. We were warned. "The True Dangers of AI." They're already here and, no, it's not the takeover of humanity by supercomputers. "What Do You Really Know? A massive physics experiment shows just how much we rely on one another for knowledge - and how society is threatened if that reliance breaks down." That's about half of the articles in this edition but I've chosen these to review in the days ahead. I think they speak to a lot of the

Deja Vu, Anyone?

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It's hard to watch Donald Trump debase himself and whatever legacy he might have achieved through his presidency. It's a creepy spectacle to watch as he throws away his last shreds of dignity and integrity in the blind pursuit of a delusion.  Surrounded by a lunatic coven of Giuliani, Sydney Powell, and Mike Flynn with Stephen Miller lurking somewhere behind the curtains, an increasingly desperate Trump is making noise about declaring martial law only, in true Trump fashion, to then deny the whole idea. In his desperation Trump is said to be plotting one final Banzai charge. When Congress gathers to confirm the Electoral College vote on January 6th, a number of renegade Republicans are preparing to vote no. To derail Biden's election, they need a simple majority in both the House and Senate. McConnell will see that doesn't happen in the Senate as will Pelosi in the House. Watching this madness I'm reminded a lot of Tony Montana's exit in the movie 'Scarface.

There Will Be No Martial Law, No Coup d'Etat. Pentagon Slams the Door on Trump's Maniacal Delusions.

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What used to be the Trump administration has been reduced to a coven of lunacy. He has retreated to his bunker, abandoning the issues of the day - the pandemic, cyber-attacks, just about everything - to hunker down with blatantly addled, Rudy Giuliani; off-the-wall lawyer, Sydney Powell; and disgraced felon, former general and conspiracy theorist, Michael Flynn.  Trump is literally surrounding himself with the worst possible people. He's even turned on his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; his solicitor general, Bill Barr; the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security; and his former secretary of defense, Mark Esper, who rejected the idea of deploying regular forces against American civilians.  With a cyber-security attack underway and less than a month remaining in his presidency, Trump is considering breaking the National Security Agency and the US Cyber Command, positions now held by four-star general, Paul Nakasone , into two separate organizations.  What possible intere

Lou Dobbs Gets His Bottom Spanked

  Since he departed CNN for FOX, Lou Dobbs has been a shameless whore for America's right wingnuts. Now Lou is getting an education in comeuppance . Dobbs has been flogging the conspiracy theory of a rigged election. One of the companies he smeared was Smartmatic, a company involved in the election in Los Angeles county. Surprise, surprise - FOX doesn't like the prospect of getting sued. Instead it has broadcast a retraction setting the record straight on the network's conspiracy mongering, especially by Dobbs. Specifically, the company charged: “Fox News has engaged in a concerted disinformation campaign against Smartmatic. Fox News told its millions of viewers and readers that Smartmatic was founded by [the late Venezuelan President] Hugo Ch├ívez, that its software was designed to fix elections, and that Smartmatic conspired with others to defraud the American people and fix the 2020 U.S. election by changing, inflating, and deleting votes.” Not only are these claims false

The Trials of Joe Biden

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There'll be no honeymoon when Joe Biden is inaugurated the 46th president of the United States. The Covid pandemic seems to be taking a nasty turn due to a new variant that is spreading throughout the UK and has already been found in Europe. It's not a more lethal strain. It's simply a lot more infectious, faster spreading. That's not a good thing for any country where a sizeable segment of the population refuses to abide by public health precautions, seeing them as an affront to their rights and freedoms. Two weeks ago Boris Johnson was ridiculing the opposition, accusing them of wanting to "cancel Christmas." There'd be none of that weak-kneed nonsense for Johnson, not while the Tories held power. Isolated lockdowns here and there, perhaps, but only if essential and the idea of a nation-wide lockdown was out of the question.  What a difference a week or two can make. Now Johnson is imposing the sort of lockdown he derided so recently. Of course, he now

Who'd a Thunk It?

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  I saw this old print and it reminded me so much of Erin O'Toole.  It depicts a medical procedure in England in centuries past . "By the late 1700s, blowing smoke had become a regularly applied medical procedure, mostly  used to revive people thought to be nearly deceased, usually drowning victims." Of course, medical science has moved on but the technique is still practiced to this very day. Now it's called "conservatism," the art of blowing smoke up its adherents' arses.

Half a Century of Skillfully Engineered Inequality. Now The Results Are In.

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Joe Stiglitz knows a few things about inequality. It was the focus of his doctoral thesis and the mainstay of a career that saw him rise to chief economist for the World Bank and, eventually, the Nobel Prize in economics. Doctor Stiglitz knows more than a few things about inequality, why so many are impoverished while so few enjoy riches beyond most people's comprehension. He summed it all up in  his brief 2012 book, "The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future." (It's available free in PDF. format online.) Stiglitz details how modern inequality is neither market nor merit-based. It is primarily legislated. That's right. The people we elect to high office routinely put the narrow, privileged interest ahead of the public interest. You might have noticed their handiwork in the rise of such things as the destruction of organized labour, the ascendancy of the "gig economy," and the malignant spread of what Alan Greenspan cal

This May Be Pretty Hard to Watch on a Monday Morning. Trump's "Muscle" Unleashed.

Think of them as the 21st century version of Hitler's Brown Shirts. As the deviant president continues to rail on about how Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election he's inciting his thug followers to violence and they're dutifully responding to Trump's dog whistle. On the weekend it was the Proud Boys rampaging through the streets of Washington, beating, and sometimes stabbing protesters.  They didn't spare women either. These are rabid dogs and, in a better world, they would be behind bars for a long, long time. You can watch a couple of the videos here . Proud Boys founder, Canadian Gavin McInnes, was recently profiled in The Tyee . I think it's time for America to reinstate a sedition law, something with real teeth in it. There's too much at stake, too many lives at risk, the very future of democracy in America at stake not to put people like McInnes and Mike Flynn away for a couple of years. This dog whistle business is getting out of control.

In the Runup to January 20, Are You Feeling a Bit On Edge?

  Donald Trump is like the legendary wolverine that breaks into a trapper's cabin, gorges himself on anything he can eat and then, before clearing out, pisses on the rest. Trump is making Herculean efforts to undermine the Biden presidency when he takes power on January 20th. There are weird happenings expected over the next five weeks. On December 21st we'll see the first Christmas Star in 800 years. This sparkling star in the night sky is formed when Jupiter and Saturn align. It was last seen in 1224, eight centuries ago. But wait, there's more.  An article in Forbes magazine says there are a lot more celestial goodies in store to wrap up Donald Trump's presidency. How about a meteor shower, a comet and a total eclipse of the sun? The meteor shower, the comet and the total eclipse will occur on December, 14th, the day Biden is to be officially declared president of the United States. Maybe it's the universe wishing Trump good riddance. Maybe it has something to d

Fort Sumter, 2021

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It was April 12, 1861 when the South Carolina militia attacked the US Army's Fort Sumter, sparking the American Civil War. We might have thought this travesty was over when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the petition calling for the court to set aside the vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia and declare Donald Trump re-elected. But that would underestimate the forces of sedition being whipped up by Trump and his supporters who refuse to take the court's "no" for an answer. The Washington Post looks at what's next as Trump forces rally in Washington, egged on by felons Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. As they have several times since the election, Trump supporters — including members of the Proud Boys, the far-right, male-only, extremist group that Trump struggled to denounce during a presidential debate with Biden —  gathered on Saturday in Washington , with with boldface names from Trump world like Roger Stone and retired Gen. Michael Flynn r

How Much Is Too Much? When Is It Time to Say "Enough"?

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  The aftermath of the November elections has raised questions about whether America is too broken to heal.  Congressional Republicans have served notice that they're out to make America ungovernable again just as they did during the Obama administration. It'll be block everything, obstruct everything, the wellbeing of the nation and the American people be damned. Senator Lindsey Graham vowed that his colleagues will block any nominee for attorney-general unless they get a pledge that the DoJ won't investigate or prosecute Donald Trump , his kin or his posse for crimes committed during his presidency. This morning NPR reported on a survey that found about 60% of Americans, mainly Democrats and independents, believe Joe Biden won  the election. That leaves 40%, heavily Republican voters, who believe the election was stolen and that Trump actually won. Is this Trump's "poison pill"? Is he out to subvert Biden's administration even if it means making the US u

I Can Hear the Anti-Vaxxers Now

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  There was an item in yesterday's Jerusalem Post about Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine. Apparently in the testing the vaccine may have caused the death of two patients, one of whom turned out to be immuno-compromised. I hadn't read that in the North American media. Further down in the article it was noted that, while two vaccine recipients had died, four of the control group who weren't given the vaccine also died. Make of it what you will. Britain began administering the Pfizer vaccine to high-risk individuals yesterday. Today we learn that two of them, health care workers, had an adverse reaction to the vaccine. UK officials are now advising people with serious allergies to avoid the Pfizer vaccine . National Health Service medical director Stephen Powis said the advice had been changed after two NHS workers reported anaphylactoid reactions associated with receiving the vaccine. They were among the thousands who received the shot on Tuesday. “As is common with new vaccines

Putting Man's Thumb on the Scale

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Some still cannot accept that Earth has entered a new geological epoch, the first one shaped by a single species, man. However the argument against the existence of the Anthropocene grows weaker by the day. A report released today reveals how humankind dominates the Earth - its air, its seas, its land. The giant human footprint stamped across the world in 2020 is greater than the impact on the planet of all other living things, research suggests. The amount of plastic alone is greater in mass than all land animals and marine creatures combined, the study estimates . While human beings might believe in “the immensity of the globe and the seeming infinity of the natural world”, the researchers say they wanted to provide an objective and rigorous measure of the reality of the balance between man and nature. Their research shows that human activity including production of concrete, metal, plastic, bricks and asphalt has brought the world to a crossover point where human-made mass – driven

Exceptional America and the Limitations of Joe Biden

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America is exceptional. It has a society like no other. It has an economy that is an exception to the norm and, for its uniqueness, at times plays havoc on all other economies. It has joined an elite club of nations that have, in the postwar era, allowed a lunatic to become head of state. In the process America may have become ungovernable. Many Americans and many of us in other countries look upon Joe Biden as America's redeemer. The president of the United States is the most powerful leader in our world although that stature is tattered and waning. Biden, we hope, will breathe new life into the presidency but how much?  America's vaunted system of checks and balances has become a double-edged sword. Originally intended to prevent one of the three, co-equal branches of government from going rogue, it did not foresee the possibility of two of the three going rogue. That is a reality today with America's ideologically groomed judiciary and a thoroughly "bought and paid

I'm Back, Sort Of

 It's been a while, six or seven weeks I guess. It was a culmination of factors - burn out, a dead computer, a glitch with Blogger, yada, yada, yada. The Disaffected Lib is still in the ether and I haven't given up on retrieving it but this will have to do for now. During the hiatus I read the Progressive Bloggers feed daily. I also prowled my links lists of political, environmental and news sites. Stepping back for a while was interesting. One thing that struck me was the paucity of posts on environmental subjects. Granted, there were other pressing matters such as the election defeat of that giant orange peckerhead, Covid-19 and the second wave, Covid-19 and the vaccine roll outs.