Living Deregulation…

I hear a lot of complaining from a lot of people about the homeless. I hear a LOT of “explanations” for WHY those people are homeless. Some of the explanations are valid. Some are stupid. But here’s one people NEVER talk about because they don’t hear much about it.

I rent a house I’ve lived in for nine years. The previous landlord died and left the property to his kids who turned around and sold it. There are four houses – four families – on the lot. The new owner wants more money. Maybe needs is more accurate. Whichever it is, we’ve been told to move along – so we’ve started looking. Without boring you with the details of why, we prefer a stand-alone house to an apartment. We’re not demanding. We’re not particularly picky. We DO have some extra considerations most people don’t have but our focus, so far, has been on stand-alone houses. So…just for “fun” I thought I’d share the current math.

The rental agencies around here use a formula. It’s pretty basic. The household income must be three times the rent. Simple, yes? If you don’t meet that requirement, they won’t even talk to you. Hell, I made a mistake on a pre-screening form and lost out on a potential viewing. I tried to contact the company and explain my error but they just ignored me, presumably because they already had enough proper applications to choose from submitted by people who didn’t make a mistake. (Damn it!)

So here’s that math. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt. You, anyway. As it stands today, the entry level rent for a 2 bedroom house in Sonoma County is $2,300/mo. Three times that amount? $6,900/mo! Wow, $6,900/mo sounds like a LOT. In fact, $6,900/mo comes to $82,800/yr. The average work year for a standard employee is calculated at 2,080 hours per year. Little more math and…hey, in order to rent an entry level, 2 bedroom house in Sonoma County, CA one must make $39.81/hr.

So the choice for a person who wants or needs to stay near their families/support networks and the place they grew up? An apartment. Fortunately, there’s “relief,” there. For a 2 bedroom apartment, one “only” needs to make $31.15/hr or $64,792/yr. Now, these aren’t the upscale parts of Santa Rosa or even “Beverly Healdsburg.” This is just Sonoma County. ANYWHERE in the entire county!

Based on information from Payscale.com, the average hourly rate in Sonoma County is $22.32/hr. Certainly it explains why so many people flee Sonoma County. They have no choice. In my case, though, my income is tied to my business which does NOT move with me. I can leave but my work stays. Then what do I do?

Yeah, I know, this is a “me” problem. I only mention it because I think the next person I hear dismissing homelessness as a “choice” is going to get an earful. The problem I face isn’t because I did anything wrong. It’s not because of big government. It’s not high taxes and it’s not too many effing regulations! The problem I (WE, because there are countless of us in the same boat, here…) face is the direct and measurable result of allowing pooled investment funds (hedge funds) to buy up all the available housing as it comes on the market. Unregulated greed, pure and simple. It’s the direct result of conservative policies of deregulation. This is what “trusting business to do the right thing” actually looks like.

This is not a long-standing problem. The hedge funds were only allowed to start buying single family homes in 2011, the result of all the empty houses after Wall Street artificially inflated the housing bubble that crashed in 2007. The “market” was trying to maintain the artificially inflated housing values rather than let them drop back to where they should have been so banks were stuck holding all the empties and afraid more empties would show up if the equities dropped. People who had bought at the top of the market were leaving their homes as they found themselves underwater in the equity, whether they could pay the mortgage or not, a practice that became known as “strategic walkaways.”

So the hedge funds started buying the houses. The practice, at the time, was “sold” as a solution. The groups that could buy the inflated price houses would, then rent those houses out. But the “solution” has become a far more deadly disease. This process began only 11 years ago. In that time, one hedge fund has bought so many single family homes they could house the entire population of Iceland. ONE company! There are LOTS of these greedy little groups out there, all preying on the less advantaged and undermining the stability of the entire society. Oh, but…profits!

This seems like a good time to remind everyone of the axiom that business operates in a completely amoral environment – but any entity or group that behaves amorally ends up behaving immorally. It is the responsibility of the society in which the business operates to define the limits of the operation through regulation.

The solution, of course, is to return to regulations. Deny the hedge funds the ability to buy the housing and require them to divest in single family homes over a very short term. This would have the effect of flooding the market with single family housing. That, in turn, would cause the artificially inflated prices of those properties to drop back to realistic levels and make it possible for individuals to again buy homes. As the home prices dropped, rents would become realistic again as well. Stability would return. Homelessness would be reduced…

That one bit there? The part about causing “the artificially inflated prices of those properties to drop back to realistic levels?” One of the main goals of my prescribed solution? THAT’S the reason they’ll never do it and THAT is the only failing of government in this situation – their refusal to behave as the referee in the market.

I’ll tell you this: I know that Reagan created the homeless problem in the first place by throwing all the mentally ill patients out into the streets. I know that drug abuse – often created by the pharmaceutical corporations – has exacerbated the problem. But now I ALSO know that there could be people out there working and earning $30/hr and STILL be homeless because they can’t meet the minimum requirement – anywhere – in Sonoma County. Is it right that $30/hr should classify someone as “working poor” and render them homeless?

Questions Abound…

The thing I don’t like about people overplaying their hands is that it builds up expectations that cannot be met and that’s always disappointing. Unless you’re a trumpster, you have wanted Trump out and gone for, well, I’m going to say seven years or so. One scandal after another has arisen and, one by one, Trump just bats them away and keeps going. Granted, he’s had some help from his compliant GOP toadies. His supporters get to claim it’s because he didn’t do the things he’s accused of doing. I suspect it’s because Satan takes care of his own. But I’ll tell you the truth, when these things appear to be overblown, one topic after another, as measured by the ability to follow through and take any real action aside from simple political attacks, I don’t blame the right for getting comfortable that the next “scandal” will ALSO be manufactured and overstated and the left is starting to look a little like Charlie Brown expecting Lucy to hold the football…this time.

I know that GOP attacks on Hillary got old and boring to the left very fast. They claimed a lot but never had anything. Even the deleted emails are fun to bitch about but the fact is, she beat them on that one. It’s not that people don’t know that Hillary deleted emails. It’s that people have realized that no one can prove Hillary deleted anything important. Just believing a crime was committed doesn’t mean a crime was committed. That’s why we used to do the rule of law thing in this country. But Hillary got away with things because of GOP overreach and/or because people couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she had committed a crime. (And, OMG, did they try to prove she had committed a crime…) The same applies to Trump. It’s one thing to know, it’s another thing to prove.

If the argument truly hinges on whether or not Trump declassified the documents he stole, then it will come down to a ‘he said/she said’ kind of thing. If it’s true that the President cannot in fact declassify anything at will, then there may be more. I understand that some of the papers in question are SO sensitive they can only be read in a SKIF, a secure location. Can the POTUS really just declare an item like that declassified and leave it on a table or stick it in a desk drawer? That sounds kind of stupid, to me.

But the warrant didn’t focus only on classified materials. There are other areas of concern. There are some things he’s just not allowed to have, classified or not. There are concerns he might be trying to destroy or hide information, obstructing justice. In fact, there’s a LOT of speculation going on right now and it just follows political lines. The left is sure the papers are incriminating. The right is equally certain the papers are nothing.

I’ll tell you this: actions speak louder than words. If there’s legal followup to this, then we’ll know he really did do something wrong. If there’s not, it’s likely just more political muck-raking. I’ve decided to tamp down my enthusiasm until there’s more solid information and less speculation…

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So, if you’re a religious believer, I need a little help here. What is it with these tiny, little insecure “gods” you’all worship? Some crazy just stabbed Salmon Rushdie during a speech. Rushdie is a writer. He once wrote a book called ‘The Satanic Verses.’ I never read it but it really offended Muslims. So they decided they had to kill Rushdie. Hey Christians, don’t get all full of yourselves, here. YOUR “god” gave humanity the 10 most important rules in the history of rules and four of the first five – before don’t murder anyone and try to tell the truth – four of them were “You have to like me best.” That’s some pretty deep insecurity from a “superior” being, yes?

Okay, so I get it. Religious killing in the name of one’s “god” is all part and parcel to religion and always has been but I’ve always wondered how come an all-powerful “god” has to send a minion to do HIS holy dirty work. You’re a GOD, fercrissakes! YOU can’t rub out someone who said something you didn’t like? I’d like to say to the believers, if your god chooses not to act, YOU should not act, either.

I’ll tell you this, though; I sure hope some loving believer doesn’t decide to murder me for asking the question…

Can We Lock Him Up Yet?

The cons seem to have gone dark on social media again – at least for awhile. They’re waiting for the conservative bubble to settle on a story that might have some level of credibility. Donald Trump stole a bunch of documents from the White House, documents he’s not allowed to have and he knew he wasn’t allowed to have when he took them. But he sees himself as special. Hell, we ALL see him as “special,” just in a different way. When confronted about his theft, the traitor Trump pretended to return the documents but didn’t actually comply so the FBI went in and recovered the things that were stolen. They had a warrant, which requires probable cause. Now, we all know cops lie to get warrants from time to time, but I’d bet everyone is on their very best behavior when it comes to searching the home of an ex-president. The ONE THING the cons have gotten kind of right on the topic is that such a thing is unprecedented. Of course, so is outright theft by an outgoing, loser, used-to-be President, so…

The cons have floated several trial balloons. The documents were his. No, they weren’t. He declassified all the documents. No, he didn’t. For one, even the President of the United States doesn’t have the authority to declassify all classified materials. Second, he wasn’t President anymore. Third, the citations in the warrant have nothing to do with the classified nature of the documents.

I saw, “Hey, everyone has to take work home from time to time.” Maybe, but not after they’ve lost the job. When someone “takes work home” after no longer working for the company, that’s usually viewed as “stealing.” Trump insists he returned the materials and, he kind of did. But also? He didn’t. That part has confused me a bit. I had read that he illegally took 15 boxes of stuff. Then, he returned 15 boxes of stuff. Then, the FBI came and took 15 boxes of stuff. WTF?!? It crossed my mind that he copied things and kept them before returning the originals and likely kept some things outright. It’s speculation but at least it explains how he returns AND retains the same amount of illegal contraband.

Trump tried to say he was in “negotiations” to return the documents and Of COURSE they rolled out trusty old Whataboutism. Here’s a thing, generally speaking, one does not get to negotiate the return of stolen items. (Museums seem to be an exception, here…) Now, in fairness, except for the “classified documents” part, this kind of thing has happened before. Sometimes, someone takes something they shouldn’t, commonly represented as a “misunderstanding.” When those people were informed they couldn’t take what they took, they sent back the offending material and that was that.

Not Donnie. He DID send back something but then the FBI received a tip that Trump still had the information he wasn’t supposed to have, some of it quite sensitive. At least SOME of the stolen classified documents regard nuclear weapons. Apparently, the information is sensitive enough that the FBI felt they had to conduct the raid. (SIDEBAR: There’s a specific claim that Obama had documents from the Obama administration sent to Chicago and nobody searched HIS home! For clarity, documents DID go to Chicago at the same time Obama went to Chicago. But the documents did NOT go to Obama. They went to an archive in Chicago where Obama has NO say or control over the documents so…no.)

I swear to the gods, I even heard cons trying to pretend Trump was going to use his “jeanius” to improve nuclear technology…

So the cons desperately need a story. In the meantime, though, the right is apoplectic over the raid at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s current hide-out. The conservative media is out there screaming as loudly as they can trying to turn the actual events into something they weren’t and denying the something they were. Do they care that the evidence shows Trump stole classified documents from the White House when he left? Nah. Do they care that he lied to the – well, do they care that he lies? Nah. They KNOW it’s a “political hit job.” Trump told them himself. Hell, if Trump hadn’t opened his mouth, the political “hit-job” would have remained a secret. Nobody in government revealed the raid. That was Trump, himself. So…he did a political hit-job on himself? Well, kinda, I guess. He IS fund-raising from the event…

Now everyone is releasing everything trying to prove competence of the raid (the DOJ) or incompetence of the raid (Trump, et al). So far, all the supporting positions benefit the DOJ and NOT the DJT. That’s hardly a surprise, either. Apparently, Trump released an unredacted version of the warrant that includes the names of the agents involved in the search. Cons will insist that’s some kind of oversight but I doubt it. I think Trump is actively trying to sic his sycophants on the agents in question in the same way as that crazy who attacked an FBI office in Ohio with an AR-15 after the raid was revealed. (He’s dead now…)

I’ll tell you this; I’m really quite bored with conservatives sniveling, oh-so-predictable responses to anything…everything that happens. If a con is accused, it’s fake news. Period. If someone can say something, anything, about a Democrat, the Dem is guilty. ALWAYS! Boring. Worse, it leave the cons with as much credibility as…well, as a person with ZERO credibility. Yeah, not a great simile but certainly true…

Gaming (and) the System…

So, the truth is, I always thought that what happened to Breonna Taylor on the night she was killed was a horrifying shame but I wouldn’t have called it a crime. I understand why her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, came out shooting when someone smashed their way into the apartment. I’d say, Second Amendment and all, that’s a right and proper use of a weapon, defending one’s home. Too bad he didn’t know he was running – ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ style – into a fusillade of lead. The cops claimed they were looking for Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. They said he was part of a drug ring and suspected he was hiding drugs at her house. They said they thought they would find him at her house because she was receiving mail for him and they had verified that with a postal inspector. The judge signed off on the warrant on that basis. It should be noted that no drugs were found at the house. I never really understood why the warrant had to executed in that way – in the middle of the night – but the cops had a warrant and cops are allowed to return fire so, as the initial “investigation” conducted by the Kentucky Attorney General concluded, they couldn’t be criminally charged, right?

Well, one of them was. One of the cops on the raid, Brett Hankison, seems to have gone into full-on panic mode, closed his eyes, and just started pulling the trigger, firing 10 rounds blindly, three of them going into the apartment next door. He didn’t hurt anybody but he sure as heck didn’t do anybody any good, either. He got arrested, then fired from his job. “Okay, good,” I thought. It’s one of the rules of gun safety, you’re supposed to know what you’re shooting at. Still, I’ve never expected cops to just stand still and get shot at without returning fire. It can’t be a surprise that someone got killed with so many bullets flying. I DID notice that Mr. Walker, the man defending his home – technically, it was her home – with the legal, properly licensed gun, survived the encounter unharmed while Ms. Taylor, unarmed, did not.

Fortunately, the Feds stepped in. Less good-ole-boy support, yes? It turns out, the detective who acquired the warrant, Joshua Jaynes, lied to the judge to get it. Jaynes never spoke to a postal inspector. Instead, he indicated he had actually spoken to another cop, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who had ALSO not gotten the information from a postal inspector. But Mattingly insists he told Jaynes both before and after the killings that he had no information Glover was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s home. So Jaynes, being the “honorable cop” he is, did what any “honorable cop” might do. He got together with another “honorable cop,” Kelly Goodlett, and came up with a new lie to cover the failure of the first lie.

Now four officers have been charged by the Federal government; the liar Jaynes, his co-conspirator, Kelly Goodlett, Mr. Close-your-eyes-and-shoot, officer Hankison, and the cop overseeing the entire operation – who apparently knew the warrant had been fraudulently obtained – Sgt Kyle Meany. They get charged with violating Mr. Taylor’s civil rights, not murder. Well, except Hankison. He’s charged with reckless endangerment.

I’ll tell you this: I’d say they’re getting off easy. They’ll do a few years in a Federal prison then get on with their lives. Breonna Taylor will be dead forever. Because cops can lie…

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It’s kind of tough for me, watching the First Nations fighting amongst themselves about gaming. I fear the infighting will kill the golden goose, you know? After decades of oppression, the First Nations finally got a break when they began using casinos as revenue sources. They controlled the market because they were the only ones allowed to have casinos, aside from local card rooms. This has been the set-up for something like 20+ years but in 2018, the US Supremely Kangaroo Court eliminated the prohibition against sports betting, leaving the question to each state.

Now three companies, Fan Duel, DraftKings, and BetMGM have decided to enter the mix with their online betting apps. The First Nations, predictably, came out against the idea. They started running ads reminding people that gaming in California is their bailiwick and outsiders would harm the tribes. Not to be outdone, Fan Duel and DraftKings started using other tribes to present their message. Their measure, Prop 27, would include a huge buy-in that the companies claim would help alleviate homelessness, mental illness, and poverty in the First Nations. (They hope you won’t notice that such a huge buy-in also tends to eliminate start-up competition…)

See, for practical reasons, not every tribe can have a casino. That makes the online betting offer more attractive to them. The idea that money from the interlopers would help their tribes is very appealing. To my mind, that idea that the money would ever trickle down to those tribes is laughable. I doubt big gaming is trying to come to California in order to help the poor, you know? In fact, experts say gambling is one of the leading causes of homelessness so, really, if they want to help with that problem, shouldn’t they stay away?

This gets confusing, though. See, the First Nations who DO have gaming aren’t allowed certain games, like dice games or roulette. They want those, too. Oh, AND they don’t want competition from the card rooms around the state. There aren’t that many but competition is competition, right? So the First Nation’s initiative, Proposition 26, tries to give the tribes the ability to get the games they want and sue the card rooms while blocking the card rooms from suing the First Nations. Needless to say, the card rooms tried to block the First Nations initiative and then filed their own initiative in an effort to stave off the tribes. As nearly as I can tell, they have yet to qualify for the ballot.

So we have Prop 26 in which the First Nations try to protect and expand their gaming while eliminating local competition and we have Prop 27 in which Fan Duel, et al, get to come in and undermine ALL local gaming. We may get yet another depending upon the card rooms’ ability to acquire the signatures. Both initiatives have First Nations spokespeople out in front claiming their initiative is better than the other initiative, both claiming the other will harm the tribes the most or help the tribes the most, depending, and promising money, money, money to…well, whomever needs it most in the moment.

I’ll tell you this: The image of a tribal spokesperson telling me this is good for the tribes while competing with an image of a tribal spokesperson telling me this is bad for the tribes is just going to be too confusing to too many voters and the First Nations will be the ones to suffer. I’d say let’s just reject all of them. Keep gaming in California the primary responsibility of the tribes while maintaining the local card rooms – and keep big gaming out of California for as long as we can…

Difficulty Understanding…

I just read a letter to the editor in my local “newspaper.” The writer is supporting the on-going use of private homes for short-term rentals, Airbnb, that sort of thing. He insists there’s no problem with them. Then, the last line of his letter reads: “Planning commission: Do something about homeless people while you are at it.”

My guess is, he’s a short-term rental owner and wants to feel good about his “investment” and his “business decision.” But he’s upset about homelessness? It’s curious that he never seemed to put together the idea that short term rentals are a major piece of the homelessness problem in the first place. Taking housing off the market for short-term rentals leaves countless people out in the cold – literally.

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If you want an example of how the people who don’t understand things really don’t understand things, here’s a good one. They’ve taken to supporting authoritarian strongmen. They’ve been convinced they should like the “strong” part. They SCREAM at the left for trying to “take away our freedumbs,” then support people taking more and more freedom from their own people every day. (Conservative media is strangely silent on that part…) Viktor Orban came from Hungary to Texas and spoke at the ‘Conservative People Acting Crappy’ or CPAC conference. Orban uses the traditional racist trigger issues of illegal immigration, “law and order,” and “gender ideology” in schools to whip up the people who don’t understand things into a frenzy. He’s a blatant “blood and soil” nationalist who likes to rip on the “leftist media.” He called for international unity of the so-called “Christian Nationalist” movement.
“Wait, ‘blood and soil?’ I’ve heard that term before. Where was that?”
“Charlottesville. The Neo-Nazis were chanting it along with “Jews will not replace us.”
“‘Blood and soil’ is racist?”
“Oh, yeah. It was originally coined in Germany in the late 19th century. It was a dog-whistle phrase referring to the “purity” of the German people. The Nazis picked it up and really ran with it.”
“But aren’t these Christians?”
“‘Christian Nationalists,’ a cover-term for racism.”
“No, they say they’re Christians.”
“I can SAY I’m the tallest active player in the NBA today. Doesn’t make it true. In order to be Christian, one has to at least TRY to emulate the ostensible teachings of, you know, Jesus. When the actions don’t support the words, ignore the words. Respond to the actions…”

I’ll tell you this: Being the people who don’t understand things, they have no idea about life under strongmen and dictators. (They were either talking or sleeping in History class.) They have a limitation. They have to experience something, personally, before they can understand it. Once they’ve experienced actual loss of freedoms under an actual strongman, they’ll understand…but it will be too late…

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I’m really enjoying watching Alex Jones get his. My favorite part is that, step by step, his destruction has been of his own making. (Well, him and his “affordable” lawyers…) He didn’t even challenge the original suit so he lost by default. He goes into the penalty phase and thinks he can just lie his way through – because that’s what he does when he’s NOT under oath. I think the attorneys for the plaintiffs have done a very good job and would have shown Jones was lying either way but just to be on the safe side, Jones’ own lawyers sent one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Mark Bankston, everything he needed to prove, beyond question, that Jones lied under oath. Enter perjury charges. NOW how much would you pay? But wait! Don’t answer, yet, because there’s MORE!

Jones’ attorney sent the entire contents of Jones’ phone to Bankston, apparently by accident. The law has rules that cover things like that. Jones’ “team” COULD have gotten the information back and kept the plaintiffs from using it. They didn’t. Now it’s fair game. Along with proof that Jones was merely profiting from his cruel little ‘Sandy Hook was a hoax’ lie and that he was committing perjury to try and protect his lucre, the phone contents have apparently implicated him in Trump’s January 6th coup! Lovely, isn’t it? Bankston has made clear he intends to turn the contents of the phone over to the January 6 committee.

The court has ordered Jones to pay $49.3 million dollars to the plaintiffs in the matter – $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages. Jones says he’s going to appeal. He had better. This is only one family. The rest are standing in line.

Jones put his company into bankruptcy, not because he couldn’t cover his obligations but as a maneuver to try and protect his money. I’m no lawyer but I think the bankruptcy filing should be rejected. He can pay his obligations – he just doesn’t want to.

I’ll tell you this: Personally, I hope the families get every penny Jones collected lying to his ‘Infowars’ crowd. He collected the money with lies, he should lose the money to truth…then he should go to prison for perjury and conspiracy to commit sedition…

Faults of Faith…

Maybe Belief Alone Isn’t Enough…
Yesterday, I mentioned that Trumps “legal team” sent a letter to CNN threatening them with action if they didn’t stop telling the truth about Trump. In part of the letter, they suggested a potential route of defense he might be planning to use, the idea that, perhaps, he really believed his own bullshit. (He didn’t. Everyone involved in the coup attempt KNEW they were tossing dung chips but felt that sticking to the lie was the best strategy…so they do.)

I’m no lawyer so I might need help squaring this but I have another similar example of belief I’d like to cite. The cons used to believe (who am I kidding, they likely STILL BELIEVE) that Hillary was running a child sex ring out of the basement of a pizza parlor. Lots of possible restaurants were “identified” with one unfortunate establishment finally being settled on as the actual store.

A 28 year old man, Edgar Welch, bought the story hook, like, and sinker, just like cons are supposed to do. Only he didn’t just sit back and whine about how terrible Hillary is. This guy took action. He went to the pizza parlor with his assault rifle and fired off three rounds. He didn’t hurt anybody. The important part, here, is that he truly believed he was doing a good thing in defending the children involved. The only hitch in his giddy-up was that, like so many conservative stories, it was pure, unadulterated bullshit – just like Trump’s whiny story about the election. Hell, the “losing” pizza parlor didn’t even have a basement.

I just want to say, here, I genuinely respect Welch’s goal. He thought – truly believed – children were being harmed and needed help and the dude jumped into action and tried to help. Whatever one thinks about the advisability of believing such a ridiculous story, the fact that he tried to help was a brave and selfless act. He was trying to protect children. HE got four years. How long should Trump get for trying to protect his own interests by overthrowing the Constitution?

I’ll tell you this: It doesn’t seem to matter WHY one commits a crime as much as the fact that the crime was committed. Mr. Welch’s belief wasn’t defense enough to keep him out of jail and it shouldn’t be enough to keep Donnie out of jail, either…

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Ronnie and Donnie…
Twice in as many weeks, now, I’ve written about the idea that our country has slipped so far we’ve reached a point where if one doesn’t vote with the Democrats, well, we’re all gonna die! Sadly, that’s not hyperbole. The official campaign message of the Dems is, “Go ahead, vote Republican. We dare you!” I hate the fact that voters in this country have been reduced to “vote for the corporate shill with the R after their name, or vote for the corporate shill with the D after their name. You have no other choice.” The part that bothers me the most is that it’s true, we have no other choice. These days, the Republicans are actively trying to kill us – all in service to their great Prophet Profit, of course.

Needless to say, I’ve been rather focused on the topic, of late. I was rather surprised when I happened upon an idea that probably should not have surprised me in the least. It is this: when the coup-de-grace comes to end the Republic once and for all, I won’t be surprised if it’s the Democrats who strike the blow.

This is not a prediction, per se. In fact, it’s a look backwards. Consider, it was Reagan (R) who introduced all the stupid ideas this country suffers from today; “Trickle Down Economics,” Deregulation, the so-called “welfare queen” and other such nonsense. But it was Bill Clinton (D) who actually enacted those things…and worse. Sure, he temporarily balanced the budget. Nice. In retrospect, though, that was a distraction to keep people complacent. That way, they might not notice the harm he was doing elsewhere. Mostly? They didn’t.

Clinton “reformed” welfare. Awesome. In practice, he only weakened the social safety net. His crime bill filled our prisons to overflowing with people who didn’t need to be in prison. Because of deregulation, he refused to act to regulate a new investment instrument called a derivative, despite warnings that they were economically dangerous. That lapse contributed mightily to the economic meltdown of the first part of this century. He supported NAFTA. As the “smartest man in the room” he should have understood the economic damage he would be inflicting on American workers. Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the law that, basically, eliminated independent journalism in this country. In a related note, the Clinton administration had to issue a special waiver to allow Rupert Murdoch to own and operate Fox “News.”

See? Republican Reagan called the play, but Democrat Clinton carried the ball across the line. Now, ostensible Republican (but really just self-serving egomaniac) Trump has called a new play: sedition. I don’t really see a Dem, certainly not Sleepy Joe, whipping up an armed and frenzied mob to storm government institutions but I CAN easily envision them doing just enough nothing to empower a second run at it by a more competent would-be autocrat.

I’ve long held that if one CAN do something to stop bad behavior but chooses not to, they become complicit. The January 6th Committee has been fascinating television but the committee has no legal authority. They COULD vote to disqualify Trump from holding public office but I suspect they won’t. The DOJ seems to be moving just slowly enough to allow time to run out on the clock. Once Republicans are back in power, the investigation will be shelved. If I may paraphrase, the only thing necessary for evil Republicans to succeed is for feckless Democrats to do nothing. And yet, I’m told, I have no choice but to turn to the Dems or all is lost.

I’ll tell you this: If we really must turn to and trust only the Democrats to rescue the nation, I just don’t see salvation in our future…

Failures, Falsehoods, and Finances…

Burning Down the House…
Last week, I wrote a bit directed to progressives in which I pointed out that we, the people, do not, in fact, enjoy freedom of the vote and that progressives MUST vote with the Democrats or suffer the consequences – which have been made SO onerous and SO deadly to average Americans we either support the Democrats – like it or not – or suffer Fascism, authoritarian rule, and/or a Christian theocracy – all antithetical to a Constitutional, democratic Republic. There is no middle ground. I know some people who would love to hear me say so, feeling as though, perhaps, I’d finally “gotten the message.” But *I* feel like I’m acquiescing to the failure of a once-great nation. It’s like helping to put the fire out at the meth dealer’s house next door. You don’t care about the meth dealer. You wish you didn’t have to deal with the meth dealer. You know the meth dealer’s house in only on fire in the first place because the meth dealer is a moron. You wish the meth dealer lived somewhere else or was in prison. You help anyway, but it’s only because you don’t want THAT fire to burn down YOUR house.

I’ll tell you this: I cannot escape the reality that in a system in which I have no actual choice for whom to vote, where actual conscientious voting is seen as – even taunted as – “throwing one’s vote away,” there is no democracy, either. I don’t know what we’re doing anymore…

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Wrongheaded Insistence
OMG, my sides hurt. I’m laughing out loud at the Dumbass. He had his dumbass lawyers send a dumbass letter to CNN complaining they keep telling the truth about him and he really wants them to lie, instead. Well, the lawyer said it a little differently. The lawyer wrote, ‘“Accordingly, I hereby demand on behalf of President Donald Trump that CNN (1) immediately take down the false and defamatory publications, (2) immediately issue a full and fair retraction of the statements identified herein in as conspicuous a manner as they were originally published, and (3) immediately cease and desist from its continued use of ‘Big Lie’ and ‘lying’ when describing President Trump’s subjective belief regarding the integrity of the 2020 election.’

Even his own lawyer referred to Trump’s “subjective belief” as though we all have to credit his big lie if he insists he believes it. I imagine his supporters are happy about it and convinced that “he’s going to show them now” – but he isn’t. He’s lying and, based on ALL available evidence, he KNOWS he’s lying. He IS sticking to his lie assiduously, though, isn’t he? At this point, his big lie is SO far out of touch with reality, SO far away from anything that can be proven, I’m pretty sure he’s trying to establish an insanity defense.

You see, it doesn’t matter how many times I insist the moon is made of green cheese. The moon is not made of green cheese. It never has been made of green cheese. It never WILL BE made of green cheese. Humans have been to the moon and brought home examples of the rocks, not the cheese, that make up the Moon. My insistence that the moon is made of green cheese is just wrong and sticking to a wrong position that has been proven wrong over and over and over again eventually becomes a lie in and of itself – unless one is delusional but then, it’s a delusion. It never becomes true just because someone insists.

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At least at last we know…
The RNC has informed Trump that as soon as he announces his run as for president (which in his twisted brain means strongman/dictator) the RNC will stop paying his legal bills. That’s a curious thing, isn’t it? Did YOU realized the RNC was paying Trump’s legal bills? I know I didn’t and if I had been a donor to the RNC, I’d be PISSED OFF that they’re using MY money to pay for that loudmouth liar to keep lying.

Maybe the cons aren’t angry because they assume it’s probably not all that much. I mean, how much could it be? He hires the crappiest lawyers the law has ever seen, the only lawyers willing to work for him. Hell, they MUST be cheap, right? Sure. $1.75 MILLION dollars (and counting) worth of “cheap” – so far. Trump seems in no hurry to walk away from the gravy train. At one point, Trump told the RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, that he was leaving the Republican party and starting his own party. McDaniel told him they would stop paying his legal bills if he wasn’t a Republican. Being the manly man he is, Trump immediately backed down and no one ever heard about his third party again. The RNC doesn’t want Trump to announce a planned run before the mid-terms and they speak the only language he might understand: money. They’ve told him not to announce. He won’t either.

They SAY it’s because they have to maintain the look of “neutrality.” Uh-huh… They also say they’re paying for challenges from when he was the Traitor President. Except they’re also paying for personal legal expenses for Trump, his obnoxious family, and his thieving company.

I’ll tell you this: I don’t understand how these payments could be viewed any way other than campaign contributions. If Trump doesn’t have to pay his own legal bills he has no incentive to stop with his frivolous claims AND it frees up campaign money he SHOULD be on the hook for. I suppose if the RNC donated the exact same amount to any candidate running it would all balance out in the wash but there’s no word there have been any such payments to other potentials. (It would be hilarious to watch all the cons coming out of the woodwork trying to collect their payments in kind. The Republican Presidential field would have, like, 666 candidates…all with their grubby little hands out.)

Clarity Obscured…

Well, it looks like Steve Bannon is going back to prison, at least for a short time. His sentencing is scheduled for October. He was found guilty of Contempt of Congress for refusing to respond to subpoenas. Two charges were filed. One for refusing to turn over paperwork the other for refusing to appear. Apparently, he tried to defend his actions with the assertion that he was complying with counsel. Only…he couldn’t supply the attorney who offered the “advice” nor any evidence to support the claim.

This happens from time to time. Because of our corrupted media, cons get used to going on television, saying whatever pops into their pea-brains in the moment – and then getting away with having said it like it made perfect sense. No follow-ups, no probing questions of any kind. They get fooled into thinking that trick likely works all the time. But it doesn’t work in court. Lawyers do this trick they call “cross-examination” in which they DO ask follow-up questions, things the talking heads never seem to think of. Things like, ‘And just who is this attorney who offered up this “advice?”‘ That’s when the con finds out, “I’d rather not say.” is an unacceptable answer. Then they go to jail for awhile.

Bannon was convicted on both counts. Each count carries a penalty of one year and $100,000. There’s a minimum requirement of six months. It’s hard to say what will happen since this country seems dead-set on dismantling itself and discarding the rule of law but if I was the one doing the sentencing, I’d throw the book at this guy. He’d do two years and pay $200,000. No, not because I just don’t like him. I don’t. But my personal feelings about a defendant should not enter into the question.

To my knowledge, nobody has been convicted of Contempt of Congress charges for a long, long time. Decades, in fact. That’s because the vast majority of true Americans recognize Congress’ authority. But Bannon isn’t the only character behind Trump’s criminal coup attempt to tell the committee “no.” He’s just the first to face charges. It’s an excellent opportunity to remind those in the “we just don’t want to comply” camp that not complying is not an option. I guess it’s not supposed to play into the reasoning, either, but Bannon should still be sitting in prison for stealing all the money from his ‘Build the Wall Fund’ scam. He’s only out because his criminal co-conspirator, Donald J. Trump, used his ill-gotten power to pardon Bannon in the first place.

I’ll tell you this: Steve Bannon clearly belongs in prison and in a country that operated on the rule of law, that’s where he’d be heading for a couple of years…

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Can you believe Texas? Look, I get it. The anti-abortion crowd feels empowered right now. They’ve corrupted the highest court in the land by packing it with kangaroos and know they can get away with just about anything their fevered little minds can envision – so they’re going to try. After the “way-too-high” court overturned Roe vs Wade, several companies in the punishment states started offering to cover the expenses of people who make the trip they now have to make to manage their reproductive opportunities. That is, several companies offered to pay the expenses of traveling for abortions. In my most cynical moments, I might suggest that the companies did so to help keep points off of their health insurance but that’s just because I never trust stated corporate motivations. Besides, it doesn’t matter why. So let’s just agree they’re doing it out of concern for the welfare of their employees.

In response, Texas Republican lawmakers sent to companies on record saying they’ll help, a letter threatening legal action against those companies if they actually DO help. In a July 7 letter from the Texas “Freedom” Caucus (Isn’t THAT ironic?) they claim they can criminalize anyone who “furnishes the means” for an abortion. I guess their position is, you’re “free” to do as you’re told…

It’s not bad enough that the most vulnerable victims of the conservatives are always the poorest people. The punishment states are trying to punish women who can pull together the resources to travel to smart states, too. They want to punish anyone who gets an abortion, no matter where the abortion occurs. This is not hyperbole. In Ohio, the state Attorney General threatened legal action against an Illinois doctor after she performed and abortion for a 10-year old rape victim – in Illinois! Texas is pushing for the same privilege.

Now, I understand how easy it is for the kangaroos to use a hand to simply cover the part of the Constitution that’s bothering them, then declare they “don’t see it in the Constitution” but the rights of citizens to travel between the states and to enjoy the rights of that state while they’re there is, actually, written into the document. It’s in Article IV. The very first line of Section 2 says, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of the Citizens in the several states.”

Of course, it remains illegal to, say, travel from Missouri to Minnesota to rob the Northfield bank – just ask Jesse James and Cole Younger – but it’s not illegal to travel across state lines to engage in legal activities – feel free to check with the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada. But the various “Freedumb Caucus’s” are coming for that freedom, too. (Not the prostitutes. The freedom of movement…)

I’ll tell you this: there was a time I would just laugh off such stupid efforts. “Good luck with THAT in the courts.” But these days? With the kangaroo “Justices” making rulings on personal preference and not the Constitution? There’s no telling what might happen…

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Special note to the progressives: Hey, me, too. I get it. I can’t tell you how much I hate the “My house is burning right now!” “Well…be sure and get out and vote next November!” attitude. I don’t want to vote for the do-nothing Democrats any more than you do and for the same reasons. In this case, though, the “do-nothing” part serves. Sure, they won’t help anybody or anything (except themselves, of course), but they’re not likely to work to harm anyone, either. “Do nothing” is still better than the conservative’s “do harm.”

But we really do find ourselves in a “no choice” (no win?) position these days. We only have two choices and the Republicans CAN NOT be one of them. Right or wrong, the cons WILL come out – en force – and vote as instructed by their party. We MUST counter that action or they’re just going to gleefully run roughshod over everything this once-great nation stood for. Sadly, this once-great nation has been reduced to an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” state.

We have to vote. It’s all we’ve got, short of ‘Second Amendment Solutions.’ Like it or not, we have to vote Democrat and we have to vote Democrat on paper. Don’t use the machines if you have any choice at all. Remember, the machines may not be corrupt, but according the legal proceedings you see in the papers, the people who check the machines very well might be…

I’ll tell you this: I really hate what the cons have done to this country…

But the Truth Won’t Die…

A quick summary of today’s Republican party. There’s a guy named Rusty Bowers. He’s a con. He’s the Arizona House Speaker. He supported Trump early on but lost faith when Trump committed treason. Trump supporters in the state tried to pressure Bowers to lie about the election. Giuliani tried to pressure him to lie. He wouldn’t lie. He calls himself a Christian and, apparently, tries to live up to the moniker. (It’s a refreshing change…)

Bowers testified to the House January 6th Committee on June 21. He told the truth. He testified that Giuliani told him, “We’ve got lots of theories but we just don’t have the evidence.” It looks like the traitor Giuliani is going to lose his law license and MAY end up in jail – right along with so many of his co-conspirators. But the effing GOP needed to make sure that Bowers suffers, too. You know, for telling the truth. For being honest. For having integrity. All things antithetical to today’s cons.

The Arizona Republican Party has censured Bowers, declared him an outsider not in good standing with the party and called on Arizona Republicans to vote him out. Apparently, the LAST thing in the world Republicans want is a person of ethics in their midst…

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Just a few thoughts on the January 6th Committee. WOW! Okay, that’s just one. I really think the committee members have done a very good job. The cons think so, too. That’s why they won’t watch if they can avoid it – and they’re VERY good a avoiding reality.

I’m struck by the loyalty I continue to sense from some of these witnesses. They’re all Republicans who loved and supported Trump. They found themselves in a position where they COULDN’T avoid reality and it slapped them in the face. They lost faith – and found reason. But when they testify, they seem to seek the best way to answer the questions honestly without insulting the Dumbass. Some of them feel compelled to add endorsements of Trumps pretended “accomplishments” before or after testifying under oath about Trump’s guilt in his coup conspiracy.

What about that Secret Service, eh? They knew they were supposed to preserve those texts – so they deleted them. Are they trying to protect the integrity of the agency? That ain’t gonna do it! Lawbreaking by a law enforcement agency never has a good look. We, the people, have just been through this with Hillary’s emails in the 2016 election. She deleted something like 30,000 emails and offered up really stupid excuses– um, “explanations.” The obvious calculation was that the fallout from the deletion would be less than the fallout from inclusion – so they were deleted. Why would the Secret Service position be any different?

I hear Fox “News” followed the hearings the next day with – wait, I want to make sure I have this right – oh, yeah, there it is. They attacked Biden and the White House for “taking credit” for FALLING gas prices. They were perfectly happy to smear him with HIGH prices but when the price comes down suddenly he has nothing to do with gas prices? How convenient. (The President doesn’t really normally have that much to do with the prices anyway. Biden’s actual failure, in my mind, is in not invoking anti-trust laws to bring the oil companies to heel in the first place…)

I love when the committee calls out the Republican traitors in Congress by name and I really loved when the committee showed the clips of these spineless “Ever Trumpers” condemning the President’s coup in the days immediately following, traitor McCarthy, in particular. Knowing Josh Hawley encouraged the protestors and then was seen running for his life in fear of those same protestors was almost too good to bear. I managed, though…

I thought I heard the first hints from the committee that a 14th Amendment solution might well be forthcoming when they pointedly asked if this was a man who should be holding ANY public office. The 14th Amendment allows for any person who has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and then engages in insurrection to be barred from ever holding public office again. After treason, that’s the very least we might do. I mean, the very, VERY least…

Obviously, the cons are going to attack last night’s witnesses and claim they’re lying turncoats who are just making things up. That’s their standard attack. The committee has addressed it by introducing a subject in one hearing, letting the cons lie, then bringing in FURTHER corroborating evidence in subsequent hearings. It’s been quite brilliant…

Sure does make one wonder about Merrick Garland and his “investigation.” I know, the name of HIS game has to be secrecy but if the committee has pulled together so much damning evidence, hasn’t the DOJ done the same? I know the wheels of justice turn slowly but I’d like to see him step it up a bit…

Trump didn’t stand down until AFTER he knew the military was on the way and the Congress critters were safe. He KNEW he’d lost. THAT’S when he told the insurgents to go home. He fought telling them to be peaceful throughout the event. He fought calling them off throughout the event.

I laughed out loud when I saw/heard Trump trying to form sentences telling the attackers to leave. The actual message he finally recorded simply regurgitated the same b.s. he’d been selling for months and turned out to be as supportive of the assailants has he could be while still acknowledging his defeat at the Capitol. (He STILL hasn’t acknowledged his defeat at the ballot box – but he’s still a loser…)

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Sometimes, I feel sorry for the consumers of conservative media. It’s not nice of those media outlets to tell their consumers false things, then send those self-same consumers out to make fools of themselves saying things that all thinking people know don’t hold up under scrutiny. Among the more recent entries is this ridiculous suggestion that the January 6th Committee isn’t a “real hearing.” The con rank-and-file is fooled by the claim because the hearings don’t look like a trial on ‘Law and Order.’ Of course, they’re not supposed to. It’s not that kind of a hearing. If you think “Grand Jury Hearing,” all of a sudden it looks exactly like it should…

Redirections…

Projection
Hey, look! They finally found someone cheating in the 2020 election. Well, technically, they found a THIRD “someone.” According to the AP, she’s a woman named Sandra Brown who worked for the Mesa County Clerk, Tina Peters, also facing charges along with her deputy, Belinda Knisley. The only confusing part to me? They’re Republicans! They cheated for the Dumbass – who was declared the winner of Mesa County with 63% of the vote – by rigging the machines! No wonder the cons are so certain the machines were rigged. THEY were rigging them! Projection, thy name is conservative. (Biden still won Colorado with 55.4% of the vote…)

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Protection?
I was a bit irritated by the unexpected release of the Uvalde videos on Wednesday, the 13th. Not because of the release, itself. That had to happen and was scheduled to happen. Officials just wanted the opportunity to show the video to the families of the victims first, and that was scheduled for Saturday, the 16th. But that just makes the timing of the “leak” all the more suspicious, doesn’t it? Since the video was already scheduled for release, anyway, jumping the gun, ostensibly to “get the scoop,” was really just an act of cruelty to the families who immediately decried the action and said they felt “broadsided” by the drop.

I don’t mean to go all tin-foil hat on you, here, but there was one other effect the early release had. The exploits of the Barney Fife Brigade, Uvalde Division HAD to become the top story of the day. I mean, an entire police force frozen in fear as one shooter murdered 21 people? How could the media NOT run with it? So, it pushed any other major news stories back. For example, there was far less discussion of the findings of the January 6th committee’s hearing on Tuesday than there otherwise might have been and far more focus on what cowards look like in Texas. (As a sidebar, I keep hearing that the entire force should be fired. What kind of integrity do those guys have that they might wait to be fired? If they had any honor, they’d hand in their resignations and go do work for which they’re better suited. Something that will NEVER require bravery…)

Anyway, in case you missed it, Donald J. Trump was up to his eyeballs in planning the criminal insurrection. He knew darn good and well he had lost the election. (His difficulty in accepting the fact might, perhaps, be tied to the idea that he also knew he had loyalists in strategic positions to rig the machines…see the previous bit about Mesa County in Colorado.) He knew darn good and well that he had lost every legal challenge. He knew darn good and well there were no legal options left to him, so he went illegal. He didn’t hesitate and he choose illegal while surrounded by lawyers telling him, literally yelling at him at times, what he was doing was illegal. He worked with the “Proud Boys” and the “Oath Keepers” and other moronic dregs of humanity. He knew, in advance, he was going to tell his acolytes to march on the Capitol. That was NOT a spontaneous event. He and his criminal partners planned and executed the insurrection.

I expect to be pissed off when Trump avoids jail time because, in America, we don’t jail ex-presidents, no matter what. (My actual anger will be at the final surrender and collapse of a once-great nation.) But I saw an idea in a letter to the editor I liked. Let’s strip him of his citizenship and exile him from the country. (That would be the second country the Drumpf family has been exiled from in only three generations. I wonder what family name they’ll choose next? May I suggest “Rump?” It keeps the core of the original, Drumpf, and it’s replacement “Trump,” and better describes the character of the family members…) My own addition to the exile plan? First, seize his assets under the doctrine that we don’t know which of his dollars came from regular business and which came from illegal activities. (That’s sort of stupid phrasing. I’m not aware that he’s ever made a single, honest dollar in his entire life…)

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Deflection…
I keep seeing con politicians out there suggesting they intend to restrict a woman’s right to travel to blue sanctuary states in order to receive the medical care they can no longer get in their red punishment states. It’s an appalling suggestion, restricting freedom of movement. But, guess what? Freedom of movement is not specifically written in the Constitution, the standard the kangaroos are currently pretending makes the most sense. Freedom of association is and any rational human being could easily understand the obvious reality that one’s freedom of association is impaired if one is not free to move to where the association is taking place. But these are conservatives with an ideological agenda, not “rational human beings.”

In a related note, one of the effects of the Kangaroo’s overturning of Roe was that pro-choice activists started looking for stories to highlight the danger and stupidity of overturning Roe. As if on cue, they found a 10 year old girl who was forced to travel to a different state to get an abortion after being raped and highlighted her ordeal in the news. As soon as the story became public, the conservative bubble immediately reconsidered it’s position, seeing the reality of how these things can play out and turned it’s attention to restoring Roe. Ha, ha, I’m kidding of course. Cons never let reality interfere with their favorite fever dreams of the moment and they’re not about to start now.

In fact, the conservative media simply declared the story fake news. The Washington Post pretended that abortions for children so young were vanishingly rare. Apparently, in the same story (the very next line, in fact), they admitted that in Ohio in 2020, 52 people under the age of 15 received reported abortions. That’s one a week, on average. That seems FAR too often, to me, and not “rare” at all.

The Wall Street Journal declared the story “too good to confirm.” I don’t know. Sure, I know the timing didn’t help the conservative ideology at all, but how is a 10 year old girl being raped, impregnated, and THEN unable to find help in her home state in any way “too good?” Or even “good?” But of course, we protect patient’s privacy and children’s names in news stories so the story couldn’t be immediately confirmed – which meant it COULD be immediately dismissed by the lying right.

Until the cops caught the rapist.

Then the con media just clammed up and moved on. They never told their obsequious acolytes the truth about the story I’ll tell you this: they likely never will…

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Disconnection…
I saw a piece in the Guardian called, ‘Broken and distrusting/Why are Americans pulling away from the daily news.’ My first thought? News? What news? I haven’t seen much journalism in American media sources for a long, long time. There are opinions. There are estimations. There are analyses. There are even thoughts and guesses. But there is a depressing dearth of journalism. To paraphrase one of the more destructive assholes this country has ever suffered, I didn’t leave the news. The news left me.

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