The Talking Dog

December 31, 2016, Wishing for 2017 to suck less than we think it will

An over-empowered minority of American voters chose the form of the destructor. Slate offers us this note that 2016 was some kind of a wake-up call for White liberals... as if.

The president-elect wishes a happy new year to his enemies "who lost so badly." At some point, he might consider stepping out of his professional wrestler persona and comporting himself with the decorum and dignity his newly acquired office requires. Then again, as long as the American media considers any emanations reaching us from the unfiltered, undrained swamp via his short fingers typing on his twitter account to be the most Earth-shattering of news, it seems unlikely... no matter how dire the adverse consequences might be.

And finally, the four three new stations of the Second Avenue subway line (an extension of the "Q" train from 63rd and Lex to 96th and Second) is allegedly opening tomorrow. I think this is a very apt metaphor. I once interviewed for a legal job with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's capital projects operation over a dozen years ago, when that division had just been organized to manage and complete five projects: an expansion of the South Ferry subway station to accommodate ten-car trains (completed a few years ago, if somewhat hampered after Hurricane Sandy), a renovation of the Fulton Street transportation hub in downtown Manhattan (completed just a few months ago), the extension of the 7 train to the far West Side's Jacob Javits Convention Center (completed around two or three years ago), the Second Avenue subway (first leg about to open) and the Long Island Rail Road connector from Jamaica to Grand Central Station... still in progress, with an opening date sometime... in the future. The apt metaphor being that there are still grand projects taking place, even right in front of us. But the really worthwhile grand projects-- such as the re-invention of a pluralistic, fairness based, democratic society where our leaders are chosen on some basis other than their celebrity and their willingness to offend vulnerable populations-- take time, possibly, a really, really long time.

Doesn't mean that it won't take consistent, day in day out effort. It just means that we all will have to learn the difference between hard... and impossible.

Happy new year, y'all.

December 28, 2016, Never ask if things can be any worse

One day after Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack, Fisher's mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, died at age 84 of a stroke.

Pretty miserably awful. I got nothin'.

December 27, 2016, As if 2016 could get worse

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia of the Star Wars franchise, and a few other roles, passed away at age 60 after suffering a heart attack during a transatlantic flight.

It's been an unusually tough year for icons, with the losses of Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Brand, Glenn Frey... and recently, even George Michael, among many others.

I've had my own losses as well (piling on the loss of my own Dad, last year) And, of course, we have all observed the loss of any remaining sense of civic order in the English speaking world, as the respective electorates of both the United Kingdom (voting to leave the EU) and the United States (voting to leave the civilized world) seem intent on cutting their own throats in order to vent their spleens.

And... 2017 presents... very little to look forward to. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.

December 25, 2016, Have a Merry Freaking Christmas

Her digs-ness points out the absurd wording of the GOP's annual holiday messaging...

Hey... I got nothin'...

December 23, 2016, Festivus's Last Gleaming?

Not yet the President Voldemort You-Know-Who suggests that the United States should expand its nuclear weapons capability. Apparently, this comes more or less around the same time that he pressured the Obama Administration with respect to a U.N. vote condemning Israeli settlements.

I could go on. Times they are a changin'. That's what a significant minority of American voters (adequately distributed under our slavery-era-invented electoral disposition to win) decided they wanted.

The question is whether this person will lead us to ruination.


December 19, 2016, Let the good times roll

Item: the inevitable is now the official: our most unqualified president ever[TM] Mr. Trump prevailed in the Electoral College, by 304 to something or other.
While it's probably going to suck for all of us, it's going to suck most for the actual morons who voted for him. Schadenfreude isn't much... but there are times when it's better than nothing.

Item: In Archduke Franz Ferdinand news, Russia's ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated by a gunman (described, conveniently, as a 22 year old off duty policeman) in a museum in Ankara, and the gunman conveniently yelled the requisite "Allahu Akbar! and "Don't Forget Aleppo!" The Grey Lady reports:

Turkish officials said the gunman was killed after a shootout with Turkish Special Forces.

He was identified by Turkey’s interior minister as Mevlut Mert Altintas, from the western province of Aydin and a graduate of a police college in Izmir. Local news reports said that Mr. Altintas’s mother and sister had been arrested and that a computer had been confiscated from their house.

While it was too early to tell if the gunmen acted alone, his use of jihadist slogans and his invocation of Syria raised the possibility that he was a member, or at least a sympathizer, of an Islamist group like Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate or the Islamic State, two organizations that Turkey has been accused by allies, including the United States, of supporting in the past.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told the Rossiya 24 news channel that Mr. Karlov had died of his wounds in what she described as a terrorist attack. Turkey’s Interior Ministry said the ambassador had died at Guven Hospital in Ankara.

Well, at least that's settled.

Item: A truck plowed through a crowded Christmas market in the Western part of Berlin, Germany, killing at least a dozen people and injuring dozens. Police are investigating the incident as terrorism... you'll recall that this was a similar M.O. to the Bastille Day attack on Nice, France. While local officials investigate, at least incoming president-elect Donald John Trump knows all... he already knows that this was the work of ISIS... indeed, all Muslims, everywhere... his well-thought-out statement:

Our hearts and prayers are with the loved ones of the victims of today’s horrifying terror attack in Berlin. Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday. ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad. These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners.

Seems ill-advisedly provocative, no? "Bring it on" on super-meth-power steroids, no? Well, I think so, anyway.

And speaking of Herr Drumpf...

Item: Actor Tom Arnold says he has a widely circulated recording (outtakes from The Apprentice) of the president-elect using racial slurs (yes, including that N word) as well as "the C word" (we knew about that,,, oh wait... that was the P-word...) and calling his own son a "retard." Evidently, Arnold could have released the tape on November 6th, i.e. before the election, but feared for the poor production personnel "who would never work again." (Seriously?) He did note that he just didn't think the release would actually have hurt Trump in the election... and on that, maybe he has a point.

Item: A poll shows a majority of Americans are either uncertain or pessimistic about the future in the face of the looming Trump presidency. You think?

Item: Alex Jones of Infowars (confession: I find him an absolute riot) warns the president-elect that the CIA is plotting to assassinate him. Well, there's probably no evidence that's not true... is there?

Item: Paul Krugman treats us to a discussion of how republics end... especially the Roman republic. I think the expression involves something about history repeating itself, first as tragedy and then as farce... admittedly, that was
Karl Marx, an economist with actual understanding of the workings of markets and the world. He would have observed the economic inevitability of, say, the Kuwaiti government cancelling their embassy's big event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., instead choosing to re-book it at the Trump hotel. (Supposedly there was "pressure from the Trump Organization.") Ya' think?

Item: Sex-bots could overwhelm their human lovers, a Swiss academic warns. Perhaps that's the CIA's diabolical plan?

Frankly, for the next four years, a sense of humor is definitely going to be a necessary survival skill. Just saying.

December 18, 2016, Keep the hate coming

Item: In Whitefish, Montana, White Supremacist Andrew Anglin of "The Daily Stormer"
called for "trolling" (whatever-the-f*** that means... but "no violence") against Jewish residents of that town
, in apparent retaliation for business difficulties allegedly suffered by one Sherry Spencer, mother of Anglin's fellow-White-Supremacist Richard Spencer; apparently, After a tirade calling Jews "a vicious evil race of hate-filled psychopaths" (project much, there, Mr. Anglin?), he decides to make it personal:

The post included photos, phone numbers, email address, and social media accounts of members of Love Lives Now, a peace organization “committed to co-creating a caring, open, accepting and diverse community, free from discrimination and dedicated to equal treatment,” which is smeared by Anglin as a “terrorist group.” The action also incorporated photos of a local real estate owner, her husband, and young sons, as well as addresses where people can find them.

Love Lives Here Chairman Will Randall told the Missoulian that the fallout has been “gut-wrenching.”

“These are some of the best people around, and to see them attacked because they’re Jewish or have a Jewish-sounding name is disgusting,” he said.

On Sunday morning, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke lent his support to Anglin’s effort on Twitter.

If there's a protest rally to challenge this crap, please let me know... I'm there. Honestly, there are those who would argue that Mr. Trump's Jewish son-in-law and converted daughter are some kind of insulation against a severe rise of anti-semitism in this country.,.. let's just say that the actual evidence belies this. A group of men who ordinarily hide in the dark like cockroaches, such as Messrs. Anglin and Spencer, can now surface quite visibly as some kind of "legitimate political movement" only in conditions like the present; that is not good.

Item: Former Bush speechwriter David Frum notes the danger associated with the constant lies-- blatant, easily verifiable lies, but he does them anyway-- of Mr. Trump, such as his insistence that he won the popular vote (despite losing same by over 2.8 million votes)... and now, 52% of Republicans believe Trump actually won the popular vote!

Item: SecState designate Rex Tillerson is the long-time director of an Exxon-Russian joint venture, based in the Bahamas, with office addresses in Houston and in Russia, according to leaked documents. If his qualification is his Vlad P. coziness... doesn't this make him more qualified? Just asking...

Item: Attorney General Loretta Lynch tells ABC's Jake Tapper (him again) that her conversation over the summer with former President Bill Clinton was "painful," particularly as it called into quesiton the integrity of the Department of Justice. Good one, Loretta. The decision to go or not to go forward with a criminal prosecution rests with you, and not with that partisan whore James Comey... but it would seem that the man who most desperately wanted to throw this election to Donald Trump was not Vladimir Putin at all... it was none other than Bill Clinton. Tim "Because Mike Pence was already taken" Kane was Bill Clinton's choice which Hillary stupidly followed (rather than Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, or Corey Booker, or Tom Perez... any of whom would have carried her to victory or at least generated more enthusiasm than she did along the way, i.e., zero). And back in 2008, he helped throw the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama by suggesting that Obama only won South Carolina for the same reason Jesse Jackson ran good campaigns there... because of the Black vote (peculiarly ironic given how Hillary ran her primary campaign this year.) And by his outrageously inappropriate forty-five minute meeting with Lynch, he forced Lynch to ostensibly recuse herself and turn to outsized reliance on partisan-whore-Comey, who used it to maximum effect. So go ahead and be "sorry" Loretta; you will likely be succeeded by uber-cracker Jeff Sessions... keepin' that "Obama legacy" goin'... Going where? Best not ask. Thanks again, Bill.

Item: On his "victory lap" (which he calls a "thank you tour") Mr. Trump shows no signs of offering conciliation to those who did not support him. Well, what did you expect from a man who shows so many signs of "narcissistic personality disorder" that a group of noted psychiatrists feebly begs lame-duck President Obama to "do something"? Damned if I know.

December 17, 2016, Russian to judgment

Item: A former RT ("Russia Today") on-air anchor suggests that "there really isn't a better mouthpiece for the Kremlin than Donald Trump."

Item: Media insider (and as offensive as anyone in this regard) Jake Tapper of ABC denies that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west the media was obsessed with coverage of the most picayune aspects of the DNC emails, Hillary emails and/or the Clinton Foundation while basically giving Trump a pass on his bad-ness. Good one, Jake. Honestly, our friend Professor Lemieux nails it by observing that the obsession with "fake news" overshadows the abysmal performance of the media with respect to (so-called) "real news."

Obviously, I myself have noted the thin reeds of "evidence" tying Russia to the supposed "hacking"...

Which, is all interesting, I suppose, as I kind of step on myself to some degree, by passing along this observation by noted-NSA-whistleblower-who-isn't-Edward-Snowden...

Item: William Binney observes that the evidence points to a leak (via copying to a thumb-drive) from the DNC rather than a hack (by the Russian state or by anyone else) because everything over the internet runs through the NSA, which would not only have proof of the hack, but forwarding and return addresses as well; Binney contends there is an American movement afoot to try to stir up "a new Cold War" or at least to justify ever higher defense spending in a world where the terrorist threat may be "manageable" to the point of lowering defense spending. Obviously, I kind of wish this report weren't itself on RT (i.e. Russian state media), but I nonetheless find Binney himself credible as a source and his logic pretty convincing, though, YMMV.

I say this as someone who not only voted for Hillary, but worked for her campaign, because I view Mr. Trump as not only dangerously unqualified and unstable, but just an individual of deficient character to be the President (even if I don't really like Secretary Clinton)... I just note the irony of the boat-load of criticism that Trump took for "refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election results," given that my own read of the "Russian hacking" canard is that it sure as hell looks like a feeble attempt by Hillary and her ilk to deflect attention from herself as to how miserable a campaign she ran allowing the most unqualified major party candidate ever to sneak in to the White House (to become the most unqualified President ever), albeit by a hair's breadth, and in the process, question the legitimacy of the election! Again.. YMMV.

December 12, 2016, National treasures (cont'd)

This just in from the beat poet of the far right: Sarah Palin (yes, that Sarah Palin) suggests "no worries, re: Russia... I'll keep an eye on them from here."

More confirmation she's not likely to be in the cabinet (unlike a neuro-surgeon in charge of housing, an Exxon exec and friend-of-Vlad in charge of policy helpul to Exxon and Vlad, Mrs. Mitch McConnell, a military general in charge of homeland security, an ex-Goldman Sachs employee and foreclosure maven in charge of Treasury, and a few assorted billionaires), because Washington, D.C. is just too far from Russia... so she won't be able to see it from there.

Amidst an increasingly un-funny situation, at least Sarah P. can still break us up with laughter.

December 10, 2016, No Room for Reason

The Moderate Voice, a website on which, occasionally, a certain talking dog cross-posts, has been the subject of a recent series of cyber-attacks designed to silence it.

Thing is, the site is called "the moderate voice" because it's actually non-partisan: TMV editor-in-chief Joe Gandelman (himself a long-time pro-journalist) has invited countless bloggers over the years from every part of the political spectrum... it really is "politically moderate" when viewed as a whole. Alas, in the course of that, some posts from some perspectives will inevitably piss off someone... and now, that we have a thin-skinned whiner-in-chief (with no concern for the consequences to actual people of his whining), there's really no telling where this will go.

Part of the advantage of having less traffic than the main streets of most ghost towns is a certain freedom from this sort of thing; back when this blog was more "popular" (meaning a few hundred hits a day, as opposed to a few hundred hits a month), I would get comments of all kinds (some in complete agreement with me, and others simply wrong!), and I would be noted on other blogs, sometimes favorably, and sometimes not (btw, lefty blogs would occasionally attack me; righty blogs would sometimes speak nicely.) I should add that, on occasion, someone would break through my poorly kept defenses and learn my secret identity and try to threaten my career, for example... yes, bloggy "success." Now... no one pretty much cares what I write, near as I can tell.

Meanwhile, in the broader world, where blogs are still read (such as TMV), "attacks" are no longer just rhetorical-- but are aimed at actually shutting down transmission of a message one doesn't like. TMV, according to the post noted, gets around 9,000 hits a day these days; doesn't seem like that broad a reach in a world with over one and a half billion Facebook users, for example... but if the right someone is pissed off (and, chillingly, TMV apparently posts a lot of posts, including cartoons and the like, that are mocking of our president-elect)... well, attack on service attacks seem to follow... as Joe Gandelman noted... like clockwork.

And, of course, in at least one case in the real world, someone was so incensed at what he read on the internet (in this case, the "fake news" story linking Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor and an alleged pedophilia ring), that a gunman entered the pizzeria and actually fired shots, "looking for the kids" in his own vigilante "rescue operation." He promptly surrendered when he "didn't find the kids."

In short, there is craziness (mixed with stupidity) out there, aplenty. We live in a world where our incoming president-elect has expressed great admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin (and, evidently, news seems to be emerging that the relationship might be much closer than that). We note that Mr. Putin is a man even whose admirers might observe is no fan of a free press (others suggest that he has ordered repression and outright murder of journalists who piss him off), and Mr. Trump has pretty much expressed "press-hostile" sentiments of his own. This all presents a situation where those of us who operate expecting First Amendment freedom of expression a requirement of extreme vigilance as things develop. In the case of TMV, this has meant nimble technical responses to stay online... who knows how much further this will go.

Short answer: stay alert. Not even being "even-handed" will provide cover these days; only robust support of our freedoms can do that... this will take a huge effort from all of us. All of us.

December 9, 2016, Everything's coming up Россия

There is a WaPo story out to the effect that the CIA has concluded in a (naturally) secret assessment that our comrades in Москва decided to do what they could to throw the election to Comrade Trump, notably, through supplying hacked data to Wikileaks (such as the embarrassing Podesta emails); our friend Joe Gandelman has more. Among the money-quotes:

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials.

Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

Seems all cloak and daggar. Perhaps we'll get to the bottom of it in the "deep dive" into intel-related activity that President Obama ordered. Or perhaps we won't.

Or perhaps Americans already knew that Russia (whose leader Hillary equated to Hitler, while Mr. Trump is evidently some kind of business associate of Putin/Hitler) was probably playing favorites here, and trying to intervene in our election, via exactly the means suggested. It's not as if this wasn't out in the open as a campaign issue-- Hillary Clinton said as much during a debate (in an attempt to deflect attention from the contents of emails, which she could have quite easily batted aside, she accused Russia of the hacking...) She still managed to lose the election, as that debate evasion was one of an almost infinite number of incompetent acts that she committed in the course of losing to the second-worst major party candidate ever (the first worst, of course, being herself).

Of course, WaPo recently distinguished itself by publishing an equally journalistically valid neo-McCarthyan hit-piece asserting that around 200 assorted media outlets were ostensibly pro-Russia propaganda arms peddling "fake news." Hmmmmm...

Honestly, regular readers (my readership these days could likely fit in a VW Microbus, with plenty of room for luggage and pets) know that I not only hold no brief for Mr. Trump, I regard him as evil incarnate and felt compelled to both poll-watch and vote for Mrs. Clinton (who I regard as corrupt and incompetent, but at least not evil incarnate). Nonetheless... I do have to say... come on. Put up or shut up on this Russia and Putin stuff: stop with the innuendo. If there is solid evidence that a foreign power intervened in our election to favor one candidate-- the winning candidate no less-- then by God, out with it before said Muscovian Candidate takes office. If said candidate were aware of the intervention, and his "denials" of said intervention were part of the strategy... even more compelling... so let's not waste time-- let's arrest his ass for treason (i.e., "lock him up! lock him up!") Otherwise... shut up. Because without such solid evidence (rather than the b.s. innuendo)... he'll take office, and presumably, engage in policies detrimental to USA national interests for the benefit of... Mother Russia...

Such as, perhaps, appointing Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. As observed by Kevin Drum,

Oh come on. Trump is planning to nominate a wealthy, inexperienced fossil-fuel mogul whose only qualification—literally—is that he's sort of chummy with Vladimir Putin? And Republicans are expected to confirm him?

Who's writing the script for this show? No one's going to believe these plot twists. I gave up on Designated Survivor after a couple of episodes, and it was more realistic than this.

Right now, I'm looking at an Establishment that was all-in for a miserably awful sclerotic candidate who was ultimately nailed in a close election by forgotten Obama voters who turned against her for her undeniable coziness with and connections to Wall Street and inability to convey a message of economic (or any other kind) of promise for them... so she lost to a trust-fund baby, whose own promise to "drain the swamp" clearly meant decimating some wet-land somewhere so he could develop a casino... and replace the wildlife with... pretty much the same set of Wall Streeters we'd have expected Hillary to surround herself with. Only in his case, we're also probably looking at an anti-labor Labor Secretary, an anti-public education Education Secretary (whose brother is Erik "Mr. Blackwater" Prince and who herself married into the Amway fortune), an anti-environmental quality Environmental Protection Administrator, and a pretty ill-informed conspiracy-mongering know-it-all psychopath as his National Security Advisor... and our esteemed media is instead focusing on shadowy connections between Trump and Russia, which I gotta tell you, may be the only thing to actually recommend Trump, because Hillary's vilification of that nuclear armed nation that holds the world's largest oil reserves ranged somewhere between irresponsible and psychotic.

OK then... everyone signing up for Russian class and increasing their tolerance for vodka? I know I am.

Update: FWIW, NBC News reports... it's Tillerson. Old Rex is a two-fer-- maybe even a three-fer... he's a buddy of Vlad and has presided over the world's largest climate-change-denying operations at Exxon. He's also worth 9-figures, and could cash in tax free (he'd have to divest of his Exxon Mobil holdings worth over $150 million) should he take the Sec of State post.

December 7, 2016, You're fired

In a fast-follow-up to an item I recently posted, we see the signature line of the president-elect's best known public persona, the boss on The Apprentice, is used against an errant member of the transition team, to wit, Michael Flynn, Jr., is fired from the transition team for using Twitter to spread a fake news story. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that... when The Donald himself does it, of course.

On this 75th anniversary of "the day that will live in infamy, America's favorite "too much information" reporters at "538" tell us that there are only around 700,000 WWII veterans still around to note the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and "the Greatest Generation" is dying off at the rate of 400 or so a day; if you were 18 at the end of the war in 1945, you would be about 89 or so now. Something to think about, amidst our current "truth-challenged" era.

That, of course, and how the New York Observer, owned by Jared Kushner (yes, that Jared Kushner-- the Donald's son-in-law and tacit chief advisor) ran an editorial calling for an FBI crackdown on, naturally, anti-Trump protests. First Amendment: you're fired.

December 5, 2016, Sons of anarchy

Item: Michael Flynn, Jr., the son of incoming National Security Advisor (and retired general) Michael Flynn, who sports a Trump transition team e-mail address (and evidently performs services for said team) is evidently a connoisseur and spreader of White supremacist conspiracy theories and is quite active on White supremacist media platforms. Among the conspiracies he has peddled are gems such as Obama's alleged Kenyan birth, or recently, the Comet Ping Pong Pizza fiasco; he is an aficionado of the platform "Gab," which he has tried to get his father to join.

Item: At least one Texas elector has "gone rogue" and writes in the Grey Lady why he will not be casting his coveted 1 of 538 for Donald Trump, a man he believes unfit for the presidency.

Item: The President-Elect meets with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the issue of climate change. Seriously: that Al Gore. Damned if I can figure it out; No More Mister Nice Blog posits this is about branding... Ivanka's branding. My view? The Donald tells us he doesn't believe man-made climate change is real... but why should we believe him on this, or on anything else he says? He has no reality... ,maybe he's genuinely interested in hearing about it? That... or the branding thing, of course...

Item: A mistrial was declared in the case of Police Officer Michael Slager for the killing of unarmed Black man Walter Scott. Video evidence shows the North Charleston, SC officer shooting Mr. Scott in the back while Scott was running away from a traffic stop. A jury could not reach a unanimous verdict; perhaps fatally shooting a Black man is simply not a crime in the perception of a goodly part of our citizenry (or, evidently, at least one juror)?

Item: Vice President Joe Biden suggests ("predicts", actually) that he will run for President in 2020, when he will be 77. The president elect will be 74 by then... why not Joe Biden? Say what you will about Bernie Sanders, but Joe Biden would have wiped the floor with Donald Trump, had he run this year. Just saying...

This has been... Sons of anarchy.

December 4, 2016, Make America Hate Again, Part ___

We'll start, as, troublingly, I have a number of times before, right here in Brooklyn, where bias/hate incidents of this kind are on the rise, in this case, a White man harassing a hijab-wearing Muslim off-duty police officer (decorated for having rescued two people from a burning building) and her son in Bay Ridge.

Don Donald has promised "retribution" on American companies that leave our shores in ways not satisfactory to him, whatever that means. Why can't we all get along? Unstated, btw, are that the majority of Indiana jobs of the Carrier corporation, i.e., 1300 out of 2400, will be moving to Mexico anyway... he "saved" 1,100 jobs at a cost of roughly $6,000 per job for the taxpayers of Indiana. Such a deal.

And, as feared, the Taiwan phone call thing may have been more calculated and orchestrated by the stupid and/or crazy (mostly stupid) people that Trump has surrounded himself with (starting with himself) than first thought. The president-elect (gak) launches his usual rhetorical attacks via Twitter on a nation that represents 20% of the world's people, 15% of the world's GDP, some unknown but really large share of the United States's debt, a wildly large share of strategic resources necessary for our high-tech existence, the world's largest standing military and, of course, lots and lots of nuclear weapons... yes, that China, With the usual Trumpian articulateness:

“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into…their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!”

Mr. Trump fancies himself a brilliant negotiator, of course; generally, his tactic is simply to try to crush a counterpart who he believes is in an inferior bargaining position (usually by refusing to pay his just debts, and forcing the other party into litigation, often litigation he commences as part of this tactic.) In the United States/China relationship, the United States is not necessarily the party in a superior bargaining position. Indeed, the Trans Pacific Partnership, with its almost infinite number of flaws, was, nonetheless, intended as part of a strategic economic encirclement and box out of China (hence China, the second largest GDP in the world, was conveniently left out of it). But the Donald, of course, fiercely opposed TPP and advised that it is dead on arrival. But at the same time, he still thinks he can, somehow, muscle China around, as well as abuse its sensitivities on Taiwan (because the stupid/crazy people around him, evidently, think this is a good idea), notwithstanding that American presidents of both parties (more likely Republican, actually) maintained the strategic ambiguity for decades because it is a complicated situation that stupid people and toys like Twitter accounts can only fuck up.

Alrightie then. I have suggested on innumerable times that his Twitter access should be taken away from him. And maybe some other toys, like his telephone. I understand that no one is listening to me. I get that. But, just in case anyone is...

December 4, 2016, Numbers are for losers. Sad.

Forbes is reporting that the incoming Trump Administration (best get used to that) just may not bother to submit a budget to Congress despite its legal requirement to do so, To wit,:

So why might the Trump administration want to punt on this major opportunity by not submitting a budget?

First, it would allow Trump to avoid the complaints that always come from those the budget proposals would harm by denying them a platform to criticize the White House. No proposals on paper would mean nothing to disparage.

Second, it would allow the White House to avoid having to say how much its taxing and spending proposals will increase the federal deficit and national debt.

Given that many estimates put the likely annual deficit from the Trump campaign plans at $1 trillion or more and that the total increase in the national debt before the 2020 election could easily equal the borrowing during the first 4 years of the Obama administration, the likelihood that this is a major consideration should not be downplayed. Just think of the value of not having to publish a table that for the first time shows those very high numbers, and not having to answer to the House Freedom Caucus.

Third, it would also eliminate the need for the administration to publish a table with the very optimistic GDP growth promised during the campaign, the high interest rates many economists think are coming and Trump’s unrealistic assumptions on jobs and unemployment.

Fourth, it would eliminate the need for the House and Senate to hold hearings on the Trump budget. That would expedite Congress’ consideration of its 2018 budget resolution and the reconciliation process that is widely expected to be used to accelerate the passage of many of Trump’s and the House and Senate GOP’s priorities.

Fifth, although there have been a few rumors about possible directors of the Office of Management and Budget, almost a month after Election Day no one has yet been named. That almost certainly will delay the development of the Trump 2018 budget until almost the summer and the GOP congressional leadership might not want to wait that long to begin its work on the all-important 2018 budget resolution and reconciliation.

Finally, because the White House and Congress will be preoccupied until around the end of March with a budget resolution, reconciliation bill and appropriations for 2017 and a new debt ceiling increase, Trump may not have time for the 2018 budget that would have to be developed at that same time. Given that schedule, plus the fact that it will take some time to get the Trump cabinet and subcabinet confirmed, the White House may think that not submitting a 2018 budget and just working with Congress will be its best chance to be successful.

John Cole at Balloon Juice offers the appropriate perspective on just why ("numbers are hard") this might be; and Digby piles on.

I will come back to something Michael Moore observed: a significant element of the electorate in the all important Upper Midwest (the states that gave the Donald the presidency) just wants to blow up the whole system.

It seems that, ahem, Mr. Trump is just giving the people what they want.

Good. And hard.

December 3, 2016, National Treasures

Item: Perhaps auditioning for the reality show/game show: Who wants not to be a cabinet secretary, putative Veterans Affairs Secretary candidate Sarah Palin pours Alaska-cold cold water on her chances by suggesting that the much-touted-by-Trump taxpayer bailout to keep Carrier jobs in Indiana smacks of crony capitalism (her actual post even used the word "socialism.") Good luck, Sarah. As our reigning beat-poet-of-the-far-right, at least I will always think of you as a national treasure, even if that cabinet thing falls through.

Item: Will the Donald's actual stupidity and ignorance save him from a clear diplomatic blunder of a direct communication with the notional leader of Taiwan? Taiwan operates as a de facto independent nation, but both the People's Republic of China and many in Taiwan (including the long-time-ruling Kuomintang party) regard Taiwan as part of one unified China as far as "legal" status, an ambiguous state recognized by the United States since, oh, relations with the mainland normalized in 1979. Taiwan's current ruler (and her party) is more "independence" minded, which has annoyed China and soured cross-Taiwan-Strait relations. Some hard-right Republicans have always questioned the official ambiguity, and are delighted with Trump's move, while others (the people with actual knowledge of actual world conditions) believe this upsets decades of diplomacy. Whether gaffe, "diplomatic incident," or just Donald being Donald, what's good for the Trump Organization is Good for America... good and hard.

Item: Putative Education Secretary (and Amway heiress... and Blackwater honcho Erik Prince's sister) Betsy DeVos suggested (like, a long time ago, so what difference does it make, right?) that her work on education reform is a means to "advance God's kingdom." Or something:

During a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual summit for wealthy Christians, Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick DeVos were interviewed on stage about their work promoting the use of government funds on private and religious schools. Betsy DeVos likened her work to the battles in the biblical region known as Shephelah, where David and Goliath were said to have fought.

“Our desire is to be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory,” she said.

Item: At least one Trump voter has already realized and publicly acknowledged that she voted to cut her own throat by doing so (congratulations geniuses... it wasn't like a Hillary win would be "good..." this election was about trying to avoid, you know... bad things of heretofore unimaginable proportion... and then some)... in the case of California's Teena Colebrook, this was because she was aggressively abused during a foreclosure by OneWest Bank, run by incoming-Treasury-Secretary (and longtime Goldman Sachs-er) Steve Mnuchin... she now says she wishes she hadn't voted. Well, it should be some solace to Ms. Colebrook that, as a Californian, her vote never matters anyway.

Ms. Colebrook had to leave the Los Angeles area and now lives with her boyfriend in much smaller San Luis Obispo, CA, where she volunteers at a homeless shelter (acknowledging that she might have ended up there.) I don't know... what did you think would happen when you knowingly voted for a con-man, Ms. Colebrook? This is a con-man whose supporters now tell us that his compulsive lying streak (actually, some say that, as a bullshit artist, he's even worse than a liar) has led his close surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes to suggest that "There's no such thing anymore, unfortunately, as facts".

Maybe those of us in the elite coastal bubbles of the I-95 and I-5 corridors should acknowledge that, while many of us lead prosperous jet-setting lives, much of the interior of this country is severely hurting, and a campaign fought on personalities (while writing off those same hurting people as racist, bigoted, misogynistic and ignorant... Brexit anyone?) would lead to... well... exactly where we are? At least Chris Cilizza of WaPo thinks the Trump cabinet picks are sorta good news...

This has been... National Treasures. Enjoy the weekend. I hear winter is coming.

December 1, 2016, If Only

This piece from The Hill, suggests that big-money Democratic donors feel as if the money they gave to Hillary Clinton was just burned (it was). The "if only" part suggests, wistfully, that perhaps no rational person will ever give the Clintons another dime-- for anything, ever again. Not a speech engagement, not a campaign contribution, not a "donation" to the "Foundation"... nothing. The Clinton Gang already has enough money for several lifetimes, thanks... no need to keep feeding that particular (Democratic-Party-killing) beast. As if...

Then again, there are those who suggest that, as some sort of weird peace offering, Hillary should be offered a position in the Trump cabinet... given that the Donald is assembling the richest cabinet in history, I guess the question is... is Hillary rich enough?

Who knows? The only thing we know for sure is that Wall Street Wins Again!