Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hasan Minhaj at the 2017 White House Correspondents' Dinner

That was a tough audience, but Hasan Minhaj was great, wasn't he?

I was wondering how this would go, since the president and his entire administration skipped it (for the first time since Ronald Reagan was recovering from being shot). So did many celebrities.

This was a tough gig. And I'd only seen Minhaj in brief sketches on The Daily Show. So I wasn't sure what to expect. But he killed it, don't you think? I was impressed.

Incidentally, Samantha Bee held a competing event last night, the Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Check it out.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The proof that God is evil

This is the summary of this playlist called "The Case for an Evil God."

Of course, to be technical, this is evidence, not proof, and it's only about the Biblical god. But personally, I think we're all lucky he doesn't exist.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The first 100 days of Donald Trump

Jebus, only 100 days? We are so screwed.

Luckily, this is a short video, because I really can't stand to think about it any longer than this.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hypocrisy and the GOP

The first part of this (the first three and a half minutes) is what gets me. Could Republicans be any bigger hypocrites?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ivanka & Jared

More than any other late-night comedian - and just think for a minute of the worrisome state of our country when I have to say this about a comedian - John Oliver takes the time for an in-depth look at the issues.

I know we'd all like to think that there's someone in the White House who's not batshit crazy, but hope isn't evidence.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to get climate change wrong... again and again

This is exceptionally good, I'd say. But it's also a bit depressing, given how it won't accomplish anything at all. Crowder doesn't care if he's wrong, and none of his fellow deniers do, either, as far as I can tell.

Five misconceptions about undocumented immigrants

These are good points to keep in mind, don't you think?

The case against the resurrection

I meant to post this on Sunday - Easter- but I never got around to it. Oh, well. It's still worth your time, but I'll make this post especially short.

This is a playlist of video arguments against the resurrection of Jesus Christ - ten video clips from nine different people. They're all interesting, though I'd especially recommend the video with Bart Ehrman and the two from Richard Carrier.

Again, here is the link at YouTube. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Was the United Airlines victim actually a felon?

Rebecca Watson is one of my favorite people on YouTube. It's not about this particular incident. (Frankly, I never even saw previous videos about it, and I don't normally jump on outrage click-bait, anyway.)

But she always gives me a lot to think about. And her lessons are quite valuable.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"It's not so easy"

We'll be seeing more of this, I suspect:
President Donald Trump recounted an absolutely astounding detail about one of his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping in comments published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday afternoon.

Apparently, Trump came into his first meeting with the Chinese leader, in early April, convinced that China could simply eliminate the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program. Xi then patiently explained Chinese-Korean history to Trump — who then promptly changed his mind.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” the president told the Journal. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. ... But it’s not what you would think.”

Four quick observations about this:
  1. Trump thought China could fix North Korea until the Chinese president politely informed him that North Korea is in fact complicated.
  2. Trump seems to have required the leader of China to explain basic facts to him that he could have Googled, or at least asked one of the many US government North Korea experts about.
  3. Trump came to a profound realization about one of the most dangerous conflicts on earth after a 10-minute conversation.
  4. Trump is getting his information about East Asian affairs from the leader of America’s largest rival in the region.

This is the problem - one of the problems - with electing a president who makes George W. Bush look smart.

Incidentally, Trump also decided to abandon another of his campaign promises:
"On day one of a Trump administration, the US Treasury Department will designate China a currency manipulator," he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2015. In his Contract With the American Voter describing his plan for his first 100 days in office, he pledged: "I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator."

Well, it ain’t happening. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, President Trump said that he wasn’t in fact going to deem China a currency manipulator.

Yeah, like healthcare, "nobody knew" this stuff could be so complicated, huh?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Samantha Bee: Russian hacking

Samantha Bee is great, isn't she?

Of course, we've known about this Russian hacking for some time. But people don't like to think that they've been idiots. Often, even the victims of a scam don't like to admit that it happened.

So will this change anything? I doubt it.

Is the New Testament reliable?

Bart Ehrman gets pretty worked up here, but I understand it. Keep in mind that Ehrman does believe in a historical Jesus. That's not universal among scholars, although it's the majority position.

Who or what that Jesus was,... well, there's certainly no agreement about that, even among the people who think he actually existed.

And keep in mind that Ehrman was an evangelical Christian who became an expert in the New Testament for his faith. He lost that faith when he discovered too much about his own holy book, but he certainly didn't want to lose it. Just the reverse, in fact.

Finally, note that he talks about "scribal errors" in the Bible. But many of the most important of these weren't errors at all. They were deliberate changes.

For example: "Let the one who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her." That entire story was added later. It can hardly be an "error."

And the entire ending of the Gospel of Mark - the first gospel to be written - was added later, apparently because the original ending seemed appropriate only for fiction. (The women who supposedly witnessed the resurrection never told anyone about it, because they were afraid. The end.)

Ehrman gives other examples, including the justification for the whole idea of the Trinity. That's certainly not a minor issue, but it's clearly not an accidental "error," either. It was added to the original text deliberately, by some unknown person, for his own reasons.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Trump, O'Reilly, and Fox News

Fox News has long been the propaganda arm of the Republican Party (although we've never really known who was controlling whom). And although I'm glad to see advertisers abandoning O'Reilly, what took them so long?

Besides, you know that they won't be leaving Fox News. And you know that Fox will eventually replace O'Reilly with someone equally bad.

It's certainly no surprise that Trump and O'Reilly are in bed together. As I say, Fox News is the propaganda arm of the GOP, so what else would you expect?

Still, I'll laugh at all of them while I can still find something humorous about what's happening to my country.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

Is this the White House or the Kremlin?

Wow, this Russia stuff is just getting crazier and crazier. Comparing it to Watergate is minimizing the whole thing. This is about the influence of an unfriendly foreign power in the White House!

This article at TPM will make you think. I recommend that you read all of it. But let me just excerpt one part about one of the players involved - a protege of Michael Flynn (yes, that Michael Flynn) who still has access to top secret information:
[Ezra] Cohen-Watnick is a 30 year old Mike Flynn protege from the Defense Intelligence Agency who was brought in by Flynn to serve as the NSC's senior director for intelligence programs. H.R. McMaster tried to remove Cohen-Watnick after McMaster replaced Flynn as National Security Advisor. In that goal, McMaster apparently had the strong backing of Mike Pompeo, the Director of Central Intelligence. But Cohen-Watnick appealed his ouster to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. Bannon and Kushner went to Trump and Trump decided that Cohen-Watnick should stay in his position.

White House factional politics are not in themselves necessarily of great interest. But having two aides with no national security experience overrule the National Security Advisor on a key NSC personnel decision is rather remarkable - even more so when the person in question apparently had the job only due to the influence of the former national security advisor who resigned in disgrace and now is reportedly the target of multiple criminal and counter-intelligence probes.

That set of facts in itself raises a lot of alarm bells. Did Flynn's influence still extend into the White House's inner circle early this month, weeks after he was fired? Is Cohen-Watnick that important a loyalist that Bannon and Kushner would refuse to see him dismissed? Was he doing work at their behest? ...

In this latest turn of events, Cohen-Watnick apparently scanned through highly classified material looking for something to justify Trump's ridiculous wiretapping tweet. He then found a way to get that material to Devin Nunes when Nunes visited the White House in the middle of the night. Nunes then returned to the White House the next day to present the information to Trump. Again, it's not altogether clear to me whether Nunes or Trump actually realized that the material was of little real consequence and had no bearing on Trump's tweets. However that may be, at a minimum Cohen-Watnick was using his access to highly classified information to mount a political pushback campaign against the various Trump/Russia probes and quite likely breaking the law to do so.

But Bart Gellman, who has a very granular understanding of the modalities and rules tied to handling this kind of material, suggests an additional possibility: that Cohen-Watnick et al. had this material because they were using their privileged access to the nation's top secrets to keep tabs on the FBI's investigation of Trump and his top associates.

There are at least two parts of this that should worry us. The first is that the Trump White House seems ridiculously unconcerned with Russian connections to people with access to highly classified intelligence material - an issue that does worry the professionals at the CIA and NSC, apparently, but not the president or his political appointees.

But the second part is that Donald Trump and/or his political appointees seem to be trying to use those highly classified intelligence findings for political gain - or, rather, political cover. Trump keeps calling these people "whistleblowers," but that's not the correct word for people who are leaking information at the direction of the White House itself.

Whistleblowers leak information which the White House, or other governmental agencies, don't want released. When you're sifting through top secret documents looking for ways to defend your boss - or just trying to give him advanced warning of anything incriminating which might be uncovered by an investigation - that's not "whistleblowing."

Meanwhile, of course, Republican politicians couldn't care less about any of this, except for the possibility that it could damage them politically. So they're far less eager to investigate Trump than to cover for him and sweep it all under the rug.

(Admittedly, I'm sure that most of them would rather have Mike Pence as president. But impeaching Trump would leave a stink behind that other Republican politicians wouldn't exactly welcome. So who knows?)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Home of the Brave

This cartoon is a few years old, but it's even more fitting today, don't you think?

FFRF and the Ark Encounter

This is basically an advertisement for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but it's important - especially in this time of widespread science-denial from the White House on down.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Art of the Deal Con

And no, Donald Trump has no shame. Admittedly, shame is in very short supply in the entire Republican Party.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Eric Hovind and dinosaur farts

I thought this was funny,... but sad, too. I wonder how many people get their 'science' from Christian apologists like these who are completely ignorant of the subject, themselves?

Even when you get your science from the media, you need to realize that journalists aren't scientists (and I'm not sure that tabloid journalists are even journalists).

The goal of scientists is to be precise. The goal of journalists is to attract paying customers with sensational stories. Most journalists try to be accurate, I'm sure, but they're not scientists, and strict scientific accuracy isn't their primary goal.

But you only have to know a little about Eric Hovind in order to laugh at the idea of him criticizing scientists, anyway!

Trumpcare and the Three-Bucket Strategy

It's Seth Meyers again. And yes, this is the Republican Party's Three-Bucket Strategy:
  • Bucket #1: Repeal Obamacare
  • Bucket #2: Gut Medicaid
  • Bucket #3: End Medicare

Unfortunately, we seem to be focusing all our attention on that first bucket, without giving anywhere near enough attention to the other two.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One of the greatest thefts in American politics

This is all great, but I have to emphasize Seth Meyer's point from later in the video: "Of course, Republicans are probably so giddy during the hearings because they knew they were getting away with one of the greatest thefts in modern politics, the stealing of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court from President Obama."

And remember: "Fundamentally, these hearings are awkward because we're in the unprecedented situation of a president trying to fill a stolen Supreme Court seat while under the cloud of an FBI investigation."

This Supreme Court seat wasn't just stolen by the Republican Party, it was stolen with the active help of Vladimir Putin, the dictator of Russia!

What has happened to my country? What is happening to my country? And what will continue to happen to my country over the next four years - and over the next 30 years or more with another right-wing extremist on the Supreme Court?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The only true surprise?

The only true surprise? Well, very little surprises me these days, and idiots in the White House isn't one of them.

Of course, I was surprised when we actually elected the Idiot in Chief. After that, I'm not sure what it would take to actually surprise me.

Donald Trump lies on Twitter during a Congressional hearing on his Twitter lies!

Crazy, isn't it? This is just a very small part of last night's Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but it points out one of the most absurd things about all this. Donald Trump lied on Twitter during the Congressional hearing called, at least in part, to refute his previous lie on Twitter!

Does it get any crazier than this? Yes, it probably does, doesn't it? And Trump will undoubtedly demonstrate that (again!) within a few days, at most.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

White House cites parody as news article

The only good thing about the Trump administration is that it gives us many reasons to laugh (while we're crying for our country).

From TPM:
The White House cited a parody article published in the Washington Post as support for President Donald Trump's proposed budget.

The article, "Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why,” was penned by the Post’s Alexandra Petri for her “ComPost” column.

“This budget will make America a lean, mean fighting machine with bulging, rippling muscles and not an ounce of fat,” Petri wrote in the article. “America has been weak and soft for too long. BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.”

Petri then ran down a list of agencies that would be affected by Trump’s budget draft.

“There will be no LABOR in the future,” she wrote of proposed cuts to the Department of Labor. “Labor is what women do, I think. All fetuses will burst out of wombs brandishing an Uzi on each arm. (Also, we will cut the funding to the people who would have explained that this is not how birth or labor works.)”

The White House included the article at the bottom of its “1600 Daily” newsletter. (Here’s an archived copy.)

I don't want to give the Trump administration too much credit, but it's hard to believe that even they were stupid enough to think that this article was actually pro-Trump.

I think it's more likely that they just read the headline and picked it from that (probably because they couldn't find anything else that seemed to support their cruel, ignorant, and crazy budget plan).

But it is funny, at least. And in Trump's America, I really, really need the ability to laugh.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Should we just let poor people die?

The other day, I posted a video by John Oliver about the Republican healthcare bill (and I listed Trump's healthcare promises here), but I thought I'd add this one by Trevor Noah, too.

Partly, that's because The Daily Show is now on YouTube, which makes it a lot easier to embed videos. But also, I wanted to point out that example of a 64-year-old making $26,000, who would pay nearly $15,000 a year for health insurance under the Republican plan.

Who could do that? Well, no one, basically. That's just one reason why 24 million people will lose their health insurance. But the extremely wealthy will make out like bandits.

And that's Republican Party policy in a nutshell, Trump or no Trump.

Democrats suck at voting

Samantha Bee is exactly right. Democrats suck at voting. Even now! Even after 2000, 2010, 2014, and 2016.

How depressing is that? Protesting is great, but it's going to be absolutely useless without voting - and voting for the Democratic alternative when you do. (If you want better alternatives, vote in the primary, too!)

This isn't rocket science, people. In a democracy, we get the kind of governments we deserve.

Monday, March 13, 2017

John Oliver: The American Health Care Act

Yesterday, I listed the promises that Donald Trump has made about healthcare. Well, this is what Republicans are pushing and Trump is supporting.

Yeah, I don't even want to think about this crap anymore. It's too depressing. But we have to. Apathy is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Donald Trump's healthcare promises


TPM ran a contest asking readers for quotes from Donald Trump about his healthcare promises. These are what he claimed Republicans would do:
Late Update: TPM Reader JF strikes early with a great contest entry. 1/15/17 Donald J. Trump: "We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” ...

Latter Update: Oooooo ... TPM Reader NH is bringing it! 2/19/16: "Obamacare has to go. We can't afford it. It's no good. You're going to end up with great healthcare for a fraction of the price. And that's going to take place immediately after we go in. Okay? Immediately. Fast Quick." (CSPAN, Timestamp 34:23)

Entry #3: "Everybody's got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, "No, no, the lower 25 percent that can't afford private. But-- ... I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now." - 60 Minutes, September 27, 2015. TPM Reader MM.

Entry #4: "We're gonna come up with a new plan that's going to be better health care for more people at a lesser cost." ABC News, 1/25/17. TPM Reader JH.

Entry #5: "There are people who say everybody should have a great, wonderful, private plan, and if you can't afford that, and there is a percentage, a fairly large percentage that can't afford it, then those people don't get taken care of. That's wrong. We're going to take care of that through the Medicaid system. We’re going to take care of those people. We have no choice." Dr. Oz, 9/15/16. TPM Reader JN.

Entry #6: "The new plan is good. It's going to be inexpensive. It's going to be much better for the people at the bottom, people that don't have any money. We're going to take care of them through maybe concepts of Medicare. Now, some people would say, "that's not a very Republican thing to say." That's not single payer, by the way. That's called heart. We gotta take care of people that can't take care of themselves." CNN GOP Townhall, 2/17-18/16. TPM Reader BS.

Entry #7: "I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid." 5/21/15. The Daily Signal. TPM Reader WM.

Of course, it doesn't matter if Republicans lie, right? We expect that. We certainly expect lies from Donald Trump. It's pretty much front-page news when he doesn't lie. And he never pays a price for that.

Nevertheless, I think it's important to document their promises.

PS. Note that Republicans in Congress are already talking about cutting Medicare and Medicaid, and their plan already starts depleting the Medicare trust fund.

Do I need to remind you that none of them actually campaigned on cutting Medicare and Medicaid?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Michael Flynn is a foreign agent

Michael Flynn, Trump's first National Security Advisor, was a foreign agent.

That's not me saying that, it's not the Democrats, and it's not the 'liberal media.' It's Flynn himself, who has just registered - retroactively - as a foreign agent!

This video clip is from Fox News, no less. Admittedly, it's Shep Smith, who's almost certainly the best of a bad lot at Fox. But this is surprisingly strong language, isn't it? "There's been a lot of lying. There's been lying about who you talk to, and by lots of people. And almost inevitably, and invariably, they were lying about talking to the Russians,... about something. It's too much lying and too much Russia and too much smoke."

Again, this is Fox News talking about a Republican president! But then, the Trump presidency seems to be melting down right in front of us. Meanwhile, Republican politicians everywhere continue quietly working in the background to do as much damage as they can to our country.

Edit: My first video embedded here didn't last long. The whole channel was removed by YouTube!  I don't know if this one will last much longer, and I can't find this clip on the official channel of Fox News. (They seem to be pushing a much stronger pro-Trump view there.) But we'll see.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Donald Trump, troll

I watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah every morning (on the Comedy Central website), but I just discovered they have a brand-new YouTube channel, with excerpts. And I like how Noah describes this.

Yes, Donald Trump is a proven troll who tries to distract from the last crazy thing he said by saying something even crazier. And so far, that's worked for him. The news media eagerly report it and willingly follow Trump off on a new tangent. Every time.

And then, the next week, they do it all over again. None of it ever sticks. Indeed, whenever Trump doesn't show complete insanity - for a brief period of time - the media are all about how presidential he seems, speculating on a 'new' Donald Trump which turns out to be just as imaginary as Trump's stupid claims.

The Republican Party has long put political ambition ahead of country, so of course they go along with it. And Trump's supporters are entirely faith-based, so none of this matters to them. Meanwhile, liberals bicker among themselves, and 90 million Americans can't even be bothered to get off the couch and vote.

We're doomed.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Conspiracy Enthusiast in Chief, Donald Trump

It just gets worse and worse, doesn't it? Donald Trump is getting more and more unhinged, and less and less connected to reality.

Trump treats the presidency as just another 'reality TV' show. And he treats every human being as if we were all among his dimmest, most gullible supporters. He's a scam-artist, and not even a very good one.

But scam-artists deliberately look for the dumbest people to scam. Those emails from Nigerian princes? Scammers know that they won't fool everyone, but they don't have to fool everyone. And neither does Trump, especially when more than 90 million Americans can't even be bothered to vote.

Edit: The first video clip I embedded here quickly disappeared, as YouTube closed the entire channel. At this point, I'm not sure which video it even was. And I'm not sure if this one will last much longer. But we'll see.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stonekettle Station

Stonekettle Station is a blog after my own heart. Well, I don't know what the blogger, Jim Wright, thinks about most things, since I just discovered it. (Thanks, Kate!) But I certainly agree with his most recent posts.

For example, let me point out a few excerpts from his most recent post about Donald Trump. (It's a long post - Wright is even more long-winded than I am - and definitely worth a full read. But there were certain parts that reminded me of... well, me.)
Conservatives, and many liberals too, have been conditioned by three generations of fear-mongering. It’s always something. Always something to be afraid of. Commies and Rooskies, Red Chinamen and Black Panthers, Ebola, the brown horde south of the border, gangs and gays and atheism, with terrorists around every corner. It’s always something with these people. Seventy-five years ago, in America’s darkest hour, a withered crippled man in a wheelchair told Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself, and Americans hitched up their pants and squared their shoulders and faced their fears. But today? Today the politicians tell the people to be afraid. Nowadays we have entire media networks dedicated to inventing things to fear, from Truthers to Pizzagate. Americans as a people are addicted to being afraid, as a nation we embrace fear, we wallow in it, but conservatives? Conservatives own the market. Hell, they even fear their God. Fear is the very cornerstone of their religion, fear of a crazy genocidal unpredictable deity who just might wipe out the entire nation because he’s mad about the idea of gay people or socialism.

Republicans have been leveraging that fear to get elected for decades, they’re coming for your guns, they coming for your religion, they’re coming for your daughters, they’re coming for your jobs, they’re coming for your way of life. Be afraid! Be afraid!

Trump was just better at tapping into that fear than anybody else.

That sounds like me, doesn't it? Well, better written, of course. But it's exactly what I would say. It's exactly what I do say.

Many Republican leaders opposed Trump because they thought he was too blatant with the bigotry and fear-mongering. But Trump has apparently shown that you can't be too blatant about appealing to the fears the GOP has been pushing for decades.

Franklin D. Roosevelt could stand up (figuratively) and call on Americans to resist fear. It was Hitler who pushed fear and bigotry and hatred, not the American president. What has happened to us?
[Donald Trump] promised to round up and deport violent gang members and dangerous criminals and rapists. Because who isn’t afraid of that, right?

I don’t think any of us, conservative or liberal, would have a problem with rounding up criminals, but ICE isn’t raiding East LA or the South Side of Chicago and clearing the streets of gangbangers. We not bussing truck loads of Sinaloa Cartel and Mexican Mafia to the border, are we?

Instead Trump is making America safe by deporting people with brain tumors, day laborers, and arresting housewives as they pick their kids up from school. ...

As if you want to actually live in a country that would let a person die of a brain tumor over politics, as if we are really – really – going to use the (alleged) money saved by letting this women die to save an actual American child. Because we’re not going to do that either. We used to be the place that happily took in these people. We were famous for it. It says so right on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty.

The hell kind of a country, the hell kind of people, arrests a woman dying of a brain tumor and throws her in jail for deportation?

We’re not rounding up criminals, we’re deporting children and sick people who never wanted anything but a better life.

But they're scary brown people, right? They're Mexicans! They're undocumented immigrants. They're automatically scary to white bigots.

Last night, in his speech to Congress, Donald Trump announced a new government office to report and highlight crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, as if crimes committed by native-born Americans were somehow less evil and their victims less important.

Imagine if he had announced an office to report and highlight crimes committed by Jews. What would you have thought of that? Jews do commit crimes, sometimes. Shouldn't we be concerned about that? Shouldn't the victims of their crimes be recognized?

Obviously (I hope it's obvious), there's a problem with that. That's the kind of thing the Nazis would have done, to push fear of Jews. That's the kind of thing Trump's many neo-Nazi supporters would probably like to see even now. But can you imagine the uproar if he'd done that?

Donald Trump is establishing this office not to help the victims of crimes, but to push fear of undocumented immigrants and for his own political benefit. He doesn't give a crap about the victims of crimes, or he wouldn't make such a big deal about this particular category of criminal - especially since undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit such crimes than anyone else.

Go ahead, create a federal office for reporting and highlighting crimes committed by Jews. Let's see how that works, shall we? If this isn't about bigotry and fear-mongering, let's see what people would think then.
This is what you get when you elect a leader out of fear.

This is what you get when you cater to the basest elements of society.

This is what you get when you hire an amateur to run the most complex country in history.

This is what you get when liberals and progressives and rational conservatives don’t show up. ...

Trump should be constrained by Congress.

But he’s not.


Because liberals didn’t show up in 2010 or 2014. That’s why.

Because conservatives keep electing their representatives out of fear.

Because we keep catering to the lowest common denominator.

The Electoral College determines the president, but it’s the popular vote that determines your Senators and Representatives. And in the elections where the popular vote actually matters, well, liberals didn’t show up.

And so we have a House led by a Tea Party hack and a Senate run by a self-serving power-mad ideologue who’d rather burn the country to the ground out of pure spite than compromise with anybody. Our representatives, the congressmen who are supposed to be our voice, they don’t show up for town hall meetings because they don’t want to hear what we have to say, because they’re actually afraid of us, because they don’t even have the guts to face the kind of crowd any women has to push through just to get a goddamned pap smear from Planned Parenthood.

And it’s that way because liberals didn’t show up when the popular vote actually mattered.

Conservatives, they always show up. Always.

They’re afraid not to.

But here’s the real problem, liberals don’t show up at the state level.

I've been saying this for awhile now, haven't I? Maybe not as well, but I've been saying it. 90 million people didn't even bother to vote in November. Donald Trump is their fault, and the fault of every single American who was eligible to vote, but didn't actually vote for Hillary Clinton.

But Trump by himself couldn't do much of anything. We wouldn't be so worried if he didn't have a Congress firmly in Republican hands. And that's the fault of every person who didn't vote (or didn't vote Democratic) in November and in 2014 and 2010, too (since Senate terms are eight years long).

If you didn't vote, this is your fault. And every Republican Senator elected in November will remain in office for the next eight years, so this won't be quick to fix even if every non-voter suddenly pulled his head out of his ass (which I'm not expecting).
Liberals are going to lose … well, everything. All the gains of the last eight years.

And they haven’t got anybody to blame but themselves.

Right now, liberals, progressive, democrats, and the more rational centrist conservatives are all fighting among themselves.

They’ve had since November to get over their defeat and get organized and get a plan on the table and get to work. Time’s a wasting, folks. But liberals haven’t done any better at getting organized than Donald Trump has at organizing his administration.

Two days ago, the DNC elected itself a new Chairman, and predictably liberals fell to fighting amongst themselves. They’re all bitching and moaning and rehashing the election, slinging blame and arguing over candidates that are long lost and who will never be president.

And they’ll still be fighting when Trump wins his second term unless they pull their heads out of their asses right now.

Gee, he even uses my phrasing, doesn't he?

But this is no laughing matter. Wright goes on to say that we have to "compromise with fear." I'm not sure I agree with that, but we are going to have to compromise. Democracies are all about compromise.

The whole point of government by the majority (the majority who show up) is that not everyone gets his own way. We're social animals. We live with other people. In order to live in peace with other people, we have to accept that not everyone is going to agree with us.

And in order to accomplish anything at all, you can't demand to get your own way. You have to work with people who agree with you on many things, even if they don't agree with you about everything. And you have to understand that progress is slow and halting and difficult,... but also quite possible, if we can just stop fighting among ourselves over how quickly we get there!

Because, if we keep fighting among ourselves, we'll never see any progress at all. Indeed, as we're already seeing, we're going to be going backwards.

And again, we have to show up!
All politics are local.

Liberals, progressives, democrats, are going to have to show up. At town halls. At community meetings. At local elections. At school boards. Everywhere in that sea of red, and they are gong to have to address those fears.

Stonekettle Station is an excellent blog. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Seth Andrews: a secular State of the Union Address

This is a great speech, isn't it? But in America, no president would ever be elected who could give it, even if he believed every bit of it.

Of course, we've actually got a president who doesn't believe any of it. Now, thanks to 90 million Americans who couldn't even be bothered to vote, we've got the worst president in U.S. history, a president whose speeches are just the reverse of this one.

As Seth Andrews demonstrates, we've still got good people in America. But we've got an uphill struggle now.

Monday, February 27, 2017

John Oliver: Obamacare

One of the ways in which John Oliver distinguishes himself from the competition is in taking the time for an in-depth look at issues like this.

It's still less than 20 minutes, but that's a lot for a single video clip. He doesn't even break up these videos into smaller pieces in order to get more ad revenue!

I should note that I've had a Health Savings Account for years. They're worthless. They're exactly the wrong way to get health care. And Oliver mentioned some of the reasons why.

But there's another reason. Health Savings Accounts discourage you from getting health care, because you are paying for every doctors visit. Now, sure, that keeps you from getting medical care for every little thing, but it also encourages you to delay long enough for a minor condition to become a major one.

Ordinary health insurance - including what you get in 'Obamacare' plans - has co-pay requirements, so that you won't go to the doctor every other day, just because of the cute receptionist. But they don't encourage you to say away from doctors entirely.

And health insurance isn't expensive because of too many doctors visits. It's expensive because of cancer, heart disease, and other extremely costly conditions, often near the end of your life, which modern medical care can treat these days.

For lower cost and better outcomes, we'd be better off encouraging more doctors visits in the hope of catching these conditions early. Health Savings Accounts encourage just the reverse, unless you're wealthy enough that the cost of health care doesn't really matter at all to you.

Health Savings Accounts might be the absolute worst way to manage health care. Indeed, they might be worse than having no health care plan at all, since the rich use them to avoid paying taxes. And despite what Republicans tell you, we do need taxes.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Another child abuse scandal

This is a difficult article to read. It's another inquiry into child sexual abuse, this time of the 150,000 children sent abroad from the UK after World War II.

Those children weren't all abused, and not all of the perpetrators were from religious institutions. But many were. And the stories are horrendous!

For example, there's this one from Clifford Walsh:
He is now 72. Fremantle is where, in 1954, aged nine, he stepped off the ship from London, looking for the sheep he'd been told outnumbered people in Australia 100 to one.

He ended up at a place called Bindoon.

The Catholic institution known at one point as Bindoon Boys Town is now notorious. Based around an imposing stone mansion in the Australian countryside, 49 miles north of Perth, are buildings Walsh and his fellow child migrants were forced to build, barefoot, starting work the day after they arrived.

The Christian Brothers ruled the place with the aim of upholding order and a moral code. Within two days of arriving he says he received his first punishment at the hands of one of the brothers.

"He punched us, he kicked us, smashed us in the face, back-handed us and everything, and he then sat us on his knee to tell us that he doesn't like to hurt children, but we had been bad boys.

"I was sobbing uncontrollably for hours."

His story is deeply distressing. He tells it with a particularly Australian directness. He is furious.

He describes one brother luring him into his room with the promise he could have some sweet molasses - normally fed, not to the boys, but the cows. The man sexually abused him.

He claims another brother raped him, and a third beat him mercilessly after falsely accusing him of having sex with another boy.

"We had no parents, we had no relatives, there was nowhere we could go, these brothers - these paedophiles - must have thought they were in hog heaven."

He has accused the brothers at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the first time he has fully disclosed his experiences.

At the time he says: "I was too terrified to report the abuse. I knew no other life.

"I've lived 60 odd years with this hate, I can't have a normal sexual relationship because I don't like to hold people," says Walsh. "My own wife, I couldn't hug."

He was troubled by all the memories.

"I couldn't show any affection. Stuff like that only reminded me of what the brothers would do all the time."

Bindoon is now a Catholic College. Again, not every person who raped children was a priest. And not every priest rapes children - far from it. But these are people who get respect just because of who they are.

Churches expect - and almost always get - our automatic respect. They claim to be our moral leaders, and nearly everyone seems to go along with that. Certainly, the news media and our politicians do. The religious section of my local newspaper is titled "Faith and Values." Church leaders regularly claim that 'you can't be moral without God.'

And yet:
The Australian Royal Commission recently estimated that 7% of the country's Catholic priests were involved in child abuse.

And such is the scope of sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic and Anglican churches in the UK that entire strands of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse are dedicated to them.

This story is horrific for many different reasons, and it wasn't just the churches who let such things happen to children, but the British government, too. Child rape is vile no matter who does it. I don't mean to imply otherwise.

But religious groups are different, because they claim to have the high ground. They claim to be our moral leaders. They claim to have an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving deity on their side. Well, where was he when children were being raped by his own priests?

The Catholic Church, in particular, tells us that contraception is immoral, that abortion is immoral, that homosexuality is immoral. Well, why should we listen to anything they say, when priests were not only raping children, but the church was helping them by covering it up and moving those priests to new, unsuspecting parishes where they could find fresh victims?

Of course, it's not just the Catholics, and it's not just Christian churches. But it's Christian churches here, in English-speaking parts of the world. And the Catholics have a rigid hierarchy that many Protestant denominations don't have (especially the smaller sects). With power comes responsibility.

And again, if you really do have an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving deity on your side, where the fuck was he? Your god would not be worth my worship even if he did exist. (Of course, if you've ever bothered to read your own Bible, you'd already know that.)

It is long past the time when we should have stopped giving churches and church leaders our automatic respect. If you want our respect, earn it.

It is long past the time when we should have stopped accepting the claims of religious leaders about morality. They know no more about morality than the rest of us, and many of them have demonstrated that they know far less.

It is long past the time when we should have stopped accepting all of their claims, without good evidence first backing up those claims. If child rape won't open our eyes, what will?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Skepticrat: Russian to conclusions

This is the Skepticrat rundown on Donald Trump's first solo press conference, nine days ago. I've been waiting for this!

Yes, I've talked about it before, but this crazy mess has not received nearly as much attention as it should have. (Come on, SNL! Where are you?)

Note that this is a podcast, so it's audio only, but I'm a big fan of these guys (who also do the hilarious Scathing Atheist and God Awful Movies podcasts).

Friday, February 24, 2017

One more step towards fascism

Wow! Donald Trump is getting scarier and scarier, isn't he? As I said before, we are lurching towards fascism.

Is this jailing and killing reporters? No, of course not. Not yet, at least. But this is how fascism comes to a country, one small step at a time.

If we don't object - loudly, vociferously, determinedly - there will be another step. And then another. And another.

Note: I just finished reading The Fugitive by Robert L. Fish, an old (1962) mystery about Nazis trying to reestablish the Reich in Brazil. (It's a good read.)

The first part of the book is set in 1939, when a Nazi party official visits Brazil. He complains about how everyone is against them, he claims that it's all a conspiracy, and he brags that they're going to make Germany great again.

I'm paraphrasing, but that's still what he was saying. It was all anger and resentment and boasting.

I had to put the book down for awhile, because it was almost identical to what we've been hearing from the Trump administration. All you'd have to do is replace "Germany" with "America," and it could have been Donald Trump, word for word. I'm not kidding. I'm not even exaggerating. It was eerie. And frightening.

Later in the book, after World War II, the Nazis want to prohibit Jewish immigration to Brazil. But they know they can't get Brazil to do that directly, so they just try to prohibit immigration from those specific countries where they'd expect Jews to be emigrating.

In effect, their plan is exactly the same as Trump's plan to keep Muslims from immigrating to America. If you just changed "Jew" to "Muslim," it would be identical.

This wasn't a big part of the book - it was just mentioned in passing - but again, it was bizarre. It was like reading Donald Trump's playbook, only coming from a Nazi character in a work of fiction more than a half-century ago.

I know about Godwin's Law and all, but sometimes, it really seems appropriate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

An Index to Creationist Claims

This isn't anything brand-new, but I thought I'd point out this website: An Index to Creationist Claims.

If you've ever talked to Creationists, you'll know that most of them don't even have a fifth-grade level understanding of evolution. Many don't even know what evolution is. I'm no biologist, but that's been obvious even to me.

And you'll hear from these people lots of different arguments for why evolution is wrong. (Oddly enough - or maybe it's not surprising at all - you never seem to hear an argument for why Creationism is true. They seem to think that disproving evolution would magically make their own beliefs valid. Obviously, it doesn't work like that.)

Still, it's rather shocking to see all of the claims of Creationists on the same web page! I didn't realize there were that many of them. Heh, heh. But I love how the website handles these claims.

Click on a particular claim and you'll go to a page that clearly, and succinctly, describes everything you need to know. First, it repeats the claim and gives a source for the claim (just one source; many of these claims can be found all over the internet).

Then it lists one or more brief responses. These really are brief, and I love that. I should learn from this website! (But I know I won't.) Typically, a response seems to be all you need to know in the shortest version possible.

But after that, there are links and/or references for further research, so if you do need to know more, you can find much longer explanations (often scientific reference materials).

I've had this web page bookmarked for some time, but I don't use it much. (As I say, most arguments by Creationists require only a fifth-grade level understanding of evolution to refute.) However, it's a fascinating page to browse.

Take a look. It's really quite interesting, isn't it? I'm impressed!

Monday, February 20, 2017

John Oliver: A man like Putin

The funny thing is that the comments section of this video clip is overrun with pro-Putin trolls claiming that his critics "are all Jews" and otherwise pushing the idea that Putin's Russia is no different from America.

Clearly, we need John Oliver, don't we?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bill Maher: The Magic R

I have some big problems with Bill Maher, but when he's right, he's right. I've never understood this either. Can you imagine if a Democrat were playing footsie with Vladimir Putin?

And that's only one example among many, throughout the Republican Party.

PS. My thanks to Jeff for the link!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Candidate Donald Trump attacks President Donald Trump

Maybe Donald Trump isn't stupid, he's just channeling the future? Nah, he's stupid.

As America lurches towards fascism


From the BBC:
At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.

Being branded an "enemy of the people" by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.

Now the chilling phrase - which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called "hostis publicus", enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 - is making something of a comeback.

In November, the UK Daily Mail used its entire front page to brand three judges "enemies of the people" following a legal ruling on the Brexit process.

Then on Friday, President Donald Trump deployed the epithet against mainstream US media outlets that he sees as hostile.

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he wrote on Twitter. ...

Steve Silberman, an award-winning writer and journalist, wondered whether the remark would prompt Trump supporters to shoot at journalists.

And that might not be a far-fetched concern. Late last year, a Trump supporter opened fire in a pizza restaurant at the centre of a bizarre conspiracy theory about child abuse.

The US president's use of "enemies of the people" raises unavoidable echoes of some of history's most murderous dictators.

Under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, out-of-favour artists and politicians were designated enemies and many were sent to hard labour camps or killed. Others were stigmatised and denied access to education and employment.

And Chairman Mao, the leader of China who presided over the deaths of millions of people in a famine brought about by his Great Leap Forward, was also known to use the phrase against anyone who opposed him, with terrible consequences. ...

Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: "The most dangerous 'enemy of the people' is presidential lying - always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon's."

Is Donald Trump really that ignorant, that he doesn't realize the historical significance of "enemy of the people"? That's how dictators talk.

Donald Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party want you to get your 'news' directly from him, without anyone pointing out when Trump lies. That's fascist thinking.

Rep. Lamar Smith, from Texas, actually said, "Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth." Believe it or not, this is the guy Republicans put in charge of the House Science Committee!

Keep in mind that this is the president who readily repeats lies with the justification that he saw or heard them somewhere. And that's where we Americans are supposed to get "the unvarnished truth"? Really?

We're still less than one month into this pathetic, dangerous excuse for a presidency. How crazy can it get?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jake Tapper: the difference between conspiracy theories and news stories

I'm not too familiar with Jake Tapper - and not especially fond of CNN in general - but here's another video clip I stumbled upon today. And I have to admit that I'm impressed.

Donald Trump doesn't seem to have intimidated these guys - not yet, at least. Of course, Trump's record low approval ratings might have something to do with that, I don't know. But I'm trying to praise Tapper here, not cast doubts on his motives. Nice job!

Still,... this is Donald Trump, a Republican so crazy that even Fox News calls him out on his lies:

Yes, that's Shep Smith, who's easily the best of the worst at Fox News, but nonetheless, this is unprecedented, isn't it? Have you ever heard Fox News say anything like this about another Republican, let alone a Republican president?

President Trump's first solo press conference

Yesterday, Donald Trump's first solo press conference as president was just crazy piled on top of crazy. As others have said, it was unhinged. It was nonstop whining. And it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

If this didn't scare you about the future of our country, nothing will. And we're not even a month into his presidency yet!

I can't even begin to recount all of the lunacy he displayed here. TPM has posted the 8 Craziest Moments and 5 Overlooked Asides, but even those barely scratch the surface. It was just nuts! SNL will have to devote an entire show to this press conference if they hope to come even close to the insanity of the real thing.

This is one of the best reactions, for its brief length, from Jake Tapper at CNN:

"It was Festivus." Heh, heh. Now, that was funny. But his point was very serious.

"At one point he said that the leaks were real but the news was fake, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever." Tapper is right. If it's fake, it's not a leak.

You can't claim that the intelligence community is leaking classified data while also claiming that news organizations are lying when they report it. Yet that's exactly what Trump has been claiming.

Tapper mentions Peter Alexander at NBC, and the clip below shows that brief segment of the news conference.

Remember, after the election, Donald Trump bragged and bragged about winning one of the biggest electoral college margins in history, while also claiming that he won the popular vote. Neither of those claims was true - not even close!

Recently, he's dialed back the first of those claims, maybe because it was so ludicrously false. But he replaced it with a claim that was just as demonstrably false, that he had the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.

That "304 or 306" stuff is because Trump didn't even get that part right. He's repeatedly claimed that he got 306 electoral votes, when he actually got 304. But that's hardly the main thing here. I mean, at this point, no one is going to expect Donald Trump to get numbers right.

But he claimed, as he has been claiming, that he won the biggest electoral college victory since Reagan. Alexander started to correct him, mentioning one of Barack Obama's wins (both were bigger than Trump's), when Trump interrupted to change that claim to just Republican wins. But even that isn't true, which Alexander noted when he finished his sentence.

"So why should Americans trust you, when you accuse the information they receive as being fake, when you're providing information that's not accurate?" Good question, isn't it?

But like everything else where Donald Trump has been demonstrably wrong, he shrugs it off as just something 'he was given.'  "Actually, I've seen that information around." But the point is that it's not true.

We've seen this over and over again, throughout the campaign and right into the presidency. We saw it when he falsely claimed to have seen thousands of American Muslims cheering on 9/11. We saw it when he claimed that he actually won the popular vote, because 3-5 million people voted illegally.

Over and over again, Donald Trump either lies or is just too stupid to separate fantasy from reality. I don't know which it is, but it's scary as hell, either way, given that he's now President of the United States.

PS. Please note that Trump is holding a 2020 campaign rally in Florida tomorrow! Yes, this is an actual campaign rally, paid for by his 2020 presidential campaign, less than one month into his term of office. How crazy is that?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Arab "sex mob" story wasn't true

These days, deliberate lying about immigrants and refugees seems to be more widespread than it's ever been - at least, since the days of Nazi Germany.

From the Washington Post:
On Feb. 6, Germany's most-read newspaper reported that dozens of Arab men, presumed to be refugees, had rampaged through the city of Frankfurt on New Year's Eve. The men were said to have sexually assaulted women as they went through the streets; the newspaper dubbed them the Fressgass “sex mob,” referring to an upmarket shopping street in the city.

Bild's report sparked widespread concern in Germany. The nation has taken in millions of migrants over the past few years, and there had been reports of a similar incidents in Cologne and other cities the previous New Year's Eve.

But police investigating the crime now say that the allegations included in the article are “without foundation.”

According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, the witnesses who spoke to reporters may be investigated themselves. Bild has now deleted the story from its website. The paper's online editor in chief on Tuesday said that the company apologized “for our own work.”

It's admirable that the newspaper apologized for the false story and deleted it from their website. But that won't undo the damage that it's done - and that it will continue to do.

These kinds of stories never die. They just continue to get passed around by people who don't know that they're false and by people who do know they're false but are fine with deliberately lying to push their ideological agenda.
There have been plenty of false stories about refugees and migrants in Germany over the past few years, in large part a reflection of divisive political views on the issue within the country and the increasingly fragmented world of online media. They include the story of the “Allahu akbar”-chanting mob that set Germany’s oldest church alight (quickly proved false), for example, or the refugee who took a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was accused of terrorism links (again false).

But most of these stories have been driven by social media or spread by ideological websites like Breitbart.

Fox News was bad enough. Now we've got Breitbart. Not only that, Breitbart is in the White House, advising Donald Trump. Breitbart has been given political power at the highest levels of our government. Lying racists have taken control of America.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump at Mar-a-Lago

This is just a brief video, but IMHO, the subject hasn't received nearly enough attention. Of course, that's not surprising, given all of the other crap going on with Donald Trump.

Still, Republicans complained nonstop about Hillary Clinton's email server. Well, she never in her life did anything this reckless with our national security. And this situation doesn't even have anything to do with Vladimir Putin!

Incidentally, I wonder how much money Trump is making from the presidency? Even during the campaign, he was charging high rates when using his own properties. Now, he's holding events at his own golf club and charging the military rent in his office tower.

We might never get to see his past tax returns, but it would be very interesting to compare them with what he's making now, don't you think? He seems to be using the government as his own piggy bank and the presidency as free advertising.

This is about Trump

As bad as I expected a Trump presidency to be, it's been even worse than that. And we're not even a month into it yet!

And we're still speculating about how much Donald Trump and/or his advisors have been working with the Russians to damage America! Imagine that if it were a Democrat, rather than a Republican, in office!

Now that Trump's National Security Advisor has resigned in disgrace, Josh Marshall explains what's really the problem here:
The truth is Michael Flynn does not matter. We have before us a question that has stood before us, centerstage, for something like a year, brazen and shameless and yet too baffling and incredible to believe: Donald Trump's bizarre and unexplained relationship with Russia and its strongman Vladimir Putin.

It is almost beyond imagining that a National Security Advisor could be forced to resign amidst a counter-intelligence investigation into his communications and ties to a foreign adversary. The National Security Advisor is unique in the national security apparatus. He or she is the organizer, synthesizer and conduit to the President for information from all the various agencies and departments with a role in national security. This person must be able to know everything. The power and trust accorded this person are immeasurable. It is only really comparable to the President. And yet, we are talking about the President. A staffer or appointee can be dismissed. The President is the ultimate constitutional officer. ...

...the circumstantial evidence, the unexplained actions, the unheard of spectacle of a foreign power subverting a US election while the beneficiary of the interference aggressively and openly makes the case for the culprit, the refusal to make even the most elementary forms of disclosure which could clarify the President's financial ties - they are so multifaceted and abundant it is almost impossible to believe they are mere random and chance occurrences with no real set of connections behind them. ...

If you were Vladimir Putin you could not have done more to help the cause of Donald Trump. And if you were Trump, you could not have done more in actions and statements to repay the favor. The only question is whether the trajectory of perfectly interlocked actions were simply chance or tacit. Is it even remotely credible that with everything that led up to it, Michael Flynn initiated and conducted this back channel on his own? Hardly. It's crazy that we're having this conversation about a sitting President. But here we are. It's time. We need to know the answer to this question.

And how are Republicans responding? You know, the political party which held seven investigations into Benghazi, none of which found anything they could blame on Hillary Clinton? That same political party which chanted "lock her up" over emails - emails! - supplied to them by Vladimir Putin (dropping the whole thing like a hot potato after the election was over)?

You could probably guess, huh?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on the Flynn affair: "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We'll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we're spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense."

That was the same mindset – an aversion to accountability in exchange for perceived short-term political gain – that produced an explosion of GOP corruption in the mid-aughts. There's little evidence the party learned from that sordid period, and Trump seems likely to reproduce it, except bigger, more garishly, and with more conspicuous gilding. And his congressional enablers seem ready to help out, if only by omission of real oversight.

The Trump administration itself (I still throw up a little in my mouth whenever I say that phrase) is only concerned about stopping the leaks, stopping the flow of information to our news media, so that the American public just won't hear about this stuff.

And the Republican Party doesn't give a crap about Russian influence in the highest levels of our government, as long as they think it will help them politically.

Well, this is the same political party which deliberately uses racism for political advantage. This is the same political party whose leaders agreed to do nothing to help America as long as our first black president was in office,... while we were in the middle of two wars and in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Given the past 40 years of the Republican Party putting political ambition above their own country, why would we expect any difference now? The only thing they care about is partisan politics. They won't give a crap about Russian meddling in our country unless they see the a political downside from it.

And even then, they're far more likely to try to suppress the news or muddy the waters, rather than see any ugly truths come out. Besides, we just had an election, so this is the absolute worst time for political pressure to have an impact.

We should have cared about this stuff in November. Remember, we did this to ourselves! Putin helped, but he couldn't have done this without our willing participation. That's the problem with a democracy: we get the kind of government we deserve.

Whatever happened to freedom of religion?

Yeah, it's another good one from... the cartoonist who must remain anonymous in order to stay alive. Oh, give me that Old Time Religion, huh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

And the insanity continues

It's only been a month! Heck, it's been less than a month since Donald Trump took office. We've got another week to go before it will even have been one month,... and we've got at least four years of this stuff ahead of us!

What have we done to ourselves? What has the Republican Party done to us? Can America survive four years of these people?

And that's four years at best. That assumes we pull our heads out of our asses and start voting. Keep in mind that, if you didn't vote for Hillary Clinton in November, this is your fault. But I keep hearing people making excuses for bone-headed idiocy.

We don't need Russia to destroy America, because we're doing it to ourselves.

Monday, February 13, 2017

John Oliver: Trump vs the truth

John Oliver has been off for awhile. I'm sure glad he's back, because we've never needed him more - as this video clip shows!

PS. Be sure to watch to the very end. It's hilarious!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sean Spicer press conference

This is several days old, but it's so funny, I kept going back to watch it again. So I thought I'd post it here.

That's Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, and she nails it, doesn't she? I'm not a big fan of SNL in general, but their political skits have been hilarious. Of course, Trump is a gold mine for political comedians!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Statue of Liberty, R.I.P.

Apparently, that German magazine cover is "controversial." I'm not sure why. This has been a persistent theme of political cartoonists since Donald Trump became president, and rightly so.

In case you've forgotten, the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What Would Jesus Do? - the movie

Sorry, this review is audio only. But I'm a big fan of God Awful Movies, brought to you by the same funny people who do The Scathing Atheist podcast.

These aren't safe for work, and they might give your elderly relatives a heart attack (unless they're like me, of course), but if you're not easily offended, they're hilarious. I just listened to this one, and it struck me as particularly funny. It's a review of What Would Jesus Do?

I've never tried to embed audioBoom, but if this doesn't work for you, you can download the mp3 file here, or listen to it on iTunes. The later podcasts are available on YouTube here, but not this one - not yet, at least. (This particular podcast is about a year old. I've been working my way through their archives.)

Actually, that is probably only scratching the surface of where you can get these. But again, if you enjoy this kind of humor, be sure to check out their Scathing Atheist and Skepticrat podcasts, too. (Note that the latter is their newest podcast, and although it started great, they've only released one episode since May. I suspect that two regular podcasts are about all they can handle right now.)

BTW, here's a quote from the beginning of one of their Scathing Atheist podcasts: "Warning: The following podcast contains genuine, heartfelt emotions. But don't worry. We wrap them in profanity." Don't say you weren't warned. :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

The not-a-Muslim-ban Muslim ban

I'm a little late with this, but when it comes to Donald Trump, the crazy never stops coming. It's depressing and tiring.

Luckily, there's Samantha Bee, who seems to have enough energy for all of us.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A lie is a lie, even when the president says it

From Charles M. Blow's column in the New York Times yesterday:
Trump does not simply have “a running war with the media,” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.

It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions.

And now that he has been elected, Trump wants absolute control over the flow of information, to dictate his own version of facts rather than live with the reality of accepted facts. Trump is in a battle to bend the truth to his benefit.

He hates members of the press because, when properly performing, they are truth seekers rather than ego-strokers. The press may sometimes get things wrong, but it most often gets them right. A truly independent press is not stocked with political acolytes but political adversaries.

This doesn’t sit well with an administration that wants to be perpetually patted on the back and never rapped on the knuckles.

After Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, got called out by the press for lying about Trump’s inauguration crowd size and viewership, Spicer limped back to the mic and whined of Trump’s press coverage: “The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing.”

No, sir, the default is to call a lie a lie; lies are negative because they are the opposite of the truth; and Trump continuously lies. ...

And Trump for his part continues to rage about three to five million illegal votes causing him to lose the popular vote in November. This, too, is a lie. A lie. Not the euphemisms you hear on television, like “unsubstantiated,” or “unproven,” or “baseless.” It is a lie, pure and simple.

But Trump won’t let it go. His pride is hurt, his vanity tarnished. The man who prides himself on winning lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, the biggest popular vote loss by a winning candidate in American history. That stings.

So, even after his lie is reported and rejected, he continues to perpetuate it. This is what makes Trump qualitatively different from our leaders who came before him: He believes that truth is what he says it is, and the only reason it has yet to be accepted is that it has yet to be sufficiently repeated. ...

We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.

I only disagree about one thing. The default - at least in the news media - isn't "to call a lie a lie." Even today, even with Donald Trump, it's common for the national news media to use euphemisms.

"Lie" is so harsh, right? And they're still desperate to get along with the man and the political party who control our country and lie pretty much nonstop. Even after all this, their first instinct is often appeasement.

Democrats, too. Through most of the past eight years - certainly in the early years of his presidency - Barack Obama bent over backward to appease the Republicans. But Republican leaders had agreed before he'd even taken office that they'd do nothing our first black president wanted, no matter what it might be or how badly America was hurting.

The Democrats even adopted the Republican health care plan, only to see every Republican immediately turn against their own plan. Every Republican.

Today, Democrats in the Senate are still voting for Donald Trump's terrible cabinet picks - not all Democrats, not even a majority, but enough that the Republicans can call it "bipartisan" approval. Will they never learn?

I don't want the Democrats to be carbon copies of Republicans, no, but it would be nice if they understood that this is politics. I don't want politics to be the only concern of Democrats, as it is for Republicans. But it would be a nice change of pace if Democrats understood the contest they're in.

Republicans are playing kick-boxing, while the Democrats are playing tiddlywinks. We've seen how that plays out, haven't we? We've watched this game for decades now. Will the Democrats never learn?

Of course, Blow was talking about the news media, but I have to wonder the same thing about them. When will they learn that the president needs them more than they need the president?

If Trump gets mad and cuts off access, then interview the people who oppose him. It's not your fault if Trump's people won't talk to you. If Republicans refuse to talk with you, then talk with Democrats. How long do you think Republicans will hold out then?

You have the upper hand here. They need you more than you need them. They know that, so why don't you? And note that this would be the case even if Donald Trump wasn't polling at 36%.

Well, Trump's lies have been so outrageous that even some of the news media are calling them "lies." Some of the news media. Unfortunately, they're competitors, so some will always suck up to power, no matter what. (And I'm not talking about places like Fox News, which are basically the propaganda arm of the GOP - PR people, not journalists.)

Others in the news media seem to be like the Democrats. They still haven't learned that you can't appease people who won't be appeased no matter what you do. Even complete surrender wouldn't fully satisfy them. Certainly, anything short of that will be met with bitter denunciations and, yes, more lies.