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    • Make him pay
      We are in a strange and dangerous moment. The Trump cancer is metastasizing, yet neither party is willing to excise it. Republicans are fully devoted to covering up his corruption, and Democrats are refraining from a full accounting of it. My latest:https://t.co/6ui3MzTmDQ — Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) June 16, 2021
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    • Types Of Enlightenment: Part 1 1/2 – World As Self
      In my first post on the type of enlightenment where one experiences the world as self I noted that of the types I will cover, this is one I had no taste of. That changed after I wrote it, albeit for only a few hours, so I thought I’d write a follow-up post. In many spiritual circles there is a distrust for intellectual inquiry. Words, it is true, cannot adeq […]
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Waiting for the Storm to Break

Did anyone here catch Rachel Maddow last night? No, she is not the left’s version of Alex Jones. She’s just really good at spinning a yarn. The reason I listen to her is because her narration is so good. And the news in the last couple of months has been fascinating.

But last night was different even by Trump standards. It was like a Trump Six Flags Busch Gardens Universal THEME PARK. There is SO much going on it’s difficult to keep track of it all.

Masha Gessen keeps saying that the whole Trump saga is going to end up being too nebulous to pin down. You know, I’m not getting that feeling, Masha. I’m getting the feeling that more and more stuff is getting revealed and it’s more outrageous than the last thing and Republicans are starting to put the spotlight on themselves for not doing anything.

Don’t you guys give us that “What me worried?” look.

The thing we need to focus our attention on right this minute is the election in November because it’s become clear to me that Republicans have internalized the image of themselves as perpetual winners. They will stop at nothing to get everything. This was brought home to me when my own US Senator (who I did not vote for), Pat Toomey, reinforced the idea that impeaching the state Supreme Court justices over the new district maps was acceptable in order to reinforce the Republican stranglehold on the state and country. Democrats or any other voters are second class citizens whose enfranchisement and equal protection under the law is merely a formality. It doesn’t really mean anything.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the current maps as drawn by Republicans in 2011 deliberately suppress Democratic votes because the numbers do not lie. There are more Democrats in PA. Like 800,000 more. But the maps as drawn in 2011 give us only around 5 of the 18 congressional districts in PA. And it’s not just a matter of geography. It was an intentional and blatant breaking of Democratic districts by Republicans that resulted in more than half the state having less than 1/3 representation. That’s just immoral. But not to Pat Toomey:

“I think state House members and state senators are going to be speaking amongst themselves and their constituents, and the fundamental question is does this blatant, unconstitutional, partisan power grab that undermines our electoral process, does that rise to the level of impeachment?” Toomey continued.

There you go. It’s ok to impeach justices who are trying to uphold the state’s constitution in order for the Republicans to win. Because it is a given that they will win. It goes against nature and god and country for Republicans to lose their grip on the throat of government.

You are not allowed to have a choice.

Then there was Claire McCaskill legit freaking out yesterday on the NSA Director that NOTHING is being done about Russian election meddling in 2018 even after we know for sure they got into Florida and Wisconsin in 2016:

Keep that in mind because while PA decided a couple of weeks ago to require paper trails on our e-voting machines, Georgia, which is chock full of Republican state legislators and a Republican Governor are specifically opposed to paper trails of any kind. The lieutenant Governor is not. And remember it is Georgia that took retaliatory measures to strip Delta of some tax breaks because it will no longer offer discounts to members of the NRA.

So, Republicans are going to fight tooth and nail and enable meddling and probably cheat in order to solidify their grip.

In the meantime, Democrats gained two new seats yesterday and flipped two districts from red to blue in a big way:

Most voters want a choice. They hate it when they don’t have one. Maybe the reason so many special election seats are flipping now ahead of the 2018 election is because voters are finally woke to the possibility that they may never get a choice ever again.

Is someone you know confused about the Russia scandal?

They might be watching too much Fox News. It’s not really that complicated. It’s more like Watergate on steroids and not at all like the complicated Iran-Contra scandal.

There’s a fix for the confusion. Check out Mueller 101 at the Today Explained podcast.

They’ll break it all down in easily digestible bites in about 19 minutes. Yep, you can get a clear, concise explanation in 19 minutes. It’s not complex at all.

For example, why is Paul Manafort so damn important and why is he holding out? Basically, he had a lot of hinky ties to Russian and Ukrainian autocrats and oligarchs. He was campaign manager for Trump at a crucial time when the DNC emails were revealed to Trump’s campaign and for some weird reason, the Republican platform was changed before the RNC convention in 2016 to be very favorable to Russia. Oh, and he was broke but worked for Trump for free. What Mueller seems to be looking at is a quid pro quo between Putin and the Trump campaign.

So, check it out. You won’t be sorry. If anything, the fog may lift.

I think that Mueller has just about all the information he needs now that Manafort’s partner, Rick Gates, has flipped. Manafort May go to his grave not saying anything but it’s probably not necessary by now.

And just think about how many people close to Trump have plead guilty to felonies. I think we’re up to 5 now.

So many witches.

Money Laundering All in the Family: Melania Trump Episode

So, Melania Trump has parted ways with her advisor, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who, shockingly, received $25 MILLION dollars for her services related to Donald Trump’s flaccid inaugural events. Wolkoff paid David Monn over $3 million out of that stash.

Did I mention that Wolkoff works with Melania in the east wing of the White House? Well, not anymore as of yesterday but whatever.

The rumor is that Donald was furious when he found out how much money Melania frittered away.



I’m not sure that’s what’s bothering him. This section got my attention:

The inaugural committee promised that the swearing-in ceremonies and events would be “workmanlike,” even as it raised a record-shattering $107 million — about twice as much as former President Barack Obama’s inaugural committee raised for the festivities around his 2009 swearing-in — largely from wealthy donors and corporations.

The majority of those funds — more than $57 million — went to four event-planning companies. The company that received the biggest payment was Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm, which was incorporated in California in December 2016 — about six weeks before the inauguration.

$107 million is a lot of money. Wolkoff got a nice chunk of change and did most of the work. $57 million is accounted for. What happened to the other $50 million? Just asking.

What if, work with me here, what if Melania is planning to make a break for it? What if she’s been squirreling that money away somewhere in the Cayman Islands and when the time is right, she’s going to have a chit chat with Donald via DM. Do her texts have an Eastern European accent? “I em leafing you, Denald.” Wait, that sounds Russian…

Ahh, Problems of Democracy. What a boring class in high school. All those damn treaties and propaganda methods and left vs right and fascism and nepotism and laissez faire and on and on and on. It was enough to make your eyes glaze over.

I wish I’d paid better attention.

In the meantime, Donald is tweeting about Crooked Hillary Clinton again and her homocidal murders using an email server or some stupid uranium deal that she was only tangentially involved in. Yawn. It’s getting old.

Besides, the life of the new First Lady is fascinating. Pass the popcorn.


Stroll music:

Cadet Bone Spurs would’ve rushed the shooter

Or so he says. What do you need police for if they’re just going to do nothing like cowards, amirite?

President Trump claimed Monday that he would have rushed into the Florida high school during the mass shooting earlier this month there that killed 17 people, and he called it “disgusting” that an officer assigned to the school didn’t enter the building while the attack was underway.

“I really believe I’d run in, even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump said during a White House meeting with governors from across the country, adding that he thinks the governors assembled also would have rushed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “You never know until you’re tested,” he added.

He must have grown a pair since 2016 when this happened:

Omg, look how he grabs onto to the secret service guys like he was reaching for his mommy. Some alpha male.

Can someone please tell him it’s really insensitive to refer to the mentally ill as “sickos”? There’s no excuse for a grown man to be saying that to people who need our help and understanding.

Oh, right, we’re talking about Donald.


Never mind.

It got so bad we had to ban the word “racist”

Ezra Klein interviews Amy Chua about American tribalism today. Highly recommended.

Amy doesn’t let the progressive side off the hook. I think she’s got a clue. But I’d like to point out my own experience with progressives, which is MY side, the side I’m most closely aligned to to describe what happened to us that caused us to become Democrats in Exile in 2008.

The reason this blog was created was because I was forced off DailyKos where I was a trusted user and frequently recommended diarist because I was a Clinton supporter. I’ve written before about what happened and if you’re interested in going back to the beginning in 2008 and reading through the thousands of blog posts, you’ll get a pretty good understanding about how that happened.

I don’t regret anything I said or did that got my trusted user status decremented to less than zero in a few short hours. I wasn’t the first Clinton supporter that got that treatment nor was I the last. But I did have an annoying habit of piping up and saying, “hey, the recommended list is being flooded by all these pro Edwards diaries and then pro Obama diaries. And it’s happening in the exact same way. And look at that! The exact same people are favoriting these diaries within seconds of them being posted. And wow, look at all the love bombing of the conversion diaries. What’s up with that??”

I could have kept my mouth shut but you know me, I just couldn’t help myself. In retrospect, I think we can see that what happened on DailyKos in 2008 was a precursor to what happened in 2016 when a very determined and most likely payed bunch of trolls and infiltrators took over the site and pushed all other points of view off. You either went along for the ride or they would descend on your account and force you out through stripping you of your trusted user status to the point where the administrators shut you off.

And I could see it was coming from Obama supporters overwhelmingly and it reminded me of a jihad. And by that, dear readers, I was thinking of the Moors who tried to conquer Europe back in the dark ages by forced conversion. But that word, “jihad”, was immediately siezed upon as a “racist” word. It was not intended to be one at all. It was merely uniquely descriptive of what was going on.

So, I started The Confluence, which was fine by me. I got a lot of people from DailyKos who found me and helped get the word out that at this site, you didn’t have to be ashamed of liking Hillary for being a great candidate with experience and good policy.

Then we watched in horror as the obama coalition took over the party and tried to force us out. And one of the ways they did this was by forcing us to make a decision: if we didn’t bow to Obama because we didn’t think he was ready and we didn’t trust the groups who were forcing him down our throats, we were racists.

Yes, we were instantly racists.

These people knew NOTHING about us and I explicitly told every writer on this blog, “no racist memes, no personal attacks, nothing unverified” on this site and they were very good at sticking to that.

Then the Rules committee meeting happened in May and the gloves came off. Almost every day, we had some asshole obama troll (could have been Republicans just trying to sow division) come here and tell us that if we didn’t jump on Obama’s bandwagon that we were racists.

It got to be so offensive. And I’m sure that was part of the plan. The Obama boyz were using the word racist to stampede the true liberal Democrats into joining his team because who in their right mind wants to be associated with racism?? It’s disgusting.

And the Republican operatives (and I’m sure there were many on these sites) wanted to just offend everyone else so they would be turned off their kibble when it came to the Democratic Party.

But the worst offenders were the progressives who insisted without any evidence that any criticism of obama was the same as racism, latent or overt. They even went so far as to make shit up like accusing the Clinton campaign of darkening Obama’s picture. Really? REALLY??

When the trolls descended on this site, trying to shut up our support of Clinton and throwing that word around non-stop, I put an end to it. I put the word on the moderation list. If you use it, your comment gets thrown into the moderation queue until I can get around to approving it. I approve it only if it is in context and not provocative.

There were three very negative outcomes to the weaponization of the word “racist” by the progressives between 2008-2016:

  1. It masked true racism. Oh, yes, racism didn’t go away. If anything, it got worse. Shooting young black men without due process got to be an epidemic. And I’m sorry, but Obama was no Martin Luther King Jr. He was an aspirational President, not a get down into the problem and solve it President. It was the way he did all his policies. No Drama Obama. Don’t rock the boat. Put everything on the table and allow the Cut throat Republicans eviscerate it until everything from stimulus package to Obamacare was as anemic as possible.
  2. It made any criticism of him impossible from the progressive side. We put up with that anemia because any time we spoke out, we were called racists. Like I said before, I don’t rule out Republican trolls from jumping on this because it was incredibly effective to promoting their own agenda.
  3. Democrats lost a LOT of people. Tons. They went to the Tea Party. Now, you might say that these working class lunkheads were latent racists but I disagree. Not all of them were. What many of them were was angry that the progressives decided that instead of hearing their concerns, they’d rather stuff a sock in it. Instead of putting their anger to good use by pushing back, they picked up their balls and joined the other team. I didn’t like it but what could you do? They knew they weren’t wanted.

Tribalism? Yeah, progressives helped polarize us.

And don’t forget that Donna “I have no principles but money” Brazile told Paul Begala back in May 2008 that this was the strategy. The Democratic strategy as proposed by the Obama contingent was lose the “old coalition” of working class and some southern voters for the “new coalition” of egg heads and African Americans. I was at a YearlyKos meeting in Las Vegas in 2006 when an egg head consultant got up and pretty much said that the south was a waste of the party’s time and we should write it off. Mudcat Saunders told him he was crazy to cut loose a bunch of voters but egg head man wouldn’t hear it.

So, the tea party picked up many old coalition voters that the Democrats didn’t want in their tribe anymore and the ban on the word “racist” remains in effect even today.

The good thing is that you can still discuss racism on The Confluence. But it’s not weaponized here. It isn’t used in support of one politician to the detriment of any other politician or their followers. And you won’t find that many trolls here. Occasionally, I let a couple have their say. It’s useful to figure out how to defeat poisonous memes and letting a few through is desirable for that purpose.

But since 2008, this site has been monitored by myself and others to keep out bots and trolls who try to mess with the users here and use psychological manipulation techniques to get them to question their values. And this applies to the right AND the left. We’ve also had our share of Russian trolls. They don’t come around as much anymore because I don’t put up with it.

Nevertheless, the damage is done. We are a highly polarized country now. It wasn’t just the right or the Russians. We, the left, did this to ourselves. There are many sites on the left that have a lot to answer for. I don’t go to those sites anymore. I don’t link to them. I have no interest in directing my friends to places where they won’t know they’re being manipulated before it’s too late. But let’s not kid ourselves, EVERYONE has a button that is vulnerable to pushing by forces with an agenda.

I’ll leave you with this tweet I saw on Twitter yesterday that sums up how vigilant we have to be:

That’s what it’s going to take. We have to protect ourselves with our own values. We can’t expect Facebook or Twitter or DailyKos or the New York Times to do it for us.

Write down what you believe in, put it into a list, and stick to it. Question anyone who tries to stampede you into taking a side that doesn’t agree with that list.

We’re living in the Upside Down

I’ve heard the Stranger Things reference to the Upside Down several times in the last 24 hours. For the current upside down zeitgeist let’s go to the tweets:

Well, it’s the end of the Olympics after all. Trump’s got a war to start.

Then there is identity confusion as liberals and neocons start agreeing with each other that Trump is f%#{ing dangerous:

Then there was apparently a Trump meltdown over the Schiff memo while some of us were sleeping. Susan Simpson says:

Hope there is instant replay.

Then there is this tribute to CPAC hypocrisy:

About the only thing that seems like it’s going well right now is the incredibly successful war that those pesky kids from MSD HS in Parkland, Florida are waging against the NRA. The NRA says it doesn’t need the rental cars and airlines and other companies that have run screaming from any association with it. There are plenty more companies that want to be its BFF. It doesn’t need all those other ones.

I think we’ve seen that movie:

If only there was *something* we could do to stop mass shootings…

I just can’t put my finger on it

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

I know it will come to me if I just think hard enough…

When Coral Springs police officers arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 in the midst of the school shooting crisis, many officers were surprised to find not only that Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer, had not entered the building, but that three other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were also outside the school and had not entered, Coral Springs sources tell CNN. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles, the sources said, and not one of them had gone into the school.

With direction from the Broward deputies who were outside, Coral Springs police soon entered the building where the shooter was. New Broward County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, and two of those deputies and an officer from Sunrise, Florida, joined the Coral Springs police as they went into the building.

Some Coral Springs police were stunned and upset that the four original Broward County Sheriff’s deputies who were first on the scene did not appear to join them as they entered the school, Coral Springs sources tell CNN. It’s unclear whether the shooter was still in the building when they arrived.

I don’t know what I’m missing…

Nope, I got nothin’.

Wife Coach

Train, train, train!


Now that all of the country has had a chance to see what a monumentally stupid idea it is to arm teachers, thereby filling the pockets of the gun manufacturers of America without any possibility that even one child’s life will be saved and many more may be lost, can we get back to common sense restrictions on the mentally ill obtaining assault weapons?

I’m not wasting any more bandwidth on the “hardened schools” concept. And anyone who is running a social media site should be on the lookout for trolls, domestic or foreign, who want to reintroduce the idea. Time to get out your hobnailed boots and squash the MFers. It looks like Twitter is taking this seriously. If you’ve lost a lot of followers lately, it could be because they’re located in St. Petersburg.

They post in droves, usually from the same network domain. If you ban one IP address, they’ll jump to another in the same domain. Sometimes, they’ll use several network domains at once. An attack can last a couple of hours. To terminate them, truncate the last segment of the address and put them in your banned address settings list. That will eliminate any further postings from the domain. You won’t have to squash every troll posting because you would have stopped them at the network domain level.

Heads up to the trolls: I have been collecting all your IP addresses since 2008. I even know some of the company domains and universities you were posting from. Oh, yes, did you think the Obots didn’t use this same technique? Of course they did. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they got help from some Republicans or financiers. The attacks had that certain “Smartest Guys in the Room” je ne sais quoi at the time, as if they were getting one over on the old knitting grannies. (I assure you, I’m not anything like an old knitting granny).

It worked the same way as the overconfident Russian trolls. Of course, their English was better and they were more psychologically savvy because they were Americans. But it worked exactly the same way, network domain jumping and all.

Have a nice day.

Arming kindergarten teachers, this was the best he could do?? #neveragain

I listened to the listening session on the way home last night. I have some concerns about how the guests were chosen. Some seemed very pro-NRA in spite of losing their children. But never mind that for now.

So, Trump proposes arming teachers and training them so that they can stop deranged shooters Matrix style. Let’s just review a few very good reasons why this is a hugely stupid idea. No, Trumpers, don’t even. If you don’t see how dumb this idea is, then your opinion here is just wasting everybody’s time. Don’t even start. I have no patience for it today. “Let facts be submitted to a candid world”:

  1. Teachers are self selected. Some of you may not know this but I was an elected member of my township’s board of ed back in the 90s. I’ve met a lot of teachers and sat in on union contract negotiations and referendum for new high schools and curriculum committee meetings. This is not to toot my own horn but just to say that my experience with the educational establishment is not superficial. Teachers, for the most part, go into the profession because they have a calling to serve the interests of children. Oh, sure, every now and then you’ll find some who really don’t belong in the classroom but for the most part, there is a kind of altruism that goes along with teaching. That sense of altruism, caring and service does not usually include violence of any kind.
  2. Teachers are not human shields. Many teachers will sacrifice themselves to save their charges but teachers are not police officers, soldiers or security guards. They’re teachers. Since when has it been our expectation that teachers will voluntarily take on a shooter and put their own lives in danger? This should be seen as a workplace safety issue and if I were the unions, I’d take it up with OSHA and the NLRB. So, you know, arming them and training them because we deliberately make their workplaces hazardous is a non-starter. Telling teachers to suck it up and pack heat when they go to work is unacceptable. None of us should be expected to tolerate it or put our lives at risk at work unless we’re astronauts.
  3. Who is going to pay for it? Oklahoma is so cash strapped from their experiment with tax cuts on steroids that schools are operating at only 4 days per week. There are so many school districts in NJ that the addition of training and security guards and metal detectors is going to quickly put a strain on the budget and other things will have to be sacrificed. Property taxes will soar and angry residents will show up at school board meetings attacking the very teachers they expect to protect their children. So, economically, it makes no sense.
  4. Who will pay for teachers’ combat pay? I mean, seriously, if you’re going to ask teachers to actively defend themselves and students, putting themselves in harm’s way, your union would be stupid to not demand extra pay, extra life insurance, disability insurance (no more GoFundMe’s), medical benefits. And who could blame them? They’re going into a war zone.
  5. It’s dangerous. You are asking people who are fundamentally opposed to violence to use a gun in an emergency situation when there’s chaos, confusion, screaming, and probably no clear idea where the bullets are coming from at first. So, these teachers are going to be expected to identify the shooter, aim accurately while potentially being fired upon, and not inadvertently shoot students who are running around looking for cover. We are expecting perfectly inelastic collisions with the bullet. It will not ricochet or pass through desks or doors or walls or windows. And these teachers will need to have the presence of mind to do all of this in seconds, concentrating on taking the shooter out while their students are looking for safety and clear directions.

If you don’t see yet how insane this all is, then your mind has been completely taken over by the NRA.

And who benefits from arming teachers to the teeth? I can only see one beneficiary. It’s the NRA who represents gun manufacturers. Giving teachers gun and training them only results in an escalation of the arms race where the gun manufacturers are guaranteed to make a ton of money.

I doubt that even one child will be saved by this. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost a lot of teachers who don’t think their altruism is worth their lives.

You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to take this proposal to its logical conclusion. You just need to do a thought experiment.

Another thought experiment might go like this:

Question: Who is doing the shooting in schools?

Answer: mentally and emotionally disturbed young men with assault weapons.

Does the idea arming teachers and hiring security guards address ANY of those parameters? No. It does not.

What would?

What would happen if we required background checks to prevent mentally and emotionally disturbed people from buying guns? What if we authorized the local police to commit a mentally or emotionally disturbed person for 72 hours for observation and to confiscate their guns? What if we prevented people under the age of 21 from buying certain kinds of guns? What if we banned assault style weapons that really have no useful purpose in a free society? What if we required gun shows to follow the same regulations as any other gun dealer?

Will it solve all of our gun problems? No. Will these common sense proposals violate the second amendment? No. Will it save lives and let children be children and teachers be teachers? I’m betting it would.

Let’s get real, people. Surely, Donald Trump could have come up with a better plan than turning our schools into the prison season of the Walking Dead. And if he can’t, then what the f^ck is he doing being president? For that matter, the whole GOP seems to be compromised with stupidity. There’s only one last resort to getting our point across that 2/3 of the American electorate want more controls on the access to guns: vote them out.

November is Coming.