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    • Was All The “Trump is Hitler” Rhetoric Right?
      October 17th I wrote that demonizing Trump as fascist had consequences. To most Americans fascist = holocaust, Hitler, and World War II. To be a fascist is to be the worst thing possible. Popular culture is full of references of going back and killing Hitler before he became powerful. We bewail that no one did […]
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What do we know today that we didn’t know two days ago?

medium_9016253998-21Raise your hand if anything that has happened in the last couple of days has surprised or shocked you.  Betsy DeVos was going to be confirmed. The scorecard was predictive. The only useful power that the VP has is to cast a tie breaking vote. Would the GOP really confirm an unpopular cabinet nominee along party lines in spite of so much opposition from their voters? Of course it would. These are the same Republicans who would shut down the government and threaten its credit rating in order to throw red meat to their “Christian” conservative constituents who wanted to put a silver bullet through Planned Parenthood.

And making Elizabeth Warren sit down and shut the fuck up was a twofer. They got to disrespect Coretta Scott King and Warren at the same time. They were probably just waiting for the opportunity to do it, sharpening their knives for the day when they could humiliate Warren and tell a woman to know her place. It doesn’t matter if they finally gave in on the letter. That wasn’t the point. Defanging Warren was the point.

They really are that shameless.

For the next two years, they can do whatever they want. We’ve known this since the day after the election. That feeling of dread we all had in the run up to Trump’s inauguration? It’s all been justified.

Getting angry with righteous indignation will only get you so far. And if they know they can push our buttons, they’ll keep doing it like a rat on cocaine pushing the lever over and over again.

These are not nice people. They’re Stanford prison experiment guards with sunglasses people. The problem is that no one is going to stop this experiment early. It’s going to go on until at least November 2018. There will be no halt to the daily humiliations, the long term devastations, the collaborations with the Trump White House that are intended to keep us off balance and infuriated. They are teaching us learned helplessness.

Are we going to let them do that to us?

Don’t get mad. Get even.

“Come, you spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
To cry “Hold, hold!”
– Macbeth, William Shakespeare
Show no mercy.

******************************************

Thanks to all of you who sent me messages and little gifts of music and I Ching yesterday. It lifted my spirits. I worked off my sleep deficit last night.

Quick Takes on @SenWarren etc

1.) Lizzie Warren took an ax and gave The Donald forty whacks:

That’s going to leave marks.

2.) It’s the Gig Economy, Stupid. In the last week, I have heard both Grover Norquist and Gary Johnson praising the Gig Economy or the 1099 economy as if it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and everyone’s secret wish is to be a small business owner.

I don’t think anyone in the research industry really wants to be in the Gig Economy and be in a start up funded by vulture capitalists. Small businesses are great for people who are bakers or accountants. For scientists? ehhhh, not so much.

And then there is the paperwork and the taxes to manage. Plus, you lose your Obamacare subsidy and have to pay it all back if you underestimate your income. And income can be variable. Then there’s saving for retirement, saving for future bouts of unemployment, because most self-employed people do not get unemployment benefits.

The Gig Economy will ruin the middle class faster than anything. It leads to income instability. When you can’t count on your income, you can’t buy cars or houses. It’s hard to have kids because you may not be able to afford them throughout the 18 years of their early lives. The gig economy means having to pick and follow your job, something I saw happen to a lot of my former colleagues who had their jobs in one state and their families in another. In short, it sucks and very few people want to live this way.

I can’t imagine why Grover and Gary keep pushing this. It only appeals to young single guys. Well, there you go.

If I were Hillary, I would steer clear of praising the self-employed and small business person too much. Most of us don’t want to go there.

3.) I still like Bernie. Seriously. If I weren’t such a cold hearted pragmatist, I could have felt the Bern. I certainly got warm enough. He’s right on so many issues and that’s why he got so much support.

He went off the tracks by not realizing that the rest of us had a right to our own votes and opinions. Our votes are legitimate too. Delegitimizing Hillary’s voters has been a feature of Bernie’s supporters. They share that with the Obama supporters of 2008. Some of them are probably the same people. Bernie should ditch these people. They are ruining his reputation.

We want answers from the pols: Why do Americans have to put up with Exploitative Profit Mining?

(This was written in steam of consciousness mode.)

This is an invitation to the politicians out there to answer this question.  Why are Americans expected to tolerate exploitative profit mining by the wealthy and well connected?  Why are we supposed to just sit here like crops to be harvested?  As soon as there is even a teensy bit of disposable income, that we are supposed to sock away for the future, some capitalist on steroids has to find a way of siphoning it off for his own use and profit.

We all know the game is rigged and yet we’re expected to put all of our precious savings in the stock market or in the hands of fund managers or pay a steep tax penalty to cover our living expenses if we have the misfortune to suffer periods of extended unemployment before we turn 59.5.

We’re all expected to get a college degree if we have even a prayer of getting a good job but then we are tied to these monstrous student loan debts or we spend years pursuing a PhD in a difficult subject only to find we have to take a series of $37K/year jobs.

We’re all expected to pony up hundreds and thousands of dollars for lousy health care policies and an ACA that has separated the country’s workers into two classes.  But the minute we ask for a fairer system that imposes cost controls on medical costs and profit limits on insurers, you’d think we were being irreligious.  Same with internet providers who can’t be bothered to improve their infrastructure even while they intend to reduce competition and split the proceeds from mergers amongst their shareholders.  Apparently, there is no one in Congress or the executive branch who thinks it is possible to stop what consumers think of as destructive mergers and loss of net neutrality.  Why are we expected to put up with that?

Every business and industry has figured out how to extract the maximum amount of pain and we rely on Congress to help us have a say in the matter and they do nothing to stop the extraction.

There’s got to be a better reason than the fact that campaign finance reform is broken.  We want answers as to why we are expected to tolerate the intolerable.

It’s one damn thing after another and no one is buying the excuse that nothing can be done because of the Republicans.  We’ve been watching this unfold for more than a decade and we haven’t even seen you Democrats putting up much of a fight.

Why does exploitative profit mining seem so unstoppable among the politicians that we elected to keep the playing field level so that we can all benefit from the fruits of our labors?

We want answers.  Feel free to use the comment thread below to provide them.  I think we have a right to expect a response of some kind.

Come on, Al Franken.  We supported you from the beginning.  What say you?  How about you, Elizabeth Warren?  And you, Hillary Clinton?  Enough of the foreign policy.  We want to hear about domestic issues.  What are you going to do about this?

Danger, Elizabeth Warren!

Here’s how Elizabeth Warren started her Senate career yesterday:

Now, I think these are good questions and she elicited some very uncomfortable responses.  Any of us could have asked those questions because we want to know.  Why are only ordinary people prosecuted and persecuted with the government playing the role of Javert ruining people’s lives for what may be minor infractions, like drug abuse or petty theft, while the bankers get away with murder?

The problem is I think her own party is setting her up.  That’s not to say she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing.  This is the kind of stuff we, the average citizens, like to see.  But because she is so prominent, right out of the gate, and such a threat to the right wing AND to the Democrats’ campaign warchests, she’s going to be put out there with enough rope to hang herself.

It’s hard for me to see exactly what angle Rush Limbaugh and the Glenn Beck types are going to use to neutralize her because there’s really nothing wrong with her line of questioning.  But I guarantee that she will become the next target of ridicule and misogyny before very long.  Both parties’ leadership want her out of the way.  They’ll do a Franken on her.

I hope she’s ready and that there are enough of us out here to push back the tide of nastiness headed her way.

Or at least that Paul Krugman can spare some time from his exhausting job tilting at windmills to put in a good word for her.

By the way, if banks are too big to fail or prosecute then the answer to our problems seems to be pretty simple- break them up first.  Voile!  We could prosecute them to our heart’s content.

*********************************

Matt Taibbi has a review of Neil Barofsky’s book Bailout.  Taibbi focuses on the political gamesmanship and back stabbing aspect of Barofsky’s book while  I was shocked by the sheer amount of money we allowed the banks to have access to without any oversight.  Anyway, it’s all connected with what is about to fall down on Elizabeth Warren.

It’s the best $9.99 you’ll spend at Amazon this month (for the Kindle edition).

Beat me! Beat me! Make me write bad checks!

Brian Fischer asks why Republicans allow themselves to be branded as stupid:

Why indeed.

Let me think.  No, no, don’t tell me.  Could it be because of something like *this*?:

Senate Republicans on Friday pledged to block President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the consumer finance watchdog until Democrats agree to restructure it, ramping up an expected fight this year over the controversial new bureau.

The group of 43 Republicans, led by minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mike Crapo, an Idaho senator who is the top Republican on the banking committee, said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lacks congressional oversight.

Yes, the Republicans are threatening to filibuster the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee until the Democrats agree to weaken the agency’s powers.  And what is the CFPB, in case you haven’t been paying attention since, oh, 2008, and the whole reason why Elizabeth Warren ran for the Senate?  The agency is a watchdog for all those vexing problems that get average consumers into trouble.  Like credit card rates and mortgage rates and financial industry “products” that are sold to the little people who don’t know that the financiers have rigged the game.  The CFPB is supposed to be on the side of the average consumer, protecting your right to not be exploited.  What’s not to love?

“As presently organized, the CFPB is insulated from congressional oversight of its actions and its budget,” the Republicans said. “Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances.”

The consumer bureau, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law to oversee mortgage lending and other sectors that played a role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, was controversial before it even opened its doors.

Republicans and business groups have criticized the bureau’s broad authority over a wide range of financial products, and they want it to be funded by congressional appropriations rather than through the Federal Reserve.

Oh, dear, it seems that Senator Warren knew what she was doing when she put this agency together and now, it appears to have a bit more bite in it than our financial industry overlords like.    Apparently, the finance version of the FDA, checking things out for us and sticking warning labels on dangerous products, means a little too much transparency for the finance flim-flam guys.  Therefore, it must be defanged.

Of course, the Fox News cohort will swing into action and tell the fanbase that this is just another intrusion of government into their lives and if you want to take risks with your money and lose every penny of it, by golly, that’s your right  living in god fearing America where at least you know you’re free.  If the financial industry so-called “jahb creators” are to continue to be successful, they have to be able to take advantage of people.  That’s how you get the big bucks.  And anyway, if this government agency does its job right, all the other agencies might feel inspired to do good stuff too and we can’t have that.  I mean, it’s bad enough that the Social Security administration is so efficient with such low overhead.  It’s obscene, I tell you.  Speaking of obscene, gay people who aren’t married have sex using various and sundry orifices.  And women are having consensual sex!  Consensually!  Let’s obsess on that for awhile, shall we?

If you are a Republican and you aren’t super rich, you’re as dumb as a doorknob.  I see some of you out there saying, “I’m not a registered Republican.  I’m a registered Democrat. It’s none of your business who I vote for”.  That’s worse than being a conservative Republican because you *know* that there’s something unsavory and stupid about being a conservative Republican and you don’t want the label but you feel entitled to vote stupid. So, not only are you voting stupid, you’re a coward.  I’d feel much more respect for people who at least owned their stupidity instead of hiding behind their false party affiliation. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.  Why anyone would want to take pride in today’s definition of the word “conservative” is beyond me.  It just screams stupidity to the rest of us.

What, No Bible??

ElizabethWarren had her ceremonial swearing in ceremony a few minutes ago.  I missed the magic moment to screen capture it but I did manage to capture Maizie Hirono’s pose with Biden.

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 2.27.29 PM

As she was being sworn in, Biden offered Hirono a Bible, which she declined.  She swore on no book.  Maizie is a Buddhist, the first Buddhist Senator we’ve ever had.  So, this is her right to decline a bible.

She’s not the only one breaking new ground today.  Tulsi Gabbard, congressional rep from Hawaii, is the first Hindu elected to Congress.  She took the oath on the Bhagavad Gita.

Well. that’s the last sign of the apocalypse, surely.

Congratulations to Elizabeth and the Two Tammys!

This goes out to Elizabeth Warren who won her first term as Senator from Massachusetts

Tammy Baldwin, the first lesbian LGBT Senator (that we know of) from the great state of Wisconsin

Tammy Duckworth who kicked the ass of Joe Walsh in Illinois to win her first term as Representative from Illinois.

Going step out, steppin’ out, Ladies Night! Oh what a night!