Monday, March 19, 2018

Let's Be Careful Out There

You have to admit; the US is really jammed up lately. The country is in chaos and we’re all just along for the ride. There are so many legitimate outrages; you can’t even follow them all. In the time it takes to get good and pissed off about one thing, three more outrages pop up and divert your attention. So let me do a “drive-by” on some of the many sung and unsung hot-button issues from this week.

Trump is becoming even more erratic. Just fired Secretary of State Tillerson. Second in command at the FBI, Andrew McCabe, fired two days before he was set to retire, robbing him of his 20-year pension. (Which he may be able to maintain, due to a flood of job offers from Democratic congressmen.) And now he’s making his usual warm-up moves to facilitate firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

He fired Tillerson in favor of getting someone who agrees with his chicken-hawk foreign policy. (And I’m sure what Tillerson reportedly called his boss might have played into it as well.)
Tillerson was not really a statesman, to be sure, just one more oil exec looking to make the world more profitable for other oil execs. But he never really had a chance to get anything done because his boss undercut him publicly, at every turn.

He fired McCabe, “officially,” for a routine briefing he gave to reporters, about which they claim he lied under oath. I’m sure it totally had nothing to do an effort to discredit the FBI after a year-long battle with them.

And obviously, he wants to fire Mueller before he gets arrested. Mueller has subpoenaed his business records now. President 45 knows the shit is getting real now and he could be getting into a lot of it. Deeply.

Aside from Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Jeff Flake, (two of whom are retiring after their current terms), the Republican Congress has been mute. They know their phony baloney jobs depend on the guy in the oval office remaining in power. If they criticize the president, they have to worry about Trump's offended base backing a primary challenge. So to that extent...

House Republican Investigation of Trump closes, claiming “No evidence of collusion.”  Right. And I bet they did their due diligence too, scouring their jacket pockets and the spaces between their office sofa cushions, looking for that evidence. “Nope, no evidence here! Case closed.”

This was a kangaroo kommittee from Day One. They knew going in that due to the Republican majority, there would be no finding of guilt regarding this president. They cut off lines of inquiry and lobbed softballs at the hand-picked “witnesses” who did appear.
Meanwhile, Mueller is having no trouble at all in finding evidence and gaining guilty pleas. And that’s just the stuff we know about. The man is chopping wood and laying bricks. When he finally brings charges, he will have built a foundation.

General Barry McCaffrey calls Trump a “serious threat to national security.” He saidHe is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr. Putin.”

I love it when situations like this happen because Republicans don’t know what to do. This is a retired 4-Star General, so Republicans have to choose between their knee-jerk tribalism to back the man they voted for, versus their deification and idol-worship of the US military.

I’m betting they’ll back their guy. After all, the general was director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under Clinton, so that alone makes him a raging liberal. And only a Republican can judge another Republican, right? That’s the heart of their argument about the FBI investigation. There are some Democrats on the investigation team so they must be biased?

I already shot that down a while back. As if it’s only “fair” if Republicans investigate Republicans? Hey, look how fair to Trump the Congressional Investigation Committee was! I’m sure that’s exactly the kind of investigation they want.

If you want a rigorous investigation, you get someone on it who is motivated to do the job well. But that’s the last thing they want, isn’t it? I say, as long as they’re not manufacturing evidence, it doesn’t matter who’s investigating. If it’s evidence, it exists no matter who finds it. (Whether they enjoy finding it is irrelevant.)

Now Trump wants to have talks with North Korea. This is something he directly ridiculed his Secretary of State for trying to do. And of course, Fox “News” loves it.
I saw a brilliant video compilation over the weekend, which featured clip after clip of the Fox gang criticizing Obama’s overtures to talk to North Korea. Horrible! Worst idea ever! Knows nothing about diplomacy. Selling out the country.

What follows then is another array of clips of the Foxfaces lauding Trump for proposing the exact same thing. This is why Fox “News” is a joke and should never be taken seriously. They have no standards other than “whatever the conservative does (today) is right.”

Airlines are now killing our pets. As if they aren’t treating us with enough contempt as it is, now they’re killing dogs by making them travel in the overhead bin. And then a GOP congressman immediately proposed a bill to stop such practices.
I think the airline missed a major opportunity here. If they really wanted to kill the dog, the flight attendant should have just shot it with a gun. That way, United wouldn’t have heard a peep from half the political spectrum. Although they might propose mental health screening for the cabin crew, but then not follow through.

Yeah, the Gun Thing is still going on. Kids across the country walked out of school to hold a 17-minute protest, with varying degrees of cooperation from the schools. Some assisted, some issued detentions or suspensions.

I maintain that none of these protests really matter unless they turn into votes. The only way to change anything is to vote, as a group. Not many of these kids will be eligible to vote in November. Most will in 2020. The issue will be whether this movement has enough steam to carry for two and a half more years. Republicans are basically telling the kids to shut up and get back in class and let the grownups talk.

We’ll see if the kids can talk back at the polls.

Meanwhile, the misinformation runs amok.
Two main fallacies here… First off, 200 years ago, it would take all morning to shoot a couple dozen people, with the single-shot musket loads.

Secondly, in the last 30 years, aside from whatever one thinks about child discipline, the proliferation and availability of semi-automatic handguns and rifles has spiked. Out-of-control kids used to have to settle for standard handguns, but now, anyone can walk into a gun shop or gun show and walk out with a military-grade killing machine and a high-capacity magazine.

Don’t whine to me about “your children.” (Note that it’s not “our” children, indicating that the fault is with everyone else.) Semi-automatic weapons allow one to kill dozens in seconds. Don’t tell me that a kid with an old 6-shooter or two would have the same effectiveness.

Obviously, there are multiple factors and the peer to peer alienation and harassment of kids, lack of discipline from hippy parents, and hyper-discipline from unreasonably demanding parents are several of them. But you can’t just willfully disregard the efficiency of these guns in killing large numbers of people in a very short time, nor the flood of them in American households. It’s intellectually and intentionally dishonest. But that’s what passes for persuasion in the 2000s.

And speaking of dishonesty…

Supreme Court is about to hear a case about Crisis Pregnancy Centers. This is a case, pure and simple, about whether politically motivated lying is protected speech. You’ve heard about these “CPCs, right? These are places that masquerade as women’s health clinics but whose only goal is to prevent women from seeking or receiving abortions. Once lured inside, women are given factually inaccurate warnings of what would become of them should they endure an abortion. (You’ll raise your risk for cancer, you’ll invite mental issues, you’ll become sterile, your soul will burn in hell, etc. They tell them not to proceed with an abortion until they have confirmed via ultrasound, that the baby is viable!)
California has a state law that requires these places to post a sign directing patients to other facilities if they wish to pursue getting an abortion. The CPCs obviously don’t want to provide any information that might lead to an abortion, so they’ve sued.

I think this is another case where one might be able to thread the needle. If I’m the judge, I say the CPCs have to make it plain that this is not a place to go for full women’s health services. They can’t pretend to be something they’re not, just to lure in unsuspecting women in crisis mode.

I would also say that if they make it plain what they are, they needn’t direct their “customers” for other treatment.

But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? They want access to pregnant women by any means necessary, so they can cajole, threaten and browbeat them into acting according to someone else’s religion. They know they can’t very well put up a sign saying they’re a place for you to come to be talked out of an abortion. Who would show up? So they have to trick people into their offices in order to get to their “target customer.”

I call that false advertising, which is something that is not protected speech under the first amendment. But who knows what the four Catholic men plus hardcore conservative Gorsuch will rule? I’m not optimistic. This is the first of many chances Republicans have been waiting for, to chip away at Roe v Wade, until it’s no longer relevant.

And they’re willing to legitimize straight-up lying to your face in order to do it, because their moral compass is more important than yours.


Jono said...

Isn't it amazing how fast a piece of legislation can get introduced to protect dogs on airplanes when one died. It is much more amazing that school children die each week from gun violence in their schools and no one can come up with even token legislation to address the problem.

bluzdude said...

It just goes to show how completely the NRA controls Congress.

Mary Ann said...

Today is MARCH Day. To be effective, march into your Congressional District, ruby red or blue, with like-minded supporters, and declare your intent to vote out those who won't promote gun restrictions for school safety.