Monday, March 20, 2017
So, it appears that The Big Joke (read our current non-president), has released a wish-list budget outline. In it are funding slashes for every government program that does any good, and an increase in only one government program - military spending. In his words, he wants to "rebuild our military."
Now, the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 8 nations combined. China, the second-largest military, spends roughly one third of what America does, and Russia one sixth. If we want to improve our military, the solution is not additional spending, but rather cutting the waste of what we spend now.
Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex, and he was eerily prophetic. Congressmen who want to create jobs in their district have always blindly approved appropriations for government contracts to build more planes we don't need, more tanks we will never use, and more jarheads that we will never deploy. The problem with our military isn't the amount of money we're spending. It's that our military is a fat, bloated, inefficient sauropod. And what's worse, it's obsolete.
The old saying goes that generals spend decades preparing for the previous war, and that's true with America's military. The next war will not be fought with planes, bombs and aircraft carriers. These things have their place, but there's a new front which has opened up. The age of nuclear weapons has imposed an uneasy truce among all nations when it comes to conventional warfare. Instead, wars are reduced to third-world skirmishes and Islamic turf-wars. But there's a new kind of warfare now, and the next true war will be fought in this way. I am speaking, of course, of cyber warfare.
This past election might have been the first battle fought on that front. And guess what? We lost! Our asses got kicked by Russia, a nation with an economy roughly half the size of France. We are woefully unprepared to deal with the realities of a tech war, and we are vulnerable. Truly vulnerable!
It is useless to build more missiles when hackers could potentially turn those additional missiles against us! What our military needs now is not more nuts and bolts - we're just fine there! What it needs are more cyber warriors! It needs the best hackers and counter-hackers that are trainable! And it needs them to protect not just military assets, but civilian ones as well. There needs to be a fifth branch of the service launched. Perhaps we can call it the Cyber Corps. And its mission must be to protect our power grids, our data systems, even our elections from outside cyber attack. Right now. Because at the moment, if an enemy wants to attack us, that's where to do it. The soft underbelly of our nation lies in its over-dependence upon technology which it only barely knows how to use.
How do we achieve getting the best hackers? There is only one way: education, education, education! Because the best hackers are also the best programmers, and the best programmers are the best students in math and science. We need to not only have an entire branch of the military devoted to cyber warfare, we need the personnel to staff it. And we cannot get that by slashing education funding or farting around with voucher programs that have been proven not to work in the field.
The biggest threat to our national security is Betsy DeVos!
Besides, if we really want to increase military spending, we could better do so by supporting the veterans of the wars we've already fought. We could actually fund our military hospitals and hire more doctors and nurses to care for our soldiers. We could clear the backlog of veterans waiting for medical services. We could train them for new occupations after they get home so that they are not unemployed after they set the uniform aside.
So let's rally around this theme: Less hardware! More cyber personnel! Because this is one area of over-bloated government spending where we really could get a lot more done for a lot less cash!
Sunday, February 12, 2017
If you want to see where the insecurities are, follow the gold market.
Back when the Obama administration was in full swing, I would occasionally foray out into conservative media, just to hear what they were lying about lately. What I noticed wasn't so much what they were saying on their program as who was advertising on their shows. There were various fraudulent weight loss products and international star registry scams - things long since debunked on other media. (Where there are gullible people...) And gold. Lots and lots of advertisements for investing in gold.
Why gold? Because gold remains steady when other forms of currency fluctuate. And because conservatives were convinced that Obama would be a complete disaster, the gold market was hyped up to an irrational degree. Now, gold is a great hedge against inflation, don't get me wrong, but inflation was never a real threat during Obama's entire eight years in office. So the over-marketing of gold was all due to one thing: conservative media frenzy.
Between March of 2008 and August of 2011, the price of gold nearly doubled, fueled almost entirely by irrational Tea-Party fears of an Obama crash. At its peak, gold had gone from trading at $1000 per ounce to $1900 per ounce, and it didn't look to be coming down any time soon.
Then it all simmered down. Gradually, people began realizing that they were just fine. After Romney lost the 2012 election, and four more years of Obama were secured, the bubble finally burst. Between March of 2013 and June of 2013, gold prices crashed from $1600 per ounce all the way down to $1200 per ounce. It has remained roughly around that price ever since. Oh, it went up as high as $1380 per ounce during the 2016 election frenzy, and then sank down below $1200 per ounce again once it was all over.
Here is the official gold price chart.
Of course, I saw through all this. I saw how the conservative robber-barons had invested in gold beforehand, and were now artificially driving up the price in order to cash in. This is part of why the price fell so dramatically after 2012 - they divested and took their profits, leaving the middle-class with a loss in their investment portfolio in a few gold coins - perhaps kept hidden behind the family portrait. It was a cruel way to punish concerned citizens who just wanted to protect their family nest-egg.
But they'd been sold a bill of goods that said Obama was evil, and they bought it. Then they bought gold. And they were wrong both times. They lost out both times.
But now gold is ticking up again, trading at $1210 per ounce and climbing. Why? Because it's becoming obvious that Trump is ever bit the disaster we all feared he would be. Investors are again turning to the security of gold to protect themselves against a weakening dollar and the horrors of inflation, or worse, defaulting on the national debt - which Trump does not seem to care much about.
And where is gold advertising for investors? Why, on liberal media!
Thanks in large part to the brand-new WRRD radio station, 1510 in Milwaukee, we can easily listen to shows like the Thom Hartmann program. Sure enough, gold is advertising on that show like gangbusters!
It's not hard to see why. The conservatives think Trump will be great, so gold investors can't play off their fears. But they can certainly play off the fears of the liberals! And that's exactly what they're doing.
I'm not going to say that gold is a bad investment this time. It was before, but unlike back then, this time there's a real threat. Our back is against the wall with a national debt Republicans refused to let Obama do anything about, and now Trump is the one who has to pay that bill. But Trump sucks at paying what is owed. He prefers to simply ignore debt and default into bankruptcy.
And who will bail out the U.S.? The International Monetary Fund? Get real!
Gold may be a smart bet this time around. But not because people want to hedge against a falling dollar.
This time, they may want to divest themselves of gold later - and buy Yen, Yuen, Rubels, Pounds, or Euros - depending upon where they have to flee the Trump regime.
Friday, February 10, 2017
It's barely his third week in office, and Donald Trump has already fucked things up royally. What a surprise. In response to his sudden ban on all arrivals from key foreign countries - and by "key" I mean those whom Donald Trump does not have a business interest in, such as the biggest harbor of terrorism, Saudi Arabia - people are protesting at airports, just as they did in city streets the day of Trump's inauguration.
So far, it's been one long protest march.
As heartening as that is, I'm very tempted to tell many of the protest marchers to fuck off. Where the fuck were you all before the election? You know, when your passion counted? Was this your plan all along? Let Trump get into office, fuck up the Supreme Court, and then try to take advantage of the backlash? Do you really think that justifies deliberately fumbling the football on the 1 yard line? First you let Trump win, and now you're pissed at what he's doing now that he's won. And all for irrational hatred of Hillary. Fuck you.
But, on the other hand, better mobilized than not. Hillary would have had her backlash too. And if there's going to be a downfall of an entire political party, I would rather it be the Republican side. That's the positive part, and we can really benefit from it.
If Trump doesn't destroy it all first. Which is a very real possibility.
Barely his first month in office and he's already screwed things up so badly that he needed to move up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee.
"Oh, look! A SCOTUS justice!"
There's only one rational position which can be taken regarding Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch. And that's one of equal measure. Republicans blocked any consideration of Merrick Garland for 11 months.
Now Republicans owe us 11 months of no hearings for Neil Gorsuch.
Fair's fair. You block Obama's nomination for 25% of his term, we get 25% of a presidential term back. The only even-handed course of action is eight Supreme Court justices for nearly two solid years! Eleven months! At least! Starting now!
Better yet, no votes for Gorsuch until we get one vote for Merrick Garland. Okay, so he'll fail the vote. But he will have been voted upon! Is that too much to ask? Apparently even that little bit is, according to today's politics of ultra-warfare.
Of course, I don't expect this will happen. I expect Republicans to exercise the nuclear option, do away with the filibuster and confirm him. But this will come back to bite them when it's our turn (just as it's biting us now because we did a nuclear option for cabinet appointees under Obama), and that may be only two years away when we (I'm certain) flip the House and Senate.
Which brings me again to the backlash. I wrote in this blog back on November 13th that we needed to focus on the electorate, and not just elections. I strongly recommended more liberal radio stations to counteract the conservative media blackout of rural and suburban America. Well, I'm glad to see that someone is doing that in the Milwaukee area. WRRD, AM 1510, is now on the air! How very awesome! I never thought I'd see the day when liberal radio would come to Milwaukee. But it's here! Almost as if someone actually listened to me for once.
Maybe I should bring back the Sacred Cow Wursthaus as a radio show.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Yes, I'm here. I haven't been arrested. I haven't fled the country.
I've been working, and that's a good thing. It's nice to have a day job again. But that means I can't spend hours in between resume postings writing things. It's a sad trade-off. Sooner or later I had to get back on the hamster wheel, and so here I am, wasting away eight hours a day just like the rest of you.
But on this, the inauguration day of Donald Trump, I felt it necessary to put my thoughts out there again. Because the world needs to hear them, and I need to say them.
You see, with the onset of the Giant Wheel of Cheese Administration will undoubtedly come opportunity. The backlash can and will be fierce, and we can save America on the rebound with a poisoning of the Republican brand the likes of which has never been seen before. Right-wingers who have been drunk with success will have one HELL of a hangover coming! It can and should be a two-to-four year presentation of "We told you so!" to all ears who can hear, followed by the defeat of trickle-down voodoo economics once and for all. We can take full advantage of this...
If America is not destroyed first.
No, I don't think I'm using hyperbole. My approach to the Trump Misadministration is to prepare as though a hurricane were approaching. Shutter up the windows, bolt down the doors, stock up the bunker, and hunker down for the worst. Yes, it may be necessary to evacuate from any storm, but I truly don't think any of us should flee the U.S. There's just too many of us out there, and we outnumber the Trumpets by a considerable margin. They can't control us all, and it's far more likely that certain States may break away from the Union before their citizens flee elsewhere. We could see the onset of the Republic of California, or New England actually becoming the Commonwealth of New England. Washington, Oregon and greater Vancouver could fulfill their dream of establishing "Cascadia." Southeast Wisconsin would almost certainly join Northeast Illinois and Northwest Indiana to forge a new breakaway republic. We could call it "Williana." But I digress.
Perhaps the storm analogy is not so accurate. I'd say it's more of a crucible - an internal fever that will burn the craziness out of our culture. On the other hand, the refining fire may also burn us to death. Just as a body could emerge from an illness stronger, the illness could also kill the body.
Which will it be? I don't know for certain. But I know this much: I'm going to fight to keep America going, and to make sure Trumpism goes down in flames and what passes for "conservatism" with it.
John F. Kennedy once said that the Chinese word for "crisis" was a combination of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." This was factually wrong as far as Chinese is concerned, but danger and opportunity can often be the same thing.
That danger and opportunity is now here. Brace yourselves! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Remember our fathers' generation, when aiding Russian agents was considered the ultimate betrayal of America? Well, apparently that's okay now, according to some Republicans.
A report from the Washington Post, confirmed by other news sources such as CNN, shows that a secret CIA assessment confirmed what we suspected all along - that Russian hackers actively sought to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
The Obama administration knew about this and wanted to break the news to the public back in mid-September. The public, of course, already had its suspicions, and it was no secret that Russia was probably involved, but some Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, said that would be a partisan influence upon the election.
Think about that. A foreign power actively sought to tamper with the United States election process, and McConnell and others actually thought that was a partisan issue? Since when is a violation of our national sovereignty, especially if it involves tampering with the voting process, anything other than an act of war upon the United States?!
Apparently, it's okay to call Obama a socialist while paling around with Ruskies to undermine the vote or mislead the public. What the fuck has happened to America?!
Think about Obama's remarkable restraint. He had this bombshell in hand, and chose to hold onto it. He even convened Republican and Democratic leaders together to release the information as a consensus view. Republicans actually balked in response to this chivalry! And when James Comey dropped his non-news-story mystery box that thwarted Hillary's huge lead, Obama held onto this news story still!
Okay, I know he's a great man for being so honorable, but when you're fighting such dishonorable opponents.... Oh, shit, let's get real. He just plain fucked up!
Damn it, Barry! You're my hero! Why couldn't you play hardball just this once?!
The day this report came out, Rush Limbaugh was decrying the mainstream media for making such an issue about "fake news," saying that the mainstream media IS, in fact, fake news.
Up is down, black is white, day is night... At this point, the frog has not only been boiled to death, the beaker has boiled over, and the water completely evaporated. What's now left of the frog is now sizzling at the bottom of the glass surface, slowly charring. That might sound like a tasty treat if you happen to be French, but if you're American, it's our national tragedy.
Julian Assange, in a recent TV interview, said that Russia was not the source of his leaks. That would be what legal scholars call a lie. Assange is now not just an enemy of Hillary Clinton. He is an enemy combatant against the United States! He complains about being confined to the embassy of Ecuador in London. Perhaps he should count himself lucky to not be confined to Gitmo.
In my previous blog post, I pointed out that it is conservatives, not liberals, living in a bubble, and we now have the polling data to prove it. Now we've come to realize just how incredibly thick that bubble is, and what indestructible material its made out of.
We can't burst that bubble. We can't even shatter it. It's made of titanium. We have to blowtorch our way in.
And that could take a long, long while.
Friday, December 9, 2016
The loser in this year's presidential election was not Hillary Clinton. The loser was the Truth.
A recently published poll by Public Policy Polling shows that Trump supporters live in their own, private reality, just like Trump himself does. They believe, even now, that he's honest and tells it like it is. If by that, they mean he's blunt, they may have a point. But Trump has been caught lying on camera so often that it's stunning that the word "honest" could be applied to him by anyone.
Here's what the poll shows:
40% of Trump supporters believe that he, not Hillary Clinton, actually won the popular vote. 60% of them honestly think that millions voted illegally for Hillary. (If so, why do so in California and not Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida or Wisconin?)
29% of Trump voters think that votes from California shouldn't count. (!) Only 53% think they should count. 11% aren't sure. (How the hell can you not be sure?)
73% of Trump voters think that George Soros is paying people to protest against Trump. So where's my check, already?
67% of Trump voters actually think the unemployment rate has gone up instead of down during Obama's tenure. Wow! That's one hard rock they're living under!
Think that's bad? 39% of Trump supporters believe the stock market has gone down during Obama's tenure. What the fuuuuuuuuck?!
14% of Trump supporters think that Hillary is connected to a child sex ring out of a Washington D.C. pizzeria. That seems like a low number, until you see that only 54% of them think she isn't. 32% are, incredibly, unsure.
76% of Trump voters view CNN unfavorably. 84% of them view the New York Times unfavorably.
Only 16% of conservatives think that Trump should release his tax returns. A whopping 61% percent think he shouldn't.
So, it's official. When it comes to the truth, Trump supporters don't fucking care. In other words...
THE BUBBLE OF DISCONNECT IS NOT AROUND LIBERALS!
One of the more interesting stories I saw this morning involves an 18 year old boy from Macedonia whose fake news stories have garnered him a tidy fortune. All he has to do is say something favorable about Trump, scandalous about Hillary or negative about Obama and he gets hundreds of thousands of hits.
It's time to face facts. Skepticism is needed in America now more than ever. With one voice, those of us who are actually informed need to take the message out to the countryside billboards and proclaim that we need Truth with a capital "T," that when Truth upsets your entire world, your entire world needs to change, that when Truth comes to you through a news source you dislike, the solution is to accept the Truth and not change your news source.
About a month before election day, I had a conversation with a bartender in which I cited Snopes as debunking a Hillary story he believed. He replied, in all honesty, "Oh, Snopes is a liberal conspiracy web site."
In a debate with a softball teammate of mine about global warming, I included a link to NASA's website showing the North Pole arctic ice cap melting away month by month from the 1980's to today. And he said, in all honesty, "Oh, that's just CGI."
It's gotten so bad that people will casually dismiss NASA or Snopes as "liberal," and apparently liberal equates somehow with untrustworthy.
We need to tell people that Truth is Truth. Truth is not whatever agrees with your team colors.
This could be the era in which skepticism saves us. Or it could be the era in which truth is lost forever. Or at least until the advent of the Singularity.
We need a Vulcan moment. In Star Trek, the planet Vulcan was filled with chaos and turmoil until the philosophy of logic saved it through the teachings of Surak. We need a Surak now, one who says in the words of T'Plana-Hath, matron of Vulcan philosophy, "Logic is the cement of our civilization with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide."
It's up to us. Spread the word! The Truth must be accepted over ALL our comfortable illusions!
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Okay, Donald Trump has yet to be sworn in, and if we're lucky, there's still a chance the electoral college will do its job and keep that from happening. But recently there have been indications that Joe Biden wants to run for president in 2020. That forces the issue somewhat. Who do we want for 2020 when the imperative of dislodging Donald Trump gives us a chance to undo the inevitable damage?
My personal favorite. Elizabeth Warren was everybody's pick for Veep in 2016, but she turned down any opportunity to run. She's 67 now, which means she would be 71 by 2020, but then, Hillary was 70 and that didn't stop her. She's near the top of everyone's list, and #1 on mine.
Want a likable candidate? How about the guy who once ran into a burning building to save people! Barack Obama with teeth? Sign me up!
Super smart, successful, and Latino? We couldn't do much better than former HUD Secretary Julian Castro! Come to think of it, his twin brother, Congressman Joachin Castro of San Antonio, Texas, wouldn't be a bad pick, either.
Could he try again? Lots of people think so! Certainly he has a large, devoted following. But he's 75 now, which means he will be 79 then. Will the youth vote flock again to a man who is almost 80? Hard to say. But certainly, the next Democratic Party candidate will need this man's blessing if he or she is to have any chance. He's either the next candidate, or he's the kingmaker.
Who better to follow in the footsteps of a total joke of a president than a former comedian? Saturday Night Live star Al Franken has been using his incredible wit to make people laugh for decades. I can just imagine the Twitter war between this guy and Trump already!
Let's face it, the electorate is shallow. Someone exciting needs to get the public to vote for a woman, and Kirsten Jillibrand might just be the ticket. She's got the expertise, she's got the resume, and let's be honest about it, she's got the looks. If Elizabeth Warren isn't our gal, I think Kirsten is probably our best shot at getting a woman into the Oval Office. And, to be frank, I think we need a second shot at that, seeing as how Hillary was deliberately tripped at the finish line by James Comey.
Here's a thought: How about an Iraqi war veteran who has served as the Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs before winning seats in Congress and then Senate in Illinois? Illinois produced a hot-shot Senator once before as you may recall, and his name was Barack Obama. And like him, she's of mixed "race," being half Thai-Sino and half Daughter of the American Revolution. I don't know about you, but I think that having the first female president would be only slightly more satisfying than seeing the first president in a wheelchair since FDR.
Can Uncle Joe do it? I'll bet he wants to! He might be feeling a certain amount of regret over not jumping in back in October of 2015. He certainly has a large following of people who really like him. But perhaps 2016 proved that old blood can never win. And let's not forget, Uncle Joe is so much fun because he constantly says the wrong thing at the wrong time. His foot-in-mouth disease is the main reason he's vice president and not president. Plus, he's 74. Which would make him 78 in 2020. Only a year younger than Bernie? It might as well be Bernie himself then. Or else someone Bernie endorses right out of the gate. Still, Uncle Joe is a real trip! Maybe just the thing we need after four years of Trump.
Who's this? Why, she's the new Senator-elect from California, and the first woman ever to be California's Attorney General! She brings a golden resume to the table, and one hell of a mixed heritage, being the daughter of an Indian-American mother and a Jamaican-American father. Of course, genealogy only counts for so much, but when your opponent is Nazi-salute Trumpenstein, it can count for a lot. Fortunately, she would be a top-notch candidate no matter what her ethnicity might be. If you don't recognize her name now, jot it down. You'll probably see it again very soon.
He was supposedly the "boring" pick for VP by Hillary, but look what he brings to the table: A stellar record as Virginia's Governor, fluent in Spanish, and sharp, sharp, sharp! He might not look so boring four years from now.
Oh, yeah! Him! That guy that couldn't compete with juggernauts like Hillary and Bernie in 2016, but who set himself up well for a later run by being one of the only other Democrats to score significant percentages against them. He eventually dropped out, but he dented the armor of his opponents a little, and performed superbly in the first debate.
Some other interesting names:
Sherrod Brown - Senator from, yes, Ohio! Any candidate that can deliver Ohio is worth taking seriously.
Cicilia Munoz - Smart and savvy member of Obama's cabinet, Cicilia Munoz has never been a Congresswoman or Senator. Yet that's just what people are looking for these days - qualified, yet an outsider. Plus, she's Latina! The daughter of Bolivian immigrants. Again, genealogy only goes so far, but against Trump...
Lincoln Chafee - Former Governor of Rhode Island who ran in 2016. He might run again.
Jim Webb - Veteran and former Senator from Virginia. He ran in 2016 as well. But if Tammy Duckworth runs, his soldier's resume won't stand a chance.
Lawrence Lessig - Oh yeah! The Harvard Law Professor who said he would enact election reforms, then resign. It was a great publicity stunt, and got people talking about the issue for a change. Unfortunately, Trump.
Do you like my list? Have you picked a favorite? I have. Several, in fact. And I hope you have, too.