If you want to see a political persecution, just look back at Hillary.

We’re starting to get the expected GOP carping about how the indictment of Donald Trump is a “political prosecution.” But if you want to see a political prosecution, or at least a persecution, you don’t have to go that far back in history: just look at the persecution of Hillary Clinton. (Or Bill for that matter.)

First there was the Ben Ghazi investigation. Ask your conservative friends what the Ben Ghazi investigations were about. They won’t remember. Yes, four Americans (including one US Ambassador) perished in the incident, but what did that have to do with Hillary Clinton? Your conservative friends won’t be able to answer that.

The Ben Ghazi investigations did have one outcome that made conservatives happy, in that it revealed the existence of the private email server at Hillary Clinton’s house. That was another witch hunt if there ever was one. Although everyone now agrees that Hillary used “poor judgment” in maintaining a private email server, there is no proof that Hillary’s account was ever hacked, that any secrets were ever compromised, or that any laws were ever broken.

The multiple investigations — including the FBI and Inspector General investigations — did not turn up anything that could be prosecuted. If it had, you can be sure that it would have been.

So, if Trump’s acolytes and defenders want there not to be any prosecution of Donald Trump they should tell him to stop committing crimes. Like his attempt to overturn votes in Georgia. Like his trying to foment an insurrection. Like his trying to deal top secret documents to Saudi Arabia.

How about that, Republicans?

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Nothing is going to happen after the latest school shooting

In the wake of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, tempers have started to flair between Democrats and Republicans. 

Now personally, I am not an anti-gun absolutist. I can understand why some people want to be able to own a gun for their own protection. But just like car owners, they should have a license and be required to carry insurance. That would not prevent anyone from owning a gun, it would just require them to take some care to use it properly.

But Republican pro-gun activists left reality behind a long time ago. Now, the tiniest infringement on anyone owning and carrying a gun wherever they want to is, in their view, a major assault on the Second Amendment. It is not.

Democrats have noted that Republicans are willing to regulate the uterus, who can get married, which books can be banned, what history can be taught, and who can transition, but when it comes to regulating guns they are just throwing up their hands. Nothing can be done.

GOP Representative Andy Ogles, a pro-gun extremist who represents Nashville, where the shooting occurred, caught a serious amount of flack for offering the usual and completely useless “thoughts and prayers” after his most recent Christmas Card featured his entire family holding guns.

In a Christmas card.

Then New York Representative Jamaal Bowman got into a heated argument with Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, after he noted — quite accurately, by the way — that Republicans won’t do shit about guns.

Democrats have slowly had enough.

And spare me “red flag” laws, which really do next to nothing to protect anyone either.

In the case of the Covenant School shooting, Republicans were all agog (of course) about the fact that the shooter — Audrey Hale — was someone who was transitioning their gender. Police initially identified him as a woman but later said he was a transgender man, assigned female at birth, but now used masculine pronouns.

It was probably the only interesting thing about this particular shooter.

The problem is AR-15 style assault rifles. When we banned them for about a decade from 2005 to 2017, gun deaths went down to a remarkable degree.

It’s not rocket science.

The question is, how many children have to be mowed down before Republicans think, well, maybe there really is something we could do about guns.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Let’s get to the Real Indictments

It’s nice that Trump is apparently about to get indicted on the Stormy Daniels “hush money” investigation, but really that is yesterday’s news. I mean, first of all, it happened back in 2016, and second, it’s only a campaign finance violation

I’m waiting for the real stuff.

  1. Let’s see an indictment of Trump in Georgia for his attempt to “find” 11,780 votes. The one where we have his voice tape, and we can all hear him say, “C’mon fellas, it’s just 11,000 votes. Give me a break!”
  2. Let’s see an indictment for his role in propagating the January 6th insurrection and his attempt to overturn a legitimate election
  3. Let’s see an indictment for his deliberately withholding top secret documents and trying to barter them to countries like Saudi Arabia.
  4. Let’s see an indictment for tax fraud violations. I mean, his company was already convicted of tax fraud. They didn’t do it without his complicity.

One indictment for hush money payments, and Trump can laugh it off. Five indictments, and now you’re talking about a career criminal.

Which is, of course, what he is.

Trump claims he’s going to be indicted on Tuesday. Maybe he got a tip-off. I guess law enforcement officials are concerned about how Trump world will react even if it’s just an indictment for the Stormy Daniels thing. I guess we’ll see.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch under Oath

News of what was in Rupert Murdoch’s recent deposition in the Dominion defamation lawsuit has trickled out into the media spotlight through various court filings made in that case. National Public Radio (and other media outlets as well) has already documented the stark discrepancies between what Fox News hosts claimed on air and what they were saying to each other in private in texts and emails.

Now comes the news that Rupert Murdoch had to concede that many of his Fox News hosts “endorsed” the false election claims that Trump was peddling right after 2020.

Murdoch had to concede under oath that at least Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanne Pirro and Sean Hannity all had “endorsed” Trump’s lies.

“I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,” was Murdoch’s comment about the fact that these lies were promoted on air.

C’mon Rupert.

Who are you trying to kid?

They didn’t decide to do this on their own. They decided to “endorse” these lies — well, they decided to lie to their viewers over and over again with a straight face — because this is clearly what they were told to do.

I hope Rupert doesn’t try to invoke the “I’m an old man, I didn’t know what my underlings were doing” defense, as he tried to do in the News International phone hacking scandal.

C’mon Rupert. 

We weren’t born yesterday. 

I mean, you are old. You’re 91 years old. It’s time for you to follow David Koch and Sheldon Adelson and Roger Ailes into the grave. Honestly, it couldn’t happen soon enough. (Why do these mothers always live as long as they do?)

But first, let Dominion take that $1.6 billion bite out of your operation, and make it clear to anyone with a brain that Fox News has never been “fair and balanced” but has been a disinformation factory from the moment that they were incorporated. It will be interesting to see whether Lachlan and Elizabeth and James can keep the operation together when Rupert is finally deported to the great beyond.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

The One Year Anniversary of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Today is the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russians, of course, thought this would be like Desert Storm. It would take a week or two, they would topple Zelinsky, and then it would be done.

And then what?

What would Russia have gained if they had been able to topple Ukraine within a few weeks?

It’s not like Russia doesn’t have enough land. It’s already the largest single country by land area by quite a bit. (Canada is second, at about 58% of the size of Russia.)

Ukraine is a nice “bread basket,” but it’s not like Russia doesn’t have enough farmable land.

And it’s not like Ukraine has anything that Russia really needs. 

If Russia had conquered Ukraine, they would mostly have inherited about 41 million disgruntled citizens, who would have been much harder to govern than Russia’s own 147 million citizens. Under those circumstances, unhappy Ukrainians would have represented about 22% of a combined Russian state. The Russians would not have had the manpower to police a nation of that size.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

The Ukrainians turned out to be remarkably tenacious fighters in defense of their own homeland.

The Russians turned out to be far more inept than anyone had imagined.

But it’s not over by a long shot.

  • Putin — to no one’s surprise — is “all in” on his war, and has no intention of backing down.
  • The NATO allies can barely keep up in supplying the Ukrainians with weapons to defend their homeland.
  • NATO still isn’t giving the Ukrainians fighter jets, in order to keep this from turning into WWIII.
  • The Iranians have been selling cheap but effective drones to the Russians, and there’s a good chance the Chinese will arm them as well.
  • Despite the West’s best efforts, sanctions have (predictably) not collapsed the Russian economy.
  • Putin has actually strengthened his position at home, with many people in opposition simply having fled the country.

One might have thought that the enormous number of casualties among the Russian soldiers — some estimates are that they have lost more than four times the number of soldiers in one year than the United States lost in a decade in Viet Nam — would have turned the Russians against the war.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

Hundreds of thousands of young men reportedly fled from Russia after Putin instituted a nation-wide draft. They fled to Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and especially Kazakhstan. (God knows how these countries are going to absorb all these young Russian men.) But it hasn’t caused a major civil uprising in Russia, and probably never will.

And the war crimes that Russia has clearly committed in Ukraine, and which are being documented as much as possible as things go along?

Those will only be punished if Russia is completely defeated, as Germany was in WWII.

That’s not going to happen.

I’ve argued repeatedly in the past that comparing Trump to Hitler is not really an appropriate comparison. But comparing Putin to Hitler really is. Putin is a man who really doesn’t care how many people get killed in the pursuit of his ambitions. It is by now widely known that Putin began his career by (having his minions) plant bombs during the September 1999 Russian apartment bombings — thereby killing his own citizens — as a pretext for invading Chechnya in the Second Chechen War. For all the conspiracy nuts who thought that George W. Bush organized the 9/11 flights into the twin towers, here is a conspiracy theory that actually turns out to be true.

And yet, many conservative Christian Republicans love Vladimir Putin because they think he is on their side in the culture wars.

Putin supposedly “had a devoutly Christian mother and has worn a crucifix around his neck for most of his life,” but he’s no more a Christian than Adolf Hitler, who also professed to believe. Putin has about as much in common with Jesus Christ as a fish has with a bicycle.

But that hasn’t stopped conservative Christians from jumping to his defense.

Long story short, this war is far from over, and the Russians will likely get better at fighting it, and the Ukrainians more depleted and exhausted. The final outcome is anyone’s guess.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

Who calls the police on a 9-year old Girl?

Who the hell calls the police on a 9 year old girl? Holy cow, someone should be embarrassed about their own conduct!

There was a story about nine year old Bobbi Wilson, who has (thank God!) been embraced by the scientific community after a white neighbor called the police on her. Not surprisingly, our little girl is black. As reported by NPR:

Bobbi, a petite child who wears pink-framed glasses, was doing her bit to comply with the state’s Stomp it Out! campaign, which urges New Jersey residents to help eradicate the spotted lanternfly infestation. She’d learned about it at school and made her own version of an insect repellent she’d seen on TikTok. Making her way from tree to tree, Bobbi would spray the bugs, pluck them from the tree and drop them into a plastic bottle.

Neighbor and former Caldwell city counselor Gordon Lawshe, who is 71, called a police dispatcher and reported on Bobbi, saying in part:

There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though.

It scares you?

Is this guy for real?

If he didn’t know what she was doing, and wanted to know, why didn’t he just go out and ask her?

He’s a full-sized adult, she’s a tiny little thing in pink-framed glasses.

The story eventually became public, and the scientific community rallied around this little girl, with the Yale School of Public Health who held a ceremony for her. In addition, she received the Caldwell Environmental Commission’s Sustainability Award.

Lawshe is going to be shamed to a proverbial death on the Internet, as he should be. That a grown-ass man could call the police on a little 9 year old girl who is trying to do good is something this moron — a moron who was once elected to the city council — should be ashamed of for the rest of his life.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

The problem may be with the Cops.

Today I guess we’ll see the release of a tape that will show the brutal beating of motorist Tyre Nichols in Memphis after a traffic stop. But just like there was a twist in the two California mass shootings — both committed by elderly Asian men — there is a twist in this one as well: the five officers involved are all black.

Would they have beat the ever living shit out of this kid if he were white?

Hard to know.

There is, after all, black on black racism.

But the problem may just be with cops.

Apparently they beat this kid for three minutes. The video is going to be more brutal than the Rodney King video. And in this case, the poor kid died. (Not immediately, but after three days of hospitalization, apparently from internal bleeding.)

They kicked him, they pepper sprayed him, they tased him, and there were five of them.

This was over a traffic stop (albeit reckless driving). The kid ran away (OMG!)

There seems to be a character flaw with certain (but certainly not all) police officers. They resort to violence far too quickly. 

When cops complain that having to regard the civil rights of the public hamstrings them in their duties, that is (for the most part) ridiculous. You can treat people with dignity and still enforce the laws.

I realize that some members of the public could try any of our patience to its limits, and that hidden dangers lurk everywhere. But that’s also why cops make good money. In Massachusetts many of them make six figures. These officers are not making department store salaries.

And it doesn’t take that much self discipline not to beat the ever living shit out of one slender guy when there’s five of you, even after a foot chase. Just put some cuffs on him and be done with it.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

All of our gun reform efforts will be a Nothingburger, until we face our addiction

Over the last few days there were two massacres in California. (“At least 18 dead in 3 days after mass shootings in California devastate 2 communities.”) One of them was in two different locations, and that one seemed to be motivated by grievances with a former employer. The other one may initially have been motivated by a grievance against an ex-spouse.

Two things were unusual about these massacres: both of them were perpetrated by older men (72 and 67) and both of them were perpetrated by men of Asian descent.

And really, it doesn’t matter what the grievances were. What matters is that our country is awash in guns, and there is nothing that anybody can do about it.

Back in June, when lawmakers passed, and the President signed, the “bi-partisan” gun reform, I said it was a complete nothingburger.

And I stand by that assessment.

Nothing is going to change in America until we kick our addiction to firearms — an addiction as strong as cocaine is for some — and stop equating guns with “freedom.”

Guns don’t represent freedom.

Guns represent violence.

In the United States we have more guns per capita (393 million guns in a nation of 326 million people) than any nation on earth. We are the only nation that has more guns than people. Second in line are Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and the latter nation is currently in a civil war.

Compare that to Japan, where 0.3% of people own handguns.

Or compare that to the Netherlands, where about 2.6% of the people own guns.

In the Netherlands, there were 76 gun deaths in the entire country in 2018. By contrast, the city of Memphis TN accounted for 306 homicide deaths in 2021 by itself.

All of our efforts at gun “reform” are a nothingburger until we stop sanctifying (and misreading) the 2nd Amendment and until we start taking assault rifles off of the street.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Now they’ve found Classified Documents at Mike Pence’s House

So now they’ve found classified documents at Mike Pence’s house.

Oh boy.

Can’t wait until they find classified documents at Barack Obama’s house.

This whole shitstorm seems to be pointing to something that some commentators have been suggesting for quite a while, which is that the United States government classifies way too many documents.

I don’t know who makes those decisions. I don’t know what the criteria are.

But the whole thing seems to be out of control.

So one thing seems clear is that if Joe Biden didn’t know that he had classified documents at his house, neither did the Russians or the Chinese. There wasn’t any security risk, because nobody knew the documents were there. So nobody was looking for them.

Same for Mike Pence. I’m sure whatever documents he had were accidental.

Not so for Donald Trump. He didn’t take documents accidentally. He took them deliberately and wilfully. He hung onto them even after he had been ordered to return them. He hung onto them even after he had sworn that he had returned them. He pretended to have declassified documents when he did no such thing.

All the evidence — although this would be difficult to prove — is that Trump was hoping to use the documents to bargain in some way. Especially with foreign countries.

Still, the drip-drip-drip of documents being found at Biden’s various residences and offices has certainly been enormously frustrating and annoying.

Wondering how many different documents and how much of a drip-drip we’ll get from Pence’s residences and offices.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

David Crosby died Yesterday

David Crosby died yesterday, and it left me with somewhat complicated feelings. Crosby was, of course, one of the founders of the Byrds, and then subsequently one of the founders of Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).

CSN&Y famously played its second gig ever at Woodstock.

Crosby himself was a complicated guy. Prone to addiction and erratic behavior, he spent 9 months in a Texas state prison in 1985 on weapons and drug charges, and then was arrested again in New York City in 2004 on more weapons and drug charges. (That time, he only got probation and a $5000 fine.) 

Crosby was also the recipient of a highly publicized liver transplant in 1994, which generated a discussion about whether a celebrity who abused his body as much as Crosby had should be eligible for a transplant ahead of other, less famous people in the line.

Finally, Crosby had complicated relationships with his bandmates. He fought with just about all of them, and at the time he passed away he was still on the outs with all three of the other members of CSN&Y.

But here’s the thing: Crosby was part of the hippie generation.

And the hippies were right. 

About just about everything.

Our society is corrupt, and seems to be getting more corrupt all the time. As technology seduces us, and we become more alienated, and the rich get richer and the powerful get more powerful, I long for the idealism of the hippies. That may not have been a practical life-style, but there are so many things so wrong with our current world, that a part of me wishes we could blow the whole thing up and start over again.

With better intentions.

For whatever his faults, David Crosby was always on the right side politically. He was anti-war and anti-nuke back from the 1960s, and had stayed progressive ever since.

His generation is dying out now, and I’m sorry to see them go. And, let’s not forget that Crosby was an extremely talented songwriter. Very talented. And a very good singer, who was able to blend his voice expertly with his other bandmates.

I don’t personally believe in the after-life, and Crosby is now wherever he was before he was born. But I hope that he had a sense of completion by the time that he did pass away.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment