Saturday, March 30, 2019

Mulling Mueller

[Originally posted at LiveJournal]

Due to family medical issues, I'm a little behind the curve with this, but hey, if you want breaking news, you probably ain't reading this anyway.

My first thought when the essence of the Mueller Report came out was Trump gets his second term no matter what. It now doesn't matter who the Democrats run, Trump wins in a landslide. At this point, I doubt it would even matter if the economy fell off a cliff; the Democratic Party is dead.

My next thought was, "There goes several American institutions down the toilet." I can't believe anyone will believe anything the mainstream media says for at least a couple decades. I lost all faith in the MSM a long time ago, but even I would have never believed CNN, the New York Times, etc. would have flat out lied, repeatedly, for years, about something as completely stupid as Russiagate. Not selective reporting of facts, not slanting the story, not using weasel words to say one thing while giving the impression of saying something else. That's what I've expected from the MSM since delivering copies of the Flint Urinal... er... Journal when I was twelve. But just flat out lying? And not just once or twice, or one journalist going off the rails, but rather 24/7, cover-to-cover lies? Not in my darkest moments would I have ever believed such a thing would be possible.

Then we have the FBI/CIA/NSA/State Department's efforts to hand the presidential election to Hillary. Granted, the grandiose veneer has been chipping off these agencies for decades, but their attempt to stage a soft coup here in the US, as opposed to the more-typical overseas activities, will wreck any credibility these agencies had both here at home and abroad for a very long time, if not permanently.

And finally, we have the DNC. How hard is it for these assclowns to figure out that Hillary lost because the majority of Americans simply do not like her as a person? Sure, both of the major political parties have gone tone-deaf to the voters and live in a self-referential bubble. But just how colossally stupid do you have to be to a) come up with such a cockamamie story to begin with, b) keep harping on it non-stop for more than two years, then c) when it all falls apart, double down and keep yapping about it. I think Mr. Sanders may soon regret lashing himself to the boat anchor the DNC has become.

The big question is, "Why?" The press, I actually understand. The media has made a killing off of Trump. I read yesterday over at Naked Capitalism (or maybe Automatic Earth) that CNN has increased the fee for a 30-second ad from less than $3,000 to more than $13,000 since Trump took his infamous escalator ride. That is a lot of Benjamins, and bottom line, the press is and always has been about the Benjamins above all else. In the case of the various government agencies, maybe they felt that their budgets would be under pressure if the US and Russia normalized relations, but there are plenty of valid reasons to be cautious, even suspicious, of Russia without inventing something as dumb, and easily disproven, as Russiagate. And the DNC? Maybe the people running the show really are just that stupid? Granted, I've seen plenty of institutions get stuck in a narrative and have difficulty breaking out of it, but at some point the antibodies kick in and the ship rights itself. (Excuse me while I madly mix my metaphors.) Were people working for the party that terrified of the Hillary cabal that they would rather see their party implode than speak up? That is some serious dysfunction you got going there.

Anyway, enough of my blah, blah, blah. Here is a selection of what others have to say:

Matt Taibbi: It's Official: Russiagate Is this Generations WMD

The [New York Times] was signaling it understood there would now be questions about whether or not news outlets like themselves made a galactic error by betting heavily on a new, politicized approach, trying to be true to “history’s judgment” on top of the hard-enough job of just being true. Worse, in a brutal irony everyone should have seen coming, the press has now handed Trump the mother of campaign issues heading into 2020.


Imagine how tone-deaf you’d have to be to not realize it makes you look bad, when news does not match audience expectations you raised. To be unaware of this is mind-boggling, the journalistic equivalent of walking outside without pants.

The Automatic Earth: Can We Lock Up Rachel Maddow Now?

Message to Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kemala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard and the rest of the crew: you can stop asking for campaign donations, because you no longer stand a chance in the 2020 elections. Your own party, and the media who support you, made sure of that. Or rather, the only chance you would have is if you guys start another smear campaign against your president, and I wouldn’t recommend that.

Jim Kunstler: Buyer's Remorse

The Narrative is dead! Long live The Narrative!

That’s what played on CNN, NBC, and The New York Times yesterday as they struggled to digest the parting meal Robert Mueller served to the RussiaGate lynch mob: a nothingburger with a side of crow-flavored fries. Mr. Mueller was careful, though, to leave a nice red poison cherry on top with his statement that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Mr. Mueller, who ought to know better, could not be more in error on that too-fine-a-point. The official finding that no crime was committed is, ipso facto, an exoneration, and to impute otherwise is a serious breach of his role in this legal melodrama. Prosecutors are expressly forbidden to traffic in defamation, aspersion, and innuendo in the absence of formal charges. So, it will be interesting to hear what Mr. Mueller has to say when Jerrold Nadler reels him into the House Judiciary Committee, as inevitably he will, to do to some ‘splainin.’

The Russia Times: "One of the greatest hoaxes in US history": Russiagate Narrative's Peddlers to be Held Accountable?

The American establishment and mass media not only wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars “fomenting and stoking tensions” between world nuclear superpowers, but also undermining any remaining trust in them, political analyst Charles Ortel told RT. Americans will have to be looking elsewhere for alternative news sources to avoid being duped any further by the chorus of disinformation from the mainstream media, he added.

Taki Magazine: Russiagate - A Bright Shining Lie

After two years of hearing from haters in politics and the media that President Donald Trump was “Putin’s poodle,” an agent of the Kremlin, guilty of treason, an illegitimate president who would leave the White House in handcuffs and end his days in prison, we learn the truth.

It was all a bright, shining lie.

...and pass the beer nuts.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bob Seger!!

[Originally posted at LiveJournal]

Bob Seger was in Tampa as part of his farewell tour. He may be pushing 80, but he still knows how to put on a show. One of Debbie's brothers was there with his wife and son, and one of my cousins came with us as well. We were laughing that it was a good thing Debbie's nephew came along so we wouldn't be the youngest people in the crowd. We had a great time and it was good to see some family we don't get to see very often. One thing with a crowd made up of old people is that everyone was pretty mellow. Not a lot of pushing and shoving, nobody puking, no fights, etc. The layout of the Amalie Arena makes it easy to get around in and find your seats. We were a little surprised by the lax security: we never had to show anyone that we had tickets. I put my ticket in my pocket when we got out of the car and never took it out until we got home. I used to work for the company that provides security; we checked tickets at the screening area, again when you went into the door, then again when you got to your section. It kinda pissed me off a little; I paid $125 for a ticket that never saw the light of day. But bottom line; awesome show. As always.

Tax season is in full swing and boy is it swingin'. I've already done more returns that I did last year and just with the returns I know are coming my way, I will be doing at least that many more. The phone is ringing off the hook and there is a steady line of people walking up on our porch. We always laugh about how nobody ever comes back to our out-of-the-way corner of the park, but we sure are getting company this year.

In medical news, I've gone from having no insurance to having two different insurances. I need to go through the foot-thick file of bills that have been sitting in the file cabinet since January and try to get some of these people off our backs. My pitch to them will be simple: No job, no money, whatever Florida Medicaid is willing to give you is all that you are ever going to get, so take it and be happy. Anyone want to take bets that will work? Heh.

In our continuing series documenting TEOTWAWKI:

The whole Russiagate thing started with Russian hackers supposedly breaking into the DNC's e-mail server, revealing that the entire Democratic Party apparatus conspired to ensure Hillary Clinton was the Democrat's 2016 presidential candidate. At the time I and many others said that it was complete BS; the e-mails had been copied onto a flash drive by someone working at the DNC who was probably sickened by their chosen party. Well, we were right:

We veteran intelligence professionals (VIPS) have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

The article goes on at length showing how that conclusion was arrived at. It is written by geeks, but in non-geek plain English. Long but worth the time if you care at all about that little thing called "truth".

David Holmgren is a permaculture guy from Australia. He recently published an apology from the Baby Boomers to the Millennials and whatever we end up calling GenZ. The entire thing is loaded with good stuff, but this bit caught my eye:

While our parents’ generation experienced the risks of youth through adversity and war we used our privilege to tackle challenges of our own choosing. Although some of us had to struggle to free ourselves from the cloying cocoon of middle class upbringing, we were the generation that flew like the birds and hitchhiked around the country and the world. How strange that on becoming parents (many of us in middle age) we believed the propaganda that the world was too dangerous for our children to do the same around the local neighbourhood. Instead we coddled them, got into the chauffeuring business, and in doing so encouraged their disconnection from both nature and community. As we see our grandchildren’s generation raised in a way that makes them an even more handicapped generation, we must be truly sorry for the path we took and the disease we created.

Gen Handicapped. I like it; has a certain ring to it.

One of the indications of a nation in decline is loss of faith in its institutions. For example, every nation in the world has always accepted that any plane deemed airworthy by the FAA did not need to go through whatever equivalent system that country has in place. Now, thanks to the 737 MAX debacle, that will surely change:

With the 737 Max 8 grounded worldwide, the MCAS system is now under scrutiny. A Boeing spokesman said on Sunday that the system met all of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certification requirements, but a group of anonymous Boeing and FAA engineers told the Seattle Times that the FAA delegated much of the safety analysis to the company itself, which cut corners to deliver the plane on time.

Typical corporate short-term thinking; rather than risk being "late to market" and lose sales, rush the process, kill customers, and lose even more sales than you ever would have had you just taken the time to do it right. It's the Flaming Pinto all over again, only this time, both a major corporation and a federal regulatory agency will be gettin' an ass whoopin'.

Last but certainly not least, we have a Matt Taibbi two-fer. I knew he had something big brewing when he went into radio silence for nearly three weeks. It was worth the wait. By now, everyone has heard that the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit. The problem is that they really didn't fail so much as make such a hash of their books, teams of accountants were unable to even offer an opinion:

At the tail end of last year, the Department of Defense finally completed an audit. At a cost of $400 million, some 1,200 auditors charged into the jungle of military finance, but returned in defeat. They were unable to pass the Pentagon or flunk it. They could only offer no opinion, explaining the military’s empire of hundreds of acronymic accounting silos was too illogical to penetrate.

When I was a kid, Senator Everett Dirksen allegedly said, "A million here, a million there; pretty soon, you're talking real money" in reference to federal spending. This was later inflated to "A billion here, a billion there...". What Taibbi dug up goes far beyond that:

...the Defense Department a few years ago found about $125 billion in administrative waste, a wart that by itself was just under twice the size of that $74 billion Enron bankruptcy. Inspectors found “at least” $6 billion to $8 billion in waste in the Iraq campaign, and said $15 billion of waste found in the Afghan theater was probably “only a portion” of the total lost.

My favorite bit of the entire article:

Meanwhile, the Air Force, which has a $156 billion annual budget, still doesn’t always use serial numbers. It has no idea how much of almost anything it has at any given time. Nuclear weapons are the exception, and it started electronically tagging those only after two extraordinary mistakes, in 2006 and 2007. In the first, the Air Force accidentally loaded six nuclear weapons in a B-52 and flew them across the country, unbeknownst to the crew. In the other, the services sent nuclear nose cones by mistake to Taiwan, which had asked for helicopter batteries.

When I read that, the first thing that popped into my head was an episode of M*A*S*H with some high-ranking dude explaining that, no the unit could not have some badly needed piece of medical equipment, but they could have a popcorn machine. Just use form blah-blah-blah-stroke-J, cross out "Machine Gun" and write in "Popcorn Machine". I guess whoever wrote that bit was closer to the mark than they knew, only it was form blah-blah-blah-stoke-H, and you cross out "Helicopter Batteries" and write in "Nuclear Missile".

And we trust these people with essentially unlimited firepower. And a trillion dollars a year.

Speaking of a trillion dollars, some people are trying to say Sanders is full of it when he talks about the big banks getting a trillion dollars in bail-outs after nearly wreaking the entire world economy. And it's true that the number is probably no where near a trillion dollars. Taibbi shows that more likely, it's somewhere between $7.7 trillion and $29 trillion. As he points out in the article, the bail-out went far beyond just TARP. There was TAF, TALF, TSLF, TOP, PDCF, Maiden Lanes, interest on Fed Reserve balances, and much more.

Meanwhile, we got the shaft. And the bill.

I think that I posted this before, but I figure that if you made it this far, you could use some suicide prevention. I thought of this video because Debbie is training for her new job, which comes with the possibility of getting a phone call from someone famous. The trainer was talking about treating them like anyone else and not squee-ing in their ear. Sort of the opposite of this:

I think what makes me laugh about that clip more than anything is that in a poll of the 7.7 billion people on planet earth, more would likely recognize Mayim Bialik than Mark Hamill.

And I will close with Dr. Jerry Pournelle's admonition: Remember that despair is a sin.