Gmail Hovercard Doesn’t Sort by Address Anymore

Why Google? Why?

Feel free to spam those addresses all you like.

The hovercard doesn’t sort by address anymore? Why? That function is perhaps the single, most used function in Gmail. Thousands of people are now screaming at their laptops in frustration. All of those thousands of put-off tasks now immediately requiring attention because you can’t find a fucking thing in your inbox easily anymore because you can’t isolate the one section of messages you are interested in seeing. Now that mess that you’ve put off cleaning up for months has to be dealt with, and the raging emergency that sent you in search of that one email that you can’t find now because Google changed the interface in Gmail, again, this time for good, and the new interface won’t let you isolate the newest, most important messages from that one address without having to manually type it out.

Do you think you will make me empty my inbox by making it harder to find stuff in it? Is that what you are thinking Google? People are not using email anymore because it’s such a frustrating mess of things that they just don’t want to look at? You think you’re going to make me clean my room now, do you Mom? I really don’t think you want to get in that fight with me. I’ve been known to throw out important things, like my favorite software providers, when pressed to do things I don’t want to do. I’m going to go play video games now, Google. Let’s hope one of us feels like making up when we see each other again. 

Forcing Allegiance Is Fascism

Stonekettle Station on Facebook

Lauren McGaughey is reporting on this story for the Dallas Morning News. She says the case stems from a suit filed by parents of a student who was kicked out of school for not standing to recite the pledge. The student and her parents say the school violated her First Amendment rights with that punishment.

“Attorney General Paxton says that it’s a ‘moral good.’ He said, in a statement, that kids learn about citizenship and patriotism from saying the pledge every morning,” McGaughey says.

A First Amendment expert McGaughey talked to says he believes the Texas requirement that students recite the pledge is unconstitutional.The Texas Standard


The Texas Standard KEN PAXTON INTERVENES IN SUIT FILED BY STUDENT KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL FOR NOT STANDING DURING PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE September 26, 2018

Ken Paxton is a Christianist. He wants to force Americans to worship his God. This is a documented fact that anyone can find out for themselves with a simple Google search. A good portion of Texas agrees with him and his fascist views concerning the Freedom of/from Religion guaranteed by the US Constitution. If evil exists, and I am agnostic on the existence of evil; but if evil exists his views and the views of his fellow Christianists are an active evil in the mind of modern America. Ken Paxton should be shunned. He should be rejected at the polls. If you vote for Paxton, you are voting for evil.

I have a distinct opinion on the subject of forcing children to pledge allegiance, as the title of this article and the above paragraph should make abundantly clear. My qualms about the wisdom of making children pledge allegiance before they are old enough to know what words like allegiance mean go back to an early reading of The Children’s Story by James Clavell. In that story the children in a generic classroom are introduced to a new teacher sent to them by their new government. That teacher explains the intent behind the words of this pledge they’ve been forced to recite all their young lives, but the explanation she offers is a lie, and the children are too young and impressionable to know that they are being lied to by an authority figure.

These qualms came to a head when Texas passed a law requiring that children pledge allegiance to the Texas flag as well as the U.S. flag. I received a flyer amongst several other pieces of documentation sent home from school with my children the year this law went into effect, a flyer informing me that Texas law required all students to mouth the words of the United States pledge of allegiance, as well as the then newly revised Texas pledge of allegiance (HB 1034) in addition to observing a moment of silence once each day (SB 83) a practice that intended to re-introduce morning prayer into Texas public schools. The sponsor of HB 1034, when queried on the subject of religion, had this to say (source, Capitol Annex: More HB 1034 Exchanges):

BURNAM: Are you aware that Governor Perry has recently said, “Freedom of religion should not be taken as freedom from religion.” And my question is, do you agree with that statement, Ms. Riddle?
RIDDLE: I would say, Amen.

Which pretty much sums up the intent of the modification of the pledge, and the accompanying minute of silence. It also showed the utter contempt the governor and the majority of the legislature had for anyone who didn’t share their particular christian beliefs. Freedom of religion is a meaningless concept unless it includes freedom from religion; requiring someone to have a religion places constraints upon the person, negating any freedom that might be present.

The requirement to recite the two pledges has been on the books since 2003. When they changed the pledge in 2007 they felt they needed to inform parents, once again, of their children’s duty to stand and recite the pledges. This prompted me to fire off a letter to the school in response, telling them in no uncertain terms what I thought of their forced indoctrination into religion and what has become a transparent attempt to create an American theocracy.

Dictators and cult leaders require the slaves under their rule to swear allegiance to them, because power is jealous of rivals. In a free society, pledges of allegiance should not be required, because individuals are free of any allegiance other than to rational self interest. Additionally, pledges required of the public are contrary to the sentiments of the founders of the United States, as it reverses the role of the subservient state and places it above We The People.

Obviously, from the tone of this letter, you will be able to discern that I am hereby notifying you in writing that my children will be exempted from this practice. They will not be required to recite any pledges, nor will they be required to observe a minute of silence. This notice is given pro forma, because my children have abstained from reciting the pledges for the entire time that they have attended school; and they have done this without asking me or the omnipotent state for permission to do so. They have remained silent during pledges even in my presence, when I have recited the pledge autonomically; and I applaud them for their strength of will.

If it was possible, I would extend this exemption to any student of AISD, of any school district in Texas, or of any state in the United States, who wished to abstain from reciting the pledge, but lacks the permission that the state requires.

The Religious Right, the Christianist right, have simply become more strident over the years since 2007, not less.  They do not appear to have learned anything from the many battles they have engaged in and lost when it comes to the subject of making the US a christian nation against the will of the majority who like it just the way it is.

Nor is this an issue of socialism versus fascism, the author of the pledge having been a card-carrying Socialist of his timeSocialism itself is not a bad word. Socialism is another in a long list of bogeymen that really should be retired, since the mindset that inspired the pledges and Marxist Dictatorships of the twentieth century now looks as alien to us as most of the other concepts of the time do. However, it does remain fascist to force conformity to any ideology; fascism being the sole surviving ideology that holds up Authoritarianism as a benefit to society. Freedom of conscience requires that we allow people to believe what they want to believe and to act according to their own conscience. That means that allowing people to abstain from reciting the pledge is the least we can do in acknowledgement of their freedom of conscience. Imagine what it would be like if football fans could be reasoned with in this fashion.

The article that included the letter sent to AISD

#IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People

Stonekettle Station on Facebook

You tell me the world has changed much since 1994.

And yet here you are, telling me that we should put that same old mindset, boys will be boys, all boys do it, on the Supreme Court and you know, it’s hard for me to see that much of anything has changed at all. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

I want to tell you a story. No. Scratch that, I need to tell you a story, a story that’s needed to be told for quite some time. It’s a true story, so I will take a little literary license with the details to masque the identities of those involved; but the story remains true enough that those involved will know the truth of this story. Both the guilty and the innocent will know the truth of this.

It was 40 years ago. A young woman stumbled into a frat party near a  lake. She was naked. Her hair was matted with twigs and dirt. She was half-drowned, very drunk and confused. She said she had escaped from someone trying to kill her. She was raving. She sounded crazy. Someone had snuck up behind her while she was answering the call of nature. A few too many beers, she said. He had raped her, tried to strangle her, and then dumped what he thought was her dead body in the lake. “I’m a good swimmer” she declared, triumphantly.

No one that found her knew who she was. She had been brought to the party by friends from another frat. Just looking at her, you could tell, she had been through some serious trauma. So these benefactors, these people who had no idea who she was, took her to the hospital where it was confirmed that she had been raped by someone. The police were called. Yes, she said. I want to press charges. Yes, she said, I know who it was that raped me and tried to kill me. She gave his name to the police.

…and that was when the trouble started. This young man was well known, a hometown kid. She was a nobody. She had been shipped off to this far-away place because she had gotten pregnant.

Her high school sweetheart had been insisting they should have sex for most of their senior year. They had just graduated. It was time to celebrate, so she finally gave in to his desires and her own. And why not? She wasn’t going to be going to the college she wanted. Her parents refused to send her to Europe, to the conservatory that she had a free ride to attend. To Europe, where her musical talents could be properly honed. They refused to buy her a plane ticket, even though they could pay for it. “You can’t make a living playing music” they told her. So here she was, in the arms of the man she thought she would marry. There was little else to look forward to, from her perspective.

She wasn’t stupid. She knew that she could get pregnant, but she loved him. She thought he loved her, until she found out she was pregnant and told him. Then he disavowed her. He said he’d never had sex with her, so it couldn’t be his child. He was going to the college he wanted, after all. He couldn’t stay there, get married and raise kids. That just wasn’t his plans for his future. Alone and pregnant, she was sent away to live with foster parents. Sent away to a place where none of the friends and family would know of her dirty little secret. The dirty secret that she had been foolish enough to believe a man when he told her he loved her.

She did the right thing. She carried the child to term, because that’s what you are supposed to do. She carried the child to term and gave it up for adoption. That was the christian thing to do. Accept your punishment for having sex, and give birth to children you can’t afford. Children that you give away to strangers who can afford to raise them for you. She went through all of that, because that was what she was supposed to do.

With the embarrassment of nine months of a belly she didn’t want, a child she couldn’t keep, couped up with people she barely knew but strangely adopted as parents anyway; with all of that behind her, she set her sights on doing the best with what she had left of her life plans.

She still had her musical talent, even if she wouldn’t be touring Europe as part of an orchestra, the role she really was suited for. Her college friends envied her her gift, a natural ear for music and the ability to pick up nearly any instrument and play it well enough to shine in state competitions. But teaching music was the best she could hope for now. She didn’t relish the thought of teaching others to play, but if that was the best she could do, that is what she would shoot for.

A few months into her delayed college education, she was invited to that fateful party. Had a little too much to drink. Had the misfortune of needing to relieve herself. Left herself vulnerable to the jealous and the talentless albeit well-liked hometown boy. A hometown boy with a grudge.

Once again, she did the right thing. The thing you are supposed to do. She knew her attacker, even though she was drunk at the time. She knew what he had tried to do to her, had actually thought he had achieved. Thought she was dead when he left her floating in the water. Just another body found washed up on a beach somewhere. A tragic accident. Except it was rape and attempted murder, and you don’t let that go unpunished.

She pressed charges against the hometown boy. Faced him in court. Accused him of the crimes that there was far more than sufficient evidence for. He was found not guilty. Why? Because she had done the right thing, over and over. She had yielded to the man she wanted to marry. She had carried the resultant child to birth and given it away. She had shrugged it all off and made the best of what she had left. She had the temerity to stand tall and not be embarrassed by the things society told her were embarrassing. Why should it be embarrassing? Doing the right thing should be praiseworthy. Shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it!

“But,” they said, “she was a loose woman.” This was evident because she had given birth recently. Given birth instead of having an abortion and hiding the evidence of her improprieties, her loose ways. Loose women just want to have sex, and clearly she wanted to have sex with this hometown boy. When he rejected her, she staged the entire scene. Choked herself, tried to drown herself, rolled around in the dirt, naked, and threw herself on unsuspecting strangers in order to malign the hometown boy. Who was the court to believe? This loose woman, spirited away from her family and friends in order to save their reputations? Or should the court believe this fine, upstanding hometown boy who, while musically talentless, was still a handsome young man with a promising future? Who indeed?

Who indeed? Not guilty. Case dismissed. Free as a bird, he flew. Still flies. As I said, a true story. True enough, anyway.

So when I read stories about “why didn’t they come forward?” In the news these days, news about high profile judges and corporate leaders and politicians galore, men of high stature accused of the wrongs that they’ve hidden in plain sight until finally some woman has had enough that she just won’t take it anymore and risks everything to shine the light of justice on these loathsome individuals, I don’t even have to ask “why don’t they come forward?” I know why. They didn’t come forward before, and most of them will not come forward now because they won’t be believed. As the latest accusations about Brett Kavanaugh circulate, while the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief defends him, and the same old song and dance plays out. Just like it always has. These women are not believed by far, far too many people. It’s too convenient not to believe if believing means you have to change who and what you think is right in the world.

Equilibrium on the Equinox

What happens on September 22nd? I think to myself as I start looking through today’s history on Facebook. It’s bugging me. This day is important. There is an event that occurs today, what is it?

Obviously, it is the equinox. It took a bit of googling to turn the lights on, but finally, I had my answer. That is the significance of September 22nd. Equinox. Equal amounts of day and night across the globe.

Most years, this happens on either Sept. 22 or 23. However, every once in a while, the autumn equinox can occur on Sept. 21 or 24. This happens because the length of a calendar year (365 days) is not equal to the time it takes for Earth to travel around the sun (365.25 days). To make up for this inconsistency, people have observed “leap years” for the last two millennia. By adding a “leap day” (Feb. 29) to the calendar every four years, we have managed to keep our seasons more or less consistent from year to year.

The last time the autumnal equinox fell on Sept. 21 was over a thousand years ago, and the last Sept. 24 equinox was in 1931, according to timeanddate.com. While it’s been a long time since the equinox occurred on Sept. 21, we can expect to see it happen twice in the next century, first in 2092 and then in 2096. The next Sept. 24 equinox will be in the year 2303. (Keep in mind that these dates are based on Universal Time, so some time zones may not experience these equinoxes on the dates listed here.)

Space.com Autumnal Equinox Not the Same Day Every Year

Equinox. Equilibrium. Balance. I’ve been feeling pretty unequal for about a month now. Unbalanced. The Meniere’s has been particularly burdensome since sometime in mid-august when the left ear started to flare up again. There has been a near-constant feeling of pressure in the ear for the last month. The pressure started a bit early this year for me, and it has lasted longer and been more annoying. But then this is the beginning of fall and it’s accompanying seasonal allergies. I just got my annual symptoms a little early this year, I guess.

Along with the pressure have been long bouts of hyperacusis and/or painful tinnitus. I can’t hear, I’m uncomfortable, I feel ill as if I have an infection. I went to the ENT yesterday just to reassure myself that I wasn’t actually ill. Nope. Not ill, just Meniere’s. This feeling of malaise has lasted for a solid month, almost without respite.

Which is why there is a dog hugging a goat at the top of this post. Denied physical balance I will seek mental balance. Calmness where I can find it. Lacking medical treatment to alleviate the symptoms of Meniere’s, I will simply endure it for as long as it takes. I see a lot of World of Warcraft in my future.


So I woke up this afternoon with vertigo again. This is the third day in a row (10/22/2018) I have woken up with rotational vertigo. The third day in a row where I wake up and quickly drug myself. Take meclizine. Add Xanax if necessary. Stare at the screen in front of me for hours at a time. Try not to shift the focus of my vision because that always causes a little bit of spin until the new focus point is established. Lovely. Just lovely. This bout of vertigo is just the latest part of the symptomatic spell that started mid-August for me. This makes it a pretty solid two months of being severely symptomatic.

The vertigo spell finally ended on Wednesday the 25th. I celebrated by getting out of the house for the first time in a week and treating myself to an All Star Special at the Waffle House. Since Austin has established a Boil-Water Mandate in response to the record breaking rainfall on the Llano Estacado, and the subsequent flooding of the highland lakes including Lake Travis, the lake that provides Austin’s water, the choice of places to go was rather limited. When a restaurant can’t use the water that comes out of the taps to make the food they sell, most restaurants will simply close when there is no visible demand for their services.

But the Waffle House is always open if they can turn the lights on and fire up the griddle. That is why there is a Waffle House index for disasters. It was a yellow day, plastic tableware and a limited menu, but I would have gone to the Waffle House anyway. Love the coffee, even if it has to be decaf these days. I have to have hashbrowns and eggs over easy, too. My goto breakfast for those days when just waking up is a good thing.

Being symptomatic, when you have a chronic illness like Meniere’s, is not a contest to be won. You don’t get brownie points for suffering more than the next guy, because the next guy’s goal is the same as yours. That goal is getting through the bad days so that you can enjoy the good ones. If your good days don’t happen often enough, maybe you should change the things you are doing, or the treatments you are using, and see if you can’t get yourself more good days. Since there is no cure, and you won’t die from it (ergo chronic illness) the only metric available to you is the number of days in a row where you wake up glad to still be here. Today was one of those days. I had waffles, and I got out of the house. Looking forward to the next good day, now. If only the pressure in the left ear would ease off. That would be great. 

McConnell’s Hypocrisy

A woman has accused a Supreme Court nominee of drunkenly pinning her to a bed, groping her and covering her mouth when she screamed. She has provided therapist notes from well before the nominee was a public figure. She has taken a polygraph test. She is willing to undergo an FBI investigation and testify under oath before the Senate. The man in question has been nominated to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, where he will be interpreting the Constitution, and is likely to be the key vote for overturning a woman’s right to choose.

Yet at today’s conference for social conservatives, the Senate’s Majority Leader said none of this matters: “In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the U.S. Supreme Court. So, my friends, keep the faith. Don’t get rattled by all this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job.”


Plow right through? I hope every woman (and man) in America is paying attention to this, and votes accordingly on November 6th. Your view?
 

Robert Reich on Facebook

McConnell should be convicted for his crimes, his breaches of professional ethics. In 2008 when he set the Republicans to oppose everything Obama proposed, he should have been censured, right then and there. But instead of punishing him for his malfeasance, the Republicans doubled down and doubled down again, and then again, until we get to this impasse we are in now.

After all of their racism directed at Barack Obama. After all of their hypocrisy decrying programs they supported before Obama, and Clinton before him, proposed and passed the exact same programs. After all the Republican backstabbing and double-dealing to get their way. Denying Merrick Garland, President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, any hearing for a year. Forcing the entire nation to wait a year with an evenly divided Supreme Court, just so that they could use the 2016 general election as a referendum. The Republicans are now caught in their last act of criminality, if not their last act of hypocrisy. They have someone they want on the Supreme Court. Someone that they know is their last chance. Their last chance to get a conservative on the court before the tide turns against them, and they won’t give up this guy no matter how much loathsome activity is dug up about him. None of it matters to them.

Why would it? They voted for and then willingly followed a guy who bragged about being able to commit murder in broad daylight in front of witnesses and not lose a single vote. They still support this weasel of a man, this Orange Hate-Monkey. They have no conscience, no honor. They have nothing left but obedience to their leader, obedience that should cost them their very souls. It won’t because they’ll skate away just like the wealthy criminals that they are. I have no sympathy for craven people like that. A pox on all their houses.

…I will never vote for a Republican again. Never.

Facebook comment copied to the blog.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked legislation on Wednesday that would reopen most of the government currently closed during the partial shutdown.


Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) went to the Senate floor to ask for consent to take up the House-passed bill that would fund every agency and department impacted by the partial shutdown, except the Department of Homeland Security, through Sept. 30.


McConnell, however, objected. It’s the fourth time he’s blocked the bill to reopen most of government. He has also blocked, as recently as Tuesday, a House-passed bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8.

The Hill: McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government January 23, 2019

Take this man’s job away from him. Mitch McConnell should not still be in the Senate, much less leader of the Senate majority. Why have we not taken his job away from him yet? Oh, right, because Republicans still own the Senate and Republicans love power more than country. They love power more than truth. They reward loyalty to party over loyalty to the American people. Republicans have become the party of authoritarians and corporate fealty. They would be beneath notice if they didn’t still hold such high office. Time to alleviate that problem. It’s up to you, Senate Republicans.


Vox.com January 30, 2019

Only Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans could manipulate something as benign and well intentioned as making Election Day a holiday into a vast left-wing conspiracy. It really shows how scared to death they are of the American people actually having a say in our democracy.

Robert Reich on Facebook

This just proves my long time assertion, an assertion laughed at by many. The Republicans are only in it for the power. They are only in it for themselves and their party. They no longer care about the great experiment that is the United States and they don’t care about democracy or the rule of law unless it is law they dictate from above.

If Republicans cared, they would be on the same side as the Democrats, promoting participation and a level playing field across the board. They haven’t been for any of these things for quite some time, at least since the day that Mitch McConnell declared that Barack Obama should be a one term president even though Obama won the office by greater margin than any President in recent memory. Mitch McConnell should spend the rest of his life in an orange jumpsuit. At the very least, he should be kicked out of the Senate and denied the pension and healthcare benefits that former members of the Senate enjoy. He is a prominent stain on the party of Lincoln. Maybe not the worst, but he’s been there longer than most. Time for him to go, and his party will have to do this themselves, if we are going to save this country.

Facebook comments embroidered and backdated to the blog. Virtually the same comment all three times for all three instances.This is the depth that the GOP has sunk to. To have a Senate delegation lead by a Trump toadie like McConnell has proven to be. He should be put on trial with Trump.



Wrong Again. Why am I Not Surprised?

Robert Reich & Facebook

On this day in 2015, Robert Reich started his status about the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) with this gloomy paragraph,

Donald Trump is leading all other Republican candidates — not just in polls but also, according to Google Trends, in Google searches. This could push Trump even higher in Google’s search rankings, and such higher rankings would in turn bring him even more support.

He went on to prophesy that the OHM could well win the presidential race based on Google’s skewing of the preferences of Americans through their use of specific algorithms to produce search results. At the time, I was completely oblivious to the structural problem in the internet’s construction, the bias that serving us more of what we wanted to see lent confirmation to the beliefs that we operate under on a day to day basis. This fact alone probably explains why I thought Hillary would win (she did win, but not where it counted) Google served me results that confirmed my bias, masquing the discontent that was felt by far more people than I ever suspected. Felt most especially in three key states that squeaked out a lead for the OHM in the Electoral College. My response three years ago was,

Donald Trump is and will always be a three time loser. In order to be this at running for President, he will have to run one more time after he loses this bid. I encourage him to stick with it. I would like to be right in a prediction for once. In the meantime Bill and Opus for President 2016.

Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County

Sadly, Bill and Opus did not win, although the brain that briefly inhabited Bill the Cat’s body did apparently get enough electoral votes to become president. The conspiracy that aliens are controlling the OHM remotely remains a distinct possibility, however, since the brain of Donald Trump has never been found after it left Bill’s head.

Looking back at my utter cluelessness as to just how ready nearly half the US voting population was, willing to watch the entire place burn rather than vote for Hillary Clinton, makes me wonder just how much of that ire is Facebook and Google’s fault? How much of my cluelessness is the fault of their algorithms and how much is my own desire to see the United States continue in some recognizable form?


HIDDEN BRAIN Voting With A Middle Finger: Two Views On The White Working Class October 15, 2018

No matter what the answer is, the America that emerges from under the OHM’s attempted dictatorship will be a different America than went into it. That much is certain. It is certain because America has already changed under the OHM’s naked propagandizing, suppression of the government’s regulatory ability, disregard for disaster relief, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. Whether that change is for the better or the worse will be determined this November. I’ll see you all at the polls.

The Fallout from 2008?

September 19th’s Indicator from Planet Money turned out not to be too surprising to me.


THE INDICATOR The Psychological Effects Of The Financial Crisis, Lingering September 19, 2018

It is not only in the housing market and mortgage market where we observe these effects. Take the stock market. Financial crisis clearly affected returns to your personal portfolio. And our calculations suggest that a person who was about 30 when, say, in 2008 the financial crisis hit will drastically reduce her inclination to be a stock market participant. And it will take about 30 years until this effect is not detectable anymore in the data.

As if 2008 was the only crash Americans who are alive today have been through. I remember black Monday. Even though I remembered that crash, I still stupidly invested in the stock market in the 1990’s. That lead to my being caught up in the .com crash. It infuriates me that they call that crash a bubble, as if it was self-revelatory that the markets would crash that time, when in fact there was no more warning that the whole market would reset that time any more than there is warning any other time the markets crash. There are only warnings if you are paying attention to the details. If you have enough money to pay people to mind the details for you.

BBC Business Daily

There were warning lights all over the boards in 2007 leading into 2008. Ask any of the analysts featured in The Big Short, if any of them will talk to you. The real estate bubble not only didn’t fully deflate after the slaughtering started on September 14th of 2008; not only did it not fully deflate, the same people who cashed in before the last crash are already re-inflating that bubble to make more money off of it. And so it goes, round and round and round. Inflate. Short and deflate. Rinse and repeat. For the the wealthiest 1% it is just a game. They have money to burn and if they lose a few millions here, a billion there, what do they care? It passes the time. So what if a few of the little fish jump out of windows or die in poverty?

I will never invest in the stock market again. That is what I learned dabbling in the stock market. Investing is for wealthy people and I will never be wealthy. The markets are rigged to favor the wealthy, this is patently obvious. Insider trading gets you a slap on the wrist, and that’s what the wealthy do. They exploit information asymmetry, one of the baseline benefits of wealth, the ability to buy the latest information and the best people to make that information tell you what you need to know. Most Americans, most people, will never be wealthy. It is time Americans learned this lesson and structured their society accordingly.

Most of them, most of us, will die poor. We have the ability to make poverty something other than a slow, miserable death sentence. If we’re smart we’ll set that system up, replacing the one we have now. 

#27 Treason

Twitter

This has been one of the most illuminating podcasts I’ve heard on the subject of the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) and his near-daily flirtations with destroying everything we Americans hold dear. I have taken the time to create a tweet for each episode, putting the wordage on low heat and letting it simmer till it is reduced to its defining 280 characters. I present them here in all their minimalist glory.

I embarked upon this task because I knew I would be posting links to these podcasts, repeatedly. I wanted to be able to explain why the #MAGA, Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, were wrong about whatever lie their OHM had poured in their ears most recently. Most of these Tweets have come in handy more than once; so I figured, why not share them?

Ignoring Emoluments? #ImpeachTrump

I mean, what exactly does somebody like Trump pray for?

I want to hear him lead a prayer for the people he called our enemies.

I want to know how that goes. If he’s going to offer up “thoughts and prayers,” well let’s have the details then. C’mon. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

We’ve heard the phrase constitutional crisis all our lives. It’s a phrase I’ve heard and seen attached to many different people for many different reasons over the course of my 50+ years. The phrase is more than just a little misleading. As I’ve heard several pundits note in the last few years, the United States is always in a constitutional crisis because there is always someone out there doing something that is questionable from a constitutional basis. But the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) represents a level of disregard for lawful behavior that shocks even a dyed-in-the-wool non-conformist like myself.

Jim’s quote concerning the Capital Gazette mass shooting is typical for the everyday crisis we deal with in Trump’s America. The recitation of the conservative mantra of thoughts and prayers after tragedies rang hollow even before the current level of disdain for lawful behavior was exhibited by the most corrupt and compromised leader in US history. To hear those words come out of his mouth is to need to dig your own ears out with an icepick. A sentiment that any tinnitus sufferer can sympathize with.

The Hill

Funny thing though. Funny thing. Just last night, at yet another political rally, President Trump was telling us, yet again, how the Press — the PRESS — is the enemy of America. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

I too would like to know what kind of prayers the OHM might offer because; frankly, I can’t imagine him ever praying to anyone or anything. The very notion that he would willingly bend a knee in supplication at any time is foreign to the machismo that he tries to present. That he could put words into a supplication that didn’t sound as false as every other thing he says, making the prayer a mockery, baffles even my (ahem) yuge imagination.

While he’s airing the laundry, as Jim suggests, laundry like his secret thoughts and prayers, perhaps he’d do the people he’s supposed to serve, the American people, a few other favors?

Like what?

Let’s start with other things mentioned in the Constitution. The document that contains that holiest of holy conservative amendments, the Second Amendment, outlines pretty succinctly the kind of strictures that a holder of the office of President must comply with. Not the first amendment, I split that portion of the Constitutional Crisis out and made it its own post. Not engaging in political assassination on a level that would even put Nixon to shame. That also is its own post now. Not even the failure to protect the general health and welfare of the citizens of the United states. That could become many posts all on its own because the list just keeps getting longer. For now it is simply a recitation of the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico. People who still haven’t seen the relief promised by the OHM over a year ago.

No I’m talking about an obscure little clause in the Constitution that hasn’t needed to be litigated until today, largely because no president before the OHM was so brazen as to believe he could flaunt law in the way that he has so far in his presidency. Not since Ol’ Hickory had his agents buy up lands formerly set aside for native Americans in Georgia have we seen profit taking on this level. I’m talking about emoluments, dear reader. Emoluments yet again. Would the OHM mind too much doing we the people the courtesy of releasing his financial statements and clue us in on who is paying him how much and for which favors? He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution that requires this of him, but his lackeys are still telling us how they can’t be bothered to comply with the requirements of the Constitution.

“To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand,” the Trump Organization wrote in its policy pamphlet, which the company’s chief compliance officer said had been distributed to general managers and senior officials at all of its properties. – The Atlantic, ‘Not Practical’ to Comply With the Emoluments Clause 

So while he’s out there offering thoughts and prayers to obscure the blood all over his interpretation of the Second Amendment, maybe he could do the other things that document requires and inform us of just who’s pockets he is in? It’s not too much to ask. Lyin’ Hillary as the OHM refers to her, released 40 years of her financial records to the press, a fact that the press took full advantage of, using it (among other things) to beat her down at the polls. Using her openness to keep her from becoming President. Did I trust Hillary Clinton? No. But then I didn’t have to. Her history was an open book. Her excesses were known. Her habits had been gauged. She would have at least been predictable, would at least have not worked to destroy the world as we’ve come to know it, in the first year of her presidency. All of which is more than I can say about the OHM.

He won’t reveal his financials even though every modern president before him has done this. He won’t tell us who is paying him now, much less who was paying him in the past, refusing to divulge information that has always been public record for elected officials including presidents. This is much more of a crisis than anything else that he’s done or failed to do in office. It is at the heart of his malfeasance and he won’t tell us because he knows just how dirty his financial records are. So either he has to divest himself of all his properties now, declare all his finances, now, or he has to be impeached, now.

Countable

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense for the president and his family to “enrich themselves by using his presidency.”

The Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act would “significantly improve upon the existing ban on America’s highest elected officials receiving financial benefits from foreign powers.”

“Unlike other presidents, Donald Trump has failed to distance himself from his private business interests while serving our nation, and so he and his family are getting richer from Trump companies that receive money and benefits from foreign powers,” Swalwell said. – Countable

Being a United States public official is lucrative enough without resorting to the kleptocratic tactics that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) his appointees and his family have exhibited. The emoluments clause is in the Constitution for this reason, and the ban on all gifts should be applied to all public offices, not just the president and his administration. The OHM is violating the constitution, has been actively violating the oath he swore to protect and defend the Constitution since he swore it last January. Oaths don’t get any more broken the longer they stay broken. If we don’t respect the law, then the law ceases to have meaning. The Republican party has put lawlessness on display for all to see, while trumpeting their status as the “rule of law” party. They have made a mockery of the United States. It is time to take back our government from them.

The Washington Post

The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.
Such transactions have fueled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls U.S. foreign policy toward those countries. Trump’s company has disclosed few details about the business it does with foreign customers, saying it already reveals more than is required.

This is direct evidence of the OHM’s violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Payments directly to Trump from a foreign leader. This is bribery. This is corruption. The Nazi wannabes in congress who are members of the OHM’s party, representatives of the American people who will not move to impeach this poor, white, excuse for a president, are themselves violating their oaths to preserve and protect the constitution of the United States. All of them should be impeached, not just their president. This is the highest crime committed in the United States in my lifetime. That the Republican representatives in congress refuse to act says a lot more about them and their base than they realize.


The Ezra Klein Show, Taking Trump’s Corruption Seriously, August 2, 2018

If there is some scandal lurking that’s going to derail the Trump administration, I think it’s going to be found by following the money, not by following the Russian bots.

Adam Davidson has been investigating this since Trump’s election. If you’re an avid podcast listener, you probably know Adam from his days at Planet Money. He’s now at the New Yorker, doing some of the best investigative work on the Trump Organization. You’ll want to hear what he’s found.

A lot of what is documented by Adam Davidson echoes the kinds of things I was alluding to in Caveat Emptor  in January of 2017. The OHM is dirty, has always been dirty. That is the kind of business he conducts, and this isn’t a secret in any real sense. It was only a matter of time till this evidence became news, and brought down his corrupt administration. The only question is, will the truth arrive in time to save the US from itself, or will the OHM have made such a mess of things that we cannot recover from it?

#TrumpTaxes2018

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and embroidered on all three. 

Amazon is IOI

RBR on FacebookSeattle Times

As mega-corporations grow increasingly powerful, they are exerting more control over their employees. Consider a new patent secured by Amazon for a cage-like contraption to enclose warehouse workers during their shifts. These metal cages mounted atop robotic trolleys are designed to shuttle workers around fulfillment centers, blurring the line between human and machine. Amazon has also considered using electronic wristbands to track their employees’ every move. – Robert Reich on Facebook

So we’ve discovered the genesis of IOI then?

Well, that’s good news?

What’s IOI? Innovative Online Industries. You know, the corporation from Ready Player One. If you haven’t read it, get the Audible version read by Wil Wheaton. It’s excellent. Don’t watch the movie of the same name; or more exactly, don’t watch the movie of the same name and expect to see the story from the book. The movie contains an entirely different narrative, with different characters and different FX sequences. The plot for the book would have been far less exciting on screen, and would have made for a much longer film. As far as video stimulation goes, the movie has excellent FX sequences, they just aren’t plot points that occur in the book. At all.

How do I know that Amazon is the corporation from Ready Player One? Well, for one thing, that cage looks like something that IOI would think was OK for workers to spend the majority of their lives in. For another, the links to the book and the movie both go to Amazon. I could point other places, but they’ll all be owned by Amazon eventually.

The Wife and I watched the film a few weeks back. I had never read the book at the time, she had read the book. We set the viewing up on purpose as a test to see who enjoyed the film more. I’m pretty sure I won that contest. I had nothing to compare the film to and so had no expectations for it to fulfill. She spent the first thirty minutes of the film just trying to figure out where in the book the scriptwriter started the narrative at, because it certainly wasn’t anywhere in the first half of the book in spite of the fact that the first scenes have him living in the stacks.

Having watched the movie I then fell asleep to Wil Wheaton’s voice in my ear for the next week or so, describing the world of Ready Player One. A world that is either a post-apocalyptic hellscape or a capitalist paradise depending on your point of view going into the book. In any case, as usual, the Hollywood version has cardboard cutouts for villains and the novel has pretty well-fleshed characters that you can believe exist somewhere. Neither tale is free of flaws, but both have their own moments of entertainment value.

Just understand that, when I envision the giant robot battle for capitalist dominance of the globe, I will now picture Jeff Bezos inside the Mechagodzilla.

Based on a Facebook status from last week