Trial Balloon for a Coup? Probably Not.

This article has appeared several times in my timeline recently.

Combining all of these facts, we have a fairly clear picture in play.

  1. Trump was, indeed, perfectly honest during the campaign; he intends to do everything he said, and more. This should not be reassuring to you.
  2. The regime’s main organizational goal right now is to transfer all effective power to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this.
  3. The inner circle is actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power; yesterday’s moves should be read as the first part of that.
  4. The aims of crushing various groups — Muslims, Latinos, the black and trans communities, academics, the press — are very much primary aims of the regime, and are likely to be acted on with much greater speed than was earlier suspected. The secondary aim of personal enrichment is also very much in play, and clever people will find ways to play these two goals off each other.

If you’re looking for estimates of what this means for the future, I’ll refer you back to yesterday’s post on what “things going wrong” can look like. Fair warning: I stuffed that post with pictures of cute animals for a reason.

Yonatan Zunger, Trial Balloon for a Coup?

I would ignore the title, and most of the argument building up to a coup-d’etat, that is just hysteria talking. The formation of a core group that will do the deciding is troubling, but for different reasons.

Pence is clearly angling to replace Trump. I think that has always been his goal. The congress doesn’t want to impeach Trump (bad optics) and the only way out of that is to confirm the cabinet so that they can vote to remove Trump; except that Trump has offered appointees that essentially can’t do their jobs. This creates another problem for congress because they have to act (bad optics again) to appoint a body to remove him, and the cabinet nominees he’s selected are not likely to vote to remove him (See the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution) So it’s going to have to get a whole lot worse before we will see action to remove this guy from office.

Meanwhile (as the OP article goes into) Trump is siphoning off cash as fast as he can get his hands on it, and is channeling it into offshore accounts (most likely) He’s planning on taking the golden parachute out of the White House when he is forced out.

As I warned everyone before Caveat Emptor. This is his standard business model. Stealing money and then walking away with it. If we want to stop this we are going to have to put pressure on congress now to hold him accountable and not just accept that he will escape with our money. We need him arrested and tried as a traitor. The 19% of that Russian Oil company, if it can be traced to him, should be enough to get a conviction if only we can get our hands on him and place him in custody.

But that means people need to wake up now. Not later, now.


I would add the following observations, having read Yonatan Zunger’s other articles on the subject and now having read the StonekettleStation comments as well.

The issue that minorities will face if we let this sit until Congress acts on their own without our collective feet up their collective asses is why we should get mobile and active now. The fact that Trump has always been a thief means that he doesn’t measure success the same way the rest of us would measure it. If he leaves office with a fat load of taxpayer money and campaign contributions, he’s back in the black and set for the remainder of his life and his children’s lives. People can say whatever they like about him. He will know he has won, he has to money to prove it.

Money is all he cares about. Money is his measuring stick. We need to deny him his success in this venture and that means getting him arrested, tried and convicted.

Facebook musings reposted to the blog on the historical date they were written. 

When Government is the Answer

Please direct your attention to the image at right, one of those ever present internet memes that purport to offer valuable insight to the problems we face in modern day society. The problem is, they aren’t. The aren’t memes for one, and they aren’t usually clever insights for another.

Let me explain this image for the layman, for those not studied in the subjects of design or engineering.

What you are looking at is direct evidence of subsidence or compaction. The drain so ridiculously placed at the high point in the road in the image was actually installed at the lowest place in the road when the road was constructed. However, typical construction methods would have it installed at the top of a concrete shaft which is anchored further down on a concrete reinforced tunnel, the effect of which is that the drain opening will resist settling or compaction; settling or compaction which soils around the drain opening are vulnerable to. Consequently the road around the drain opening slowly becomes lower than the drain opening itself, making it appear that the installers simply didn’t understand where the water would go.

The solution to this problem is to understand the physical forces at play here, to make sure that the people who build roads and drainage systems understand how to avoid failings like this by instruction and certification and to make sure actual installations don’t fail in this fashion through inspection or hold the creators responsible through litigation.

It is also a good idea to have systems in place to make sure that all these things occur at the time and place they are needed, rather than decades later when the random passersby happens to snap a picture that they think proves some bigger point about systems and efficiency.

In other words, the solution is effective government. Effective government, which is only an oxymoron in the US and other areas dumb enough to adopt our systems as theirs. 

Monsanto Defrauded Investors, Court Rewards Executive?

Reuters

The Securities and Exchange Commission has fined Monsanto $80 million for defrauding investors by misstating its earnings and awarded more than $22 million to the former Monsanto executive who blew the whistle and tipped off the SEC.

Sounds fair until you realize the $80 million penalty mainly hurt Monsanto shareholders, some of whom were defrauded by Monsanto’s earnings misstatement. And the $22 million award goes to an executive whose own pay was likely pumped up by the fraud.

Unless and until the government begins to hold executives personally liable for corporate misdeeds, those misdeeds will continue.

What do you think? – Robert Reich on Facebook

This is a drop in the bucket compared to the big problem businesses, like the banks. I don’t see boards being held accountable anytime soon. More likely would be the revising of corporate law to constrain corporate practices in particular ways; say limiting maximum compensation to some multiple of the lowest paid worker, or requiring the corporation to spend x% of gross revenues on charitable works.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.

The Corrupting Influence of Faction

I was speaking yesterday with a group of European politicians, who expressed surprise at how “undemocratic” our presidential nominating process is. They pointed to:

1. The large percentage of “superdelegates” (political insiders) that will decide on the Democratic Party’s nominee.

2. The large number of primaries (such as the critical New York primary on April 19) that are closed to independents – even though there are more independents than registered Democrats or Republicans.

3. The increasing likelihood that the Republican convention will be “brokered” and that neither of the leading Republican candidates will emerge as the Republican nominee.

I explained that before the early 1970s, it was even worse; each party came up with its nominee in party conventions, without relying on the outcomes of primaries or caucuses.

“And we thought you were a democracy!” said one of my visitors.

What do you think?

Robert Reich
Amazon – the correct image, not the one Secretary Reich used.

The parties organized themselves outside of government as a way to control government to profit themselves. We were never a Democracy, and to the extent the parties have subverted the election process, we are that much less a Republic.

I have never been interested in living in a “dictatorship of the proletariat” no more fond of one dictator a thousand miles away than I am of a thousand dictators a mile a way. Democracy is and should be limited to the vote, the selection process of our representatives.

The parties should only endorse candidates that embody what the parties sees as their core principles. Should only embrace candidates that further the cause of the party. That is their purpose. The problem arises when the only candidates which can appear on the ballot are the candidates from the two parties. When the only candidate which can win belongs to one of the two parties.

The situation we find ourselves in now.

I don’t think the GOP should nominate Trump. The fact that he has won primaries has no bearing on his benefit to the party itself. His status as an outsider is detrimental to the party if they embrace him as a nominee, giving him power to set the course of the party for several years to come.

So too the Democrats should not embrace Bernie Sanders if they are not convinced that he would improve the prospects of the party. That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be on the ballot. That Trump shouldn’t be on the ballot. It means that the system as it currently exists is broken in ways that most people are only now beginning to understand. What is needed is to break loose from the calcium deposits that have formed around the structures of our government, and shake up the ways that our representatives are selected.

If you are dissatisfied that your candidate will not appear on the ballot, I say “it’s about time. Now roll up your sleeves and get to work” because it’s going to take a lot more than one election to fix this mess

Quentin Tarantino Doesn’t Hate Cops

The title of this piece over on the Washington Times was enough to set me off,

“Quentin Tarantino called police on home intruder less than two weeks before anti-cop speech”

For instance, the speech wasn’t “anti-cop”, that is simply repeating the misinformation spread by the police union representative. So even the title is inaccurate on its face. Tarantino had an interview on MSNBC yesterday in which he spelled out the context of his speech, and the reason why he used the term murderers in relation to the specific murders which have been committed by cops.

ALL IN – Quentin Tarantino responds to controversy – Nov. 4, 2015

The hysteria surrounding the population’s willingness to film and confront police officers who are clearly not acting in the best interest of the general population is just that. Hysterical. As in, hysterically funny.  My response to this is to start a Quentin Tarantino viewing marathon.  To plan on watching his new film even though I hadn’t even heard of it until this story broke. Congratulations fear-mongering police supporters, you’ve made money for Tarantino with your stupidity on this subject.

Labor Unions: Disinfectant for Corporate Largesse

Walker is the opposite of his predecessor more than a century ago, “Fighting Bob” La Follette, who as Wisconsin governor from 1900 to 1906 led America’s progressive movement against the growing dominance of big corporations over government. La Follette fought for worker’s compensation, a minimum wage, progressive taxation, women’s suffrage, and more direct democracy – including the right to recall public officials.

Robert Reich on Facebook

The part of free-market capitalism that most capitalists these days don’t understand is that the government largess towards corporations takes the ‘free’ out of it. If the playing field were truly level, the market truly free, there would be no corporations. Individuals would have to own businesses directly with all the liability that entails.

When you suggest this to modern day freemarketeers they either a) screech in horror at being required to be responsible for their businesses actions, or b) don’t understand the amount of liability actually involved in conducting business in today’s world and so think that’s a great idea.

In either case the corporation is here to stay, and so unions should be as well.

Facebook status update backdated to the blog. 

State of Play

State of Play – Trailer

State of Play, A drama as convoluted and dirty as real life. It’s a dirty little secret that privatization of government functions is actually more expensive, and that the corporations make fortunes from government contracts. We are all corrupted by these deals, as all the players in this film are touched by that corruption. My kind of drama.

TVTAG/Facebook comment backdated to the blog. TVtag (Getglue) was an experiment in essentially MST3King everything on broadcast TV. Unfortunately for TVtag, the DVR made the interaction necessary for MST3K treatments to work nearly impossible to achieve. TVtag later turned itself into something called Telfie, which has also ceased to function. I can’t even find the archives on the Wayback Machine, consigning Getglue/TVtag/Telfie and all my comments there to oblivion.

TxTag; It’s Not Very Friendly.

The Wife has been driving to Lockhart for the last three days, using the toll roads. So TXtag, in their infinite wisdom, disabled online access to our account because the increased activity drained the account down into a negative balance. No emails saying “account suspended”, or more wisely, no email saying “here’s how to pay, pay now”.

Even better, when I finally get to talk to someone at TXtag (the first operator hung up on me, she apparently had virgin ears) manage to figure out what the toll charge was per day, and got the account back open, there isn’t any way to check usage and see what the current charges are. Most annoyingly, while waiting on hold, I’m told every 30 seconds about how I can go online and pay, when I wouldn’t have been hearing the message if that were true.

I don’t know which petty little modo thought it was a good idea to disabled online access when accounts go negative, making it harder for people to actually pay their tolls, but I don’t think that person is qualified to sweep floors, much less make important decisions of this nature. Yes, I’m looking at you Governor Perry.


I scalded both sets of ears of the people I talked to. I got the account reopened and all additional charges dropped, but I have a real problem with the way they’re doing this stuff. The State should be handling this themselves if they want to charge us for the roads, or at least have the contractors answer to the state (which they don’t do know. They only answer to the gov) it has to change and the only way to change it is change who is running the state.

Facebook status and comment backdated to the blog. I still don’t like TxTag, and it is getting harder to avoid toll roads.

Our Hearts Weep for You West, Texas

Being Liberal on Facebook

Yes, I KNOW that this is a cheap shot, but I simply cannot resist. On April 17th, 2013, a fertilizer storage facility exploded, killing fifteen people and injuring more than 160. The people of West deserve more than to be remembered as the point of a political meme, but this example of corporate largesse begs to be stated as bluntly as possible.

For the last 40 years, corporations have successfully brainwashed the voters, most of whom now believe “regulation” is a bad word, and believe that governments who want to prevent corporations from maximizing their own profits, regardless of consequences, are evil. How many times have you heard the mantra that OSHA interfered with my business? Staffing and funding OSHA has been demonstrably reduced because of calls for deregulation.

Corporations are not evil any more than government is evil. However, they do exist to make profit, for themselves and for their stockholders, and they exist for no other purpose. It is up to government to ensure that corporations function within the parameters of protecting the environment and ensuring the safety of innocents who just happen to live nearby. It is long past time that we stop viewing government regulation as a bad thing. What the current US and Texas state governments needs to embrace is the notion of smart regulation, regulation that serves the higher purposes embraced by the majority of humanity. This includes protecting the environment and public safety, something wholly lacking in current Texas regulations.

The Senator from Canada and the congressional rep for West, Texas and the surrounding area have made the issue a political football because of their stands against Hurricane Sandy relief, while simultaneously asking for aid for this. This hypocrisy cries out to be corrected.

Facebook Status and related edited comments backdated to the blog. A h/t to a Facebook friend is also in order here. As of this posting (04/23/2018) changes to the regulations that lead to this disaster in West have been completely inadequate to keep another such tragedy from occurring. The state government still doesn’t know where these kinds of storage hazards exist. Roger Williams remains the representative for West, Texas and my representative here in Austin. Here’s hoping both he and Ted Cruz are replaced in the upcoming midterms. Changes made to the US regulatory codes by the Obama administration following this disaster have been weakened by the administration of the Orange Hate-Monkey.


Texas Standard, Five Years After the Explosion in West, Texas, Very Little has been Done to Prevent Another One

Spring Forward? Bugger off!

It’s That Time of Year again. It’s a Conspiracy. But we have Little Choice, because it’s Good For Us;

“I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.”

Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks

So, don’t forget that you’ll wake up still drunk Sunday morning because you will have had an hour’s less sleep. And don’t forget to thank Benjamin Franklin for joking about the idea with people who thought he was serious…


Here’s some proof that DST is a bad idea.

The result of the study showed that electricity use went up in the counties adopting daylight saving time in 2006, costing $8.6 million more in household electricity bills. The conclusion reached by Kotchen and Grant was that while the lighting costs were reduced in the afternoons by daylight saving, the greater heating costs in the mornings, and more use of air-conditioners on hot afternoons more than offset these savings. Kotchen said the results were more “clear and unambiguous” than results in any other paper he had presented.

Kotchen and Grant’s work reinforces the findings of an Australian study in 2007 by economists Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff, who studied the extension of daylight saving time for two months in New South Wales and Victoria for the 2000 Summer Olympics. They also found an increase in energy use.

Study: Daylight saving time a waste of energy

Since it doesn’t save any energy, the only reason left for DST is the conclusion I came to before.

What glorious power is given to congress. They can dictate what time the sun comes up, and the sun will listen. Maybe they should tackle that Pi thing, try dictating that it will be 3.2 or something.