Never Forget

It seems that every day, there’s another stupidity, outrage, or stupid outrage coming out of the Trump Administration.

Corruption in the Cabinet, bribery (anyone else notice that just a few days before Trump started making nice to China’s ZTE telecom firm, Chinese banks gave huge loans to a development project in Indonesia that just happened to include some Trump properties?), jingoistic displays, the headspinning lies coming from his various flacks and mouthpieces, the on again, off again of the Korea “meet and greet”, his tyrannical pronouncements that strongly imply that he really believes he is above the law, the utter inhumanity of his immigration policies….

It’s impossible to keep up. Each new one pushes the last one to the back.

So let’s take a step back, and look back on the most important one. Not only is it the formal cause of all the others, they all pale in comparison to it.

In 2016, Russia, our most important geopolitical rival, conducted a sophisticated campaign of information warfare on the US. This is a fact.

Their intent was to influence the presidential campaign in favor of Donald Trump. This is also unquestioned.

During the campaign, and also during the transition period, a number of key members of the Trump campaign and his staff had many suspicious contacts with known Russian agents. This is also demonstrably true.

After the inauguration, when the Russian interference was made known, the Trump administration refused to impose penalties on Russia. And they have also refused to take steps that could prevent it from happening again.

The Trump White House has also worked constantly to undermine and discredit the investigation into the connections between his campaign team and Russia.

And the Republicans in control of Congress are so scared of their constituents not re-electing them that they refuse to do anything about it.

If we were in a shooting war, they’d all be arrested for treason.

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Starbucks

It’s been all over the news (at least the news I’ve been reading) this week how Starbucks closed everywhere for “anti-bias training”. This was prompted by an incident where two guests at a Philadelphia Starbucks were arrested for, apparently, loitering. It happened that those two gentlemen were African-American, so it quickly became yet another instance of being arrested simply for the color of one’s skin.

There’s been much commentary about how these sorts of training things are really ineffective. True, perhaps, but you have to give Starbucks credit for at least making the effort without prompting – unlike some other businesses one could mention.

And really, it wasn’t the corporation’s fault. *One* barista called the police. Starbucks could have just told them that their services were no longer needed, and they should seek employment elsewhere. And what about the two police officers? It should have been obvious that there was no reason to arrest anyone. Is the Philadelphia PD going to have more mandatory training on “How to Handle Situations Where an Arrest Is Not Clearly Warranted”?

Personally, I suspect some of people’s griping about Starbucks is residual – and irrational – hatred of the corporation itself. Starbucks was the first real coffee shop chain to go national (as far as I can recall), and all the hipsters and coffee snobs from the Pacific Northwest were jealous. They griped about how Starbucks was selling overpriced coffee and driving local coffee shops out of business. Funny how there didn’t seem to be any coffee shops of the Starbucks variety in the first place. Sure, you had luncheonettes and Dunkin Donuts. But they weren’t places where you could nurse a latte for an hour while working on your latest novel. And now, there actually are more independent coffee shops around.

Another common gripe (since that first one isn’t very relevant anymore) is that Starbucks over-roasts (i.e. “burns”) its coffee. I have two things to note about this. First, take a look at Starbucks’ menu. It’s all “lattes” and “cappuccinos” and “Americanos”. A latte is espresso and milk. An Americano is espresso and hot water. The vast majority of their menu is espresso-based drinks. And guess what? Espresso is the darkest, most roasted of coffee forms. It’s naturally going to taste “over-roasted”. Secondly, how many people order a “plain coffee” at Starbucks? They’ll always add in milk (of one sort or another) and flavorings. You need a strong, dark roast to cut through all that and give you some sense of coffee flavor.

Me? Yes, I’m a Starbucks regular. There’s one a half mile away from where I live. Across the street from that Starbucks there’s an independent coffee shop. There’s another one around the corner from that Starbucks. But they are both closed by 6 pm. The Starbucks is open to 9 pm. If I want an after dinner “dessert” coffee on a weekend, where else am I going to go?

Surfing the Blue Wave

With each passing day, more and more corruption in the Trump administration is revealed. And there are more and more examples of Trump’s unsuitability for office. Social movements from student demonstrations against gun violence to teachers’ strikes are all over the news. More and more members of the administration, and Republicans in Congress, are leaving. Those on the Left politically have to be happy about their prospects for the mid-terms.

But Election Day is six months away. That’s a long time. It can be too easy to lose momentum or become complacent, and if one hopes to at least check the worst excesses of the current administration, that could lead to disaster.

What’s a Democrat / Liberal / Leftist to do?

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The Race to the Bottom

Opening Day for the baseball season is tomorrow – which means all the sports journalists have come out with their power rankings and predictions for the season. It’s pretty easy to choose who the division winners are going to be. With the exception of the American League East (which has two – the Yankees and the Red Sox), each division has just one powerhouse team that should have no problems running away with their flag.

That’s just how the game has turned out these past few years. Sure, a few teams can sneak in to the playoffs via the wild card, but even there you don’t have more than a couple of teams capable of doing that. Most teams are mediocre at best, with no chance of getting anywhere.

And however it happened, the current economic situation has actually encouraged – at least it hasn’t actively discouraged – poor teams from giving up and selling or trading off the few good players they might have in the hope of getting a bunch of good prospects or draft choices.

With the pennant races virtually decided even before the first shout of “Play Ball”, the real races to watch are the ones for last place. Will the crappy teams do the honorable thing and try to win as many games as they can, or make the good business decision to “tank” and hope for the best in the off-season?

Here are my choices for the worst teams in every division (and how they might actually pull off a miracle):

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Now Comes the Hard Part

Congratulations!

You’ve marched and protested and demonstrated. You’ve gotten great coverage in the local and national press, and even international news has noticed.

It might be tempting to just sit back contentedly and watch as your efforts achieve their intended results. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. Marches alone didn’t bring integration, as Barry McGuire sang.

There’s a tendency to look at the March on Washington in 1963 as an example of how a march can lead to change. But in that instance, the march was the culmination of well over a decade of laying the groundwork, building alliances, and coming up with a clear set of goals.

By the time people gathered in DC, everything was already in place socially and politically. The march itself wouldn’t have accomplished anything if the ground hadn’t been prepared ahead of time.

Now, you’ve got society on your side (for the most part). Surveys show that most Americans agree on a set of basic laws for reducing gun violence, there are plenty of organizations on your side, and even corporations are starting to take notice. It’s time to get the politicians to come out on your side.

While fighting in DC is what gets the big headlines, that’s also where you’re going to get the most resistance. State capitols, on the other hand, tend to fly under the national radar. And some states have already passed the sort of legislation you’re calling for. Connecticut didn’t wait much after Sandy Hook to pass a package of gun control rules – and they worked. Gun deaths dropped significantly in that state. Get state governments on your side, and the federal government will have to fall in line.

I also see that you’re already being slandered by your opponents. Ignore those losers; they know they can’t win a fair fight.

It’s going to be a long slog over the months ahead. The hardest part will be to never lose faith, never lose hope, and to never give up.

How Else Do You Explain It?

Last week, we witnessed one of the biggest farces in recent memory with the release of the Nunes Memo. Intended to prove that the Mueller Investigation was compromised because the document that spurred the investigation was a partisan attack, it actually showed the exact opposite.

One continues to see all manner of windbaggery claiming that the entire investigation into the president and his campaign’s ties to Russia is nothing more than a treasonous witch hunt. While it is still remotely possible for it to turn out to be a great “nothingburger”, I have yet to see anyone put forth an alternate explanation for the events of the past year or so.

Anyone trying to claim that the Russian Collusion theory is false needs to answer some questions:

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Dear Senator Gillibrand

Congratulations!

You have successfully rid the Senate of that notorious serial groper and sexual deviant Al Franken!

No longer will the women (and men too, presumably) of those august halls live in abject fear of running into someone who stood accused of being a little too “hands on” during photo ops over seven years ago! Even though his current staff and former co-workers have no ill to speak of him, being a former “dirty old man” makes one obviously unsuitable for even the smallest role in the Federal Government!

You can take pride in knowing that you have done your country a great service. Even though Mr. Franken was one of the sharpest interrogators in Senate hearings and a bastion of feminist and Democratic principles, one has to draw a line!

While you may be tempted to consider this a job well done and look forward to a relaxing holiday season, I urge that you do not put your weapons away just yet.

Infamous (accused, to be fair) child molester and general creep Roy Moore just might be sent by the people of Alabama to represent them in the same Senate that you have just finished purging. Be ready to lead the charge against him should it prove necessary!

And then, keep your Sword of Righteousness at hand! Consider these bouts as training for the biggest target: the self-confessed “Pussygrabber-in-Chief” Donald Trump. Surely, if Franken had to go, Trump should be shown the door, too?

Yours,

A Constituent

p.s. I hope you’ll remember to help with the campaign next year. A safe Senate seat for Democrats through 2020 is now up for grabs next year!

The Outrage Factor

These past few weeks have seen a lot of creepy guys getting called out on the carpet for their crappy treatment of women. Harvey Weinstein got what he deserved, Kevin Spacey was outed, an accused child molester is running for the Senate in Alabama, even Sen. Al Franken got caught with his hands where they should not have been. El Presidente still has a reputation for grabbing women, and former president Bill Clinton is being raked over the coals again by some for his past personal affairs.

It’s getting so common that you can’t tell what to be outraged about anymore.

As it happens, I think I’ve come up with a formula that can help you decide what to be outraged over, and how much outrage to give it.

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