Thursday, April 27, 2017

Who Are The Real Welfare Chiselers

This is something that I, among many honest people, have been pointing out for years, but as it is virtually ignored by the mainstream press, it's just as well to bring it up once in a while:  Republican States are overwhelmingly recipients of Federal tax money that is extorted from Democratic States.  Of course, we constantly hear the exact opposite from Republicans- that the hard working real Americans in rural areas are robbed to support those brown and black people in the cities, so we need to bring up the truth on occasion.

Here's a recent article from Buzz Flash, entitled "Blue State Voters Subsidize Southern Red State Voters, Not the Other Way Around," which makes this point, and is well worth taking a look at.  It is illustrated with the following map, which pretty much says it all:
This shows the Southern States that live off of the earnings of the rest of us.  A sample of the article:

"Nine of the ten states with the largest percentage of nonpayers are in the South and Southwest. In Mississippi, 45 percent of federal tax returns remit nothing or receive money with their federal tax returns; that is the highest percentage nationally. Georgia is next at 41 percent, followed by Arkansas at 41 percent, and Alabama, South Carolina, and New Mexico at 40 percent... Yet, every election, the myth that white rural voters are paying to prop up poor people of color in cities is trotted out."

Best to keep this in mind.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trump's Dramatic Tax Overhaul Calls For...

NOTE:  Revised to add points VII and VIII below.

Calls for what?  Those are the first words of the Washington Post story about the pathetic one page "tax plan" released by the Trump administration today.  Before even looking at the actual contents of that page, I would like to write the first sentence of what would have been my strictly neutral report on this earth-shaking event:

"Trump reveals intent to ram through the same massive tax cuts for the rich that Republicans have been pushing for a century, larded with the bare minimum of supposed cuts for everyone else- cuts that will miraculously largely disappear before the bill is enacted- to delude his greed-maddened, stupid supporters into destroying their children's future for a few bucks thrown their way."

Okay, now we have the pre-written view from both sides.  Let's look at Trump's proposal and see who is closer to the truth.

I.  Cutting the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%- that is to say, an approximate 56% cut in the taxes that large corporations pay.

II.  Doing away with the estate tax, i.e. in Republican scary-land, the "death tax."  In the last year for which I remember the numbers, this tax was levied on 1600 families, with an average net worth of over $16,000,000 dollars.  The main beneficiaries will be the Walton family, who have been the main donors to the campaign to eliminate the estate tax for years, and who as a family will see a $20 billion dollar windfall from this plan.  We'll soon be hearing the stories about the family farms crushed out of existence by the estate tax, a perennial feature of attacks on it, despite the fact that no one has ever been able to find a single family farm that had to be sold because of this tax.  

III.  Eliminating the Federal deduction for State and local taxes paid.  This will cost most working Americans thousands, while being an absolutely insignificant burden on the rich, who make a very small amount of their income through wages.

IV. " It would eliminate the seven existing income tax brackets and replace them with three brackets, containing new rates of 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, based on someone’s income. White House officials haven’t specified which income levels would hit the higher tax brackets, as they see that as part of ongoing discussions with Capitol Hill."

Ongoing discussions to calculate what the minimum amount of crumbs they need to throw to their voters, to get them to go along with their own long-term rape.  My guess?  Next to nothing.  I think, based on a lifetime observing this is that somewhere between $200 and $500 dollars will be enough to induce the average Republican voter to cut their own throats, yelling hoorah the whole time.*

V.  Eliminating practically all tax deductions.  Of course, since the vast bulk of money made by the rich comes from capital gains, this would not hurt them at all.  It would, however, shove the upper middle class one step backward on the economic ladder, a wonderful thing since so many of them are educated, and therefore tend to be liberals.

VI.  A one-time tax “holiday” to incentivize companies to bring several trillion dollars currently being held in other countries back into the United States

And if that weren't bad enough:

VII: Doing away with the "alternative minimum tax," a provision designed to prevent rich people from finding ways to pay no taxes at all.  The vast majority of taxes paid last year by Trump, for example, were owed under this provision.  Eliminating it would provide him with a yearly windfall in the tens of millions of dollars.

VIII:  Enacting the so-called "pass through" provision, allowing rich company owners to pay their personal taxes at the corporate rate of 15%, grossly lowering their tax payments, while benefiting no one else.

Rewarding the rich with trillions of dollar in tax relief, in return for their stab in the backs of all the rest of us, of course accompanied by the nonsense that these rich companies would turn right around and invest their money in creating American jobs they do not need, as opposed to having the companies' owners just pocket the proceeds.  The second possibility is, of course, the way this sort of thing has played out every time it was tried, throughout history, but this time it will be different, right?

Well, there you have it:  does it sound a little familiar to you?  It should if you follow politics, because every single one of these piggish acts of theft has been at the very top of the Republican economic agenda for a hundred years.  This is not old wine in new bottles; it is old poison in the same old bottles.  But then, what did you expect?

Here's how the Washington Post characterizes the Democratic response:

"Ahead of the announcement, some Democrats were skeptical. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), said members of his party would scrutinize the details..."

That's nice, isn't it? See, everyone is ready to cooperate in passing this fair-minded, well-intentioned proposal.  Here, by the way, is what Schumer really said:

“That’s not tax reform,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “That’s just a tax giveaway to the very, very wealthy that will explode the deficit.”

Skeptical.  Well, I guess you could say that.  So, here we go again.  The Republican party, as many of us have been pointing out for years, is nothing but a corrupt criminal conspiracy to benefit their massive campaign donors at the expense of everyone else.  This is as true today as it was thirty, or fifty, or a hundred years ago, and that is why their economic program has never budged from these few goals of the hyper-rich.  Trump is just providing new cover for the Ryans and McConnells of this world to achieve their life-long goals while setting up Trump to take the fall when it all goes disastrously wrong, as it has every time this sort of agenda has ever been tried.

So, I guess it's unfair to have one of the contestants doing the judging, but I'm awarding the trophy for Truth in Headlines to Green Eagle.  Any objections?

Update:  Robert Reich's description of this proposal:

"In reality, it’s the biggest declaration of class warfare – Trump’s and Mnuchin’s class against average Americans -- in history."

Well, the biggest declaration of class warfare since the last Republican tax "reform" bill- they basically all have the same things in them.

Update 2:  The Tax Policy Center estimates that this bill would net a person with a $50,000 income a whopping $350 in savings, much of which might be wiped out by other provisions in the plan; it would benefit the very highest earners hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars every year.  All of this raising the Federal debt, which Republicans claim to care about so much, by $7.2 trillion in the first decade, and by $20.9 trillion by the end of the second decade. I just want to say that my guess from yesterday of $200 to $500 as being the amount that Republicans would decide that it would take to buy off the suckers looks pretty good today.  They cynicism of all this is just astonishing.

*Well, at least until they actually cut their throats.  It's really hard to yell hoorah after your throat is cut.  

From Bad to Worse at United

And now this news, helpfully brought to us by Yahoo:

"Rabbit set to be world's biggest dies on United Airlines flight in fresh PR disaster...Simon, a three-foot continental rabbit, was reportedly travelling from Heathrow to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport after the 10-month old bunny was purchased by a celebrity owner.

But breeder Annette Edwards has now claimed that the animal was on course to grow even bigger than his father Darius – who became the world’s biggest rabbit after growing to 4ft 4 inches."

Here's a picture of Simon's father:
USA Today reports that a third of all animal deaths on US flights the last five years occurred on United Airlines.

Apparently, there really is something going wrong with United, as stories about their malfeasance seem to be in the news every couple of days.  I can't pretend this is as important a story as whether Trump has decided to incinerate the world today, but I'm sure you all appreciate seeing the picture of the giant bunny.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

And In Other News

Today, Donald Trump, the World's Toughest Negotiator, caved on his signature issue, which he promised his supporters to do, literally hundreds of times: building his great wall.

He can't even get his own party to go along with him.  But of course, it's all the Democrats' fault for refusing to accept his offer of not kicking millions of people off of health insurance if they would help him get some kind of propaganda victory before his first hundred days are up, on Saturday.

Do you think this is the point where the mainstream press will start covering him solely and utterly as the miserable, worthless failure that he is?

Do you think this is the point where his approval rating among the people who voted for him will fall below 96%?


Monday, April 24, 2017

Senators Tank the Treason Investigation

Remember when Devin Nunes was proving that both he personally and the House "investigation" into Donald Trump's clear treason were dedicated to nothing but covering up the truth?  Remember when everyone in the media was saying that it was just fine to have these people collaborating in this monstrous crime, because we were being assured that the Senate investigation was determined to get to the bottom of the whole thing?

Was there anyone out there who bought that?  Outside of the mainstream press, of course, which is paid to swallow garbage like that on a daily basis?  Why, Republican Senator Richard Burr told us over and over again that he was serious about this inquiry, and Democratic ranking member Mark Warner was right there to be a character witness for Burr.  Hallelujah, government was going to function at last!

Here's a disturbing, but totally predictable article from Tim Mak at the Daily Beast, detailing the state of the Senate committee's investigation to date, months after the Trump treason became clear:

"Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower.

But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured. More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, three individuals with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast.

The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience...No interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit: not Michael Flynn, not Roger Stone, not Carter Page, not Paul Manafort, and not Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s procedures."

As anyone with a tenth of a brain could have predicted, this is not an investigation, it is just one more step of the coverup, brought to us by Republicans that don't give a damn if our President is a traitor, selling us out as fast as he can to a foreign dictator, as long as he is on board with cutting taxes for rich people; and Democrats like Mark Warner, who are so afraid of being called partisan by the Republican owned mainstream press, that they will avert their gaze from the criminal monstrosity that sits in the White House.

And one more remark from the above article:

“It’s either a real investigation or not,” said one individual with knowledge of the committee’s activities.

It's not. I think that is pretty clear at this point.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wingnut Wrapup

I just found this random quotation by accident the other day:
" man needs ever despair of gaining proselytes to the most extravagant hypothesis, who has art enough to represent it in any favourable colours. The victory is not gained by the men at arms, who manage the pike and the sword; but by the trumpeters, drummers, and musicians of the army."

- David Hume, Treatise on Human Nature

So, I thought I would start off by featuring a few of the wingnut reactions to yesterday's marches for science, across the country.  Sorry, they just ignored it, so I will settle for second best by reminding you whose birthday it was yesterday:
I'm almost certain that this picture is a photoshop job, since by my highly scientific calculation, Lenin died  35 years before the ES-335 was invented, but you never know.  I for one never knew when Lenin's birthday was until wingnuts discovered it was the same day as Earth Day, and (of course) built several decades of conspiracy theories around this fact, claiming that environmentalism is a Communist plot.

Town Hall:  "AP: Fresno Shooter Didn't Yell 'Allahu Akbar' ... He Said God Is Great In Arabic"

Well, glad we got that straight.

Matt Vespa, Town Hall:  "There Are Two Americas, A ‘Front Row And The Back Row’…And Yes–Trump Exposed It"

And if you believe no one noticed that until Donald Trump came along, you really are among the stupidest people on earth; although not as stupid as someone who believes Donald Trump intends to do a thing about it except make it worse.

Dennis Prager, Town Hall:  "If you prize clarity, then these past weeks were some of the best in memory...When America leads, the world is better."

Even when America is leading us into a world war, Dennis?  Of course, the usual lie:

"Following President Trump's order to attack Syria about 63 hours after the Syrian regime seemingly used chemical weapons, even many in the mainstream media couldn't help but contrast his prompt response with Obama's nonresponse to Assad's use of chemical weapons in 2013. And almost every report further noted that Obama failed to do anything after having promised that he would regard the use of chemical weapons by Assad as crossing a "red line."

No mention from Dennis that Obama did not respond militarily because the Republican Congress did not let him.  I wonder why Dennis forgot that part?

Katie Pavlich, Town Hall:  "Surprise: Upon Launch Obamacare Website Was Totally Unsecured and Easy to Hack"

That was four years ago.  Since then it has insured over 20 million people, brought security to countless American families, significantly cut the growth of medical costs in this country, helped to reduce the Federal budget deficit, and provided thousands of good jobs caring for the newly insured. No mention of those unimportant facts by Katie, of course.

Justin Holcomb, Town Hall:  "VP Pence Announces "100 Percent" Support of Japan During Tensions with North Korea"

Well, except for needlessly provoking North Korea to the point of possibly launching a nuclear surprise attack on Japan.  Other than that, we're behind you all the way, buddies!

Carter, Gateway Pundit:  "ANTIFA Leftist Group Is Selling Concealed Knives On Their Website For Slicing Conservatives...This should come as a warning to anybody who Antifa sees as a threat to their Communist, anarchist, violence-driven message."

And here it is, the incredibly threatening anti-Conservative knife:

Scary, huh?  This is the liberal "equivalent," I guess of the following:

Knife with a 2" blade; AR-15.  Same thing, really.

And now, the left is humiliated again:

Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit:  "HAH! The Kid Who Mouthed “Fake News” Behind CNN at WH Easter Egg Roll Is Kellyanne Conway’s Son"

An absolute proof that he was just an average kid expressing the views of the American people. Kellyanne Conway's son, huh?  Poor kid.

Cristina Laila, Gateway Pundit:  "DNC Chair Tom Perez Mentions Hillary During MSNBC Interview, American Flag Falls to the Ground"

God is on their side! Sits silent as millions are killed in endless wars, but knocks a flag over because the DNC chairman is talking.  Sounds about right to me.

Lloyd Marcus, Renew America:  "Leftists are mean!"

Whatever, Lloyd.

World Net Daily:  "FBI probes radical terrorists in all 50 states"

None of this involves white right wing people, of course.  For a little context, you may want to go here, where you will find a map of the 917 currently identified hate groups in our country, most all of them right wingers.  World Net Daily is not concerned about them.

World Net Daily:  "'Jesus Christ Superstar' does show while stoned"

The contrast in the world today:  Left wingers are responsible for a musical being performed by stoned actors, our right wing President nearly causes World War III.  Just the same, really.

Jeffrey Folks, American Thinker:  "Donald Trump: A Simple Man...Donald Trump is not one of these "smart" intellectuals"

Man, you got that one right, buddy.  I was going to favor you with a little more of Jeffrey's thinking on this subject, but it was just too stupid; trust me.

Ned Barnett, American Thinker:  "The "Mother of All Bombs" was the perfect weapon for President Trump to use in Afghanistan"

Yeah, all boom and no results.  Perfect for Trump.

H. Sterling Burnett, American Thinker:  "Interior Department Takes Steps to Make America Great Again"

Steps like what, you wonder?

"On his last day as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), January 19th, Dan Ashe issued a directive to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on the 307 million acres of federal land controlled by the agency...Ashe's directive did not last long. As one of his first official acts as secretary of the Interior Department, on March 2, Zinke rescinded Ashe’s lead ban."

Make America Great Again!!!!  Kill more animals for no reason!!!!

Chuck Ross, Daily Caller:  "'Never Trump' Candidate Unable To Pay Off Massive Campaign Debt"

What a loser.  Why not just take Donald Trump's way to deal with things like this?  Just tell them to get fucked and let them go to court for decades suing you to get their money back?

Yahoo:  "Why Is Jinger Duggar Getting Backlash for Wearing Pants?"

Because Americans are really stupid?  Because for right wingers, anything is better than having to cover the real news?

Christine Rousselle, Town Hall:  "Daily Show Host Suggests That Trump Is On's hard to imagine Barack Obama being given similar treatment "

It is not hard, however, to imagine Barack Obama being called a Muslim plant, a founder of ISIS, a Communist, the Antichrist or Satan himself.  Those were all reasonable observations...Trump on drugs, strictly out of bounds.  Even though it would be the most charitable explanation of his behavior.

Marty Gottesfield, Red State:  "Think Obama Is Gone? His Prosecutors And Judges Leak On"

An interesting idea here:  when a Democratic President leaves office, all the judges he appoints are illegitimate and should be removed- maybe beheaded too.  Well, this is an interesting example of Republican Constitutional scholarship.

Mark Ellis, PJ Media:  "Beyond Trump, there is nothingness."

I sort of wish I'd read this article to see what it was about...nah, I have enough nothingness in my life.

Carter, Gateway Pundit:  "Unhinged Journalism Professor Says NRA More Dangerous Than ISIS"

Over the last decade, there have been 1,000 gun deaths in the United States for every person killed by a terrorist.  Yeah, you read that right.  So, which do you think is more dangerous to Americans, ISIS or the NRA?

Daily Caller:  "Now We Know Who Caitlyn Jenner Voted For -- And It's A Real Kick In The Teeth To Liberals In Hollywood"

Really?  Is there a non-asshole human being on the face of the earth that gives a damn about who Caitlyn Jenner voted for?

Jonah Bennet, Daily Caller:  "Taliban Fighters Disguised As Afghan Soldiers Launch Biggest Massacre Since 2001"

Well, unless you count the hundreds of thousands that America killed in our war of aggression.  This story is about a Taliban attack on an Afghan government army base in which 160 soldiers were killed. I've got news for you guys- that is a military defeat, not a massacre.

Andrew Follett, Daily Caller:  "Nuclear Scientist Says Advanced Reactors Will Be Great For Planet...'Cheap, meltdown-proof and waste-free nuclear power'

And in other news, YES!  Tinkerbelle is back!  But wait, there's more news that's being ignored by the mainstream press:

Before it's News:  "WW3 a Distraction While Planet 9 Enters Our Solar System"

World War III would just be a distraction!  So, "planet 9?"  I think maybe they meant "plan 9"...

A movie that is looking less and less farfetched with every passing day.

Leah Barkoukis, Town Hall:  "Kelly: Border Wall Will 'Move Forward' This Summer"

On it's own?  That I've got to see.

Katie Pavlich, Town Hall:  "The Same People Who Organized Trump Inauguration Riots Are Helping With The Climate March"

Who did you expect to organize them, Katie, Leprechauns?  By the way, I guess it's far enough past the inaugural that liars like Katie are sure their people have forgotten that there were no Trump Inauguration riots.

Joliphant, Red State:  "Russia Hacking Story Was Created By Clinton Campaign As Damage Control"

This just in: The whole fictitious story that there was such a thing as World War II was created by the Roosevelt administration to cover up how Roosevelt caused the Great Depression in the four years before he became President.

Jim Jamatis, Red State:  "It Shouldn’t Surprise You That the #MarchForScience Looks More Like Another MarchForLeftism"

And it shouldn't either.  We all know which side is for the truth and which side is for lies.

Larry Klayman, Renew America:  "Trump's taxes? What about Obama's birth certificate?"

God in heaven above, it will never stop.

Josh Kimbrell, Red State:  "City University of New York Hires Terrorist to Give Commencement"

"Major world power hires psychopathic bully to lead country."  Oh wait, I only imagined they ran that story.

Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit:  "How Many Trump Supporters Need to Get Bludgeoned with BIKE LOCKS Before Trump Sends in National Guard?"

BIKE LOCKS!  BIKE LOCKS, I tell you!!!  Apparently, the number of Trump supporters bludgeoned by BIKE LOCKS!!!! in this carefully organized assault is now up to (ready for this?) one.  But that is enough reason to call out the National Guard and put down all left wing protest anywhere in the country, as far as Jim is concerned.  How many more than the 30,000 people killed by guns every year in this country do we need before the government does something about that?  Oops, I forgot, guns=freedom, bike locks=left wing tyranny.

Washington Examiner:  "Netanyahu tells Trump: 'Repeal or replace' Iran deal"

Let's just leave out the rest of the idiocy of this idea, and remind people that the Iran deal was entered into by Iran and five other countries; the US, Russia, Britain, Germany and France.  So no matter what Trump does, he can't "repeal" the deal.  He can, however, behave like a jackass over it, which is what he will do, without any encouragement from Netanyahu.

So, let's just go out on this story, which is obviously completely reliable:

Baxter Dmitry, Your News Wire:  "Queen Elizabeth “completely ruined her own party” yesterday when she announced to close friends and family that that “World War 3 must break out this year” in order for the Illuminati to usher humanity into the next phase of their sick and twisted masterplan.

“The Queen was speaking as though she knows the Illuminati’s plans inside out,” (a) Windsor Castle insider said, speaking on the strict condition of anonymity. “To make matters worse she seemed turned on by the thrill of a new world war.  The Queen said: “One must prepare for the new dawn humanity will soon wake up to, which cannot come into being without a period of complete darkness, the blackest of nights, the likes of which we have never experienced.”

Sounds just like her, huh?  The typical kind of talk we hear from a 91 year old woman.  Well, we all have seen plenty of pictures of the Queen, so I'll just leave you with a picture of a few of the other residents of Windsor Castle.  Maybe one of them is the insider that Baxter is relying on for his secret information:
You knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get Corgis in there.  At least it's an opportunity to go out on a positive note.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

State of Forces

I ran one of these pictures only a couple of days ago, but I think it's worth seeing them together.

March against Trump today:

Pro Trump march last week:
We've been lied to so systematically about which side the American people are really on, with billions of dollars of Republican money spent to push the myth, and a willing press to pump it out.

Do not believe it.  Republicans win elections through massive smear campaigns, totally lying about what they and their opponents advocate, and pervasive vote rigging all across this country.  Now this has been augmented with their treasonous collaboration with a foreign dictator who wants to prevent any strong leadership in this country, and what you see above turns into electoral victories for a party that works against every interest of the American people.  Sad to say, it's worked out great  for them; digital age sabotage of democracy has proven far easier than even their worst backers thought it would be. It didn't take a few hundred thousand brownshirts; just a couple thousand trolls paid for by a foreign government, and a few hundred rich sociopaths willing to finance the collapse of their own government.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Another Party Heard From

From Yahoo UK News today:

"Russia sends troops to North Korea border as tensions escalate...A report from primemedia.RU claims: ‘Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals.

A military official added: ‘The movement of military equipment by different means of transport to southern areas is being observed across Primorsky region over the past week.’

The movement comes only a day after Russia and the US clashed at the UN over a UN security council statement, drafted by the US, which condemned North Korea’s latest failed test."

Not totally confirmed yet, but that's all we need- another superpower being sucked into the morass Trump has created by his grotesque mishandling of North Korea's government.  North Korean leaders have been acting in the same belligerent manner for decades, and every previous President, even the village idiot George W. Bush, has managed to respond in an adult manner.  No more, I guess.

We do not have quite the same entangling web of treaty obligations that we saw in the runup to World War I, but I do not think I am being unfair to see a similar phenomenon, where a number of world powers are being dragged into what should be a regional matter of little concern outside the area.  We can see, I think, North and South Korea as Bulgaria and Romania in 1914, countries of small consequence, but whose long standing alliances with the world's great powers are risking a cataclysmic collapse into violence.

I would like to say a little more about this comparison.  I have spent a lot of the last decade reading about the runup to World War I, going back to the unification of Germany in 1871.  I now believe that the war was not, in the end, about the Balkans at all, but about the death throes of European colonialism.  Until 1871, there were three "great powers" in Europe; England, France and Russia.  England and France had far flung colonial empires, and Russia had everything east of the Urals, as a sort of internal colony.  The unification of Germany began a game of musical chairs, in which four countries now competed for the colonies of three.  This caused tensions to rise dramatically, with numerous colonial struggles, such as the Agadir crisis, the struggle for European colonies and trade centers in the Pacific, or the fighting between England and France over the Sudan, bringing the world closer and closer to the cliff edge.  The Balkan crisis was really about colonialism too, with the "great powers" struggling over territories that were slipping away from the decaying Ottoman Empire.  There were two Balkan wars in the period before World War I.  We in the West tend to hear about nothing but Serbia and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, but things were far more treacherous in Romania and Bulgaria.  Romania was primarily a Catholic, Western oriented country, and Bulgaria had a population of Slavs, primarily in the Orthodox church, who had natural associations with the Slavic, Orthodox country of Russia.  When the Ottomans began to lose their control over the Balkans, the two countries turned to their natural allies, and a ready made conflict of big countries was provided.

Here's a map of the Balkans from just before the Balkan wars; sorry that it's not in English, but I think it's easy enough to identify the countries involved:

What I have said in the above paragraph is a great simplification of the complex conditions that led to World War I, but I think it does show how great powers were sucked into what should have been a local affair.  We have, I think it is safe to say, a very similar alignment on the Korean peninsula today, with the Western powers being naturally aligned with the Capitalist South, while Russia and China have both historical and political connections with the North.  So, when Austria attacked Serbia, which by all rights it should have conquered in weeks, and then utterly muffed their invasion, in the greatest military blunder of the twentieth century, the resulting quagmire drew countries one by one to the aid of their smaller allies, and, as they would say at Scotland Yard, Bob's your uncle.

If Trump does decide to launch an attack against North Korea, as he is so obviously hungering to do, does anyone have the confidence that he could go for the quick kill?  An attack there that stretched out to more than a few days could easily draw the great powers into the struggle, with the most catastrophic results.  And Trump's obsession with appearance over substance would almost guarantee that whatever action the US took would collapse quickly into military catastrophe at least as great as that which overcame Bush's Iraq aggression, which incidentally was the greatest military blunder since the Austrian invasion of Serbia, with the possible exception of Hitler's fumbling the attack on Stalingrad.

So, there you have it.  If you wanted to write a novel about the start of World War III, there's a perfectly believable plot line for you.  Will it happen?  Probably not, because the worst rarely does happen, but it has happened twice in the last century or so, and that is without a patently mentally incompetent leader to lead the world into the abyss.  We'll see how it all goes.

The Man Who Would Be King

Here is a story that has bothered me for some reason, but seems to have been taken by the mainstream press as just a minor aberration in Donald Trump's behavior.  Trump has a visit to England planned in the fall.  As part of his trip, he has demanded that he be allowed to ride along with the Queen in the royal coach.
Maybe it is difficult for someone without familiarity with the country to appreciate what a colossal insult this is- it's like demanding that he be allowed to wear the crown.  You could, I suppose, just chalk this up as another example of Trump's pathological need to bully and humiliate everyone he comes in contact with, and that would be true; but I think there is more to it than that.

I commented a little while ago about Trump's replacing his top advisers one by one with members of his own family.  My thought was that, as he has taken power, his megalomania has grown, and merely being President is not enough for him.  He is coming to think of himself as the founder of a dynasty, or to be blunt, a King rather than a President.  Seen in this light it is hardly surprising that he is now insisting that he be treated exactly like real royalty.  Expect to see more of this sort of thing, as his frustration with the limitations of his position grow, and he attempts to assert his right to do whatever he damned pleases, even to the point of handing the country to his family in perpetuity.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Short Posts

I've noticed that I hardly seem to post anything these days but really short stories.  This bothered me until I looked at the current news, and realized that there is hardly any analysis needed for things like this:

President of United States says that Korea used to be part of China

Senior Republican says it's okay for the United States to destroy the countries of China, Japan and North and South Korea, as long as we are okay.

Top on air personality at smear factory gets $200 million dollars to lie the American people into electing a dictator, gets fired, but not for that.

President lies to world about where he is sending our navy, in order to bully a foreign country.

Vice President says that it's okay to murder foreign people, in order to send a lesson to other foreign people.

President has as a guest at the White House a person who threatened to shoot his opponent.

President makes remarks indicating he doesn't know the difference between the head of North Korea and the guy's father.

All against a background of new information every couple of days proving that Trump is a Russian traitor, which the press does everything it can to ignore.

And let's remember that all of this covers endless efforts by the Republican party to destroy Social Security, Medicare, environmental and health care regulation and every other thing that benefits anyone but the few hundred rich psychopaths that fund the Republicans.

There just isn't anything complicated about these stories.  They add up to a tale of a once meaningful political party that has willingly turned itself into a corrupt criminal enterprise in league with the nation's enemies.  It's been coming for decades now. Either you are willing to see it (apparently about 5% of the population) or you aren't, but the evidence is right there for anyone to see, and doesn't need complicated reasoning to explain.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No Excitement Here About O'Reilly

So everyone on the left is so excited that Bill O'Reilly is leaving Fox News.  Not me, no sir.  Consider the reality of O'Reilly's career there.

He worked for Fox News for about 20 years, spewing the most vicious pack of hatred and lies he possibly could.  For this he was paid millions; his salary at the end being about $18 million a year. So let's be cautious here and guess that, over the years this scum was paid about $200 million for his contribution to the country's well-being.  Just before leaving, he signed a new contract with Fox News, which they are apparently going to honor, perhaps netting him another $60 or $80 million.  And now that he is gone, he will just be replaced by one of ten thousand essentially identical right wing robots who are willing to sell their souls to the devil.

Not a bad deal for O'Reilly, who must have known his dirty deal couldn't last forever; Fox has made him rich beyond anything he could have ever imagined, and he doesn't need to do a thing he doesn't want to do for the rest of his life.

And, really, not much of a victory for the rest of us.

Moderate Republican Takes a Stand

Lindsey Graham, one of the two Republican Senators alleged throughout the mainstream media to actually be sane, spoke out today about Donald Trump's infantile warmongering:

"Yes, it would be terrible, but the war would be over there, it wouldn't be here...It would be bad for the Korean peninsula, it would be bad for China, it would be bad for Japan, it would be bad for South Korea, it would be the end of North Korea but what it would not do is hit America"

An unprovoked military aggression by the United States might result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in four countries, cause massive destruction and result in political disruption and a refugee crisis similar to what we are now seeing in Syria.  But who cares?  None of these people belong to the groups the Republican party panders to, and let's not forget that none of their citizens are white.  So who cares who we kill, as long as we can reverse the decay of support for the worst President in history, and help the Republicans hang on to power, regardless of how criminal they are?

This sort of reasoning truly justifies comparison with the Nazis.  And this is the view of the moderate end of the Republican party.  And remember, the Nazis had a real ideology, however contemptible, which they really believed in.  These guys are doing it for nothing but money and power.