Once Again Reminded That Americans Are Being Cheated Out of a Great Country

In 2014 I wrote this upon the occasion of Germany eliminating college tuition:

My reaction to the parts of Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko”, where he shows how other countries provide universal healthcare to their citizens as a right, was disgust and the realization that Americans are suckers. We’re being screwed by our government and the assumptions that we live with that we’re all on our own and our government is not really there to help the individual succeed, no less thrive. Germany, and other Western countries, have a different view of government. Which is odd because many of them got their constitutions from ours, but their interpretation of it is 180 degrees different from our Supreme Court and the traditional pre-New Deal 19th century understanding that stubbornly persists today.

One of the Polislice progeny applied to a psychology program at one of those universities that involve flaura that climb up their ancient walls.  He got in.  He’s become very interested in exploring the subject and he earned his way in (maazel tov!) and that’s a lovely, lovely thing!

However, said program costs $50,000.

He doesn’t necessarily want to be a psychologist.  He already has a calling in music.  He’s just fascinated by the subject and wants to explore it.  No job at the end of it is guaranteed to justify it.  (Although that’s also true for the people who DO want to pursue it as a profession, isn’t it?)  So a loan is impractical.

In Europe what would it cost?  In some countries nothing, in others a nominal fee, nothing prohibitive.   But here in exceptional America, if you have a curiosity to study something, a desire to learn at the highest levels, even if you are accepted you still may not be able to swing it because of the outrageous cost of attending such prestigious university that, by the way has a billion dollar endowment and owns huge swaths of uptown Manhattan.

It just sucks to be hindered from exploring every intellectual, avocational or professional avenue – by money!  Such hindrance does not exist for the 1 percenters out there.  Just the rest of us.  “Hey state university for you, pal!”

Meritocracy my ass.

We are still suckers and will be for the foreseeable future.

Georgia 6th Special Election Next Week and oh by the way, Voting System Completely Vulnerable

Cybersecurity experts have been warning about Georgia’s election systems security for over 10 years.  Which is interesting because the Georgia Secretary of State at the time of his first warnings was GOP congressional candidate on the ballot next Tuesday, Karen Handel.  She ignored the warnings then and Georgia has continued to ignore the warnings since.

Someone who should be particularly concerned about the center’s security lapses and the use of the touch-screen machines in the upcoming election is Handel, the Republican vying for the 6th Congressional District seat. In 2006, when Handel ran for secretary of state of Georgia, she made the security of the state’s voting systems one of her campaign issues. After her win, she ordered a security review of the systems and the procedures for using them.

Experts at Georgia Tech conducted the review and found a number of security concerns, which they discussed in a report submitted to Handel….

But once they delivered the finished report to Handel, DeMillo says, “We never heard anything more about it.” It’s not clear whether Handel’s office acted on recommendations made in the report. (Handel’s campaign office did not respond to a call for comment.)

They’ve been using an electric touch screen system there since 2002 with experts warning them and even suing to no avail, for the addition of paper receipts.  The Georgia election hierarchy has strangely fought every warning of potential election issues.

Researcher Logan Lamb, after hearing about the potential of Russian breaches, looked into the Georgia system which is housed at Kennesaw State University Center.  What he found was stunning and alarming.

“I was just looking for PDFs or documents,” he recalls, hoping to find anything that might give him a little more sense of the center’s work. But his curiosity turned to alarm when he encountered a number of files, arranged by county, that looked like they could be used to hack an election. Lamb wrote an automated script to scrape the site and see what was there, then went off to lunch while the program did its work. When he returned, he discovered that the script had downloaded 15 gigabytes of data.

“I was like whoa, whoa. … I did not mean to do that. … I was absolutely stunned, just the sheer quantity of files I had acquired,” he tells Politico Magazine in his first interview since discovering the massive security breach.

It’s even more alarming that GOP election supervisors and state election officials have been dismissive of every warning.  Leading one to believe that the flaws in the system are a feature not a bug.

Anything funny happens next Tuesday and all eyes should turn to Georgia’s lax cyber security and the people who were aware of it but did nothing.

By the way today is the last day of early voting and Ossoff is all over the issue of Handel’s inaction on voting system security.

 

The Price of Hiring Trump – Who He Hires

I’ve said that HRC’s biggest error in the campaign was focusing more on Trump’s wanting character and not as much on what it would mean to have a President Trump, ie. someone at odds with the entire establishment, a limited Rolodex of people who will take his calls, and the personality disorders of an autocrat.

We know his cabinet are a group of sycophants and billionaires that received the fewest approval votes from the Senate in our history.  Including an energy secretary that didn’t know what the Energy dept. did.  An education secretary that hates public schools. An EPA administrator that sued the EPA dozens of times.  A national security adviser that had to be fired for undisclosed foreign ties.  And that’s without naming Christie, Gingrich and Giuliani, the best known of his useless, unqualified supporters.

We know that hundreds of positions remain open 6 months into the non-administrating “administration.”

They’ve gone through their friends, and friends of friends and then friends of people they’ve humiliated over and over again (new FBI Director nominee and Christie lawyer Chris Wray)

But never let it be said that the Trump Employment Agency isn’t a miracle worker – if you don’t really need a job and have no real qualifications they’ll place you in a position of insane responsibility you have no right to hope for!

He just hired Eric’s wedding planner to administer billions of dollars in HUD money.

Now President Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton — who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned — to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York…

“Responsible for organizing, executing and assisting with upscale events and celebrity golf tournaments,” her LinkedIn profile says. “Handle celebrity talent acquisition for various marketing projects, philanthropic events and golf tournaments.”

Okay, I was being flip and dismissive citing “wedding planner,” there’s also organizing golf tournaments!  And so what if she has no clue what she’s doing, she can be guided by housing expert Ben Carson!

Cindy McCain, Budweiser heiress and wife of a senator that yells at clouds and interrupts senators of color, has a position at the State Dept.

“[Trump personally], aggressively courted her for this,” one White House official told The Daily Beast. “It’s a done deal now… The president had floated several positions before—this is the one that stuck.”

A formal announcement of that new role is expected within a matter of weeks. Early last month, the Associated Press was the first to report that Cindy McCain was expected to be “offered a prominent role in the Trump administration’s State Department.”

I generally like the wives of senators who don’t interrupt Kamala Harris, I hate to tell you, but I’m sure Mrs. McCain is well qualified to give a cocktail party to spread awareness of human trafficking.  She has a degree in canapés, i’m told.

McCain and Patton together could throw a mean golf cotillion I’m sure, that Ivanka could host.  At taxpayer expense of course.

 

Theresa May Said Austerity is Over, Kansas Concurred, When Will the GOP Recognize The Damage They’ve Done

Britain was one of the last countries to recover from the 2008 meltdown because of austerity.  That misplaced rage caused the anger over Brexit and finally, finally a liberal backlash that hurt May.

Last week the Kansas tax cut, spending cut experiment ended.  In 2011, Conservative flim flam Gov. Sam Brownback, an old fashioned austerity snake oil salesman, with the help of his Kool-Aid drinking legislature, excitedly enacted the old Reagan game plan (which Reagan never actually did) based on the Laffer Curve of tax cuts and spending cuts causing money to rain down on everyone.  It was the governmental equivalent of Bernie Madoff.

The rain never came, just the pain.  The policies turned surpluses into massive shortfalls as tax revenues cratered as tax cuts were exacerbated by businesses using tax loopholes to avoid taxes at record numbers.  Some politicians were surprised when a policy based on stinginess and greed resulted in stinginess and greed.

Gov. Sam Brownback has touted the policy as a way to spur economic growth, but critics question the fairness of exempting one group of taxpayers while their employees continue to pay income taxes.

And some lawmakers say the policy needs to be tweaked or abandoned in the face of a projected $700 million deficit for the next budget year.

All through this Brownback and his acolytes are in denial.  After 6 years of watching the state sink, waiting for that money rain, the legislature threw out the Kool-Aid and reversed course, over Brownback’s veto!

The WaPo has a report on the innocent people left by the side of the road in Kansas, the collateral damage of doomed and heartless economic policies.

In Iola, community workers talk of tragedies that could have easily been prevented.

Holly Jerome, a director at the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center, spoke about a patient who lost a leg to diabetes and a disabled drug addict who couldn’t go back to work because his insurance wouldn’t cover a nonaddictive pain medication. Angela Henry, project director of the community organization Safe Base, told of a 13-year-old girl who lost part of her jaw when her parents couldn’t pay to finish a dental operation, and the packing pellets a dentist put in her tooth rotted.

“The experiment has been conducted, and I don’t know how anyone who looks at data or who hears the stories that we live every day could say the experiment has been successful,”  Toland said.

People suffer from these policies.  The politicians that promulgate them always tout personal and economic responsibility with a messianic fervor but they commit governmental malpractice because it’s the equivalent of praying over a (self-inflicted) bullet wound.  Isn’t the mission of government to provide for the citizenry?  To reckon with the greater good of doing the best you can for the most people by providing the infrastructure for safety and opportunity for as many people as you can?

Austerity by definition says we’re going to do less and hope things work out.  That’s hardly a conservative approach.  For the person who lost their leg, or the kids losing educational opportunities, or the person who breaks an axle on a potholed road government failed them and it’s downright evil to tell them that somehow, somewhere down the (pot holed) road it’ll be worth it.

It’s crazy that anybody would ever believe in this nonsense.  But more amazing is that despite the Kansas disaster, numerous GOP politicians in D.C. and around the country keep selling this nonsense as if it were an actual economic plan that would or could benefit people.  They keep faith in a theory that government shouldn’t be providing benefits or infrastructure, that everyone’s on their own and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Of course that’s not for public consumption, that’s just what they say to each other. In public they discuss it as a plan to create wealth and prosperity… by withholding spending.  Keep clapping for Tinkerbell!!

The currently debated Trumpcare tax cut plan disguised as a healthcare plan is typical. Trump and GOPers will tout more coverage, better coverage when what they’re doing can not possibly achieve any such thing.  They know in fact it does the opposite.  But they sell it shamelessly to the rubes who have been told that government is the problem.

Paul Ryan needs to be asked about Kansas every waking moment of the day.  Mitch McConnell needs to be asked about what he would say to the person who loses their leg because they no longer have health coverage.

“I’ve said all along, I’m not looking for a handout. Nobody should ever get anything for free,” she said. “You should work for what you get. But they make it harder and harder every day.”

The goal of government is to make it easier.  Anything less is malpractice.

40 Countries Price Carbon Pollution as of 2018, Not the U.S., Of Course

But China will be pricing carbon nationally as of 2018.

The big recent news is China, of course. In July, its carbon cap-and-trade system — which has been tested in nine provinces for several years — will go national, effectively doubling the world’s priced carbon. (That’s the giant bubble on the map above.) At that point, fully a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions will be priced at one level or another. A quarter!

While it’s ridiculous that we are burdened with such heavy stupid, our uniquely American albatross, individuals, businesses, cities, states and much of the rest of the world is moving forward to meet the challenges of climate change and bring about the completely sustainable energy future that everybody who doesn’t have their head up their ass knows is coming.

Our grandchildren will likely all live exclusively in air conditioned bubbles floating in the oceanic Waterworld, but many of us did try to protect the planet, so sorry kids.

Speaking to the children of the 22nd century (because the internet is forever): If it’s any comfort, children of the 22nd century, all those other animals and plants that we enjoyed in the 20th century, that are gone now, were overrated.

What Charlie Pierce Said

There are no “Right” or “Wrong” People who get shot.  Please.

On the whole, people shouldn’t get shot. They shouldn’t get shot in the streets. They shouldn’t get shot in school. They shouldn’t get shot in the workplace. They shouldn’t get shot while carrying snack food in the “wrong” neighborhood, and they shouldn’t get shot while they’re trying to surrender. They shouldn’t get shot while dancing in a nightclub. And they shouldn’t get shot on the ballfield on a spring morning.

If everybody agreed on this we’d be better off.

 

Maybe Now We’ll Start Profiling Angry White Guys?

Nope.  But get ready for Bernie Sanders and all progressives everywhere having to apologize for one nutjob with a gun as if we’re the ones that advocate violence and being armed.

It’s as predictable as sunrise that on talk radio and Fox people will connect this shooting to Democrats, Bernie, Hillary, etc. as if they’re a death cult that advocates for violent extremist action.  Bernie has already said he was sickened by the act and that the nut job may have been a Bernie supporter.  Um, we’re the ones for gun control and called tree huggers.  You can’t have it both ways – that we hate guns but we’re the real violent extremists.  Oh but they will try because modern conservatives have no internal bullshit monitor or self-editing based on self-contradiction or shame in so-doing.  (Latest evidence is: saying that Robert Mueller was a great public servant one week does not keep a conservative from calling him partisan and saying he should be fired the next  week.)

Nobody on the right has ever even acknowledged the many, many, many times that nut jobs have murdered people after actually, really, truly being inspired by words spoken on talk radio and Fox News and other right wing outlets that DO ACTUALLY, REALLY, TRULY talk about violence and “2nd Amendment Remedies” and also push Republican candidates. Trump especially never has.

The truly sickening part of the absolutely inevitable act of violence is how the red team gangsters will scream and try to turn this into an issue to cow progressives.

That can’t happen.