Saturday, March 18, 2017


The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
January 30, 1930-March 17, 2017

Ryan's War-- on Seniors

The Paul Ryan healthcare proposal--fully embraced by Homemade Hitler--is hurtling through Congress, hoping that it's moving too fast for anyone to read it first.

Too late.

Senator Bob Casey released a 50 page report detailing how the plan raises premiums and lowers coverage as citizens age, with seniors (not quite 65) of the lowest income paying the highest percentage of their income.

Paul Krugman: "Affluent young people might end up saving some money as a result of these changes. But the effect on those who are older and less affluent would be devastating. AARP has done the math: a 55-year-old making $25,000 a year would end up paying $3,600 a year more for coverage; that rises to $8,400 for a 64-year-old making $15,000 a year."

Low income seniors--even those on Medicare, which covers only part of healthcare costs--depend on programs through Medicaid.  The Ryan plan would end much of this support by 2020.

But news is Republicans have gotten concessions from Ryan and the White House: they have agreed to wound Medicaid even more.

This is the Cruelty State's proudest boast--thanks for your service, now that you're too old we'll kill you, painfully.

Jackboots of The Cruelty State

Besides yet another tragic object lesson in the hard truth that it is so much easier to destroy than to create, the Cruelty State budget (dubbed a "campaign press release masquerading as a government document,” due to its lack of being an actual, you know, budget, with income and outflow and covering the whole government) is also the perfect budget if your goal is to create a military dictatorship.

Slash support for everything from the EPA and NASA earth science to cancer research, regional and community programs and public broadcasting, with no significant money for infrastructure--along with the proposed destruction of healthcare support given by government in every other advanced nation on the planet.  Then-- besides giveaways to the wealthy and the wealthiest businesses-- increase spending on military hardware.

And while you are at it, keep making noises about going to war with North Korea.

This is how it works in the Third World military dictatorships: when the military is the privileged institution, where poor people can get status and get fed only in the military. Also create the sense of being besieged in a hostile world, and identify at least one enemy for patriotic citizens to get excited about fighting.

Even within the military budget, the hardware gets the bucks and programs for peacekeeping and responding to global emergencies gets cut.  It's all about the jackboots.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Whether they fully articulate it or not, an element that strikes terror in many hearts and minds regarding Homegrown Hitler's regime is the nightmare reversal of truth and lies.  The regime lie and because they say it, it is the truth.  There is no argument based on evidence of any kind that can contradict it, and increasingly, that support it.  And therefore, there is no recourse.  There is no democratic process, or any kind of decision-making based on verifiable evidence.

But making decisions based on facts as well as priorities, and even knowingly ignoring where the evidence leads in order to strike a compromise that brings parties together to support a common program, have had and still have an important institutional place, everywhere from city councils to courts and even occasionally in the US Congress.

Some decisions are made that way by law, such as applying rules regulating carbon in cars and power plants, as this article explains: because even a climate crisis-denying ignoramus bought and paid for by fossil fuel corporations as EPA director will have to prove a case.

But at least a couple of the regime's efforts to remake reality may be getting some resistance in Congress, even from usually fact-free Republicans.   This Washington Post article is persuasive that a couple of R leaders in the House and Senate aren't meekly cooperating with the regime's strategy of making wild accusations and then pushing them over to Congress to investigate.  They are committee chairs asking for evidence for the charge of wire tapping against President Obama, and saying pretty plainly that they don't believe the White House or the Justice Department has any.

One of these, a conservative and once (and probably future) regime apologist, Rep. Devin Nunes told to a reporter in 2015 that his biggest concern was the "spread of false information on the right:"

I used to spend ninety per cent of my constituent-response time on people who call, e-mail, or send a letter, such as, ‘I really like this bill, H.R. 123,’ and they really believe in it because they heard about it through one of the groups that they belong to, but their view was based on actual legislation,” Nunes said. “Ten per cent were about ‘Chemtrails from airplanes are poisoning me’ to every other conspiracy theory that’s out there. And that has essentially flipped on its head.” The overwhelming majority of his constituent mail is now about the far-out ideas, and only a small portion is “based on something that is mostly true.” He added, “It’s dramatically changed politics and politicians, and what they’re doing."

From reality TV to Facebook as the prime dispenser of "news," it is the newest and most frightening of the tendencies that encourages--even deifies--ignorance.

There are somewhat more familiar components to the Dark Age Now though they are amped to brand new heights.  Jeffrey Frank recalls Homegrown Hitler's disdain for Camp David, as close to a hallowed setting as we get in America, rich with history as well as practicality, and imbued with the continuity of the American presidency.   "Seen in that light, Trump’s contemptuous remark about Camp David became another early warning that, even after taking the oath of office, there would be no end to his vulgarity and mendacity."

Frank later comments:"hard to watch what’s happening to the office and the mission of the Presidency, aided and abetted by men and women who will not be forgiven in the history books that Trump will never read."

The Washington Post has taken to adding a motto under its name on every website page: "Democracy dies in darkness."  It is the darkness of ignorance, of deliberate ignorance.  That ignorance is created not only by the dearth of information, but of shared belief in the fundamental tests of what's true and what is not.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gist for the Mill

On the dictator apprentice's leaked tax return:

"Almost as noteworthy was the fact that most of the tax Trump paid was captured by the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is a backup tax designed to insure that people with a lot of deductions don’t entirely escape taxes. Because Trump took a write-down of more than a hundred million dollars in 2005, his initial tax liability was just $5.3 million. If not for the Alternative Minimum Tax, which he and other Republicans want to get rid of, his effective tax rate would have been about 3.5 per cent. Because he was liable to the A.M.T., he was forced to pay an additional thirty-one or so million dollars."

The gist of the court decision stopping Homegrown Hitler's latest travel ban:

 In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson quoted a Fox News appearance from senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who argued that “fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country” even after the rewrite. The judge said the new executive order was similar in intent to the first one — and that it targeted Muslims.

“These plainly-worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose,” the ruling said.

On the regime's announced legislative agenda--which is so far a total illusion:

As a candidate for president, Trump promised that he would work with Congress to pass legislation that would dramatically cut taxes, spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investments, significantly expand school choice and make it easier to afford child care. And he promised he would get started on all that — and six other pieces of legislation — in his first 100 days, according to a “Contract with the American Voter” released shortly before Election Day.

Now past the 50-day mark, only one of those bills — the House GOP health-care plan — has been introduced. And its path has grown more treacherous by the day, with mounting concerns about the millions of Americans projected to lose coverage, including many who supported Trump in last year’s election...

Other promised 100-day bills included a sweeping crackdown on immigration, including a southern border wall paid for by Mexico; a new system of tariffs to discourage companies from relocating abroad; and reforms aimed at reducing “the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.” No such measures have been introduced."

Monday, March 13, 2017


The first sunny days of spring (after Daylight Savings Time anyway) revealed blooming jonquils (above), grape hyacinth and tulips in the yard, as well as the calla lilies that persisted through the winter...


"Instead of humanity rationally governing the world and itself, we are at the mercy of monsters that we have created."

Dale Jamieson
Reason in a Dark Time

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What "Universal Access" Means

Does the Republican plan for healthcare guarantee universal coverage?  Nope--something better: Universal Access!

Universal Access means everybody can get health insurance!  After all, it's the American way.

Americans have Universal Access to lots more than healthcare, too!  For instance, Americans have universal access to flights in private jets whenever they want one---provided they pay for the private jet.  But other than that, there are no restrictions.  This is America!  (Well, depending on other factors, you might not actually be allowed to fly in it--but you could still own it.)

Universal Access to health insurance also means that you can buy a really cheap policy, way cheaper than under Obamacare.  Of course it won't cover anything much, but it will be way cheap!

But if you want health insurance that covers lots of stuff, even everything, you have Universal Access to those plans, too!  Provided you can pay the very steep prices, which get steeper the older you are.

Listen, you can even have Universal Access to the Universe if you want, if you can pay, if you can wait for faster than light spaceships.  After all, facts are just limitations, and they don't matter anymore.  Universal Access is what they used to call bullshit, when that was still a word and not White House policy.

So don't worry that the Republican plan won't cover everybody, or even everyone now covered under the suddenly popular Obamacare. (CBO Update: 24 million people fewer than Obamacare, which is even fewer insured people than before Obamacare.)  Universal Access is what will make America great again.

(Well, yes, anybody can get health insurance now under Obamacare, but that isn't Universal Access.  Because...well, because they don't call it that.  What is this anyway--fake news?)