Monday, February 25, 2019

Week of 02/25/2019

The Case For High-Speed Rail
Okay, I get it.  I understand why conservatives and fascists (and it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference) one and all gang up on liberals like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, aka AOC.  She’s young.  She’s cute.  She’s spunky.  She’s full of energy.  She’s got lofty ideals that haven’t been ruined by reality yet.  She’s got the support of enough people to put her in Congress... and that is a noteworthy feat especially at her age.  Oh, and her ideals are the things that red-hat-wearing MAGA cult morons and big corporate interests hate with a flaming passion.
So, yeah, I know.  You’re insecure, feeble-minded, ugly, and, most likely, old.  It’s natural to hate the next generation because they’re replacing you in terms of power and prominence and influence.  And some of you – mostly the big corporate interest ones – feel threatened because someone like her could put your bank account at risk.  And the rest of you who really don’t know any better but delude yourselves into thinking you still know more than that young woman just feel threatened by her because she is that next generation that will replace you.
Having been the victim of bullying, I can see the bullies for what they are, and, sorry red-hats, but you’re as guilty as Judas on this.
But I’m not really here to crucify you red-hats for being what you are.  Not this time anyway.
I want to talk about something that is part of AOC’s so-called “New Green Deal” that you old thugs like to hate on.
Picture this: going from one part of the country to another in just a couple of hours without leaving the ground.  Nice idea, right?  Asian nations already do this. 
But America can’t seem to do this because....?
Oh, right, because that’s supposedly a “socialist” thing.  From people who have no idea what the word really means but love to throw it about because they know you willing idiots have been brainwashed to hate the notion.
“High-speed rail is a socialist idea!  It’ll hurt the airlines!  We need to protect the airlines!”
Have you been to the airport lately?  Have you actually gone through all the hassles involved with flying in the past 20 years?  I have!  It sucks!  It is a horrid abomination.
Let’s suppose that you’re going from Atlanta to Las Vegas.  You have to get to the airport, which, depending on the traffic, could be a couple of hours.  No, I am not kidding about that.  I’ve been living here for over twenty years.  I know how bad the traffic is in Atlanta on a good day.  You’re told that you have to get to the airport two hours before your scheduled flight, or later depending on airport and airline conditions, so now you have to leave a whole lot earlier just because of the traffic. 
Unless someone is driving you there, or unless you’re able to take the MARTA line into the airport (yes, I’ve done that too), you’re going to need someplace to park your vehicle.  That’s not free.  It’s also really not close to the terminal.  Now you have to make it to the airport, to the ticket booth, where – even if you’ve already pre-paid your ticket – you need to check in and pay a whole bunch of fees.  Any luggage?  How big is that carry-on?  Can it fit in the ever-shrinking criteria as dictated by the airline?  Does your class even allow carry-on luggage?
Okay, you’ve paid your fees, you get your boarding pass, you’ve checked in any extra luggage (and paid an additional fee for that), and now you’re off to the security area.  You wait in a line that could take hours to go through, you take off your shoes and belt and you put all your electronic items and any metallic items in a special container, and then hope the scanning devices are working and you’re not pull aside for “random advanced screening”.  You have to rush to the side so you can put your shoes and belt back on, then rush to the correct terminal so you can check in there in advance and then wait even longer.
Then it’s a buffet-line to actually board your plane when it does arrive – and it could be delayed for any reason – and depending on your class you may be the last one to board.  You get seated in ever-shrinking seats with no leg-room, no arm-room, and you can barely get your seat-belt on, and the people that you’re flying with may not be the best people you want to have next to you in a sealed tube for the next few hours.  Oh, and you may be kicked off that flight for whatever reason even after going through all that hassle to get there.  Maybe a flight attendant doesn’t like how you’re dressed.  Maybe they don’t like the shirt you have on.  Maybe that flight attendant doesn’t like the fact that you have a better body than them.  (Yes, that has happened to someone I know.)  Maybe the flight has been overbooked and you’re been “volunteered” to give up your seat.  Oh, and even after the door is closed and the plane has pulled from the terminal, you can be sitting out there for hours depending weather and air travel conditions.
It quite literally can take all day if not longer to fly from Atlanta to Las Vegas.
Now imagine being able to make that same trip in just a couple of hours.  Leave Atlanta after breakfast, get to Vegas by lunchtime.  No security hassles.  No screenings.  No fees on top of fees.  Not being kicked off for what you’re wearing or because you have a better body than the attendants.  You know where your luggage is, you know where to get it, and you don’t need to arrive half-a-day before you leave.  That’s the dream of high-speed rail. 
Who the hell wouldn’t want that?
Oh, right, greedy monopolistic airline executives.  And the sociopaths in government that get “campaign donations” from said greedy monopolistic airline executives.  And the media personalities whose shows are sponsored by said greedy monopolistic airlines.  And you can understand why, right?  I mean, that cuts into their almighty goddamned profits.  They may have to actually – *shudder* - compete!  How dare people come up with that idea, right?  I mean that’s downright “socialist” for a private monopolistic business that gets government assistance to have to actually compete with any kind of alternative!  You know, lower prices, cut back on the fees on top of fees, make the seats wide enough to accommodate the larger passengers, start treating the paid passengers as... people!  Oh, the indignity!
Let’s get brutally honest here... we need to seriously invest in high-speed rail service in America, not just because of some environmental concerns, but because our transportation infrastructure is screaming for an alternative to the airlines and their sadistic rules and restrictions and their obscene and unchecked greed.
Rail service takes up far less space than roads and highways and airports, and they’re far easier to maintain.  And, because we would need to lay a lot more rail down to make this idea a reality, we are talking lots and lots of long-term jobs.  Remember what those are?  You know... people working instead of being on government assistance.  I thought you red-hats wanted that!  And, unlike the original transcontinental rail project, we wouldn’t have to bring in people from other nations to do it.
New service opens the door to new technology.  We can make rail service better, faster, safer, more convenient, and be a lot more comfortable than sadistically stuffing people into a pressurized tube.  And, yeah, it’s also easier on the environment.  Let’s go with that as well.  Why not?
Unfortunately, I know that this is an uphill fight.  Narcissist President Trump wants to embezzle the $2.5 billion that the federal government invested in California’s high-speed rail project so he can fund his ego-wall, and even that state’s governor is questioning the billions already spent over the projected budget.  Even the next generation’s ambitions can fall prey to old government contractor games.
And yet I know that this is something that America desperately needs.  Not just from city-to-city or state-to-state, but across the country.  We need that alternative to the sadistic and greedy airline service, because the only other alternative will be for people to stop traveling, period.  And, yes, you will find people like me telling the rest of the community to do just that if there is no alternative to the greed and sadism of the airlines.
We chose planes over trains to move around for three reasons: price, time, and convenience.  The airlines, through their greed, have made two of those three reasons difficult if not impossible.  They are no longer worth the cost or the convenience.  It is high time that we work on replacing them.  And if we don’t do it now, then you know that the next generation, led by people like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, will do it tomorrow at our expense.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Week of 02/18/2019

Trump Is The Constitutional Crisis
So after months of teasing it, months of threatening it, months of wondering if or when he would do it, he finally did it.
Narcissist President Donald Trump has declared a “national emergency” over funding for his ego-wall.
Why?  Because he can’t get the funding he demands.
Not from Mexico.  From us.  From the taxpayers.
Because after he initiated a partial government shutdown – which he previously said that he would do proudly and that would own and then tried to blame it on the one party that had no political power at the time – and after weeks of negotiations after he reopened the government, the most he could get was a pittance of what he originally wanted, and it would be for a few miles of fencing.  Not a wall.  And certainly not the ocean-to-ocean concrete ego-wall monument that he dreams about while spending “executive time” on his golden toilet.
Narcissist Trump has declared a “national emergency” so he could override Congress – the sole authority as per the U.S. Constitution when it comes to the budget – and move funds from other departments to pay for his ego-wall, which he has told his base that he is already building.
Normally when there is a “national emergency,” there is something that you can actually point to as justification.  The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 immediately come to mind.  The devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which actually caused gas and oil shortages nationwide, comes to mind.  Massive multistate wildfires come to mind.
What is Narcissist Trump’s “emergency”?  The only things that he can draw on to justify his “emergency” are anecdotal crimes as reported by Fox News, his unofficial propaganda firm straight out of the fears of George Orwell, and scenes from an ultra-violent movie that you can see on HBO!  Talk about “Wag the Dog”!  This is “Wag the Dog” on crack-coated steroids sprinkled with LSD!
Oh, and the other reason for his “emergency” is that he is a loser and a failure as a “master deal-maker”.  He couldn’t get his ego-wall money even after having two years of uncontestable control of the Congress.  He couldn’t get Mexico to pay for his ego-wall, even after claiming it would be “so easy, so easy” to get it.  He couldn’t bully the Democrats to give him the money, even after shutting down key parts of the government.  So all that he could get after all that drama was a deal that was worse than the one he rejected in December before shutting down the government. 
Oh, and because those “mean people” were picking on him for it.  He was being ridiculed and mocked because the so-called “master deal-maker” put himself in a situation that made him look bad.  He could either sign the bill passed by Congress to keep the government funded and piss off his base, or he could shut the government down yet again and have everyone pissed off at him again.  Oh what a problem for Widdle Donnie!  His widdle reputation got a boo-boo!  Now everyone knows that he’s not the “master deal-maker” that he’s been pretending to be.
That is his “emergency”.  It’s an emergency that exists only in his head.
Narcissist Trump’s own people cannot support his “emergency”. Statistics from his own people show the exact opposite of what Trump claims is going on at the border.  Congressman Will Hurd, a member of the GOP whose district covers most of the Texas border with Mexico, has publicly said that Narcissist Trump’s “crisis” is a myth.  All nine representatives whose districts cover the Mexican border have said as much!  Two state governors have recalled their National Guard troops from the border after Trump had sent them there to stop a “horde” that only existed during the 2018 mid-term elections and then conveniently vanished after the elections ended.
For months now, people have been wringing their hands over whether or not Narcissist Trump would put us in a so-called “constitutional crisis”. 
Let’s get brutally honest here… Narcissist President Donald Trump did not put us “in” a constitutional crisis.
Narcissist President Donald Trump *is* the constitutional crisis.
We now have a president who has assumed power he did not have under the United States Constitution to seize funds that he could not otherwise get through bullying and negotiating to fund an ego-driven project to appease his minority base and his own narcissistic dreams.  And he is using stories from a biased so-called “news service” owned by a tabloid publishing company along with a low-value crime-drama premium cable movie as the justification for it.
The real challenge is putting him back in check.
The supposed “normal” way is for Congress to pass a bill rescinding Narcissist Trump’s declaration.  It would have to get past both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Good luck on the latter.  That side of the Congress is under the siege of a slack-jawed turtle-dick sociopath who only cares about his own power.  A failure of a man who thinks that letting Americans vote is a “power grab”.  And even if they can get it past him and pass the Senate, Narcissist Trump would then veto it.  And I seriously doubt Congress would have the wherewithal for a two-thirds vote to override it.  And Narcissist Trump knows this.
But there is another way as stated in the U.S. Constitution to call Narcissist Trump to account.
The House of Representative can bring articles of impeachment against Narcissist Trump.
Because assuming funds that you have no authority to take for your own purposes is a crime.  It is called embezzlement.
The residents of Dixon, Illinois, know this kind of crime all-too-well.  Their comptroller, Rita Crundwell, had been stealing millions from the city for years to fund her personal project, her prized horse farms.  It was tax revenue that was taken from vital government services to pay for her vanity and ego.  Roads and sidewalks could not be fixed because of her vanity and ego.  Emergency equipment could not be purchased because of her vanity and ego.  City workers could not get raises because of her vanity and ego.  Year-in-and-year-out she went before the city and she told the city that there was an “emergency” that required them to continue to cut funding for things the city needed… and all so she could secretly fund her horse farms.  Crundwell went to prison for almost twenty years for her embezzlement of $54 million.
No different than Narcissist Trump’s so-called “emergency”.  That money is being taken from essential services to fund his vanity and his ego.
The House of Representatives do not have to wait for the Senate to take action on this.  They don’t have to wait for Robert Muller to finish his report or worry if Narcissist Trump would stop it.  They have an actual criminal act that they can bring articles of impeachment on that was carried out with the whole world to see.  They can charge him with embezzlement.
Impeachment is not a one-time-only card.  There is no set limit to the number of times the House can bring articles of impeachment against the President.  The House can pass articles of impeachment against the President, and the United States Senate is then obligated under the U.S. Constitution to bring those articles to trial.  No slack-jawed turtle-dick power-whore can stop that.  And even if the Senate acquits Narcissist Trump, he would still have a stain on his tenure as President that only two other people in history had… and one of them was Bill Clinton over lying under oath about oral sex!  Then he could never claim to be the “best president ever in the history of America if not the world”.  He would only be one of the worst.
When America’s Constitutional Convention had finished crafting the Constitution in 1787, a woman had approached Benjamin Franklin and asked what they had created.  Franklin’s response was supposedly “A republic, if you can keep it.”  It is that challenge that is upon us now.  The course is clear.  The only question is whether or not those in office will have the courage to take it.