As the screws tighten…

The “witch” in the hunt might have been found–at least that’s what Michael Cohen’s plea deal indicates.

Cohen pleaded under oath, and without any pressure, that “the candidate” gave him instructions to pay hush money to women for the purposes of influencing the election. This is a violation of campaign finance laws.

If Trump wasn’t president, he would be indicted based on the Cohen’s plea deal alone. Cohen was only the messenger here, and in a crime of this nature it’s not the messenger the feds are after–its the one who gave the order.

Mueller has more up his sleeve and Cohen has more cards to play, hence the plea and the quick resolution to this small but important part of the investigation. The implication was just the beginning.

And let’s not forget about Manafort. His case was never about taxes as much as it was about access. He represents loose connections to the other side of the equation. And he was found guilty in front of a jury.

This whole thing is just warming up.

Thoughts on the new plans to rollback fuel efficiency standards…

As the US continues to drop bombs on its war against reason as it relates to climate change, consumers need to act.

If the market demands cars with improved fuel efficiency, or electric cars, whatever rollbacks the Trump administration implements on fuel efficiency standards will not matter.

Automakers will be forced to comply with market demands.

Our dollars and decisions drive the market, not Trumps war on science and reason.

Screaming on social media doesn’t help, especially if you go out and buy a gas guzzling SUV afterwards.

Gas prices are rising. The petroleum industry and car manufacturers win if these proposed rules go into effect. In the long run, auto-consumers loose at the gas pump and via continued environmental degradation. But that doesn’t mean we quit and blame Trump.

Buy smart if you care about climate change–and don’t get sucked into the noise, such as the argument about safety as it relates to cars with better fuel efficiency standards. That’s crap.

Oh, and by the way, fuck you EPA. Remember, you make the rules we make the calls.

NY Times Op-Ed: Get Out of Facebook and Into the N.R.A.’s Face

Here’s an op-ed by Thomas Friedman reminding us that the fight for gun control needs to move beyond social media, and needs to be bigger than marches and protests.

The NRA has a comfortable seat at the table and uses republican lawmakers as puppets.

We can scream gun control until we are blue in the face in person and on social media, but nothing changes until we elect lawmakers that haven’t been purchased by the NRA.

The Master of Puppets—REVEALED

Recently, the New York Times reviewed a book entitled THE SECOND COMING OF THE KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition, By Linda Gordon. You can read the review by clicking here. Below is an exceprt:

“Unlike the first and third Klans (the third appeared during the civil rights era), the 1920s Klan was well integrated into American life ‘The KKK may actually have enunciated values with which a majority of 1920s Americans agreed,’ Gordon writes.”

In other words, the KKK was normalized and its reach into the everyday is what made it powerful. It was embedded into society, culture, and politics.

This got me thinking smarted thoughts with my brainy-brain.

Considering where we are today, is it plausible that although the KKK label is poisoned, the ideals, values and hate associated with it might be just part of the American fabric? Let’s think about this using the concept of the deep state. Administrations might change, political directions might shift, but those embedded in the national security apparatus hold on to secrets and shadow agendas regardless of who holds power. Alternatively, as ideals and values are passed from generation to generation, the values of hate are normalized and become part of the whole. Similar to the concept of the invisible hand of the free-markets, this is the invisible hand of hate. And this generational hate is the root cause of the structural violence prevalent in our culture, laws, and systems of government today.

The invisible hand of hate is dangerous because it operates on its own. It’s institutionalized. And as a result, laws might be passed and regulations proposed without racist intent, but they have racist results.

“No place for hate” signs are everywhere. If we want to get rid of the hate embedded in our culture we have to do better than lawn signs. Let’s begin with examining who benefits and why. For example, let’s very sincerely explore the reasons why affordable and quality healthcare is so exclusive, or the reasons and history of why marijuana is illegal, or the reason for the continued existence of funding schemes for public schools that create a known imbalance of funding for black and brown schools compared to white schools. From there we’ll have better insights as to how to purge hate.

I’ll make a bold prediction (and here it is, the great reveal) – once we begin asking why and follow the path backwards, we’ll be walking ultimately into the colorless doors of a extraordinarily big nameless bank, and there will be an ancient white-man greeting us. His teeth will be made from the purest of gold. He isn’t anybody you have ever met, sorry to disappoint you there. He has an ordinary face with eyes impossible to read. His robe is unexceptional. Call him the Wizard of Oz, or Mr. Tail that Wags the Dog, call him whatever you want – he’s heard them all–but whatever you do, don’t call him late for dinner, you know-that dinner you prepare him every time you buy something.

We have a broken machine – can we fix it already?

I do my best to stay away from political noise – but today the FBI is indicting Paul Manafort and his number 2. This is bigger than political noise – this is the beginning of an story that will live on past us. Years from now people will be asking “where were we when…,” to the events that might unfold from this point forward. It might be that big. But still, I can’t help but notice that the political machine that brought us here, which is the the same machine gamed by this administration, still has the same broken cogs, and there is no effort being made to call the machinist to fix it. Hopefully the outcome of whatever is about to happen can lead to more than arrests and real voter reform – anything less than that would be an empty victory.

The Biggest Threat to National Security might not be Climate Change

I’ve been doing some thinking about the concept of evil recently. Much of this stems from our president’s response to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, as well as his desire to make healthcare unattainable to those that need it most.

There was a question during the 2016 debates that was posed to Bernie Sanders regarding the biggest threat to national security, and Bernie cleverly responded climate change. I believe our president said illegal immigration when posed the same question–don’t quote me on that, though it sounds like something he’d say. But isn’t a lack of empathy towards the poor and less fortunate from those in power just as big of a threat to national security as climate change, immigration, or some rogue nation? Could lax gun laws also pose a similar security threat? They are supposed to keep us secure, but somehow the math in that equation isn’t really adding up.

What I’m dancing around is that the president doesn’t have any real interest in helping Puerto Rico recover. Puerto Ricans do not vote. Texans do. Environmental regulation isn’t really in the best interest of large corporations profiting on abusing the earth’s resources. Ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable healthcare isn’t in the interest of insurance providers or those that govern. And ensuring that strict gun laws exist to help prevent more senseless killings is not in the interest of the gun lobby or the NRA. War though is big business and the big boys like that. See the thread here? I’m proposing that maybe the biggest threat to our national security might not be as easy as a canned answer that tested well in a focus group, works great on a debate stage, and generates media soundbites. Shoot, Donald Trump might not even be the biggest risk to national security, he is just a man–an evil man, but just a man nonetheless. America will continue to survive after him. But what drives him and those like him will remain, and that is self-interest, which is at the root of climate-change crisis and all of the other crisis we face. It might be that we have created a system that has enabled it’s own undoing.

Is it possible for people and leaders within a democratic capitalist system to shed their self-interest for the sake of national security?

More Food for Thought

Here’s one to help get started with as it relates to national security and our wants (self-interest) – The US population is increasing exponentially. The need for a better food management system is imperative. American’s eat meat because they want to, not because they need to. If we shifted to a plant-based diet and used arable land more efficiently, we’d be able to feed more people here and around the world. There are a lot of studies proving this – I’m not going to cite one, simply turn to your Netflix account and watch a food documentary. But if you are still insistent on some proof – here’s something from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition you could read. The study concludes that the lactoovegetarian diet is better and more sustainable, but not sustainable in the long-run considering it’s fossil-fuel requirements. If as a society we acted on what was best for what we need now and for the future, we’d reconsider our diets entirely and use technology to help us develop sustainable farming methods. But the thing is, I’m not a baby calf nor do I intend on growing up to be a 400 lb bovine–keep your milk and cheese, Dr. Lactoovegetarian.

Go vegan.

Don’t Stand so Close to Meme

While we are off in left field talking about Russia, we must keep in mind that Russia isn’t the only one to blame for what happened in November. Yes, they created fake news outlets and fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, but as painful as it is, we must look upon ourselves and shoulder much of the blame. Russia didn’t vote, albeit they might have tampered with the electronic voting machines a bit (that’s yet to be proven), but they didn’t vote. Americans did (and maybe not all were counted, but that’s another issue that has to deal with election laws and gerrymandering). We allowed ourselves to be influenced, not only by the Russians, but from those inside of our circle responding to hate-filled memes. The memes that are circulated do not fall from the sky, and many of them did not come from Russia. Instead, many of them came from a little corner on the internet known as 4Chan. You can read about who they are and their influence on the election here. Memes and Facebook are the perfect combination. They have a way of saying so much without saying anything at all. They are designed to illicit emotion and make us react strongly one way or the other. So let’s re-focus the blame a bit. Russia did tamper with the election–one cannot argue that. Rachel Maddow can talk about Russia all she wants for the next eight years, or for as long as her ratings tell her its a beneficial thing to do. But the truth is, if we didn’t react to an article or a meme, it wouldn’t have legs on social media. I once said that I feel that I should shoulder some of the blame for November’s results because I did not speak up when I saw some of these memes being passed around. I’m beginning to re-think that, and maybe not speaking up in some instances is stronger than saying something, because in essence–and simply by how social media algorithms work, one’s silence and lack of reaction is a direct chop at the knees of a meme. And as I finish this last sentence, Kenny Rogers’ Gambler appears before me with the ace up his sleeve.