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Who Dunnit?

Matt Bors
© Matt Bors

The Medical Examiner has officially declared the death of Jeffrey Epstein a suicide by hanging.

I can actually believe that. No really. After all, someone wouldn’t actually have to snuff him themselves. All they would have needed to do is talk to him, and point out that he was about to spend the rest of his disgusting life in jail, probably being raped by other inmates three times a day (would serve him right, yes?).

Or subtly threaten the life, health, or happiness of anyone he cares about (of course, that assumes he is capable of caring about anyone other than himself). I’m sure it would not take much effort to convince him that he has nothing to live for, and why should he go through an embarrassing public airing of his horrid life?

The only thing that could have gotten him out of jail was if he squealed on a bunch of rich and powerful people, who would then make sure he paid dearly in multiple horrible ways for the rest of his short miserable life.

The last thing Epstein would have wanted was justice. So why wouldn’t he take the easy way out.


What does the GOP stand for?

The Tuesday edition of examines the fact that Trump’s Republican party has abandoned almost all of the things they used to believe in and champion. Instead their core principle has become “support whatever Donald Trump says or does”. For example:

  • How the GOP attitude toward and treatment of immigrants (both illegal and legal) has changed completely since Trump was elected.
  • How after a long history of promoting job training and apprenticeship programs, the Republican Party is now only paying lip service to the ideal that America is the land of opportunity.
  • Even worse, after a long history of being against regulations, Trump only seems to be interested in jealously removing regulations put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Meanwhile, he is promoting many new regulations, for example against social media and high tech companies (who he claims have an “anti-conservative bias”).
  • Conservatives no longer believe in conservation of the environment. This has been coming for a while, but remember that Republicans were once the champions of conservation (it is part of their namesake even). This was as recently as the presidency of Richard Nixon, who helped create the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, the GOP has turned to using doublespeak, as their party platform is now that the best way to “conserve” the environment is to hand it over to businesses to develop. Most recently, Trump is starting to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act.
  • When Obama was president, Republicans were dead set against deficits, warning us all the time about how deficit spending would destroy our country. But they now simultaneously cut taxes and increase spending, never worrying about deficits at all.
  • Republicans used to hate Russia as our primary enemy. But even though Russia is still doing things that hurt the US — like sabotaging our elections, and building new nuclear weapons and other WMDs — Trump and the Republicans ignore this threat. Or even worse, they do things that will weaken our allies in Europe, which will give more power to Russia (and to China as well).

The article’s conclusion is that the Republican Party is having an identity crisis. They don’t know what they actually stand for, other than the hatred and bigotry spewed by Trump.


Fool me again, shame on me

New York magazine just published an interesting article titled “Trump’s State-by-State Approval Ratings Should Scare the MAGA Out of Him“. The article points out that current polls show that Donald Trump’s job-approval ratings are negative in ten states that he won in 2016, by 9 to 12 points.

The article then makes what appears to be a reasonable assumption, that Trump will only win the states where he has a positive approval rating. Which means he will win 119 electoral votes (and lose 419 electoral votes). That is an incredible landslide for whomever runs against him.

There’s just one big problem with this. Polls make lots of assumptions about who will actually vote. These assumptions could well be wrong. Furthermore, if enough people read articles like this one and conclude that Trump is toast, they may not bother to go vote against him.

Like what happened last time, when all the polls showed that Hilary Clinton was going to win. Don’t be fooled again.


How the hell?

I recently posted an article about Jeffrey Epstein, pedophile and sex trafficker to the rich and powerful. And now I read that he committed suicide while in solitary confinement. How utterly convenient.

There is an article in The Hill asking the obvious questions — how did someone on suicide watch in solitary confinement commit suicide, and why was someone who was a danger only to himself placed in solitary confinement anyway? As the article, written by a former corrections commissioner, states:

None of this makes any sense, at least at this point.

The crime here — in my mind, with what is known at this point — is that Epstein was placed in solitary confinement at all.

Who wanted him to commit suicide? Other than a large number of very rich and powerful people?

UPDATE: Now I read that Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death. So they put him in solitary confinement and took him off of suicide watch, even though he tried to commit suicide in prison (and almost succeeded) less than three weeks ago. WTF?

On top of that, Donald Trump is now retweeting a conspiracy theory that the Clintons were involved in Epstein’s death — saying “Word on the street is the Clintons did it.” Given that Trump often accuses others of doing things of which he himself is guilty, that makes me very suspicious.


Trickle Down, but Worse!

On Monday, 21 Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz, sent a letter to the Trump administration, proposing that Trump issue an executive order to give another huge tax cut to the wealthy. You might have noticed that Trump and the Republicans don’t talk much about the last tax cut that they gave to the wealthy, since trickle-down economics again didn’t do as much for the 99% as was promised. Which is probably why this one is being kept somewhat under the radar.

But I want to point out that this proposal is actually worse than last tax cut. The Republicans want Trump to index capital gains taxes to inflation. Here is what the GOP is trying to fix, in their own words:

They want to protect investors in stocks and bonds from inflation. How nice! Unfortunately, this only applies to capital gains, which are already taxed far less than income (money for which one actually works being income).

Furthermore, if you have a regular savings account that earns interest, you don’t get any protection from inflation. According to the FDIC, the national average interest rate on savings accounts as of February 2019 was 0.09% APY. That is 20 times less than inflation, which is currently around 1.8%, so your savings account is losing money. But you still have to pay taxes on that interest.

It should be no surprise that 86% of the benefit of the GOP proposal would go to the top 1% of wealthiest Americans.

You are likewise not protected from inflation if you haven’t received a raise recently, or if you are a retiree on a fixed income.

But the really ironic thing about this proposal is that it causes inflation. Inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. When the wealthy get more money, they often use it to buy property. Not just for vacation homes, but also to turn them into bed and breakfasts. This drives up the cost of housing,

I live in a city where housing prices have gone up as much as 30% in a single year, causing homelessness to spike.

So this proposal will actually increase inflation, but the people who will be causing this inflation will be protected from it. That’s just insane.


Toilet Paper Trump

Donald Trump seems to be boarding Air Force One with toiler paper stuck to the heel of his shoe.

While this is mildly funny, my real question is why no one pointed this out to him. Hard to believe nobody noticed.


Hater in Chief

A new study shows that hate crimes more than doubled in US counties where Donald Trump held a campaign rally, compared to similar counties that did not host a rally. In general, hate crimes increased 17% in 2017, year over year.

While it is true that correlation does not necessarily imply causality, a considerable number of reported hate crimes directly reference Trump. So he is unquestionably a catalyst.


Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee
© Keith Knight

Yes, the renaming of schools to other people named Lee in order to save money is a real thing.

In addition to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Bruce Lee, Spike Lee, and Gypsy Rose Lee, how about Stan Lee? I also like the school in Texas who changed the word LEE into an acronym for the Legacy of Educational Excellence.

However, some people are against removing Confederate names, claiming that it is equivalent to changing history. But they have it backwards.

Building monuments and naming schools after Confederate heroes actually peaked around 1910, a full 50 years after the end of the Civil War. That was during the Jim Crow era, a time marked by laws disenfranchising Black Americans and rampant segregation. And there was another peak around 1950 to 1960, at the height of the civil rights movement. It looks more like this was an attempt to rewrite history, and intimidate Blacks.

Timeline of Confederate Symbols in the US

It was clearly racist. How would people feel if a school was named after Adolf Hitler? He was also a racist who started — and lost — a war in which many Americans died. And Confederate heroes were also traitors to the US. Why would you want to honor them?


Trump is a Puppet

Donald Trump gave a speech in DC on Tuesday for the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, which has a history of making racist and fascist comments (for example, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all” and “the only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep fucking going!”).

Luckily, it looks like someone took the saying a picture is worth a thousand words to heart and had the last word. Projected behind Trump while he spoke was what appeared to be the presidential seal. But look closer.

First of all, the eagle in the seal is not the eagle from the US presidential seal. Instead, it looks like the double headed eagle from the official coat of arms of the Russian Federation. And it is clutching in its left claw not arrows, but golf clubs.

It is hard to see what the eagle is clutching in his right claw, but it isn’t an olive branch. Instead, it appears to be a wad of cash. Finally, the motto over the eagle doesn’t say “E Pluribus Unum” like the presidential seal, it says “45 es un Titere”, which is Spanish for “45 is a puppet” (Trump is the 45th president).

Ironically, during his speech, Trump again attacked the news media, calling them “liars” and “fake news”. He then asked “can you imagine how good our poll numbers, with all the things we’ve done, how good our poll numbers would be if we had a fair media?” and an audience member shouted “100 percent”.

However, it appears that there is at least one person who wouldn’t give Trump a perfect seal of approval.


Not Exculpated!

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler asked Robert Mueller today to explain what he meant when Mueller said in his report:

“If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so. Charging the President with a crime, therefore, was not an option we could consider.”

Mueller confirmed that the report did not “totally exonerate” Donald Trump. And then Mueller put it another way:

The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.

What this means is that when Trump (and others) claim that Mueller’s report found no wrongdoing and “totally exonerated” him, he is lying.

Here is a further exchange between Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Mueller:

Lieu: So to recap what we’ve heard, we have heard today that the President ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire you. The President ordered Don McGahn to then cover that up and create a false paper trail. And now we’ve heard the President ordered Cory Lewandowski to tell Jeff Sessions to limit your investigation so that he — you stop investigating the President. I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met, and I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of (Office of Legal Counsel) opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct? 
Mueller: That is correct.

Furthermore, Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) had the following exchange with Mueller:

BUCK: “Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?”
BUCK: “You could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?”

I’m sure Trump and the Republicans will continue to try to spin all this anyway.


Trump kills the Tea Party

Donald Trump’s new budget “puts the final nail in the tea-party coffin“. At first, you may think you should thank Donald Trump for finally getting rid of those pesky tea party politicians. However, there was nothing wrong with the stated goals of the tea party, the problem was that they were actually absolute hypocrites.

The “Tea Party” was formed to protest the huge and rising US national debt. The problem was that they suddenly decided to protest this, not when Saint Reagan raised the debt, or when both the Bush presidents raised the debt, they suddenly became fiscal conservatives just when Barack Obama got elected in the middle of a deep recession and (wisely) decided that government spending was the only way out of it (which worked).

The Tea Party was furious when Obama raised government spending by 3% during his first term in order to fix our cratering economy. But now, Trump is on track to raise government spending by 4%. Why is Trump raising spending when the economy (thanks Obama!) is doing just fine? And after Trump’s big tax cut for corporations and rich people?

During his campaign, Trump promised to pay off the national debt in eight years. He has already raised the national debt by $2 trillion, and he isn’t even done with his first (and hopefully only) term yet.

So are any tea partiers screaming this time? Hah! Let’s see, how about Ted Cruz, who was a leading voice in the tea party and strongly opposed raising the debt ceiling while Obama was in office? His response when asked about this? “Just call our press office“.


Immigrants and Jobs

It is clear that Donald Trump and the Republican Party hate immigrants, not just illegal immigrants, but legal ones too. But as a new study points out, this is highly ironic. Even though Republicans are also the party of big business, 45% of US Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children employ 13.5 million people, and had $6.1 trillion in revenue last year.

Many companies founded by immigrants and their children are well known; for example, AT&T, Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo!, Ford, Costco, Broadcom, and Intuit. What could be more American than blue jeans? However, they were created by two immigrants, Levi Strauss from Germany and Jacob Davis from Latvia, who founded Levi’s.

And that’s just big businesses. At the other end of the spectrum are new firms and startups, which all by themselves create nearly all net job growth in the US. And the facts show that immigrants are far more likely to be entrepreneurs that people born in the US.

The health of our economy has always — and continues — to depend on immigrants. We shouldn’t be telling immigrants and their children to go back to the country they came from, we should be welcoming them.

We are a country of immigrants, and we should start acting like it.

Otherwise, the US will surely decline. Coincidentally, just announced this morning is the new Fortune Global 500 list, which measures all corporations by revenue, not just those in the US. For the first time ever, China now has more companies on this list than the US. This is also the first time a nation other than the US has been at the top of the ranks of global big businesses.



I’ve been on an extended trip recently, and returned home just a couple of days ago to find an interesting story, the sex trafficking case of Jeffrey Epstein. Initially I didn’t pay significant attention to it, as it didn’t seem all that related to politics (ironic or otherwise). But now that I have time to look into it, I find that I was wrong. This has everything to do with politics.

This may be the story of the century, up there with Watergate. In fact, this could be much bigger than a little break-in in 1972 that eventually led to the downfall of president Richard Nixon. Indeed, Epstein has ties to a large number of politicians in both parties. And there is strong evidence that he has been blackmailing these people, along with other wealthy and powerful players.

The real question is “how did Jeffrey Epstein make so much money“? He claims to be a billionaire and a hedge fund manager, but there is no evidence that he has ever done business with anyone. Everything is secret, safely offshore.

So why would someone who is a confessed and convicted sex offender have all these wealthy and influential friends who were only too happy to give him lots of money? Or arrange to keep him out of jail for his crimes?

In the end, this all hinges on whether he has enough powerful people blackmailed so that he can again avoid any significant punishment. Only by focusing attention on this and making sure it is investigated fairly and throughly can we avoid this getting swept under the rug and forgotten.


British Protest Humor

Sad and Useless has collected funny signs being displayed by Brits protesting against Donald Trump’s visit to England. Here’s one of them (many more at the link).

If you don’t get this reference, you’re too young. Watch this video.


The Road to Impeachment?

By now, pretty much everyone knows that the Democrats are trying to decide whether or not to impeach Donald Trump. However, impeachment is only half the game, and while Democrats control the House and can impeach Trump anytime they want, it is up to the Republican controlled Senate to convict him and then remove him from office. And conviction requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senate. Clearly that is extremely unlikely.

I’m on the side of Nancy Pelosi, who thinks that if the Dems impeach Trump and the Senate acquits him, it will probably backfire on them and could get Trump reelected, which would be a complete disaster. On the other hand, if the Dems do nothing, that will also hurt them severely.

However, David Faris has come up with what I think is a brilliant solution. His solution consists of a series of steps.

  1. Keep holding hearings and investigating Trump and his administration.
  2. In late August 2020, just before the Republican National Convention, start impeachment proceedings (the normal path to decide whether to impeach). This will reflect poorly on the Republicans during their convention.
  3. (extra bonus step) Undoubtably, Trump will go on a total rampage, tweeting up a shit storm. That will make Tump and the Republicans look even worse.
  4. Draw out the impeachment proceedings as long as possible. In fact, until a day or two before the presidential election in November. That’s right, vote to impeach Trump immediately before the election.

There will not be enough time for the Senate to acquit Trump, so Trump cannot say he has been vindicated. In fact, as part of the impeachment proceedings, the House should have gotten ahold of Trump’s tax returns, and plenty of other incriminating evidence from other places, making both Trump and the Republicans who support him look really bad.

How bad? Bad enough that the Democrats could retake the Senate. And if that happens, then it is even possible that the Republicans go ahead and vote to convict Trump in order to distance themselves from him.

Not only do I think this is a good solution, in fact the best solution, I think it just might be the only solution that can save our country’s democracy.