Jeb Hensarling (image credit: Dallas Morning News)

Hensarling lies about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on NPR

Jeb Hensarling is resorting to “alternative facts” in his quest to drag the US back to the bad old days of “innovative” mortgages and unregulated financial companies that gave us the Great Recession.

Jeb Hensarling (image credit: Dallas Morning News)

Jeb Hensarling (image credit: Dallas Morning News)

Last week I heard an interview on Morning Edition that had me fuming at my radio. Steve Inskeep interviewed Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) about Hensarling’s goal to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB). After listening to the interview, I had a question for Mr. Hensarling: are you a liar, or do you actually believe your own bullshit?

Hensarling, who has been pursuing the destruction of the CPFB as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said

Somebody has to protect consumers, not just from Wall Street but protect them from Washington as well. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has hurt consumers. Free checking at banks has been cut in half. Banking fees have gone up. Working people are finding it more difficult to get mortgages.

The bottom line is the best consumer protection are competitive, innovative markets that are transparent.

Yes, it’s true that some working people are having a hard time finding mortgages, but it’s not because mortgage markets aren’t transparent, competitive, or innovative. It’s because those working people are not making enough money to afford the house they want, or have poor credit histories. Free checking isn’t available as much any more because banks are no longer allowed to make up the costs of the free checking by charging exorbitant overdraft fees. In other words, the CPFB is doing exactly what it’s chartered to do – protect consumers from predatory banks and bankers. Continue reading

Music for CPAC and America’s bigoted Administration

The organizer of the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Dan Schneider, called Richard Spencer and his cadre of white nationalists (aka the “alt-right”) a “hateful, left-wing fascist group” got me thinking about this song. Well, that and how poorly the current Administration is doing lately with respect to bigotry. You know, broadening the deportation guidelines to include pretty much everyone from south of the border, the immigration and travel ban, reversing the guidance on equal access to restrooms for transgendered men and women, and the like.


(this version was put up by TMBG themselves, BTW) Continue reading

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Donald attacks the media, FBI, and intelligence agencies over Flynn’s “resignation”

A real President would promise to find out just how deeply Russia has influenced his Administration. Then there’s Donald Trump….

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Three days ago, I wrote a post I titled “After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood.” In it, I wrote

Donald lost tonight, and every time he’s lost he’s gone on Twitter or stood before an audience to rant against whoever was responsible for his loss. I anticipate that Donald will attack the media again for reporting the facts about Flynn and his Russia contacts. And I expect he’ll instruct his new Attorney General to figure out who in the FBI was investigating Flynn, and who leaked the information that Flynn was being investigated….

Two days ago, we learned that Donald knew about Flynn’s Russia contacts, and that Flynn had lied about them, since January 26. And supposedly, Flynn was asked to resign because of “eroding trust” between him and Donald. Riiiight.

I don’t know about anyone else, but if I found out my National Security Advisor had been lying to me and was susceptible to blackmail by foreign powers as a result of it, I’d have fired him almost immediately, not waited two weeks until the media broke the story and forced my hand. Because, you know, national security. But maybe that’s because I take stuff like this seriously, rather than treating the Presidency like a business investment. Continue reading

gorka_trump

Sebastian Gorka has no business being in government, never mind on NPR’s Morning Edition (updated)

Sebastian Gorka is fantastic as a spokesman for Donald – Islamophobic, apparently proud of his family’s association with an organization that collaborated with the Nazis, and a proven liar.

UPDATE: I changed the header sentence to remove a reference to Gorka’s ancestors as being Nazi collaborators. The fact remains, however, that the Vitezi Rend was associated with the Nazis during WWII, so I’ve reworded the header accordingly.
gorka_trumpI’ve listened to Rachel Martin interview Sebastian Gorka – a Bannon hire and former Breitbart national security editor who is an Islamophobe with a documented history of lying and who wore the uniform of a Nazi-affiliated Hungarian organization on air during Donald’s inauguration – twice now on NPR’s Morning Edition. Yesterday’s experience was not pleasant. He’s an expert at dodging questions and staying on message even when Martin breaks in to stop him from dominating the air time with bullshit.

There was more slime coming out of my speakers when Gorka was talking than in all of the Ghostbusters films combined. Continue reading

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood

Donald doesn’t lose well. I doubt he’ll ignore the role of the media and FBI leaks in Flynn’s resignation

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn, Donald’s now former National Security Advisor, resigned from his position this evening. In a statement, Flynn said he “misled” Vice-President Pence about a phone call Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in which the two discussed having Donald lift sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion and annexation of Crimea.

Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under investigation by the Justice Department since Donald took office, if not before then, and the fact that Flynn was being investigated had been widely reported in the media. In fact, the Washington Post reported just tonight that the FBI considered Flynn a blackmail risk due to his lying to Pence.

Continue reading

Quotes from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against Donald’s immigration ban

9th_circuit_sealToday a three judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that they would not overturn the injunction blocking most of Donald’s immigration and travel ban Executive Order. I read the entire ruling, and I’ve extracted several key or amusing quotes from it below. Many of these were quotes that I posted first on Facebook, but I wanted to collect them all in one place.

As I said after DeVos was confirmed, “We cannot let our defeats demoralize us into inaction any more than we can permit our victories to lull us into a false sense of security.” But for tonight, enjoy the 9th Circuit’s very polite yet firm rejections of pretty much everything the Administration argued. Continue reading

murkowski-collins

A question for Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins

Murkowski-Collins.jpgDear Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine),

On February 1st, you both announced that you could not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education. As a result, your majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, was forced to hold the DeVos vote while Jefferson Sessions was still the senior senator from Alabama. If the vote had been held after Sessions was confirmed and had resigned the Senate, but before his replacement could be named to the Senate, then the Senate would have had one fewer Republican senator. Instead of a 51-50 vote to confirm Secretary DeVos with Vice-President Pence casting the deciding vote, we would have had a 50-49 vote not to confirm without the need for a tie-breaker. I imagine that it would have been easy enough to convince the majority leader to vote on Sessions prior to DeVos, especially given the recent legal wrangling over the President’s Executive Orders.

So my question to you is this: Continue reading

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

What is a liberal? Fairness is my core value

Liberals should talk about our values. And we should start with fairness.

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Over the last few years, I’ve read liberals saying that we need to talk about our values more openly, to own them, to assert that they are just as much American values as conservative values are. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about my values. Partly that’s because I’m an introvert. Partly because sharing such important stuff about myself feels a bit like everyone’s nightmare of showing up to give a presentation and realizing you’re naked before the crowd. And partly it’s because some of my values have shifted over the years as I’ve matured and experienced more of life, and I’m sure that some of them will shift again in the future.

But since Donald’s election I’ve been thinking about my values a lot. I’ve already chosen to fight for my values via my writing, and I’m prepared to fight for my values by putting my personal safety on the line if need be. So I figured that, if I’m going to be willing to risk my career or my physical well-being, I’d better be damned sure I know what my values are.

After a great deal of thought, I’ve finally realized what my core value is. The one value that matters more to me than any other. The one value against which all my other values are weighed, and from which most of my values spring. The one value with which I weigh the character of everyone I encounter.

Fairness. Continue reading

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Betsy DeVos’ confirmation was a defeat, but the greater battle for America’s future continues

Fighting Donald Trump’s agenda is a war, and there will be both victories and defeats

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Today the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. She’s one of the least qualified people who has ever been nominated to the position, and she demonstrated such during her confirmation hearing. And for those of us who reject vouchers for private religious schools, who support children with special needs, who want to keep guns out of schools, and who support teaching our children critical thinking skills, this was undoubtedly a loss. And a painful loss at that.

But as with any conflict, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

As painful as the DeVos confirmation is, it’s only a skirmish in the greater war. The greater battle is stopping DeVos from implementing Donald’s education agenda. Continue reading

9th_circuit_seal

Dark thoughts about Donald and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

What would happen if Donald sent thugs to try to make the judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals an offer they couldn’t refuse?

9th_circuit_sealOn Saturday, a federal judge in Washington issued a nationwide injunction against the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department and blocked them from enforcing Donald’s travel/immigration ban. On Sunday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to immediately block the lower judge’s injunction until it could hear a full appeal later this week (possibly as early as tomorrow).

To give you some idea of how dark my thoughts have become since Donald took over (in case worrying about being nuked in my sleep wasn’t bad enough), on the way home from skiing today I found myself wondering if Donald would send law enforcement/thugs to threaten the judges on the 9th Circuit in order to get them to rule in his favor. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Guns

The Second Amendment is not a blank check to own every weapon imaginable

Do you agree with the majority of Americans that gun control is both right and appropriate?

U.S. Marines fire an MK19-3 40 mm grenade machine gun at Range K-211 during weapons training in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 6, 2008. The Marines are assigned to Charlie Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Maxton G. Musselman/Released)

U.S. Marines fire an MK19-3 40 mm grenade machine gun at Range K-211 during weapons training in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 6, 2008. The Marines are assigned to Charlie Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Maxton G. Musselman/Released)

Consider, if you will, the following list:

  • switchblade
  • tactical knife
  • rapier
  • saber
  • katana
  • M1917 revolver
  • Saturday Night Special
  • M1911 semi-automatic pistol
  • 3D printed plastic pistol
  • M1 Garand 30-06 rifle
  • Remington 870 shotgun
  • AR-15
  • HK CAWS automatic shotgun
  • M16A4 assault rifle
  • C4 explosive
  • hand grenade
  • Continue reading

From Lydon Johnson's "Daisy" ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

One parent’s worries about raising children in Donald’s first 12 days in office

My very own Daisy moment, courtesy of Donald Trump’s first 12 days in office

From Lydon Johnson's "Daisy" ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

From Lydon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017. Today is February 1. In that period, I’ve fallen asleep twice wondering if I’d wake up to a bright flash followed by a shock wave that turned my home to burning splinters around me and my sleeping family.

I’ve started wondering if this is what it was like for my parents, learning as children to “duck and cover” under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Whether this level of daily stress was normal during the Cuban Missile Crisis and other low points of the Cold War. They’re still alive – maybe I should ask them. Perhaps their perspective could help allay some of my fears. Then again, do I really want to know that they think “it’s worse now than it was then,” if in fact that’s what they think? Continue reading

Seamus Kennedy’s folk songs of conflict and immigration

We will need protest songs for Donald’s presidency, but listening to Seamus Kennedy’s folk songs of conflict and immigration on the drive home yesterday was a good start.

My family and I went skiing yesterday. On the way home, we listened to a lot of wonderful music by Seamus Kennedy. As is his style, it was a mix of jokes, traditional folk music, Scottish and Irish ballads, and irreverent musical humor. Two of the songs had me softly crying while driving home, and I had to ask my wife to skip a third (and to be prepared to skip another). The songs were about immigrants and conflict and families torn apart.

I’ve collected those songs and a couple of others I heard yesterday below, in case anyone is interested. Continue reading

Engraving of the Declaration of Independence (image credit: Monticello.org)

American vs. unAmerican values, as compared to the Declaration of Independence

Values that stand in opposition to those described in the Declaration of Independence are unAmerican values.

Engraving of the Declaration of Independence (image credit: Monticello.org)

Engraving of the Declaration of Independence (image credit: Monticello.org)

Without the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, there is no United States of America. That makes the values laid out in those documents American values, by definition. And any values that run contrary to the values in those documents, again by definition, unAmerican.

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…

Equality. The concept of natural human rights. The rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (among others). The concept that the people have a say in their government. These are the American values defined by the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading

faux-journalism

Dear NYTimes – “easily debunked facts” are not facts at all

The sooner the New York Times realizes it needs to identify the Administration’s lies as “lies” in print, the better

The New York Times‘ Jim Rutenberg, author of the Mediator blog, wrote a post yesterday titled “‘Alternative Facts’ and the Costs of Trump-Branded Reality.” The article focused on how Sean Spicer, Donald’s Press Secretary, and Kellyanne Conway, Donald’s spokeswoman, have already engaged in an “aggressive use of falsehoods” and that attacking the media might not serve the administration’s long-term goals. Continue reading

women's march denver

Give the world a lever long enough and it will move even introverts into action

women's march denverThis morning I had some spam hit my email that I very nearly didn’t delete. I stopped, read it, nearly pulled it out of my spam trap, but ultimately deleted it. It belonged in my spam because I didn’t ask for it. But it was about something that I’m interested in, and I was surprised by the fact that I was actually interested in it.

It was a call to an Affordable Care Act support march in Denver. And the fact that I paused to consider marching myself is what surprised me. Continue reading

Trump calls inauguration crowd reporting an effort to “de-legitimize” his Presidency

Comparison of Inauguration crowds, 2009 to 2017 (Image Credit: PBS)

Comparison of Inauguration crowds, 2009 to 2017 (Image Credit: PBS)

This is according to Politico, but its hardly the only source:

President Donald Trump and his team are still fuming over evidence of a relatively small crowd for his inauguration, with his chief of staff claiming the reports are an effort to “de-legitimize” Trump and another senior adviser explaining that the administration is offering “alternative facts.”

Continue reading

I’ve been keeping my powder dry

Donald TrumpThere’s an old phrase that comes from the 1800s – “keep your powder dry.” It harks back to a time when firearms were fired with black gunpowder, and wet gunpowder wouldn’t fire. The idea was that you wouldn’t be able to use your gun when you really needed it if you let the powder get wet.

Since the election of Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States, I’ve been very busy with work and family, and I’ve been largely focused on what amounts to self-care for my mental and physical health. After all, I’m no good to my family, friends, or coworkers if I’m always fried, mentally and/or physically. And I haven’t been writing much.

What I have been doing is keeping my powder dry.

Today is Inauguration Day. Continue reading

Earthrise from Apollo 8, December 24, 1968 (image credit: NASA)

When reaching out to better understand my fellow Americans, facts are non-negotiable

Reality has facts, however poorly we see them sometimes. Reaching out to understand someone else’s experience requires common ground, and for me, that common ground must be based upon a shared understanding of objective facts.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how I was living in a bubble that distorted my perspective on America. The point was that, while I’m living in a bubble, I’m hardly the only one, and I gave an example of a grandfather from Vigo County, Indiana, who felt that his America was populated by “real people,” as opposed to the presumably fake or inauthentic people in New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago. But after reading several excellent comments on that article that provided suggestions how to reach people – listen, talk with instead of at, stop dismissing, denigrating, and demonizing – I realized that there is a limit to my ability, even to my willingness, to reach out and have a meaningful discussion.

Facts. They exist. And they’re a non-negotiable entry point for any bubble-piercing attempts I’m going to be involved in.

Let me give a few examples of what I mean. Continue reading