Bullshit

the shining

Good Morning, Ma’am! Bullshit salesman! How would you like your bullshit today?

So, there you are, surrounded by bullshit. What do you do?

🙂 SMILE.

First off, what’s the problem? I mean seriously, there’s bullshit everywhere. If you aren’t surrounded by it, you are living a dream life, which means it’s time to wake up and remember where you actually live. We don’t get what we want when we want it, we get what we get and then have to hope that it’ll help, and if it doesn’t, it’s time to employ some bullshit of our own and fake it until we make it.

But let’s be more specific, and see if we can’t unclutter our lives and minds in the process. We have political bullshit, heaps of it. We are expected to believe an insane amount of crap during any given day. Yesterday for example I was told that the ninth circuit court is the most overturned court in the land (WRONG) that President Obama placed a man from Monsanto in charge of the FDA or the USDA or some shit (WRONG) thereby placing the entirely of the nation in a  health crisis (WRONG) and that he put Mercury in light bulbs to make money for GE and to again endanger the health of every American citizen (WRONG)

Now the easiest way to unclutter my life here would be to simply get rid of the person/people making these statements, yes? (WRONG) We need people in our lives to tell us things that disagree with our basic world-view, or else we will grow languid and start to believe our own bullshit. We need these people so we can find out the truth, because if someone is saying stupid shit, I want to know so I can (new word alert) destupidify these people, or at least make sure we know what kind of bullshit is out there so we can apply the proper amount and type of bullshit repellent in the affected area.

So let’s go over the bullshit one piece at a time, shall we?

OK: Part 1: Who gives a fuck which court is the  most overturned in the land? Sean Hannity. He thinks because Donald Trump’s Executive order that blocked American citizens  and non Americans with valid visas from coming back to do their jobs from seven nations is a wonderful piece of…whatever it is meant to be a piece of. Not everyone agrees, and by not everyone, I mean anyone who was at an airport when that shit first came down, and anyone who lives in a  city affected by it.

Sooooo….This EO gets blocked by the ninth circuit. Enter Hannity and his bullshit about the ninth circuit.

Easily solved.

Seven of the eleven circuits get more than half of their decisions overturned. The largest percentage belongs to the sixth. But so what? It does not imply that just because a number of cases that make it to the supreme court get overturned, that any specific case that gets through the sixth or ninth are somehow invalid. Shit don’t work that way.

Every case has its own merits and must stand or fall based on them. It matters not where they are from. Every circuit has cases rejected. Every circuit has cases that pass muster and never get touched by the Supreme court. The vast majority of cases are of this variety. Over 99%.

So much for that bullshit.

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The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty. ~George Washington, From his Farewell address, 1796

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Part: 2: I would have a serious problem if any President put someone from  Monsanto in charge of the USDA or the FDA, or anything where decisions have to be made about foodstuffs. Happily the Obama administration did not do this. The claim was still laid at my feet, so I did some investigating. I found a man had been placed in charge of the newly created deputy commissioner of foods that had in fact nine years previously worked for Monsanto.

In the time between he had been a research professor of health policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and been a member of a think tank, in the position of Director of Risk Management.

If you can draw a nine year long line between a company and an employee and claim the company still affects significantly that persons professional judgment to the point of endangering an entire nation’s health, you are a weirder, much sillier person than I. One that will believe anything that they come across. It’s one thing to have a mind open to believe many things, completely something else to have a mind like a rusted steel trap, rusted open and unable to keep out anything that happens to fall into it, like leaves, squirrel shit, and Monsanto and Obama were in cahoots to destroy America.

Part 3: I… I had fun with this one. CFL light bulbs were first created in 1976 in response to the 1973 oil crisis. Odd but true. Everyone was looking for ways to save energy, so someone at GE created a more efficient light bulb. The problem? Trace amounts of mercury were necessary to make the bulbs work, and they were hella expensive back then. Took years to bring costs down to where it became a salable commodity.

Yet somehow, someway, it has been laid at the feet of our previous president. How is it bad? You caught that mention of mercury, yes? Well, trace amounts in the minds of political partisans becomes “Willingly and knowingly allowing the EPA to put a poison in our homes”

How? Well, President Obama touted the use of cfl’s in a  press conference with then energy secretary Steven Chu as a way to save money on energy costs. That was deemed enough in the eyes of a political partisan to call the president a failure and a scandalous liar who had it in for Americans and America.

All partisanship is stupid and silly folks. The nation does not need people talking to each other like this. It proves nothing, makes no one wiser or better, and does little t enhance the dialog and discourse that we as a nation need to move forward and get out the soci-economic, psychological, intellectual and political morass this nation has been in since the early 1990’s, which is where much the silliness of the current age has it’s roots.

But you know…

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It’s all Newt Gingrich’s fault. (NOT WRONG) That asshole.

There. My life has so much less clutter now. Happy that bullshit salesman went away.

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kinopoisk.ru

I lost my shit, can I have yours?

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Mad As A Hatter

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‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘what’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.

Who do you think of when you think of Cyber Security? Do you think of anyone? How much do you know about Cyber Security? It’s an important question, one worth exploring as our future becomes our present

When I think of that particular term I think of a number of people. Steve Gibson of Gibson Research, for one. John McAfee, not trustworthy and clearly not sane, but knowledgeable. But there aren’t a lot of people the average guy or gal on the street can name as being big in the industry. Most coding and cyber security work is done in the shadows. Kinda has to be.

When I want to read up on the subject, which admittedly is not all that often, I have turned to a number of sources, the latest of which is the f-secure blog (click here to go there) So all of my knowledge of the subject is second hand and thanks to writers who write about the subject and only really from Steve Gibson from an actual technical angle.

With all that I can only sit here in stunned amazement at who our fearless (aka mindless) leader has picked to be his Cyber Security advisor.

Rudy Giuliani.

Holy shit. Does he even know what Dos Shell is? Would he be able to tell the difference between Sql and Java if stuff in either of those languages crossed his computer screen? How much work has he done with Ruby On Rails?

And he knows about security how? Because he was mayor of New York City on 9/11? Because he prosecuted John Gotti? Because he talks on Fox news a lot? Because that is the extent of his knowledge of security. Seeing terrorism first hand?  I was there too, Do I get a shot at this gig? Nailing a few bad guys in court thirty some odd years ago?

Being On Tv?

Well… That’s how Trump got where he is. Maybe that’s it…

And you thought 2016 was the year of the dumpster fire.

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One cannot suppress a certain indignation when one sees men’s actions on the great world-stage and finds, beside the wisdom that appears here and there among individuals, everything in the large woven together from folly, childish vanity, even from childish malice and destructiveness. ~ Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View ,1784

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Let’s look at a few of President-Elect Oompah Loompah’s other picks

Ben Carson: head of HUD.  Now I will admit that while Ben may have come off as a kooky son of a bitch during the Primaries, he is a not unintelligent man. The man was after all an actual brain surgeon who did some pioneering work in the field, though not all the surgeries he did were successful. But Housing and urban development? For a brain surgeon? Not exactly his field of expertise, and if he wasn’t perfect with his chosen vocation, one wonders how well he’ll do in a completely unrelated field that he has never worked in. I wish him success, but I just don’t see this working out. Even the most intelligent man on earth would make mistakes in a field entirely new to him, and while smart, Ben is not quite that smart.

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General: A man who is purported to have said that he thought the KKK was alright until he found out they smoked pot and liked to throw around the word Ni**** casually, which has lead to accusations of racism to follow him throughout his political career.  He is also a climate change denier and has fought legal immigration including the guest worker programs and visa programs for foreign workers. Xenophobe seems to be the proper term for our future A.G.

Rick Perry, Energy Secretary: Yes a man who said he wanted to abolish the Department of Energy and two others, and the man who could not remember the name of this department when asked the names of the three departments he wanted to abolish in a debate in 2012 is now head of the Energy Department. I don’t know what to do with this, except to look at our collective future in gibbering fear.

Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator: Just a  thought here. The man who is going to run the EPA is, not was, IS, suing the EPA along with other state AG’S (He’s currently the A.G. of Oklahoma) to stop the EPA’s Clean Power plan.

And their Methane emissions regulations.

Oh and there is Mitch McConnell’s wife heading up the department of Transportation. She’s got experience at the job at least. But still… No wonder Mitch went to talk to him as soon as The Orange one was named winner.

The world has gone mad. Mad as a hatter.

Have a good night, America.

Why So Skeptical?

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Beginning of Spring, by Ivan Yendogurov, 1890. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There is a great deal of skepticism about whether the Russians actually hacked anything to do with the election of our President-Elect Donald Trump, aside from the Clinton E-mails, which is insane, as that was the hacking, and the Russians did it.  Much of that skepticism is based not in reality but on commonly held biases that blind us to reality. People don’t want to believe, and seeing the seeds of doubt, decide to not believe… And there are alleged issues with the Joint Analysis Report. More on that later.

Before I do anything else though, I want to say this. I refuse to blame the Russians for Donald Trump winning the White House. That is thanks to the American people. Propaganda and hacking aside, it takes a conscious mind to vote for a person. The Russians did not, to my knowledge, hack election machines or fudge vote numbers in the Mr. Trump’s favor.

They fed Americans propaganda they wanted to hear, and twisted hearts and minds. And people ate it up.

What I do say is that Russia has a large and effective propaganda and hacking machine that uses several groups of hackers to steal information, and use it to the advantage of the Russian federation, under whose umbrella they work.

You ask for proof that hacking happened, that they’re really there and not just some twisted liberal conspiracy? Have you read the actual email that gave the hackers access to John Podesta’s email?

I have.

Podesta (and possibly his IT guy) missed the obvious phishing scheme. Anyone worth his or her salt will throw up a red flag if they see a short link attached to a support message about any potential site issues, like a hacked password. I only say an IT guy may have been involved is that the link was clicked twice. Who opens an attachment twice? No one I know, and I know some pretty damned computer illiterate people.

And ladies and gentlemen, that is how hacking happens. First they get in, find a back door, or convince you to open the front door, then they rob you blind.

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If we gather more and more data and establish more and more associations, however, we will not finally find that we know something. We will simply end up having more and more data and larger sets of correlations. ~ Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics, 1979

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Now, onto the Joint analysis report. It has been widely panned as off the mark. Why?Well, the report included both ‘general and unrelated malware family names’ as well as a ‘broad and non-descriptive classification of capabilities’ in a list they titled “Alternate names” On page four of the thirteen page report.

The title “alternate names” itself  is itself a bit of a giveaway as to what the government is trying to do here. It is simply a list of names to look out for when dealing with Russian hackers. The experts that are up in arms seem to have missed that rather general point. They weren’t breaking it down that precisely. If they had, they would have made the point of saying so.

The list has as a header List of Russian Military and Civilian Intelligence services.

Where in that name do you see anything about a specific breakdown into groupings of intelligence services, malware they used, or may have used in the past? I see none. The critique, while well intentioned, is misguided.

The rest of the report after that has nothing to do with Russian hackers. Nothing. The entirely of the remainder of the report is there to assist in what actions should be taken using the listed indicators including giving advice on how to better secure systems and threat mitigation strategies.

Oh and the first page of the report is a description of the report. Meaning the report itself, the pertinent information on hacking, is three pages long.

The report is not meant to be anything more than:1) a threat assessment of Russian hacking capabilities, 2)a short statement on known activities, 3) a list of names to look for, and 4) Basic steps to increase Cyber-Security.

The report has been called a technical exposé of Russian hacking.

It isn’t.

 This is an exposé of Russian hacking.

That government report is coming.

News here as it develops.

Things to Remember

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James Madison in party mode.

 

Things to remember as 2016 becomes 2017:

First off, everything is going to be alright.  Right up until the moment it isn’t, and since you obviously can’t control that, why concern yourself overly with it. Enjoy the good things. There are many of them.

Secondly realize that in this world we have this thing called entropy, which means that everything goes to hell in some way at some point, and usually in a way that we have not foreseen. Think about it. How much of the shitstorm that was 2016 did you foresee? How much of it was avoidable? And to be honest was it ALL that bad? Somehow I’m thinking there were good things too.

Thirdly, the very concept of shitstorm is invariably in the mind of the beholder. I am sure that there are a great many people who had a really good year in 2016. Just because your candidate didn’t win, there was a higher than normal amount of stress in your world and some of your cultural idols died does not mean it was the worst year ever.

Fourth, there are people out there who had a great year, some for reasons you would find 399px-Jabberwocky appalling. There are millions of people who like the Oompah Loompah for example. Millions. Which is fine. We have this thing called freedom in this country. Don’t denigrate them because of him, or because they think differently than you, or want different things in their lives than you. Find a way to incorporate their lives into yours. They are, by and large good people. Don’t treat them like shit because you think differently from them, that helps no one. They aren’t the problem, you are, especially if you feel the need to be angry at them simply because of their politics. There is more than politics in the lives of most people. And, here’s a hint; you won’t make things turn around for you politically by alienating people you will need to work with later. That isn’t how politics works, not in the real world, regardless of what you think of that. Make friends with your political enemies where possible, hope always exists in places where enemies can become friends.

You will have a very hard time convincing me that 2016 was in some way worse than say the years of WWII, or The years of the great depression or great recession or the civil war years.

Doesn’t mean President-elect Oompah Loompah isn’t an asshole. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t tragedy in 2016. There was. It’s hard to not have tragedy in a world with this many people in it. I’m just saying as 2016 goes the way of the Dodo, have some perspective. You are strong and resilient. This is still America. We are a strong people. Things have gone right in other places. Be thankful for that.

Anger

Bunnies are assholes sometimes.

I for one could say I had a great year. After years of first searching for a new career and then trying to get hired on full time in that career, I finally landed that full time job. Almost shed a tear when I found out I had made it, so long and arduous was the journey.  Let’s see what else. I’m still a runner. Which, for those of you that aren’t, is great for clearing the mind and strengthening the body, and in the long run makes the person who does it tireless. I highly recommend it. If a two hour run ain’t kicking my ass, no way a few extra hours of work will. On top of all that, I’m still married to the most awesome person ever. If you have a happy place to go to, it makes everything easier, and home is a happy place for me, she makes me happy. With that as my sword and shield, I can take on the world and win, without a shred of fear in my heart.

 

So do me a favor America. Don’t dwell on the negative.

I’ll take care of that as I skewer our soon to be asshole-in-chief.

You go find your happiness, I have mine.

I’ll fight the monster. I’m good at it, been doing it for ages, and I enjoy it.

If you want to help as we move ahead, thats great. But pick your fights with the right people. Fight bad policy and bad decision making, not good people who feel and think differently than you. We’re on the road to the future together, let’s travel it as friends.

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But there are some people, nevertheless—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. ~ G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)

Fake News Isn’t Fake, and It Isn’t News

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What is news? Well, the dictionary definition (courtesy of Merriam Webster) is: News (n.) A report of a recent events.

What is fake? Fake (n.) One that is not what it purports to be.

These two words seem to be antonyms. If it’s news, it can’t be fake. If it’s fake, it can’t be news. So how did we end up with this “Fake news?”

Well, the words placed together themselves have as much to do with the intellectual laziness of both reporters and readers as anything. Why? Well, because the words “Purposefully, factually improper reporting from dubious and facetious sources with the intent of misleading the public.” is not exactly considered concise enough for twitter and the other terse forms of media where grabbing attention is more important than getting across your information accurately. Although there is a shorter, ten letter word that these people are forgetting about that fits the term even better than my long-winded though clearly accurate term.

I’ll get to it later.

How did the phenomena come to be? Simple. News, aka reality, did not go the way several groups of people wanted it to. There were people telling stories that others didn’t like, so they decided to create their own version of reality to fit their own needs.

Note I said several groups. Which groups? Right wing. Left wing. Single issue voters, like anti-vaxxers, Pro-life groups, pro-abortions rights groups. I do not know where it began, but it has existed since long before I was born. Probably before your grandparents were born, and each generation has found a way to make it happen, to create their own news. This thing that has taken over our newswires is nothing new. The new wrinkle that exists now is that it has left the fringe and has gone mainstream. It is no longer just the hallmark of conspiracy theorists and nutjobs, though they are still the greatest fomenters of this type of crap.

Just to make the point, here are a few stories from the past twelve months, with stories that were fabricated:

Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders in March, from a site that spoofed the New York Times, all the way down to fonts and reporter byline. Fake as hell. She endorsed Hillary, but endorsed no one until June.

Megan Kelly fired by Fox after Endorsing Hillary Clinton, was a story that surfaced in late August. Megyn is still there, and she did not actually endorse Hillary Clinton, or anyone to my knowledge, but that did not stop endingthefed.com from getting one of the larger fake news stories of the year out there and planted all over Facebook in late August.

Donald Trump won the popular vote: Nope. Hillary won by over three million votes, yet there are stories that are still circulating that the Donald actually won. And a side note here, The stories that abounded of millions of illegal votes being counted for Hillary are just as fake, no matter (Ahem, Mister Trump) who made the claim. The only voter fraud out there is the stuff floating around the heads of conspiracy theorists, aka people who can’t handle the truth of the world that exists around them.

The truth though, is out there to be had, if only you look, America.

Find out. Life is information, how you take it in dictates who you are. Hearing about anything from anyone is just something to whet the appetite, it isn’t the be all end all. Just hearing something from someone is never enough. We need to dig, to find out, to go past that initial level of knowledge and get to the actual story. Often times you will find the initial headline and the real story are often at odds with reality.

Wait… What? Oh, what’s that ten letter word I mentioned before that is even more accurate than fake news?

Propaganda.

We as a nation have lost our ability to realize what we are really looking at. We’ve been had, and our propensity to find cute terms to fit the world we want to live in, rather than using words that fit the world we do live in is making us dumber and weaker. Not just as a society, or as a culture, or even as a nation. Since this is not just an American phenomena, it is making us dumber and weaker as a species.

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Quote of the day: We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false. ~ William Casey, CIA Director at his first meeting as head of the organization, 1981.

How We Got Here

 

I’ve seen my side lose before, and I am sure I will again. It isn’t easy to live with, but the world doesn’t give anyone what they want, it gives what it gives, and you have to be adult enough to deal with it.  So I deal with it.  It surprises me that others who are on my side are as shocked as they are, or were on election day. There are people out there who are just so sure that we had made so much progress as a people that our side should automatically win.

You see the problems with the thinking in that sentence, yes?

No?

Let me make a point or two for you. Your view of progress is not another’s, and this land has this amazing thing called freedom, and that includes the freedom to disagree. And if enough people in the the right places disagree, they can change the face of an election.  Donald Trump did not need to win the popular vote. He just needed to win enough places in enough key states to turn purple states red to win the election.

Those key places were, and have been for several election cycles Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He turned all of them, the election results were very close. Trump won Florida by 1.1%, a 100,000 vote difference in a state were 9.4 million people voted, less than 1% in Pennsylvania, and less than 23,000 votes in Wisconsin.

All the other spots he won he was going to win, just like all the other spots where Hillary won she was going to win. Was it his ground game that won those places for him? Her lack of interest in campaigning in some of these places that lost it for her? It’s a bit of both, but it’s much more complex than that.

It was also the media.

And social media.

And discontent.

That was the real force that the Trump campaign used to get him where he is today. They played the entire “Look what Obama did to America” concept and milked it to the point where it was a potent force. The fact that he did a good job despite constant interference from a congress that refused to work with him was ignored. The constant negative buzz from the right wing mainstream media (If you don’t think that Breitbart and Fox and Limbaugh and Jones aren’t a potent media force, you don’t know a damn thing about media) was an implement wielded with great force and deft precision in the places where the right needed to make noise enough to tilt the battleground for the American mind towards the conservative.

And yes fake news, but that only affected the idiots. A few million of them … but I digress…

Even if the Russians did nothing, the battleground shift due to discontent that was aimed directly at the American left is what really did the Hillary Clinton campaign in.  The right worked the middle American mind adroitly by playing to pessimism about our present.

That the present is by and large brighter than the picture the right presented America with regardless of who won the Presidency is something else that the right can take advantage of. All it will take is a change of tone and terminology about our future and all of a sudden, without any real need to do anything, things will look, and be, that much better for those who watch and listen to right wing msm outlets. This will be attributed to the change in President and party despite the fact the President-Elect will have to do nothing.

While the real world grows darker and angrier in his presence. Which the right wing msm will readily ignore.

He should not be surprised if the very thing that got him elected defeats him and his conservative allies later.

Such is the world in which we live.

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Quote of the Day: When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly. ~ George Washington, letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 7th, 1798

 

And How do you Plan to Pay for That, Sir?

If you know anything about finances, there are a few basics that must be paid attention to. Among the most important is a very simple concept: Don’t spend more than you make.  Now when you have a bureaucracy as huge as the United States government, that is an amazingly difficult thing to do on the best of days.

When you spend more than you make, that is called deficit spending, it creates debt.  The Obama administration was somewhat successful in fighting the deficit. He inherited an economy that was hemorrhaging cash and jobs at a rate that was as alarming as it was dangerous.

It took some serious work, but he, along with the OMB, Ben Bernanke (Who also bears some responsibility FOR the Financial crisis of 2007-08) and legislation (Frank-Dodd and in particular the Volcker rule, among other pieces of legislation) that successfully regulated the shadow banking system (It’s not that shadowy, but the subject will get additional scrutiny in future) managed to stop the bleeding.

But with a price that will be paid for in future. The deficit will rise again later. It cannot be helped. It is a ripple effect of the amount of damage that the unregulated economy did back in 2007-08, and the trillions of dollars that bled out of the system. The Obama administration has done all they could to mitigate that, with some success.

The deficit, year on year has dropped every year he has been in office, and thanks to the efforts of everyone in and around the economy, the deficit over the next ten years will never go, if things stay on track, over 4%. Not great, but given the circumstances, not too shabby.

Enter Donald Trump.

His plan is to cut taxes, increase the size of the military, spend billions on infrastructure.

And build a wall.

Let me explain something here about this.  Cutting taxes feels good. No one likes paying taxes, especially if they don’t like government programs that pay for things people don’t like, like ANYTHING  they think of as being wasteful or going to people who don’t deserve it. Both laughable concepts, but people think these things and they must be taken into account. So yeah, lower taxes puts more money in your pocket today so you can do more today.

But it increases the bill for later. Decreasing the taxes the government needs to pay for things while increasing government services, like border security and a larger armed forces will do nothing more than make the next financial crisis, and there will be one, count on that, that much worse.

Check the Links section for the pertinent information.

I would love nothing more than to have something that approaches a secure financial future. That future was nearly terminated by unregulated excess and improper financial decisions both in the private and public sectors, in particular by  Hank Paulson, Christopher Cox, and George W. Bush. The Obama Administration did much to ameliorate the situation, but it seems that we are headed back to the same place we were at before the Democrats came in and saved the nations bacon.

Republican decision making nearly threw it, and us with it, into a fire,  and thanks to Donald Trump and out of control spending and thoughtless tax cuts seemingly will send the economy reeling back into that same economic death spiral. Trump and his plan are darkening a future that was, while not bright, clearly not as dark as it is with Republicans back in fiscal control of the nation.

Expect inflation, deficit spending, and the debt to skyrocket over the next two years. So much for a secure financial future.

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Quote of the day: I was aware that the loosening of mortgage credit terms for subprime borrowers increased financial risk. But I believed then, as now, that the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk. ~Alan Greenspan, September 2007