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The GOP just voted for a law that allows your Internet service provider to sell your browsing history to anyone willing to pay for it. What on earth are they thinking? What’s the point of this?

Obviously, companies like Google, AT&T, Verizon, all the huge Internet service providers love this since there is a whole new revenue stream now going to those companies. There is no other reason on earth that would justify this. Obviously, the Internet service providers have paid off some congressmen and senators big time.

And this is the GOP, who always rants to us about privacy:

  • We can’t have a registry of gun owners, since that would be a violation of people’s privacy.
  • They have no problem not keeping a record of White House visitors anymore, citing privacy.
  • They don’t mind that Donald Trump keeps his tax returns private.
  • They want to keep research by the EPA on climate change private.
  • Mega donors to political action funds can stay private.

However, they don’t give a damn about the people’s privacy, if someone gets to make money off it:

  • Publishing our Internet browsing history, so we can be more exploited by targeted advertising is fine.
  • Publishing our emails and chat logs.
  • Publishing our health history.

Make no mistake about it. Anyone with access to your browsing history can exploit all these areas of your private lives. And now it’s for sale. And the GOP is enabling it.

I think they forgot that they are people, too. You see, for their health plan, Congress has its own and it does not have to live with the same plan the rest of us have to put up with. So they can repeal and replace all they want, and they are not affected. However, on the Internet, we’re all the same, and so are they.

There are already net-neutrality advocates who are crowd-funding initiatives to buy the browsing history of all congressmen and senators and publish it on the Internet. But that won’t quite work.

The problem is that the law will still prevent Internet service providers from selling data that can be connected to specific individuals. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits the sharing of “individually identifiable” information. However, aggregate customer information can be sold. And that’s where the rub is: There are companies whose specific business it is to match consumer tracking information with identifying details we all publish on Twitter and Facebook, and through this process it is possible to match our personal identity with our browser data.

Now the genius currently occupying the White House is signaling that Obama era regulation is overreach and he wants to tackle this. Oh boy, oh boy.

It won’t be done much legally, but you can bet that the crooks on the Internet will be doing it, and that’s where it’s going to hurt. Do I need to say “Russian bots” to get your attention?

This shows you that our government, the GOP, and Trump, just don’t know what they are doing. Yet, we gave them the keys to our lives.

 

 

 

None of us elected 36-year-old Jared Kushner for any position, but Trump has just elevated him to what I’d call co-president. At inauguration night he told him that if “you can’t bring about peace in the Middle East, nobody can.” Aha, a 36-year-old smartypants with no government experience who may have met a Muslim or two is going to do what Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama could not do in two generations. Easy! Why didn’t we bring in Kushner long ago?

According to Bloomberg:

Kushner is chipper about his new assignment, and, given that his entire experience in public administration can be counted on two calendar pages, a wee bit precious as he dispenses advice.

“We should have excellence in government,” he allowed. “The government should be run like a great American company.”

Kushner and his father-in-law haven’t run the White House like even an average American company thus far, but with the Trumps, hope springs eternal.

Kushner’s new Office of American Innovation will reportedly showcase a number of corporate titans, including Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, all of whom, among other things, will make recommendations about how to make government more tech-savvy and more data-centric.

It’s hard not to get behind any plan that makes government more effective and tries to use data instead of, say, raw ideology to help craft better policy decisions. So let’s wish the White House success.

Ah, there it is again, the government should be run like a great American company, like Trump Airlines, perhaps, that went bankrupt, or Trump Wine, or… And I keep saying it, these guys really believe a government is a company. A company is an autocratic institution where the CEO can do anything, as long as it’s legal. And if the CEO doesn’t know what he’s doing, the company goes under. That’s not how a democracy works. Democracy means “governed by the people.” Not by the CEO! These guys don’t seem to get that. I am looking forward to seeing what happens when Kushner makes a mistake, but Trump can’t very well fire the father of his grandchildren.

And then there is the matter of making government data-centric. Ah, like studying the data about climate change and making decisions based on that data, rather than what fossil fuel company has paid off what stooge recently? Like building a statistical model to represent the safety of our citizenry, which will show that it’s more likely to be killed by lightning than by a radical Islamist terrorist, or worse, it’s more likely to be killed by a redneck American ideologue than by a Muslim terrorist?

Oh, I am looking so forward to the models that Bill Gates and Tim Cook will show Kushner. Then Kushner will show them to his science-illiterate dad-in-law who will then simply tweet:

Fake News! Nobody knows science better than I do! Sad.

The White House wouldn’t publish the financial disclosures of its staffers, so ProPublica.org did it.

Check it out here.

[photo credit – Wikipedia]

I just came home from a neighborhood walk and noticed a Trump bumper sticker on the back of an SUV. I would think that just about now Trump voters might be taking down their stickers. Well, I was a Clinton voter, not because I thought she was a great candidate, but rather because I simple could not vote for Trump. For reasons, simply search “Why I Can’t Vote for Trump” on this blog and you’ll get 25 examples.

About two and a half months into his presidency, I believe things are in shambles.

He said he’d work this ass off (his words) and never have time to leave the Oval Office, because there was so much work he’d do for the American people. Instead, he’s been on vacation in Florida, he’s spent more money on travel in a couple of months than Obama did all year, he’s essentially been a part-time president.

He said he’d repeal and replace Obamacare on day one. On day 64 he threw in the towel. He kept telling his voters that they’d have a “terrific health care plan” which would be much better, at a fraction of the cost, if they elected him. He said he had this plan he could not tell us about. In reality, he had no plan, he didn’t even know “how complicated health care was.” And neither did the GOP in Congress. The repeal part would have been easy. The replace part simply could not get done in 64 days of a part-time presidency.

He said he’d drain the swamp in Washington. Instead he seems to be institutionalizing corruption in the White House. People did vote for Donald Trump, that is correct. But people did not vote for Ivanka and Jared, they did not vote for Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. They did not vote for Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. He practices nepotism on a grand scale. And everyone in his cabinet seems to be mostly engaged in tearing down barriers to getting personally rich or richer.

He said he’d make America great again, whatever that means, but he is degrading the country in front of the world. Leaders the world around roll their eyes when they have to deal with Trump. He acts like a petulant child around them. He cannot communicate with them, and the does not appear to listen to them. On the world stage, he looks like a fool.

He says he is a great leader, but he divides the people. In his rallies, he incites hatred and division between people. In Congress, where he should be building alliances, he insults people personally and tries to bully them. The United States is not a company, and he is not a CEO. Bullying will not work. He is not a leader. He is a bully.

And most importantly of all, with every day that goes by he looks more illegitimate. The noose of the Russian scandal is tightening around his neck. Everyone around him appears to have had discussions and interactions with Russia, a bully nation with a leader running it like an organized crime institution. If any of the activities that appear to have gone on turn out to be true, people will go to prison for treason for those activities. And that would bring Trump down as a traitor. Certainly, if I were caught in such activities, they’d throw me in prison. Now the first person on the team, Flynn, is already asking for immunity. To quote Flynn during the campaign when he talked about Clinton: “If you’re asking for immunity, you probably committed a crime!”

I don’t think Trump will last four years in office. I think it’s time to scratch off those bumper stickers.

If you have never watched The Young Turks, start here, and subscribe to his channel. Excellent analysis.

Donald Trump ran a garden-variety fraud called Trump University. He got caught, and the got sued, and to avoid publicity he paid a settlement of $25 million, just before he took office. How can we believe anything he says? He committed fraud to enrich himself and got convicted, and now he’s in the most audacious fraud of all time.

I actually feel sorry for Sean Spicer. He knows what’s going on. He’s a smart guy. He’s just holding out, waiting for Trump to crash and burn. Then he’ll get a $50 million advance on his book: Behind Closed Doors in the Trump White House. At this rate, we won’t have to wait long.

I’ll buy the book.

Here is one by my favorite L.A. poet:

[click to enlarge]

Jack Kildare is a British-American space shuttle astronaut who flies the very last mission of the space shuttle in 2011. Skyler Taft is a young astronomer who works observation shifts at the Mauna Kea observatories in Hawaii. One night, by pure luck, he observes a phenomenon near Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, that can only be interpreted as activities of an alien ship in orbit around that moon. And thus, Jack and Skyler’s fate start getting intertwined.

Soon, all of earth is abuzz about the mother of all discoveries, or MOAD, as it’s colloquially called. The nations of earth work together to build an interplanetary spaceship to take a crew of eight astronauts to Europa to check out the aliens. As in any large “government” project costing hundreds of billions of dollars and requiring international cooperation, there is much intrigue, international politics, posturing and, yes, even murder, to make it all work.

The book is subtitled a first contact technothriller and that’s what attracted me to it. I usually like “first contact” stories.

What I didn’t expect was that the majority of the 400 pages was really about earth’s international politics, including the Russians, the Chinese and other nations, all banding together to build something that had never been built before. This book is not a technothriller. It’s a political thriller, and not a very convincing one at that, with a technology umbrella story.

I expected some alien story, some humanity meets alien yarn, but I got mostly yawns slogging through intrigue on the streets of Beijing, and in the halls of NASA in Houston, and in Baikonur. At the end, all I saw was the spaceship leaving earth orbit.

That’s when I realized I was reading Book 1 of a series, and I felt cheated. It was just not what I expected. The writing and plotting also was not good enough to lead me to believe that Book 2 and Book 3 would be any more satisfying, so I’ll pass and move on to another author.

The Woman sent me this:

[click for credit: John Hartzell, Middle Age Riot]

So true, so true. Except for the child labor, perhaps!

What are these people we put into power thinking? What on earth is good about this?

Now, if it were actually TRUE that a million jobs would open up due to this loosening of regulation, I could even understand it. But there won’t be new jobs. There is no new demand for coal in this country. Demand for coal has steadily declined in the last 10 years, and will continue to do so.

So all this does is open the gates for the polluters. And there lies the rub:

That’s why this is being done: Coal guys have been hurting, and now they can relax and squeeze the last 10 years worth of pennies out of their dying industries.

Trump is actually using our emotions about coal miners to get what he wants for Big Coal. The coal miners that stood behind him when he signed the executive order were pawns. He does not give a shit about them or their lives. They’ll never set foot in his golden tower. He is using them. He is using us. He is using his voters.

And we’re making America dirty again?

Be careful what you vote for!

…you should expect a circus.

 

Why do I know Sean Spicer?

And why do I not even know who Obama’s press secretary was? He certainly wasn’t in my Facebook newsfeed everywhere, all the time, every day.

I know Sean Spicer because it’s his job to tell us every day what Trump said, or didn’t say, or meant, or didn’t mean, or didn’t know, or didn’t care about.

Sad.

 

Here is Trump rolling back progress in keeping our federal lands protected, our air clean, and our heritage intact. And he is proud of it, telling the coal workers behind him that they’re getting their jobs back. This makes no sense to me whatsoever.

First, as the Washington Post article suggests, the action will not make any difference in the number of coal jobs. Coal production and consumption in the United States has gone from about 820 million tons in 2000 through about 2007, and have steadily declined to below 600 million tons long before Obama’s freeze on federal coal leasing in 2015. Demand has been well below supply for the last 15 years. Trump’s ceremonial undoing of Obama’s regulation will not make any difference in this trend. We’ll burn less coal, and that’s a good thing.

Trump and his cronies paid by the coal industry are reveling in the admiration of the coal workers.

COAL WORKERS, for heaven’s sake! Coal is one of the dirtiest industries. There is no such thing as clean coal. Not only does it pollute the environment, our water, our forests, coal mines are ugly and leave scars upon the land that will be there for millions of years. Coal workers get sick and die years, sometimes decades earlier than their contemporaries. Read Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence and then tell me you want to work in a coal mine! But Trump and his billionaire cronies think they are doing these coal workers a favor by sending them back into mines. And the coal workers seem to be lapping it up. This is so wrong.

The coal workers should be going to school and learn about solar power. That’s where the money is. That’s where the jobs are.

source: Forbes

This chart shows there are more than four times as many jobs in the solar industry as there are in the coal industry. Even wind energy jobs are more plentiful than coal.

When coal demand goes down to 400 million tons in the next ten years, those are the skills they will need.

Trump will ride into the sunset of his life then, much richer, living in his golden tower, and the miners will still be unemployed, dreaming about working in coal mines, and admiring their billionaire benefactor.

This makes no sense to me at all.

 

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