Dear TSA

I hear you’re instituting a new rule that electronic devices bigger than a cellphone must be checked on flights from certain countries. You’ve been cagey on what’s prompted this, but I can think of two reasons why you might be concerned about laptops and tablets. They might catch on fire or explode, and they might be used to hack or disrupt other systems in flight. With that in mind, I have three things you might not know:

  1. Bombs can go off in cargo just as easily as they can in the cabin. Batteries can catch fire, too. These can be triggered by timers, by changes in altitude, or even a combination of these things!
    1. Phones are remarkably capable devices now. In fact, they’re just like little computers! If you can hack something with a laptop, odds are good you can also do it with a phone.
    2. You are dumb.

…and ICE/CBP is the new SS

I’ve found it a little shocking how quickly ICE and CBP have embraced the new brutal xenophobia endorsed by our new Trumpian overlords. Take these two articles:

California Chief Justice Protests Immigration Agents ‘Stalking’ Courts

The chief justice of the California Supreme Court wrote to the attorney general and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Thursday, expressing concern about reports that immigration agents were “stalking” courthouses in an effort to target undocumented immigrants for arrest.

There were more device searches at US border last month than all of 2015

NBC recently reported that this year is on pace to be a “blockbuster year” for border searches of electronic devices. According to the news outlet, 5,000 “devices were searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.”

ICE in particular seems to have completely lost their shit, but CBP is doing their part to make people’s lives miserable. What scares me more than anything is that there can’t have been that many personnel changes at these agencies since the inauguration of His Wispy Sherbetage. These are people who were primed and ready to act this way. Thugs in waiting, if you will.

24,000,000

How many of those 24,000,000 people losing health insurance will die?

How many of those 24,000,000 people losing health insurance will go bankrupt?

How many of those 24,000,000 people losing health insurance will go bankrupt and die?

All so the richest fuckers people fuckers in this country can get a tax cut?

Once upon a time, I made a picture of George W Bush giving a speech with the Grim Reaper paying rapt attention. At the time it was because of the Iraq War, which killed thousands of Americans, and untold numbers of Iraqis. I’m guessing he’s now a Trump voter.

A modest proposal

The Trump administration continues to be a shit show, fulfilling or exceeding every prediction I know I made. We’ve got corruption, incompetence, lies upon lies, dismissal of science, etc. etc. Given the evidence, Trump wants this country to devolve into North Korea, with him as crackpot dictator. The GOP Congress may be complaining on occasion about some things, but for the most part they’re just rolling over for all of this. They’re certainly not doing anything to combat it in a real way, or we would already have special prosecutors and independent commissions looking into everything from the newly minted Trump trademarks in China, to the Russian hacking, to the gutting of the State Department, to Trump Hotel, to Trump profiting off the Presidency, and so on and so on.

So here’s my proposal. Bill and Hillary Clinton should adopt Donald Trump. God knows anything remotely associated with the Clintons is viewed as suspect by the GOP. If Trump were to become a member of the Clinton family, one presumes all the reticence Congressional Republicans currently show towards investigating him will just melt away.

File under “And if you believe that…”

Ex-Trump Adviser Roger Stone Was In Contact With DNC Hacking Suspect:

A political consultant and former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump says he communicated last year with an individual involved in hacking Democratic National Committee emails.

But Roger Stone says the conversations were “completely innocuous.” Stone told The Washington Times in an interview that his private Twitter exchange with “Guccifer 2.0” was “so perfunctory, brief and banal” that he had forgotten about it.

By all rights you would think this should be an explosive story, but as far as I can tell it’s barely even a blip.

Symptomatic Stupidity

I haven’t shared much about the GOP’s AHCA (aka “TrumpCare” aka “ObamaCare 0.5” aka “TrumpDon’tCare” etc) proposal because, frankly there seems to be enough negativity surrounding it that despite their best efforts to ram it through, I’m not entirely convinced it’s going anywhere. Still, I wanted to call out one particular thing that seems easy to understand and symptomatic of the idiocy of the whole thing. That’s the change from a tax penalty for people who don’t sign up for insurance to a surcharge on people who let their coverage lapse. Let’s take these one at a time to see how they would work.

First, take Obamacare’s tax penalty. This is pretty straightforward. If you don’t get health insurance, you pay a tax penalty. I don’t have any idea where that money is used, but from the consumer perspective it makes for a clear choice. We can either pay for insurance, or we can give money to Uncle Sam and get…well, whatever your tax dollars buy. 

So what about Trumpcare? If you let your health insurance coverage lapse, you don’t pay anyone anything. However, if you then decide to pick up your coverage again, you pay a 30% surcharge to the insurance company. Under this scheme, there’s actually a disincentive to keep your insurance, at least until you really need it. After all, letting it lapse is free with this plan. 

Dumb.