Monday, June 19, 2017

Six Movies to Watch in the Trump Era

All The President's Men (1976)
Key Quote: Follow the money.
The story of the investigation into a corrupt president displays the power and responsibilities of the press during a constitutional crisis. It is not an overstatement that without a news media free to question and report on the government, democracy cannot survive. An all-star cast including Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, and Academy Award winner Jason Robards.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Key Quote: His brain has not only been washed, as they say... It has been dry cleaned.
An American war hero is brainwashed by the Chinese into being a Russian assassin, programed to murder a presidential candidate so a Russian controlled idiot will be elected. Angela Lansbury is outstanding as the treacherous mother of the hero turned assassin who is also his Russian handler.

A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Key Quote:
Sir Thomas More: Then why does your Grace need my poor support?
King Henry VIII: Because you're honest... and what is more to the purpose, you're KNOWN to be honest.

I've mentioned before I think this movie is a good metaphor for Comey-Trump situation. Thomas More, a legal scholar and, perhaps, the last honest man in England during the reign of Henry VIII. He refuses to take the easy path of betraying his conscious and the law to follow the demands of the king. Six Academy Awards including best picture and best actor (Paul Scofield).

Idiocracy (2006)
Key Quote:
President Camacho: Shit. I know shit's bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.
The President's cabinet
What happens when the United States is run by a gaggle of nincompoops so dumb they can't find their asses with both hands and a chair.

A Face In the Crowd (1957)
Key Quote:
Lonesome Rhodes: This whole country's just like my flock of sheep!
Marcia Jeffries: Sheep?
Lonesome Rhodes: Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - everybody that's got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don't know it yet, but they're all gonna be 'Fighters for Fuller'. They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do. Only they're even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em. Marcia, you just wait and see. I'm gonna be the power behind the president.

A lowbrow huckster becomes a media sensation. As his popularity grows his ego inflates even faster. He becomes a political kingmaker. His popularity crashes when his real personality is revealed. He then retreats into a delusional fantasy where he pretends he his still beloved. Directed by Elia Kazan and staring Andy Griffith in his first role.

Citizen Cohn (1992)
Key Quote: No! I killed you for the headlines! For the fuckin' headlines!
Donald Trump and Roy Cohn
Roy Cohn was a Jew who hated Jews, a homosexual who hated gays. He was the brains behind Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism. As a lawyer he was the Mafia's favorite attorney. Utterly ruthless, remorseless, and corrupt. In one of the few times God got it right, Cohn died of AIDS. Important because Roy Cohn was Donald Trump's mentor.

And a television series to make us feel better.

West Wing (1999-2006)
Key Quote: I am the President of the United States, not the President of people who agree with me.
Want to remember a time when the White House was filled with intelligent people, patriotic people whose first instinct was to do what was best for the nation, not their egos?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The History of American Politicians
Shot by Crazy People

It is the nature of this country that crazy people have easy access to guns and frequently politicians end up getting shot by them.

In this list I am excluding duels (at least four deaths), wars (one Civil War Senator), and any attack without guns or where no shots were fired.
The Lincoln conspirators.
 Abraham Lincoln (President) 1865: Booth was deluded into thinking that killing Lincoln and other cabinet officials would reverse the course of the war.

James Hinds (R-AR) 1868: A post Civil War carpetbagger politician. Shot by the Ku Klux Klan.

Thomas Haughey (R-AL) 1869: Shot following a fist fight with a supporter of another Republican.

James Garfield (President) 1881:
Assassin Charles Guiteau, an unemployed lunatic, thought he was personally responsible for Garfield's election and expected to be named ambassador to France. Didn't get it. He paid extra for an ivory handled revolver because he wanted it to be museum quality after the assassination.

William McKinley (President) 1901:  The third president assassinated in 36 years. His killer was a reclusive anarchist who felt killing McKinley would end capitalist excesses.

John Pinckney (D-TX) 1905: A public meeting to discuss Prohibition devolved into a Texas riot, 75 bullets fired in less than a minute.

Theodore Roosevelt (Presidential candidate) 1912: Shot in the chest by a saloon-keeper who said that the ghost of William McKinley told him to do it. Roosevelt was shot while giving a speech and, being a tough SOB, he finished the speech before seeing a doctor.

Franklin Roosevelt (President) 1933: This one missed but killed the mayor of Chicago who was standing next to the President. The shooter was another anarchist who said he planned to kill every government leader then every businessman.

Sen. Huey Long (D-LA) 1935:
Huey "Kingfish" Long was a cutthroat politician who scored successes by how many careers he ruined. He was gerrymandering a judge off the bench when he was approached by the judge's son-in-law who, of course, was carrying a gun. Long was either shot by him or the wild shooting of Long's bodyguards.

The Capitol Shooting (1955): No one was killed, but five congressmen, two Republicans and three Democrats, were shot by Puerto Rican nationalists who wanted to end American ownership of the island.

John Kennedy (President) 1963: Officially killed by Lee Harvey Oswald who was too crazy for the Russians to keep him as a defector.

Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-NY) 1968:
Five years after his older brother was assassinated, Bobby was killed by a man lashing out against the existence of the state of Israel.

George Wallace (Presidential candidate) 1972: After Arthur Bremer failed to get close enough to Richard Nixon he turned his attention the third party candidate because he was desperate for fame. Any famous victim would do.

Sen. John Stennis (D-MS) 1973: Shot and wounded during a mugging.

Gerald Ford (President) 1974: A follower of Charles Manson, Sara Jane Moore, missed Ford from a range of 40 feet when someone bumped her arm as she fired. She was the second Manson girl in 17 days to try to kill Ford; Squeaky Fromme's gun misfired. (Actually, Sara was associated with the Symbionese Liberation Army. It's hard to keep these wackos connections straight.)

Leo Ryan (D-CA) 1978: Killed by People's Temple followers prior to their mass suicide.

Ronald Reagan (President) 1981: Seriously wounded by a lunatic who thought that would impress actress Jodie Foster.

Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) 2011: Seriously wounded by a man notable for his bizarre behavior who thought women did not belong in politics.

This exhausting list doesn't include the many governors, judges, and state representatives shot over the years in our American shooting gallery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Only Wall Trump Will Ever Build

Is made of stone.
A few days ago I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant where I used to be a regular but I hadn't been there for several years. The waitress recognized me and knew what my usual order was.
I do not have any recollection of meeting or talking to the Russian Ambassador or any other Russian officials. ~ Jeff Sessions, June 13, 2017
If she could remember that I refuse to believe Jeff Sessions can't remember meeting with a Russian spymaster just six months ago. He is either willfully lying or senile.

Sessions testimony before the Senate committee consisted of him answering those questions he wanted to answer and stonewalling on those questions that were probative. Sessions has cast his lot with a coverup.

Will Trump Fire Mueller?
Anything is possible, but this story is a case of running it up the flag pole and seeing if anybody salutes. Trump wanted to put the option out there to see if he could get away with it. It was also a lame attempt at threatening Mueller. Feckless threats are really the only arrow in Trump's quiver anymore.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Narcissist In Chief

At some level it's hard not to feel sorry for Donald Trump. He is an embarrassingly pathological narcissist who can't help humiliating himself as he strives for public adulation.

Today, he lined up his cabinet secretaries to heap praise on him in front of the press. It was forced and pathetic and more fitting of a six year-old bully at his birthday party, "Now you're all going to tell me how great I am," than a leader. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is what a six year-old bully thinks leadership looks like.

I do not feel sorry for Trump's cabinet who choose to demean themselves into becoming Trump's pitiable sycophants. You made your beds, now lie in the shit.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Is Comey the New Thomas More?

I've been watching "A Man For All Seasons" on Turner Classic Movies and have been struck by what an astonishing metaphor it is for the Comey-Trump story..
If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we'd live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all... why then perhaps we must stand fast a little --even at the risk of being heroes.
There is a scene where Henry VIII (Trump is neither as noble nor as intelligent as Henry) tries to corrupt More into betraying his conscious. Trump needed to corrupt Comey...
Because you're honest... and what is more to the purpose, you're KNOWN to be honest.
Republican politicians are aptly described by the line...
The nobility of England, My Lord, would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount.
For how else would congressional Republicans act during a reading of the Constitution than sleeping through it?

In the case of Thomas More, the rule of law collapsed under the weight of corruption. How this story of Jim Comey and Donald Trump will end is not yet written.

Will the American system of justice prevail or will the nation be sacrificed, martyred to the consuming greed and lust for power that is Trumpism?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Trump Told FBI Director Comey, 'I Expect Loyalty'

A question which must be asked, how many other members of the Trump administration have been required to swear personal loyalty to Donald Trump?

Prior to Hitler, German soldiers made the following oath:
I swear fidelity to the constitution of the empire, and vow that, as a brave soldier, I will at any time protect the German Reich and its regular institutions... (source)
On February 8, 1934, that oath changed from fidelity to the constitution to loyalty to one man:
I swear to God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German Empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience... (source)
No longer were soldiers committed to defending the constitution. The constitution had become a meaningless rag.

Prior to Hitler, civilians were not required to recite any loyalty oath. As of 1934 they were:
I swear: I will be faithful and obedient to the leader of the German Empire and people, Adolf Hitler, to observe the law, and to conscientiously fulfill my official duties... (source)
Some Germans refused to swear an oath to a person instead of their country's constitution. Many of these were executed or sent to concentration camps.

On taking office as director of the FBI, James Comey took the following oath:
I, James Comey, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. (source)
The FBI, in their own website, says that loyalty oaths to individuals "too easily leads to tyranny on the one extreme or anarchy on the other."

Trump's expectation of personal loyalty over loyalty to country strikes at the very heart of our freedoms.

Words Matter, and So Does Silence

'I Do Not Support a Livable Wage'
Making Marie Antoinette sound generous.
Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel said one of those sentences that turn professional campaign consultants into alcoholics. She could have said something about opposing a minimum wage hike, which was the actual question, but Handel choose to say what was in her heart - that the poor should be worked to death for peanuts. 

Trump Cuts Our Throat in Middle East
America's Al Udeid air base in Qatar
When Donald Trump tweeted his attack on the nation of Qatar he was undermining the stability of the nation hosting the largest US military base in the Middle East. There are about 10,000 American military personnel stationed in Qatar, it is the forward base for US Central Command and the base for US anti-ISIS activities. Moments after Trump's tweet, Putin was on the phone to Qatari leaders offering Russia's support for Qatar against Saudi and American interference.

The Sound of Silence
ISIS attacked the parliament of a sovereign state, killing more innocent people than in the London Bridge attack yet there is utter and complete silence from Washington, no official comment nor even an semi-official tweet. The victim was the nation of Iran and there are suggestions that the ISIS attack was coordinated through Trump's friends in Saudi Arabia.

Taking the Fifth (sort of)
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers appeared before a Senate committee today and effectively took the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify about any conversations they had with the President over stifling the Russia probe. They did say they didn't feel "pressured" to do anything illegal, which wasn't the question. Of course, they wouldn't have felt pressured if they had willingly agreed to obstruct the investigation.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Thoughts on the London Bridge Attack

Battle of London Bridge, 1450AD
  • Nothing else I write is meant to disparage the pain and suffering of the victims and their families.
  • The number of people killed in the terror attack is less than the the number of people killed in the United States by gun violence in three hours. (33,000 gun deaths per year)
  • The British people, famously stiff upper lipped, are not cowered by the attack.
  • However American Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are predictably trembling in terror and publicly peeing their pants. "Home of the brave" my ass.
  • Over 3,000 people died on London Bridge in the year 1212 due to a fire. Perspective.
London Bridge Is Falling Down
London Bridge has collapsed several times in history and was always rebuilt. The nursery rhyme probably comes from the collapse in the year 1281. The "fair lady" of the rhyme is Queen Eleanor who embezzled the money designated for reconstruction.

The Battle of London Bridge was part of Jack Cade's Rebellion, an attempt to overthrow King Henry VI. Forty Londoners and over 200 rebels died in the battle. Cade was executed and his head hoisted on a pike above the bridge, a fate shared by other traitors including Guy Fawkes and Oliver Cromwell.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Pariah Nation

North fucking Korea is part of the Paris Accord on climate change. Not the United States. How much more pariah can you get when the entire world agrees to something except you?

The Economic Winner - China
China already leads the United States in renewable energy investments. That gap will only grow in the future as the US regresses to 19th century energy technology. Add in the fact that other nations will drift away from trading with backwards US technology. Get used to hearing the phrase "China leads the world."

The Political Winner - Russia
Putin had multiple motives for supporting Trump including destroying NATO, but at the top of the list is belatedly winning the Cold War by isolating the United States from the world. By withdrawing the US from the only truly global agreement in history, Trump has accomplished Putin's goal. As Trump's America drifts into global insignificance Putin gloats.

I Love You, California (and New York and Washington)
Those three states and scores of cities have already have already broken with the federal government and pledged to adhere to the Paris Accords. Other localities are certain to follow. Economically and educationally, the backward states, I'm talking to you Kansas, will fall further and further behind as they slowly crawl into Third World status.

'Renegotiating' Ain't Gonna Happen
Trump says he wants to renegotiate the Paris Accords which just means he wants to put his name on it in garish gold letters. The rest of the world is not interested, in fact they intend to redouble their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to make up for the petulant child who wants to smear his feces on everything.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What a Weird Time

With the current news it is hard to tell if you are hallucinating or not. ~ Joy Reid (slightly paraphrased)
I've had the occasional dream that was so believable I couldn't tell what was real and what was dream. I keep half expecting to wake up realizing this whole Trump business is just a bad dream.

Reagan Is Turning In His Grave

I grew up during the cold war when Republicans everywhere were obsessed to the point of insanity with rooting out suspected Russian agents in government. After John Kennedy was elected in 1960 there were voices suggesting a military coup might be necessary to prevent Russian infiltration of the US government.

Today, Republicans are falling over themselves to defend the notion of a Russian spy ring operating within White House, how it is no big deal or even a good thing that Russian agents are privy to our every secret.

Maybe Trump Should Shag Jared Kushner

Trump's romance with his son-in-law isn't just creepy but bad government. Instead of giving him every important job many of which, to put it nicely, he has completely screwed up, wouldn't it make more sense if Trump just had a sweaty tumble with Jared and let Rance Priebus and the others do all the administrating. It's an idea.

As Others See Us
Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us. ~ Robert Burns

'Nuff said.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Thoughts About Jared

Treason From Within
There are only two motives for treason, ideology or money. The British traitor Kim Philby believed the Russian system of government was better than democracy. American spy Robert Hanssen was only interest in the money his treachery would bring.

Jared Kushner is all about the money. He sees the wealth of the Russian gangster oligarchs and longs to swim in their ocean. Jared is eager to sell out his country for great wealth. The Russians are more than willing to wave rubles under Jared's nose and watch him salivate like Pavlov's dog.

I Remember Nothing
Michael Flynn is taking the classic dodge of Mafia dons and pleading the Fifth. Jared is using a different but equally classic evasion. He is claiming faulty memory. He doesn't remember talking to most of his spymasters. Kushner, just now, doesn't remember much of anything.

The Enablers
Every successful traitor needs associates willfully ignoring the clear evidence of treachery. H. R. McMaster is so eager to keep the position of power he has longed for for decades he is making petty and unbelievable excuses for actions that would alarm any normal person responsible for the nation's security.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Strange Fruit

Mississippi State Rep. Karl Oliver (Republican) recently called for the lynching of anyone who tries to take down Confederate memorials.
The Shubuta bridge in Mississippi, also known as "The Hanging Bridge"

In 1936, an American poet and songwriter named Abel Meeropol wrote a poem he later set to music. In 1939, blues legend Billie Holiday made a heart wrenching recording of the song.

This is the crop that Southern Republicans wish to resurrect.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
 

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop
When Southern Republicans talk about restoring "greatness" to America, lynching is one of the things they think of. Hanging political opponents and "uppity niggers" from the nearest tree as a lesson to those blacks who might try to vote or speak out was a common occurrence in the Old South they long for.

Researchers have counted over 4000 African-American citizens lynched in the states of the old Confederacy between 1877 and 1950 and this almost certainly understates the total. Mississippi was the leading state in lynchings. The most recent lynching I could find of a black man in Mississippi was 2015.

Friday, May 19, 2017

There Is a Traitor In the White House

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government. ~ Washington Post, May 19, 2017
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
Who is it? Who is the Russian agent within the White House? There may be two score people who fit the description in the Post. A handful, like National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, had no role in the campaign so can be ruled out. Of the remainder, my wild speculation is its Jared.
Then there is the theory that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Jared's father was sent to federal prison under felony convictions for tax evasion  and witness tampering. Jared may be another in a line of hereditary criminals.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

And the Beat Goes On


Things are moving so fast in so many different directions that even my whiplash has whiplash.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump's Clogged Toilet

Never in my six plus decades have I seen so much shit go down.

People May Die
Trump's flapping piehole has put real people's lives at risk. The Israeli spy agency Mossad puts brave individuals in incredibly dangerous situation to gather vital intelligence. The information they gather on ISIS is not picked up by satellites or drones but with boots on the ground secret agents. Agents who could be killed if Russia shares the secrets Trump blabbed with their Syrian allies.

Trump's Best Defense
Trump supporters seem to be coalescing their defense of him around the theory that Trump is a blithering nitwit, not a criminal. It might have some carriage in that the words most commonly associated with Trump are "idiot," "incompetent," and "liar." The defense of his leaks to the Russians is that Trump lacks the attention span and intelligence to understand his briefings and so he didn't know what he was talking about.

Putin's Here to Help
Because the President and all of his aides are not credible, Vladimir Putin has offered to take up the burden of informing the US Congress just what Trump said to the Russian spies ambassadors. How nice of him. Putin wouldn't possibly lie about anything, would he?

When You've Lost Wall Street
As I write this the stock market is down 250 points. Financial media is writing about what happened to the economy during the Watergate scandal (hint: nothing good). The rich bastards are giving up the idea of massive tax cuts. Republicans in Congress may not give a fuck what the common citizen wants but they sure as hell care what Wall Street financiers think. A Wall Street driven coup impeaching Trump is becoming possible.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump Keeps Pissing on His Own Shoes

The best job in the world to have right now is being an orthopedic surgeon in the D. C. area. Trump just kneecapped more of his aides.

Yesterday, aides like National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster weaved through a maze of sophistry trying to deny Trump carelessly leaked classified information to the Russians while limiting the amount of outright lying they were doing.

Today, while sitting up in bed eating his breakfast of one pouched egg and three Ding Dongs, Trump shattered McMaster's credibility by tweeting that not only did he carelessly leak classified info to the Ruskies but he was proud of being a traitor to his country.

The number of Trump aides limping painfully around the White House waiting an overbooked orthopedist to see them is growing daily.

Update: While typing this, McMaster is holding a presser trying to repair his fractured reputation.

Update #2: I watched a bit of the McMaster presser to get a sense of his body language and voice inflections. I would call his performance manically anxious and unsettled, like adrenaline or a line of cocaine was coursing through his bloodstream. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Few Random Thoughts

One Lacking Virtue
It is said of Rod Rosenstein that he has cultivated a stellar reputation in his years in Washington serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. It is said he is hard working, diligent, and intelligent. It is said he had everything a man could want.

Yet, when the nation, indeed the world, asked for his courage he found he had none. For all his diligence and intelligence, Rod Rosenstein lacks even the faintest flicker of bravery. He is indeed a coward for the ages.

A Request of the World
Trump is leaving on Friday for his first foreign trip. Can one of the countries he visits please keep him? It's a simple request. Do it for the sake of all mankind.

A Little Fun

A few days ago I stumbled on British ventriloquist Nina Conti. She and her little monkey are a delightful distraction from the horrors of reality.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trump's Bodyguard

One of the more bizarre revelations surrounding the Comey firing is finding out that Trump's favorite bodyguard, Keith Schiller, is one of his top aides. If the Daily Beast can be believed, Schiller is Trump's office wife with closer personal access than anyone else including Melania or Ivanka.
Schiller is one of the few people Trump talked to about firing Comey and was the person tasked with walking the termination letter to FBI headquarters because Trump was too cowardly to tell Comey to his face.

Schiller's rise from hired thug to prominent aide echos SS-Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Bruno Gesche.

Bruno Gesche was an alcoholic goon with the IQ of a turnip who was the long time bodyguard to Adolph Hitler. He had been beating up protesters for nearly two decades prior to Hitler achieving total power. When Hitler became dictator he brought Bruno with him.

Bruno loved Hitler like a puppy loves his master and Hitler loved his stupid bodyguard like a master loves a puppy. Throughout the war Heinrich Himmler, think a less disgusting version of Steve Bannon, tried to get Bruno killed on the Eastern Front but Hitler kept calling him back.

I'm not saying Schiller is exactly like Bruno, I am certain there are many differences. For one thing, he is smarter than Trump but, so is a turnip.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trump Ready to Repeat History

Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. ~ Edmund Burke
Trump's wee hour tweets this morning recalls the fall of two characters from history.

The Tapes
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press! ~ Trump, May 12, 5:26 am
Trump threatened the former FBI director with tapes of his conversations, implying Trump repeated the profound mistake of Richard Nixon and recorded his private conversations.

First, I find it unlikely that Trump could successfully threaten Comey who has dealt with tougher pieces of shit than Trump. Second, those tapes will eventually be subpoenaed Trump will claim there never were any tapes which will bring charges of obstruction of justice.

Why would Trump tape his conversations? Nixon did it because he was an egomaniac who expected the tapes would be proof of the legacy of his greatness. Also, some have speculated he intended to use them to blackmail others.

While Trump might have been thinking blackmail, as in the tweet above, I suspect his prime motive was so he could listen to them later and revel in his masterful ability to humiliate the people he is talking to.

The Bunker
Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" ~ Trump, May 12, 5:07 am
When Germany's Lebensraum war against Russia started going south, Hitler retreated to his bunker in the Wolf's Lair. The man who led his country into a world war with his soaring rhetoric stopped appearing in public and stopped making speeches. He disappeared almost entirely from the public.  Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would fill the gap with narrated film clips of a silent Hitler.

Trump is thinking about going silent to the media and communicating solely using written statements. There would be photo ops where reporters who ask questions will be arrested, but communications to the public will be limited to short written statement. No questions allowed. No explanations given. This remind me of the dystopic TV series, The Prisoner.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How Trump Ruins Dawn

This was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, then I read the news.
Don't look down, the ground is covered in shit.

A Shiny New Tool
The news that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign over being made poster boy for a constitutional crisis is being squealed. Rod, apparently, is okay with being Trump's public gimp. Since Rod is responsible for appointing any special investigator we can be certain any such investigator will have an equally brown nose.

Trump Meets His Masters
Trump is pretending to be outraged that photos of him meeting with his Russian bosses were published. What did he think the guy with the camera was doing? The firing of Comey just before Trump reported to his Russian overlords was obviously a necessary act to reassure his owners that he was up to the job they gave him. Oh, and publishing the photos were proof to Trump of who's really in charge.

Trump's Razor
Although, using Occam's Razor, Trump might have fired Comey simply because he was pissed that Comey had used the word "nauseous" to describe how he felt about possibly influencing the 2016 election. It is certainly the simplest, most childish motive and one cannot overestimate the immaturity of Donnie Boy.

Speaking of Childish

What could be more childish than recording Senate hearings so he can watch them in his PJs and mock the Senators and witnesses. It is the kind of thing that Caligula would have done if the ancient Romans had DVRs.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Comey Hoisted With His Own Petard

Former FBI director James Comey positioned Donald Trump so that Trump could destroy Comey. Several weeks ago I wondered if Comey was a political buffoon for getting Trump elected and then investigating him. He was.

While it is true that Comey is less Thomas Beckett and more Edmund Blackadder, his abrupt firing is the first step in neutering the FBI and turning it from an investigator of facts into a political police force led by Rudy Giuliani tasked with seeking out and destroying Trump's enemies.

It should not go without mention that there was another clear attack on democracy on Tuesday. For the first time in American history a journalist was arrested for asking questions of a cabinet official. Veteran reporter Dan Heyman was trying to ask questions of HHS secretary Tom Price about TrumpCare when he was arrested for "causing a public disturbance."

This is the New America. A place where asking questions is a crime and the FBI becomes a weapon to be used against Trump's many enemies.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Nightmare to Nightmare

I had a really complex nightmare last night. Lots of characters, an overcrowded taxi that got lost turning a two mile trip into a four hour wander; it had a faulty door I almost fell out of on every right turn. Then I got on an even more overcrowded bus that abandoned all my taxi friends while I tried to negotiate a return to sanity with the bus driver.
Then I woke up only to realize that the dream nightmare was a more sane existence that the Trumpian nightmare we are all living through.

Claims that no one ever died from a lack of health care. Statements by congressmen that they voted for a bill hoping the Senate would solve all the glaring flaws they couldn't be bothered to read. While I'm holding on for dear life while a cab careens through a dreamed up canyon nowhere near my home, the President is tweeting even more bizarre fantasies.


Tonight, I shall sleep again and my dreams will likely be pleasant. Tomorrow I shall awake to the daymare that a couple hundred Freddy Kruegers are running my country.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Trump's Mad Monk Is Back

Rasputin has Czar Donald's ear again.
Steve Bannon's influence has been apparent this past week. It's hard to keep a demonic figure down without garlic and a stake made from the wood of an ash tree. This past week Trump has...
  • Longed for a cleansing government shutdown in September.
  • Stated that the rotting corpse of Andrew Jackson, 16 years dead at the start of the Civil War, would have stopped that conflict.
  • Last month Trump was talking about trade agreements with Mexico and Canada. This week he wants to pull out of NAFTA.
  • Lovingly praised the confessed serial murderer Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
  • After threatening war with him last month, Trump now is calling North Korea's Kim Jong-un a "smart cookie" that he can get along with.

Each of these have the foul stench of Bannon whispering in Trump's ear. Bannon has asserted that government shutdowns are a perfect, albeit anarchic, way to tear down this liberal democracy. Duterte's death squads and summery executions have been praised by Breitbart News since he began killing.

Bannon thinks trade wars are good. He believes the slaveholding genocidal Jackson was America's greatest president and that, except for killing Muslims, shooting wars are a distraction from the need to purge the United States of minorities.

Like Rasputin, Bannon was sent away from the palace for a brief time and for that brief time Trump seemed slightly less insane. That's over. Bannon will let Jared Kushner drown in make work projects while he whispers sweet madness into Trump's empty brain. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

Priebus Muses About Repealing First Amendment

Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ~ First Amendment to the US Constitution
For a quarter of a millennium these words have been the holy grail of freedom. Then came Donald Trump.
I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. ~ Rance Priebus responding to a question about changing the Constitution to allow Trump to sue the news media for critical articles
Stifling an independent media is a vital step in building an authoritarian regime.

Within months of gaining power in 1933, the German government seized the printing presses of all newspapers opposed to Nazi rule.

In 1973 when Gen. Augusto Pinochet's ousted the elected government of Chile and formed a military dictatorship, he shut down all leftist newspapers and radio stations. Rightwing media was left free to praise the junta.

Upon its founding in 1922, the Soviet Union established an agency (the Glavlit) to control and suppress every aspect of Russian free expression.

Until now, Trump has been content with condemning a free press as "fake news." Yesterday was the first open suggestion that Trump and his minions consider that insufficient. They are now openly musing about destroying the bedrock of American liberty - freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

But Trump's followers are unconcerned because repealing the First Amendment just means elevating their beloved gun amendment to the top spot.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bird Is the Word

Let everyone else talk about 100 days, I want to explore the word "bird."

A Bird In the Hand
"Bird" is one of those old, old English words that predates Germanic (Vogel), Latin (Avem), or French (oiseau) influences. A long time ago some English bloke picked up a little feathered creature, said "I shall call you bird," and the name stuck. There was another Old English word, fowl, that came to be used for farmyard birds.

Pretty Bird
The use of the word "bird" to describe a young woman dates back to the 13th century, although etymologists suspect that was a misspelling of a similar word "burde" meaning a well bred young lady. This usage would be used periodically but really caught on in the 20th century.

Flipping the Bird
Showing the middle finger has long been a way to show disrespect. An early example is Diogenes flipping off Athenians in the 4th century BCE. The Greek name for this action (katapygon) means "given to unnatural lust."

The bird connection comes from hissing bad performances, also dating back to the ancient Greeks, which sounds like an angry goose. In the late 19th century hissing had come to be called "giving the bird." No one knows just how these two signs of contempt merged except it happened in the early 20th century.

Charlie Parker
The nickname for the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker is "Bird." There are many story as to how he got his name. My favorite is while touring with Jay McShann in the late 1930's Parker's car struck a chicken, also known as a yardbird. Charlie stopped the car so he could pick up the chicken for his landlady to cook.

Friday, April 28, 2017

'I Loved My Previous Life'

Poor baby. Donnie complained to Reuters recently how much he misses the old days - you know, four months ago - and that there is just so much work to do.
Working hard or hardly working
Let's take a look at a typical Trump work week.
  • First, it is only four days long. He leave early each Friday for his weekend vacations in Florida where he golfs with his millionaire buddies.
  • Every workday, he is channel surfing the various AM chat shows on the cable news networks. He also watches the evening chat shows. The reports of five hours of TV a day are probably low.
  • He also obsessively watches the Sean Spicer pressers which he describes as a soap opera.
  • His daily briefings must be condensed to one page with bullet points instead of complete sentences or even, gasp, whole paragraphs.
  • Rather than studying the fine details of all of the available options on a decision he must be presented with just one option focused mostly on how it will play with the media. All the work of actual deciding is left to others.
  • And don't forget all the time he devotes daily to Twitter.
Trump's tax plan is just one page long and a short page at that. It is only 230 words of sentence fragments arranged in bullet points. It would take me ten minutes to write and just one minute to read. There is no analysis of anything. No effort went into studying the potential impacts on the economy, the deficit, individuals, or how it might be paid for.

Little reading, even less thinking, but plenty of golfing and TV. Before the election he got to sit around in a luxury penthouse doing nothing. Now he has to sit behind a musty old desk doing nothing and the stress of all that extra work is getting to him.

British bookmakers are laying even money odds that Trump will quit before his first term is up. Whether it is a force resignation ahead of impeachment or the more likely quitting out of boredom and frustration, I am tempted to take that bet. This manchild has found himself, at the age of 70, with the first real job of his life and he hates it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Official Trump Bribery Receptacle (and Kayfabe)

A couple of disconnected items.

Bribes R Us
Ivanka Trump has announced the official mailbox for all corporate and governmental bribes to her and her husband. She plans to create a private fund to receive "donations" from governments and multi-national corporations. Ostensibly to help female entrepreneurs (i.e. rich women friends of Ivanka) a lot of the money will certainly go to "overhead," in other words the pockets of Ivanka, Jared, and the rest of the Trump clan.

Fake Faith
Tom Sullivan has a fascinating article in the link above. The word he mentions, kayfabe, appears to be old carny slang to remind their fellows to stay in character because a rube is present. It is part of professional wrestling lingo meaning maintaining the illusion of reality in their fake performances. The contract between pro wrestling and its fans is that they will fake reality and their fans will believe its real.

That relationship explains Trumpism better than anything else I've read. Trumpists want to believe so badly they unquestionably accept the charade. They realize it is fake but  maintain the illusion of reality as they call truth "fake news."

Take the border wall. There is no interest in funding it in Congress or Mexico, now or ever. Yet with each setback Trump floats a new funding scheme which his acolytes swallow blindly, condemning any statement of reality as "fake."

The delusion of illusion is so thick they accepting bizarre funding proposals like corporate sponsorship ("this mile of wall is brought to you by Coca-Cola"), have drug smugglers pay for it (like their money isn't stashed away safely), or just pretend that Mexico will magically pay for it eventually.

Somewhere in there Trumpists know it is all fake but they want to believe so badly that they do believe and in believing they have to declare any hint of truth as "fake" lest it shake their beliefs.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Trump Interview: By the Num...
Oh, Look, There's a Puppy

I wish I could say I was interested in the incoherent gas flowing out of Donald's pie hole that was his interview with the Associated Press. The most interesting part, to me, was the various outlets contesting to list the crazy.
For me, the interview revealed nothing new. It showed a rambling, undisciplined mind still obsessed with the election result. It showed a man believing fanciful imagined "facts." It showed an egomaniac who truly believes the entire universe revolves around him. And it showed a man drowning in his own ignorance.

Or, to put it another way,

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Christians Hypocrisy: the Ten Commandments

Lots of smart people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have taken clean shots at the Ten Commandments.

1. Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me
The text of the Bible accepts the existence of other gods who are more exciting or sexy than He is, hence His public jealousy which would be off putting in a clingy girlfriend. But Christians worship many things above God like guns and money.

2. Thou Shalt Not Make Unto thee Any Graven Image
Graven Image (noun): an object (such as a statue) that is worshiped as a god or in place of a god.
Christianity is all about worshiping the graven image of their dying Jesus or his mom. That is not even getting into the snuff porn that is the Passion of the Christ.

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord thy God in Vain
Watch any sporting event in the United States and you'll see some athlete thanking God for interceding in the contest and throwing the game in his favor. You'll see politicians calling for divine intervention to rig elections or declaring he'd been talking with God and God told him to run for office.  Oddly, God's handpicked candidates seldom win.

Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy
The Sabbath is Saturday, a remembrance Christians ignore. The blame for this falls on the rabidly anti-Semitic Council of Laodicea in the 4th century CE. "Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath," they wrote, declaring it illegal for Christians to share a Sabbath meal with Jews.

Honor thy Father and thy Mother
Anyone organizing a cult, be he L. Ron Hubbard or Charles Manson, understands what Jesus is saying here. "Leave behind everything you ever knew and everyone you ever loved to follow me." Biblical scholars have spend millennia trying to explain away this very clear statement of a cult brainwasher.

Thou Shalt Not Kill
Spanish Inquisition burning prisoners.
This one was broken by Moses before the print had cooled on those stone tablets. Moses came down from Mount Sinai and found the Israelites getting rowdy, gathered his priests, and ordered them to kill 3000 of his own people. Later he committed genocide against the Midianites, ordering the killing of all the men, women, and children except the virgin girls who were kept as slaves.

Christians have kept up the bloodlust through the centuries with their pogroms, crusade wars, and slaughter of heretics. In recent years, pastors have called for the murder of doctors and urged their followers to kill gays for Christmas. Killing has become a Christian sacrament.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
For many Christians, adultery is only a sin if I don't like your politics. The number of pastors who have committed adultery is so large it might be easier to list those who have remained chaste. Then there is the story of the Missouri pastor who committed adultery with his best friend's wife and murdered the poor cuckold. He then had the balls to delivery the eulogy for the man he killed.

Thou Shalt Not Lie, Steal, Covet
The other "shalt nots." Interesting is the Wahhabist Christians like Mike Pence who refuse to eat lunch with a woman lest he be tempted to covet her french fries.