Saturday, October 21, 2017

Look! on the grassy knoll!

Trump says he'll order the release of all classified files relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Thursday.  A distraction this yuge can only mean the Niger debacle was far worse than anyone thought.  Or that Ted Cruz's father actually did it.

He's no Hitler

He draws, too!  This is what Donald Trump thinks the Empire State Building looks like.  Somebody paid $16,000 for it at an auction in Los Angeles.  It was drawn in black marker and is obviously the work of someone who knows and loves great buildings.  "Verisimilitude is not his strong suit," an art critic said, in what might as well be a description of the artist's entire life.

I don't remember the pyramid on top.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Thank you, MSNBC. Yes, I said it.

Some of the time---a lot of the time---I don't quite know why MSNBC exists.  Do we need a place for the likes of Michael Steele, George Will and Charlie Sykes to hang out when they are deemed too liberal for the big white couch at Fox?  Do we have to watch Brian Williams serve his penance for whatever grave offense he committed while he waits for Lester Holt to do something even more unforgivable?  Does there have to be a forum for Chuck Todd to commit random offenses against journalism on a daily basis, so he'll be all wound up for Sunday?  No, no and no.

And then there's a magical evening like last night, really a one-two punch to the belly of the Received Official Version.  First Rachel Maddow brushed aside the emotional response to the story of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson and his family, refusing to be distracted.  She delved at length into the recent history of Niger and why US troops are there as part of a coalition opposing the forces of Islamic State.  She explained that the most battle-hardened of these coalition troops come from Chad, which has mysteriously appeared on the latest version of the travel ban list -- maybe because of some nonsense about sample passports and paper shortages, maybe because the government has demanded substantial tax payments owed by Exxon/Mobil, whose CEO used to be our own Rex Tillerson.  Anyway, Chad withdrew its troops from Niger, leaving the Americans unprotected and, as we now know, under attack.  This, it seems, is the reason Trump ignored a reporter's question about what we're doing in Niger and instead praised himself (and smeared Obama) for calling the sergeant's widow.  I believe it's called "pivoting."  And nobody but Maddow saw through it.

Then came Lawrence O'Donnell to shut down all the teary applause rendered John Kelly's lecture of Thursday afternoon.  He gave the general full props as a Gold Star father who movingly described the military protocol for returning the dead to their families.  And he gave no quarter to the abuse of Rep. Frederica Wilson for daring to criticize Kelly's boss.  Kelly never used her name but repeatedly called her "an empty barrel" -- much as Trump "didn't even know [the] name" of Sgt. Johnson, calling him  "your guy," according to his widow.  He tried to call her an opportunist who "politicized" the sergeant's death, when in reality she had known him for years; he was in a mentoring program Wilson established while serving on the Miami school board.  Kelly went off on a maundering tangent about the good old days, when "women were respected" (General, have you met Donald Trump?), and without a trace of irony, trashed another Gold Star father, Khizr Khan, for addressing the Democratic National Convention.  O'Donnell was having none of it.  He, too, grew up in Irish Boston; he remembers well the racism and misogyny of Southie, which Kelly seems to have absorbed.   It is possible, evidently, to live every day with the grief of losing a son in war, and at the same time serve a racist louse with your own unexamined racism.  General Kelly lost a lot of his dignity when he agreed to work for this draft-evading imbecile, and he doesn't appear to be getting it back soon.

So thank you, MSNBC.  Give us more nights like October 19 and maybe I can overlook the endless commercials and the daily servings of Weinstein.  I know you have to keep the lights on.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The news goes on...

Curt Flood 58-69.JPG

...twenty-four hours a day, as Charles Foster Kane advised his editor when he barged into the New York Inquirer.  Does it ever.

But our heritage! our history!  Jefferson Davis Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, is being renamed -- for Barack Obama.  Vandalism will commence in five...four...three...

Jesus Campos, the hotel security guard who was the first casualty of Stephen Paddock's Second Amendment jamboree on October 1...has disappeared!  Conspiracy theories abound, but basically, Hillary killed him and buried him in the desert to cover up the Seth Rich-WikiLeaks connection and -- no, wait, there he is.  He was in Ellen DeGeneres's green room, waiting to appear on her show.  Never mind.  For now.

It appears the NFL will have its own Curt Flood (that's the gentleman above, in a Cardinals uniform which is barely changed today).  Flood was a three-time All-Star and a Gold Glove center fielder seven straight years, batting over .300 in six seasons.  In other words, not chopped liver.  But that was in the days of the reserve clause, which essentially made players chattel.  In 1969 Flood refused to accept a trade to another team and his career was over.  His case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which upheld baseball's exception to anti-trust laws; however, the case laid the groundwork for the Players' Association (and Marvin Miller, who should be in Cooperstown) to challenge, successfully, the old system and institute free agency.  The players' contract with the owners specifically outlaws collusion.  Now the NFL faces charges of doing just that.  Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is probably out for the season with a broken collarbone, and his replacements are, to be polite, lackluster.  Colin Kaepernick would seem to be the answer to their prayers, if only they had the guts to sign him.  Whaddaya say, Packers?  Got the guts?  Or will you collude with the other owners in shutting him out?  Some of the fans may complain, not to mention a certain orange slob in DC, but to paraphrase Jeffrey Cordova, there's nothing quite as soothing as a trip to the Superbowl.

A bipartisan solution to the health care impasse was cobbled together by two senators.  Yesterday Trump pronounced it "very good," and today he has denounced it.  Loath as I am to quote Bill Maher, I think he (and his writers) nailed it:  He's not bipartisan, he's bipolar.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) has shattered the old record for quick departure from Trumpenland, set by Anthony Scaramucci.  Marino was appointed "drug czar" and quit the same day, after he was outed as the sponsor of the law which makes it harder for the DEA to stop rogue opioid shipments.  He will be replaced by someone with less obvious connections to the drug industry.  "But I thought Kushner was going to handle the opioid problem, right after he reorganizes the federal government and straightens out the Middle East!" you cry.  Yeah, well, stuff he forgot to mention on his security clearance application keeps bubbling up from the Trump family septic tank.  Can't be everywhere.

I respect their expertise.

"He knew what he was getting into"

This is Sgt. LaDavid Johnson.  He and three other US Army soldiers were ambushed and killed in Niger almost two weeks ago while assisting in the fight against Boko Haram.  Yesterday, while his widow Myeshia was on her way to Miami International Airport to receive his body, she finally got a call from his commander-in-chief, who told her, "He knew what he was getting into," but it's sad anyway.  The call was on speaker and was heard by her mother-in-law, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, and by her Congresswoman, Frederica Wilson.  The caller denies he uttered these callous words and accuses Rep. Wilson of lying and being a Democrat.  Mrs. Johnson says, "He didn't even remember his name."

It gets better, or worse.  The c-i-c whined that he had been misquoted and would soon prove it with a "tape," like the non-existent tape of the Comey conversation.  He accused Wilson of "politicizing" Sgt. Johnson's death.  One of his flunkeys was dispatched to point out that calling widows is not even in the presidential job description, so they should just be grateful.  In perhaps the most monumental lie of October 17, he insisted that neither Obama nor Bush had ever spoken to the families of dead service people, especially Gen. John Kelly, whose son died in Afghanistan.  Lies like this are easy to disprove, and most of the media spent most of the day disproving it, when they weren't bringing us the latest in Weinstein.

In fairness, it has been busy-time at the White House.  At four this morning, Trump was already (or still) awake and tweeting about the kneeling football player outrage.  John McCain had made a speech attacking "half-baked nationalism" and denouncing the antics of the blood-and-soil boys in Charlottesville, so McCain had to be pre-threatened:  "At some point I will fight back and it won't be pretty."  (No doubt the ex-inmate of the Hanoi Hilton trembled all over when he read that.  Then he went back to fighting aggressive brain cancer.)  The latest version of the Muslim-North Korean-Venezuelan travel ban was overruled by another federal judge in Hawaii, which is an island surrounded by water but also a state.  Unlike Puerto Rico, where the desperate are using water from wells in a Superfund site and living in houses contaminated with mold.  Up on Capitol Hill Jeff "Poison Dwarf" Sessions spent most of the day lying about his earlier lies concerning meetings with Russian operatives during the campaign and pronouncing himself "insulted, suh!" when Al Franken tried to pin him down.  In an earlier era, this was called "perjury."  It was something attorneys general prosecuted rather than committed.  Good times.

I have to take a break.  There's a Gofundme raising money to put Sgt. Johnson's two children, and a third soon to be born, through college.  Give them some.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Guest editorial

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

Gregg Popovich, coach, San Antonio Spurs

Saturday, October 14, 2017


There's a word for everything, and as it turns out, more reason to hate/fear Friday the thirteenth than in most years.

Tweetledumb finally got his revenge on The Black Guy, who continues to kick his fat orange ass in every poll not conducted by the Klan.  By writing his name bigly, without consulting those haters at the other end of the street, he crippled both the Affordable Care Act and the treaty that kept Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons.  When they fire up the centrifuges again, I guess it will be up to the Israeli air force to stop them.  That should stabilize the region, you betcha.

We learned that Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior and full-time loon, has had coins struck which he passes out as gifts; spends like a drunken sailor on travel for himself and wife Lola (really); and requires that his standard be raised whenever he enters the building, like Queen Elizabeth entering one of her palaces.  Wait till Trump finds out he has a flag, too. 

Addressing a convocation of the racist religious in Washington (hilariously billed as "Values Voters"),  Bannon the King-maker proclaimed, "This is not my war, this is our war, and y'all didn't start it, the Establishment started it!"  (He speaks fluent redneck.)  What war?  Well, speaking directly to Mitch McConnell he said, "They're just looking to find out who's going to be Brutus to your Julius Caesar."  That could be a metaphor, but if I were McConnell I'd find an excuse to avoid the Capitol until these clowns go home.  ("Rosalind had a nightmare," for example.)

Newsweek scooped the competition by interviewing ex-con ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert and asking him if the "Hastert rule" has made bipartisanship more difficult.  Next week they'll be asking Jerry Sandusky his thoughts on Take-a-knee.

The story of Harvey Weinstein, the incredible predatory producer, continues to take up space on the TV newses to the exclusion of so many others.  Already forgotten, for example, is Republican Congressman Tim Murphy telling his girlfriend to "murder her unborn child," if I may borrow the anti-choicers' own devious locution.  Question:  If Weinstein ran a tax preparation company and harassed CPAs instead of A-list actresses, would anybody care?

I can't remember the last time a White House chief of staff held a press conference to tell reporters he isn't quitting, isn't being fired, and the president isn't nearly as feeble-minded as everyone says.  Truly we live in interesting times.

When something lodges among the dusty recesses of the feeble presidential mind, there's no dislodging it.  The thirty-three thousand deleted emails, the amazing stealth bombers he got such a great deal on, the woman who was killed by an undocumented man which is why we need a wall, and now the solution to gun violence in Chicago:  a motorcycle officer he met there last summer who assured him that if the police were freed from the iron grip of Rahm Emanuel and the Bill of Rights, they could solve the problem "in two days."  If only Trump had asked his name, or could remember it.  I guess we'll have to call him Joe the Cop.

The entire Bay Area, including San Francisco, is under a red flag warning, with over twenty million people at risk.  No, not so much as a tweet, and tomorrow is football day.  First things first.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

California burning

A firefighter covers his face while battling a wildfire near Morgan Hill, CA. CREDIT: AP/Noah Berger

In the real world, 21 people have died as a result of the fires in California, and over a hundred more are missing.  The Napa Valley is largely devastated.  In many places, the air is not fit to breathe.

In the Caribbean, Americans are dying and assistance will be slowed because the Jones Act waiver has expired.

In Europe, Spain is on the verge of partition following last week's Catalan referendum.  If the Catalans gain independence, the Basque will almost certainly resume their considerably more forceful demands for self-rule. 

And here's what is roiling the television screens:

Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator!  Who the hell is Harvey Weinstein, you ask?  He's a movie producer.  A movie producer has been taking advantage of attractive young women who want to be in the movies.  Has this ever happened before?  I'm shocked, shocked, etc.  But he gives lots of money to the Democratic Party, so it's (say it with me) ALL HILLARY'S FAULT.  Also Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan DA who was supposed to indict him but didn't.  Why Manhattan?  I don't know, I keep zoning out when I hear the name Weinstein. 

We have a timeline on Morongate.  Last July, during one of his ragegasms about North Korea, Trump demanded a "tenfold increase" in nuclear weapons.  At that time, Rex Tillerson pronounced him a "fucking moron."  When this was revealed by NBC News, Trump denounced it as "fake news," a term he claims to have invented.  He demanded that Congress investigate NBC for quoting the Secretary of State.  When that went nowhere, he blustered about having the FCC revoke the network's license.  (The FCC licenses individual channels, not networks, and cannot revoke a license because of content.)  Yesterday he ranted to a reporter, "It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write."  Or, as William M. Tweed more succinctly put it, "Stop them damn pictures!"  And he demands equal time (or "Equal Time") to respond to those mean late-night hosts who make mean jokes about him.   

It gets better.  Trump thinks he and Tillerson should take an IQ test to show just who the moron is.  This will not happen.  He is too busy feuding with the NFL, Jemele Hill and "Liddle Bob Corker," the Senator who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and is not amused by the moron's attempts to abrogate the Iran nuclear treaty.  "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center," Corker tweeted.  Not long ago he was an enthusiastic Trumpanzee, but better late than never, I suppose.  He is not running for re-election.

Tweetle-dumb had time to promote a new book about how pretty he is, but not to write his name bigly on a federal disaster declaration for California (see above).  His Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, is a little slow to pick up his cues, and thinks we're still arguing about statues of seditious generals.  He warns that if this isn't stopped, "Native Indians" will want to demolish monuments to Grant and Sherman.  I don't speak for the first Americans, but I'm pretty sure this is not high on their list of grievances.  More like Zinke's extra-credit ego massage of the Great Orange Father between Cabinet meetings.  Catch up, Ryan, we're on flag worship this week.

"There has been no oppression in the last hundred years that I know of," says Mike Ditka, checking in on the Great Knee Outrage.  Somebody needs an IQ test.

Elon Musk wants to solve Puerto Rico's power problem with solar panels.  At the rate FEMA is moving, he could accomplish this before the water is back on.

Melania!  Ivana!  No pulling on the hair extensions, ladies.

Hang on, California.  Your president will be along shortly to toss you packages of marshmallows.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Exit through the grift shop

"Now this is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."    (Churchill)

If Rex Tillerson and Bob Corker have had enough, and are willing to be quoted, you can be sure that many others have, too.  One day soon, a delegation will visit the White House and say what the nurse in Streetcar says to Blanche:  "It's time to go."

That stunt in Indianapolis was not just a staggering waste of money and time; it was a signal to the believers that Pence will carry on the culture wars in his own way, pushing the same homophobic, anti-choice agenda he imposed on Indiana.  But he'll do it without all the crazy tweets and without a bunch of loathsome relatives, insidiously, colorlessly.  It will be the same racism and misogyny, because that's all the right has.  Hate is their oxygen.  David Duke and Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer will be unhappy; maybe they'll move to Idaho and start their own "country."  Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham will be unhappy, but they'll get over it, comforted by enormous paychecks.  We'll get tax cuts for the rich and repeal of the ACA and there will be no more idiot talk about The Wall -- Pence never promised a wall, did he?  And though his hands are far from clean, it's not Pence that Robert Mueller is closing in on. 

Trump has become a dead, decaying albatross.  The one thing he was good at was rallying the "base" to a high level of frenzy, getting them to attack reporters and even friendly non-whites, leading the "lock her up" chant and joining in a group orgasm of rage.  So what happened in Alabama, a state so deep-redneck you can't believe they walk upright?  He couldn't even get them to vote for a sitting senator. 

He's useless, a running joke, an international laughingstock.  One day soon, a delegation will visit the White House, like the one that came in the summer of 1974, and they will say, "It's time to go."  They will make him think it was his idea, because if they mention impeachment or the Twenty-fifth Amendment, he'll push back like a toddler who doesn't want to take a nap.  For health reasons, or for the good of the country, or because the old bone spurs are acting up, or to spend more time with his businesses, he will go.  He will go before the 2018 midterms.

"Our long national nightmare is over," Gerald Ford said, and it's hard to imagine Mike Pence coming up with anything better.  Like Ford, his one virtue is that nobody hates him -- there's really nothing there.  He knows how the system works and how not to crash around it like a bumper car with a loose wheel.  He won't throw paper products at Latinos or tag an unstable Asian dictator with a dumb nickname;  his racism is institutional, not emotional.  He may replace some of the more incompetent appointees, but why bother?  He has no more interest in the environment or the public schools or public housing than Trump.  The public will see someone who works hard, doesn't play golf every weekend, goes to church on Sunday and hides the Republican agenda behind a bland, modest, apparently sane façade -- fascism with a human face.  The late-night comedians will make a few jokes and give up.  In fact, they may continue to joke about Trump, still tweeting madly in his Fortress of Turpitude; his name alone will get cheap laughs, like Bill Clinton's blowjobs, because we already know the gag. 

The polls are not improving.  The agenda is not being enacted.  The white nativists are restless.  The delegation is forming.

Let the healing begin.