Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Whatever works

On the most recent episode of Madam Secretary -- all right, it's the chick version of The West Wing -- Elizabeth, the title character, has to explain to a Gold Star mother why her son was killed in Ukraine.  She does this with a brief, concise history of NATO (which she calls, with only a little hyperbole, "the most important agreement since Magna Carta"), and how it has prevented another arms buildup, another European war, and not incidentally Russian aggression in the West.  "An attack against one is considered an attack against all."  When she has finished the mother (and the audience) have the basic outline of this organization they may know, if at all, from history classes long ago.

The timing may be intentional; it may not.  Tomorrow a president who does not read, knows nothing of his own country's history much less Europe's, and gets all his information from television (or ten minutes with the president of China) will arrive in Brussels, which he called a "hell hole," to take part in a meeting of NATO, which he called "obsolete."  If there is anyone around him who is not one of Putin's puppets, if there is even one person who cares about liberal democracy and world peace, he or she should try hard to screen this episode for him prior to the meeting.  Make sure he has a caffeine buzz from Coca-Cola, and hint that Tea Leoni is still plenty hot.

It can't hurt.


Crazy, he says


The Rolling Blunder tour continues.

Everybody loves Pope Francis, so the media front-and-center was his meeting with The Trumps, the women dressed as if for a royal Spanish funeral, the ritual exchange of gifts (Francis pointedly handing over his letter on climate change), the rare photo of him not smiling.  Meanwhile Newsweek brought us the official White House transcript of a phone conversation last month that boggled even my usually boggle-proof mind.

Trump loves a strongman, and if I were Vlad Putin I'd be jealous of his new bromance with Rodrigo Duterte, headman  of the Philippines.  He was very impressed with the way Duterte is dealing with that nation's drug problem, basically by killing everyone caught with drugs.  "Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that," he said, because he's shy and wanted to work around to the real reason, an invitation to a White House sleepover.  Because things went so well when Erdogan was here. 

Later the conversation turned to North Korea, as it will, and there came this tidbit:

"We have a lot of firepower over there.  We have two submarines -- the best in the world -- we have two nuclear submarines -- not that we want to use them at all.  I've never seen anything like they are, but we don't have to use this, but he could be crazy so we will see what happens."

"He" being Kim Jong-un, of course, and if he wasn't inclined to do something crazy before, wait till he sees the current Newsweek.  Two nuclear subs off his coast -- is it time to step up the missile tests, do you think?  Or will he assume it's empty bluster, since no American president would be treasonously stupid enough to mention the location of two nuclear submarines?

Then again...sharing foreign intel with Russians?  "Don't worry, Bibi, I didn't tell the Ussians-ray that it came from Ossad-may.  What are these called, hamentaschen?  I like pastry.  Is there ice cream?"

Kim probably knows that "crazy" is just trumpspeak for "won't do what I want," like Comey and Yates.  Kim's going to do whatever he wants, regardless.  The question is, what are we going to do about this disaster who can't open his mouth without jeopardizing lives by the tens of millions?

 

 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hi, Mom!

"It is a great honor to be here with all my friends -- so amazing and will never forget!"

That's what you say when you are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after being elected by the old-timers committee.  That is not what you write in the visitors book at Yad Vashem, especially when representing a once-proud nation of more than three hundred million.

In the words of General Colin Powell, "Donald Trump is a national disgrace."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Catching up

Image result for sleeper woody allen
Maybe there will never be peace in the Middle East, but at least Saudi Arabia has begun to appreciate Woody Allen.  Small steps.

Did Melania actually step off the red carpet in Israel to avoid her husband's hand?  Will she be leaving the tour early like Priebus?  Did Netanyahu really have to order his ministers not to boycott the welcoming ceremony?   

The "so-called Supreme Court" (as Senator Richard Russell used to call them back in the days of Earl Warren and Brown) struck down some of the worst of North Carolina's racial gerrymandering laws.  Bet you a dollar Trump tries to fire them.

After two whole days away from Big Macs and Mar-a-Legomyeggo, Trump is reportedly "exhausted."  Maybe he has a brain tumor and is nearly dead, like Hillary.  Yeah, he probably caught it from her.  He didn't curtsy to King Salman, he just tripped.  It's so hot.  Who ever thought Arabia was so hot in May?  Nobody could have known. 

Speaking of royalty, I know why Prince Philip announced his retirement:  so he never has to meet Trump.  "Sorry, old girl, I've backed you up for seventy years but this is the bloody limit."

Between praying at the Western Wall and calling Islam a "great religion," Trump has the alt-right chewing on themselves with rage.  Roger Stone says he wants to vomit, which is fine with me, all over that Adolphe Menjou suit if you don't mind.  A silver lining to go with the gold medal.

Fastest way to get out of the parking lot ahead of the crowd at a commencement this spring is to book a member of the Trump junta as speaker.  DeVos and Pence have addressed the backs of exiting graduates so far.  Anyone for Mickey Flynn?  (The Air Force Academy didn't really have the option.)

A professional hunter in South Africa was crushed to death by a shot elephant.  Should I be happy or delighted?  Since the elephant died, too, I'll go with quietly amused.

Now that ISIS knows it has a mole reporting to Mossad, there should be some interesting activity there.  Thanks, Donald, and your very good brain.  (He actually has a very good brain.  It was a gift from Ben Carson.)

Iran had an election, and the candidate who got the most votes gets to be president.  Now exactly how does that work?



     

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Orb and sphincter


I thought it couldn't get any more weird.  I was wrong.  I'm sorry.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

They're with stupid

As bad as his one-on-one interviews are, there is a special level of loopy when Metamucilini faces the media alongside a visiting head of state.  He has fewer opportunities to out himself for obstruction of justice, as he did to Lester Holt, but a greater likelihood of giving us tantalizing glimpses of advancing dementia.  Today it was the turn of Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, to stand before the White House's proliferating golden drapes and try not to look gobsmacked.

Asked about the number one topic of the week, this is what he said:

"The entire thing has been a witch hunt.  There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can only speak for myself, and the Russians.  Zero.  I think it divides the country.  I think it divides the country between that and a lot of things."

Huh?  President Santos seemed to be thinking, "I studied English, I thought I was fluent.  I need to review those Berlitz tapes.  What the hell?"

And starting next week, a portion of the world gets to enjoy this audible diarrhea in person.  Translators and sign language interpreters are seriously underpaid. 

Death comes for the arch liar

Gore Vidal once said his hands shook every morning until he got his fix of Watergate news, from a delivery system called a "newspaper."  I haven't seen a printed paper in months, but I experience  similar withdrawal symptoms as I wait to see each day's follies, foibles and -- oh, all right, atrocities.  What now?  Has he sold Alaska to Russia for twice what we paid?  ("A beautiful deal, absolutely the best deal, believe me.")  Is the population of Seoul fleeing to the hills?  Has all the snow melted in the Andes?  I'm always ready, and I'm never ready.

I wasn't ready for the death of Roger Ailes; plenty of fat old men are living surprisingly long lives.  Am I supposed to mourn?  The network he shaped has turned its back on the real mess in Washington, insofar as that's possible, in favor of breathless, fact-free moonshine about a poor young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee and was murdered last year in an apparent robbery (according to District of Columbia police).  According to the righzi media, Seth Rich was really a victim of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Lesbian Ninja Death Squad.  His appalled family has protested this idiocy, but who cares about their grief?  Trogs who rely on Fox for their "news" in and out of the White House are certain it's true because lock her up. 

And so in the midst of this fantasy/conspiracy extravaganza Big Daddy has died.  Fuck him and all his vile works.  Fuck him twice.  May all his pallbearers suffer hernias.  I wish I believed in hell. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Is this thing on?

I've never had a colonoscopy, and I'm in the age group for which it's recommended. You can guess the reasons I've put it off -- time, money, fear.  But now I see from the television commercials (where I get most of my medical information) that a company called Cologuard will examine your, uh, stool and alert you to abnormalities.  No fuss, not much mess, and you were going to dispose of it anyway so why not use the US mail?  I had to go to the post office in any case, to send my DNA to Ancestry.com and finally, definitively, find out who I am.

Unfortunately, I mixed up the samples.  I sent saliva to Cologuard and shit to Ancestry.  This morning Ancestry told me I'm related to Donald Trump.

Thank you, I'm here all day, every day.  Try the organic cauliflower!




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Surprise inspection


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov drops by the White House to take some oral measurements.

No American press.  Russian only.

Lordy!

That well-known racist, sexist and (probably) homophobe Abe Lincoln liked to tell a story about a frontiersman who returned to his cabin to find his wife struggling in the arms of an enormous bear.  Leaning on a tree and lighting his pipe, he called out, "Go it, woman!  Go it, bear!"

That sums up my response to so many of the Great Controversies of our time.  Remember, for one example, the dispute between the Disney Corporation and the Southern Baptist Convention?  I may have to choose the lesser of two evils every second November, but when the inexcusable crashes into the indefensible, I lean back and root for both of them to go for the jugular. 

So when I heard that the inexcusable Trump had fired the indefensible Comey -- the same way Comey did, from television (classy as always, Metamucilini!) I managed a resounding "Meh."  The worst FBI director since Hoover shit-canned by the worst president since...ever.  What else is on?

Let's see...Comey decided we all needed to know that a couple of those tired old emails turned up on Anthony Weiner's computer, thus creating enough doubt to tip the election to Trump, yay!  Then he told the Justice Department there were still no grounds to "lock her up," boo!  Then he came to Congress and told them how nauseated (not "nauseous," please) he felt to have undermined democracy and stuff, boo-hoo.  Then he confirmed that his outfit was investigating the hell out of the Russian connections of Flynn, Page, Manafort, etc., etc., uh-oh!  And then the boot.  But like the Affordable Care Act, he'll be replaced with something much better.  Probably Jared Kushner, once  he's sorted out the Israel-Palestine thing and re-organized the federal government.

Our thoughts turn inexorably to 1973 and the Night of the Long Knives (the dismissal of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor, Attorney General Elliott Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus, if you're playing at home), and in case anyone missed the point, Henry Fucking Kissinger showed up at the White House to remind us.  He must be the last living unindicted member of the Nixon administration.  The question now is, how long can they hire and fire people to fend off the inevitable?  The answer is implicit in the negative response to Schumer's demand for a special prosecutor:  as long as they can get away with it, while distracting the public with troops in Afghanistan and rumbles in the Korean peninsula and whatever else they dream up. 

And Jim?  In the words of the White House counsel on The West Wing, "It's time to write your book now."    


Monday, May 08, 2017

Red, white and blue Monday

I'm trying to stay busy while waiting for Sally Yates to serve up a Mickey Flynn cocktail, for which she has already been attacked by some troll on Twitter:

"Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to the White House Council," it said.  All right, as you can guess from the spelling of "counsel," it's Metamucilini in an early morning shitter-twitter.  Sounds like a threat to me.  What can he do, fire her again?  "Under oath" is pretty good for a regime where perjury is a basic requirement for employment.  And as "after" suggests, the papers got the story from someone in the office of the White House counsel, most likely.  But why waste time studying this like a sonnet?  It's just panicky bluster.

It was a big weekend.  Not-LePen was elected president of France by a huge margin.  I don't know enough about Emmanuel Macron to be sending up rockets -- "centrist investment banker" is not very promising -- but it could have been so much worse.  So vive la France, and a bas Putin/Assange.

The mainstream media finally did its job and unearthed remarks from years ago by Greasy and Sleazy Trump to the effect that, screw American banks, bunch of doody-heads, we've got all the financing we need from Russia.  And now even James Comey (R-FBI) knows it.  What's he going to do about it?

Nicole Kushner  -- why, yes, she is Jared's sister -- was in Beijing pitching a little-known scam called the EB-5 visa program.  This is a real beauty.  Anyone with half a million American dollars to invest in a construction project deemed to be of special value to distressed communities can jump to the head of the line and gain permanent residence in the USA.  The specific project being touted by Ms. Kushner is called One Journal Square, in Jersey City, which will involve 1,476 luxury apartments and a medical center -- for pets.  I'm sure Jersey City can use the help, and so can those apprentice Masters of the Universe who work in lower Manhattan and need a place to live while they save up for a spot in Trump Tower.  And their pets.  It strikes me that this is tailor-made for people who don't want to be walled out of soon-to-be-great-again America and have large amounts of cash in need of laundering. The heads of drug cartels, for instance.  But I'm sure they're way ahead of me. 

Before the beautiful people start commuting from One Journal Square, some repair work will have to be completed.  It turns out that the Oculus, the four-billion-dollar transit hub at the World Trade Center designed by hotshot Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, leaks in a heavy rain like the White House counsel's office.  Last Friday the social media were full of commuters running for cover and snarky comments about shoddy work.  Well, the Javits Center used to leak, too.  Ask them how they fixed it.  (I remember Jacob Javits.  Republican senator for many years, well to the left of Chuck Schumer.  Good times.)

The opening act, James Clapper, is up.  He says he requested names be "unmasked" in the course of his duties as President Obama's national security adviser.  Isn't that the very thing that had the trumpers baying for Susan Rice's scalp last month?  It's good to be a white male.  Let's watch....



    

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Make 'em laugh

"Nobody has a sense of humor any more, " Jeff Sessions complained only last week, after people objected to his description of Hawaii as "a rock out in the Pacific" where another so-called judge had blocked Trump's latest version of the Muslim travel ban.  To be honest, I wasn't aware he was going for a laugh; maybe it was the delivery.  But he's right about the lack of funny in our time.  Or rather, there's funny and then there's funny.

Desiree Fairooz thought it was funny when, at Sessions's confirmation hearing, Richard Shelby, the other white meat (from Alabama), said the nominee's record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear."  She laughed out loud.  As a result, she was prosecuted and convicted of "disorderly or disruptive conduct."  Clearly a nasty woman, and a warning to all us jokesters. 

Judging by the high-fiving at the Rose Garden beer bust yesterday, something funny must have happened.  Turns out it was the passage of the Definitely Not Obama Health Care Act by the House, where it sailed through by two votes, relieving the terrible tax burden on the rich and condemning all the Billy Kimmels whose parents can't afford open-heart surgery.  Now it's up to the Senate to come up with something even more amusing. 

In such an atmosphere, it's not surprising that a professional comedian should be attacked for being intentionally, unquestionably funny.  Stephen Colbert talked for ten minutes about John Dickerson's (let's say) interview with Trump -- the one that ended when Donzo scuttled out of the room to avoid any more embarrassing questions.  (Sean Spicer has adopted the same technique.)  The last minute was devoted to this over-the-top, completely cathartic rant, addressed directly to Trump and requiring quotation in full:

"Mr. Trump, I love your presidency.  I call it Disgrace the Nation.  You're not the POTUS, you're the bloatus.  You're the glutton with the button.  You're a regular Gorge Washington.  You're the presidunce.  But you're turning into a real pricktator.  You attract more skinheads than free Rogaine.  You have more people marching against you than cancer.  You talk like a sign-language gorilla who got hit in the head.  In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster.  Your presidential library is going to be a kid's menu and a couple of Juggs* magazines.  The only thing smaller than your hands is your tax returns, and you can take that any way you want."

As Homer Simpson would say, it's funny because it's true.  We all wish we could say it like Colbert and his writers.  And anyway, CBS censored two words:  "cock holster."  But those are the words that have caused all the "controversy," with demands that Colbert be fired and the FCC getting involved.  I haven't seen any objections from the LGBT people, but plenty on their behalf, pouncing on  "cock holster" as hate speech instead of what it is, an accurate characterization of Trump's creepy admiration for yet another dictator.  Nobody seems to care that "glutton with the button" is pretty insulting to overweight people, or that gorillas come in for gratuitous abuse.  (It's hard enough for a human to learn to sign, and these creatures don't even have opposable thumbs.) 

Relax, Colbert's job is safe for a reason even Trump can understand:  ratings.  He may be audited but he won't get fired, or even furloughed like Andy Rooney.  Neil Cavuto, one of the few Fox pundits not accused of behaving like an oversexed yak around the office, has promised to keep an eye on him and report back to the base, so that's all right, isn't it?

Now more than ever seems it meet to laugh.  Hard and often.  Trump has no sense of humor and if his skin was any thinner he could be used for anatomy lectures.  Every day I miss George Carlin and Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks, and the less funny but equally mordant Molly Ivins, but we still have Colbert and Andy Borowitz and Louis CK and a few others keeping us more or less sane.  And "cock holster" is pretty mild.  I mean, you should see the stuff Lee Papa (the Rude Pundit) comes up with. 



*I believe this is the correct spelling.  Now that ISPs can sell our personal information to the highest bidder, I refuse to do a search.  Don't need those ads popping up.        
   

Thursday, May 04, 2017

There is a world elsewhere

"For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-wracked constancy.  Trump does not afford this," David Remnick wrote in The New Yorker.  It's true even if you aren't forced to rely on the TV newsertainment for information about the world.  For example, I'm just back from the online New York Times, which seems unaware that a couple of nuclear powers called India and Pakistan are again facing off in disputed Kashmir, a little tidbit I picked up from BBC News.  CNN might take notice if major troop movements occur or missiles are launched, now that the House has successfully voted to deprive millions of Americans of affordable health insurance, yay!  I doubt anyone else will.  Remember Mosul?  Forces of the Syrian government are still fighting ISIS there.  Silence from the world-wide news organizations which always have time for the emerging details of Prince's estate and cybercrime involving Netflix.  Priorities.

And always we're awash in Trumpery -- his new-found fake religiosity, his breathlessly awaited visit to Manhattan (and Melania?), his untranslatable verbal emissions and fresh outrages against the Constitution.  Even his dead-eyed relatives have become inescapable.  In her new capacity as a Serious Person, Ivanka has arranged for someone to write her a book (Women Who Work:  Rewriting the Rules of Success).  Possibly she will publish it as Adrienne Vittadini, the name under which her line of accessories and schmattas is now marketed, "Trump" having become mysteriously toxic in the past several months.  Yesterday Jane Goodall objected to being quoted in this volume, and today it was the turn of Toni Morrison.  It seems that the (no doubt underpaid, or unpaid) ghost appropriated this sentence from Beloved:  "Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another."  "Ivanka" seems to think this is a clever way to talk about using one's time wisely; Morrison, of course, was talking about an enslaved woman literally freeing herself by crossing a swiftly flowing river.  But how can you know that unless you, like, read and stuff?  Who has time, while rewriting the rules of success?  (1. Be born rich.)

For funnies, and because he loves the Mexicans who will definitely pay for the wall, Trump has put Mike "Miguelito" Pence in charge of the big Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which should make them just as impressive as the inauguration.  By the way, a surprising number of Texans have expressed misgivings about the wall (issues of eminent domain, dividing Native American lands, the sheer stupidity and waste, etc.), but that hasn't stopped the increasingly supine Ted Cruz from proposing that wall-building be financed out of the personal fortune of El Chapo, elusive star of the drug trade now re-imprisoned by the United States.  If only we knew where he keeps his money, eh, Ted?  Maybe a spell in Guantanamo, which Trump has promised to expand.  Sounds like somebody is anticipating an expanded ground war for American forces in the Middle East (MOAB doesn't take prisoners).  Wait, didn't he promise the heartlanders that he wouldn't repeat Obama's mistakes?  And won't it be their sons and daughters who do the fighting and dying? 

Never mind, let's obsess about how Obama is "cashing in" on the sacred presidency by accepting a $400,000 speaking fee?  On top of book advances in the millions for him and his wife?  All these people do is lie around while the money rolls in, ya know waddimean?  Though in fairness, he did tell that last Correspondents' Dinner he planned to make "some serious Tubmans" once his term was up.  Once his term was up.  Quaint!

If Marine LePen wins, she's moving the capital from Paris to Vichy.  I heard.

Did Theresa May really mean she wants to end tourism in Britain?  They'll starve.

Where do I find about this South Korean election?  It sound like it might be important.

Anyway, Coriolanus was right:  There is a world elsewhere. 
   
 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Lower and lower

If you are an authoritarian, a fascist, a thug, you must know that Donald Trump admires you and has your back.  Putin, Erdogan, Sisi, Duterte, you've got a friend in Washington and more frequently Palm Beach.  Even Kim Jong-un, a "smart cookie," seems to have his grandfatherly affection now, at least late in the day.  (I believe the gerontologists call it "sundowning.")  But that's not enough.  Apparently Metamucilini also feels solidarity with thugs of the past.

How else can you explain this poisonous little story, lost in the daily shit-tide?  The government of Argentina announced that the Order of the Liberator General San Martin, the highest honor available to a non-citizen, had been awarded to Jimmy Carter for supporting human rights during that country's military dictatorship (1976-1983).  President Macri was to bestow it during a visit to Washington.  That brief ceremony was cancelled by the White House, lest it take time from discussions of Trump construction projects in Buenos Aires, or something.  It doesn't get any pettier, pissier, or more vindictive.

I'm not sorry for President Carter, whose life has been filled with achievements and honors.  Two years ago, at age ninety, he survived brain cancer.  He will survive this slight from people who aren't fit to shovel his peanuts.  No, I'm sorry for us, the people represented in the sight of all the world by this soulless bag of mucous Trump.

Preventing an old man from getting a medal may not be an impeachable offense, but when the time comes, I want it in the supporting materials. 


Gold Hickory

We've all had a good laugh at the latest display of Trumpian ignorance -- Andrew Jackson the "swashbuckler" whose poor wife was maligned to death, who could have staved off the Civil War with "a deal" had he only lived another twenty years, and those wonderful people in Tennessee who love him so much, etc.  Did Bannon give him a children's book about Jackson, or just show him a movie?  It's impossible to imagine Trump visiting The Hermitage for more than a ten-minute photo-op; it's a beautiful place but Studio 54 it's not.  But this isn't historical derpitude like his amazed discoveries about Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.  Trump's infatuation with Jackson stems from his hatred of Native Americans, whom he blames for the failure of his casinos (nothing is ever the result of Donald's stupidity and incompetence).  Between chats with dictators and signing his name, he can lift his eyes to the portrait of Jackson and long for the days when a man could kill Indians and own black people and nobody called him a racist.

At around the same time we learned that even the "grownups" are historically illiterate.  Prince Rebus Reince Priebus revealed that even the First Amendment is not safe from these troglodytes -- they're "looking at" ways to keep those nasty journalists (and bloggers, and speakers, and graffiti writers) from "libeling" them with lies.  I hardly know where to start.  A regime of top-to-bottom fabulists is complaining about lies?  Trump has made a hobby of suing, or threatening to sue, anyone who fails to flatter him, so perhaps he doesn't know that office holders are fair game and always have been.  People wrote terrible things about George Washington.  His successor, John Adams, pushed through the 1798 Sedition Act, which made it a crime to criticize John Adams.  (Three years later, Jefferson got it repealed.)  Ever since, politicians have had to grit their teeth, smile a little harder, and grow nice thick skins while people called them "Ape Lincoln," "Franklin D. Rosenfeld," or more recently, "the devil."  And as one of them observed, "If you can't take the heat..."

Priebus knows, as Trump certainly doesn't, that amending the Constitution is a long and complex process; it's not the contract scene from A Night at the Opera where you can tear off the clauses you no like.  Donzo can try to emulate his heroes like Putin and Erdogan and Duterte by writing his name extra bigly on one of those executive things that Steve shoves in front of him, but some so-called judge is bound to slap it down.  He's free to skip events like the Correspondents' Dinner in favor of thinly-attended Angry White Folks rallies in the hinterlands.  He can squat on the golden throne and tweet his tiny thumbs off, and he will, but he will never get the adoration he covets from the smart kids, or punish them for despising him.  Sad!