Saturday, July 24, 2021

My book report: Snakes on the plain

Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires:  The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Henry Holt and Company, 2017

I have never read a Wilder book.  My parents were not concerned with introducing me to the "children's classics" -- Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh, the Oz books, Dr. Seuss, all the stuff we're supposed to look back on with moist nostalgia.  Once I could read, they turned me loose on their books; I remember a special affinity for The Merck Manual, a guide to diseases and their treatment with, I imagine, hints about the products of Merck Pharmaceuticals.  I read Lewis Carroll in high school, just before Alice was taken up by the drug culture of the 1960s.  I was an odd child.  All that log-cabin-pioneer stuff never appealed to me.

Caroline Fraser's biography is essential reading for anyone, plowing a long furrow through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and turning up fascinating information about Wilder herself, her restless father and his quest for a farm that would make him independent, her troubled daughter Rose Wilder Lane and life in the middle of the country, beset by weather, fire, plagues of insects and the frequent hostility of displaced indigenous people (Fraser uses the word "Indians" as Wilder did).  If you don't know, or don't know enough, about Little Crow, the great Peshtigo (Wisconsin) fire, Coxey's Army, John Wesley Powell, the Bloody Benders, the 1862 Homestead Act or the Panic of 1893, this is a very good place to start.   

Laura Ingalls was born in 1867 and it wasn't until the 1930s that she began to write her books.  Her memories were sharp and vivid, and when they weren't she asked her mother and sisters for details.  By then her only surviving child Rose had been married and divorced and earned her living as a writer, her outlook and ethics shaped by William Randolph Hearst.  Years later she would wonder "what people meant by a conscience...why don't I have one, whatever it is?"  Fraser says she suffered from depression but it sounds as if she was bipolar, either unable to function or bouncing around the world squandering money she frequently had to borrow from her frugal parents.  But she was a professional writer who knew how to shape and edit her mother's reminiscences into fiction, though they both insisted the books were utterly factual.  

Rose Lane also had a political agenda that would now be called libertarian with shadings of fascism (she compared Roosevelt unfavorably with Mussolini and Hitler and at one point avowed in writing that she would gladly assassinate the president).  She and her mother agreed that the New Deal was the worst thing ever to happen to this country and that no real American would take "hand-outs" from the government.  But few pioneers, and certainly not Charles Ingalls, could get by on their own and Wilder knew it.  Beginning in 1918 she helped to organize and run the Mansfield (Missouri) National Farm Loan Association, dispensing nearly a million dollars in federally backed low-interest loans to local farmers and earning a salary which kept her own farm from going under.  She was proud to mention it when she ran (despite early misgivings about the Nineteenth Amendment) for county tax collector.  She lost, getting 56 votes to the winner's 256.  And Rose fumed, "The steal was so raw that everyone knew it.  And of course will go on letting it happen, over and over again."  Both were women full of deep contradictions, but Rose sounds a note that still echoes, aggrieved to the point of paranoia.  

It's startling to find, so early in our history, so much of today's Republican base:  resentment of intellectual elites, eagerness to believe the railroad hucksters selling land they got for nothing ("The rain follows the plow"), freedom defined as doing just as you want in every situation without regard for others,  more than a trace of survivalism.  Rose Wilder Lane's associations with Charles Lindbergh, Ayn Rand, Roger MacBride and other curiosities of the far right would make a book of their own.  But the myth of the self-sufficient Ingalls family in their snug little house was central to the story both women told and sold, and when it got burnished even more for network television, Ronald Reagan was a regular viewer.  Laura Ingalls Wilder would have nodded when he read from the teleprompter, "The most terrifying words in the English language are, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

Now Wilder is an industry, all the surviving houses where she lived are shrines, and there's a Midwestern conference called LauraPalooza.  Mansfield, Missouri, where she settled with her disabled husband Almanzo, is now "one of the hundred poorest towns in the country," with a median household income of $17,750.  Needless to say, it is reliably Republican.  They still want a government that will not try to help them.  When I closed Caroline Fraser's engrossing book I was as confused as Alice.


"Head-bangingly stupid"

That quotation (from Professor David Jacques, head of the Blick Mead archeological project, caught my attention this sunny Saturday.  All will become clear as we continue.

Professor Jacques was talking about a scheme to build a road tunnel beneath Stonehenge, approved last fall by the Johnson government and poised to cost the monument its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Liverpool has already been removed for failing to maintain its historic waterfront and other places are being reviewed including, ironically, the Palace of Westminster.  I thought the British were all about heritage.  Who else spends so much money on royal pageantry in the 21st century?

If you're watching the Olympics on MBC in South Korea, I'm sorry.  The network had to apologize for introducing each nation with stereotypical images -- pizza for Italy, salmon for Norway, a "photo of Dracula" for Romania (Lugosi?  Lee?  Langella?).  Then it got weird.  Haiti was represented by footage of rioting after the president's assassination, while Ukraine was evoked by Chernobyl.  I wonder if they showed the January 6 coup attempt for the US.  You expect this kind of thing from North Korea.

What the hell is 3x3 basketball?  Are we just making sports up now?  Will there be ringolevio, or do we need to wait for Brooklyn to win the games?  I recently tuned in to an ESPN broadcast promising "Cornhole," which, somewhat disappointingly, turned out to be beanbag.  What time is the Twister final?  I heard there's a three-sewer stickball player on the Borneo team, but fans exaggerate.

Maybe all the mass shootings have made Colorado police jumpier than usual.  In Idaho Springs, a 73-year-old man wearing only underpants answered their knock holding a "sword-like weapon" which he placed on a high shelf, as instructed.  Michael Clark declined to lie on the floor, however, and continued to try to explain the situation.  They tased him and he suffered a stroke and a burst appendix.  If even white privilege won't protect you, could be it's time to defund...

Arizona Republican state senator -- but why go on?  Enraged by the Cleveland baseball team's retreat from hate, Wendy Rogers came up with this beauty:  "I like Indians and I like Redskins.  I like Aunt Jemima and I like Uncle Ben.  I like Robert E. Lee and I like Stonewall Jackson.  I don't like traitors who hate America.  Stand up for our culture!"  I think you meant "racist culture," Senator.  As for Lee and Jackson, I'll send you a sixth-grade history book before your party burns them all.

Gotta run, Olympic chess semifinals starting.


The evidence of things seen

 To quote the 2,000-year-old man, "There's something bigger than Phil."  Phil Valentine has been using his Nashville radio show to assure listeners that they don't need covid vaccine, but now that he is hospitalized and using a respirator, he appears to have changed his mind.  His family said in a statement, "He regrets not being more vehemently 'pro-vaccine,'" which is certainly backing into it.  Anyway, good luck to Phil from libtards who figured this out without getting sick first. 

It can't be easy, especially when people get contradictory advice from smart people like Sean Hannity.  On  Tuesday he told his audience, "It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated."  On Thursday it was "I never told anyone to get a vaccine."  Did he get a call on Wednesday from Leader-For-Life Trump?  It would be pointless to speculate.

In response to Asa Hutchinson touring the state and trying to shove vaccine down people's throats (as the freedom-loving phrase it) Sarah Huckabee Sanders promised, "If I'm elected governor here in Arkansas, we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine, we will not shut down churches and schools and other large gatherings because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility."  Nor will we confiscate your Bibles and guns, she forgot to add.  And if enough Arkansans die, the vaccinated just might elect a Democratic governor.  You go think about that, Sarah. 

Other states are fighting covid the old-school Trumpian way, by fudging the numbers.  (Remember last year's "stop the testing"?)  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, himself named for a disease, declared the virus emergency at an end for two weeks before reality caught up with him; while Florida, Iowa and South Dakota thought they could confuse residents and journalists by reporting numbers weekly instead of daily.  Florida is now experiencing 10,000 new cases a day, twenty percent of the national total, under the intrepid leadership of Ron "Don't Fauci My Florida" DeSantis.  The least he can do is move into a motel and let the governor's mansion be used as an ICU.

Some Washington Post writers have decided that the fourth wave "poses a new political threat to Biden and his agenda."  In a "Buck Stops Here" way they're certainly correct; presidents get the blame for everything that occurs while they are in office, although some of them demand only praise.   All right, one of them.  It isn't clear, though, what Biden can do to "put it behind him" short of holding people down and vaccinating them against their will, which is probably illegal.  The Trumpandemic is one of the hundreds of messes he inherited and one of the stubbornest.  If athletes won't even get the shot before their once-in-a-lifetime try for Olympic gold, how do you motivate Billy Ray Scratchcard who gets all his news from Tucker Carlson?  States have offered savings bonds, college tuition, donuts, beer, cash, with only limited success.  We can't give life-saving vaccine away, while countries like Guatemala and Argentina wait for the Sputnik-V they ordered from Russia and African countries can't even afford that.  The WaPo is concerned because a Republican pollster calls the Biden White House "lost and message-less."  What did they expect him to say?  What do they expect Biden to do?


Friday, July 23, 2021

Change up


I am told that this is Pharaonic structure is a Guardian of Traffic, one of four in the great city of Cleveland.  The city's major league baseball team has announced it will become the Guardians after the 2021 season.  See, Washington?  It's not hard at all.  Just think of all the fans buying new caps, shirts and other team merchandise.

We live and learn.  If you want to learn a little too much about equine anatomy, the Ottawa Citizen has you covered.  I love "It's not what it looks like."

The Republican response to covid from the beginning has been to blame someone:  China, Democrats, immigrants, incubi, Dr. Fauci, local governments' facemask rules, the media, Big Tech.  Now Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama says it's time to blame the unvaccinated for "letting us down."  "Folks are supposed to have common sense," she adds, despite their having elected her.  Call me when she blames Trump.

Should I put on Fox News and see if they've got the scary music out?  Investigative reporter Martin Pengelly has done the digging and says Joe Biden could not have played rugby in law school as he claims.  There go all my illusions about that guy.  All aboard the impeachment train!

It's a shame, because everywhere he goes some reporter seems to bring up "defund the police."  Wednesday he had to say "no" again but the guy persisted:  "Are there people in the Democratic Party who want to defund the police?"  Biden had had enough:  "Are there people in the Republican Party who think we're sucking the blood out of kids?"  Getting no response he dropped the metaphorical mic and boarded Marine One.  I'll be honest -- most days I need a cognitive check more than he does.*

I was kidding!  When I said you should pick your spot if you wanted to lift your gunplay above the ordinary I was kidding.  Pat's King of Steaks in South Philadelphia is a legend among cheesesteak connoisseurs and that's where a dispute arose about the relative merits of the Eagles and New York football.  One fan shot the other in the torso and killed him before fleeing in a van.  And here we are talking about it.  

In other football news, can we all agree that Tom Brady is a creep?  When Trump was president (ugh, tasting vomit), Brady was happy to play golf with him and keep a MAGA hat in his locker.  When Brady and other Tampa Bay players celebrated their championship at the White House this week he cracked a joke about how "forty percent of the people still don't think we won."  It's a good thing you don't need a moral compass to find a receiver.

You also don't need brains to be an athlete.  Over six hundred Americans are in Tokyo, currently experiencing its fourth covid wave, to compete in the Olympics, and at least a hundred are not vaccinated.  I guess we'll find out if that evil virus is tough enough to survive in a chlorinated pool and on wooden surfaces like parallel bars.  As Red Smith wrote wearily in 1972 after the Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered, "Again the sandbox."  Smith thought common decency required the cancellation of the rest of the games.  Avery Brundage did not agree.

*I am not conflating Q Qrazies with people like AOC who sincerely believe police have too much money, power, military equipment, etc.  I believe Biden's point was that differences of opinion can coexist within political parties, as opposed to Leader cults.  The Lincoln Project consider themselves Republicans, too.



Thursday, July 22, 2021

Midsummer madness

 As Detective Ed Green observed on Law and Order, "White guys should not shave their heads."  So when I saw two ugly bald white guys monopolizing the news, I turned it off and spent a couple of days contemplating the universe.

It didn't help.  One of them, I note with satisfaction, is the latest member of the Trump gang to be indicted, Tom Barrack.  When not organizing the inauguration that promised "American carnage" (promises kept!), he found time to lobby for the United Arab Emirates, obstruct justice and lie to the FBI, allegedly.  US Attorney Richard Donoghue had the evidence last year but for some reason left it up to the new administration to bring charges, sparing himself many raging tweets and possibly a Twitter-firing.

U.B.W.G. No. 2 was of course Jeff Bezos, the richest man there has ever been, who went sixty miles into the sky in a penis-shaped rocket called New Shepard, a reference, I assume, to a real astronaut, Alan Shepard.  He chose the anniversary of the first moon landing for this less-than-impressive feat and he came down dumber:  "We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space."  No, what we need is a warning visit from Klaatu and his friend Gort.  Bezos thanked all his customers and his exploited employees for their "support," and then he mitigated this whole festival of autofellatio about one percent by giving a hundred million dollars to Chef Jose Andres and World Central Kitchen.  That will feed a lot of people, but think how many more could eat without the Branson-Bezos rivalry, a new definition of "ego trip."  

Maybe Trump was right -- I know, please keep your seats -- when he said of Brett Kavanaugh, "I saved his life."  Making allowances for hyperbole, we now learn from the New York Times that the FBI got "4,500 tips" about Kavanaugh and turned some over to the White House but -- surprise! -- nobody followed up.  Either he put drunken moves on 4,499 women other than Christine Blasey Ford or there is more being concealed.  

Brisbane has won the 2032 Olympics and the country is already in an uproar.  At the announcement press conference John Coates, chairman of the Australian Olympic Committee, turned to the Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and ordered, "You are going to the opening ceremony."  He meant the one in Tokyo this Friday, where most spectators are excluded and athletes are testing positive for covid every day.  Since the cast-of-thousands opening ceremony with torch-lighting and mass marching was basically invented for the Nazi games of 1936, this seems like an excellent opportunity to scale it back, but I guess NBC and its sponsors won't hear of it.  Coates went on to explain to the elected leader of Queensland, as he never would to a man, that she needs to "get along there and understand the tradition parts of that, what's involved in an opening ceremony."  Assuming Palaszczuk is in office eleven years from now, and that the premier takes an active role in planning the five hundred acrobats forming a pyramid while dressed as Crocodile Dundee or whatever they decide to go with.  (This just in:  Ken Kobayashi, director of the opening ceremony, was sacked when somebody remembered a dumb joke he made about the Holocaust in a 1998 comedy skit.  Here we go.)

As Croc might say, "That's not cancellation.  THIS is cancellation."  Five speech therapists in Hong Kong were arrested for sedition after publishing a series of children's books about sheep trying to protect their village from wolves.  The security police say they "stir up the public's...hatred toward Hong Kong's government and judiciary" and incite violence.  I'm guessing Animal Farm is also unobtainable.

There's more than one way to skin a cat or fleece a Trumpanzee, goes the proverb.  Meet Magacoin, "the digital currency for the MAGA community."  And you can meet the suckers subscribers, too, because flimsy security revealed all their email addresses, passwords and other personal information to the Guardian, and presumably to others.  Surprisingly, the largest share is held by Marc Zelinka, a used-car salesman from Colorado who dreamed it up after reading a life of Charles Ponzi.

The man on the right seems shocked, but most people welcome Scabby the Rat when he appears at the scene of labor disputes.  Not the snowflakes at Lippert Components, who make RV parts in Indiana.  They filed a complaint against the International Union of Operating Engineers, calling Scabby so intimidating as to be "unlawfully coercive."  The NLRB ruled that Scabby has First Amendment rights and so does the union.   They had to think about it for three years.  I hope Lippert and the IUOE have settled their differences by now.

Gender-reveal assholes Refugio and Angela Jimenez have been charged with manslaughter in the death of firefighter Charles Morton.   They tried to ignite a smoke bomb to tell everyone the good news and set fire to San Bernardino National Forest, destroying 20,000 acres last September.  Morton was burned over, a horrible way to die.  The article does not reveal the sex of the baby because nobody cares.

Insurrection apologists picked up a new ally when Osama bin Laden's niece Noor showed up on One America News Network to regurgitate all the seditionist talking points from "false flag" to "upstanding American citizens" engaged in "mostly peaceful protest."  She's big-time for Q, no surprise there.  Does no one in that family have a normal job?

Poor stupid Rand Paul doesn't know when to shut up.  After being gutted and stuffed last week by Anthony Fauci ("If anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you") he just keeps blustering, falling back on the story about some Fauci-Wuhan conspiracy and threatening to send a letter to the Justice Department.  He's going to be ever more isolated as Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise and even Sean Hannity urge vaccine on the numbskulls.  When Hannity says, "I believe in the science of vaccination" you may as well give up, no matter how much you hate needles, "Doctor" Paul.

After two months of joint fundraising, the Daily Beast reports that Statutory Gaetz and Margie Greene have lost $342,000, according to a filing with the FEC.  Damn California communists!



Sunday, July 18, 2021

Cancellation nation

 Yesterday was the Jahrzeit of John Lewis.  For those who aren't from New York that's when you light a candle and remember a person on the anniversary of their death.  On the preceding Thursday Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and several other people made good trouble by getting arrested at the Capitol demonstrating in support of voting rights, the cause for which Congressman Lewis nearly died at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.  Good grief, I was fourteen then.  Now I'm old and grizzled and why is this still a battle to be fought?  But it's good to know the Capitol Police can handle nine peaceful, unarmed protesters, as long as they're not singing.

Mass shootings are so common you have to pick your spot if you want to make the news.  How about Nationals Park during a game with the Padres?  Three people were shot outside the park but only one had a ticket.  Inside the park panic was caused by an announcement advising people to stay where they were.  Little kids do active-shooter drills in their classrooms; time to introduce this practice at sporting events, movie theaters and places of worship, because we're the freedom-lovingest place on earth.

America Third?  Three venues in California refused to rent space to Statutory Gaetz and Margie Greene for their America First event, so they blocked the sidewalk in front of Riverside City Hall and put on a free show for about a hundred passers-by.  Naturally the subject was their cancellation by the "radical left" of Orange County, where people think Mitt Romney is a Marxist.

Australia appears to have learned the hard way not to introduce non-indigenous species which cause havoc, like rabbits and Katie Hopkins.  The Ann Coulter of the UK was dropped from the Seven network's version of Big Brother and there's talk of deportation.  I can't imagine why.  Boycotts work!

The latest Confederate general to get a crane ride is Jean-Jacques-Alfred-Alexandre Mouton, who has graced the city hall in Lafayette, Louisiana, since 1922, a full fifty-seven years after Lee's surrender but right in the middle of the post-war Klan revival.  No doubt the United Daughters have plans to give him a good home.

This is kind of a wheels-within-wheels thing:  ticket sales are sluggish for next December's Trump-O'Reilly Reunion Tour, leading to whispers that America is cancelling the two stars of far-right sexual misconduct.  By way of retaliation Bill O'Reilly is threatening to cancel news media which report on the public's lack of interest by suing them.  Performances are scheduled for Dallas and Orlando but not, apparently, Tulsa. 

The Delta variant has broken loose and is running rampant in all fifty states and many foreign venues, and the Center for Countering Digital Hate identified the dirty dozen worst disinformation peddlers.  When Joe Biden singled out Facebook by name yesterday he was probably too sad or too embarrassed to mention Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who regularly links vaccines to autism and blames the pandemic itself on 5G broadband.  I understand.  To boomers like Biden and me the Kennedy name still has a distant glamour.  Not all of them have fallen this far.

At least one Republican governor is trying to make amends.  Asa Hutchinson has been touring Arkansas, where only 35 percent of residents are vaccinated, and most don't want to hear him.  One exception was Teresa Cox, who got her shot at a mobile clinic in Texarkana, but it isn't clear that Hutchinson deserves the credit.  "I have been anti-vaccine all along, but I have also been on a ventilator three times and I don't want to be back on a ventilator.  You don't forget it."  Hey, don't bogart that vent, they're getting scarce again.

They counted and counted until their fingers bled, they scanned for bamboo and sniffed for soy sauce, they held ballots up to the light in search of non-existent watermarks and counted some more, and every time Joe Biden won Arizona.  Now the Cyber Ninjas want to knock on doors in Maricopa County and demand to know how people really really voted.  I for one worry about Bible confiscation.

The NFL has announced plans to play "Lift Every Voice and Sing" before every game this season.  White genocide!



Friday, July 16, 2021

Happy talk

 Fire, floods, pandemic, rioting, violence -- we need a break.  Today I promise nothing but good news.

Here we go:  William Regnery II is dead.  The financier of racism, fascism and white nationalism was eighty and is best remembered for the utterly mad Operation Dewdrop, a plan to make it rain on Election Day in 1964 by seeding the clouds over Philadelphia.  (It is well known that Democrats won't vote when it's raining.)  His uncle Henry founded the press that bears their name to publish books rejected by real publishers, Josh Hawley's being the most recent example.    So take heart:  they all die.

And now a heartwarming story for victims of domestic/athlete violence:  Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskins has been arrested for punching her husband, Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and knocking out one of his teeth.  The couple were in Las Vegas to renew their vows.  Of course all domestic violence is terrible, terrible...

This is cocaine made to look like charcoal.  A shipment of it with a street value of over $41 million was seized at the port of Rotterdam by customs officials curious about who would ship 2,000 bags of charcoal from South America.  Why is this good news?  If science can make coke look like charcoal it can probably come up with an answer to pyrocumulonimbus clouds.  The sooner the better.

It's not just Arizona Republicans who resist reality.  Subway has gone full-on TRUE THE VOTE!! in the face of multiple laboratory findings that its tuna sandwich contains no discernible tuna DNA.  And in other sandwich intransigence news, Lindsey Graham is disappointed by Notre Dame because 180 students and faculty signed a letter opposing the presence of notoriously homophobic Chik-fil-A on campus.  He proclaimed, "I want everyone in South Carolina and across America to know I have Chik-fil-A's back.  I hope we don't have to, but I will go to war for the principles Chik-fil-A stands for."  But can you make war from inside a closet?  

Alan Dershowitz entered the lion's den (the Fox News studio) and told SpongeSean Squareface "the evidence seems to strongly suggest" the election was not stolen.  So could somebody on the Vineyard please invite him to an A-list cocktail party?

Leonnig and Rucker's I Alone Can Fix It is shaping up to be the fun read of the summer.  The authors say that on January 6 Mike Pence was under guard in his second-floor office but the windows worried the Secret Service.  They urged him to leave, but he feared that seeing his twenty-car motorcade depart would encourage the patriotic tourists to become too friendly.  (Some of these clowns didn't even know the Speaker does not have a seat in the Senate chamber.)  The agents took him to a subterranean area and tried to put him in a car, but Pence evidently panicked and thought they would kidnap him in furtherance of Trump's coup.  Meanwhile Trump was accusing him of lacking the "courage" to somehow stop the certification and the tourists had erected a scaffold.  Well, you wanted to be vice-president, Mike.  You should have done a search on John Nance Garner first.

Back in January Ian Rogers told his friend Jarrod Copeland, "I want to blow up a democrat building bad...after the 20th we go to war."  No, you go to jail, you and Jarrod.  They've been arrested for conspiring to blow up the Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento.  The feds even confiscated their "white privilege cards."  Wouldn't be valid in prison anyway.

Trump says he regrets not lowering flags in honor of angel-martyr Ashli Babbitt, possibly because he never heard of her until Gosar the demon dentist starting ranting about her a few weeks ago.  Well, Donnie, tomorrow when you hit the links you can order all eighteen of those silly little flags to fly at half staff.  It's more than a violent seditionist deserves but if it makes you happy...


Thursday, July 15, 2021

The guys with the guns

 What do you call the sensation of being shocked but not surprised?

Today's installment of "How bad is Trump?" begins not on the golden escalator but in the Kremlin where, according to documents obtained by the Guardian, Putin personally kicked off his campaign in order to cause "social turmoil" in the US.  A Russian psychologist astutely described Trump as an "impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex," omitting only "priapic, lazy and dumb as a rock."  Since nothing just leaks from Russia, we must assume that Putin has tired of his puppet and no longer considers him a useful idiot, which explains the hints about kompromat to come.   The view is different from under the bus, eh, Donnie?

We know General Mark Milley is a student of history as well as a proponent of teaching it (up yours, Tucker Carlson).  On January 6 he was in no doubt about what he saw, according to Leonnig and Rucker:  "Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military."  A week after the attack he told aides, "These people are Nazis, they're boogaloo boys, they're Proud Boys.  These are the same people we fought in World War II...They may try but they're not going to fucking succeed.  You can't do this without the military.  You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI.  We're the guys with the guns."  Well, some of the guns.  Several hundred million are already in the hands of "law-abiding gun owners."  One day we may find out whose guns are bigger.  I Alone Can Fix It will be published on July 20, the seventy-seventh anniversary of the Stauffenberg bomb plot.  I'm sure the general knows that.

Trump does not like the new Germany.  The book also quotes him calling Angela Merkel "that bitch" and lying about the German crime rate under her leadership.  Nothing new here -- he hates/fears all powerful women and used to call cities with Democratic mayors "crime infested hellholes" based on fantasy.  Apparently he also hates all Germans, or as he calls them, "fucking krauts."  Apart from Hitler he admires only Fred Trump, "the biggest kraut of them all," arrested in 1927 during a KKK riot in Queens.  Putin chose well.

Fred would not have been happy last summer when his pride and joy hid from some Black people instead of brawling with them.  Everyone knows how Black Lives Matter protesters marched to the White House after the murder of George Floyd, and how in spite of armed guards, high fences and bulletproof glass, the Trumps decided it was time for a snap inspection of their bunker.  There was no way that delicious story wouldn't come out, and by morning #BunkerBaby was, as they say, trending.  According to Michael Bender the baby went projectile-shits.  "Whoever did that, they should be charged with treason!   They should be executed!" he screamed, making Bruno Ganz in Downfall look like Mr. Rogers.  It is wrong that I hope there's video?  Bender says this tantrum lasted for weeks.

The last year has been hard on Trump's inferiority complex as measured by his increasing paranoia and megalomania.  Everyone lets him down.  He had to take time out from golf and schmoozing to smear General Milley, who -- let's see, it's a little hard to follow -- only got his job because James Mattis,  "the world's most overrated general, had no respect for him...would not recommend him."  (Mattis was Defense Secretary at that point because Trump keeps appointing "the best people" who turn out to be disloyal, incompetent and regretful about their complicity with him.)  He had to waste more time whining to Michael Wolff about the Supreme Court and their collective lack of "courage" in overturning the election.   He's really the most disappointed by Brett Kavanaugh who, in Trump's telling, was practically giving legal advice to the other residents of Skid Row when Trump plucked him out of the gutter and deposited him on the Court.  (He was a federal judge.)  "I alone saved great expense to myself."  Sure, Bunker Baby, now what were those five words the nice doctor asked you to memorize?  

Now Putin has let him down, too.  So sad.  Fortunately --

WHAT'S THIS?  Et tu, Mike?  It looks like the Sioux Falls Cyber Symposium and Krazy Kars Rally will take place as scheduled on August 10, 11 and 12, but the Restoration on the thirteenth -- not so much.  So said Mike Lindell on Drive Time with Steve Bannon yesterday.  "God gave me a big platform and that platform is just being used to bring out the truth," he added, but he didn't say when.  (Lousy Supreme Court probably told him not to drag his "packets" into their house.)  

Putsch comes to shove:  I can't leave without one more quote from Leonnig and Rucker, from a phone conversation Liz Cheney had with General Milley on January 7:  "That fucking guy Jim Jordan.  That son of a bitch...While these maniacs are going through the place, I'm standing in the aisle and he said, 'We need to get the ladies away from the aisle.  Let me help you.'  I smacked his hand away and told him, 'Get away from me.  You fucking did this.'" 

She'd still be conference chair if she'd just smile more.    


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Letters of transit

 It's July 14 and I woke up thinking about Casablanca, and the great corny scene where La Marseillaise vanquishes Die Wacht am Rhein.  (Fun fact:  The Nazis made little use of that particular song from 1840, but it blends easily into the French anthem.  According to Roger Ebert the battle of the songs was in the original play and not, as I always assumed, a brilliant stroke by Max Steiner.)  If only wars were so easily won.

In 1942, people knew which side they were on.  After Hitler declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, even Republicans stopped calling the President "Franklin Rosenfeld" and accusing him of trying to open the borders to "refu-Jews."  That particular seam runs deep in the Grand Old Party but it was scarce for the duration, like tires and nylon stockings.  Also celluloid, which is why Casablanca crams all those unforgettable lines and events into 102 minutes, at which point The Irishman was just getting warmed up.  

Now movies are too long and diffuse and it feels like nothing good can be accomplished quickly, or sometimes ever.  More than eighteen months into the covid pandemic, millions of Americans continue to find reasons to resist vaccination; as a result, hospitalizations are up as the cunningly evolving virus spikes in 46 states.  Meet the fifth version, the Lambda variant.  (It's a matter of time until someone decides it's being spread by The Gays and their Lambda Legal Defense Fund.  It's probably happened already.)  Numbers have begun to come down in India, to be surpassed by Indonesia.  Japan has declared a fourth state of emergency in Tokyo but is pressing ahead with the Olympics regardless.  The French are rushing to get their shots because by August they must show a "health pass" to enter bars, cafes and shopping centers, and they're not moaning about "la tyrannie."  They just don't want to get needlessly sick.

Back in the land of the fee and home of the grave we see things differently.  Down in Florida Ron DeSantis is demonstrating his loyalty even as he plots to take the 2024 nomination from The Big Liar.  New cases are up by a staggering 429 percent, second only to Tennessee, and DeSantis wants to be Number One.  He has identified the real enemy and targeted him with campaign merchandise labeled "Don't Fauci My Florida."  Clever idea, using death to fund a gubernatorial re-election bid.  Kristi Noem must be jealous.  You have to work hard to surpass Florida in stupidity but that's why Tennessee is the national leader.  The state's top vaccine official Dr. Michelle Fiscus was fired for informing minors of their right to be vaccinated even if their parents are Trumpoid dead-enders.

As human remains continue to be found in the ruins of the Champlain Towers, Judge Michael Hanzman approved the sale of the oceanfront property so the survivors can recover damages and someone can build another condo.  It's not clear where the hearing took place because the Miami-Dade County Courthouse has been closed due to extensive structural damage, while other buildings across the state are getting emergency inspections.  But sure, the problem is Fauci and his facemasks.

And the virus watches us incredulously and then goes back to work. 

"One out, one in," Rick observes after Ugarte is dragged out of the cafe and Ilsa enters.  Pope Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital a week after surgery to remove part of his colon.  Jair Bolsonaro has entered a Brasilia hospital after ten straight days of hiccups.  I've watched enough medical shows to know this is serious and probably indicative of infection.  It's also kind of funny, given his dismissal of covid as "a little flu" and cavalier attitude to more than half a million dead Brazilians.  Has he tried the Valsalva maneuver?  "Exhale while pinching your nose and keeping your mouth closed."  Especially the mouth closed part.

In other Bolsonaro news, scientists have determined that the Amazon rain forest now emits more carbon dioxide than it absorbs.  Sing your way out of that, Victor Laszlo.