Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not so fast

You may recall that one of the problems in the response to Hurricane Katrina exactly twelve years ago was a shortage of trained personnel.  Almost all of the Louisiana National Guard had been deployed to Iraq, and there were not enough people to carry out the boat and helicopter rescues that might have saved hundreds of lives.  As the scope of the disaster (and the incompetence of Bush's FEMA) became obvious, even Fidel Castro offered to send in the Cuban navy.

There appear to be plenty of boots on the ground, and in the air, in southeastern Texas today.  At the same time, and largely unnoticed during the Big Story, we are told that there are around 11,000 American troops in Afghanistan, not the 8,400 previously announced; this is before the promised addition of thousands more (unless Betsy DeVos's brother Erik Prince can get the contract for his Blackwater mercenaries -- nepotism is a Leitmotif of this regime).  Most likely U.S. troop strength will be stepped up in South Korea, as the chest-pounding and missile-testing continue in the North.  Our "volunteer" military is stretched thin.  Clearly this is not the time to kick people out for spurious reasons.  (Think of Stalin dementedly purging his officer corps right up to the day of the German invasion in 1941.)

Perhaps that is one reason the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has decided to drag his feet on the separation of transgender personnel tweet-ordered by the idiot-in-chief, presumably a bone to the evangelicals who snuggled closer to him after his disgusting remarks about Charlottesville.  Mattis announced that he will appoint a "panel of experts" to study the matter, which begs the question, how do you find experts on a topic that has never come up before?  No doubt they will hold hearings, take meetings, produce a tsunami of paperwork, and at some point months or years from now, offer their ambiguously-worded recommendations. 

Perhaps the other reasons are common sense and human decency. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Still falls the rain

By now you know about the first responders and relief workers pushed to the limit, going without sleep to rescue people from flooded houses, nursing homes and hospitals.  You know the entire Texas National Guard is deployed, the Coast Guard is on the scene, and the Cajun Navy, a self-created aggregation of Louisianans with boats, has been in Houston since Friday.  So it's time to play Who's Being An Asshole About Harvey?

1.  Joel Osteen, owner and operator of a "Prosperity Gospel" religion business, who reluctantly opened his megachurch for use as a shelter.  Apparently he didn't want the non-prosperous tracking mud on his carpet and changing diapers on his pews.  Today he bowed to pressure from social media and unlocked the doors.  (A woman named Karen tweeted, "The Muslims opened the mosques day one.")  Furniture and mattress stores are already sheltering hundreds and letting them sleep on the floor models.  The Houston Convention Center is filled to capacity.  Other churches, synagogues and temples are pitching in.  So bless your little heart, Joel.  Maybe you could pose at a sink washing clean pots, like your soulmate Paul Ryan.

2.  "Coach" Dave Daubenmire.  I have no idea what he coaches, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that lithe young boys are involved.  "Coach" Dave is telling the faithful not to contribute to the Red Cross or Salvation Army but only to him, and he'll see that their Christian dollars are spent solely on assisting other Christians, because at times like these, etc.  "Coach" wears a red MAGA-type cap, only his has a cross on it, so you know you can believe him.  He won't keep a penny for himself.  Nope.  Not him.

3.  Fox News.  Do I really have to tell you?  Their wide-eyed morning zoo team shared stories about the "really weird biblical things" going on in Houston, including a photoshopped picture of a shark in the street that has been circulating since Hurricane Katrina.  Then one of their incisive journalists proposed a theory that Mayor Sylvester Turner (a Democrat) refused to order a city-wide evacuation to make the (Republican) state government look bad.  This was too much even for visiting Secretary of Oops Rick Perry, who pointed out that the mayor doesn't have the power to order evacuations; besides, the last time they tried to get three million people out of the city some of them died in freeway traffic jams.  Then Sean Hannity...oh, what's the point?

4.  The nameless woman who wanted $300 to let her downstairs neighbor into her second-floor apartment.  I hope she is underwater now.  Texas has strict laws about price-gouging during catastrophes, but they don't apply to individual scumbags or religious enterprises.

5.  Yeah, Trump.  Should probably have a post of his own.  He had one useful thing to do, sign the disaster declaration last Friday; but he was busy pardoning that sack of shit Arpaio and firing (through a cutout) his advance man because the crowd at the Phoenix rally wasn't big enough.  Today he showed up in Austin with Melania (in four-inch-heeled do-me shoes), pretended to follow as Governor Abbott explained the dimensions of the disaster, and met the press.  Abbott and I "will congratulate each other" when this is all over, he assured an anxious nation.  When this is over?  The infrastructure of the country's fourth-largest city is wrecked, not to mention multiple refineries and petroleum storage facilities, not to mention a very busy port.  Homes and livelihoods are gone, for months or years.  Schools and hospitals are flooded.  The drinking water and the sewage system are compromised, and many places have no electricity.  Levees are beginning to buckle, and the rain continues to fall.  There is no over.

Trump is expert at this, as at so many other situations.  He's seen water damage before, in his properties.  (He grifted millions for minor hurricane flooding at Mar-a-Legomyeggo.)  He employed his best words and proclaimed it "tough tough tough" (triple-word score, if you're playing at home).  As I type he's probably tweeting his pride that this disaster is much bigger than any of Obama's, whose fault it somehow is, or possibly Hillary, or the Republican senator du jour who is preventing him from "heeling" the nation.  And he's saving us money by refusing to staff FEMA and rescinding the black guy's stupid flood-construction guidelines because he didn't know what he was doing, and Russia is FAKE NEWS!  No climate change.  You're the climate change.

I'm finished.  I just watched the Houston police chief Art Acevedo fight tears as he described the drowning of an officer who was trying to get to his job.  I see bewildered children, and the elderly wading through filthy water, and people clutching dogs (no cats, but it seems everyone in Texas has a dog), and I know what they will find when the water recedes, some time in September or October.  Self-aggrandizing clowns will please wait in the wings until called.  (For instance, Mexico offered assistance, which only set off the clown's obsession with making them pay for his big,  beautiful wall.  Really.)   Help us, Obi-wan Mueller -- you're our only hope.


Sunday, August 27, 2017


What is left to say?  Nobody should endure this kind of natural disaster, and nobody wants to talk about how urban sprawl is contributing to it.  Plenty of time for that later.  A few observations:

I'm not hearing the phrase "fake news" as reporters and technicians from CNN and elsewhere risk their lives to cover the floods.  Is anybody from Breitbart wading through the armpit-deep water with one eye out for snakes?  Doesn't Alex Jones live in Texas?  I await his eyewitness reporting.  (Not really.)

Two weeks ago there were floods in Sierra  Leone that killed hundreds, but if you didn't watch BBC America you might not know it. 

Scores of Texans are responding to the emergency by climbing into small boats and paddling house to house to rescue their neighbors.  So far, no one has referenced the movie Dunkirk, now in a theatre near you.  This is probably a good thing.

The rain hasn't stopped, but on Tuesday the city government and police, already stretched to the limit, will have to endure a presidential visit.  The last time candidate you-know-how visited a natural disaster he brought a carton of Play-Doh.  (I can't make this stuff up, I'm not Alfred Jarry or Christopher Smart.)  This time I'm guessing a pallet of Trump Steaks, perfect for people who have no electricity, refrigeration or kitchens.  And an invoice to the city of Houston.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Secret sharer

When the August 21 New Yorker arrived I flipped through it as usual, pausing over Raffi Khatchadourian's profile of Julian Assange.  "Do I want to read twenty-two pages about this schmuck?" I asked myself  before proceeding to Alex Ross and Anthony Lane.  Then I put it aside.

Yesterday I decided it was time to wade in, and it was mostly absorbing (I may have skipped some of the eyeball-glazing details of cyberhacking).  Almost at once I became dizzy with deja-vu.  Khatchadourian describes a man who is narcissistic, paranoid, afraid someone will poison his food, and self-aggrandizing to a comical degree.  (He compares himself to Nelson Mandela because he once spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison.)  He prefers the kleptocratic Russian dictatorship to the flawed Western democracies.  He hates NATO, journalists, and women, especially Hillary Clinton.  He is exceedingly rich, mostly from the small donations of ordinary people who think he lives in near poverty.  He displays a total lack of concern for anyone but himself, from collaborators like Chelsea Manning ("Anti-interrogation training probably kicked in immediately") to the hundreds of Afghanis who fought with US forces and whose names he couldn't be arsed to redact from the State Department cables that put WikiLeaks on the map.  (The fates of many remain unknown.)  I seem to remember that Manning attempted suicide at least once;  Assange would never do that, he's far too important to the world.  Twitter and lawsuits are his favorite recreations. 

Is it starting to come into focus?  This physical coward who threatens others with violence?  (Wired magazine "needs a bullet," he snarls, not that he would ever accept blame for a Charlie Hebdo-style massacre.  Journalism "has to be ground down into ashes" to be replaced with something better, like, well, WikiLeaks.)  Does it help if I add that the article shows him posing for a giant oil painting of himself -- a diptych yet?  Yeah, just what the planet needed, a younger, smarter Trump without the time-wasting golf.

Why does Assange never criticize Trump?  Because others do.  The author finds this "inexplicable."  "His stated intent for WikiLeaks was to advance truthful political discourse.  How could he not criticize Trump for his serial lying?  'It feels weak to me...we're not saying anything new, therefore we are just aping the conventional view -- therefore it has no intellectual basis.'"  Even Trump couldn't formulate something that morally slippery.  If the "conventional wisdom" says Nazis are bad and Trump calls them "fine people," which side are you on?  Perversity for perversity's sake is not brave or attractive.  Or does he really believe that climate change is a hoax and coal can be "cleaned" because it's not conventional wisdom?  Sometimes the opposite of conventional wisdom is galloping bullshit. 

Assange hides in the Ecuadoran embassy because he fears a country under American control -- and really, aren't most of them? -- will ship him here to face charges under the Espionage Act.  ("I love WikiLeaks!" his hero proclaimed last summer, long before he became obsessed with leakers.  Not so much now maybe.)  Well, why not take a chance?  He's beloved by the alt-right, and Steve Bannon, who also wants to blow up the world to make it better, is back at Breitbart and positioned to make him into St. Julian the Martyr.  His pivotal role in creating the Seth Rich conspiracy has earned him a plenary indulgence, not to mention his possible complicity in Pizzagate.  Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin adore him.  Even if convicted of something, he can count on an instant pardon and maybe an office next to Ivanka's.  Law and order is another hoax, am I right, Sheriff Joe?

Khatchadourian concludes:

"Standing up to the powerful is one thing.  Facilitating conflicts among the powerful is another.  To argue that it makes no difference is a license for impunity.  Assange created WikiLeaks to diminish institutional abuse.  But there is no way to be certain that a broker for geopolitical influence campaigns among states would not increase the over-all levels of abuse...or start a war.  Or provide states that are more powerful, more skilled in secrecy, with a way to become even stronger...State-sponsored information warfare is nothing like what activist hackers and whistle-blowers do.  The latter take personal risks -- with their freedom and their reputation -- to release information that matters to them.  For a state there is no personal risk..."

On second thought, let Assange stay where he is.  He should never be closer to state power than he is right now, addressing the multitude from the embassy balcony like an albino Mussolini.  And if someone does season his pasta with polonium, what a dandy conspiracy theory it will make!       

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Make your own joke

Andy Hemming, whose job is described as "White House director of rapid response," quit/was fired three days ago.  We only heard about it today.

Come on, it's funny!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Funny men

Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory died today, advanced in age.  They represented two distinctive styles of comedy.  Lewis, especially in partnership with Dean Martin, was in the anything-for-a-laugh tradition of silent movies and slapstick, making faces, emitting bizarre sounds and climbing on furniture until audiences literally soiled themselves.  (Plenty of examples on YouTube.)  As he aged and eventually became a solo performer, Lewis developed a sense of Significance often mixed with sentimentality that served him no better than it had Chaplin.  His movies were still funny, but once the French (in particular) proclaimed him a genius he made sure everyone knew it.  He even attempted a Holocaust comedy but wisely shelved it; probably The Day the Clown Cried will never be seen.  He raised a ton of money for medical research, and latterly used interviews to settle scores, as old people do.  He was capable of fine dramatic performances when under control.  He will doubtless get the lion's share of media attention today. 

Dick Gregory was one of the first comedians to function as Hamlet described actors:  abstract and brief chronicles of our time.  As an African American he had no choice, as he saw it, but to offer caustic commentary on the issues of the 1960s in the style of Lenny Bruce and the tradition of Redd Foxx.  All too soon he saw that Mel Brooks was wrong, that you can't destroy evil by laughing at it.  Gregory abandoned performing for writing and political activism, hunger strikes and speeches, "pickets lines and picket signs," as Marvin Gaye would put it.  His comedy career was relatively brief, but without his example there probably would have been no George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Louis CK, Whoopi Goldberg, Patton Oswalt, or Jon Stewart.  If we rely on comedians to pull our rage and despair into focus and keep us a little sane, a little hopeful, we should thank Dick Gregory. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017


Twice a year CBS tries to recapture some of its long-ago cachet as the "Tiffany network" by carrying programs that showcase quality at the expense of numbers.  In June they bring the Tony Awards to the tiny audience outside New York City (and the relatively small one inside it) that cares about the Broadway theatre.  In December they present the Kennedy Center Honors, celebrating the lifetime achievements of people in the performing arts (and featuring the ugliest medallion since the men of the USS Reluctant gave Mr. Roberts the Order of the Palm -- but I digress.)  For as long as this has been done, the President and First Lady have hosted a White House reception for the five recipients and shared their box at the Kennedy Center opera house.  That's over.

It was just bad luck, I guess, that the honored this year are three people of color (Carmen De Lavallade, LL Cool J and Lionel Richie), a Latina (Gloria Estefan) and a Jew (Norman Lear).  This was not a Trump demographic even before he endorsed white nationalists and Confederate symbols.  Mr. Lear announced a month ago that he would skip the White House reception, and everyone but Ms. Estefan promised to boycott the ceremony/concert.  So it must have been a relief to everybody, including CBS, when the Trumps pulled out to avoid "political distraction."  In the midst of scandal (Clinton) or unpopular war (G.W. Bush), presidents always showed up, smiling gamely and leading the standing ovations. 

But they were adults.  As people resign from his window-dressing "councils" Trump's response has been to dissolve them, like the six-year-old who cancels his birthday party because no one likes him enough to come.  He couldn't throw out the Nationals first pitch on opening day because, although he's practically decathlon material (according to the Mooch), some fans might have booed.  He can't appear before any crowd that doesn't consist solely of admirers.  Reporters' questions at last Tuesday's "infrastructure" speech so infuriated him that his inner trump burst forth to stun even supporters.  Fake media!  Dishonest!  Scum!  Never must be heard a discouraging word, or a mildly dissenting one, so he was never going to take a chance even with the polite, well-dressed audience at the Kennedy Center.  (Expect a shit-shower of tweets:  "Lionel Richie very OVERRATED!"  "Lowest rated Show EVER!  Sad!")

But Trump is proud of his show business connections, even if they involve wrestling and "reality" TV.  This can't have been an easy choice.  Which explains today's reflexive lashing out at -- wait for it -- HILLARY!  No stamina.  Could never make America great, as he has.  Well, I'm watching the Nazis march through the streets of Boston, vastly outnumbered by anti-haters, and I see a lot of people giving up a summer Saturday to oppose an ideology most of us thought perished in the ruins of Berlin seventy-two years ago.  Maybe Trump is just what we need to remind us that we are and can be great.  If only he would go away.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday rag and bone shop

  Others are fleeing the Leader -- CEOs, arts types, Senator Scott -- while charities cancel their fundraising events at Xanadu Mar-a-Lago, but who is sticking like Gorilla Glue?  These guys.  The evangelical pastors sent by you-know-who to lead Trump in the path of righteousness.  Or in some cases, to call his racist rant "bold" and "truthful" (Jerry Falwell, Jr.).  Is it because they rely on him to facilitate their plans to Make America Medieval Again?  Sure, but Pence would do it far more energetically, even joyously.  It seems clear that these religion hucksters recognize Trump's superior skills and want to learn from him.  For example, when they branch out into "education" they do it with brick-and-mortar institutions like Bob Jones and Liberty University.  Trump University fleeced the suckers with nothing but a couple of DVDs and a binder full of glossy pamphlets.  Truly he is the Son of Professor Harold Hill!  Also, what if he were to leave politics and get into the religion business himself?  The faithful have only so much they can tithe from their wages at the Piggly Wiggly.  Competition is bad for the soul.  Let us pray.

Storm Front is again homeless, having been kicked off its Russian server.  It seems the country has a law prohibiting "hate speech."  Lousy commies. 

Save September 16, Washingtonians.  The Rightzis promise the "mother of all rallies" in your city, and the Juggalo Family (disciples of Insane Clown Posse) had already announced a similar event.  Should be illuminating.  You'll still have Sunday to rest up for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

From Chris Mathews, of all people  (yes, the one who thinks Tip O'Neill is the Pierian Spring of political wisdom):  "If you can't stand up for core American beliefs, if you can't walk away from Nazism, why do you have feet?"  Remind me to stop calling him Tweety-bird.

So what will SNL do with its Grim Reaper costume now that Bannon is gone?  So sad!

Trump always said he had a secret plan to defeat ISIS, and he chose this moment to unveil it.  In response to a terrorist truck attack in Barcelona, he advised them that General John "Black Jack" Pershing (relax, he wasn't really black) ended terrorism in the Philippines by employing "bullets dipped in pig's blood" against the Muslim Moros.  Except, you know, it's utter pig's crap.  Does no one in the White House know about  Trump seems to think hog products have a magical effect on Muslims.  Also, if you shoot their eyes out they can't find their way to Paradise.  No, wait, that's a John Wayne movie.     

Anybody hear from Guam lately?  It's still there, right? 

Anybody hear from Robert Mueller lately?  Not one leak I can recall.  Man runs a tight ship.  General Kelly must be envious.


"Jews will not replace us!" the fine people chanted as they marched through Charlottesville with their tiki torches.  (I never thought I'd write a sentence like that when I enrolled in Famous Bloggers School.)  Well, Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller still "work" in the White House, but Steve "I don't want my kids to go to school with Jews" Bannon is out.  He was fired today or he quit two weeks ago, or maybe he was never there in the first place like Paul Manafort, but clearly the Elders of Zion have pulled the strings once again.  Less than a week ago Trump called him "a good person," adding "He's not a racist!" so, kiss of death, right?  Somebody must think this will damp down the anger about Trump's inability/refusal to denounce white supremacy.  Somebody is wrong. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lost cause

"The beauty that is being taken out of our cities..."
Image result for forrest statue in nashville  has frightened generations of children, black and white, in Nashville.  This is Nathan Bedford Forrest, traitor and co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan.  Any resemblance to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison is purely coincidental.

Donald Trump managed to type one sentence that was not self-serving bullshit:  "You can't change history, but you can learn from it."  It is impossible to learn anything of value from staring at a statue.  The Lincoln Memorial in Washington carries no reference to his party affiliation, which might explain why Trump only learned he was a Republican last February.  Now he presumes to give history lessons to the rest of us. 

Nobody wants to "change history."  The facts are well known and easily available.  Serious men and women have devoted their lives to the study and interpretation of these facts, which is why books continue to be written and documentary films assembled.  It is generally agreed that a war fought for the preservation of chattel slavery and its extension to new territories was a war against the founding principles and ideals of this country and was well lost.  Those who led armies against the United States are properly called seditious and escaped punishment solely for political reasons.  Their likenesses and their flag were erected in public places years later, not as celebrations of defeat but as monuments to Jim Crow and, later, as a raised middle finger to the civil rights movement.  By then, the South had invented its own narrative of "Northern aggression" and white supremacy and how slavery was actually good for the enslaved.  To its shame, the north largely let them get away with it, which is why we are still, painfully, learning from history. 

Can we agree on one thing?  There is no equivalence between Washington and Robert E. Lee.  The issue is not owning slaves, but fighting against this country.   Who cares if their battlefield tactics are studied at West Point?  So are Napoleon's, and probably Rommel's.  The question is what qualities we seek to honor, and the line is clear.  This is why I have a small problem with Baltimore's removal of the Roger Taney statue.  Yes, he was the slaveowner who wrote the Dred Scott decision, but he was also Chief Justice and he never took up arms against the United States (possibly because he didn't live long enough).  Wouldn't it be fun if Taney was replaced by Earl Warren?  Of course, Warren was the California governor who interned thousands of Japanese-Americans for no offense except their ethnicity, so we can argue about that while we weigh it against Brown and other cases, and debate the meaning of "all deliberate speed" and finally agree that people are complicated and should be seen in their entirety. 

And that's history. That's why you can't learn it from tweets or soundbites or statues.  Or movies, or novels, or whatever white nationalist websites Donald Trump consults.  History is harder than marble or bronze.  Before you enter the discussion, learn a few facts.         


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Amazing? Yes. Grace? No.

Image result for john kelly press conference photo    The last time I saw a general with this expression and body language, he was surrendering his army at Stalingrad.  Nice work, Trump.

At this hour, the memorial service for Heather Heyer continues in Charlottesville.  "Amazing Grace" was sung, but not by the president.  Barack Obama would have been there.

Jaws that dropped during the "press conference" (or, if you like, prolonged monkey wank fest)* are being picked up and used for criticism -- Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, Bushes 41 and 43, Marco Rubio, John McCain and many other Trump endorsers and enablers have decided that he has gone too far in his empathy for the "good people" who marched with Nazis, as good people so often do.  Anyway, people with what Trump would call "good genes," and we know what that means, wink wink.  Shock has spread around the world, with even Theresa May appalled.  You know who isn't appalled?  When GoDaddy dropped the Daily Stormer website, it quickly found a new host in Russia.  The Stormtrumpers won't miss even a day of directions to the next book-burning and dark hints about the Rothschilds.  Who's your daddy, Donald?  Well, who wants this country damaged beyond repair? 

Trump paused yesterday in his torrent of projectile stupidity to issue one of his easily refuted lies, that he owns "the biggest vineyard" in Charlottesville.  This led the company to issue a statement:  "Trump Winery is a registered trademark of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their affiliates."  Forget the politicians covering their asses; forget the capitalists fleeing the Manufacturing Council.  You know you're deep in the shit when even your idiot son doesn't want to be associated with you.  It's bad for business.  Maybe Eric will change his name back to Drumpf.  Yeah, and maybe Ryan will get the House Judiciary Committee to work on articles of impeachment.  And maybe I will win the Tour de France.

"This was an angry, heartfelt appeal to his white nationalist base to stick with him, probably because that base is all he has left," Charlie Pierce wrote this morning.  I'm not so sure.  The "white working class" we're constantly exhorted to care about doesn't seem too upset.  They continue to drag their knuckles to his heartland hate rallies and assure the pollsters of their love, even though their lives have not grown easier and there is no sign of the promised wall.  They still howl "Lock 'er up!" when he invokes the demon Hillary.  Maybe they just don't have access to tiki torches in Pigfart, Iowa.  Maybe they're too wrecked on opioids to march anywhere.  Who cares?  Like a metastasized cancer, Trumpism is bigger than we know.  The necessary surgery grows more complicated and dangerous with every day we delay it.

*"I kept waiting for geysers of blood and bile to erupt from his ears."  Well, that would be a solution, Mr. Pierce.  Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Real Donald Trump

 All it took was a night at home in the Fortress of Turpitude, a couple of sessions on the golden throne, and Trump was orange, rested and ready.  He had a tough weekend, between golfus interruptus and the indignity of having to read that limp criticism of white supremacy, stumbling over unfamiliar words like "egregious."  And then the haters out in the street yelling about "blood on your hands" or something, those completely full-size manicured hands, no problem with the hands, believe me -- how are people supposed to sleep?  But the marble floors and the oil paintings of fruit, and the very expensive air freshener, and the Filet-o-Fish and chocolate cake, they restoreth his soul. 

So when the fake media started asking questions, not about all the great infrastructure stuff but that riot in Virginia someplace, he was totally ready.  So many bad people on both sides...on both sides...those alt-left people who want to destroy all of our beautiful history, those racists who want to take down the statues of Washington and Jefferson because they were slave-owners.  Those grandstanders quitting the American Manufacturing Council, who do they think they are?  They're probably working for George Soros anyway.  There's been racism for a long time, so it's Obama's fault, like North Korea's missiles and the opioid crisis and the violence in Chicago.  And wire tapps!

Let's be clear.  The fascists who rant about their heritage and history are full of shit.  They select history that supports their hatreds.  All they know of history is what they want to know and can use.  The United States has a far more recent history of violent opposition to fascism.  It's called the Second World War.  There are people living who took part in it, and if you can't find one, try cable TV, where series like The World At War run continually.  Read a book.  We as a nation said "No" in thunder to the kind of racism that David Duke and Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon  -- "a good person," Trump insisted -- want to celebrate and restore.  We did it with a segregated army and a lot of veterans who returned to the same old Jim Crow, and with Japanese-Americans disgracefully locked up in concentration camps, and with Jewish citizens careful to portray the war as anything but a fight against anti-Semitism, but somehow we did it.  We are trying, inch by inch, to pull ourselves out of the muck that Robert E. Lee and the other traitors represent.  We were, until today.

I think there's far too much fuss about symbols like statues.  Symbols only have the power we give them.  A statue of Jefferson Davis would just be a guy in a frock coat if the social order Davis fought for had been snuffed out in the 1860s rather than maintained for another century.  Most of these statues were erected long after the Civil War, during the Klan resurgence in the early twentieth century; they aren't about memorializing the past, they're about controlling the future.  The flag of treason was run up most flagpoles only in the 1960s, as a retort to civil rights. 

The Justice Department is demanding the names of people who visited, a website where the Inauguration Day demonstrations were organized.  It has no interest in investigating right-wing terrorists.  The EPA, largely in secret, is rolling back every Obama regulation it can find that protected water and air.  The FCC is barreling through approval for Sinclair Broadcasting, an outfit that thinks Fox News is too mainstream.  Thousands of Americans have already been purged from voting rolls because they haven't voted in several years, though it isn't clear how this feeds into Trump's favorite lie about "millions" of illegal voters.  These things are real.  They aren't some birdshit-encrusted Johnny Reb on a sleepy courthouse square. 

Forget the damn statues.  Pull down the monsters. 


Monday, August 14, 2017

So sad

 This is Heather Heyer, who was killed on Saturday when a car accelerated into a crowd of people protesting American Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

This is what the president* tweeted about it, five hours later:

"Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Va.  So sad!"

First responses are the most honest.  No mention of how she was killed, or why, or by who.  No hint of condemnation of the rally she gave her life to protest, of the young white males screaming "Hail Trump!" and denouncing Jews and Muslims.  No suggestion that this might be unacceptable.  The bare minimum, acknowledging the violence without alienating the base.  Later he will read a mumbling statement from a speechwriter about violence "from every side," whatever that means.  Later, goaded by his own party, he will even name the perpetrators before turning to more important matters, a pharma CEO who resigned from one of his fake commissions rather than serve as a token African American.  That's outrageous.  Hater!

I doubt if he ever bothered to learn Heather Heyer's name.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The enemy of my enemy... my friend, goes the old adage, but I just can't apply it in these bad times.  Watching the right devour one another is so soothing -- more of a "Go it woman/go it bear" recreation.  Every time some piece of shit jumps or is pushed from the roof of that dump on Pennsylvania Avenue, I think, "Well, why were you working there in the first place, you piece of shit?"  Disillusioned with the orange moron? Too late.  Eat glass. 

That goes double for Mitch McConnell, senator and excellent argument for dating outside the immediate family.  Last year the Worm-faced One pulled off one of the greatest crimes in American history, stealing a seat on the Supreme Court out from under Merrick Garland based on a reading of the Constitution that only Neal Gorsuch or Al Capone would approve.  Last month he came within a single McCain of destroying the Affordable Care Act.  But the ACA lives, and so do the sanctions on Russia which the Senate passed 98-2.  Clearly Mitch is very very bad at leadering, and he must go. 

When a normal president wants the Senate majority leader to do something for him, he picks up the phone or talks to him over a meal.  He doesn't insult and browbeat him on the twitter machine where everybody on earth can see it and snicker.  Differences in strategy and style are thus kept private, and a united front is presented.  Because, you see, presidents need Congressional leaders, who can't be fired or, in most cases, politically undermined...why am I even going into this?  All loyalty flows upward to the Leader, and the only question is "What have you done for me lately?" 

McConnell is weak and failing and he is dead, dead to The Leader and he should stop being majority leader because there can be only one Leader, who is always right and does not "own" failure and if you aren't "advancing the president's agenda" you're no good.  Sean Hannity says so.  Laura Ingraham says so.  Many people say so.  I'll bet the Cabinet says so, even Rosalind Chao, Secretary of Something Relatively Unimportant, and she's married to Mitch McConnell.   At least until The Leader orders her to divorce him.  Have you seen this Cabinet?  Caligula had less servile courtiers.  He also made his horse a senator.  The whole horse, not just the Ted Cruz part.

I love it.  I love the incompetence and the dysfunctionality and especially the public sniping.  It's exactly how Lyndon Johnson didn't pass his monumental civil rights bills in 1964-5.  It's so far from FDR's first hundred days it doesn't even look like government.  Every day Trump's toxic "agenda" remains stuck in the tunnel is a good day for America.  Every day he spends derailing it is a blessing. 
Every piece of shit elevated to White House flunkydom and then defenestrated is as exhilarating  as an Astaire-Rogers pas de deux.  Go it, Leader! Go it, led!  The Superfund site is to your left.  Form a line and no pushing.

I don't want anyone to think I'm siding with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, but it's hard not to admire, just a tiny drop, the way he jerks Trump around.  I'm not proud of the way it makes me feel, but I can't lie.  The KGB trained him well in the identification and recruitment of vain, stupid Americans, and in how to play a long game until the vain stupids could be of use.  (Who else is in his net, do you suppose?  Alex Jones?  Nigel Farage?  Brett Easton Ellis?)  This week, as Americans fretted about the Korean crazy talk, Putin sent a Russian air force plane to spy on Washington.  No response from what we grimly call "the administration."  He also ordered 755 employees to leave the US Embassy in Moscow.  That got a response:  Trump thanked him for reducing the government payroll. 

I swear to dog.

Yeah, he thinks all those people will now go work at Starbucks.  He has no idea that they're still on the State Department payroll and will probably be assigned to other embassies, if we have any.  And yeah, he's pretty much thrilled with anything Vlad does.  Needless to say, this has re-ignited talk about pee hookers, shit parties, dead boys, dead dogs, or whatever Putin has on Trump.  (In the fact-based community it's a question of what, not if.)  It also elicited this fine tweet from Preet Bharara:
"Look, if Mr. Putin continues to insult and undermine America, I will offer him thanks the likes of which the world has never seen."  See what he did?  He referenced the chest-thumping dick-flapping threats to annihilate North Korea unless they cut it out and stop it and, and, just give up, OK?  "Fire and fury" has become a punchline even faster than "covfefe," which is harder to pronounce.  Ignoring James Mattis, Rex Tillerson and other relative adults, Trump works in fresh bloodcurdling threats between every round of golf, eliciting similar responses from the other crazy fat guy.  (Really, can't Trump and Kim just put on big diapers, get in a circle and wrestle?  Leave us out of it.)  It's just like the Cuban missile crisis if Khrushchev and Kennedy were drunk and stupid and had Twitter instead of back-channel Swedish diplomats.  A little demented, too.

Trump now claims credit for "modernizing" the nuclear arsenal he couldn't even describe during the campaign, apparently by putting Rick "Oops" Perry in charge of it.  Shepard Smith, Fox News's toe dipped in the water of reality, has pointed out that he actually cut the budget for said update, which was ordered by BARACK OBAMA!  Say goodbye to Shep.  The folks on Guam can take comfort in that.  Their hideous deaths will be avenged!  The PRNK has a clear advantage here insofar as Kim knows where Guam is and Trump doesn't.  Why do I think we're probably wrong to worry about climate change just because Greenland is on fire?  (Don't even ask.)

"Boom! goes London and boom! Paree, more room for you and more room for me..."   



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Needed: Good news

Jeffrey Lord...won't see him no more.  At least not on CNN.  At least for a while.

If you wondered what it takes to lose a job there, it seems he got in a twitter snit with Angelo Carusone at Media Matters.  Carusone took exception to some piece of Trump praise and Lord called him a fascist who hates free speech like all liberals (this is an article of faith in Cloud Cuckoo Land).  When Carusone pointed out that Lord had misspelled his name, Lord explained, "Sieg Heil!"  See, because that's what liberals say.  And CNN is all, like, nope, too much for us, we've got plenty of other Trump flunkies we can put on the air, auf wiedersehen, Jeffrey.  Because they're all liberal fascists, too.  So now there's a slot at CNN for Sean Spicer or Reince Priebus or fingers crossed, maybe The Mooch. 

It's not much, but it takes your mind off looming nuclear apocalypse.    

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

It's getting crowded under the bus

Image result for access hollywood bus
Remember Mike Dubke?  No reason you should.  He was White House Communications Director for about three months.  Creative differences, I think.  During his tenure Mickey Flynn came and went.  Then James Comey was fired for being unfair to Hillary Clinton.  Why are you laughing?  Sean Spicer quit because he didn't want to work for Anthony Scaramucci, or because he was being eased out for the far more charismatic Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or because he was caught stealing a refrigerator, or because Melissa McCarthy.  Does it matter?  Then Scaramucci was fired by Reince Priebus, who in turn was fired by Steve Bannon.  Scooch over, Mooch! 

Last week there was an early-morning FBI raid at the home of onetime Trump campaign boss and Russia go-between Paul Manafort.  Within an hour the National Enquirer -- the Pravda of Trumpistan -- published an article accusing Manafort of sexual misbehavior.  Wave bye to Paul!  By Friday, at the latest, it will emerge that he never had anything to do with the Trump campaign and is probably a spy for the Democrats, if not George Soros.  False flag!  Hey, is there enough legroom under there for Rex Tillerson?

Have to find a bigger bus.   

The sound of silence

We all know Donald Trump has a very good brain.  He said so.  (It was a gift from Ben Carson.  Just one he had around the house, but a major upgrade for Trump.)  It's why he has been able to accomplish so many things in just two hundred days, most of them spent on a golf course, more accomplishments, believe me, than anybody in history.  Like that post office which is now officially named after Fred Thompson.  And getting Mexico to stop saying they won't pay for the wall.  More communications directors in seven months than Obama had in eight years.  Tweets by the thousands, which have forced Iran and North Korea and all kinds of other countries to do his bidding.  Almost repealing FailingObamacare.  Hiring a ton of generals, including Mike Flynn who is totally the victim of a witch hunt and will be back on the job as soon as Mueller is fired finished.  Many many great speeches to the base which the fake polls indicate is shrinking but is actually bigger than the population of India put together.  The Dow Jones!  How about the Dow Jones?  Did I mention the post office?  Fred Thompson was an amazing one-term senator from Tennessee and deserves a post office until Jared figures out how to abolish the postal service which nobody uses anyway.

Also, he gave the farmers their land back.

And Trump is the world's greatest expert on terrorism, which is why so many people are asking why all the tweets about Richard Blumenthal and Mitch McConnell and that sneak Mike Pence and "fire and fury" but no mention of the bombing at Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center last Saturday in Bloomington, Minnesota, which actually is in America.  But Trump knows how to delegate, like all great business tycoon geniuses, and he handed this one off to Sebastian Gorka, who has one of those undifferentiated White House jobs and is almost certainly not a member of a Hungarian quasi-Nazi party (any more).  And he said:

"We've had a series of...alleged hate crimes by right-wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to be propagated by the left...Let's allow the local authorities to provide their assessment."

Unfortunately, the interviewer didn't ask him to elaborate on these left-wing crimes that were blamed on the innocent.  I know he didn't mean the Scalise shooting, because that guy was instantly identified as a former Bernie Sanders volunteer.  After a day I got the impression he was actually related to Sanders, or possibly the head of his hit squad, Bernie's Brutes.  (What, you think only Hillary has people murdered?)  The man who drove his car onto the sidewalk in Times Square had no political or religious affiliation.  Attacks on men with beards and women in burkas have increased steadily since November, but I don't recall a single case where an innocent party in a MAGA cap was blamed for a crime that turned out to be the work of a vicious liberal.  And by the way, "local authorities" have called the mosque bombing an act of terror, if the governor of Minnesota (admittedly a Democrat) qualifies as a local authority. 

Or maybe the imam left a spicy Somali sandwich in his desk on Friday night and it combusted spontaneously.  Many people have seen this happen.  Islamophobes are constantly being blamed.

Let's be fair.  There are only so many hours in a day, more than twenty, but you can only play golf when it's sunny.  Tweeting takes time,  and there are so many things to whine about.  Trump has yet to thumb-type a word about the three Marines lost in a helicopter crash over the weekend, or for that matter, the seven sailors who died on the Fitzgerald.  Apparently there was no way to connect them to Hillary.  But I'm sure SpongeSean Squareface is hard at work on an elaborate conspiracy theory.  Until then, it's Obama's fault.  That guy didn't know what he was doing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Name that madman!

"They will be met with fire and fury like the world  has never seen."

Was it:

a. Saddam Hussein
b. Kim Jong-un
c. Donald Trump
d. Adolf Hitler
e. Osama bin Laden
f. Darth Vader
g. David Koresh
h. All of the above

Glitter and be gay...not sad

Image result for barbara cookBarbara Cook, singer, teacher, master of the American songbook, died today.    She was 89 years old and she never stopped singing.

She is irreplaceable.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Lazy hazy crazy

Newsweek is becoming my favorite magazine.

August is vacation time for psychiatrists, French people and politicians.  And now for bloggers exhausted by the antics of the latter.  Psychiatrists aren't the only ones tired of listening to an endless stream of abuse, excuses, lies and delusions day after day.   Trump is, in the immortal words of Coach Reggie Dunlop, "fuckin' wearing me out."  He needs a vacation?

It's been another tough week for King Weasel.  He brought in a new chief of staff -- a Marine general no less -- to plug the leaks, which precipitated the most glorious leak so far, transcripts of his January phone chats with Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia and President Pena Nieto of Mexico.  We already had an inkling these did not go well, but now we have the texts and can perform them with little theatre groups.  Pena Nieto has always been firm that Mexico will not pay for The Wall which will soon make America impervious to the bad hombres who turned New Hampshire into "a drug-infested den" (which Trump actually did not win...never mind).  It turns out he doesn't really care who pays for it, but he implored the Mexican president to shut up about it because he's afraid of looking weak.  "The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that."  It's a rare instance of Trump seeming to acknowledge that saying something does not necessarily make it a fact.  Never does it occur to him that Pena Nieto might be concerned with not appearing "weak" to Mexican voters. 

The conversation with Turnbull is weirder and, frankly, more disturbing, and centers on several hundred refugees who are interned in Australia because, for complex reasons, Australia does not accept migrants who come by boat.  The US agreed to accept them last year, subject to vetting, and the Weasel King is incensed:  "Who are they?  Where do they come from?  Are they going to become the Boston bomber [sic] in five years?"  Turnbull observes that the Tsarnaev brothers came from Russia, causing Trump to retort, "They come from wherever they come from."  (Nothing bad can come out of Russia, it seems.)  "I hate taking these people.  I guarantee you they are bad.  They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people."  (This sentence has been deconstructed and debated for days, without success.)  Again and again, with exemplary patience, Turnbull tries to explain that the refugees are not "in prison," as Trump insists, and that to accept boat people would encourage human trafficking on the high seas, and then he tries flattery:  "I think that will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States."  Retorts Trump, "OK, this shows me to be a dope."  Shortly thereafter he hangs up, telling his new friend Malcolm, "My conversation with Putin was pleasant.  This has been unpleasant."  When news of this call first emerged, we were told Trump was tired and cranky because it was five in the afternoon.  In Canberra, it was just seven the next morning.

So that was then.  This week, we learned that Robert Mueller is keeping two grand juries busy hearing testimony about the Trump-Kushner crime family.  Mueller is still the "Special Council," as Trump keeps tweeting, because Beauregard recused himself from the Russia election-fucking investigation (which implicates him, too, remember) and is not using his position as attorney general to protect his client the "presidency."  Before leaving on its vacation, the Senate prevented Trump from firing Beauregard and making a recess appointment; it also passed a resolution to protect Mueller.  And before that, Trump had to sign his name -- that distinctive scribble that looks like the EEG of a chimp who has seen a ripe banana -- to the new sanctions on Russia, which got him scolded by Dmitri Medvedev (Putin was busy posing for more super-manly bare chest photos).  So much winning.

It was almost inevitable that he would flee Washington for the welcoming arms of the real America, some West Virginia dropouts who still believe the good coal minin' jobs is comin' back from China any minute now.  Even Wyoming, Dick Cheney's back yard, land of prodigious amounts of coal and oil (Teapot Dome!), is investing big in solar power, but Appalachia continues to gaze backward.  It's enough to make America ache again.  That Copland music, those Dorothea Lange faces..."They're trying to cheat you out of the future!" he yelled, and they agreed.  I'm trying to feel something besides contempt.  But it's August and I'm tired.

The Working Presidential Vacation (insert joke here) began today at one of his golf courses in New Jersey, where Trump's approval rating of around thirty percent looks impressive next to that of Chris Christie.   Of course Christie has already given up and embarked on his "Fuck you" tour, disporting himself on a public beach that was closed to the public on the Fourth of July (no state budget) and getting into fights at baseball games.  I'm sure he'll have time for a courtesy visit to Bedminster National American Trump Golf Casino or whatever it's called.  Stalin used to make Nikita Khrushchev dance and then pour vodka on his head at parties, and Christie was born to be King Weasel's Khrushchev.

You want quotes?  I have quotes.  Try this:  "...We do not want investigators and prosecutors on a fishing expedition."  Guess.  No, guess.  Kenneth Starr, ex-president of Baylor University and unhinged investigator of Bill Clinton/Whitewater/Paula Jones/Monica Lewinsky/the Lindbergh kidnaping/you name it.  When it was your turn you fished like Papa Hemingway with a Life magazine photographer in tow.  What you mean "we," kemosabe?  I want Bob Mueller to catch the ugliest creature in the pond.

"Nineteen hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner control the White House, and ice is becoming extinct."  It's poetry, in that I don't quite understand it but it makes my head tingle.  Like Dylan Thomas.  It's from a Times op-ed by someone called Lindy West.  The rest is about abortion rights, which are important, but nothing could equal that sentence.  Elvis Costello should set it to music.

"Nice work ethic."  That was the Weasel King on August 15, 2011, sneering at the Lazy Black Guy for taking a vacation in Martha's Vineyard.  No comment.

"That place is a real dump."  WK describing the White House.  Denies it now but there are witnesses from the unimpeachable Golf magazine (see what I did there?).  Not a gold-plated toilet or an escalator in the place, just a bunch of old pictures of people nobody knows and a whole room full of books.  Still smells of dog.  Terrible view, too low to look down on anything.  But at least the people who built it never got paid.




Friday, August 04, 2017

Lock him up!

Martin Shkreli promises to release unheard Wu-Tang Clan, Nirvana and Beatles songs if Trump wins electionSecond-worst living American convicted of fraud.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Image result for lughnasadhToday is Lughnasadh, the Celtic harvest festival, meaning we've staggered across the line into August and this summer of fire, flood and madness is approaching its end.  Time to clean some of the crumbs and cherry pits out of the bed.

Now that he's a former Communications Director, will Scaramucci restore all the Tweets he memory-holed two weeks ago?  Like "Walls don't work.  Never have never will."  Or "a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy."  Views still evolving, Mooch?

A new character popped up in the Russia saga last week and I never got around to him.  Ladies and gentlemen, Lev Leviev, known as "the king of diamonds," from Previzon Holdings.  His real estate/money laundering activities were under investigation by Preet Bharara when Bharara abruptly ceased to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York last winter.  And now I know we're all in a movie being written by Mikhail Bulgakov and Jimmy Breslin:  The Master and a Pitcher of Margheritas, or The Oligarchs That Couldn't Lie Straight.  Original story by Ed Wood, directed by Mack Sennett and Sidney Lumet, with Fatty Carbuncle as Trump.

Oh, that reminds me.  According to Christian Broadcast Network, and you know they wouldn't lie, somebody called Ralph Drollinger is conducting regular Bible classes for the super-evangelical Trump cabinet (except for Mnuchin, because, well, you know).  Trump himself, though officially twice-born, can rarely find the time in his busy schedule of tweeting and yelling at the big-screen.  When I stopped laughing I started again, because I thought of Ed Wood, and the scene where he makes his actors get baptized so they can get the money to make Plan Nine From Outer Space.  Just like the Trump White House, except Plan Nine has a more coherent script and a happy ending.  Also, Ivanka is no Vampira.

And finally, we institute a new feature, Nasty Woman of the Month.  July's co-winners are Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.  Runner up:  Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese prime minister.  Seated next to Trump at the G20 banquet, she had the presence of mind to pretend she doesn't speak English. 

Not their president

I give Trump credit for one thing:  Every time he opens his mouth or exercises his tiny thumbs, Americans have to think about their core principles and formulate a response.  Last week he confused the Boy Scout Jamboree with a Hitler Youth rally and regaled the kids with his trademark blend of sleazy innuendo and Clinton/Obama abuse.  Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive, responded, "I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting community...for the political rhetoric that was inserted into the Jamboree.  That was never our intent."  (According to Trump, Surbaugh called his performance "the greatest speech ever" made to them.  Doesn't sound like it to me.)

A few days later came the infamous rant inciting police violence, which drew this retort:  "The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners.  Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously."  Other departments across the country concurred.  Urging people to break the law, now would that be a high crime or a misdemeanor?

Today the resistance was ramped up when Adm. Paul Zukunft told Lt. Taylor Miller, one of thirteen members of the Coast Guard who identify as transgender, "I will not turn my back on you."  The admiral is the highest ranking person so far to spurn the Commander in Chief.  This is getting interesting.

Whose campaign slogan was "Bring us together"?  Oh, yeah, Nixon.