Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye to all that

Let us first praise Nasty Women of the Year, two who gave their lives.  Heather Heyer was murdered by a racist who drove all the way from Ohio to protect a statue of a seditious general in a Charlottesville, Virginia, park.  Erica Garner was "radicalized" when a New York City police officer killed her father with an illegal chokehold and wasn't even indicted (the man who took the video got harsher treatment).  She already suffered from asthma when she became an activist with Black Lives Matter, and this week she died from a post-partum heart condition at age 27.  So her child will never know its mother or grandfather, thanks to America's bone-deep racism.

At the end of the day, and of the year, it isn't about government programs or departments destroyed from within by right-wing termites, or about police forces rife with bigots and thugs, or even about law.  It 's about individuals who see a wrong and try to stop it and end up mangled in the machine.

At twelve o'clock we'll all pretend that something changes, that things can get better, that it's not just a page in an arbitrary calendar and a clock clicking over.  We have to make it happen.  We are all of us fighting for our lives.  Let us lose no more heroic women like Erica and Heather.  

Friday, December 29, 2017

Stop making sense

I'm always moving

I'm moving in both directions

We have to get rid of chainlike immigration

We have to get rid of the chain

The last guy that killed the eight people

So badly wounded people...

I know the details of taxes better than anybody

Better than the greatest CPA

I know the details of health care

Better than most

Better than most

I like very much President Xi

Xi treated me better than anybody's ever been treated

In the history of China!

There was no collusion

There was collusion between the Russians and the Democrats

A lot of collusion

It doesn't bother me

I hope that he's going to be fair

I think that he's going to be  fair

There's been no collusion

But I think that he's going to be fair


As a David Byrne song, this would be brilliant.  As an interview given by the President of the United States to the New York Times, it's terrifying.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Immigrant Attacks American Symbol!

Two centuries ago Andrew Jackson had a magnolia tree planted in front of the White House in memory of his wife.  Now a woman who has lived in this country for less than thirty years is having it destroyed.  Our history is under threat.  Statues, trees...what's next?  Does Melania Trump have a problem with the (cracked) Liberty Bell?  Or that statue in New York Harbor green from the salt air?


Maybe the tree will be replaced with a large statue like this.  It was surprisingly easy to find online.  No wonder her anchor-baby wets his bed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

"Final commendation"

The everlasting gobstopper of sexual abuse allegations has already changed the political landscape, cost us an excellent senator and some dubious congressmen, and even yielded some unintended humor.  (Chris Mathews?  Tweety-bird?  Who did he think he was, Jack Kennedy?)  It made a national figure/disgrace of an obscure ex-judge, who still refuses to believe he lost and is now raving at everybody he can think of -- Muslims, Marxists, even Doug Jones's son Carson, who is gay.  So it's easy to lose sight of the very real suffering this kind of behavior continues to cause.

Before there was Roy Moore, before most people had heard of Harvey Weinstein, there was Bernard Law, the cardinal archbishop of Boston, who died this week at 86.  "After a long illness," the obit said, and I am uncharitable enough to hope that still means cancer, and plenty of it.  Law himself was never identified as a molester of children.  But he knew about, and commanded the obedience of, scores of priests who were, and all he did was move them from parish to parish while admonishing their victims to keep silent.  For nearly twenty years.  Eventually the story was broken by the Boston Globe*, calling down Law's condemnation (he all but called it "fake news").   The Catholic Church is not in any sense a democracy, so Boston Catholics protested in the only way they could, by withholding their money from the collection basket.  The Polish pope had trouble hearing the voices of people who didn't count, like women, but he could read a balance sheet:  Boston went from a reliably profitable branch office to posting ink as red as a cardinal's cummerbund.  It was time for the moral leadership of the Church to be asserted, and in 2002 Law was removed from Boston and promoted to some job in the Vatican itself.  To date, the Archdiocese of Boston has paid $95 million to over 500 victims of his former priests.  (Without missing a payroll.  Religion is a good business.)

Well, death has come for the archbishop.  He was buried today, with guest star Pope Francis delivering a "final commendation."   I promise, I read it at first as "final condemnation," but that was just cockeyed optimism.   The widely admired pope will do himself no favors by participating in this time-honored farce.  I would have busted Law down to priest and sent him to a parish in the Outer Hebrides (there might be some Papists there) but it wasn't my call.  Here's my final commendation:  Bernard my brother, I know you believe in hell.  I know you believe suicide is the ultimate mortal sin, for which no atonement is possible.  You are about to join the souls you and your subordinates drove to take their own lives in despair.  Forever.

*By all means see the brilliant film Spotlight, but be advised that Len Cariou makes Law seem much   too human.

The Weather Channel: A Personal Rant

I'm not one of those shut-ins who obsess about the weather -- "Hey, it's raining in Milwaukee, I didn't see that coming!" -- but I have to admit I keep The Weather Channel on a lot of the time.  It's a place-holder, a default, a safe space where I know I'll never have to see any politicians unless they're holding a press briefing on some catastrophe, in which case most of them are tolerable.  (Also a good way to pick up some American Sign Language, unless those folks in black are all faking it.  Been known to happen.)  My beef is that they seem to have lost sight of their original mission, which is to tell me the temperature and whether it's going to rain.  Right now, for instance, the screen is subdivided among snow falling someplace, a man with a map, a local map of nothing much happening, and a crawl of numbers too small to see.  If I want a forecast, I'll just have to wait.

Today's obsession, it goes without saying, is a white Christmas.  "Will we have a white Christmas?"  "Ooh, I really want a white Christmas!"  Yeah, it's pretty, until you get behind/in that twenty-eight car pileup on the interstate.  Or trapped in an airport that isn't even on fire like Hartsfield-Jackson.  I blame Irving Berlin and Currier & Ives.  In the real world, snow is a dangerous pain in the ass, and if you're going to grandma's in a horse-drawn sleigh, good for you, but this is the goddam twenty-first century.  And for you war-on-Christmas religious types, was it snowing in the Middle East when Jesus was allegedly born, allegedly in the spring?  I don't think so.  So you can take your white Christmas and put it where you put that fruitcake.

I feel better.

About ten years ago, it seemed that all the women on The Weather Channel were pregnant at the same time.  I haven't seen that lately, but now all the men are pumped up.  At first it was just Jim Cantore, but they all seem to be spending their down time at the gym.  Some kind of Cantore challenge, maybe.  They look --

Damn!  I missed it.  Another ten-minute wait.

They look like they have pillows stuffed under their dress shirts.  I'd need to see them in t-shirts to pick a winner.  Paul Goodloe is definitely in the running.  And this guy, whose name I don't know, talking about the California wildfires.  Everything relates to the weather.  This is the only place still reporting on the plight of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, still largely without electricity and other basics after three months.  Everyone else has moved on.  Yes, fire makes for better visuals than people lined up for water, especially when Oprah's house is threatened.

Here is Winter Storm Dylan, working its way through the Rockies.  The Weather Channel has taken it upon itself to name winter storms, just as the National Weather Service names hurricanes.  Because we need more storms with names.  "Maybe Dylan will bring us a white -- "  No, I can't.  "HEAVY SNOW IN NORTH DAKOTA."  Yeah, that guy with the shovel certainly looks merry and bright.  He'd rather not be in Oahu right now or anything.   Split screen of Dallas, on one side all gray and cloudy, on the other, the way it's supposed to look.

 I am turning into one of those weather bores.  "Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is fifty percent contained in Ventura County..."  Oh, this man has been lifting.  Who is he?  Names, we need names.

I should go read a book.  Let's be careful out there.  If you're planning to slip on the ice and break something, try to do it in front of Paul Ryan's house.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Straws in the wind

It's Thursday, time to clear out all the scraps of paper that have accumulated.

It's one thing for wiseass bloggers to trash the trump, but the editorial of the week appeared in yesterday's USA Today.  Yes, the journalistic equivalent of Good Morning Dallas.  Here's the sentence that will show up on t-shirts:  "A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush."  America's Newspaper credits him with 1,628 lies in 298 days and describes his "unique awfulness."  At last even right-wing papers like The Wall Street Journal are beginning to grasp the existential threat to press freedom that Trumpism represents.

Why is the great Nina Simone being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?   Leonard Bernstein was significantly more involved in rock than she was.  What we need is a Singers Hall of Fame.

I have never been a witness to "reality" television, so I had never heard of Amaretto Manafort (or whatever her name is) until yesterday, when she jumped or was pushed from her lucrative job in the White House.  I still don't know what she did there, but apparently neither does anyone else.  After years of being around Trump, she suddenly began to suspect him of racism.  I hope her work did not involve logic or reasoning.

Roy Moore, classy to the last, refuses to concede the Senate election.  He can't believe his God wants a Democrat to win.  But there's a problem about God:  As J.K. Rowling tweeted yesterday, "She's black."

During one of the endless attempts to destroy the ACA last May, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said, "My understanding is that [the new proposal] will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool...thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy."  But that was before Brooks was diagnosed with cancer.  Karma's a bitch, Mo.  You should have led a better life.

The White House threw a Hanukkah bash this week, to which Jewish Democrats were pointedly not invited.  Too bad.  I understand Huckabee Sanders did "The Jackal."  (West Wing reference, y'all.)

Mitch McConnell is hearing footsteps -- the approaching steps of Doug Jones, yes, but also the retreating ones of Marco Rubio, Bob Corker and Mike Lee as they run away from his horrifying tax bill.  A lot of millionaires may not be able to afford those his & hers sports cars this Christmas after all.  You think I'm kidding?  Check out the Neiman-Marcus catalogue.  In orange and blue.

Blake Farenthold (R-TX) joins the Congressional creeps not running for re-election because people are starting to believe the victims of their harassment.  Here he indicates the height of the pile of money we taxpayers remitted to one of his staffers.

Blake Farenthold and the Grandfathering of Sexual Harassment

You will be missed, Blake.  By someone.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stars fell on Alabama

When it became clear that Doug Jones would be Alabama's next Senator, a lot of people ordered in food and sat up for the inevitable Shitter-Twitter.  At 6:22 a.m. this classic appeared:

"The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election.  I was right!  Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!"

Let's review.  Semi-literate random capitalization, check.  Trump is always right, check.  Election probably "rigged," check.  (Moore couldn't win because "the deck was stacked," not because he's a racist theocrat with a thing for underage girls.)  Not my fault he lost because I only campaigned for him in Pensacola and spent most of my "speech" attacking Hillary Clinton.  They should have listened to me and nominated Strange, check (but no explicit criticism of Bannon).  Lying media, like the three Alabama papers which ran that unprecedented front-page editorial.  Disloyal Republicans, like Sen. Richard Shelby, who wrote in somebody else (as did more than twenty thousand other voters).  All those women in the pay of George Soros.

Needs more exclamation points!!

Trump's history with elections is not an easy one, as detailed by today's New York Daily News.  In last month's election he (theoretically) supported Nicole Malliotakis against Bill DeBlasio, "the worst Mayor in the history of NYC."  After obtaining write-in ballots, however, the Trump family had trouble following the instructions.  Melania forgot to sign the outside of the envelope, Ivanka neglected to mail hers until Election Day (too late to count), and Jared Kushner never voted at all.  As for the head of state, his ballot is still being reviewed because he got his date of birth wrong.  Maybe next year let Barron supervise this complicated process, if he finishes his homework.

Bannon the King-Maker had a worse night than even Roy Moore, but perhaps it's time to put him in perspective, and then throw him away.  He thinks he's the party philosopher, but he's really just a latter-day Abbie Hoffman.  What Bannon calls the "deep state," Hoffman and his fellow Yippies called "the establishment," and they were just as effective at ending it.  The difference is that they had a sense of fun.  Throwing money onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and making the traders dive for it -- genius.  Although Bannon and the Yippies share an aversion to bathing, that's about all they share.  No style, no charisma, just bottomless self-regard.  We're done with you, Bannon.  You can go back to Goldman Sachs now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

No Moore

...and now he can ride out again.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Good grievance

Festivus Pole.jpg

The Festivus Pole is up at the Buttermilk Sky International Headquarters, and it's time to begin the Airing of Grievances.  Because everybody has at least one.

A comedian named Hari Kondabolu has produced a documentary which asserts that Apu, the Kwik-E-Mart proprietor on The Simpsons, is a negative stereotype.  Perhaps it's because he works impossible hours, puts up with Homer, and keeps a statue of the divine Ganesha in his store.  Perhaps it's because he is voiced by Hank Azaria, who is American and therefore has no right to imitate an Indian accent.  Perhaps Apu will be killed off, creating space for a new Indian character to be portrayed by, I don't know, Hari Kondabolu?  The Simpsons has been on the air for more than twenty-five years, but there is no statute of limitations on grievances.

Senator Chuck Grassley is fed up with the non-investor class of Americans.  As he told the Des Moines Register, "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."  Or food or gas or student loans or the mortgage or medical bills or the phone bill or utilities or clothing or Christmas presents, he didn't add.  If these feckless losers elect Chuck to another term, I will have to conclude that Iowa farmers have sold their plows and till the soil by dragging their knuckles across the fields.  Also, isn't the correct term "death tax," Chuck?  The investor class are certainly celebrating your obscenity of a tax bill, investing their asses off -- the Dow is off the charts.  Chuck obviously thinks the rest of us live in Pottersville.  Your grievance has been heard, Senator.  Now you can go chuck yourself.

Three middle-age professional musicians have now come forward to complain that James Levine molested them decades ago when they were sixteen and seventeen, old enough to be in his master classes but apparently not old enough to say "Don't touch my penis, Mr. Levine."  Of course, this was reprehensible.  Of course, the Metropolitan Opera is fully justified in sacking him.  Of course, all the people and entities who investigated his behavior in the past and chose to brush off the rumors (Anthony Bliss, the Boston Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, the Ravinia Festival) have a lot of explaining to do, except for Bliss, who is dead.  Of course, I am appalled and dismayed.  And angry and sorrowful and wondering if there is any end to this.  Garrison Keillor?  Geoffrey Rush?  I've given up trying to imagine who will be next to join the rogues' gallery.

As his lawyers adopt the "if the president does it it can't be crime" defense (because it worked so well for Nixon), and the rapist tweets his love to the Alabama child molester, maybe "booze or women or movies" isn't such a bad set of priorities.  Can I have crossword puzzles instead of women?


Sunday, December 03, 2017

"We don't have any money"

"I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won't help themselves  -- won't lift a finger -- and expect the federal government to do everything."

Only a day after blasting a hole in the federal budget the size of Australia by adding over a trillion dollars to the deficit, Orrin Hatch magically reverted to fiscal conservatism.  The freeloaders in his sights are the people who take advantage of the Children's Health Insurance Program.  They can just go get jobs with health coverage before their grandparents start grabbing them up.  Because you know Medicare and Social Security will be next.

Here we go.

Late but nasty

There were many candidates for Nasty Woman of the Month, including Juli Briskman (who gave Trump a middle-finger salute and lost her job as a result), but in the end, we had to honor Karen Fonseca, pictured with her husband Al and Al's truck.  Sheriff Tony Nehls objected to the original message ("FUCK TRUMP AND FUCK YOU IF YOU VOTED FOR HIM"), and arrested Karen on a 2015 warrant for fraud.  Free on $1,500 bond, she added "FUCK TONY NEHLS etc.") and kept on truckin'.  Nehls, who is not the brightest, bragged about his activities on Facebook, attracting the attention and admonishment of the ACLU.  Also national publicity.  At fifteen dollars apiece, the first sticker is selling faster than the printer can turn them out, with proceeds going to the Fort Bend County Democratic Party for their effort to get elderly voters to the polls.  All this is happening in Texas, and somewhere Ann Richards and Molly Ivins are smiling and sharing a Rolling Rock.  And Sheriff Nehls is reconsidering his plan to run for Congress.

Saturday, December 02, 2017


United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston.

This is Philip Alston.  He is Australian, and is the United Nations's official monitor on extreme poverty and human rights.  I wish I had a better picture to share, but perhaps you will meet him soon, as he embarks on a tour of the United States, a dismal place to be unrich in 2017.  Mr. Alston and his colleagues will investigate homelessness in California, the lack of good industrial jobs in West Virginia, and the evaporation of the social safety net in the Deep South.  Normally they work in places like Haiti and Gabon, but 41 million Americans now live in poverty and they thought it was time to add us to the list.  According to the Guardian, source of this information, one-third of the people in Lowndes County are infected with hookworm.  They neglected to say which Lowndes County -- there are several, including Georgia and Tennessee -- but I suppose it doesn't really matter.  The newly-passed Republican tax bill means they will continue to be infected, because Medicaid is less important than a deduction for your private jet.

Experts will be popping up on the cable newses to tell us how this "reform" screws the middle class.  And of course, it does.  But it screws 41 million Americans even harder, and almost nobody is talking about them.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Freaky Friday

I was late getting started today, because Microsoft (may they rot eternally) needed to monopolize the computer for two hours with another load of improvements.  When I finally got it back I was in no mood.  I went over to YouTube and decided to blow out the dust with a listen to Bolero, starring the London Symphony Orchestra.  The conductor was Valery Gergiev, sporting his trademark three-day growth of facial hair and leading the band with what appeared to be a toothpick.

OK, I thought, this is going to be a day.

Earlier this week Keith Olbermann posted his farewell video at GQ.  He's understandably drained but also convinced that the end of Trumpism is in sight.  At the time I thought he was overly optimistic.  Then came the news that Michael Flynn, he of the mad eyes, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is "cooperating" with the Mueller investigation.  White House staffers are complaining the place is full of ants, roaches and mice (part of Melania's Christmas d├ęcor?), but that's nothing compared to the vermin scuttling around this news.  It's hard to pretend the former national security adviser and venomous campaigner (see above) was just some guy who got coffee and answered the phone, but did you know he really worked for Obama?  I know!  So when he testifies that slumlord-in-law Jared Kushner told him to make contact with the Russians and assure them sanctions would end as soon as Trump was "elected," remember, Obama.  It's always Obama.  Or Benghazi.

Which is in Libya, where they auction slaves just like the good ol' days in Alabama.  And Libya is using Trump's attacks on journalism in general and CNN in particular to discount that network's reporting about slave trafficking.  So this isn't just the fat orange slob twitting on his golden throne about "fake news."  This shit is real, and there is no longer any excuse for refusing to consider impeachment, and I'm looking at you, Pelosi.

Trump, of course, knows nothing of this and cares less.  He has no fucking idea what's in the monstrous tax bill except that it would reduce his taxes if he ever paid any, which he doesn't because he's so smart.  He had to be told by Lindsey Graham that pardoning Flynn is a bad idea.  He believes his lawyer Ty Cobb, who must have passed the bar exam somewhere, that Mueller will issue a statement completely exonerating him by New Year's Eve, when they hold the Masque of the Red Death at Mar-a-Legomyeggo.  (To hear Trump tell it, there's always someone bleeding at the party and he's always disgusted by it.)  At least the Flynn perp walk led to the cancellation of a photo op with the visiting Libyan prime minister.  Whatever they discussed, I'm sure slavery didn't come up.  Anyway, Trump has been obsessed all day with the acquittal of Jose Garcia Zarate in the killing of Kate Steinle in 2015.  Garcia Zarate is undocumented and Steinle is the "wonderful, beautiful woman" who was invoked constantly to promote hatred of all foreigners, especially the dark-skinned.  Once again the courts have let him down.  An independent judiciary?  What's that?

Trump is already damaging the economy.  The Commerce Department reports a 4% drop in tourism in the first six months of this year, at a cost of several billion dollars.  The tourism industry blames Trump's travel bans, but I think it's more complicated.  Other countries don't understand this 18th Century anachronism the "electoral college."  They imagine the US to be a democracy like Japan or Sweden.  They think we actually elected this depraved racist imbecile.  Governments are advising citizens not to come here, not because of the gun violence --we've had that for decades -- but because Americans probably have some brain disease which may be contagious.  You're trying to keep and grow a civilization, with free education through college, twenty-first century public transit, universal health care.  The last thing you want is a return to tyranny, state violence and institutionalized racism. The Germans and the Italians remember better than most.

Oh, what else?  Colin Kaepernick has won Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, despite not having a job.  Another magazine cover that won't feature Trump.  Sad!

Joe Barton is not running for re-election.  The eyes of  Texas were upon him, and they didn't like what they saw.  Also, you can never unsee it.  I've tried.

Rex Tillerson may be nearing the end of his sentence term as Secretary of State.  To make sure the department continues to deteriorate, he'll probably be replaced by Mike Pompeo.  Or just anybody who will shut the curtains and turn up the music before describing Trump as a fucking moron.

As you can see, the audience for the White House Christmas tree lighting is even bigger than the inauguration crowd.  The White House Christmas party, not so much.  It seems they also "forgot" to invite Chris Johnson, who works for the country's oldest LGBT paper the Washington Blade.  I think he, April Ryan and Jake Tapper, et al., should throw a "Fuck Trump" holiday party at the biggest venue they can find.  CNN can televise it.  Trump can call it "FAKE PARTY!"

No press brief today.  I was hoping someone would ask the Huckabee Sanders if it's all right to question a general if he's also a felon.  I just love her frowny face.

Today is World AIDS Day, and to no one's surprise the official proclamation does not mention gay people.  (Yes, just as the Holocaust Remembrance Day announcement failed to mention Jews.)  I haven't read it, but I wouldn't be surprised if Trump boasted of having sex with hundreds of women, really hot women, nothing less than a nine, without contracting HIV.  That's my problem.  I am no longer surprised at anything.