Thursday, March 29, 2018

Play ball!

Somebody set the pitching machine on Bob Gibson Fastball, but I'm batting them out as fast as I can.

Remember Adm. Ronny Jackson, the Navy doctor who lied his ass off about how Trump was so fit and healthy, he'd outlive us all?  Today he got his payoff, being named Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  Does he have any experience running a huge bureaucracy, or even a small bakery?  Of course not.  Why would you even ask?  Seat him between DeVos and Carson and let him soak up their wisdom.  Which picture is a camel, Ronny?

Will Trump congratulate Abdel al-Sisi on his victory in the Egyptian presidential election?  Of course he will.  Sisi got 92% of the vote, which is almost as historic and amazing as Trump's yuge electoral college total.  Of course, only 40% of Egyptians bothered to vote, but it's still...impressive.

Louie Gohmert (R-Himagain) wants March 31 proclaimed "National Border Control Day," for no particular reason except it's the birthday of Cesar Chavez.  Get it?  Meanwhile, Trump's continued failure to build the goddam wall has cost him the love of Ann Coulter, author of In Trump We Trust and several other volumes suitable for training a puppy.  "Ignoramus," she calls him, driven by frustration into cod Latin.  I love it when they scrap among themselves.  

Trump's got all manner of woman trouble, not even including the Stormy front.  Rumors swirl that FPOTUS, still in Mar-a-Legomyeggo, wants to take her anchor baby son and go far, far away.  Trump's pants must be wrinkled because he spent the morning yelling for Hope Hicks; he had to be reminded that the Communications Director quit, and the replacement is still cleaning out her desk at Fox News.  He was too busy with Executive Time to call the family of Stephon Clark, but he did manage to congratulate Roseanne Barr on her "new" sitcom.  (If the show gets "picked up," as the TV people say, Sarah Palin will have to find another diction coach.)

So he cheered himself up with another semi-literate tweet about perpetual foe Jeff Bezos, proprietor of the Washington Post and self-made billionaire, two distinctions that make Donzo crazy.  Crazier.  He accused Amazon of driving retailers out of business, which is probably true -- it began years ago with brick-and-mortar book stores, not that Trump has ever been inside one.  Then he ranted that they don't collect sales tax, which is, as Addison DeWitt would say, "a stupid lie, easy to disprove."  Most bizarrely, he accused them of "using our Postal System as their Delivery Boy," which begs the question, just what the hell does he think it's for?  Amazon pays the postal service, the postal service delivers its packages, and this is somehow "bad for the US"?  What harms the postal service is Republican congressmen demanding it pony up seventy-five years' worth of pension funds all at once (I'm looking at you, Darrell Issa -- and bleh, I'm quickly looking away).  Under the circumstances, they're probably happy to get Amazon's business, until drones start delivering everything.

Laura Ingraham, the reasonably priced Ann Coulter, decided to attack David Hogg over his failure to get into the University of California.  Bad idea.  The sponsors of her radio show were in full flight by noon, and she had to issue a half-assed apology.  Be afraid, Murder Lobby.  Because this time we ARE coming for your guns.

By the way, I notice that "Real Time With Bill Maher" is a rerun this week.  Maher hates religion, but he doesn't work on Good Friday.  Interesting.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Everything that rises

This weekend saw the convergence of two movements born of innocent blood.  NeverAgain, led by the young adults of Parkland, Florida, rallied and marched all over the world for an end to the easy availability of military weapons.  BlackLivesMatter gathered to protest the outrageous killing of Stephon Clark in the backyard of his grandparents' house in Sacramento, by police employing a helicopter.  For suspected vandalism.  He was holding a phone.  He may have been tapping on the window because the doorbell is broken.

Predictably, the Rightzis lost their shit.  Rick Santorum (R-Whythehellaretheyinterviewingthisclown) was on CNN suggesting the "kids" do something useful like learn CPR, so they can keep their bleeding classmates alive until the EMTs show up.  (Silly ass, these are not kids.  Nikolas Cruz stole what was left of their childhood, with the help of Wayne LaPierre and the murder lobby.)  Jimmy Swaggart's wife compared them to Hitler, so that's the Hitler box checked.  No more Hitler references, please, our phones are closed.  Somebody Photoshopped a picture of Emma Gonzales ripping up the Constitution, probably inspired by Sinead O'Connor tearing a picture of the pope on SNL long ago, two popes ago.  What was she angry about?  I can't remember.

America being America, there is already an industry devoted to surviving massacres.  ALICE ("alert lockdown inform counter evacuate") describes itself as "the number one active shooter civilian response training."  David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania, has hired them with money that could have been spent on almost anything else; now every classroom has a five-gallon bucket of river stones and students who get training in how to chuck them at the shooter's head.  If you're in a parking lot, a mall or a park, I guess you bring your own stones.  Believe me, if I could make this shit up, I'd be writing for John Oliver.

Meghan McCain, whose father was overheard calling his wife a "cunt" during the 2008 campaign, wants us to know how horrified she was at the bad language of NeverAgain co-founder David Hogg.  A Republican state senator in Ohio named Candice Keller wins the Bleeding Obvious prize for stating that the marching millions would "rather be eating Doritos and playing video games."  Who wouldn't?  Or sleeping late, ice skating, shopping for shoes or taking a clarinet lesson.  This was more important.  If you can't see that, you deserve to be an Ohio Republican.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Speed of light

Four nor'easters, three government shutdowns (probably), a mad bomber loose in Texas, another school shooting, and a Secretary of State shit-canned on the shit can.  It's been quite a month.

Stephen Hawking died last week, having lived fifty years longer than anyone expected.  He gave full props to Britain's much-maligned National Health Service.  I don't pretend to begin to understand his work and its implications, but I hear it was pretty important, as was his living example to people who think they know what others' "quality of life" amounts to.  Thank you, Dr. Hawking, and thank you to those who kept him going all these years.

Drug problem solved!  Inspired by the Duterte success, Trump proposes to kill all the drug dealers (by legal means, of course, probably) and prevent further addiction through...advertising.  Very very great PSAs telling the kids how bad drugs are.  Donzo gets all his "information" from television, and he assumes everyone else does, too.  No doubt there will be exceptions for pushers like the Sackler family, billionaire dealers in OxyContin, which kills more Americans every year than cocaine.  Unlike marijuana, the obsession of Three-fifths of a Man Sessions, Oxy really is a gateway drug -- to cheap and potent heroin.  But they give money to museums, which is more than MS-13 does.

The Stormy Daniels farce continues to play out, with the cooperation of 60 Minutes and every known media outlet.  Don't you think Trump is delighted at this distraction from treason, money-laundering and all his other activities?  Cheating on a Slovenian business girl is not a capital crime, even in Slovenia.  Best $130,000 he ever got somebody else to pay for him.  To paraphrase Mencken, nobody ever went broke overestimating the prurience of the American people.

Over 100,000 Americans in Puerto Rico still lack electricity, and who knows what else.

Jim Carrey's frighteningly life-like painting of Sarah Hockeypuck Sanders roils the Intertubes like nothing since the great Kathy Griffin assassination attempt of 2017.  (She was really interrogated by the Secret Service.  Over a photograph.)  Come on, Jim, do Jared Kushner.  He already makes me think of Dorian Gray.

John Bolton would probably have an important government job, but his mustache is one of the many things Trump fears.  So at least there's that.  Some state legislator in Alabama opposes arming teachers because most of them are women and, you know, too nervous and flighty to be trusted with weapons.  So at least there's that.  (Just let it go, Senator Duckworth.)

Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel are so awful, even Rand Paul has promised to filibuster against their confirmation as Secretary of State and CIA Director, respectively.  We'll see.  Paul hasn't been precisely a tower of rectitude in the past.

John McEntee, Trump's "body man" (think Charlie on The West Wing, but with a gambling problem), was hustled out of the White House two weeks ago before he could even put on his coat.  He is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security for "serious financial crimes."  Nevertheless, he has been promised a job on the 2020 campaign, which began in November 2016.  Everyone pulled into Trump's gravitational field winds up corrupt, even the guy who holds the door for him.  Expect a White House groundskeeper to be caught burying stiffs in the Rose Garden.

Five bombs have exploded in Texas (four in Austin, one near San Antonio), but Hockeypuck Sanders assures us there is "no link to terrorism."  So the police can stop questioning Muslims, if they were.

Why I do not do social media, part 87:  Cambridge Analytica.

What else?  Oh, yes.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

When words fail

The bagpipes have been put away, the last of the green beer is swirling down the drain, and it's time for another episode of "Guess the Bullshitter."  

"I watch nothing of me.  I didn't watch it because I knew they were all haters, and people will say things that are just not true, and there's nobody there to challenge them, and that would piss me off.  So why?  It's a beautiful day.  I'm about to play golf."

If you guessed Trump, come on.  Near-cogent sentences?  Not watching himself?  Don't be misled by the references to golf and "haters."  Give up?  That was O.J. Simpson explaining why Colin Kaepernick was wrong to disrespect "the flag" (he didn't), and why he doesn't care how many people believe he's a murderer.  If people insist on interviewing him, I'm sure he'll tell us Robert Mueller is on a witch hunt, Putin is a swell guy, and those damn kids need to go back to class and quit whining about a few mass murders.  If not for that felony conviction in Nevada, he could be the next Secretary of Whatever Job Just Opened Up.  Or ambassador to South Korea.

And now I'm out of words.  Tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

So much winning, continued

Conor Lamb

Trump loves to campaign, if by "campaign" you mean rave incoherently before crowds of carefully-chosen well-wishers equipped with MAGA hats and glossy signs.  He says he wants to spend four or five days a week "campaigning" in the weeks before the midterm elections.  (After convincing Kim Jong-un to turn his country into a theme park, of course.)  You know who hopes he will?  Democrats like this man, Rep.-elect Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, improbably elected in a district gerrymandered to look like a CPAC convention.  Takes a nice picture, too, as my grandmother used to say.  Pavarotti never sang a program of Puccini arias as thrillingly as Donzo belted out his greatest hits, including "Pocahontas," "Low --- I---Q Maxine Waters," and perennial encore "Obama Obama Obama."  He had some new tunes:  "I Saved the Olympics," "Very Painful for Oprah," and the novelty number "I Went to School In Pennsylvania."  And he even mentioned Lamb's opponent in the soulful ballad "I Think He's Handsome."  Lamb won anyway.

After insulting his wife and his father and making him answer phones like a quasi-celebrity at a telethon, the least Trump can do is "campaign" for Ted Cruz in Texas.  Please.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A little perspective

In the London Review of Books for March 8, 2018, William Davies writes:

"The political weather in Westminster has been made over the past two years by Boris Johnson, a man whose only apparent goal is to make the political weather...Johnson approaches public life as a game in which he commits sackable offenses as a way of demonstrating his unsackability...Johnson is as close as British politics has to a Trump problem, and his seniority suggests that Trumpism has permeated our political culture more deeply than we like to admit.  Trump may be a more acute case, but both men compel all around them to react to their idle remarks, mistakes and fantasies...Trump and Johnson are 'real-time' politicians:  they dominate the rolling news cycle, and devalue the painstaking aspect of politics in the process.  Psychologically, they are inverses:  Trump has no sense of humour, where Johnson sees the funny side of everything.  Johnson is said to strut around Whitehall asking civil servants if they've found his 350 million pounds a week yet:  'I know it exists because it was written on my bus.'  Ha ha...No doubt men such as Johnson and Trump have always existed, but healthy political systems have ways of keeping them away from the highest echelons of power."

The 350 million-a-week gag derives from a claim by Brexiteers that separating from the European Union would free that amount, which would go straight into the National Health Service.  A day after the referendum, Johnson and the equally loathsome Nigel Farage coolly admitted, "We lied."  It's just as funny as George W. Bush looking under his desk for the weapons of mass destruction that couldn't be found in Iraq, except that no one has been blown to pieces by Brexit.   The lie served its purpose, it got the credulous to vote Leave.  On to the next lie.  Ladies and gentlemen, that's Trumpism.

Boris Johnson has yet to claim he could shoot someone in Oxford Street and no one would care, but give it time:  he will probably succeed the deeply unpopular (and incompetent) Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party.  Or America could rise up before the British like the ghost of old Jacob Marley, warning them to change their ways.  I wonder if they will.  

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Citizen Trump

Broderick Crawford in Born Yesterday (1950)

If Donald Trump ever channel-surfed like a normal person, clicking over from Fox News to, say, Turner Classic Movies, he might not be so obsessed with his portrayal by "Alex" Baldwin.  Twice this week I have seen him depicted -- anticipated, really -- in movies made during his childhood, and both times by Broderick Crawford.  It's uncanny, and it even follows the formulation "first time tragedy, second time farce."

All the King's Men, based on the Robert Penn Warren novel, is the obvious Trump template, the thinly disguised story of populist/fascist Huey Long as Willie Stark, governor of an unnamed Southern state.  Willie has a keen sense of how to appeal to "the yokels," providing them with hospitals, schools and modern infrastructure in return for unquestioning support.  It enables him to survive impeachment, if not assassination.  Corrupt to the core and hungry for power, only death keeps him from his national political ambitions.  That Willie is ten times smarter than Trump only makes him more dangerous.

Even closer to life, in Born Yesterday Crawford plays Harry Brock (even the names are similar), an uncouth tycoon who sees government as primarily a means to becoming wealthier still.  He has come to Washington to buy up Congressmen and mingle with the powerful to gain support for a cartel he is putting together.  He has brought along his "dumb broad" mistress Billie Dawn (the divine Judy Holliday); his weakness is his love for her.  Harry's ignorance is a rich source of comedy -- someone mentions Oliver Wendell Holmes and Harry wants to know if they'll be meeting him -- but he decides Billie needs educating and hires a reporter to do the job.  The reporter, played by William Holden, awakens her to American history, ideas, classical music and, ultimately, to Harry.  "Has he ever thought of anyone but himself?" he asks her, as they tour the Jefferson Memorial.  In the end, Billie brings down Harry's crooked business plans and presumably his political ambitions, too, and goes off with the reporter.  (Trump would never have a woman in his life with the spirit and grit of Billie Dawn.  If the dead-eyed Melania ever leaves, he'll just bring in another porn star.)

Trump is said to be a big fan of Citizen Kane, though it's hard to imagine him paying attention to anything for nearly two hours, especially without a single sex scene.  He should check out a few other films.