Friday, March 24, 2017

Behold the Omnibus of Progress

     So yesterday, while Tangerine Nightmare was feting trucking executives who thought it would be a great idea to bring a semi on the grounds of the White House (what, no mud? They could've held a Monster Truck Rally thursday, Thursday, THURSDAY!), the House, without Trump knowing it, had punted voting on the Trumpcare bill until today. Then he got behind the wheel of the big rig and played Smokey and the Bandit for a few seconds after promising to blame truck drivers if the bill fell one vote short of passing. (Yes, he did.)
     No doubt, as he took the wheel of the inactive rig and went "Vroom, vroom", he was secretly fantasizing about running over Muslims and screaming, "How do you like it, you ragheaded motherfuckers?!"
     Now, Paul Ryan, a man who's two heartbeats away from the Presidency (and you know he'll be Pence's VP when, not if, when Trump's finally removed from office like the opportunistic foreign object that he is), is talking about cutting taxes when he can't even get his own party to agree on how to kill tens of thousands of Americans when they finally stick the gladius down the gullet of Obamacare.
     And when the GOP can't even agree on how they want to kill you, then there's surely trouble in Republican paradise.
     Essentially, Trump's tap dancing on the ceiling and it's a miracle he's managed to avoid any appreciable fallout for not having a health care plan worthy of replacing the ACA. Or any plan to stop ISIS. Or any plan at all that'll benefit the American people. And then, of course, there's Nunes practically rear-ending his own career by doing what he's been doing regarding Trump's ties to Russia. Apparently, the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Chairman saw something that straightened out his pubic hair and immediately sought to minimize the damage even if it meant hoisting himself on his petard by possibly leaking classified intel. (Among the bombshells: Pence and not Trump was the intended target of the surveillance sweep.)
     Really, at some point, a bleeding heart liberal has to almost feel sorry for Sean "Bantam cock" Spicer and Kellyanne "Crack Whore Barbie" Conway in turning themselves into human countermeasures at least five days a week for this burning blimp of an administration led by a Mussolini Mini Me who pretends to drive trucks when he's not pretending to be President.
     Of course, the operative word is "almost" because, while I do not wish to see this country fail as Rush Limbaugh did on Election Night 2008, this administration has to officially fail and fall because not only can the center not hold, it's been butt-fucked into oblivion faster than Nunes did his career.
     And Congress, the Justice Department and We the People have to wake the fuck up and realize that Trump is the Yamchurian Candidate, he is Vlad Putin's fuck doll and our last election, shitty pair of presidential candidates or not, was compromised. Trump called on Russia to hack Clinton's email account and release the missing 30,000 emails and, days later, that's what happened.
     The Republicans aren't talking about St. Ronnie so much these days because St. Ronnie, when he wasn't accidentally walking into broom closets on his way to briefings he'd immediately forget, was a staunch foe of Russia back when it was still the USSR. He was against walls such as the one dividing East and West Germany and he sought to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons, not accelerate it.
     Trump had wrenched the Republican party into his own hideous image and now, within a generation, he's got Republicans cheerleading for Russia while Democrats rattle their sabres against it. Meanwhile, health care is in tatters, a spot on the Supreme Court is still open after more than 13 months and all Republicans can talk about now is lowering taxes for those least deserving.
     If Reagan could come back from the dead, he'd spit in Trump's face.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It Must Be Asked... Trump's voters feel about his campaign promises now. Because...
     ...after Trump lambasted the 1% and promised to keep them out of his Cabinet, he then stuffed it with multimillionaires and multibillionaires and Wall Street insiders.
     ...after promising to make Mexico pay for his vanity wall, he then asks Congress to give him 20,000,000,000 of our dollars to build it.
     ...after promising to give Americans a better alternative to Obamacare, one in which more Americans than ever will be covered, 17,000,000 Americans instead will lose their health care.
     ...after promising to destroy ISIS within a month, Trump's first major military offensive was an unmitigated disaster in which children and a Navy SERAL were killed and the actual target taunted Trump in an audiotape and ISIS is as at least as strong as ever because Trump has no plan, after all.
     ...after promising not to touch your Social Security, he then immediately began gunning for your Social Security. And your Medicare.
     ...after promising not to waste taxpayer dollars on golfing and vacations like Obama, Trump has already been to Mar-a-Lago five weekends out of the first nine since being sworn in to play golf and sleep.
     ...after promising we'd use American steel for the unpopular Keystone XL pipeline, Russian steel began showing up with suspicious speed after Trump authorized the pipeline.
     ...after promising to save American jobs, the only ones he's "saved" involved corporations who got sweetheart tax breaks and those who haven't gotten them are still offshoring American jobs like crazy.
     ...after promising to "Make America Great Again", Mexico's president refused to meet with Trump, the Australian Prime Minister got hung up on and Germany's Chancellor and the Japanese Prime Minister had given him strange looks in public.
     ...after promising to reveal his tax returns, he then decided not to.
     ...after promising that his inauguration day was all about we, the people and that he would work for us, he immediately went on vacation the next day and when he returned set about stealing your health care, your school lunches,your Medicare, Meals on Wheels, your Social Security and everything a growing percentage of Americans need to keep body and soul together.
     ...after promising that neither he nor his campaign had any ties to Russia, it then turned out virtually everyone in his administration did have ties to Russia and lied about it even after being exposed as liars.
     So, how do you like your "President" now, morons?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Good Times in Gotham Ciity, 3/20/17

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Yes, Angela, We All Feel That Way

     After the clusterfuck with Trump and Merkel and him refusing to shake her hand in the Oval Office right after his clusterfuck with the Irish Prime Minister, I think we can now safely say that Angela Merkel is the leader of the Free World. Yes, Adolph Hitler's successor, the current Chancellor of Germany, is the Leader of the Free World. Let that sink in for a moment, folks...
     I'll bet Merkel is now nostalgic for the days when she was getting publicly molested by George W. Bush.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I'm Having a Better Day Than Julius Caesar

     It was getting to the point where I thought I'd never get to write this post. After hundreds and hundreds of form rejection letters from literary agencies on two continents and four countries, I was beginning to lose hope. Then today, on the Ides of March, I get the email I've been waiting literally decades for:
     I found a British publisher for Tatterdemalion. The acquisitions editor emailed me early this afternoon to tell me he loved it (I submitted it on March 3rd). I can't mention the name of the publisher just yet until I sign the contract, which ought to arrive in the mail in a couple of weeks.
     But these people are legit. I'd checked them out on their website both before and after I'd submitted and they're not some vanity press or third party publisher like the one from Athens that approached me on Christmas Eve (they wanted 200 Euros to cover advertising costs). They've also published two of my Facebook friends. I'm going to get 50% on the Kindle sales and 30% on the print edition, with author copies sold at 40% off. They also want to sign me to a three book deal, plus the two Scott Carson short stories and the Carson novella on which I've been working since 2015.
     Hopefully, they'll do for me what Bookoutre (another startup publisher that recently got snapped up by the Hachette Book Group) did for Robert Bryndza and his The Girl in the Ice (which I'm reading right now). That book sold over a million copies in just under a year.
     I'm so excited right now, I don't know whether to shit or wind my watch.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Good Times at Gotham City, 3/12/17

Saturday, March 11, 2017

19th Century Reasons for Being Institutionalized

     I think we've all come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is shithouse rat-on-fire insane and should be in a loony bin instead of the Oval Office. But when I saw this on Facebook this morning, I looked at this equally crazy checklist of reasons for institutionalization in the late 19th century and was tempted to take stock of what would've gotten Trump put in a rubber room back in the day:

  • 1) Intemperance & Business Trouble: One but not the other. Trump doesn't drink but his first divorce and business empire nearly falling would've put him in four point restraints.
  •  2) Hereditary Predisposition: Well, considering his grandfather Friedrich was a whore monger, tax cheat and draft dodger, it's obvious the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
  • 3) Ill treatment by husband: If a woman could be sent to the loony bin for being abused by her husband, then what does that say about the man who treats his wife like shit?
  • 4) Hysteria: Imaginary porno movies by Miss Universes? Imaginary illegal voters in the millions? The previous president bugging his house? The mass media our biggest enemy? All put out on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning? Hm...
  • 5) Immoral life: Do I really have to elaborate on this?
  • 6) Jealousy and Religion: Again, one but not the other.Trump's about as much of a Christian as Christopher Hitchens but jealousy when he thinks someone's stealing his thunder? Oh yeah.
  • 7) Laziness: Consider that every weekend since being sworn in, he's been jetting to Mar-a-Lago to play golf and sleep.
  • 8) Periodical fits: See #4.
  • 9) Political excitement and politics: "I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose a single vote!"
  • 10) Bad Company: I refer you to Trump's business associates and Cabinet.
  • 11) Business Nerves: If I had to declare bankruptcy four times, I'd be nervous, too.
  • 12) Domestic Affliction & Trouble: Do two divorces count?
  • 13) Egotism: Oh boy, where would I even start?
  • 14) Excessive sexual abuse: Does this reference being abused or being the abuser? If the latter, well,then...
  • 15) Greediness: Hasn't paid taxes in at least 20 years and brags about it.
  • 16) Seduction and Disappointment: Gee, how many women have rejected Trump's countless sexual advances?
  • 17) Sexual Derangement: "You can grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."
  • 18) Feebleness of intellect: See Cabinet, Trump.
  •     Now, as for the reasons that would never apply to Trump?

  • 1) Imprisonment
  • 2) Over action of the mind.
  • 3) Over study of religion
  • 4) Over taxing mental powers
  • 5) Religious enthusiasm
  • 6) Death of sons in wars
  • 7) Decoyed into the Army
  • 8) Excitement as Officer
  • 9) Exposure in Army
  • 10) The War
  • 11) Fell From Horse in War.
  • Thursday, March 9, 2017

    Profiles in Sociopathy

    (Tip o' the tinfoil hat to faithful and long-suffering reader, CC)
         The New Yorker once asked, "(George Bush) looms small in memory... Having obliviously made murderous errors, Bush now obliviously atones for them. What do you do with someone like that?"
         It's a good and a fair question. Now, Bush has been out of his purloined office for over eight years, nearly 100 months, and he still threatens to inspire intellectual vapor lock in the ablest and most nimble of us. Looking back on it now, it's a miracle I was ever able to cogently to write about this walking brain stem for my first four years as a political blogger.
         And the "atonement" to which the New Yorker had referred happens to be Bush's latest artistic project, unironically entitled, "Portraits in Courage", which shot to #1 on Amazon for perverse reasons we'll never know, the proceeds of which going to the equally unironically named George W. Bush Center's Military Service Initiative in Dallas, Texas.
         Bush had hygienically painted (off photographs) the portraits of 66 veterans (Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, oddly, didn't make the cut) whose bodies and/or minds were fucked up beyond recognition by Bush's lies and the war crimes that resulted from them. This would be ironic if he'd never sent them into an illegal war of regime change on behalf of oil companies considering he's a draft dodger who used Daddy's connections to get him into a champagne flight in the 60's. But considering he did dodge the draft then sent tens of thousands of souls into that quagmire known as Iraq, while seriously floating the idea of cutting their pay and benefits at the same time he was bloating the Pentagon's budget... well, that falls under the heading of monstrous irony.
         This series of clumsy paintings that literally look like something Van Gogh would've produced if he had just a torso and instead had to paint by sticking a brush up his ass proves the psychiatric adage of "once a sociopath, always a sociopath." One does not get better from this condition just as psychopaths and those with Asperger's Syndrome don't just get better one day. This was proven during Bush's salad days as a wannabe Winston Churchill, a man who actually saw the consequences of sending men into a war, when he began painting self portraits and other world leaders. It took all these years for Bush to finally realize that, hey, there are other people in the world who aren't heads of state and that real human beings fight wars.
         You'd think if the man had an ounce of human decency, he'd donate the proceeds of this improbable #1 bestseller to those whose lives he'd ruined or at the very least compromised by ordering them into a war that never should've been waged. Not to some ironically-named thing with his name already on it.
         But that, too, would arise from the faulty assumption that Bush has any scruples or human decency instead of being the disingenuous sociopathic war criminal that he's always been and always will be. And lest you think I'm rudely interrupting the carefully spun narrative that #43 has mellowed in his old age and is even now morphing into America's kindly grandfather, allow me to pass on this tidbit that has slipped through the cracks:
         In another article linked in the one above, there's an anecdote of Bush finally meeting in person one of his subjects on (of course) a golf course. This man had lost an arm and an eye on his third deployment in Afghanistan and Bush actually quipped in front of this man, "Looks like your modeling career is over", to raucous laughter. Because, yes, it's hilarious after a while when our warriors who are thrust into a wrong-headed war lose body parts thousands of miles from home.
         We can only hope that this piece by the Onion becomes true because God knows in this world we coddle war criminals no matter how heinous their crimes. From Operation Paperclip to the strenuous attempt to gentrify one of the world's most notorious mass murderers, this trend continues. And if this life won't exact due justice, then perhaps the afterlife will.

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    Physician, Heal Thyself, Stat

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
    "Happy slaves are the bitterest enemies of freedom." - Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
    "Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.” - Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
    There's a question that is being seriously asked on Facebook and elsewhere: Have any of Ben Carson's patients actually survived?
         It needs to be asked because Carson's obvious stupidity and intractable ignorance would seem to be inconsistent with the intelligence and erudition that's necessary for the job of brain surgeon. Over the decades, we've come to regard neurologists and rocket scientists as the most intelligent and learned among us. Yet everything that comes out of the new HUD Secretary's mouth would indicate that he seriously needs to be examined by one of his colleagues.
         In his introductory comments to his Housing and Urban Development staff yesterday, Ben Carson actually said, 
    There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.
         He delivered this incredible reimagining of the horrors of slavery while sounding as if he'd smoked a pound of hash before his address. USA Today was the first to break the story and it immediately went viral on social media. Yes, incredibly, this is exactly the man the Republican party wanted to lead HUD: A former brain surgeon whose only qualification for the job was having lived in subsidized housing as a boy and now wants to do away with it.
         It would be easy to ridicule and dismiss Carson's insanely clueless remarks about slavery if he was a white man waxing nostalgically about it. We laughed off Cliven Bundy when during his standoff against federal officers called for the return of slavery and cotton picking. But Dr. Carson is an educated African American and a member of Donald Trump's cabinet.
         There are no words. There are no excuses.
         But there is recent precedent for this line of thought.

    Shuckin' and Jivin'
    While weighing in on gay marriage in the Supreme Court's historic ruling (pdf file), Justice Clarence Thomas, another learned black man, detoured from the subject in his minority dissent by saying,
    Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.
         It's a sad time in our nation when enlightened whites, a century and a half removed from the time of slavery, have superior empathy and a better grasp of its evils and the human toll it exacted of its victims than the descendants of those victims. And what does it say about conservatism that it arrogantly seeks to replace history with a palimpsest that portrays one of the most evil facets of our history as a voluntary economic opportunity?
         We also laughed off Donald Trump the day he threw his hat down the escalator and into the three ring circus that is the Republican Party when he told Bill O'Reilly, "If you are an African-American youth right now, you’re in worse shape than you practically ever were in the history of this country." That is until the very next day when Dylann Storm Roof walked into an AME church in Charleston with a loaded hand gun.
         Four and a half years ago, an Arkansas state legislator, Jon Hubbard, wrote and published a book in which he actually said, "[T]he institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise." Just for the record, he flipped his concerns for the people who need it most, white Christians, when he bloviated about immigration, "{T}he immigration issue, both legal and illegal ... will lead to planned wars or extermination. Although now this seems to be barbaric and uncivilized, it will at some point become as necessary as eating and breathing."
         Art Robinson, a GOP Congressional wannabe, published a book of his own in which he cheerfully wrote, "The negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe." (Let's forget for a minute that slavery was abolished across Europe by much of the early 19th century, especially in Great Britain and that not all slave owners were "kind".)
         Bob Vander Plaats, head of an ultra right wing organization called Family Leader, talked presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum into signing his pledge that stated, "A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President."
         Then there was this from David Horowitz: "If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves." Which is like saying today's Jews, including Horowitz, are benefiting to this day from the slave labor of their forbears in the Nazi death camps.

    A Mind Enslaved by Conservatism is a Terrible Thing to Waste
    Only a conservative mind, insulated by wealth and privilege, could look at this infamous picture taken in Louisiana in 1863 and pronounce this slave's whip scars as a road map to success.
         But insularity alone doesn't account for this stubborn ignorance in the conservative brain. Neither can we blame the fading, tenuous reach of distant history. After all, anyone who's read Alex Haley's Roots or of the exploits of the brave men and women who operated the Underground Railroad immediately (one would think) have more insight into slavery. Insularity can be penetrated. History may yet reach us through its chroniclers. There is a deeper issue that explains this intractable, willful ignorance and it's a lack of empathy, a hallmark of the conservative mind.
         This explains how even prominent African American men, including two of the most powerful members of our government, can remain so clueless about the actual effects of slavery on their ancestors. Carson and Thomas had both benefited hugely from Affirmative Action and subsidized housing and health care, educational grants, etc. Note that all the advantages and programs listed above are also perennial targets of their party of choice. In other words, the tried-and-true conservative tactic of pulling up the ladder after themselves.
         It's this sociopathic lack of empathy that makes possible complete ignorance of the existence and purpose of the Underground Railroad, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (part of a quintet of bills ratified by Congress to mollify the Slave States to forestall a civil war) and Carson's incredible statement that immigrants came here on slave ships rather than ordinary passenger steam ships or that immigrants captured in Africa arrived in the belly of slave ships yet were doing so of their own volition.
         There is something very deeply, dreadfully wrong with the conservative mind that would ignore the fact that Great Britain had inserted a network of spies in the slave states during the mid 19th century (including the incredible story of Robert Bunch in Charleston) with the intent of undermining the slave trade that Great Britain had found so abhorrent. In fact, the mental dysfunction of the conservative mind is so pronounced, several respected psychologists and psychiatrists have weighed in on the matter.
         And this serious dysfunction in the Republican-conservative mind allows for incredible statements and beliefs among African Americans that the confederate flag is about "heritage" and that slavery was a "choice" (thereby completely ignoring the efforts of abolitionists such as John Brown and Frederick Douglass). This stubborn ignorance and lack of empathy or even a baseline of sympathy for the victims of slavery cannot be remedied by education. And, in the case of Secretary Carson and Justice Thomas, they especially have no excuses for their warped view of their own peoples' history.

    Monday, March 6, 2017

    Going... Down?

         Every time I see this picture of Putin, I think of Ian Fleming and Sean Connery. It looks just like the kind of cutting edge invention Dr. No or Goldfinger would use. And after 15 years of being Russia's dictator, it's fairly obvious by now that Vlad Putin, former KGB official, is now a James Bond-class super villain.
         Donald Trump, on the other hand, while he'd love to be a dictator on a par with his buddy Vlad, is exactly like the kind of super villain you'd see in an Austin Powers parody. Or rather, he's like Mini Me to Putin's Dr. Evil.
         Now we're hearing in several news sources, including the Daily Mail, Politico, CNN and the New York Times, that Trump had a screaming hissy fit in the Oval Office last Friday and booted his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and his Propaganda Minister Steve Bannon off Air Force One's passenger manifest at the last minute. And why did he do this?
         Because they didn't do enough to stop Jeff Sessions (KKK-Alabama) from recusing himself from any DOJ investigation into Trump's connection to Russia. The ship is going down fast and Trump's losing whatever little self control he may have had before improbably sliding into Obama's old chair.
         It doesn't do any good to bring up the fact that the Executive Branch should not in any way interfere with the Department of Justice, especially in matters directly concerning the Attorney General. Karl Rove can tell you all about that. And it profits no one to bring that up because Trump's an incurious idiot who makes George W. Bush, a lesser idiot, look like a PhD in Political Science by conspicuous relief. He has not displayed the slightest bit of pragmatism in how our government works aside from successfully installing a Fifth Column within it with the intention of destroying the departments and the people they're supposed to serve.
         And while I know that dossier on Trump in Russia was compiled by someone who used to be British Intelligence, the story about the golden shower shows put on for Trump remain apocryphal at best and don't get to the heart of the real issues. And the questions should be, what does Putin know, when did he know it and how is he using it?
         The longer this administration shambles on between the Potomac River and Mar-a-Lago, the more it begins to resemble an adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate as interpreted by Benny Hill or Monty Python. It's like a creepy, reverse version of 50 Shades of Grey only in this case it's the billionaire (and everyone under him) who's getting fucked.
         We all know why Sessions got chosen and confirmed as Attorney General. It was the sleaziest and skankiest of nods: The One Issue Nomination. Jeff Sessions, racist baggage containing his Klan costume and all, was essentially a Button Man installed in the Justice Department's Big Corner Office with the intention of killing any investigation into Trump's ties with Russia. Even during his campaign, it already looked as if Trump was being blackmailed by Putin for something and what that is remains to be seen.
         But the shipments of Russian steel provided by one of Putin's oligarch pals have already begun arriving (and very rapidly, as if the cargo ships were closer than that Russian spy sub off the coast of Connecticut) after Trump signed an executive order permitting the building of the Keystone XL pipeline after airily proclaiming it would use nothing but US steel. And now, the same people who were screaming about the pipeline to begin with are now screaming that American steel isn't being used, after all. As if it's OK to build this largely useless pipeline (it would create a few hundred jobs, tops, for Americans) as long as we use the right steel.
         As usual, we're missing the big picture while focusing on tremendous trifles. While the GOP falls in line with the diktats from the WH that everything Russian is A-OK despite it being a quasi-Communist hellhole, we're focusing on unsubstantiated stories that have yet to rise above the level of conspiracy theorizing. Our nation is being run by a foaming at the mouth madman who still refuses to believe that Russia hacked into the DNC and helped to hand him the election but believes Obama got a FISA warrant to spy on Trump Tower.
         Because he heard it on Breitbart.
         Think about that for a minute. As I'd predicted here months ago, Trump is a chimp with a machine gun, an epileptic juggling hand grenades. And while the decisions and executive orders he signs are officially his, they come from alt right conspiracy theory websites like Breitbart and God only knows where else.
         So, even if only for the wrong reasons, Trump did himself a favor by keeping people like Priebus and Bannon away from him during this, his latest in an endless string of vacations (although Bannon made it after all on a separate flight).
         But Donald Trump is as out of touch with reality, especially the inconvenient kind, as Putin is very in touch with it and gaming the giant geopolitical chess board like a true, albeit evil grandmaster.

    Thursday, March 2, 2017

    This Cartoon Wins the Internet

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    The State of Our Union

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
    Someone kidnapped Donald Trump last night and replaced him with some pod person simulacrum just before last night's State of the Union Address.
         It was almost successful. He was virtually what a Republican President should sound like in his boilerplate orthodoxy but something was off. It was like looking at the best mannequins at Madame Tussaud's or Mitt Romney and marveling at the reproduction of humanity. But something was missing.
         Trump's first State of Union before a joint Congress was everything the usual leaks promised it would be. Hidden in a dark closet in the White House or Trump's mind was the usual snarling, paranoid serial tweeter screaming about phantom terrorists in Sweden or nonexistent porno movies by Miss Universes or three to five million illegal aliens voting or the media being the "enemy of the American people." 
         Pushed out of sight was the cryptofascist who chose for brtual exclusion the citizens of seven Muslim majority nations with whom he just coincidentally has no business dealings. Gone for a couple of hours was the guy whose executive orders have kept doctors from arriving at their jobs to heal the sick, detaining Australian children's book authors and Muhammad Ali's son.
         Poof. Like magic, that man was held at bay away from the incurious eyes of his 62,000,000 voters.
         This new, improved version of Donald Trump, whose job title as President is as irrational and inconsistent with sanity and rationality as King Elizabeth II was almost, well, normal.
         He did many if not all the right things such as reading his usual Bannon-Miller speech, even using his teleprompter instead of winging it. He used as political window dressing the widow of the Navy SEAL who was killed while he was somewhere else, tweeting, instead of the Situation Room as that botched operation, the first of his so-called presidency, played out like a Greek tragedy.
         He spoke about amnesty for younger undocumented immigrants and putting them on track toward citizenship, being "eager" to reach across  the aisle and working with Democrats to actualize his bumper sticker slogan of making America great again.
         But the Democrats weren't having it. While Republicans, as always during a SOTU delivered by one of their own, stood up and applauded every few minutes, those on the other side of the aisle remained seated, stone-faced. Afterward, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the press it was the least important State of the Union in recent history because Trump only said what he was going to do rather than how he was going to do it.
         It was a good performance by a nonhuman homunculus like Trump to even try to act statesmanlike, like watching a poodle walk on its hind legs for a few seconds- One was surprised to see it even attempted much less actually acted out for as long as it had.
         But then, the aware remembers Trump's last few statements before taking the well at the House- How liberals are to blame for the Jewish cemetery descrecations in Pennsylvania, blaming Owens for his death in Yemen while Trump was tweeting about a TV appearance, whining about health care being so complicated...
         ...and then we realized Donald Trump wasn't kidnapped by aliens and supplanted by a pod person, after all. The career tax cheat and draft dodger who hadn't an ounce of political experience prior to January 20th has finally learned how to reinvent himself and lie in a more plausible manner.
         Last night was the night Donald Trump finally became a professional politician, a run of the mill Beltway insider. The Executive and Legislative branches became, at least in the short term, cold-fusioned.

    Monday, February 27, 2017

    This, Too, Shall Pass

         OK, time for a little less structure and to just free ball it for a few minutes.
         I know a couple of you have been wondering what I've been up to for the last week. That's how it's been since I last posted anything of any substance. The reasons are manifold- I'm still coping with the suicide of a friend of mine. He did away with himself right after Election Day but in some gruesome development right out of Breaking Bad, they didn't find his remains in New Mexico until four or five days ago. Out of respect for his and his family's privacy, I won't mention his name or what few particulars I know. But I will say it was very sudden. He gave no one any warning he was going to do this, although his reasons for seeking a very permanent solution for a very temporary set of problems were made known to me. And the person personally responsible for much of this will be dealt with in due time, believe you me.
         But there are other reasons for my absence. I've been hammering away at my upcoming novel, part of a new series, that I started and shelved about four and a half years ago when I got mixed up with Tatterdemalion then Gods of Our Fathers. Plus, I've been networking like crazy since my return to Facebook (And, thank you, Les Edgerton and Barry Eisler for your help in kick-starting this shambling zombie that I call a writing career.).
         Last but certainly not least, there's this fucking Mike Judge fever dream we insist on calling The Trump Administration, or what I prefer to call Fear the Walking Brain Dead. Frankly, this government, for want of a better word, leaves me more than speechless. For the last week, save for my fiction, my brain's been frozen, paralyzed with disbelief. I half wait for the alarm clock to go off so I can start another day in another world when someone, anyone else whose name isn't Donald Trump isn't the most powerful man in the Free World.
         But Trump isn't the only problem, is he? There's also the problem of the Republican Party that Trump both represents and doesn't represent, sort of like a Schrödinger's cat with a bad combover. If the newer and more prolific Twitter account of the Fifth Column within the Fifth Column within our government is to be believed, the GOP has their own agenda and for now are using Trump as their useful idiot knowing he'll sign into law any batshit insane bill the Republicans put on his desk and he won't even read it.
         That would be the same GOP that voted to defund ObamaCare and cost 22,000,000 people their health insurance because God fucking forbid we have a government that actually works (even though the ACA does little more than open a massive gateway to the health care free market).
         That would be the same GOP that still by and large denies that ice is melting in what is plainly a warming planet while oil company fuck sticks like Jim Inhofe walk onto the Senate floor with a cooler containing the snowball that he brandished like that red headed goober in A Christmas Story.
         Yes, even though we keep re-electing nearly 90% of a GOP-dominated Congress every two and four years despite giving it approval rating in single digits...
         ...this, too, shall pass.
         72 years ago, we repelled a Nazi menace, a world-wide menace in three different theaters. And we will do it again. I have faith in the indomitable American spirit. Regardless of these neonazi and white nationalist dead-enders, I have an enduring faith in the American love of freedom. We saw it in the Women's March that took place on all seven continents the day after inauguration day. We're seeing it in the usually useless MSM that now are finally, slowly, doing their jobs since Trump's jackbooted thugs began tossing certain outlets from attending even untelevised gaggles.
         We've reached that tipping point when we find ourselves windmilling our arms before we lose our balance when we're told up is down. This laughable palimpsest that we call the Trump administration doesn't even have a passing regard for the concept of plausible deniability and keeps relying on the eroding reputation and respect for the Office of the Presidency to keep giving them that plausible deniability.
         We all know there was no terror attack in Sweden or Bowling Green or Atlanta. Like habitually lying children, they keep throwing shit out there, hoping some of it will stick, testing boundaries to see how much bullshit we'll swallow before we choke.
         Sure, some gleefully eat that shit sandwich served up daily but they will be laughed into the margins of society because we're seeing indisputable signs that more and more of these Trumpers are experiencing the sticker shock of their lives. And one doesn't need to be a Beltway insider, any political pundit or a Poli Sci major to know this will be the second, certainly the third briefest administration in history.
         White House insiders are saying the GOP is patiently awaiting the coronation of President Pence and then we can deal with that idiot when the time comes. But Donald Trump is a splinter in the body politic. He is just so wrong for the job, like seeing a hired clown at a wake. And we will push him out when we reach that final tipping point, when there clearly comes a time when we have to decide what we love more: Our democratic soul or a corrupt government.
         He, too, shall pass.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    Good Times at Gotham City, 2/21/17

    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    There Are Lies, Damned Lies and Donald Trump's

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
    It's been a little more than four weeks, now. We've seen and heard enough. So let's get real, folks:
          George W. Bush was a great President and a masterful statesman... compared to the bloated Oompa Loompa who's now lumbering through the White House. Indeed, the more we see of this oaf, the more one's memory casts its lonely mind's eye to that famous meme of George Bush waving over the caption, "Miss me, yet?"
         In this reverse political version of The Evolution of Man chart, it's becoming more and more obvious that the Republican Party still hasn't finished devolving. Sarah Palin? She at least had a half term as Alaska's Governor under her belt when she called it quits and went for the reality TV gigs. Trump expanded his brand in reality TV first, then became President. What could go wrong? said over 60,000,000 voters.
         Yet in the first 30 days of this administration, it's becoming increasingly obvious that not just something but many things are very, very wrong with this administration. Let's start with last Thursday. It's a story that hasn't been covered by the "fake news" outlets such as CNN or the New York Times. Because that day, just as Trump was itching to get back to his southern White House in Mar-a-Lago, the FBI raided the real White House and removed six of his staffers (At the same time Trump was bragging to the media about his administration running like "a well-oiled machine."). Why?
         It seems they'd lied about their past and credentials on their SF86 applications. In case you don't know what that is, the long name for it is the "Questionnaire for National Security Positions." I'll write that again, emphasis mine: "Questionnaire for National Security Positions." Such as the kind held by Steve Bannon (without Senate vetting or approval) and, until recently, disgraced liar and traitor Michael Flynn.
         If you want an indication of just how completely dysfunctional this administration is, just peruse the Twitter feed of a person named @AngryWHStaffer and you'll be treated to a front row seat of a political nightmare straight out of the mind of Stanley Kubrick or Mike Judge on a bad acid trip. Sean Spicer, according to the covert staffer, is on the way out. Trump hates the Presidency and the burden and impositions that come with the territory. He stalks through the halls of ultimate power suspicious of everything and everyone like King Lear with a ludicrous combover. Essentially, this staffer paints a picture of a resentful, frustrated temp who's watching the clock at a Kinko's every Friday afternoon.
         And then there was his cockwanding rally last night in Melbourne, Florida.

    Today, We Are All Sweden. And Bowling Green. And Atlanta...
    It's ironic that the guy who'd promised to "drain the swamp" would set up his southern White House in a state that's a glorified swamp. And, to prove what a go-getter he is, Trump held a 2020 campaign rally in Melbourne last night in his honor that drew more than a couple of comparisons to Hitler and Nazi Germany. After all, sitting Presidents don't have rallies in their dubious honor- Dictators do.
         This came at the same time John McCain's statement about Trump was going viral on social media: That stifling the mainstream media is how dictatorships get started. Granted, McCain's own history with the media has hardly been any more cordial. But McCain's anger management issues aside, it can't be said the senior Senator from Arizona ever accused the news of being fake or called out for "a friendly reporter". One must grudgingly admit McCain is right about a very basic political science truism: Dictators on both ends of the political spectrum despise the media until they can control it. Because a free press is the first step to accountability and dictators such as Trump simply don't want that.
         So, just to be clear, the White House has essentially not told the truth, or at least the whole truth, about anything since January 20th. Not. One. Thing. And last night in Melbourne, Trump threw another fake log that will nonetheless catch fire for the goobers who were in attendance: Sweden was hit with a terrorist attack last Friday night.
         And by, "Sweden was hit with a terrorist attack last Friday night", I mean to say Sweden wasn't hit with a terrorist attack last Friday night. And, just like that, Sweden joined the growing fraternity of phantom jihad hot spots like Bowling Green (Kellyanne Conway) and Atlanta (Sean Spicer).
         Hitler at least had a Reichstagg fire to point to to ramp up his fascist agenda. Trump and his flaks have to make theirs up.
         Our nation is being run by a man who's genetically allergic to accountability and can't even be bothered to tell the truth about the weather or the size of his inaugural crowd or the number of "illegal aliens" who voted against him and for Hillary Clinton. And now he's following the lead of flaks who are fun fodder on SNL and making up terrorist attacks in Scandinavia completely out of whole cloth.
         No honeymoon period for this man with Congress, the media or with voters who actually have a pair of neurons to rub together. This administration's brand has been damaged since the moment Trump took his tiny hand off that Bible that belonged to Lincoln (to whom he'd compared himself last night). Just 30 days in power and this is turning into what will surely be, if it isn't already, the worst, least transparent, most evil and disingenuous presidential administration in the 228 year-long history of the American presidency.
         And we should be reminding our lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about the power of the 25th Amendment.

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    The Latest Press Gurgle

         Seriously, folks, I tried to write about this public jerk off from last Thursday in a timelier manner. I had thought and thought in between my other duties and responsibilities, wondering how I'd approach this in a fresh and engaging way. I have to say, even though I saw the entire presser from a local coffee shop, Trump defeated me this time. I'm speechless. It's like the deathly silence that follows the first few seconds after a mortar or bomb blast, that blessed second of painlessness just before your nerve endings register a severe burn.
         You could do one of three things: You could either read Rolling Stone's article listing the 18 lowlights from Trump's presser, you could watch ABC's Youtube video of the entire debacle or you could simply admit defeat like yours truly and accept the fact that Trump has successfully defeated scores of wouldbe satirists and late night comedians.
         Whichever option you choose, one must admit that Trump's second press conference as our so-called President was everything we expected and more. Blast the press for reporting only fake news: Check. Brag about his YUGE margin of victory on Election Day: Check. Deny any involvement in Russia either politically or financially despite mountain ranges of evidence to the contrary: Check. Deny being racist or anti Semitic: Check. Blame the black guy for this mess despite the Dow hovering at just under 20,000: Check.
         What he barely did, and what was his main reason for spontaneously holding this presser (a decision he'd literally made on the spur of the moment in the Oval Office. "Let's hold a press conference today," he said because, you know, he comprehends things so much better than anyone else, he don't need no prepping from his shrill, strident press secretary MiniTru Spice.), was to mention for any significant length his replacement for Andrew "Yes, I did stop beating my wife" Puzder. (It's R. Alexander Acosta, in case you missed it).
         Instead of giving Mr. Acosta the national spotlight for the first time, he couldn't resist gorging himself on the attention of the press that he despises like a straight sailor gobbling twink cock on a 12 hour liberty in Manila. He hates the act, hates the taste but he's gotta get his shameful fix any way he can. Nom, nom, nom. Ew. Nom, nom, nom. Spit.
         So for 75 minutes, Trump kneaded his withered phallus with those tiny hands and tried unsuccessfully time and again to spooge all over his unused teleprompter that was two feet in front of him as he vainly tried to get the press corp, and horrified American witnesses, to believe he won the election bigly, that the nation of Russia was "fake news", that he had no ties to Russia and then, after having already thrown Michael Flynn under the bus, backed up over his battered, broken, forgotten body several more times.
         It was the single most inartful, incomprehensible, stumblebum speech/presser, perhaps, in American history. Think of George W. Bush's worst pressers and compare it to Thursday's spectacle, that losing two out of three falls with a ten minute time limit wrestling match with the English language. Do it and I'm positive you will walk away from this post sure in the opinion that he made Bush's worst malapropism-riddled press conference sound like Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech by conspicuous relief.
         Essentially, Trump has morphed into Mack North, the Congressman-elect played by Will Ferrell on SNL in 1998. Even after winning a Congressional election by a good margin, Ferrell's North launches a trilogy of attack ads against his vanquished opponent, even stalking him and his family at a shopping plaza to rub his defeat in his face.
         Ladies and gentlemen, Will Ferrell is obsolete, as is the entire staff of the Onion. Andy Borowitz had to be talked off a 50 story ledge yesterday.
         He didn't once reach the teleprompter with his watery spooge but you gotta give the man credit for trying (Those tiny hands can only cover so many millimeters of the Presidential penis). But we are beyond parody, beyond satire. So, the only weapon we have remaining to us is our tried-and-true standby: The truth and non-alternative facts.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Good Times at Gotham City, 2/14/17

    Saturday, February 11, 2017

    The Babel of Facts

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
    In a 19th century edition of Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the phrases in the preface that was filled with otherwise overwrought and turgid prose was, "the Babel of Facts." It struck me as perfectly applicable and relevant to the Arabian bazaar of ideas and alternative facts to which we've been subjected since this traveling psychological roadshow known as the Trump campaign finally pounded stakes in the Rose Garden of the White House.
         In case you haven't realized it (and, admittedly, only English majors or the homemade equivalent would likely know this), Table Talk also contains a phrase beloved of novelists and their readers- "willing suspension of disbelief."
         Yet what we're seeing today is the willing suspension (or unwilling, depending on who you voted for and the degree of your sticker shock) of belief.
         Now, it's a given that administrations lie to the people all the time. It's what they do. They need to, or so they think, because they know that if We the People knew precisely what was being done in our good names, they'd be fending off an endless sea of pitchforks and torches stretching all the way back to Arlington. But what we're seeing here with the Trump administration is a kind of artless disingenuousness that isn't even going for plausible deniability.
         It's a kind of palpable lying mixed with a strain of viciousness and hostility one only reads about in history textbooks detailing the propaganda campaigns of totalitarian regimes. And usually, when the American government lies to us, it often takes the shape of massaged facts, artful deletions and omissions, some attempt at that sought-after quality of plausible deniability. There's none of that here. And those who dare question the Germanic strongman in the Oval Office will be swiftly denounced on Twitter and on TV.
         It's a brand of dishonesty that relies on the brute size and power of the federal government to keep its detractors at bay, a kind of lying that is completely unmoored from facts, reality and the intractable truths we hold to be self-evident. It's an administration that bellows at the people, against the people and despite the people.
         And the most galling characteristic of this administration, one more galling than the lies themselves, is through its countless flaks such as Conway and the shrill, strident Sean Spicer is its demand for respect from the people to whom it ceaselessly lies about the most trivial things. Trump has yet to learn that respect has to be earned and a major step in doing so is to be honest and frank with the people.

    "It's Really So Stupid!"
    Let's start with Anderson Cooper's delightful breaking up at hearing Kellyanne "Baghdad Barbie" Conway's explanation of the "alternative facts" dished up by Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Cooper's helpless giggling at Conway's spin of stubborn facts that were at stark odds with the administration's official line was more viscerally satisfying than even Seth Meyers' deft, rapier-like deconstruction of her lies, Chuck Todd insisting "alternative facts" were flat-out "falsehoods" and Jake Tapper's volcanic indignation at the same.
         We could start with Keith Olbermann's unofficial countdown of the 50 Craziest Things Trump Has Done as President, which inevitably includes some of his countless lies. Or we could do our own cataloguing and analysis of some of the more egregious lies vomited from the Trump administration upon the heads of the American people:
         Kellyanne Conway "misspoke", several times, about the fictional Bowling Green Massacre because she apparently can't distinguish the word "terrorists" from "massacre." Trump continues to lie about the size of the attendance of his inauguration that was visibly dwarfed by that of the Woman's March the very next day. Even as recently as two days ago at a meeting with Senators, Trump was doubling down on his easily-provable lie that 3.5 to 5 million people illegally voted for Hillary.
         Then, in what is perhaps the vilest contortion of the truth was Trump's first military action, the underreported raid on Yemen (Yes, please, let's talk about underreported acts of terrorism) that Sean Spicer called "a successful operation by all standards." Despite the MSM dabbing away at the story and harumphing their way through the casualty list, apparently even in the first few days after the raid, the worst news to come out was actually soft-pedaling it. Yes, we lost a Navy Seal in the botched operation, CPO William Owens.
         Yet, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which had interviewed reporters who were on the ground at the time, nine children, all under the age of 13, were killed and five more wounded. In the act of killing 14 AQAP militants, Seal Team Six had killed 25 civilians, essentially shooting anyone who opened their front door (including the first casualty, an 11 year-old boy). Included in the juvenile deaths was Nawar Anwar al Awlaqi, an eight year-old American girl who was a niece of Anwar al Awlaki, the American-born al Qaeda propagandist we'd killed during the Obama administration (and his 16 year-old son a week and a half later).
         To ramp up the egregious nature of these lies, the Pentagon hastily did an internet search and produced a video that was purported to have been filmed of the raid when in fact it was footage that had been on the internet for a full decade. To make matters worse, the militant we were after, Qasim al Raymi, later publicly taunted Trump in a 12 minute audiotape.
         The myth of the Tower of Babel is a parable of God's revenge on us for attempting to reach heaven with a post-deluvian tower. We were forced to speak different languages and dispersed so we could no longer understand each other. Yet, what we're seeing here and now is a "Babel of Facts", a hodge-podge of lies, spin, falsehoods and half truths. If there truly is a Supreme Being, perhaps this is His or Her revenge on us for being stupid enough to elect Trump. Because if we're stupid enough to elect as leader of the free world such an oaf, then perhaps we don't deserve the truth, however ugly it is.

    Thursday, February 9, 2017

    Good Times at Gotham City, 2/9/17

    Go Buy Ivanka's Bullshit

         After Baghdad Barbie's sales pitch on Fox "News", I suppose the final stage in this farce of a presidency is for Trump's State of the Unions to be telecast on the QVC channel, with limited commercial interruptions. Seriously, we should've signed a prenup agreement before electing this psychopath: "If we have to part ways within the next four years, We the People get half the assets of Trump International."

    Monday, February 6, 2017

    And Sometimes, Miracles Happen For Good Reasons

         This morning, I'm not a political blogger. For today, I'm not a liberal or a novelist or even a native New Yorker. Today, I'm a proud member at the epicenter of Patriots Nation. And I imagine that all over Massachusetts, and across New England, what's usually the dreariest day of the week, Dreaded Monday, is lit up at water coolers and loading docks with the smiles of those who'd watched last night's Super Bowl LI.
         Sports has a talismanic way of healing a nation's wounds after trying times and this is especially true in America. We could forget for a bit about the baleful rise of Hitler when Jesse Owens took gold after gold at the 1936 Berlin Games. We could forget Watergate for a bit when Hank Aaron became the alltime home run champ early in the 1974 season.
         And, considering the nation's, and the world's, upheaval since Election Night, what we needed was Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to pull off the most stunning upset in Super Bowl history in what was arguably the greatest football game ever played.
         Massachusetts-based sports teams seem to specialize in these comeback championship wins. Just ask any Red Sox fan about the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. Denis Leary had filmed a pregame spot that practically predicted the sweep of the Red Sox after the Bronx Bombers raced to a 3-0 lead. No baseball team had ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win the pennant. But Kevin Millar takes the walk from Mariano Rivera with a high, inside cutter, he's lifted for a pinch runner and Dave Roberts, and the Red Sox, were off to the races.
         Last night in the first half, the New England Patriots seemed to be replaced by pod people who'd never played football before. Bad passes, dropped passes, a porous offensive line that let Brady get sacked five times, an ineffective special teams, a Brady pick-for-six. By the time Lady Gaga started flying around Houston like the world's oldest fairy, they were down 21-3. At one point, we were down by 25 points. No team had ever come from more than a 10 point deficit to win a Super Bowl.
         We don't know what happened in that locker room during the halftime show. Maybe Bill Belichick showed his players Polaroids of their kids sleeping in their beds. But whatever happened sparked the most amazing second half in Tom Brady's Hall of Fame career. And as good as he was in the third quarter, he was spectacular in the fourth. And again in overtime, the first in Super Bowl history.
         The team that needed to score four unanswered touchdowns and a couple of two point conversions did just that. The Falcons' first 28 points were also their last. 93 plays later the Patriots had engineered the kind of comeback you only see in movies. Brady finished the night with 466 yards, James White scored the tying, and winning, touchdown, two of three. And Julian Edelman made perhaps the most miraculous catch in the history of the big game. It was one that perhaps wouldn't have been possible without the unwilling and improbable participation of the three defenders who'd surrounded him.
         And it all made up for Super Bowl 42 against the Giants. And Super Bowl 46, again against the Giants (and in older brother Peyton's house, at that). It made up for Deflategate. It made up for the suspension, Roger Goodell's snubbing of the Patriots during the postseason, his irrational stalking of Tom Brady...
         Well, almost. As Goodell swallowed a ton of crow and handed the Lombardi trophy to owner Robert Kraft, the Pats fans in Houston couldn't resist letting loose with a deafening chorus of pent-up boos that should've been reserved for Lady Gaga and her ridiculous Peter Pan routine and let him have it. Haters hated on Twitter and insisted the game was rigged but in the end, the New England Patriots had earned their fifth world title under the same owner, same head coach and same quarterback. We were the GOAT, period.
         It was all about love, pride and, yes, even revenge. It was about burnishing an unnecessarily tarnished name that had been dragged through the mud by a petty, vindictive liar named Roger Goodell. It was all about Tom Brady's mother seeing her son play for the first time all year during her battle with ill health for the last year and a half. And for nearly four hours, we could forget about Donald Trump and, once again, making something that had nothing to do with him all about him ("My friend, Tom Brady", tweeted the Tweeter in Chief yesterday in a now-deleted tweet, "you got to back up your friends." And yes, we can even forgive Tom Brady for being a Trump backer and having a "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker.
         We love and idolize Tom Brady because he's simply the greatest quarterback who ever lived. And he's the greatest not because of his political beliefs and who he votes for. And sports at the highest level at which human beings can play give us real drama and, depending on who you root for, happy, fairy tale endings. And last night was one, an ostrich-sized plume in Tom Brady's cap that's already gaudy with them.
         Tuesday we'll go back to worrying about what Trump and Bannon will do to us and our nation and its reputation the world over. Today and the day they take their victory lap through Boston belongs to the New England Patriots.

    Friday, February 3, 2017

    Keep Calm and... Olbermann On?

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
    “If we could wipe it off of the history books, we would. But we can’t.” - White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, on the Holocaust.

    There's a still impotent if growing strain of alarm that Trump's about to bring back the horrors of the Third Reich and, while those who say this are not necessarily wrong, they do so without workable context that only a reading of the historical first draft at the time (its journalists and diarists) could properly provide. Perhaps to a primitive people, one's prediction of a solar eclipse would look like an act of magic or godly omniscience when in fact a good farmer's almanac could make one privy to these celestial secrets. But how many of us bother to take the time to learn why and how exactly solar eclipses transpire?
         And the one thing that cripples our attempt to put the current times in its proper context is our incessant attempts to parallel long-dead historical events with the current and to extrapolate (some would say forcefully extrude) its continuation into today's events. Rather, instead, we need to go back to the source itself, the people who'd seen and reacted to Hitler's ascension to ultimate power in January 1933. Because only a proper reading of those old tea leaves, with the proper context and understanding, can justify any extrapolations reaching 84 years across time. Because far from Donald Trump's own improbable rise to power being the continuation or reappearance of a Third Reich, what happened starting January 30th, 1933 serves as a virtual prologue. And what provides us with our prologue is the very epilogue of the Third Reich.
         On the day after the 84th anniversary of Hitler's election as Chancellor of Germany, Zeit Online had published an article that serves as such a good cautionary tale against the passive evil of complacency that it ought to be required reading in every American household, starting with what passes for our media. It's entitled simply, "Wait Calmly", an incredible statement given how the Third Reich would play out and made even more incredible by it being issued by the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith in the first hours after Hitler's election.
         It's virtually impossible to imagine Adolph Hitler being viewed as a figurehead, the weak sister in the new ultra right wing government but that was widely the perception. The real power behind the throne was seen as Alfred Hugenberg who, like Steve Bannon, was a media mogul perceived as being one of those party insiders who would paint Hitler into a corner "until he squealed." Today, who remembers Alfred Hugenberg?
         Yet everyone, it seems, had underestimated Hitler and his insatiable thirst for power. And the predictions that Hitler would be kept on a short leash is understandable, up to a point. Germany had had three Chancellors of the President's Cabinet in 1932 alone (Heinrich Brüning, Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher), Even those alarmed by Hitler's public pronouncements, including doing away with the Democratic government run by President Hindenburg, saw the Austrian as being just another Chancellor who'd be out in six months or less. Yet Hitler had warned everyone in his many speeches during the 1932 election, as well as in Mein Kampf, as to what he would do. Then he went ahead and did it.
         Then 12-13 years and 6,000,000 corpses later (not including the millions more in battle-related casualties), the bewildered and horrified German people saw their capital city get bombed to rubble, their children conscripted and saw through General Patton's enforced tour of a liberated death camp and heard through the Nuremberg Trials the genocide committed in their names. And they wondered, How could we let this happen?

    The Cult of Personality
    It would be a gross historical oversimplification to say that Hitler rode into power on a wave of working class disaffection and an even broader stoking of anger over Germany's humiliating defeat in WWI. However, those were certainly two large factors in his political success. In fact, we ought to focus on that for the simple reason that these were two of the driving catalysts for Trump winning the Electoral College by a virtual landslide-
         During his own campaign, Trump kept hammering home the points that we were no longer great, that terrorists had humiliated us and had continued to humiliate us since 9/11, that he would bring back the jobs and a sense of security. When Hitler was elected Chancellor, the Weimar Republic of Germany was in a deep recession and unemployment was high. The aging Hindenburg seemed ill equipped to deal with his nation's economic woes.
         Yet, despite the old President's all too obvious feebleness, he was widely seen as a calming influence on the untried Chancellor, as the real power. This, despite Hitler's solemn promises to do away with the last vestige of Germany's democracy. And with the Nazi Party's swelling ranks and gathering political strength, which necessarily involved a compliant media, Germans were beginning to look askance at the Jews in their midst who were increasingly seen as running the banks, the media and holding back the progress of the Aryan people.
         In the interests of drawing parallels between Nazi Germany and today's United States, this makes Trump's ascension to the presidency all the more mysterious because Trump had never advanced one policy position of any substance during his year and a half on the campaign trail. Unlike Hitler, he began breaking his promises, starting with packing his own Cabinet with the sort of multimillionaires and billionaires he'd vilified to his hysterically hateful crowds during his sloppy and ugly beer hall putsches.
         Also, unlike Trump, Hitler was actually in the military, had fought in WWI and was not wealthy and widely-known to the German people as Trump has been in the US and the world over for decades. So, in a way, Trump, vague policy proposals or no, was still a known quantity even if not in a political sense, making his election to the presidency all the more bewildering.
         On Facebook, I had this to say yesterday morning before I'd even known the Zeit Online article existed,
    I find we as a nation (and I'm including both parties in Congress when I say this) are anxiously awaiting the ship of state to right itself. Right now, it's reeling from port to starboard, making us all seasick but still, we wait until the ship rights itself and finally finds calm waters. We're subconsciously hoping that some wise old hand at these matters will take Trump aside and finally inform him in no uncertain terms that this is not the way to steer that ship of state. At this point, mutiny is unthinkable even though the 25th Amendment tells us it's a legal option. But here's the problem- Trump's turned that once august ship of state into a pirate ship and had replaced Obama's largely capable crew with a band of pirates who make Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow look like fucking Lord Nelson by conspicuous relief. These ass pirates consist of daughters of drug runners, charter school whores, white nationalists, neo nazis, billionaire corporate raiders and other assorted unconvicted criminals. And, still, we hope this man will right the ship and chart us into, if not a great ocean of the future, at least one less uncertain than it now looks. And, as with the 1% on the Titanic, we will still refuse to believe we've placed our fortunes in the hands of an incompetent pirate until the ship of state runs smack into that iceberg so they can then sell us space on the insufficient number of lifeboats. Only then, when the ripple effect finally reaches and overwhelms us, when it directly threatens us, will we realize what we'd done in placing our affairs in the grasping little hands of a narcissistic pirate surrounded by like-minded first mates.
         This pretty much encapsulates the prevailing attitude in the first hours and days of Hitler's reign. Or, as the Zeit Online's Von Volker Ullrich put it, "They argued he would grow more reasonable once in office and that his cabinet would tame him. A dictatorship? Out of the question!"

    It Can't Happen Here
    Guess again. It already has.
          At first glance, the above black and white picture looks as if it was taken at a Nazi rally many decades ago. But in fact, it was snapped just a couple of days ago by an anonymous student at a Texas high school on Class Picture Day. A puerile prank by a bunch of stupid kids? Perhaps. But there were at least 70 of them and they even shouted "Heil Hitler!" and "Heil Trump!"
         Then consider less than two weeks after Election Night, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer held a rally and earned some stiff-armed salutes after referring to the media by its German name (Lügenpresse, a pejorative term German Nazis used in describing the media they also hated).
         Let's also consider the recent wave of bomb threats that have been called in recently against Jewish centers. At last count as of the end of last month, 17 such centers and places of worship had been threatened.
         While some may think it's rash and premature to blame Trump for this spate of neoNazi activity (And to be fair, Trump has, as with every President since Truman, sworn unswerving loyalty to Israel), one doesn't have to squint very hard to see how and why Trump and his brutal, authoritarian manner appeals to such far right wing elements:
         He's demonized with eliminationist rhetoric those who are not like us (Mexicans and Muslims). He had and continues to expel members of the media and those who are even suspected of opposing him, including the now notorious example of tossing Univision reporter Jorge Ramos from an August press conference and his press secretary Sean Spicer threatened to do the same to another Hispanic reporter (CNN's Jake Acosta) after Trump's first presidential presser.
         And, it ought to be stressed again, the man who sleeps with Hitler's speeches next to his bed pushed the same exact buttons Hitler did 85 years ago. He, too, promised to make the nation great again, to purge fear and shame visited by that nation's enemies as well as those who sought to do the Fatherland harm. To paraphrase the Simpson's caption, "Trump's not fascist but is #1 with fascists."
         Again, it ought to be stressed that the conservative German elements hideously underestimated Hitler's ravenous ambitions. Many of them, including Hindenburg himself, helped propel Hitler to the chancellory and had even agreed with his proposals (such as severing the onerous chains of the Treaty of Versailles and gearing up Germany's war machine in defiance of that Treaty.). But he was seen as little more than a puppet or figurehead. What they didn't count on was Hitler's oratorical charm and overwhelming popularity with the public.
         It took Hitler just five months to essentially lock down the entire nation. And Trump doesn't have another national leader to leapfrog over.

    What's the Final Solution?
    History tends to collapse in on itself, to get synopsized in the interests of brevity. Hitler's administration moved swiftly and began to consolidate power while simultaneously starving opposing elements of it. He outlawed Socialism, shoehorned Hermann Göring into the Cabinet despite his not having a portfolio. Hitler also made him Prussia's Interior Minister, thereby allowing him to assume control over the police of the largest state. Eventually, all other political parties were outlawed. Then he packed the judiciary with like-minded ideologues.
         Consider Trump's law and order boilerplate during his inauguration even as over 200 protesters in Washington DC were being arrested at the same time. And 53 weeks before his inauguration, he claimed during a GOP debate that "police are the most mistreated people" in America. American law enforcement, in fact, has been one of the few elements in our society that Trump hasn't gone out of his way to alienate.
         And while Trump hasn't set up death camps sufficiently removed from the American Homeland... yet, one must pause and seriously reflect upon his "temporary" Muslim ban and Trump signing one of an endless series of executive orders authorizing 10,000 more immigration officers to assist in his effort to purge 11,000,000 undocumented residents from the US.
         Deportation was the public policy spouted by Hitler and his surrogates as the Jews were loaded onto trains and shipped to parts unknown. The German people were told they were being "relocated" to camps like our Manzanar. Hence their shock in 1946 when they finally learned of their fate.
         At one of those camps, Buchenwald, emerged a monster named Ilse Koch, wife of the Commandant. There's no genealogical evidence that the infamous Koch brothers are in any way related to her but they certainly were related to their father Fred Koch. Koch, with a Nazi sympathizer here in the US, managed to build a refinery in Nazi Germany that was approved by der Fuhrer himself, according to a new book. That refinery, one of Germany's three biggest ones, literally fueled the Nazi war effort.
         After the war, right wingers went on to spearhead Operation Paperclip that brought former Nazis to the United States (It essentially founded NASA through Werner von Braun). They were the best and brightest from scientists and engineers to captains of industry. These Nazis then went on to finance the right wing think tanks that still exist today, think tanks that have ceaselessly worked to make Trump's current proposals sound reasonable and mainstream (Thanks to Overton's ever-shifting window).
         Which is why I say the epilogue of Nazi Germany is today's prologue here in the United States. And if we're going to resist, we're going to need more than Keith Olbermann's broom closet jeremiads on Youtube or blogs such as this one. One day protests with or without pussy hats aren't going to change anything. Our nation has been overrun with pathological liars screaming about massacres that never happened.
         And what's even more chilling to consider are the very real massacres and purges that will happen of which they'll remain silent.

    KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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