Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The GOP is Literally a Train Wreck

     If you want an iconic photo from Donald Trump's first and last State of the Union Address, then look at this lead image. It seems when the GOP feels the need to pretend to champion the little guy, they just pull some Joe Blow out of Ohio. In 2008, it was Joe the Plumber. This time, Donald Trump felt the need to diversify. So, instead of a white, bald-headed, right wing racist and fraud, they plucked out of obscurity Corey Adams, a black welder from Dayton.
     Because Adams is supposed to be proof that Donald Trump really does love people descended from shithole countries. In fact, Trump was perilously close to saying, "Look at my African American!" The problem was, Adams was forced to sit on the steps because no one had thought to give him or reserve for him a seat.
     That's right. Donald Trump invited a black man to listen to the State of the Union but couldn't be bothered to get the man a seat, a fact that went totally ignored by CBS and the other networks.
     Trump's speech before Congress and the nation was like his joint address to Congress last year and his inauguration speech- Spoken in a measured, reasonable-sounding tone of voice that promised little if anything and nothing extraordinary until you actually began parsing the words and using the racist dog whistle decoder.
     Because even as Trump was talking about the Dreamers and how he'd like to help them, he cleverly kept them as the subject while also inveighing against the dark-skinned people being the reason for the opioid epidemic (not the white executives of Big Pharma that actually started and maintained it) and MS-13, the street gang with which Trump has become irrationally obsessed. In short, he presented himself as a magnanimous statesman calling for the end to partisanship (In other words. "Do things our way, Democrats.") who really, really wanted to help the Dreamers.
     This was the guy, incidentally, who shut down the government by demanding a bipartisan solution to DACA and when Congress uncharacteristically gave him such a spending bill (of which DACA should not have been a part any more than CHIP should have been), Trump vetoed it without any reason before jetting off again to Mar-a-Lago to watch videos of himself ragging on Obama for the last GOP-engineered government shutdown.
     Not mentioned was the Mueller investigation, the charges of Obstruction of Justice and mentioned the name Russia only once while abstractly talking about competition from them and China. Completely glossed over was Trump asking Rod Rosenstein for a loyalty oath (sound familiar? It should) and even suggesting to the same Congress he was addressing what questions to ask Rosenstein before the Deputy AG overseeing the Mueller investigation testified before the House Judiciary Committee on December 13th.
     Also not mentioned is the hottest topic, perhaps, in the nation: The Nunes memo, which the FBI had publicly criticized yesterday as being incomplete and carefully edited of facts (sort of like a James O'Keefe video). In fact, after the 80 minute-long State of the Union, Trump was overheard telling a Republican lawmaker that he was "100% releasing the memo." Of course, Trump has no interest whatsoever in transparency as he's more interested in releasing this tightly-sealed memo showing the FBI had "illegally" requested a FISA extension for Trump stooge Carter Page after he flew to Russia in July 2016.
     Trump also didn't mention the clash with the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, for not only releasing that press release discrediting the Nunes memo but for also, after Andrew McCabe resigned yesterday, naming as FBI Deputy Director David Bowditch who is, in one Twitter user's words, "Trump's worst nightmare... a mini Mueller."
     What was mentioned was Trump taking credit for the significantly lower unemployment rate among African Americans, which has gone down just 1% under a year of Trump. Of course, the lion's share of that credit goes to President Obama. But Trump cannot bring himself to credit the black guy for anything. Instead, he's devoted the entirety of his so-called Presidency to three things: Profiting off the government, reversing everything Obama had done and trying to stay one step ahead of the Mueller investigation.
     So, in a way, it's only fitting or at least highly symbolic that late this morning, a train load of Republicans heading to a retreat in West Virginia would hit a garbage truck, scattering trash all over the landscape. The truck may have gotten the worst of it (one person on the truck was killed), but it's almost perfectly symbolic of the Trump Train about to get derailed.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

State of the "Uniom"

     Trump's State of the Union Address was just leaked and, as always, Gotham City has the exclusive.
     Public Appeal: Do not play the Trump Drinking Game in which you have to take a drink every time Trump says there was no collusion between him and Russia. You could do irreparable damage to your liver.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Lucky 13

          I almost forgot. In fact, not only did I not write anything here yesterday, I screwed myself out of the chance to use this space to commemorate my 13th anniversary as a blogger. 13 years in this business makes one the IF Stone or Helen Thomas of this form of media. In 2005, many of us had put out our shingles, including d r i f t g l a s s, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake (Now Shadowproof) and America's most beloved plantation owner, Arianna Huffington.
     And in July, it'll be a decade since I started this, my third political blog. My, my, how the time flies while Republicans and Democrats hollow out this once great nation like a school  of piranha tearing through a water buffalo carcass.
     I can't even tell you how many articles I've written these past 13 years (It must be well over 4000) since penning my first one. But I've survived three presidents, two of them fake, and nearly four general elections, coming up on four midterms and, tomorrow, 13 States of the Union.

     ...or "uniom", depending on which party you belong to.
     So I might as well take this opportunity to tell you in this belated anniversary message that we need a bit of help until we get our benefits back from the Office of Transitional Assistance. Many of you don't know that our rent was raised by $100 last April to $750 a month. This happened when our piece of shit landlord decided to let our lease expire last February without renewing it. Now he'd artificially made us tenants-at-will, as despicable a designation as "employee-at-will", our landlord gave us no leverage as he presented us with a termination of tenancy notice informing us if we didn't agree to pay an extra $100 a month starting in May, sign the form and get it back to him by April 13th, we had to vacate the premises by the end of the month.
     That $750 comes out to literally half of our income for as long as it lasts. So if you're reading this and if you haven't done so lately, please consider donating to Pottersville (or Gotham City, which it will remain until the end of this shitshow of an administration). It's not for bandwidth or operating costs, obviously, but as a way of keeping our heads above water in the real world. There's a Paypal button at the top right of this page and at the end of every single post on this blog.
     I'm not the first blogger who ever resorted to crowdsourcing to keep the lights on and I doubt I'll be the last. And considering I've taken so many hits for the team by suffering through countless right wing articles, crawling through the sewage of right wing comment sections and thousands of hours of watching Fox and other right wing videos, and have done it for 13 years, I think that deserves a little monetary recognition.
     I'm not doing this for the money, people, because the donations have dried up to almost nothing as my readers and past contributors have died, retired or just faded away for unknown reasons. Maybe we're already irrelevant, even though when I made my inauspicious debut in January 2005, blogging was still a new and exciting medium that forever democratized how political news and commentary was disseminated.
     Although that new car smell has long since faded from bloggerdom, I still believe in it and the power it theoretically puts in our hands. And I still believe that the time is always right for good-hearted people to do the right thing and speak out against injustice, cruelty and stupidity. It just so happens that behind the pages, bills have to be met, corporations, bureaucracies and other creditors have to be satisfied.
     So please give whatever you can either one time or as a recurring gesture.

Cross

     Donald Trump's been crossing his arms a lot, lately. And while body language experts say that not arm crossers do it for the same reason, a cop trained in interrogations and the body language presented will tell you that Donald Trump (who will soon be interviewed by Robert Mueller) has a lot to hide.
     Take the fact that when he crosses his arms, he always hides his hands, which one can construe as further proof that he's been being closed-minded, guarded. Or, as others have intimated, he could be hiding hand tremors, as incipient palsy is common among the elderly.
     It seems the only time this fucking idiot doesn't cross his arms is when he's supposed to, as this not at all embarrassing photo from the recent ASEAN summit attested.

     In fact, it appears to the astute observer that Trump's newest habit of crossing his arms in public is a sign that he feels the growing pressure as the silent, leak-free Mueller Russia probe reaches its glorious apotheosis. His inner circle has been given the third degree from Mueller and his investigators, including Sessions, Michael Flynn, his son in law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, in short, just about everyone who significantly contributed to Trump's rise in this Richard Conden/Stephen King crossover novel of an administration.
     I'm sure these people all dutifully went back to Trump for the usual debriefing and reported to him or his legal counsel what was asked of them and the answers they gave. But missing from Trump's legal strategy are the conclusions Mueller's team drew from these interviews. Add to that the pressure, as it was just revealed today, that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who'd sicced Robert Mueller on Trump's slime trail, had earlier requested the extension of the FISA surveillance on Carter Page after it was learned he went to Russia in July 2016 (the month of the GOP convention in Cleveland).
     Now Trump is privately fuming, again, that he wants to fire Rosenstein and for the same reasons he wants to fire Jeff Sessions: Because Trump, the ultimate oligarch, thinks the Justice Department is there to provide him with cover, as if the Department of Justice itself is his private law firm whose sole remit is to provide him with legal indemnification. In fact, one would be surprised to learn that the Russia probe wasn't related at all to Andrew McCabe resigning today as Deputy Director of the FBI.
     Frankly, I also wouldn't be surprised if Trump delivers his State of Union Address tomorrow with his arms crossed the entire time. As it is, I think much of it will consist of him saying, "One year of Russiagate is enough," just as Nixon had said 44 years ago tomorrow that, "One year of Watergate is enough."
     He may be keeping his cards close to his vest, as guilty men ought, or he may be hiding palsy hand tremors. Or perhaps he's preparing for that inevitable day when he's finally fitted for a strait jacket.

     As it is, I'd be very surprised to not hear, as we pick through the historical ash heap of this administration, that Trump was muttering to oil portraits of his predecessors during this time just as Nixon had.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

No Mulligan From Mueller

     (By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"President Trump (sic) ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive." - New York Times, 1/25/18
As ledes should be, that one says a mouthful and the abstract fact that Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller a month after the Special Counsel's investigation was put into motion by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein could be Trump's political death knell.
     It would mean, as if his prior and future actions haven't already proved, obstruction of justice on Trump's part. Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense. Obviously in between tweets, Trump hadn't had that part read to him of the "President of the United States" Wikipedia page. As tacit proof of that, White House sources are telling CNN that Trump's fuming about the latest disclosure and, in spite of denouncing this latest bombshell as "fake news", now wants to fire Rosenstein.
     You don't need to be a Poli Sci major or political historian to see the similarities between the current brewing scandal and what happened during Watergate, especially during the Saturday Night Massacre. To put it in a nut shell, the Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, was ordered by Nixon to fire the Special Prosecutor he'd appointed to investigate Watergate, Archibald Cox. Cox had just asked Nixon to hand over the Oval Office tapes and Nixon refused, citing Executive Privilege. Nixon then laughably offered a "compromise": Handing over the tapes for review and summarization to Mississippi's Senator John Stennis, who was famously hard of hearing. Cox rejected this.
     That's when Nixon ordered Richardson to fire Cox and he refused and resigned in protest. Working his way down the chain of command, Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox and he refused, also resigning in protest. Finally, Nixon had Solicitor General Robert Bork limousined to the White House to be sworn in as Acting Attorney General, whereupon his first act of office was to write the letter firing Cox.
     It ought to be said that a Special Prosecutor should not be fired unless there's clear evidence of malfeasance or "gross improprieties" on the part of the Special Prosecutor. In Archibald Cox, a highly respected attorney, there plainly was none. And, less than five months into his abbreviated second term, Richard Nixon set the stage for the rest of the Watergate scandal and his presidency. It proved indelibly the political truism that the only thing worse than the original crime is the subsequent coverup.
     Fast forward 45 years into the future: Less than five months into his first term, Donald Trump then moved to have Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III, the highly-respected attorney and former FBI Director, fired tribally to keep his tiny hands clean. He ordered his Chief White House Counsel, Don McGahn II, to do his hatchet work by writing a letter to the DOJ demanding Mueller's termination and McGahn threatened to quit if Trump pushed the issue. Even a dimwit like Trump realized that without his White House Counsel running interference for him, he was defenseless against Mueller's investigation.

The Ladies Man Doth Protest Too Much
Trump's three assertions impugning Mueller's fitness to lead an investigation into his dealings with Russia, financial malfeasance and money laundering and obstruction of justice were quite risible even by Trump World standards.
     First it was a dispute over fees between Mueller and the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, VA, of which he was a member. Mueller eventually canceled his membership. Then Trump tried to claim that Mueller working for the law firm that had once represented his son in law Jared Kushner meant he couldn't be impartial (You would think Trump would think that was a plus but this is Donald Trump we're talking about). Then Trump, clearly grasping at straws with his tiny little hands at this point, tried to claim Mueller couldn't be impartial because he was interviewed to take over the FBI as Director again (A situation Trump himself created by firing Comey on May 9th) the day before he was named by Rosenstein to be Special Prosecutor.
     By last fall, the Tangerine Shitgibbons' brain-damaged surrogates were reduced to demanding Mueller be fired over a handful of anti-Trump texts by two of Mueller's staffers who were nonetheless terminated because of them. Obviously, Trump cannot use the Nixon-era excuse of "gross impropriety" to fire Mueller, who, by all accounts is running a very tight ship regardless of Trump's own legal team attempting to prove political bias on the part of the Republican Special Prosecutor.
     Don McGahn, a woefully mismatched attorney who specializes in campaign finance law, was nonetheless enough of a lawyer to know that even asking the Justice Department to dismiss Mueller (we still haven't any idea what Trump's relayed rationale would've been) would've triggered much the same Constitutional crisis as Nixon's removal of Archibald Cox had caused.
     As recently as the Davos Economic Forum Let's Slice the Planet Up into Slices and Laugh at the Proles Fighting to the Death for the Crumbs Shindig, Trump called the NY Times' revelation about his move to fire Mueller, you guessed it, "fake news". Sean Hannity made the mistake of taking his cues from Trump and also swiftly denounced the breaking exclusive as fake news before having to admit that it was backed up by credible sources then mysteriously having his Twitter account temporarily deactivated.
     If you're a well-informed voter and news consumer, you don't need me or anyone else to reconstruct the timeline of desperate behavior and attempted illegal actions of this so-called President from the very start of his first and only term. These are things that only a guilty man would do, Trump is using or trying to use his attorneys to either fire Mueller or do opposition research on the Special Prosecutor who is making serious inroads to building a multi-pronged case against him ranging from money laundering to Russian collusion to obstruction of justice.
     Let me say that one more time: Only a guilty man acts like this.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

All is Said But Not Done

     Earlier this month, I'd written a post trying to explain why I had brain freeze and found myself saying the same things over and over again about this shit show of an administration. I discovered it was getting increasingly difficult, if not outright impossible, to continue writing commentary about said shit show. I began to suspect I was losing my mojo. Perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough. Between September and December last year, I'd drafted a complete novel and a week later this month had begun another. Perhaps my mind was divided, I thought. But bifurcation isn't an excuse considering since I'd begun blogging almost exactly 13 years ago and had written by my estimate over 4000 posts totaling at least a couple of million words, I'd written or finished four novels of 130,000 words or more and another of 117,000 words. I'd started about two dozen others.
     So, it wasn't that. And then I realized something today- Everything we ever needed to know about Donald Trump we already knew during the campaign. From the day he rode down that escalator like a bored mall husband then started talking about the wall to the lackadaisical and glacial pace of the transition team, we'd had already known all about Donald Trump and what he stands for well before Inauguration Day. All he's done is confirm what we knew or suspected.
     So why are we so obsessed with him? Even though tens of millions still stubbornly refer to him as the president, the amount of press he gets exceeds even that of his most recent predecessors. And Trump is in a unique position to both deliver policy and be the official conduit of the fake news that he keeps spewing forth. Through his Twitter account, the army of journalists and bloggers who follow his every move, Trump is uniquely positioned to, through his very physical and online presence, reshape reality, logic and mathematics itself moreso than any of his predecessors. In short, Trump is radically altering the ontology of the United States,
     And since those of us in the reality-based community know Donald Trump is a lying, furtive, tax and draft dodging, womanizing psychopathic racist, the only things we have to write about is the fallout of a man who'd elevated identity politics to monstrous proportions (It was identity all along, as the man has proven time and again he has no policy positions rooted in pragmatism, reality or even basic human compassion).
     While President Obama maintains a Twitter following of an even 100,000,000, Trump tells his 47,000,000 followers (over half of which are as fake as his first campaign crowd in Trump Tower in mid June 2015) what he feels he needs them to hear and, of course, 99.99% are lies, innuendo and bullshit. But the feedback and efficacy that Obama had enjoyed is dwarfed by that which Trump gets. Any truth that emerges from Trump are Freudian slips that it's up to the rest of us to decode and follow to its logical conclusion. And we're waiting for the shit show's glorious or inglorious conclusion, an amorality play that never seems to end.

     Two and a half years ago, while researching a novella I was about to write, I'd learned about a train crash that had occurred in Crush, Texas on September 15, 1896. It wasn't an accident but a staged train crash that was thought up by an executive of the Katy Railroad, the aptly-named William George Crush. After putting the two trains on a nationwide tour, one painted red and one green, Crush had incorporated Crush, Texas for one day, immediately making Crush the second-biggest city in the Lone Star State.
     People were given free train tickets so they could travel to the ostensibly controlled carnage of two trains colliding with each other, each traveling at a speed of 45 miles per hour. Then the big day came. Scott Joplin himself had been commissioned by the Katy to write a song commemorating the event, the "Great Crush Collision March." Every one of the 40,000 in attendance knew what to expect. Or they thought they knew.
     Because seconds after the collision, debris rocketed out of the train wreck at supersonic speed. Both boilers on the trains exploded and two or three people were reported killed. Mortified, the railroad fired Crush until they realized that, despite the heavy hype and publicity in advance of the crash, fewer newspapers than expected had reported on the carnage. In a telling move smacking of corporate privilege, the Katy had rehired Crush the very next day.
     This is what we're waiting for. Aside from the millions who still support Trump no matter what he says and does as long as his murderous and ruinous policies are enacted, we envisioned the train wreck that would result from Trump's election. Humans have always been attracted to destruction on a large scale. We watched in awe as the first fruits of the Manhattan Project sent up mushroom cloud after mushroom cloud, then gawked at the even larger mushroom clouds that resulted from the first H bombs. We marveled at the scope, scale and destruction of the Twin Towers and Pentagon being hit and, again, when the Twin Towers and WTC 7 inexplicably fell. There was an element of horror, yes, but also a sense of wonder that we would be privileged to see so much destruction on such a large scale.
     This is why humans have to look at train wrecks that they know will happen. In that respect, we have not changed one bit as a species since our ancestors in 1896. Creation, while often a beautiful thing, is always on a smaller scale or too incremental to hold our increasingly beleaguered attention. Destruction, as is the wont of that selfsame species, can be offered on a much more massive scale. We're drawn to it like moths to a flame.
     This is why we watch Trump so obsessively, record every move this lumbering oaf makes. It's not because he's so fascinating. Trump is bottomlessly superficial, a man living in an ever expanding inner universe where the population always stands at one. We've run out of things to say about him because there is nothing new about him that can be said save for what had gotten chucked into the memory hole.
     We all know Trump cannot last four years or even two because, to quote Yeats, the center cannot hold, especially if there is no center. We're all figuratively eating our peanuts and popcorn and wondering, as we watch this sick, doddering, crazy old man shamble from golf course to golf course, if this will finally be the day.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shutdown, Schmutdown!

(By Cyril Blubberpuss, conservative-American)
     "Shutdown, schmutdown!" I cried while urinating on a homeless man on Wall Street (I assumed someone would soon set him on fire). "This government could do with some pipe-cleaning, wouldn't you agree, Mr. Homeless and Legless Iraq War Veteran?"
     We've been hearing about who's to blame for this latest government shutdown for weeks now, the second one in four and a half years (Only this time without, alas, Ted Cruz reading from Dr. Seuss). The Republicans say the Democrats are to blame, the Democrats say the Republicans are to blame, Trump's blaming Chuck Schumer and Congress and the liberal media's blaming Trump.
     I'd love to smack all their under ripe melon heads together and say, "Enough is enough! The government's been shut down again. Isn't that a win-win for everyone?" After all, isn't that the ultimate goal of Republicans, to shrink government so you can drown it in a toilet while still getting your pay, perks and benefits?
     So what if people bought tour tickets to the Statue of Liberty only to be turned away at Liberty Island? "Give us your poor, your huddled masses, as long as we're open for the time being!" is what Emma Lazarus should've written. So what if the NOAA has to struggle to give us weather alerts by putting a beanie on their Director and sticking him on top of the Empire State Building to warn us about the wind?
     Really, these days I'm missing Michele Bachmann preening for the cameras at the closed veteran's memorial and blaming Obama for this latest shutdown, which, of course, he is to blame. Shutdowns are only bad for business when the proles get uppity and start bleating about working 120 hour work weeks and getting their extremities chopped off in their "unsafe working conditions."
     Uncle Sam should be put out to pasture once in a while so we can all enjoy how nice it is not have some avuncular old fart holding out his hand begging for taxes or breathing down our necks carping about pollution and Wall Street greed, blah blah. Hell, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a good friend of mine, falls asleep all the time after 11 AM even when negotiating with the Chinese, The rest of the government just followed his lead.
     What is disastrous is when this happens in the private sector, especially when the government gets involved.


     Why, my family and I still vividly remember the pandemonium that ensued when my baby brother Cecil's online business, www.cecilsprays.com, was shut down by the feds back in the 90's. Apparently, Uncle Sam's long reach extended even into Yugoslavia, in which their government authorities supposedly "rescued" over three dozen sex workers who'd been lured out of their hostels and given an alternative to a higher education.
     Those poor 37 boys were then thrown out of a job and forced to seek refuge in the European colleges from which they were lured. God only knows what they teach them in those European colleges: Probably French cheese and wine swilling and the finer points of Greek sodomy. And all because one ungrateful little whelp saw fit to saw off his own foot to escape into the Slavic wilderness and tattle on my kid brother. There's gratitude for you!
    
     And don't even get started on my baby girl, who'd once hopefully started a business beside a highway in New Jersey. It was a female-only truck stop called "Rose the Riveter's". Alas, my little girl didn't do the proper research on her demographic and overestimated the number of female truckers here in America. (Of course, the questionable items in the adult-themed gift shop didn't help any, especially as she neglected to get batteries for many of the items offered).

     But the government's not shut down for everyone, as President Trump showed in this photo op taken last Friday just before he waddled out of the White House to go to Mar-a-Lago for a rare weekend of golf. Thinking ahead, he even put on one of his famous $40 ball caps to protect his full head of hair from getting disheveled from the inevitable winds of change. It's a busman's holiday for the president as he engages in white knuckle negotiations on the back nine with heads of state and Cabinet heads as to who gets to be the first to shout, "Shockingly brilliant shot, Mr. President!" every time he slices one into the rough. And, yes, rehearsing his best moves from five years ago to trundle them out again.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

One Year Report Card

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
As with disasters such as Kennedy's assassination and 9/11, Americans years hence will be asking themselves in shell-shocked wonderment, "Where were you on January 20th 2017?"
     As the lead picture above shows, we should've taken a clue of what to expect just by looking at Barron Trump's face as he watched the historic transfer of power. To look at him, he'd seemed uncomprehending of the horrors about to unfold as well as of the stupidity and racism that went behind his father's election to the highest office in the land.
     To those of you who'd read Fire and Fury in its entirety, you'll know no one in the Trump campaign thought they had a chance. Melania was reportedly in tears on Election Night, not out of joy that her husband had won but that she'd be pressed into service as the First Lady, a post she'd never wanted. She wanted to continue living a trophy wife life, jet-setting to foreign, exotic locales and shopping on 5th Avenue. No one, not even Trump, thought the American electorate would be so stupid as to elect a serial adulterer, tax and draft dodger who'd bragged on a hot mic to a giggling member of the Bush family that he liked to grab women by their genitalia because he was rich and famous.
     Indeed, Trump's fanatical hold on power he never seriously thought would be his stands in stark contrast to the mass purge we've seen of like-minded sexual perverts we'd seen last year. From Bill O'Reilly to Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer to Mario Battaglia, men once considered invulnerable to criticism or feminine comeuppance had been toppled from power like dominoes. It was the classic snowball effect. And yet Donald Trump, perhaps the most rapacious and misogynistic of them all, retains, for now, a firm grip on the reins of Russian-conferred power. How did he survive the avalanche?
     Perhaps it was a mere matter of timing. The Hollywood Access tape wasn't released on the internet until September 7th 2016, a mere two months before the election. This was a full year before the mass purge of sexual predators really got into full swing and, if the election were held last year, even the politically and physically crippled Hillary Clinton and her corrupt band of lobbyists would have prevailed.
     Alas, it was not to be and, as Alexandre Dumas once said through the mouth of Cardinal Richelieu, treason is a matter of timing, so too is political comeuppance. You don't need to be a political science major to know that no president has even been toppled by a sex scandal. In fact, Richard Nixon is still the only one to resign from the office. Yet sex scandals had toppled several Democrats in their quest for the White House from Gary Hart to John Edwards. Yet Trump, admittedly through Putin and his stooges and tens of millions of racists desperate to elect anyone with an R after their name and wasn't dark-skinned, prevailed.

Après Moi le Déluge
Assuming Trump actually knows the language of diplomacy (he can't seem to master plain English), one could reasonably expect this famous phrase of Louis XIV to migrate to his Twitter feed. Yet, as Robert Mueller looms ever closer and more baleful over the horizon, some earthy iteration of the Sun King's motto will no doubt eventually emerge ("Ya better be grateful for this time I'm your president cuz Mueller wants to piss in the pool with his fake Russia investigation! #MAGA!").
     But, really, on this first anniversary of the day Democracy Died in Darkness, to paraphrase the WaPo, Trump can only point to one significant domestic or foreign accomplishment in his first 365 days- The GOP Tax Scam bill. And that is reviled to the point where even Trump's backers are beginning to question his campaign trail commitments to the poor and middle class (I know. I sadly chuckle when I hear them, too.)
     His response to the hurricane floods in Texas and especially Puerto Rico were a bad joke only a racist Republican would get. Nearly six months after the hurricane, literally half of Puerto Rico is still without power. And between rolls of paper towels thrown to the peasants while he laughed, Trump couldn't stop talking about Puerto Rico's debt, even though his failed golf course saddled them with part of that red ink.
     As proof he doesn't like Muslims, one of his first acts in office was to sign an executive order banning Muslims from first seven then six Muslim-majority nations (coincidentally, Trump had business interests in none of them), both of which were struck down by several federal judges. Despite that judicial wake-up call, however, the ICE raids that are tearing families apart each and every day continue apace while the media look the other way
     Then there was Charlottesville. Alt-right protesters held a protest rally in response to a statue of Robert E. Lee being taken down and by the time the fur stopped flying, an innocent woman was dead. Without once mentioning her, Trump defended the alt-right and diffused the blame for the violence on everyone who was there, citing, "many sides, many sides" were to blame. The next day he was shamed into making a robotic condemnation of the alt-right and, the very next day after that in Trump Tower, Trump again found his inner racist that vibrates just beneath his umber-powdered skin and called Richard Spenser's neo Nazis, white supremacists and David Duke's KKK "very fine people."
     The rest of the time had been filled with mass firings and resignations from Sean Spicer to Steve Bannon to Reince Priebus to Anthony Scaramucci and others almost too numerous to count. Key spots in the State Department and the federal judiciary remain deliberately unfilled as if Trump's downsizing a failing corporation, Congress can't seem to repeal ObamaCare or a spending bill or anything else of consequence aside from massive tax cuts for those least needing and deserving of them.
     So much winning, we're told.

"The Best President We've Ever Had."
In what was a wake-up call to even Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the Grand Poobah of the Right Wing Euphemism, Luntz held a session with a focus group composed entirely of Trump voters. Three minutes into the discussion, one man raised his doubts about Trump's commitment to working class people and claimed he was sold a rotten bill of goods. Immediately, he was shouted down and Clinton's name came up in rebuttal. One woman, a retired educator, actually said that Trump was "the best President we've ever had," which shocked even Luntz.
     The way that the man in back questioning Trump's honesty was attacked was more telling than virtually anything that was discussed or expressed. This is proof that Trump not only had altered peoples' perceptions of what's true or not for a single election cycle but had altered seemingly forever their tactics for dealing with dissent in a political debate. And the way Trump had infected these obviously low-information voters is something from which one cannot easily come back, if at all. Many Nazis, even those who weren't party members, including Goebbells' secretary, never wavered in their commitment to the Third Reich even well into their hundreds.
     Considering that Trump has spent literally a quarter of his illegitimate "presidency" on vacation and bankrupting the Secret Service, such die-hards honestly have nothing of any substance in the way of presidential accomplishment save for a tax bill that almost entirely excludes them to which they can point. So, if their unwavering loyalty to Trump isn't based on what he's done, then that leaves just one possibility- It's not what Trump is but what he represents to them.
     It doesn't faze them one bit that Trump's called neo Nazis against whom their forebears had fought "very fine people", or that he called for the end of births after the nine month gestation period or that he walks past his presidential limo so massive it's named "the Beast" or that he announced to Israeli officials in Tel Aviv that he'd just left the Middle East. It's Donald, Donald, he's their man. If he can't do it, no one can!
     Honestly, at this point, Trump could butt fuck a dead Palestinian kid on the Resolute Desk in full view of TV cameras and his supporters would cheer him on that it will drive liberals and Palestinians crazy.
     Because it's all about spiting the liberals. Who knows how many of his dwindling base have named their kids after him over the last two and a half years or eat their steaks well done and slathered with ketchup just like Trump. Their foaming at the mouth hatred of anything even remotely to the left of Hitler and deemed lib'ral is enough to drive them into a frenzy. Such is the success of the right wing's ongoing smear campaign against liberals who are hardly in evidence in Congress.
     So there you have it- The legislative agenda isn't there: Trump's signed fewer bills into law than any modern President since Eisenhower. He's spent more vacation days in one year than any president (and, no, none of them were busman's holidays). The wall hasn't come close to being built, at least if you exclude the land grabs along South Texas, land grabs of Trump voters who'd, ironically, voted for Trump because of his promise of a wall that'd be paid for by Mexico.
     At the risk of oversimplifying what amounts to a simple mindset, it seems Trump's greatest appeal to them is not having a vagina and not having black skin. They've mistaken ignorant stubbornness for strength and resolve, racism for patriotism and his particularly toxic brand of fascism as the kind of conservatism they can at last understand.
     So it's perfectly appropriate that Donald Trump's first year as "president" would arrive on the day the government shut down.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Only N-Word Trumpers Won't Use

     Come on, we all know what that word is. Starts with "N", ends with "I", has "AZ" in the middle.
     You see the bristling on social media, in the halls of Congress. Some genius even coined a term called "Godwin's Law" in order to immediately invalidate any argument where one side makes charges, however merited, of fascism.
     Remember that phrase, "however merited" because virtually every time Trump opens his pie hole, it's as if he's daring people to compare him to Hitler. I've written post after post about this, on his shameless modeling of everything he does to perhaps the only man he ever admired in his self-absorbed life: Adolph Hitler. His own ex wife revealed in a divorce filing that he kept Hitler's speeches next to his bed.
     He covered for Neo Nazis who'd murdered a young woman in Charlottesville without once even mentioning her. Then, after being shamed into condemning the actions of the alt-right that day, he took it all back the next day in Trump Tower and called them, "very fine people" with his Jewish Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin standing to his immediate right (as well as his Orthodox Jewish son in law Jared Kushner and his converted Jewish daughter Ivanka in attendance).
     And he isn't pro Big Business, he is Big Business. The tax scam bill he signed into law this month is alone proof of that. In his inaugural speech, he lauded law enforcement to the point where he began to speak of them as if they were his personal Bund.
     His so-called nationalism is a joke as his own suits are made in both China and Mexico. And, like Hitler, he secretly colluded with Russia.
     Hitler used to rail about the "fake press" just as Trump rails about the "fake news", "the failing NY Times", etc. Right wingers hate the press for the same reason that viruses hate microscopes.
     And, like Hitler, Trump is infamously paranoid. The day he announced his candidacy, he reverted to Otherism in denouncing Mexicans and almost immediately expanded that to include Muslims, starting with a pair of Muslim bans that were turned over by several federal judges. Even so, heartless and cruel deportations continue at an alarming rate in this mindless nationalistic frenzy.
     Hitler held up the Aryan model, blond-haired, blue-eyed people, as the master race. Right after deriding African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as "shithole countries", Trump immediately asked why we couldn't have more nice Norwegians (like Quisling and Anders Brevik, for instance).
     Then there's the physical mannerisms that he seemed to have copied directly from Hitler, those timeless, universal symbols immediately relateable to those who support Trump no matter what he does. Mein Kampf. My Struggle. Look how I struggle. I'm trying to make this country great for you.
     Frankly, I don't know how much more it'll take before these buffoons (aside from these Neo Nazis who now proudly fly their freak flag in our streets) who still slavishly support a man who doesn't even know they're alive recognize that Trump is a fascist asshole who's already a decade past his shelf life.
     Trump is a Nazi. Period. Pro-corporate, nationalistic, anti-press, anti Semitic, pro-white and authoritarian down to his bones.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's my party...

     ...and you can buy if you want to. I've been kind of busy today and didn't really have time to post earlier. I'm in the midst of negotiating a deal with a publisher, sending out and receiving books and dealing with literally hundreds of birthday wishes on FB. Plus, no sooner than I finished my latest novel in the middle of last month, I began another one that's an immediate followup in the series.
     So, yeah, your aging porcine powerhouse is now exactly a year shy of hitting the big 6-0. And, while I'm a bit old to be expecting cash, cards and cake, it would be nice if you could stop by my Amazon author page and purchase a book or two. I was originally planning on taking them off the market but I have a few reviews pending from some new readers so I'll keep them all up for now.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Shithead

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” - "President" Donald Trump, January 11, 2018
This man has to go. Now. And people are getting kind of fed up waiting on Robert Mueller and his glacially slow investigation and Republicans pretending as if the 25th Amendment doesn't exist. Because I think we can all stop shaking our heads and denying that Donald Trump is a racist. If Charlottesville and Trump giving cover to his white supremacist supporters didn't prove that in spades, then there's no denying it now.
     Slate knows it. CNN's Anderson Cooper knows it. His former ambassador to Panama knows it. There's no more plausible deniability and the last refuge Trump's racist voters, supporters and sympathizers have left is acknowledging he is a racist but "one who tells it like it is." After all, if Haiti and other countries with black people aren't shitholes, then why did they come here, in the first place?
     Well, one answer is that they came to America looking for a better life through better opportunities for their families before Donald John Trump made our nation the laughingstock of the planet, before he and his Republican and corporate enablers turned it into the First World's Premiere shithole. And. lest there be any inexplicable lingering doubt that Donald John Trump is a racist cut from the same rotten piece of whole cloth as his running buddy David Duke, Trump punctuated his despicable remark by asking why Norway can't send more of their people over.
     Well, why would they? They live in a far better, more progressive country than ours. Someone should tell Trump he can stop buttering up the Norwegians- They already bought the F-52's. And someone should also remind him not all Norwegians are like Quisling. Typically, Trump denied having said these things despite there being Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Oval Office when he said it, as well as the press.
     And, as always, his timing couldn't have been worse except if he'd waited a day and made the remarks about Haiti and certain African nations today: Today is the eighth anniversary of the horrendous earthquake that devastated Haiti that killed anywhere from 100,000 to 316,000 people and displaced one and a half million.
     If the community of nations was an actual family, Haiti would be the youngest in a family of scores that always gets the hand-me-downs, beatings and derision from bloated, pampered, racist white fucks such as Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh. Through seemingly unending political corruption and repressive regimes, American corruption that only begins with the Clintons and the Red Cross, and then natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Haiti, the world's first black republic, has never gotten a fair shake and that trend promises to continue for the foreseeable future.

He's Not Racist. He Only Plays One on TV
Donald Trump has always been racist and you have his father Fred to thank for that. During Trump's Quixotic campaign, we'd heard the disgusting tale of Fred and Donald Trump being sued in the early 70's for racial discrimination in their rental practices. HUD, now headed up an anti public housing fanatic named Ben Carson, sued the Trumps. It was the Donald's inglorious introduction to nationwide fame (or infamy) and then as now, Trump denied any wrongdoing, saying the government's allegations were "absolutely ridiculous."
     Since then, Trump has not been shy about showing off his racist opinions in interviews over the decades, including saying that blacks were "inherently lazy" when his Atlantic City casino went belly up. And, of course, he pricked up a lot of dog ears when, during his campaign announcement, used his coarse dog whistle to call for a wall to keep out Mexicans because they're "rapists and criminals."
     Since then, he hasn't been shy about making his racist views known even though he's now under a bigger, more powerful microscope than NBC or the Miss Universe Pageant ever presented. Despite knowing that a rash tweet or an injudicious thought could result in a stock market crash or create an international incident (like, say, nuclear war with North Korea that could easily pull in China and its considerable might), Trump blithely barrels across the world calling nations with black populations "shitholes" and then following up by wondering why we can't have more white, respectable Nordic types.
     Then there was Trump's lackadasical response to the hurricane that submerged Port Arthur and Houston, a city with 36% Hispanics and his execrable response to the subsequent hurricane that struck our territory Puerto Rico and left much of it, to this day, without power. Trump's remedy? Throw paper towels at them then laugh as they catch them.
     No President of the United States can pretend to unify the nation and respect the countless cultures that make up our national fabric while being so derogatory to those who aren't sufficiently white enough to pass his baleful muster. And Trump's remarks about Haiti and African nations shocked even the GOP lawmakers who were there during that impromptu meeting to talk about DACA and Jeff Flake's compromise bill.
     Besides, as the old adage says, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, especially if they have unparalleled views  of shitholes like Trump Park, Mar-a-Lago and Trump's Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City
     Now, those are shitholes.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Man Boy Who Cried Wolff

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart... I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!” -"President" Donald J. Trump, January 6, 2018
To paraphrase an old quote about discipline and genius, "Genius without discipline gives us artists. Discipline without genius gives us bureaucrats. And an abundance of neither gives us people like Joe Chadwick and Donald Trump.
     This morning, just before the Trump crime family went to the mattresses at Camp David a la The Godfather, Donald Trump put out a series of tweets today that, even by his abysmally low standards, had to be seen to be believed. In a way, it was predictable that Fire and Fury, the #1 hottest-selling book in the nation, if not the world, would bring out the street fighter in Trump.

     So it was highly ironic and more than a little amusing when Trump decided to amplify his message that first went out on Twitter and made himself an even bigger laughingstock by proclaiming before the media, "That's what I do. I do things proper." Repeatedly. Yes, the man who bragged about going to "the best colleges, or college" apparently hadn't learned a baseline of English language skills.
     OK, this is all very funny and, yes, let's give him what for and laugh at the poor idiot with the language skills of a 19th century Lower East Side guttersnipe. But remember that this particular idiot has his tiny finger on a big button that, until days ago, he was bragging was on his desk (it is not). The real story, of course, is no laughing matter, even if Trump actually mentioned Alzheimer's victim Ronald Reagan while trying to scream that he was a "very stable genius."

     Kinda like that.
     This, of course, is the real issue, not his Norm Crosby mangling of the English language. And let's revisit that latest battle of "wits" between Trump and Kim Jong Un in which Trump threatened nuclear war, again, on Twitter. And, as Johnathan Capeheart wrote in his lede yesterday in the WaPo, "Wolff paints such a chaotic portrait of President Trump that we now know that the biggest nuclear button in the West Wing was the one on Wolff’s tape recorder."
     Which, while it may be a clever and topical bon mot, is of course not true. Trump's metaphorical big red button, a cartoon image with sinister implications if there was ever one, is the only true big red button that matters because this immature, sputtering manchild ravaged with insecurities that go back to his childhood has the capability to destroy the world in a nuclear winter that could last for tens of thousands of years.
     And, legally, since such a chain of events could happen with dizzying speed, there's no one who could or would likely stop him short of mass insubordination. And Trump doesn't even seem to have stopped to consider the corollary implications of bombing even a rogue nation such as North Korea. Such as their biggest ally China bombing us in retaliation.

Epiphany Day
In The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon, Anthony Summers once related a nightmarish tale of Richard Nixon, still in his rookie year as president, ordering a nuclear strike on North Korea while dead drunk. It was only stopped by Henry Kissinger, the unlikeliest of heroes, when he telephoned the Joint Chiefs and told them to belay Nixon's order until he sobered up in the morning. By Kissinger's own account, "If the President had his way, there would be a nuclear war every week!"
     Would Rex Tillerson do that if Trump decides to slam that big red button in a childish act of rage? It's one thing to call your boss "a fucking moron" behind his back (after a meeting at the Pentagon in which Trump expressed a desire to exponentially ramp up our nuclear stockpile in defiance of decades of non-proliferation treaties). It's another to call the Pentagon and tell our highest-ranking military leaders to hold off on a nuclear first strike. Plus, Tillerson's no Henry Kissinger and may be on the way out.
     And experts on the subject of nuclear strikes have different things to say on the matter. And just the very fact that we have to have this discussion, to begin with, and just two days before Trump's Twitter tirade and spittle fest at the media, is very discomfiting to say the least. The problem is that Trump has no plausible deniability. It seems to perpetually escape him that, in order to have that, you have to be plausible.
     He's also yet to learn after 71 and a half years on this planet that when your sanity is questioned by anyone, whether it be by a Harvard-educated psychiatrist of international note or a hack such as Michael Wolff, you don't punch down. Because when you do, you've immediately lost the argument. Johnny Pesky, the legendary Red Sox infielder, understood that decades ago when he was made the goat of the 1946 World Series loss to the Cardinals. He knew that the more he argued against him holding the ball too long, the guiltier he looked so he just took his lumps.
     Trump has never learned that and it's obvious he never will. The Bizarro World between his ears is such that a funny meme on Twitter went viral yesterday: The now-infamous Gorilla Channel hoax. The very fact that so many people were taken in by it is not a reflection of the gullibility of people but one on a so-called President who's so bizarre even down to his clownishly long ties that any wild fabrication calling his sanity into question invites more suspension of disbelief than Trump can ever muster.
     Today is Epiphany Day but that fact alone is hardly a revelation.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Confession

     I don't always know what I'm going to write until I write it. That often goes for my fiction because I'm what my fellow writers refer to as a pantser, or writing by the seat of one's pants without a template like an outline or chapter synopsis. Now, no doubt, that may invite some "neener neener" comment by Jailbird Joe Chadwick, a guy who probably pressured the smart kids in his private school in Jerusalem to eat their own boogers then razzed them for it.
     But in all seriousness, I don't know what to say for my inaugural post of 2018 but I trust that I'll eventually come up with something.
     I think part of this stultifying paralysis comes from the fact that I'm haunted by the feeling that, when it comes to Republicans and Trump, I've said it all since 2015, since practically the day the Donald rode an escalator down into presidential history and had an ex KGB goon named Vladimir Putin help him steal the election.
     I've psychoanalyzed this buffoon to the best of my poor layman's abilities but, after a while, one finds oneself with a soured feeling of deja vu, that's it's all been said, to no avail. In violation of the so-called Goldwater Rule, countless psychiatrists and psychologists have analyzed Trump through his actions, speeches and other public statements. And who's to refute them, especially when they're all, seemingly, saying more or less the same thing- That Trump's plainly unfit to lead the nation and the free world.
     Yes, we all know he's lazy, arrogant, megalomaniacal, feckless and shiftless. He's spent 112 days golfing in the first year of his ill-gotten presidency, quite a stat for a guy who attacked former president Obama on the rare occasion he picked up a golf club (However, one must consider that during Trump's youth, the only legitimate reason for a black man to be on a golf course was if he was a caddy or groundskeeper).
     Like a typical Republican, he's bound and determined to hurt poor people, takes no responsibility for his toxic actions and lies, lies, lies like a bearskin rug. He is completely and utterly unaware that he's even capable of hypocrisy let alone constantly indulging in it and when he hears something unflattering about himself or his so-called administration, he waves it off by sneering, "Fake news."
     And the craven, wet-legged Republicans in Congress have a choice to make- After a string of defeats of people who'd chosen to walk off the cliff with Trump or those who'd been given the Kiss of Death by him, Republicans have to decide whether to continue siding with him as they use him for a useful idiot to continue hurting the poor, enriching the 1%, continuing the risky military adventurism bloating the MIC and turning our woefully understaffed diplomatic corps into an international laughingstock.
     Or they could repudiate him, distance themselves from him at the risk of losing Trump's red meat base. This November 6th, all 435 congressional seats are up for grabs, obviously, as well as eight Republican Senate seats in mostly red states. But Alabama used to be a red state and their boy Roy Moore (R-Lolita), who reluctantly got the aforementioned Kiss of Death from Trump as had Luther Strange before him, got his ass handed to him by Doug Jones, albeit a dull Blue Dog if ever there was one.
     So, after Alabama, no GOP seat is safe.
     But I've already said these things. So what should I be saying, instead?
     That the grand jury empaneled by Robert Mueller isn't just searching for irrefutable evidence of indictable crimes- It is searching for the soul of a nation that had allowed so much to get taken from it since Nixon  including the power of the rule of law that had been seriously eroded since Bush II. We have allowed so much to be stolen from us by Republicans and the corporations that benefit so much from their largesse and neverending orgy of deregulation that it only becomes apparent of how much is missing from our lives if you're my age or older and remember the way this once great nation used to be.
     Because what Bob Barr once said still holds true and always will: "If you give the government power, it will use it." And we have ceded far too much power to these people when we can't seem to muster more than electing a few Blue Dogs like Doug Jones every election cycle, so-called Democrats who are alarmingly willing to work with Republicans in the spirit of "compromise" and "bipartisanship" in which Republicans hold no stock while they enjoy the tyranny of the majority.
     Yes, my hopes for a better future hang like a wet, heavy coat on a wooden peg on Mueller's investigation but that alone will not solve our ills. Trump may be heading for the third or fourth shortest term in US presidential history. But even if Pence goes out the door with him, the evil, the moral leprosy that put both in power will be left behind, like the dry rot in the piling beneath the pulled-up rotten carpet.
     Like the salt in the earth beneath the dead grass. We need to switch it all out and it's going to take a hell of a lot more than just one midterm election to do it. It's going to take the complete overhaul of the mindset of the 40% of us who still vote and the well-informed, good-hearted engagement of the other 60% who don't.
     And that's what I fear and that's why it's been so hard to get myself to write anything here because I have to be honest and admit what I've just called for seems out of reach of a lazy, complacent nation that had allowed so many freedoms and so much power to fall into the wrong hands.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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