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deep breaths, everyone

August 31, 2018

With the solemnity of John McCain lying in state juxtaposed with the joyousness of Aretha Franklin’s funeral, the U.S. and Canada enter the Labor/Labour Day weekend on the brink of a momentous end to 2018.

September 1st has long felt like the start of the new year to me.  The weather is changing, the kids are back in school, and football is back.  We can really do with a restart right now.  The NAFTA reboot is in jeopardy due mostly to Trump’s arbitrary deadline for a deal today.  His tweets are increasingly bizarre.  He’s all but said that Rosenstein and Mueller are gone after the mid-terms.

But Mueller is shrewder and much more disciplined than Individual 1.  He already has put some of the investigation out of Trump’s reach with referrals to non-federal courts.  He has two months to further outmaneuver Donnie.

And how about those mid-terms?  They are already fascinating.  Democrats Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Andrew Gillum of Florida and Ben Jealous of Maryland have a solid chance of becoming the first black governors of their state.  Beta O’Rourke is in a tie in the polls with Ted Cruz in Texas.  The Generic Congressional Vote, a reliable overall indicator, is creeping back into double digits for the Dems.  An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows Trump’s approval at 36%, pulling the aggregate rating by Nate Silver’s 538 website down to 40.7.  The gap between Trump’s disapproval/approval is now 13.6, the largest in four months.

So deep breaths, everyone.  Enjoy the holiday, get some rest and drink a lot of fluids.

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One way to enjoy the holiday is to listen to the broadcast of Episode 2 of my radio series “Nuevo Malibu” tonight on cortesradio.ca at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.  After that it will be available there as a podcast.

 

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witches: 0; warlocks: 7

August 24, 2018

I’m loathe to admit it, but Trump is right that the Mueller investigation is a fruitless witch hunt.  No women have been indicted or convicted.  But Big Bob just hung two more male pelts on the wall this week, and they were heavies.  Yet-to-be-named Americans and two dozen or so Russians are on his radar.  So some of them may be of the distaff persuasion.  It’s difficult to keep track as new bread crumbs from the investigation drop constantly.  Even Omarosa can’t get any ink.

Indeed, the flipping of Trump allies David Pecker and Allen Weisellberg the past two days are actually appetizer grade.  I used to think that it would be to the world’s advantage for Mueller to make his move before the mid-terms, but now I’m digging the pace as it is.  The slower the facts come out, the weaker Trump gets.  His claim that the markets would crash and everyone would be poor if he’s impeached is just flat out pathetic.  And he thinks flipping should be “almost” outlawed.  What the hell does that mean?

However it plays out, prepare for the worst.  The more desperate Trump gets, the more likely he’ll overreact.  And that could be Avengers’ movie spectacular.

I have been striving to avoid using nicknames for Trump, retiring my favourite, Aging Orange, many months ago.  But a new one surfaced this week that I feel quite adult about using because it’s legally accurate AND insulting.  Henceforth, I will often refer to the Donald as Individual One.

Two stray thoughts:

(1) As John McCain enters his final stage of life, I feel like he might be remembered as the last true Republican.  Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are nowhere to be found as Trump systematically destroys the GOP.  Thanks for sinking Trump’s healthcare bill, John.  That was truly heroic.

(2) With football season starting soon, I renew my admiration of players kneeling in protest during the national anthem.  Individual One tries to rally veterans against them, but this is one former Marine who will take no cues from a coward.

thank you for your service, Omarosa

August 14, 2018

Eighty-three.

Thant’s how many days are left until the mid-term elections, and Trump is choosing to spend them assuring a curious nation that a producer of The Apprentice told him that no tape of The Donald spouting racial slurs on the set exists.  Why say it that way instead of “I never said such words”?  To be fair, Trump has categorically denied ever saying them, recently asserting that no such words have ever been in his vocabulary.

That seems much more feasible a defense because his vocabulary is so limited.  But even if that tape surfaces, it’s not going to move any political needles.  It would just be a cherry on the bottom of a lengthy trail of evidence of his bigotry.  The Central Park Five and other distant transgressions aside, just this month Trump has called Don Lemon and Lebron James dumb and renewed his attacks on NFL players protesting police brutality.

You can’t really blame him for attacking Lebron.  James had the nerve to open a school for at-risk kids.  Uppity.

As Michael Avenatti struggles for headlines these days, Omarosa has taken up the cause.  She may be an even better match for Donny J.  They’re cut from the same bolt of faulty fabric.  Both are immeasurably insecure, so any airtime is –well — oxygen to them.  Neither has any discernible scruples.

So they parse and parse and parse as climate change has California in flames.  It’s not that Trump would do anything about a solid blue state anyway, but his obsession with Omarosa also keeps him from doing little else as he eyes the Mueller probe and waits for a shoe factory to drop.

Omarosa’s ego is sturdy enough to feed this story for weeks.  Maybe we’ll still be hearing about it in 84 days.

the growing threat at the border

August 6, 2018

As we enter the dog days, nearly all the Canadian provinces and territories are celebrating a holiday today.  It’s called by various names: Heritage Day in Alberta, Natal Day in Nova Scotia, Terry Fox Day in Manitoba and New Brunswick Day in New Brunswick.  I would normally scoff at New Brunswick for lack of imagination, but here in B.C., we’re honouring British Columbia Day.

Plus, it’s unCanadian to scoff.  And too hot.  Not Tunisia or Death Valley hot, but we hit 90 degrees F. recently.  This nonexistent climate change mirrors the heat Trump is starting to feel from the equally nonexistent Trump Tower meeting.  As the U.S. steams toward a constitutional crisis, I’m reminded more and more of Watergate because of the relentless incompetence of Those Who Should Know Better.

Based on the thinning of Don Junior’s smarmy smile, I’m guessing that Don Senior will soon be firing Mueller and/or Rosenthal, and/or pardoning Junior and/or Manafort.  If he does, we’ll need one of those wind tunnel fans to disperse the tonnage of shit that will hit it.

Which brings me to the problem at the U.S. border.   CBS reports that illegal crossings into America are up 142% this year.  That’s the Canadian-U.S. border, mind you — a 5,525-mile-long boundary that has 400,000 people and $1.6 billion in legal goods cross it daily.  It’s the world’s longest and busiest border.

Last year, 1,489 Mexicans were apprehended near this border.  Canada does not require a visa from Mexican citizens.  One-way flights to Montreal or Toronto cost just $300.  There are thousands of motion detectors and cameras.  And part of the line between Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, is marked by a row of potted plants.

If that’s not enough, Trump may insist that Canada pay for a wall.  If so, he’ll get the politest “fuck you” he’s ever heard.

easing back in

June 25, 2018

Clearly all is not right with this world, but I’m easing back into it after our memorable trip to the states.  I’ve chosen to avoid the increasingly acrid public discourse, mainly because Trump has the distinct home field advantage.  But there’s one incident I can’t resist commenting on.

Last Friday The Donald was rallying the troops in Nevada by bringing in a group of people who had family members killed by undocumented immigrants.  With the ever-hovering Mike Pence nearby, Trump introduced several folks to tell their truly heart-breaking stories.

He again showed his willingness to exploit the grief of others.  I told Jude that he’d sunk to a new low, but she assured me that he’d done worse.

As Trump exploited, a woman standing behind him said that since 9/11, “illegal aliens” had killed 63,000 Americans.  Without missing a beat (and not fact-checking), Trump picked up the thread.  “63,000,” he parroted.  “That number that they say is very low because things aren’t reported.  63,000.  You don’t hear about that.”

The reason we didn’t hear about it was merely because it didn’t happen.  Snopes, a fact-checking website found 99% accurate, says “not only is there no evidence for his claim, it would require a seemingly superhuman murder spree by the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.”

Certainly Fox News would have reported that.

It doesn’t bother me that Trump lied.  That’s a given, just as sure as his cheeseburger-scented breath.  What bothered me was the ease with which he folded it into his narrative.  No matter how far-fetched his “facts”, if it supports his worldview, it’s in.

Snopes speculated that this tidbit was based on misinformation spewed out by Steve King, a U.S. House member from Iowa.  King once claimed that a GAO report showed 25,064  “aliens” were arrested for homicide in the U.S. between 2004 and 2008.  The figure was correct, though the time frame was actually a 51-year span.

But how much can you rely on a guy who once fantasized about marijuana-toting Hispanics with “calves the size of cantaloupes”?

In contrast, a Cato Institute study of homicide conviction rates in Texas in 2015 found that rates for illegal and legal immigrants were (respectively) 25 and 87 percent less than that of native born Americans.

But none of these pesky facts matter in Trumperica.  How can you bother to take time to fact check when your Uber driver looks like an MS-13 gang member?

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In our public safety section, please be advised that the Buckeye, Arizona, Fire Department has warned citizens to beware of rattlesnakes in their pool noodles.  So if you have a swimming pool in or around Buckeye — or you are planning to — please check your noodles for rattling sounds.

 

 

safe at home

June 13, 2018

It’s taken more than a week for me to decompress from our trip to the states, most of that simply resting.  Jude, the dogs and I slept for 12 hours when we got home.

We last visited family and friends below the 49th Parallel in November ’16 just after Trump’s election.  There was a pall everywhere we stopped, matching the gloomy skies.  This time the weather was brighter, but the mood was angrier.  The first few days were spent in Trump country, small towns in Washington and Oregon.

We saw ample U.S. flags and Trump stickers, and had a day to walk around Port Orford OR because we had to get our truck repaired.  Some vital part of it started making horrendous noises.  Granted it was a few days before Memorial Day weekend, but there seemed to be a notable increase in flag-waving, if not actual patriotism.  We left Port Orford at 4:20 p.m. (I swear), rolling into our campground near Healdsburg CA ’round midnight.

Problem was, it was too late to check in, so we spent a second night in the truck.  The next morning we set up our tent, then connected with Jude’s son and his family.  Things markedly improved.  We had a fantastic time at the beach the next day.

The following day we spent mostly at a veterinarians’ clinic because Tooka, our 80-pound puppy, got a foxtail stuck up his nose.  Monday immensely improved because we celebrated Jude’s birthday and watched the Golden State Warriors win the NBA championship.  Tuesday I met up with some old friends and made a new one, Don, whom I met through the blog.  Don is also a VietVet, so we had lots to talk about.  He does a lot of work with other vets, and had some suggestions about my VA disability claim.

Wednesday we drove to Sacramento to see Bonnie, another old friend.  She was able to find a restaurant at a truck stop that allowed dogs inside.  We had a nice meal, hugged our hugs and hit the road.  We left Sac about 3:30 p.m.  Twelve hours we were on the outskirts of Seattle.  Random Chance bless the Interstate system.

We were on fumes when we got home.  We took the collars and harnesses off the dogs.  They ran around naked for hours, unleashing all the energy they’d stored up from countless hours in the truck.  We unloaded as little as possible, then sat down as soon as possible.  The farm never looked lovelier.

the boy who decried Wolf

May 2, 2018

There’s virtually no shelf life left to this, but I did want to weigh in on comedian Michelle Wolf’s gig at the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday.  I thoroughly enjoyed Wolf on The Daily Show.  However, I found her extended bit strained and  .  .  .  well, not very funny.  She did get some laughs, to be sure.  Her negativity and pettiness, though, reminded me too much of the I-had-better-things-to-do Trump.

He was quick to deride her, declaring the Dinner dead.  Fair enough, but the sound bite that got the most attention was misinterpreted.  Wolf said that Sarah Huckabee Sanders “burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye”.  It sounded very much like “burns fat”, and that sent the Rabid Right into full-tilt tizzy.

The Donald is getting increasingly desperate for distractions as the thundering herd of the Mueller investigation approacheth.  The hot air in this one, nevertheless, has cooled.

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In happier, unrelated news, please tune into cortesradio.ca this Saturday at 8 p.m. Pacific for the world premiere of my radio series “Nuevo Malibu”.  Join an unlikely trio of companions as they time-travel in a Port-a-Potty.  This episode they go back to 1959 to stop Donald Trump after he accidentally nukes Canada.