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oh, how the midgets have fallen!

November 10, 2017

The tsunami of sexual harassment charges is the swiftest and most comprehensive social upheaval I’ve ever witnessed.  It’s redefining the most fundamental ways humans interact, bringing up our deepest secrets and spotlighting our worst hypocrisies.  Example: someone on my slice of Facebook questioned why it took dozens of women to corral the odious Harvey Weinstein, but only one man to collapse Kevin Spacey’s world.

Although I applaud this phenomenal change, I hope that due process of law doesn’t get swept away in the turmoil.  It’s refreshing to see Louis C.K. own up to his misdeeds, but not a total shock if you’re familiar with his stand-up routines.

Far to the right of Louie is Roy Moore of Alabama, the GOP’s choice to succeed Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.  Moore is a legend in the state.  He was removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 for refusing to take out a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building.  He was re-elected in 2013, then suspended in May of last year for ordering probate judges to continue to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriages even though it had been declared unconstitutional.

Yesterday a Washington Post article alleged that Moore had sexual contact with Leigh Corfman when she was 14 years old.  He was 32.  Moore has strongly denied this but admitted he may have dated other teenaged girls when he was in his 30’s.

His defenders offered precious little help.  State Auditor Jim Ziegler averred that it was “much ado about nothing”, then segued from Shakespeare to the Bible with an oblique reference: “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter.  They became parents of Jesus.”  Ziegler wrapped it up with “there’s just nothing immoral or illegal here.  Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Moore has already made this a titanic struggle between good and evil, because that’s what Christian extremists do.  Persecution and martyrdom are the coin of their realm.  Indeed, Alabama voters may still elect him December 12th.  He was well ahead in the polls.  But check the Real Clear Politics website in a few days to see how this affects the race.

He could easily clarify matters by submitting to a polygraph test, preferably while placing his hand on the Bible.  Maybe he would remember the Commandment about not coveting thy neighbour’s underaged daughter.

Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones is a formidable opponent.  As U.S. Attorney for northern Alabama, he helped bring down domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph.  Jones also convicted two Klan members for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four black children.

Alabama is no Virginia.  It is very red.  The state university’s nickname is even The Crimson Tide.  But the tide is quickly turning.  National GOP leaders seem petrified by this.  Bombarded yesterday with reporters’ questions about Moore, Mitch McConnell could only muster that mirthless turtle smile.

 

 

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so long, Aging Orange

November 3, 2017

I got so caught up in the dark doings of last month that I realized I was being as negative as Trump.  Even today, as he rails about the pure evil of Bowe Bergdahl and Hilary (anew), I struggle mightily not to get pulled into his vortex of vilification.  So I’m taking that crucial first step: I’m not going to refer to him by nickname any more.

Sure, I’ll miss Aging Orange, Cheeto, Mad Yam, Tangerine Tantrum, Tall Troll and such.  And I may use apropos adjectives like “cowardly” and “unbalanced”.  But denigrating sobriquets are really his thing.  While he goes petty, I’ll try to stay above it.

For one thing, it’s piling on.  Everyone is on his case.  He complains about it constantly.  Believe him.  Nonetheless, there’s one word to describe him that I can use without guilt: pathetic.

I draw no joy from this observation, but the empirical evidence is staggering.  I worked for many years on psych units.  The guide used for diagnosing patients there is the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, now in its fifth edition.  Consider some of the DSM-5 criteria for a narcissistic personality disorder: “exaggerated self-appraisal”, “goal-setting is based on gaining approval”, “impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others”, “relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation”, “feelings of entitlement”, “self-centeredness”, “condescending” and “admiration seeking”.

I’m not claiming any expertise on this, but can you read this list and not think of Trump?

“sacred”? jarhead, please

October 21, 2017

I believe that a Trump unchecked has unlimited potential to fuck things up beyond all repair and recognition.  Ergo, I  have deeply appreciated the efforts of fellow Marine John Kelly to mind the baby.  Until a few days ago.

Kelly had been the calm center of Hurricane Donnie until Trump bungled the condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, widow of  soldier La David Johnson.  Sgt. Johnson was one of four soldiers (including Staff Sergeants Bryan Black, Justin Wright and Jeremiah Johnson) killed in the Niger ambush.

Ms. Johnson and her family, along with U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson — a long-time family friend — were on their way to receive Sgt. Johnson’s body when Trump called.  He was put on speaker phone.  According to Wilson and family members, POTUS did not use Sgt. Johnson’s name.  He did say, however, words to the effect of  “he knew what he he was getting into when he signed up, but it still must hurt”.

Trump swore that those words were suggested by Kelly, who listened to the call on speaker phone along with other officials.  I can see how Trump might have rewritten the first part as he filtered Kelly’s words through his brain, the Swamp Too Deep to Drain.   As former cannon fodder, I agree that Sgt. Johnson likely considered the possibility he might get killed, yet you don’t enlist with that goal.

But I’d wager that “it still must hurt” was an ad lib, like when he reads off a teleprompter, then goes off script with something inane like “and that’s really important”.  Trump usually gets into trouble when he speculates about human emotions, like Sheldon Cooper does.

So the game was afoot and Trump went to his playbook.  He claimed that Obama and other presidents didn’t even make condolence calls, a charge quickly shot down.  He railed about Rep. Wilson “SECRETLY” listening in, even as he, Kelly and others (I’m guessing some other white guys) did the same.

Then he went long.  He had Kelly attack Rep. Wilson.  He called her an “empty barrel”.  He stated erroneously that she had boasted in 2015 about securing funds for a building named after Gerry Dove and Benjamin Grogan, two FBI agents killed in a 1986 Miami shootout.  She did give a speech about working with Republicans to name the building, but she wasn’t in Congress when it was funded.  Nonetheless, Kelly was “stunned” by this non-incident.  And, of course, Trump had to pile-on.

Then it got weirder.  Kelly said that condolence calls should be “sacred”, like women were when he was growing up.  Back when they had equal pay and comprised half of Congress, General?

Then it got even weirder.  Sarah Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, thought she might put matters to rest by saying it was highly inappropriate to question a four-star general.  She has since walked that back.  Sanders is the daughter of former GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.  He’s an ordained Southern Baptist minister.  I’d love to see her have to do a press conference with her hand on the Bible.

It’s still a fine mess.  The Niger ambush that started it all is beginning to look like the Republican fantasy version of the Benghazi incident.  I hope Kelly will do a 180 and challenge Trump.  I fear he’ll do a 180 and quit.  And I fear that he may have gone over to the Dark Side.  However it plays out, the plot gets more Stygian.

 

 

Trump fiddles (around) while Santa Rosa burns

October 14, 2017

Full disclosure: I have even less objectivity than usual this post.  Jude and I have family in Santa Rosa.  They had to evacuate their apartment because they live in the still endangered Bennett Valley area.  And my daughter’s brother-in-law and wife were on alert to evacuate in nearby Rohnert Park.

We are aghast as we view the photos of destroyed places that were part of our lives: the Applebee’s where I introduced her to my best friends; the Luther Burbank Center where we saw Ellen Degeneres; Annadel State Park where I often hiked.

So I’m maddened by the response (lack of, more accurately) to this ongoing disaster.  It’s bad enough that CNN — which seemingly can’t get enough of the Las Vegas massacre — treats the fires like a red-headed stepchild.  But I’ve yet to see Trump even acknowledge their existence, let alone extend any sympathy.

I understand he’s busy turning every other news story into a personal slight or his Best Accomplishment Ever.  And he has the responsibility to alert the nation again about the bogus War on Christmas.

How can he ignore a catastrophe so ghastly that some of its victims can only be identified by the serial numbers on their hip implants?  Thanks for asking.  Here’s why: Northern California, like Puerto Rico, is of no political value to him.  It’s voter rich, but strongly Democratic.  Texas has 38 electoral votes and Florida has 29.  There’s no talk of FEMA help being temporary there.

We know that Trump makes decisions based strictly on the math, never the misery.  And we know that he read off some sympathetic notes regarding the Las Vegas slaughter.  So maybe a body count of 58 is the Donnie’s threshold point.  Puerto Rico is at 48 and California is at 31, with hundreds missing.

 

P.S.  For better coverage of the fires, try http://www.PressDemocrat.com.

 

taking a symbolic knee

September 27, 2017

Yesterday POTUS 45 saw his zombie health care bill die yet again, watched the candidate he backed in a special election lose, and faced mounting criticism for the slow response to Puerto Rico’s deadly predicament.  Given his worries over uppity athletes, he may not have noticed.

In my last post, I foolishly noted that the odds a hurricane would again eat a major U.S. city a month later were astronomical.  Then Irma ate a state and Maria ate a nation.  That’s why I don’t bet.

I was trying to prepare for a tumultuous September.  But Trump is exceeding my fears yet again.  Why should he tweet about vital national issues when he can create a non-issue designed merely to beef up his base’s hunger for . . . well, beef.  The recklessness he showed in conflating a genuine concern — police violence against black men — with something as vague as patriotism confirms that his connection with reality is non-consensual.

Trump can hold a grudge indefinitely.  His current dust-up with the NFL is another chapter in a story that started in 1986.  He owned a team, the New Jersey Generals, which was part of the fledgling U.S. Football League.  He and the other owners filed a $1.7 billion anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL to force a merger.

Trump and company won on the merits of the case, but was awarded only $1.  Four years later, SCOTUS upheld the decision.  With the added interest, the new league ended up with a whopping $3.76.  But the nearly quadruple payout didn’t matter.  The cost and embarrassment of the lawsuit had already caused the USFL to fold.  So now the Don can only continue to abuse executive privilege by trying to micro-manage the NFL.

I kneel with the athletes.  As a veteran, I refuse to be lectured by a coward who got a draft deferment for short-lived heel spurs.  How can a brief peaceful protest possibly intimidate the (regrettably) most powerful man in the world?  Trump would like to give the flag the sanctity of the Shroud of Turin.  But if it truly does represent all the good the U.S. has done, doesn’t it also have to cop to all the shit it’s pulled?

Let me ask you this, Mister President: if Ivanka were drowning and the only way you could save her was to reach her with the flag, would you?  Would you for Eric?  For Mike Pence?  Mitch McConnell?  Colin Kaepernick?

And, by the way, POTUS: Kaepernick got the idea to kneel from a former Green Beret.

 

Caesar in September

August 31, 2017

I can’t think of any month in recent U.S. history with such breadth and depth of bad news.  But, even with astronomically low odds that a hurricane will eat a major city next month, September could yield a political storm that could make Harvey look like a summer shower.

Trump has said the right things, even seemed to comprehend some of them as he read them off.  But in his quixotic quest to be emperor, he put his taint even on that effort.  At one stop in Texas, he described the mammoth swath and cost of Harvey with spooky puffery, as if it was one of his Best Productions Ever.

Of course, he promised the storm survivors all the help they’ll need and SOON!  His pledge had the same tinny tone as his “health care for everyone at prices you won’t believe”.  And it contradicts his pre-Harvey proposal to cut $600 million from the FEMA budget.

Throw into the mix his ambitious plans to tackle tax reform, maybe another attack on Obamacare, and countless other unknown knowns, and September could eclipse August, even without an eclipse.

Look for a change of tone when Congress reconvenes.  For me, September 1st has long felt more like the first day of the new year than January 1st.  School starts.  Weather cools.  And there are footballs and parking lot BBQ smells in the air everywhere.  This year, too, politicians are going back to D.C. a mere 14 months before the mid-term elections.  I expect the cracks in Trump’s base to multiply and widen.

Hoo boy!  Buckle up, get some rest and drink plenty of fluids.

 

aardvarks and orgasms

August 17, 2017

Watching the maelstrom in Charlottesville, I was struck by a pundit’s comment about the difference between the two sides.  “It’s like apples and oranges,” he observed.  I saw it as way beyond that, thus the title for this post.

Regrettably, the distinction was blurred by the Antifas.  Their equipment and tactics were so similar to the Whiteys that sometimes I couldn’t distinguish between them.  Neither could they.  Some lad getting rousted yelled “I’m on your side!”

I hope the peaceful protestors will distance themselves from the Antifas, although I understand the frustration of the far left.  I, too, once ran with a pack of young men eager to bust the skulls of the Unenlightened: the Marine Corps.  But we were disciplined and got veterans’ benefits.

Heather Heyer’s death marks a significant turning point in Trump’s presidency.  His pathetic flailing to justify What Cannot Be Absolved just keeps spiraling downward.  Today he trotted out a thoroughly debunked tale about General Pershing killing Muslims.  And he released the Hound.  Steve Bannon assured a weary nation that we should be maniacally worried about trade with China.

And then there’s Chris Cantwell.  A major player at Charlottesville, he was prominently featured in a VICE report strutting his stuff.  Smug, vile and scholarly in revisionist Dixie history, he was Aryan arrogance incarnate.  It was like he was preening himself for a post in The Don’s cabinet, maybe Attorney General.  Even with mace in his eyes, he knew where the cameras were.

Then he went home and discovered that the Charlottesville police may wish to speak to him.  So the Mighty Whitey goes on Facebook crying that he’s terrified, and all he did was try to do things right.  Yeah, Chris.  Far right.

Likely the baseline Chris Cantwell is between these two excesses.  However, he told VICE that he’s looking for a leader who’s like Trump “but a lot more racist”.  This guy is pushing Anthony Scaramucci out of the loon gallery.

I simply must go eat a burger that Jude is making to celebrate our 12th anniversary on the farm.  But I wanted to share that I believe I have a solution to this Confederate statues problem: put them in a museum at Mar-a-Lago.  I’m certain that the Mad Yam would welcome them.  Rednecks could visit until the non-existent climate change covers the boys in grey with seawater.

Maybe then they could let go of the war that ended 150+ years ago.