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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

and it got even worse

April 28, 2018

When last we talked, it was nearing noon on Thursday and the culture was deconstructing more rapidly than usual of late.  I adjusted my attitude, then retired to the more predictable offerings of You Tube.  But there was one more newsflash I didn’t find out about until today.  Charles Neville died.

Charles, along with his brothers Art, Aaron and Cyril, formed the legendary band that held sway in New Orleans — and everywhere else — from 1976 until 2012.  He had moved to Massachusetts, where he succumbed to pancreatic cancer.  Here’s a taste of his skills.

Holy Shitstorm, Batman!

April 26, 2018

So far today, Doctor “Feelgood” Ronnie Jackson has withdrawn from consideration as VA chief, EPA Director Scott Pruitt is self-destructing in Congressional testimony, The Donald has made things even worse for himself and Michael Cohen (if that’s possible), Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as Secretary of State, there’s been an explosion at a Wisconsin refinery, scientists suspect a mountain collapse at a North Korea nuclear test site, and Bill “Doctor Feelgood” Cosby has been convicted.

And it’s not even noon here on the West Coast.

 

happy 75th, LSD!

April 19, 2018

So, 75 years ago today, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann took the first intentional acid trip, now known as Bicycle Day as fleshed out here.  Hofmann had accidentally absorbed some of his synthesis a few days before, which piqued his scientific curiosity.  The rest is history and the potential of this drug is still unlimited, although ignorance and hysteria is doing its best to, well, limit it.

The traditional gift for a 75th anniversary is a diamond, so please enjoy this gift from Steely Dan.  It’s a paean to the excesses of the 60’s, based loosely on the exploits of counter-culture legend Owsley Stanley, with a nod to Ken Kesey.  And this:

“Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl. You turned it on the world.  That’s when you turned the world around.”

Enjoy your day.

“Roseanne” and Ronnie

April 12, 2018

I was not a regular viewer of “Roseanne” its first time around, although I appreciated that it expanded the blue collar presence in sitcoms that “The Honeymooners” and “All in the Family” established.  I watched the first episode of the reboot along with 18.5 million others, mildly curious.  The advance hype centered on a gender-fluid grandchild, a mixed-race grandchild and the promise of epic political clashes between Roseanne and her sister Jackie.

The ratings dropped by 3 million the second episode, then held for the third episode.  I’m wondering if that will hold, though, because the show has quickly settled into sitcom complacency.  After a few generic dust-ups regarding Trump, the sisters have apparently settled their ideological differences.  The mixed-race grandchild was on screen for a few minutes the first episode, but not seen since.  The gender-fluid grandchild had many scenes in the opener, but also is MIA since.

In non-Hollywood news, I am chagrined, as a veteran, by Trump’s choice to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.  Trump fired Shulkin for excessive travel expenses on an official trip to Europe.  The day after his dismissal, Shulkin told NPR that he felt he had adequately addressed the issue, and that the White House had forbidden him to comment on it until he left office.

Shulkin is a career health care management specialist, a leader in patient centered care.  An Obama appointee, he says he was under pressure to have the VA privatized, a pet project of the Koch brothers.  I’m all for accountability in government, but Shulkin’s sins are nowhere near as egregious as Scott Pruitt’s outlandish choices.

Trump has nominated Admiral Ronny Jackson, a physician, to replace Shulkin.  I appreciate that Dr. Jackson treated wounded Marines in Iraq, but his recent gushing assessment of Trump’s health is an embarrassment.  Jackson lauded The Donald’s “incredible genes”, “excellent” cardiac health, and how he did “exceedingly well” on a cognitive test.

Mind you, this was the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and we here in Canada take coherence quite seriously.  To ace the exam, Trump had to correctly draw a clock and identify a picture of a rhinoceros.

Jackson had to fudge to avoid labeling Trump obese.  Donny weighed in at 239 pounds, and — even though people are saying that someone probably had their thumb under the scale — the good doctor bumped up his height by an inch.  Jackson somehow concluded that 45 “will remain fit for duty for the remainder of this term and even the remainder of another term if he is elected.”  That sounds to me like Trump dictated it.

Speaking of which, do you remember Dr. Harold Bornstein?  Allegedly Trump’s personal physician since 1980, he released a letter in late 2015 with an even more absurd assessment of POTUS’s health.  According to Bornstein, Trump had “extraordinary” physical strength and stamina, plus “astonishingly excellent” blood pressure and lab results.

Bornstein, who looks like an extra in a Cheech and Chong movie, had a big finale that again sounds like Trump dictated it: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

A website listed in Bornstein’s letterhead linked to an offer to update a Flash program.  The letter opening read “To Whom My Concern:”.  The doctor later admitted that he wrote it in 5 minutes as a limo sent by Trump waited outside his office.

But I digress yet again.  The VA is the largest department of the federal government, based on the number of employees.  It is so overburdened that it didn’t catch up on its Agent Orange claims until mid-2012.  It took me 4+ years to get disability payments for my Vietnam-related PTSD, and it turned me down once.

Shulkin had extensive managerial experience, Jackson doesn’t.  Privatization will further gum up the works.  One bright spot: at least Trump didn’t nominate Bornstein.