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it’s funny because it’s terrifying

February 2, 2017

Katoo June, 2016 011

I posted this picture of our puppy Katoo in July and said there’d be more on her soon, but Trump happens.  She is doing fine.  He is not.  She weighs about 65 pounds and is on the brink of puberty.  Jude is at the home of Katoo’s mother, introducing Katoo to her half-brother Ookami, from her mom’s current litter.  We will bring him home in a week or so.  More on them soon.  This time I promise.

On a less endearing note: Trump.  To stay current on his outrages, I would have to blog constantly.  In the past day or so, he has insulted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, asked the attendees at the National Prayer Breakfast to pray  for higher ratings for “The Apprentice”, eased sanctions against Russia as pro-Russian forces escalate in the Ukraine, and seemed to think that 19th Century slave/abolitionist/statesman Frederick Douglass is still alive.  Not to worry.  Sean Spicer can clear all this up because he has no discernible ethics.

The Douglas gaffe was dumped by Trump at a meeting with African-American leaders to note Black History Month.  It was a receptive crowd, likely because they had worked on The Donnie’s campaign.  It looked like a dozen or so sitting at a conference table.  Trevor Noah thought it was nice that the President met all the black people who voted for him.  He barely looked up as he read his script.

In the wake of alternative facts, I’m wondering at what point the bar for The Cheeto will touch  the ground.  His approval rating is headed that way.  A Gallup poll released today shows it at 43 approve/52 disapprove, the widest negative gap I’ve seen.  Rasmussen Reports is a much more sanguine 53 approve/47 disapprove, but that outfit is widely criticized.  CNN won’t even use it.

Public Policy Polling has it almost even at 47/49, but it also reports that 40 percent of voters want Trump impeached, up from 35 a week ago.  And only 48 percent would oppose his impeachment.

The Trump camp’s disregard — nay, disrespect — for the truth reminds me of a comment GOP Senator Jon Kyl made in 2011.  He claimed that abortions accounted for 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget.  When it was revealed that the actual figure is 3 percent, a Kyl aide said that the 90 percent “was not intended to be a factual statement”.

And so it goes: the steady slog to Newspeak, which George Orwell introduced in his landmark novel Nineteen Eighty-Four”.  It is the language created by a totalitarian state to, according to Orwell, “diminish the range of thought”.

As the sublime Lily Tomlin said, “no matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.”

Bananas, Jabberwocky, Deadpool and Apocalypse Now

January 28, 2017

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.  Whom amongst us haven’t been thinking of these four movies lately?  In Bananas, Woody Allen’s third film, Woody’s character Fielding Mellish stumbles into a Latin American revolution and helps its leader become president of his country.  Problem is, the leader is quite the loon.  His first decree is to make all the citizens wear their underwear on the outside of their clothes.

In 1977’s Jabberwocky, from Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, Palin’s character slays the fearsome, dragon-like title beast.  As soon as the monster is dead, the king and his coterie show up.  He sticks his sword in the cadaver and takes the glory.

Last year’s Deadpool opens with a very slow motion shot of the title character getting knocked ass over elbows in a bomb blast. That’s how I felt in Trump’s first week in office: in a glacially-slow explosion that I had no control over.

This may be the last time I can use “glacially” to describe extreme slowness.  Glaciers are likely to speed up during the new administration.

With the Cheeto already making absurd moves like launching an investigation into nonexistent voter fraud, and claiming victories by vetoing the already dead TPP, you can understand my dread.

I dearly hope the millions marching last Saturday morph into a movement.  We have plenty of opposition to overcome.  Yesterday’s March for Life, which also had a robust turnout, was not a Trump rally per se, but I’d bet there wasn’t much overlap between the two groups.  And it did have The Donnie’s approval, plus Pence’s attendance.

It fascinates and galls me how Trump’s surrogates can put such positive spin on his specious moves while ignoring or glossing over his outrages like the flap over Inauguration attendance.  One of the more reasoned of them erroneously said Trump had created 5000 new Immigration officers.  The actual creation and funding of that is up to Congress.

Many of his Executive Orders are empty gestures.  Very soon that will be obvious.  I realize that Trump has a core of supporters that would not abandon him even if they saw photos of him smothering Justice Scalia with a pillow.  The Democrats need to get their shit together rapidly so they can start peeling off the marginal Trump supporters burned by his failed policies.   A trade war with Mexico and a screwed-up replacement of Obamacare should start that avalanche nicely.

To finish my movie metaphor: I think Apocalypse Now speaks for itself.


our story thus far

January 21, 2017

I can count on one hand how often I’ve been proud to be an American this millenium.  Barack Obama addressing that massive Chicago crowd the night of his election was the last time.  (Miss you already, B.)  Today will resonate rosily in my soul the rest of my life.

I certainly knew I wasn’t the only one concerned about the Cheeto, but goddamn!  Connecting with a few million more all around the globe was intoxicating.  I don’t know how much of today’s energy we can maintain, but my heart tells me this day will go down as the start of a ground-shaking movement.

Legend has it that as hundreds of thousands demonstrated during one of the 1969 Vietnam War protests, Richard Nixon watched a football game.  Today, as millions marched, some of the Trump family bowled in the White House.  Donnie Junior posted a pic of his wife Vanessa rolling one down the lane.  In high heels.  To her credit, she did knock down eight pins.  But those heels would have to be spiked to punch a hole in their bubble.

Donnie Senior, in the meantime, went to CIA headquarters to tout his nominee for its new director, Mike Pompeo.  Yes, the Mike Pompeo who just told Congress that he’s cool with water boarding.

Standing in front of the Company’s memorial wall that honours the 117 employees who have died in the line of duty, Trump may have set a tone he can never repair.  Did he mention the 117 fallen?  No.  Did he thank the 200 or so current employees who came in on their days off for their service?  Of course not.

Instead, the Screaming Cantaloupe ranted about the Evil Media’s misrepresenting the size of his inauguration crowd based merely on facts.  I’m sure you’ve seen the telling aerial photos of yesterday’s 250,000 or so attendees compared to Obama’s 1.8 million in 2009.

He did, however, credit Fox “News” with a fair and balanced account of his inauguration.  Time magazine was also non-evil to him because it had put him on its cover on “14 or 15” occasions, a record Trump figures will never be broken.  How that’s related is beyond me.

Then, to bottom things off, he declared his love for the CIA and again blamed the media for misconstruing his attack on the agency recently.  You remember.  He idly speculated that the pee stories were leaked (sorry, couldn’t resist) by the agency.  Not a shred of evidence for that, but enough reason for him to justify a tortured Nazi allusion.

When CNN went back to its studio right after Trump’s talk, one of its pundits was sitting there with his jaw actually dropped.  Former CIA Director John Brennan said he was “deeply saddened and angered” by Trump’s “despicable display of self-aggrandizement” in front of the wall.

Not enough excitement for this historic day?  An hour or so ago, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer delivered a statement augmenting his boss’s inaccuracies.  Mixing specious stats with outright lies, Spicer briefly babbled, then left without taking questions.

Another CNN pundit just hypothesized that all this whale shit is to distract from the Womens’ March.  Lying in the face of photographic evidence to make us forget about millions peacefully protesting?  Brilliant.

a thousand paper cuts

January 12, 2017

First, a hundred apologies.  I forgot to renew my wordpress account, so the usual cheery rainbow greeting of the blog was briefly replaced by a menacing cartoon that hinted at dastardly doings.  Countless thanks to my spiritual sister for the alert.  She’s always looking out for me.

I would not abandon you as the U.S. enters a period with no adult supervision.  Right after the election, I asked that we give the Cheeto a chance.  But it’s clear that he’s determined to govern only those who support him.  The Trump train is steaming along, fueled by the erroneous belief it has a mandate due to the vagaries of the Electoral College.

One of the first victims caught in its cowcatcher will likely be the Affordable Care Act, and that may be where it runs out of track.  The Donald is so eager to prove that what he says matters that he’s willing to dump it with no replacement in sight.

This gap could leave millions uninsured.  The honeymoon could end after one dance at the Inauguration Ball.  The above-mentioned sister heard an interview with a Trump voter who was informed that Obamacare could get cancelled.  She responded “What?  WHAT!?”

Even though I have a near perfect record of underestimating the Orange Foolius, I’m pressing on in the hope that I can’t be wrong all the time.  So here’s my newest speculation: maybe it won’t be the outrageous Big Lies that stop the train, but the little fibs that do nothing but feed his insatiable ego.

Case in point: Trump recently boasted that “all the dress shops in Washington are sold out.  It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”  At least two D.C. dress shop managers disagreed.  One had at least 200 dresses in stock.  Another said “there’s never been less demand for inaugural ball gowns in my 38 years.”

There’s no political gain to that particular piece of bullshit that I can discern.  It’s just another matchstick to prop up a gargantuan ego.  Here’s hoping that Trump will falter from what he thrives on: prolonged exposure.  I can’t wait until his presidential approval ratings start being tracked.



next Brexit: Wexit

December 8, 2016

I hope to have this post done before Trump and blowback from Pizzagate further blur the distinction between empirical evidence and satire.  Or simply obliterate satire.

I was talking to a friend of mine in the Bay Area a few days after the election.  Progressives there were in such shock that they were eating Popeye’s Chicken and In ‘n’ Out Burgers rather than shop at Whole Foods Markets.  If they could speak at all, they talked about what options they had left.  The one ray of hope they’re desperately clutching is seceding from the U.S.

They figure they can convince Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia to join Cali in a new nation much like the Netherlands.  Recreational weed is now legal in all three states, and the new Canadian government is slouching toward it, as well.  That’s most of North America’s west coast, hence “Wexit”.  Since that area is often referred to as The Left Coast, “Lexit” was considered; but that sounds too much like the luxury car, and that’s not what the new nation is all about.  Or would be, anyway.

It’s not that much of a stretch.  California already has many Border Protection Stations on the state line as “the first line of defense in our pest exclusion efforts”, according to its website.  What better way to keep Megapest Trump out?

Of course, such a solid blue nation might discourage conservatives from enjoying trips to the Pacific Ocean, but the Republicans are already on it.  Bright red Oklahoma is fracking its brains out lately.  Earthquakes have skyrocketed.  Before 2009, tremblors of magnitude 3 or more averaged two a year in the Sooner state.  In 2015, it had 907.

So it can’t be much longer before it sinks down to the earth’s mantle.  That would be semi-ironic because New York Yankee legend Mickey Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma.

But I digress.  The resulting hole could fill up from the Gulf of Mexico via the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, a 445-mile waterway that’s a major shipping lane to the Gulf.  I’m not sure how that would adversely affect the shrimping industry in the Gulf, but it would likely be less than the BP Oil Disaster of 2010.

Cities near the Oklahoma state line, like Wichita Falls, Texas, could become major seaports.  Fort Smith, Arkansas, could be a popular beach resort.  Students at the nearby state university wouldn’t have to drive so far on spring break.  Walmart, with its headquarters a mere 90 miles away, could supply all the beer coolers and plastic cups.

Hopefully the Oklahoma National Guard could evacuate everyone before the hole filled up.  Sadly, infrastructure like Oral Roberts University in Tulsa would be lost.   ORU was built on God’s mandate, and would not be able to continue its ultra-conservative agenda.  Dolphins would swim around the campus naked, a full-on irony because they engage in homosexual behaviour and males have been know to wrap eels around their penis to masturbate.

God truly does work in mysterious — even whimsical — ways.


at least he got into double digits

November 19, 2016

So the viability of the Trump administration lasted about ten days.  For a day or two after his election, he mouthed the Kellyanne Conway-scripted platitudes that all presidential victors are obliged to say, or they’ll have to explain themselves to God later.

Now the Cheeto (thanks, wkmtca) is announcing more white guys to join him and homophobic Mike Pence, and some of them are troubling.  Mike Pompeo, who got the nod to direct the CIA, is a Tea Party member in the pocket of the Koch Brothers.  Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, has a spotty civil rights record.  Michael Flynn will be director of the NSA.  He was forced out of the directorship of the DIA due to his combative management style, and he doesn’t consider Islam a religion.

But beyond that, Trump was in vintage mode today bitching about Pence’s reception last night at Hamilton.  True, Pence was jeered as he took his seat, but he was also cheered.  After the performance, the cast thanked him for attending and asked the audience not to boo.

Then actor Brandon Victor Dixon expressed a concern that the new administration would not protect the “diverse America” on the stage and urged Pence to “work on behalf of all of us”.  That, to the Cheeto, was harassment, “very rude”.  He demanded an apology.  Newt Gingrich, because he’s Newt Gingrich, piled on.  He perceived the “arrogance and hostility” of the cast as “a reminder that the left still fights”.

And how weird is it that the new leader of the Party of Lincoln also tweeted “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.”?

today’s sunrise is encouraging

November 9, 2016

As Donald Trump rose to tabloid fame in the 80’s, I quickly decided that he was a petty, preening buffoon.  Nothing since then, especially last night’s election, has changed my mind.  The gap between teleprompter Trump and tweeting Trump is already well-established.  I have no reason to believe that he can sustain any posture resembling dignity.

I ask you to give him a chance to prove otherwise.  This is not done as a conciliatory gesture, just an acceptance that it’s in everyone’s best interest.  When he takes office, he has to put up or shut up.  He’ll be making choices that will have profound consequences nationally and globally.  I assume he’ll continue to blame others for his failures, but the more power he has, the weaker an argument that becomes.

Congratulations to all of us for surviving what I hope will remain the most contentious campaign in U.S. history.  The knot I’ve had in my stomach and my soul for the past four months is gone, if not resolved.  It tightened more every time the potency of an event like the Billy Bush party bus tape quickly faded.  Trump seemed disaster-proof.  I feared that his smug surrogates were right about the depth of anger in the nation.  As a fan of factual accuracy, I extend kudos to them.  Begrudgingly.

A chapter of history ended last night, yet daybreak showed up on time today.  We still have our Visa bill to pay and chickens to feed.  And there’s a discernible upside: the Democrats are now free to repair and rebuild their brand.  The Clintons become elder statespersons and the next generation can blossom and nurture its favourable demographics.  The Dems don’t have any recognizable names like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan or Ewww…Ted Cruz, but they have a lot of talent.  Watch for the rise of Kirsten Gillibrand, Tammy Duckworth, Gavin Newsom and Xavier Becerra.  And wouldn’t Michelle Obama make a great “outsider”, if that’s the future of U.S. politics?

The Screaming Cantaloupe cannot possibly do all the things he has promised or threatened, so he can’t possibly do all the damage that we fear.  And, as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would remind us: “Rejoice!  Rejoice!  We have no choice, but to carry on.”