State Of Disunion

By now, you’ve read people opine glibly that President Trump is only president of half the country.

It’s a clever line, but it’s not really off the mark anymore. That shiteating motherfucker is thinking about turning the State Of The Union into a goddamned rally full of his idiot supporters who will gleefully agree that the country has never been greater or some other demented non sequitur word salad nonsense. Never mind that the United States Government is slowly flipping agencies’ open signs to closed and people are going to work without pay. It’s an atrocious situation. But that’s a feature, not a bug for Trump as Republicans generally want government closed permanently anyway. So in their estimation, he’s doing great, couldn’t be doing better. For the rest of us, we are realizing that our social compact is in jeopardy while Trump tries to get his increasingly pointless wall. It simply isn’t worth it and it’s all become particularly ironic, given that the people tasked to interdict drugs and prevent hazards by sea and air are finding themselves the people whose jobs Trump is holding hostage as the cornerstones of that wall. If he really cared or listened to anyone with more than a 5th grade vocabulary level familiar with a subject he’d realize that this is not an effective way to solve the problems he claims a wall would solve. If built, it’d just be some giant, racist reverse-Statue Of Liberty monument to Trump’s ego when the crime and the drugs and the migrants and the asylum seekers continue unabated at the border. It’s funny, Trump has broken tons of promises to his faithful. But of all the promises he has broken, this one is particularly important for him not to break- and I don’t want to be the bearer of more bad news, but it’s because the wall bit is one of Trump’s best lines at his Two Hours Hate rallies that makes it imperative for him that it be built. That’s it. Trump needs adulation like a lizard needs a hot fucking rock. He got a taste of crowd hysteria and he’s hooked. It pumps him the fuck up. And it’s going to cost us $5 billion smackers to get him to give back the government so he can crow to the redhats that he won something (for a change).

Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to open the House to the SOTU looks on its face to be a jab simply to rankle Trump, but if you think about it, having the entire American government in the same place without adequately paid professionals ensuring its safety is probably not the smartest idea ever conceived. But everything is always about Trump. It all reduces to him. And like the infantile jagoff he is, he decided to use his position as commander in chief of the armed forces to deny Pelosi a few diplomatic flights overseas which is probably the norm for the new leader of the legislative arm of the American government. I really hope when all the criminals who aided and abetted Trump’s systematic destruction of the American government are put away, we work on curtailing the potential for excess within the executive branch. NO president should have as much power as it has right now. This is absurd. Trump has been such a spectacular abuser of power that political science can’t seem to catch up to him. And when it does, maybe we need to have a conversation about whether what we are doing as a country, as a political entity- is appropriate for Americans. No one should have the power to do what Trump has done (or Mitch McConnell, but that’s another coconut entirely). Trump doled out institutional positions to people whose sole mission was to disable the agency they would lead. He’s frustrated a generation of experts with his thoughtlessness. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of Trump appointees who don’t have “acting” next to their position. And all the planet-busting deregulation for his corporate donors is shocking and offensive.

The Constitution is too vague and skeletal. Judges “interpret” it, which is alarming and bizarrely metaphysical for something rather important. We ignored Thomas Jefferson when he spoke of not updating our document to fit the times: “We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” The Federalist Papers, while of course interesting for historical reasons, cannot guide us as it attempted to answer questions about the challenges of government in 1787, not 2019. And the founders rarely spoke in unison back then. Hell, arms needed to be twisted about the inclusion of the Bill Of Rights and we look at some of those amendments as so fundamental today that you’d have to be insane not to include them in drawing up a government. But anyway, I suspect if we set those same great minds to the task of creating a new republic today, they would come up with something radically different. Why? Because times fucking change. People change. And the old ways are not preventing the new ills. The old ills barely exist anymore. There were exceptions. George Mason, perhaps traveling through time, refused to sign the Constitution, saying it would “produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy: it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.”

Is there anything that makes sense today as much as this does? Shit, we have an oppressive aristocrat AND a pretender to monarchy on our hands. How do you deliver a State Of The Union in the state the union has been in anyway?

Am I asking for a revolution?

Me? Nope. I’m a crazy person with too much time on my hands. You all know that.

But I am willing to hear one out.


Russian Things

This will not be a post about how much trouble the president is in.

Let’s instead remember that a bling pig finds a truffle now and then, even when that pig is named Donald Trump. And that motherfucker is never right, so I’m gonna post about it when he is, in spite of himself.

It feels weird, not wanting to pounce on something dumb Orange Caligula does. His track record is so bad that I think we’ve all gotten a little used to reflexively criticizing the harebrained decisions he makes. If you were a bettor, and Trump was a racehorse and being wrong was the finish line, you would be leaving the track with your pockets overflowing every day that ends in Y if you plunked down something on him.

I am not working my way up to complimenting him. But he has stumbled into the right choice on Syria, Putin stooge or no Putin stooge.

I’m not perfect, and my views evolve as anyone’s should when he or she is off the mark (or dead fucking wrong as is sometimes the case). I have found that I have come off as something of a neocon in the not distant past, trying to think from a realpolitik perspective when it comes to our warmaking, particularly regarding Syria. I complimented Trump when he bombed Syrian assets in 2017, largely because the fledgling administration wasn’t doing anything except setting fire to anything Barack Obama signed. For four straight months I watched Trump do nothing constructive or remotely interesting; he was as much a paper tiger as he is now, just a fucking useless gum-flapper. For example, I will be genuinely surprised if he finds his balls and takes personal responsibility for turning the lights off on part of the government until he gets his stupid wall funding. Then there was the time I took Ralph Peters’ side on tangling with Russia because I needed an opportunity to call Tucker Carlson an asshole when he said we should be nice to Putin because he kills “the terrorists” in Syria-using that dumb logic of we need to fight them over there so they don’t come here. My calculation was if we don’t fill the vacuum, Russia would.

When it comes to international relations in the modern era, I have had a tendency to view it as a zero-sum game. Why?

Because it’s easy. Reality, however, is not so two-dimensional. I know I thought I was being clever, even if I had to be wrong to do so. Hey, fuck it, there’s plenty of people being paid and feted for being fucking wrong all the time.

But I ought to know better. I have seen firsthand what a just war looks like. As it happens, it is very much what an unjust war looks like. I went into Iraq in 2003 a firm believer in our mission and left a year later quite disillusioned the more I reflected and interacted with the people we were “liberating”. We drove a whole generation of American soldiers insane in the service of realpolitik and papered-over binary thinking about what we were doing there. War made us monsters, not saviors.

The bottom line is there are no real winners in war, and I ought to know that by now. Let this be the ground I shall plant myself in henceforth. And I shall start by being happy that Trump accidentally did something right by calling back the 2,000 or so Americans home from Syria, which is in an intractable civil war right now and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future whether we are there are not-because we’re only dipping our toes in the conflict, just enough to annoy and stymie the Russians and Bashar Al-Assad. Now there is doubt that Trump will back up his mouth with some actual action, since he tweeted his decision without consultation with anyone familiar with a rifle and possessed with functioning grey matter. The pretext for Trump’s sudden exit from Syria, if you ask him, is that we have defeated ISIS. That’s hilarious, of course, if you ask the resistance. The “mission” ain’t accomplished by a long shot.

Now, I think that Trumpian nationalism is typically odious in the extreme, but honestly, leaving a warzone because we don’t need to “police” the world is by far not the worst thing ever uttered by an American politician. And it’s driving hawks apoplectic, which can only bear good fruit. Most of Trump’s detractors use the same logic I have in the past, that when the Russians win, we lose. The reality we are living in is at bottom a race for resources. We don’t give a fuck about Syria or Syrians, because absent from Donald’s declarations was a desire to settle refugees from the war. I certainly don’t think Trump is deep enough to be a tactician in the new cold war, and maybe that’s not to our detriment in regards to international conflict. A bit of naivete in the ways of violence is…OK.

I just can’t be moved to pile on Trump for this, even though there’s a lot wrong with the thinking that led him to leave Syria be. But let’s not kid ourselves. Our bombs don’t have freedom dust in them. Our reasons for staying there are not sound; the Kurds are already accustomed to everyone’s Janus tendencies towards them. Russia will still strafe and bomb and kill indiscriminately like they are doing now (just as we have done). And what for? A chit with Iran? We have Iraq. How about we take a rest from imperialism? Besides, it’s not like we are going to stop selling arms to our erstwhile allies. Point is, aligning the world in a binary fashion the way we do is exactly what causes world wars. We think we are wetting the fuse with our aggression by fighting the Russian axis wherever we go. Sorry. We’re shortening it.

Our fucktarded president is in quite a legal pickle. Several, in fact. It’s turning out he owes a lot to Vladimir Putin, and stepping out of Syria may yet be one more favor to someone who can crush him with kompromat. But I’m going to take the peace dividends where I can get them. I’m not going to call the president out for not wanting to be in a war anymore. Perhaps if you knew what it was like, you too would reluctantly agree with the basket-case-in-chief. If you don’t, use your fucking imagination.



I Hear A Very Gentle Sound

Very near, very far

Very soft, very clear

Come today, come today

You all remember that one, right? I think that’s a perfect descriptor of where we’re at psychically in the Disunited States, just waiting for that scream of NOW! that will release us from the 690+ day hostage situation that has been the modern American experiment ever since Captain Twitterfuck The Ignorant started taking a hatchet to every form of progress this already un-progressive country had fought for, pitting citzens against each other in ways that we haven’t seen since Abraham Lincoln got elected, making a complete mockery of our image as a nation- all while selling us out to an arch-enemy on every front so he could profit on the other side of the election.

Mr. Mueller, we need to talk. Because I am exhausted by the speculation (to include my own) as to when Donald Trump will have finally tripped over his mushroom-headed dick into charges ranging from perjury to racketeering, and some would aver treason.

Am I the only one nervous that the pop when this investigation ends will be that of one of those stupid tiny string-activated confetti spitters, instead of the hearty pop from shaken, excited Cristal? Or will it be so awesome, such a total repudiation of Trump as a president and every shitty thing he stands for that celebratory automatic gunfire wouldn’t be inappropriate? I would hate to think that our revulsion from Donald Trump has gotten us excited for some consequences that simply will not come. There’s so much criminal smoke out there that we are choking and the venerable counsel need but find the legal grease fires causing it and use the right extinguisher for the job.

But bad hombres get away with murder all the time. Even really dumb ones. There is simply no reason to leave this to a karmic imbalance. Indeed, there’s a possible future where Trump triumphs over the special counsel, running like a jesus lizard across the river of charges against him without getting pinched and then it’s really gonna be a super rough ride until 2020 trying to abide THAT boasting and crowing. We need to collapse that eventuality tout suite. And I feel I will need more than hyper-redacted papers, sequential court filings and other seemingly damning evidence to keep keeping on.

Most of the people I respect intellectually think there’s simply no way that someone could investigate a thing like Donald Trump and not find something that runs afoul of the law. Call it Trump Derangement Syndrome if you like, the dude flouts said law constantly, lies every time he opens his idiotic trap, does nothing of actual value, his entire cabinet is full of well-heeled reptile people who do the opposite of their job, and again, is a flat-out national embarrassment as our chief representative in the world day in and day out. And if you can’t see any of that or if none of that is important to you because you’ve got Benghazi-itis or Her Emails on the brain, it’s likely because you are even more deranged than I am ( i.e. you get your dose of confirmation bias from Fox News and The Daily Caller). There’s no amount of whataboutism that can nullify the transgressions that Donald Trump has committed against us and others, legally, morally, and ethically. The list is simply too long to collate. Well, too long for me.

Last week, Trump felt exonerated by the Cohen plea documents, primarily because he’s not much of a reader. In those filings, “Individual 1” is named as someone who was in contact with Cohen regarding “Trump Tower Moscow”. We’re kind of just becoming dimly aware that the overtures to Russia were so much more than just acquiring damaging information on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run and the DNC from people who work in for the Russian government. Nope, in this relatively new allegation, it seems that Trump sensed $$$ could be made. And this level of greediness, guilelessly allying with a dangerous enemy to line his pockets could be his undoing well before Robert Mueller gets tough with Jerome Corsi about relaying information from Julian Assange, who at the time for whatever reason felt it necessary to pass along the Podesta emails to the Trump campaign. Of all the strings, it looks like the Russian hotel is the easiest to pull at the moment, being the most easily provable. But Robert Mueller is a methodical motherfucker from all appearances. He’s a boa constrictor of an investigator clearly enjoying his work and probably could take down Trump’s whole family (and Republican enablers in Congress) with what he has right now. What needs doing is to make sure the charges stick, and that is part of why Mueller chose Manafort to lean on for unpardonable state felonies, and is letting DC and New York work on Trump for violations of the Emoluments Clause and misuse of campaign funds. And how could I have left out the paying off of Trump’s mistresses using campaign cash? That is somehow the least offensive thing Trump has done. And at every step of the way on any of these allegations, Trump has tampered and obstructed throughout it all, often just by tweeting-which may be crimes in themselves.

Trying to get a handle on all the crooked things Donald Trump is involved in right now is a bit like undoing your Christmas ornament hook collection. It’s enough to make the average person’s head spin, so much so that they may want to tune out because it’s proven to be so hard to understand, much less believe. But believe me, this guy decided to forgo his paycheck merely to keep up appearances because he knew he was going to divvy up the country’s wealth between him and his donors.

One would think after last week that the Trump saga was over and the fat lady sang. But the wheels of justice turn slowly. The law runs like molasses, especially when we may be in legal virgin snow as to how to handle what Donald does and has done. I am hoping beyond hope that it’s a matter of legal intricacies that are keeping Trump out of an orange jumpsuit. But damn, I am tired. That crook does not represent me or the promise of America no matter how fake that sounds and I want him erased like the error that he is.

Now.

Now?

 

Buddy Gotta Shut You Down

So, the wife, who rubs elbows in with some of the white elite here in the Good ‘Ol Boys Belt, got us tickets last week to see Brian Wilson do Pet Sounds.

Phenomenal, right?

She’s in insurance and the company she works for is about 100 years old, something of a family affair. I imagine every guy in the office has *that* golf club membership.The tickets were amazing; Bell Auditorium, second row. I’d scoped out the prices on the tickets last month and they were well over a hundred apiece and nowhere near the pit; typically I won’t go when prices are that high for any artist so I forgot all about the tour. It’d have to be one hell of a near-bucket list show to get me to come off for well over a hundred.

Anyway, her Richie Rich employers who aren’t set back at all buying a $150 ticket or satisfying whatever other whims they might have, were evidently unable to attend seeing someone play track-for-track one of the greatest pop records ever made. My wife heard that the tickets were up for grabs and snapped them up because she knows better than I not to put a price on amazing. After all, if I have a “jam” that I share with her at all, it’s Pet Sounds. We both learned to adore it at the same time and we understand what makes it and Brian Wilson so special. At the time we were taking in its magic, our relationship was young and awkward but it had legs and that’s just one of the many themes in Pet Sounds.

So not only was I going to see Brian Wilson, I was going to see him do Pet Sounds, and I was nearly close enough to shake a proffered hand or exchange a gimme five from the performers! Oboy!

After emptying our pockets and getting wanded, we made for the merch table. As always, I grimaced at the prices. Yet, there was that stupid urge to advertise that we were there, so we bought two green tour shirts with a record player on the front with a likeness of a young Brian “spinning” on it. That should have told me a little something, because that ain’t Brian anymore and hasn’t been for almost a half a century. The picture was more than an image; I felt that his face was/is a symbol or an icon of a sort in this context, a placeholder for a time long gone by full of sun, sand, cars and LSD. On the shirt, Brian seemed more like a brand than a person. Seventy dollars later and speaking of brands, we went to get our booze-there were no good choices for beer. It was either Bud Light (weak), Mich Ultra (why), full strength Budweiser (America) and Yuengling. Which do I wanna boycott, Bud or Yuengling? I made a snap decision to protest Yuengling, who if I remember right, their CEO is a hardcore wingnut Trump enabler. Yes, that’s it. So fuck Yuengling for tonight even though Pennsy is like my old backyard in the North and I’m as provincial as the next guy, I guess. The wife had a double gin and tonic.

The opening act was charming, they were a little folk duo with a lot of charisma from Ireland. Beat Root Revival, if anyone is into that stuff. Ain’t my thing at all, but it didn’t cause me any existential pain or make me angry. No, that was to come later. It wasn’t long before Brian’s band took the stage, promptly at eight, followed by the legend himself who was wearing a full leg brace and needed to be assisted onto the stage by a pair of roadies. OK, whatever, guy got hurt, he’s old, no biggie. Anyway, Brian is on the tour with one and a half of the original Beach Boys. Al Jardine was there, and Blondie Chaplin as well. The band began to rattle off some oldies, and damn it if Brian did not sing until like three tunes in, on “California Girls”.  This was really not a good sign. His son-in-law, who is married to Carnie Wilson, did much of the heavy lifting on vocals, trading with Al when Brian did not/could not/would not sing. The vocal presence was so seamless, as if the band knew already where Brian’s voice would drop off. I am positive that everyone’s monitor was tuned to Brian’s mike so they could be prompted to take lead.

What happened as the night went on I’d rather not remember. But I can tell you this much; Brian is finished as a performer and he is shitting all over his legacy by continuing to appear on stage. For two hours, I watched the band do their best at what it came to do, and then there was Brian, who looked like he had no idea why he was there, because it certainly wasn’t to sing. It was a little sad, because I was up front far enough that I could see he was unhappy and uninterested. He just sat there. Occasionally he’d brush stray hairs from his gaunt face with a hand that shook like crazy. The wife and I thought he had a stroke, or was about to have one if they kept getting creative with the light show.

All in all, I’d say Wilson sang maybe 20% of the gig and that is being fucking generous. If memory serves, Brian chimed in on most of “California Girls”, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”, and sang us a tune from his 80s solo album “Love And Mercy” at the end of the show, which was probably the only time I was touched the whole night. Everything else was tragic. He was more interested in biting his fingernails and spitting them out, or flicking boogers after exploring his nose. I cannot believe I wished I was not so close. When everyone cheered at the end of “Sloop John B”, he told everyone to be seated. It was clear that he wasn’t going to stay on that stage a second more than he had to. I wasn’t listening to Brian so much after a while, preferring to sing instead to the Pet Sounds record that is in my head. I actually went to that proverbial happy place. After Brian and Co. finished ruining my album, he was escorted again off stage and I was so relieved that it was over.

But he actually came back for an encore. Wow. I couldn’t believe the crowd wanted one, but they had a different perspective than I did being up so close to this depressing spectacle. I certainly needed no more of it. They ran through a few more oldies, and it got all the rich cougars dancing and the doughy old fanboys got out of their chair for stupid shit like “Help Me Rhonda”. The older people to my left looked confounded by Pet Sounds, but when the surf crap was on, they knew all the words to those hoary songs. I got the feeling I was here to see Brian for one reason and they another. I was changed by Pet Sounds; I think a lot of the audience just went because he’s a Beach Boy…not the Beach Boy.

As you can tell, I’m a little mad and a little sad. More mad than sad, if I reflect a little. The wife says she’s never going to be able to listen to Pet Sounds anymore. I am not sure who I should hold responsible for using Brian Wilson in such a nakedly cynical way to sell shitloads of expensive tickets and merch, but they should have a curse laid upon them. Is Brian in on this scam, using himself and his name and fame? Fuck, I hope not. I have always thought of him as a gentle and forthright soul, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a greedy materialist trying to extract as much money as possible from people who still think he can perform. My favorite parts of the evening were watching Blondie Chaplin mugging and mincing and having a blast being on stage. His countenance is similar to Keith Richards’, looks to me like he partied hard for a while. Maybe still does. But he was more entertaining than anything else I saw at the Bell that night. He was surely happiest to be up there.

In the end, I don’t even think Vegas would say yes to this hustle if they tried it again, because this was certainly no performance to speak of. A lame trifle of a tribute, perhaps. And Brian doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be there for any of it. It’s over, buddy. I don’t know what it was like to be ripped off by Elvis Presley as he too did not always do what people came to see him do at the end there, but this feels analogous. So fair warning for those of you on this tour: Brian has left the building. Sell your seats to someone you don’t know well enough to like. Here, I’ll post a few pics and videos so you know a little what to expect if you take this ride.

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Al and Brian

Blondie soloing his ass off

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Brian mauling “I’m Waiting For The Day”

God Only Knows why this tour exists.

Brian getting lost in the lights while the band played arguably his most brilliant song

Definitely not made for these times

This was the best part of the show, the only non-Beach Boy tune.

I Hope This Is Just A “Correction”

I’ve been watching the stock market jump generally jump up, up, up and up nearly daily since it began its latest meteoric rise in oh, about 2015. Yesterday and today ended that trend. That makes me a bit uneasy,  because I have a few accounts that are completely invested in the markets, which are designed to weather short term downturn with the confidence that they will rebound and increase like they always do. We haven’t had a severe slide in about ten years, but I’d say the imaginary trend line favors increased value. Observe a 100 year curve:

Dow Jones – 100 Year Historical Chart

dow-jones-100-year-historical-chart-2018-10-11-macrotrends(1)

So the conventional wisdom suggests that growth is here to stay over the long haul, and if there are some bumps along the way it’s cool because stocks always come back from a selloff. And that’s typically correct.

You have heard Trump call this his economy. We know it’s not, but that’s what he tells his trucker hat wearing mouthbreathing voters who aren’t sharing a dime of this prosperity. The country has been in recovery since the Obama administration. Now Trump and his party did slash taxes on the Richiest of the Richies, and that apparently has led boards of directors everywhere to start Hoovering up their own stocks, which causes an elevation in their value. I know I am oversimplifying this because I’m a simple man when it comes to economics and money in general. But the big secret that the GOP kept from everyone is that they were going to do that. Some of that money may have gone to expansion and hiring, but not in the quantities they said it would. Like usual, we were told it’d be rocket fuel for good job creation (ignoring the fact that runaway growth is actually dangerous and short-sighted because it presumes a high degree of sustainability and when you take a resource you are hastening its depletion), and that hasn’t really been the case. True, indicators are still saying that we’re at full employment (even though most people have two of those jobs to make rent) and that wages are inching up, but that’s probably in spite of the tax cut. It certainly hasn’t done the working class much good and that’s who was sold this economic voodoo. Factories and business are shuttering all over the place, in direct contradiction to what Donald Trump says.

We cannot make the mistake that rising tides lift all boats. Some of those tides are being held behind gilded locks and dams.

Anyway, since the economy didn’t expand anywhere near the amount that they predicted (an absurd 4% or more if I remember right), the higher tax revenue failed to materialize. By now, we should be laughing in the face of anyone who brandishes a Laffer Curve in defense of tax cuts. But some fall for it, because it’s logical in its own way. So anyway, what does that mean? That means Uncle Sam needs a credit limit increase.

Yup. Deficit spending.

If you are a Republican, the solution is to curtail services to the public. They never admit that their dumb tax cuts didn’t do shit except make rich people richer. How they sell making the poor poorer to the poor is indeed quite a feat, accomplished by bullshitting poor people into thinking that someone else but surely not them are the poor sucking up services and “entitlements”. This gambit tends to take a racist tinge because stratification sees color and Republicans are good with that generally, as long as they keep the blame off them and the corporations who paid for their seats in government. The idea that Republicans are the party of fiscal discipline is the biggest crock of shit going. They cause a problem, and then scapegoat “big government” and want to cut everything you need to get by.

But if you can’t cut because people are about to tell your party to go fuck itself at the polls, you will be borrowing.

Enter the Fed. The Fed sets the prime interest rates for borrowing. When we borrow, we have to try and make it an attractive investment to a creditor. The more loaded we are with debt, the less interest there will be in holding that debt because it’s assumed that we are overleveraged (we are). However, much like the stock market going up in perpetuity, the general consensus is The United States will be around to pay its bills no matter how much we rack up. Given that we are perpetually hostile and armed with thousands of nuclear weapons, the world assumes we aren’t going to be destroyed without taking everyone with us. Yet the game must be played properly until we lash out in a fit of capitalistic aggression; we need to increase the interest to maintain the interest, so to speak. So the Fed increases rates, and consequently the interest rates on our debt begin to climb to make the return look good to China, Japan, the Saudis, or anyone else that wants to pick up our tab since we screwed up and cut taxes.

The Fed has raised rates rather significantly this year, three big jumps from March to October in order to make ends meet. Jittery investors begin moving money to the higher interest bonds instead of volatile stocks.

Bust. Bye, 1300 points in 48 hours.

Enter the master chiseler, Donald Trump. As regular readers know, I think Trump is a total dumbshit. One thing he is good at though, is being a crook and not paying people what they are owed. As we all know, he has declared bankruptcy multiple times and is being sued by like 800 people demanding money for services rendered. So his first instinct is to try to do a screw job on our creditors and not pay the bills at the terms agreed to. He has done this obliquely by attacking The Fed, who is trying to manage our money crisis the only way it knows how. In unprecedented irony, he says that “The Fed has gone crazy“, and demands that rates slow down so we can pay less on all of our debts.

If you wanna talk crazy, Donald, let’s talk about the trade wars you started that have crippled several sectors of the economy, or the farmers nearly going out of business because we keep tossing ag workers out of the country.  And you have the nerve to tell others their actions are crazy? Give me a fucking break, chump.

There are many other factors making possible this pickle we find ourselves in that I will never be able to fully understand, listed at the link in case anyone wants to break it down for themselves. Lord knows people have been writing about perfect economic storms for as long as I have been aware of economics and they never materialize, except when they do (looking at you, W). I’m hoping we aren’t heading for a more massive slide right now and all these worried words are pointless-but the truth is the whole world is smarting, and that means big trouble for those of us who are trying to save a pittance now (and I/we play no small role in this downturn indirectly, if you can fathom that) in order to take the place of our dwindling Social Security and healthcare benefits that have been bloodlessly slashed by politicians who simply don’t work for us anymore.

Please, if I am misgiven about causes and effects, do not hesitate to tell me. I’m learning as fast as I can.

Judge Dreaded

If you are like me, you had some free time and you spent it watching the Senate Judiciary Committee SCOTUS fiasco, because you’re something of a strange being-the cow at the slaughterhouse that wants to know when the bolt is about to hit. Knowing full well the GOP was going to get away with scamming the country into a decade spanning reign of terror that will be a perpetual 5-4 conservative majority, I still needed to see it unfold.

The whole country needs a long shower, scrubbed harshly with strong-smelling pumice-based antibacterial soap after bathing in that pigslop that they passed off as “advice and consent”. I couldn’t stop using the word “gross” to describe what happened.

I’m not going to get into too much detail about what went on specifically. No doubt most of you have seen quite enough. But there are a few things we know now.

Men don’t believe women. And if we do, the timing is always suspect. That was a nice story, Dr. Ford, sure wish we had known sooner. Bye. What? There’s more of them? Bzzt. Out of time.

We are about to select an entitled, rapacious, mercurial fratboy as our next Supreme Court justice. You know, kind of like the president who nominated him.

This country is about to fracture. Both sides of the political spectrum have finally decided we have irreconcilable differences. This appointment amounts to nothing less than a declaration of political war. Pat Leahy said it plainly at least in terms of the Senate: things have permanently changed. The once august, world-class deliberative body no longer cares about justice or their due diligence in any real sense-just as long as a narrow set of ideological goals can be achieved, it’s anything goes. It’s OK to hold open Scalia’s seat for over a year but let’s rush rush rush to install Brett Kavanaugh.

If any side is using timing to their advantage, it’s Republicans, perhaps dimly aware that they are going to get their clocks cleaned in the midterms if their ratfucking strategies fail and they need only to do this one more despicable act to make sure conservatism shits everything up and turns back the clock for a couple dozen years.

A few things, if I may.

Being a liar about inappropriate sexual exploits is NOT, I repeat not, a partisan issue. Remember how long it took for Bill Clinton to stop lying about Monica Lewinsky? He lied until he couldn’t lie anymore. This is a MEN’S issue. Now granted, that…

Hold on a minute! I just got word that there’s going to be an investigation-looks like Flake and Murkowski are going to balk. It will be another week before the Senate does a full vote while the FBI does a “limited investigation”.

I will take what I can get. Hang on brothers and sisters, shit might get even bumpier. If and when Kavanaugh is exposed as a vicious, drunken sex criminal, I want you all to remember this truly lunatic performance by Lindsey Graham, who acted as the id of the majority who wanted to push this sicko through at all costs. Remember, South Carolina. Let’s all remember. Take a good look at unashamed male rage.

So You Can Say You Were There

It’s about time someone finally got to laugh in Trump’s stupid, punchable orange face. And what better crowd to think him a fool than the entire United Nations, seeing as how one of his priorities was to get people to stop laughing at America?

Folks, we couldn’t have done worse than making Donald Trump the president if we wanted to end the global guffaws.

The truth is that the Trump administration has accomplished nothing of import. He’s generally done one of two things in the last two years; summarily undo everything positive his popular predecessor had done, and make everyone angry governing by chaos and crisis.

That looks like jack shit to the world in terms of American accomplishments. All they see is us kicking our own ass repeatedly.

I hate Trump with a passion because he’s a dick and a know-nothing. But thankfully, he usually doesn’t have the courage of his “convictions” and has the attention span of a retarded mosquito. He’s got miles to go before he has more blood on his hands than George W. Bush, for example. But the bottom line is that he’s no creator. He’s a destroyer, and his patently absurd claim that he has done more than any other president is a fucking joke and everyone on the planet knows it, everyone except for one Donald J. Trump-who did not expect his usual moronic boasting to be met with tittering and incredulity. So here’s one for posterity, gang.

 

Tucker Carlson Is An Asshole: 2018 Edition

Everyone wants to know what an asshole Tucker Carlson is lately.

At least that’s what my stats say.

I have updated, as I have promised in the past, all of the old clips of Tucker being an asshole. I have to constantly check those posts for dead links because Fox is very busy scrubbing embarrassing clips of their newest eight o’clock attack chihuahua from YouTube. Fortunately for us, someone reposts them and I can repair the links. You keep coming by, so I feel obliged to keep hosting these clips.

So, why is Tucker such a hot topic lately?

I confess, I do not know the details of how Tucker Carlson and Michael Avenatti began feuding-but that seems to be why we’re all gawking at their television battle from a few days ago. I think there had been some pro wrestling-grade challenges and insults being thrown about between the two of them and Tucker ostensibly wanted to have a real conversation beyond the name-calling.

But that’s not how Carlson works, you see. He’s but one in a line of professional bigmouth hosts on Fox News who make their money by distorting a guest’s position repeatedly, then talk over them while they try to explain what their actual position is until they get flustered, distracted or irritated, and then after seven or eight minutes of enervating bad faith arguing they claim victory over their unfortunate guest and end the segment.

Bill O’Reilly is the grandpoppa of this kind of garbage Fox programming. I still remember when he started out. The O’Reilly Factor, like it or not, was positively explosive in its early days. You couldn’t turn away because the wreckage was fascinating. He’d shout his guests down and then cut their mike off if they starting getting in a word over Bill’s indignant ranting. Then you had Sean Hannity, who used poor Alan Colmes as a whipping boy nightly to practice for his solo red-white-and-blue smug superiority fest. And our friend Tucker has now inherited the mantle of chief doucherino at the start of prime time since O’Reilly became radioactive after we all found out how icky the culture at Fox was. I guess if you wanted to you could trace right wing asshole TV history back to Morton Downey Jr., who screamed in the faces of “pablum-puking liberals” who were told to zip it if they tried to talk. These trailblazers are part of Tucker Carlson’s pedigree.

Anyway, Michael Avenatti, who is porn actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer as you undoubtedly know by now, has made quite the name for himself trying to bring Donald Trump to account for his adultery, and in the process of doing so may have found a political niche as a dark horse candidate for president, believe it or not. But he’s no dummy, and he’s definitely no-bullshit. You will note that Trump has very little to say about Avenatti or Daniels and that’s interesting because Trump usually has a 7-year old Twitter taunt for nearly all of his detractors. Avenatti clearly holds a pair of scissors for which to cut down the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the liar-in-chief. But Tucker went out dutifully to try to defame the pugnacious laywer. Here’s how it went. I haven’t got any options as far as a source for this except Fox so I don’t expect this to last long.

Tucker came out the gate with a question about a metaphor Avenatti used at a rally about the Russian hack. Now Tucker, like the president, has made the case in the past that we should be friends with Russia, as long as they do things like fight ISIS. And Ralph Peters, who is normally halfway to crazy, did try to set him straight on what a bad idea that was when he appeared on Tucker’s show. He really wanted to know what Avenatti would do if 100,000 troops from Russia did indeed land on America, so a) a metaphor is a metaphor, you fucking jackass and b) it will never happen so it’s a pointless hypothetical. But that’s what Tucker chose to lead with. That pissed off Avenatti, who said that he was told by Tucker’s people that the discussion would be about the Daniels case. So the ambush and the distraction started immediately. The chyron began to refer to Avenatti as a “creepy porn lawyer“, something which the guest set as a condition that Fox not do that since that’s the childish insult that Carlson used on a regular basis before booking Avenatti. Quite simply, he wanted Tucker to grow up, and the little prick decided not to. Avenatti was interrupted within about 20 seconds of the interview, and warned Tucker right there that he was not going to participate in the usual games that Tucker plays with guests who oppose him ideologically. Yet throughout the “interview” Carlson could not stop talking over his guest as usual. He kept returning to the metaphor, saying that Avenatti’s rhetoric against Russia is heating things up recklessly. As if Vladimir Putin even knows who the fuck Michael Avenatti is.

Avenatti found that ironic, of course, getting in a jab about reckless rhetoric that Carlson has engaged in. Since my constitution will not allow me to watch Fox, I’ll take his word for it. Trumpers (et al.) routinely project their faults on others. And furthermore, if anyone is going to criticize heated-up rhetoric, shouldn’t we be looking at the president’s fucking Twitter feed first?

Anyway, Carlson spent over five minutes parsing a metaphor. Then he trotted out the Trump chestnut that Obama spied on Carter Page, and poor Avenatti had to patiently explain that was bullshit. Three times. Avenatti did his best to steer the conversation back to the topic he was there to discuss, that of Stormy Daniels’ legal plight and the possibility that campaign finance laws were violated to buy her silence. It didn’t stick, and Tucker basically started to demand that Avenatti explain what harm was done to the country if the president was a liar and a cheater, which again is an idiotic and stupefyingly ironic question coming from a Republican that the now distracted and annoyed guest had to answer. The discussion eventually devolved into cheap shots, name calling, more interruptions, sweeping pronunciamentos, untruths, a truly bizarre back and forth on morality and porn watching habits, and then Tucker abruptly shut Avenatti down, ending the segment with a final dig.

The whole 13 minute ordeal was an absolute mess. My only wish is that they were two drunks in a bar so that Michael could clean Tucker’s clock, because live TV was the only thing keeping Avenatti in his seat. It was pretty obvious that Tucker was not there to let Avenatti make his case, as he said he would. Rather, his job was to smear and embarrass his guest at the behest of his network, which is increasingly looking more and more like state-run TV for the Republican party.

His job, as always, was to be an asshole.

Here’s some of Avenatti’s CNN post-game. He says Democrats should be willing to go into the lion’s den and do these shows, but I don’t know. There’s that old proverb about not wrestling a pig, you know?

UPDATE Sep 18, 2008: Now we know why Carlson wanted to bring up Carter Page out of the blue. The president released documents about the FISA warrant on him today, lord knows why. It probably will not prove anything he has said or exculpate him in any way. Fox was clearly priming the pump for the release.

 

 

Ham On Lie

That pious little gerbil Ken Ham has gotten my goat again.

In a desperate effort to inflate ticket numbers for his 100 million-dollar boondoggle of a boat that’s got Kentucky officials wondering what they are subsidizing and why, he’s decided to attack the public school system for not allowing trips to the Ark Encounter.

Naturally, he’s blaming atheists for this, even though we’ve had separation of church and state since the conception of this country. It’s been litigated and has stood solidly for over 50 years as a simple matter; the church needs to stay out of the public schools because they are government entities because the Constitution directs us in that way. Not everyone believes the same way and that is that.

This hasn’t stopped impolite Christians from trying to squeeze their way back into school and government in general.

If you can give Christians one thing in this world, it’s their determination.

Before I get on with the business of picking on Ken Ham, a local aside.

You’re all familiar with that saying from Proverbs in the bibble that suggests if you don’t hit your kids, you hate them, right? It’s more popularly known as the “spare the rod, spoil the child” proverb. Whether Solomon was implicitly saying that you need to beat your kids or not is immaterial; it has been interpreted as a green light from God to do so, and that is what matters.

Well, in a part of Columbia County, Georgia that we here like to pretend doesn’t exist called Hephzibah, a certain charter school has decided that parents have two choices for their recalcitrant children; get suspended for a significant amount of time, or take a paddling.

Yes. That’s still a thing that can happen in America in 2018. And I have no problem laying this at the feet of Christianity. I’m pretty sure Dr. Spock for one did not approve of it. Most of today’s psychologists don’t. Now, I am not saying that all child whupping is Christian in nature. I’m an atheist with two boys, and when I lost control of a situation I was a hitter. I will have to live with the possibility I have traumatized them for the rest of my life. Thankfully, they say they don’t remember. But I will never really know what I may have done. However, I never thought it was God’s command that I strike them. That’s institutionalized child abuse. And that’s what I think is happening in that little charter. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to stop this, but perhaps the international scrutiny they are receiving will shame them into abandoning the punishment. I won’t hold my breath.

This is my way of getting to the point that Christians in America can’t help themselves from inserting their beliefs and practices into institutions that serve everyone. It’s not fair, it’s rude, often morally objectionable and it makes you all look like jerks.

So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, back to Ken Ham, who somehow thinks he and his fellow believers are being “bullied” because an atheist drew a bright line in the sand that school trips to the Ark and other religiously themed attractions are a no-no. There were also mentions of the rules regarding the newfangled flagpole prayers and the opt-out from the pledge. Now generally, atheists do not draw first blood-we don’t get all bent out of shape until someone bends us. So I’m going to assume that Mr. Pike had good reason to be concerned. He appears to have chosen the counties to warn carefully. Here’s a copy of his letter to the schools, you can judge for yourself if this meets the definition of “bullying”. It’s clear the letter is based on legitimate LEGAL concerns-these possible violations were “brought to his attention”, and that certain Kentucky schools needed to be mindful of separation issues.

Again, the first impulse for Christians is to push, and then push some more, then more until someone tells them to stop. The Law (our properly secular law) is the only thing stopping them from forcing your child’s participation in all Christian activities-and screw who you are or if you believe otherwise. They will take it as far as they can until you metaphorically bop them in the nose and say enough.

Kinda makes you wonder who the “bullies” are, if there are any here at all.

But anyway, Ken’s one stubborn son of a bitch-no one can seem to get him to understand that atheism (and it’s purported doctrine, evolution) is not a religion. Perhaps it is mere disingenuousness, for if he cannot call atheism a religion, he cannot insist that allowing children to learn about other religions like Christianity is only fair. I’d like to say Ken is just a cheap bullshit peddler con artist like all the rest, but he spends a tremendous amount of nervous energy defending biblical literalism and challenging scientists to debates. It’s all quite absurd and self-serving, kind of like religion itself. What to do with a believer who thinks that we are afraid of their message because it’s so powerful? Many atheists will tell you that the #1 cause for their atheism is Christianity.

I guess the answer is to laugh for now, but with “religious freedom” popping up more frequently in legislation, the courts, the markets and in public service where everyone expects that the law be executed, nonbelievers might do well to go on offense soon, as uncomfortable as that may be. Because the new barbarians are at the gates.

Remembering John McCain

In these contentious days where some Republicans and Democrats are literally ready to kick each others’ asses if only they could just get off Facebook long enough, it’s hard to remember that on the other side of “the aisle” in politics there are people with heart. Even if their views on how society should be shaped seem lacking in morality or are intellectually offensive in some way, you know that these people love just like you do most of the time. I believe we want to go to the same place, we just have very different ways of how to get there.

No. That’s bullshit. A lot of people can go get bent. You’ve all gone fucking crazy and you should be put down before you infect the rest of the herd.

I think Senator John McCain is one of those who had heart though, even if he allied with forces I do not understand anymore for most of his political career. Since that is so, I am very saddened to see him begin the process of leaving.

For those of us born yesterday, you’ll probably remember John McCain best for dramatically torching the Republican attempt to “skinny repeal” Obamacare. It went something like this:

 

That thumbs down may have well been a middle finger to Yertle The Turtle and his entire crooked-ass quorum. While the Republican assault on healthcare continues, it was nevertheless rousing to see someone over there say at a critical juncture, “Enough. We’re being bigger dicks than I am comfortable with. Enough.”

Then there was that time when he talked some fearful, whacko racist constituents down from their conspiratorial perches at a campaign stop in 2008. As you all know, conservatives have been fed a steady diet of hateful, dangerous media blather for almost 30 years now, beginning with Rush Limbaugh and the emergence of Fox.

And McCain just couldn’t. He listened patiently, but he couldn’t.

Those were probably the most television-worthy moments of John McCain’s tenure in politics in my adult generation. I could be missing much more vintage McCain, beginning with the footage of his captivity in Vietnam because I am still relatively young.

I should not fail to mention that he also took a courageous stand against our wanton use of torturing combatants during the Bush era when we were collectively balls-deep in avenging ourselves upon anyone we could catch for those buildings that came down in 2001. More recently, he’s been a vocal opponent of the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA.

Of course, there are moments I remember which are regrettable. He made a star out of Sarah Palin. He will always be known as the old man who joked about bombing Iran to a Beach Boys tune:

And long before I became interested in politics or even my own johnson, he was a member of something called the Keating Five in the 80s. You see, back in the day from what I gather, buying a politician was not as easy to hide, and savings and loan king Charles Keating wanted some regulations undone to expand his empire. So, he feted a few key senators in order to achieve his goal. Apparently that was weird back then. In an ironic twist, he helped Russ Feingold enact campaign finance reform, though.

And that’s kinda the lion’s share of what I know about John McCain. I suppose that’s not much. I wonder, am I sad because he’s been famous for much of my conscious political life, or am I sad because he was an OK guy and that’s what you do when OK people are dying or dead? Maybe it’s a little of both, I don’t know. Famous deaths may remind me of my own fleeting mortality. It’s been on my mind.

Whatever the case, peace be upon John and his family. I think the only regret he might have about leaving at this time is that his passing will interrupt, at least for a little bit, the news of the unraveling of that dumb son-of-a-bitch who said to him that he preferred soldiers who don’t get captured.

 

 

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