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Showing posts from February, 2017

Say hello to Tom Perez

Looking at the other side of the aisle, the Democrats have a new party leader in Tom Perez.  I don't know much about him, or whether he will unite the fractured party, but first signs seem to be positive.  He immediately made Keith Ellison, his rival for the position, deputy chairman in an effort to unite the raucous crowd.

I also like that Perez said the party will focus more on down ticket races, rather than investing all this energy in the presidential race.  It really was amazing to me that the Dems were unable to retake the Senate given more Republican seats were up for grabs than at any time in the past 6 years.  They were only able to gain one seat.  Much too much money and energy was spent on Hillary at the expense of key Congressional races.

Personally, I was rooting for Keith Ellison.  His Muslim background had many Democrats questioning whether he was a wise choice.  Ultimately, it is a DNC leader's organizational skills that should be the focus and Ellison gets h…

The Evil Dr. Bannon

I was tempted to listen to the evil Dr. Bannon at the CPAC pep rally but pretty much knew what to expect.  CNN was literally dripping with anticipation last night as Bannon very rarely makes himself available to the public.  He's one of those that likes to lurk behind the scenes, whispering his demented thoughts into the ears of political leaders, kind of like CPAC itself.

Stephen Bannon is only slightly more acceptable than Sean Hannity and Alex Jones, who apparently also has the President's ear.  Bannon at least doesn't shout.  Unfortunately, the agenda is pretty clear.  Turn the notion of mainstream media on its ear, allowing for fringe media like that they represent to become part of the mainstream media.  At that point, listeners will be completely confused as to what is real and what is fake, as it will be competing with each other every night for their attention.  News will no longer have an ethical standard but will be judged by how many hits it gets on the social…


or The Madness of King Trump

To this point, Mike Pence, or Mike "Pants" as my wife calls him, has been "good cop" to Trump's "bad cop" in the latest version of a Marvel crime fighting duo.  However, it is starting to appear that Vice President Pence is cultivating larger aspirations.  His European tour was a big hit, making a strong impression on European leaders and Bono alike for his level-headedness and commitment to international norms.

Meanwhile, the evil Dr. Bannon appears to be tending the stables of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse, waiting for that propitious moment to usher in Armageddon.   Things didn't work out very well with one horsemen, Milo Yiannopoulos, who has been dumped after his comments on pedophilia. The conservatives' "boy toy" tried to start a riot at Cal-Berkeley only to see his own reputation go up in flames.

It is really hard to understand what is going on in this White House.  There seem to be two main r…

It Can't Happen Here

It seems 45 has unwittingly inspired a book club -- not the kind he would probably give a thumb's up too as many of the titles are apocalyptic in theme.  One of the books that has emerged at the top of the list is Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.  It used to be fun back in the old days to speculate what the country would be like under a "bumbling, repressive and democratically elected American President," safe in the belief we would never be so easily deceived.  But, sadly it has happened.

The book followed pretty closely on the heels of the elevation of Hitler to Chancellor of Germany in 1933.  Other tyrants had come to power in Italy and Spain but there wasn't much of a democratic process in these countries, as they came to power through civil war.  Germany accepted Hitler, although at the time of Lewis' writing it was hard to tell how bad things would turn out.

That's kind of where we are now.  Trump is more laughing stock than tyrant, but gi…

The Night He Drove the Grand Ol' Party Down

It was a pretty simple thing to do.  Just go in front of the press and announce his new pick for Secretary of Labor, say a few complimentary things about him, and quietly bid adieu.  But, His Trumpness wasn't going to let it go at that.

The first indication this was going to get messy was all of his handlers preceding him, but no sign of "Alex" Acosta.  They all dutifully sat in the front row to give their president emotional support.  I had thought Trump would stick to theme, as he initially spoke so calmly.  I tuned away only to come back twenty minutes later to hear him ranting about the classified information that had been illegally leaked out of his administration.  Not just the leaked phone calls of Mike Flynn, but that of his conversations with the Presidents of Mexico and Australia, all of which he claimed were misrepresented in the press, or to use his phrase, "real leaks, fake news."

It was clear to everyone his conversation with President Pena Niet…

Meet me in Ljubljana

Call me prescient, as I had started a novella in December about an old man bumming a light from a young American at a cafe in Ljubljana and then spilling out a story about Melania being a deep cover Russian spy, who by a surprising stroke of luck ended up becoming First Lady.  I thought it was too far fetched to go any further and dropped it after a couple of chapters, but maybe I should take it up again, as this strange request by Vladimir Putin has me thinking he has a mole in the White House, not that Melania spends very much time there.

I've never been to Ljubljana but they tell me it is nice.  Slovenia managed to escape the Yugoslavian blood bath relatively unscarred.  It was the first of the former Yugolav republics to join the EU in 2004, and has enjoyed a steadily growing economy ever since.  
Melania left her homeland before the break up, becoming a model in Italy and eventually migrating to the US on an H-1B visa, where she hit her stride in New York.  She met the Donal…

Donald J. Trump v. United States Federal Courts

It's not surprising that a man with a very litigious past would find himself at odds with the federal courts so early in his term.  However, you would think he had lawyers who understood the Constitution enough to craft executive orders that weren't so easily shot down in court.  In fairness, he probably thought Jeff Sessions' boys knew the Constitution and trusted them when they drafted his "travel ban,"

It is an ideologically-driven executive order, not a Constitutionally-based one, using September 11, 2001, as its benchmark.  There is no specific act referenced that would explain why he chose to target seven countries that had absolutely nothing to do with 911.  He doesn't even mention the countries by name but rather refers to section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187 (a)(12), which is a 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention Act that was rushed through Congress and signed by President Obama in response to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks that year.  H…

The Curious Case of Vladimir Putin

Why is it you get the feeling there is a photograph of Putin hanging in the Oval Office?  Has there ever been a President who lavished so much praise on a contemporary foreign leader, refusing to even engage in criticism of the Russian president?  Trump dodged the question during his Super Bowl interview with Baba O'Reilly, essentially saying we all have blood on our hands.

There is no enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend thing going on here.  If that was the case, Trump would be much more friendly toward Iranian leaders, as they are fighting ISIS too.  No, Trump has genuine admiration for the Russian strongman.  He sees him as a role model for his own administration, hoping to consolidate as much power as he can into the executive branch to carry out Steve Bannon's agenda.

Of course, there's that thing about the dossier on Trump's compromising situation with the Kremlin, which was put together by a former MI6 operative working for the Democratic National Committee.  Most o…

Making SNL great again

Saturday Night Live is enjoying its best television ratings in more than two decades, thanks to their ongoing satirical look at the Trump administration.  The latest addition is a caricature of Sean Spicer, by Melissa McCarthy, which is brutal.  Needless to say, this isn't going down well with Emperor Trump, who continues to admonish the show every chance he gets.

He is apparently so angry over the Spicer sketch that he can't even summon up a tweet in response.  Instead, we get some juicy insider info that Trump may dump Spicer over the sketch, as it makes him look weak.  If that isn't bad enough, SNL is considering Rosie O'Donnell for the part of Steve Bannon, who to this point has been portrayed as the grim reaper.  So, Herr Trump may not want to set a precedent with poor Sean, who took the caricature in stride at Monday's press conference.

It is hard to tell whether Trump really can't stand people making fun of him, or if he is the Rodney Dangerfield of Pr…

The Bowling Green Massacre

or when fools rush in

When the facts don't suit your interests, you make them up.  That certainly appears to be the mantra of the new administration.  A few days ago we heard Kellyanne Conway try to establish a link between Trump's travel ban and that which she claims President Obama issued back in 2011 when two Iraqi terrorists presumably went on a rampage in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 
I suppose we can pardon Kellyanne to some degree as she was only to trying to stand by her man.  She's become a kind of work-wife for Trump, desperately trying to explain his actions to the media.  It is a thankless job as it must be a strain to constantly try to come up with precedents for the rash actions of her work-husband, who believes his decrees need no explanation.  
However, this one was a real doozy.  Not only was there never any Bowling Green Massacre, but no travel ban either.  Back in 2011, two Iraqi men were caught sending money and weapons to al-Qaeda in Iraq for the purpose o…

As Berkeley Burns

The Berkeley College Republicans got it into their heads to invite conservative firedbrand Milo Yiannopolous, a frequent contributor to Breitbart, to their university.  It seems they wanted to rile up the predominantly liberal student body and they got what they wanted -- a veritable riot, replete with flame-throwing, personal and property damage.  No one was seriously hurt, but the reputation of UC-Berkeley has been tarnished for its illiberal views, gleefully reported by conservative outlets.

Everyone knows the temperature of the country has risen these past two weeks, so why not add a little fuel to the flames, turning liberalism into a "self-defeating cause," as Fox News described.  Of course, no mention of Milo's well-catalogued incendiary rhetoric that would almost make G. Gordon Liddy blush.  Like Liddy in the 80s, Milo is touring college campuses in hopes of spurring young conservatives into action.  He hopes they will rally around Trump the way conservatives di…

It's working out very nicely

You have to marvel how Trump managed to set the world on fire in just two weeks in office.  He did such a bang up job that he decided to relax at Mar-a-Lago for a few days and let the tempest he stirred up blow over before issuing anymore executive orders.

He's been a veritable signing machine, plastering his gaudy imprimatur to no less than 7 executive orders and 11 memos since assuming office.  He's well on pace to shatter Obama's number within his first year in office.  But, who's counting?  Obviously, not the Republicans who feel it is "a waste of their fucking time" to have to respond to such questions.  This is rather odd for Congressional leaders who decried Obama signing so many executive orders his last two years in office.

Even odder is that Trump didn't feel it necessary to consult with Congressional leaders before signing off on highly contentious orders like his travel ban.  Even his own Homeland Security Department didn't know it was co…