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Showing posts from 2017

Year of the Donald

I suppose it could have been worse.  Trump could have set the White House on fire or got us in a war with North Korea.  Instead, we pretty much had to put up with his bluster all year.  Not even his ban on transgenders in the military was able to make it through the courts, and in the new year transgenders will once again be able to enlist in the armed forces.

As Presidents go, Trump has already placed himself squarely at the bottom with his petulant behavior and his inability to stay focused on any one issue.  It reached a point where Congressional Republicans wanted Trump to keep his distance given his outbursts when any Republican broke ranks.  It was better that he go play golf rather than try to solicit votes, although he did try to do that with Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul on the golf course.  Not that he had to make much effort with Lindsey Antebellum, or even Little Rand for that matter.  Ultimately, the Donald got his way with Senate Republicans, even if they only gave him o…

Trump Fatigue

Roy Moore's last ditch challenge to the Alabama special election was rejected and Doug Jones declared the winner in the hotly contested Senate race.  Few imagined a Democrat could take a Deep South seat, but you combine a notoriously bad candidate with what appears to be fading support of Trump, who backed Moore, you get Trump Fatigue.  Many Americans, including those in the Deep South, have had their fill of our Reality Show President and his reality show politics.

Nevertheless, we see our president gloating over his many accomplishments on twitter while he used a cargo truck to disguise him playing golf for the 87th time this year.  He spent virtually one-quarter of his first year on the golf course.  The most of any president since Eisenhower, who averaged 100 rounds per year.  Trump might still catch Ike, as he has a month left in his first year with plenty of vacation time on his hands.

This from a President who said during his campaign that he would have no time to play gol…

The Jackson Magnolia

As Magnolia trees go, the Jackson Magnolia has lived a long life, nearly 200 years, but as with any venerable tree it is hard to see it go.  Not surprising the decision to cut back the tree significantly is being met with some indignation, especially since the burden of the decision fell on the Trump White House.  It remains to be seen what will be left of the tree.

Andrew Jackson had planted the tree back in 1829, in memory of his late wife, Rachel, who died shortly after he was elected President.  He took a seedling from his farm in Tennessee and had it brought to the White House.  Probably one of the few warm stories surrounding "Old Hickory."  The tree has literally spanned 38 succeeding presidencies and is immortalized on the $20 bill along with Jackson himself.

You might recall that Jackson was scheduled to be scrubbed from the $20 bill and replaced by Harriet Tubman, but like many of former President Obama's executive orders, this one is in danger of being rolled…

The Palestine Problem

Back in the 70s, my sister wrote a book on the situation in Palestine.  The PLO was still regarded as a terrorist organization, so there was little attempt to arbitrate a settlement after Israel annexed the Palestinian territories in 1967.  It wasn't until the 1991 Madrid Conference that the US and Israel entered into reluctant talks regarding Palestine, which ultimately led to the PLO recognizing Israel's "right to exist."  A new Palestinian Authority was established with its capital in Ramallah, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem, to avoid conflict with Israel, which had established its knesset in Jerusalem.

No foreign country recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  Instead, they located their embassies in Tel Aviv, which became the de facto capital of Israel.  All that changed on December 6, when Donald Trump formally stated that the US would be moving its embassy to the disputed city.  The US, like several other countries, had consulates-general in Jerusale…

Merry Christmas, America

If we are lucky, this will be our first and last Christmas under Trump.  He has done about all he can do to divide this holiday season by rekindling the faux "War on Christmas," and declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, knowing full well the protests he would inspire, not least of all a universal rebuke by the United Nations.   No matter, the Trump band plays on.

He and his rowdy right-wing friends are doing their best to turn this holiday season into a family feud.  It will be pretty hard not to avoid Trump at the Christmas table, as he has put himself front and center this holiday season, gloating over his first major "legislative victory."  If that weren't enough, he managed to get Congress to go along with his "Drill, Baby, Drill" policy in the Arctic, formally approving his earlier executive order to open up the Arctic national wildlife refuge to the oil companies.  It was a busy December.

I guess it doesn't matter how unpopular these l…

Flynnflammed

or "Moscow Muellers" anyone?



While the late night passage of the Senate tax bill has garnered the most attention, perhaps the most telling event this past week was the guilty plea by Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI.  The White House and Congressional Republicans have tried their best to push this unsavory bit of news under the carpet so that they can bask in the glory of their first major legislative victory of the year, but this is the type of story that is going to grow in the succeeding months and there really is nothing they can do to stop it.

For Hillarycrats the Flynn plea has to provide a small measure of comfort, as he was the one chanting "Lock Her Up!" at the Republican Convention two summers ago.  It seems Flynn will avoid jail time for the testimony he is giving on his relationship with Russian officials. This doesn't look good for the Trump administration, which the former general was an integral part of.  In particular, it doesn't look goo…

Never Learn Not to Love

Lost in all the attention given Manson upon his death at 83, is the fate of Leslie Van Houten, who for the second year in a row has been granted parole but awaits a final decision by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Last year, he rescinded her parole.

Like the other "Manson girls," Van Houten has spent virtually her entire adult life behind bars for committing murders orchestrated by Manson.  It was widely understood that the girls had been effectively brainwashed by the charismatic cult figure, but were held accountable for their own actions in a court of law.  She and Patricia Kerwinkel, who was denied parole, have each spent over 40 years in the California penal system, able to escape the death penalty thanks to a 1972 decision by the state supreme court, which declared capital punishment unconstitutional.  The other "Manson girl," Susan Atkins, died in prison in 2009.

There were other Manson girls, notably Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who tried to kill President Gera…

Say it isn't so, Al

Or Men Behaving Badly


Our dear President had no problem attacking "Al Frankenstein" on twitter, but offered no words of condemnation for his buddy down in Alabama, Roy Moore.   Maybe it is as Trump says, the picture "speaks a thousand words," but so does an audio tape, in which Trump was caught admitting many of the same things to Billy Bush.

Supposedly Al's groping was meant in jest, being a former comedian, but it wasn't taken that way by Leeann Tweeden, nor was the big wet one he planted on her at a USO tour in Afghanistan.  Al immediately apologized after Ms. Tweeden exposed him, something Trump has never really done.  The Artful Dodger minced words back on the campaign trail before trying once again to turn the issue to Bill Clinton's past indiscretions.  I suppose this is why Leeann is forgiving Al, but Trump's accusers are still waiting for their day in court.

Even more interesting is a recent HuffPost/YouGov survey that found that Donald Tru…

The Center Will Not Hold

A few years back, Everyman's Library came out with a collection of Joan Didion's essays entitled We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.  Many of her essays were available on the Internet so I took a pass, but after watching the recent Netflix biography by her nephew Griffin Dunne the book is on my Christmas wishlist.

It was touching documentary, as Dunne probed his aunt's private life, which he was privy to.  Joan had a way of finding the essence of a story that few journalists are able to do.  This was true of her early work in California as well as her later work in New York.  She was one of the few journalists to see that the boys accused of killing the Central Park jogger in 1989 were innocent, turning her famous essay into a mediation on race and privilege in New York.  It is one of the themes her nephew explores in the film.

Decades earlier, Didion had captured the pulse of the hippie generation in LA, culminating in the murder of Sharon Tate.  Her White Album

The Ultimatum

or Covfefe Anyone?


You know things are getting dicey if Sean Hannity issues an ultimatum to Roy Moore to come clean on the allegations that he propositioned teenagers while Assistant District Attorney of Etowah County, Alabama.  Sean had been one of the Ten Commandments Judge's staunchest defenders. but when the former judge's wife used a five-month old letter to show her husband still had the support of 53 pastors, even Hannity had to wonder what was going on here.

Allegations broke last week when the Washington Post ran a story on the former judge's numerous solicitations to minors.  He was an assistant DA back then, but apparently liked the suffix DA so much he used it to sign a girl's yearbook.  The former judge tried to write it off as a smear campaign, but even his good friends at Breitbart were unable to refute the stories, leaving the judge to answer for himself.  Things went downhill from there.  Still, Sean was willing to buy the former judge's version of…

The Old Lunatic

The last stop on Trump's really big trip through Asia saw him in Manila for the ASEAN summit hosted by the Philippines.  For a guy who said "ixnay" to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP as it was called, it is easy to see why he was at great pains to participate in the group handshake among Southeast Asian leaders.

It was a rough trip for the Donald, thirteen days all together, putting him in contact with a number of world leaders he probably had no idea existed before.  He was even forced to visit Vietnam, which he went out of his way to avoid as a young man.  Yet, here he was getting a hero's welcome.  God knows why Vietnamese should be so enthralled with Trump.  Maybe they are big Apprentice fans?

Elsewhere, Trump is not so popular.  Only 17 per cent of South Koreans expressed confidence in his world leadership, as opposed to 88 per cent who were confident with Obama.  This is largely due to his handling of North Korea.  He was astonishingly quiet in Seoul.  I…

The Democrats' Big Day!

Maybe it took Trumpism to rattle Dems enough to get to the polls.  They turned up in big numbers in Virginia, New Jersey, Maine and cities across the country, where Democratic candidates won big.  It wasn't even close in the closely watched governor's election in Virginia.  The milquetoast Lt. Gov. Northam pummeled the insurgent Ed Gillespie, who went all in on Trumpism.  Not only that but Dems did extremely well in state assembly elections and are on the verge of taking back the House of Delegates.  They are only two seats short with five to be recounted.

The most interesting race in Virginia was between Danica Roem and Bob Marshall, the incumbent Republican.  Marshall is an avowed homophobe who sponsored a "bathroom bill" in the assembly, only to lose to a transgender woman.  A record number women ran for office in Virginia and at least 25 Democratic women took assembly seats.

Donald Trump was quick to distance himself from the debacle, calling Gillespie a lousy c…

Japan loves Ivanka

Trump not so much



Ivanka Trump told reporters she is ready to take over for her father should he decide to step down before his term is over.  President Trump offered no response to his daughter's strange announcement other than to say she would make an excellent president.

This followed a number of odd comments by the President during his tour of Japan.  Earlier he had pleaded with Prime Minister Abe, whom he called President Abe, to build Japanese cars in America.  When told by PM Abe that Toyota produced over 2 million cars last year in North America, President Trump simply murmured, oh.  President Trump also said he was astonished by the number of countries in the world when addressing a banquet the first evening.  Who knew?


Mr. Trump also seemed visibly agitated by the prospect of feeding goldfish, or koi as they are called in Japan.  He followed the Prime Minister in scattering a couple spoonfuls into the pond and then simply dumped the rest of the contents in the wood box, …

Time to look in the mirror

One of the things about living in America is that one mass killing quickly cancels out another.  It had been less than a week before Devin Kelley obliterated any memory of the New York truck attack by venting his rage on a rural church between LaVernia and Stockdale, Texas.   Our President was quick with prayers, but he isn't blaming Greg "Wheels" Abbott for allowing such a heinous crime to happen on his home turf, unlike his twitter attacks on Chuck Schumer last week.  Instead, he considers the Sutherland Springs church attack a "mental health problem."

It was also interesting the local police were slow to name Kelley, as if they wanted us to imagine for a moment it could be another ISIS attack.  After all, former Texas Governor Rick Perry had long been warning us of terrorists spilling over the Mexican border.  Turns out Devin Kelley is entirely homegrown and served in the military, but was court-martialled in 2012 for assaulting his wife and child.  Seems l…

What a Week!

The White House has become a dysfunctional family sitcom, kind of like Homer Simpson in the Oval Office.  Trump's minions have tried their best to cover for him.  Gen. Kelly attacked Frederica Wilson's account of the phone call Trump had with Myeshia Johnson.  Sarah Huckabee defended Gen. Kelly in turn, telling us we have no right to question generals, as if they are the ultimate authority on all matters, including the Civil War.  But, according to the creator of Dilbert, Trump is more than capable of handling his own with his never-ending supply of "linguistic kill shots."

Scott Adams has arisen from nowhere to become an expert of sorts because he predicted Trump would "win bigly" with a probability of 98% back in November, claiming Nate Silver only gave the Donald a 2% chance.  For the record, Nate gave Trump a 28.6% chance of winning, which he got chastised for being too high.  No matter, Scott Adams used his best "persuasion" skills to convin…