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Showing posts from May, 2017

Coal Miners' Blues

It seems the good leaders at the G7 summit in Italy tried to nudge Trump toward accepting the Paris Climate Agreement.  The best they could get in the way of a response from his staff is that Trump's views on climate change are "evolving," and that he will get back to them next week.  Of course, his view can't get much worse than it is now, so we will take this as a positive turn.

At the heart of the climate exchange "debate" is the cognitive bias (to use a gentle term) being exhibiting by a large number of conservatives who see global warming as a conspiracy,  voiced by Trump on the campaign trail, to limit US industrial production.  These persons see power as only being produced by coal, oil and natural gas, and refuse to accept alternative forms of energy production.

These conservatives are oblivious of the number of new jobs the solar and wind energy sector has created this past decade, outpacing all of the fossil-fuel industries by a wide margin. In …

The Ugly American

Trump is making it clear he doesn't like Europe.  The NATO speech was largely aimed at his following back home, so to some degree we can excuse him for this.  However, the contempt he demonstrated throughout the summit was beyond the pale.  He had little respect for any leader, especially one from a small country like Montenegro.  Too busy chatting with his new buddy, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, to pay any deference to Premier Dusko Markovic.

Once again he dissed Angela Merkel, complaining about the trade deficit the US has with Germany, not stopping to think that most of the cars Germany sells in the US are made in the US, which is more than can be said for Ford or GM.

His Trumpness was obviously peeved when the new French President Macron chose not to shake his hand first, turning to Merkel instead and then three others before finally turning to Trump.  Upset, our President gave Macron one of his patented pile driver shakes, only for Macron to grab his arm to st…

Take Me Home, I Hate Masada!

Trump's big play in Israel landed with a dull thud.  The second leg of his "historic trip" got off to a bad start when Melania refused to take his hand on the tarmac of the airport.  Bibi was having a tough time himself, unable to get his ministers to fall in line behind him to greet the president at the airport.  He and his wife ended up complaining about the press to Donald and Melania before he gave his amazing speech on the tarmac.

A big day of events got very little attention beyond his "historic visit" to the Western Wall, a first for a sitting president.  We can only guess what is going on in that head of his, but CNN tries its best to fill the void.

Trump was ready to go home after two days, complaining like a little kid at summer camp that he has had enough.  Unlike his campaign visits where he usually got back to New York the same night, Trump is having to spend an insufferable eight nights on the road.  Not sure why they didn't put his signature…

The Golden Shower

His Trumpness was feted by the House of Saud in an evening he probably won't be able to live down anytime soon.  Getting a gold chain that even Jay Z would be envious of is standard procedure, but the royal horse escort and the sword dance was something I don't remember seeing before.  King Salman went all out to honor Trump, knowing exactly how to appeal to our extremely vain president, who summed up the royal reception as "tremendous!"

At the center of this "historic event" is a $115 billion arms deal, which the Trump administration claims it negotiated itself.  In actual fact, it was a deal struck last September before he was even elected, but that Obama had held off on because of egregious human rights violations.  His Trumpness appears less concerned about this, as his administration put precision-guided munitions back into the deal.  We will see if these warheads come back to haunt us.

Trump was so anxious to deflect attention away from the ongoing p…

The Melancholy of Resistance

Virgil, quick, there goes the Robert E. Lee,  And the P.G.T. Beauregard too.
You may or may not know the lyrics to the Band's classic song, but you can hear it playing in the background as New Orleans takes down its Civil War monuments in the dead of night.  Workers are even wearing masks to hide their identities out of fear of reprisals.
City officials have now removed three of four monuments.  Gen. Beauregard was a native son of Louisiana, born on a plantation outside New Orleans, and rose to prominence in the U.S. Army, serving as an engineer to Gen. Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War from 1846-48.  But, it is not for these deeds that he is remembered.  Beauregard was one of the prominent generals in President Jefferson Davis' Confederate Army.  He led the siege on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor in April, 1861, that served as the toll bell for the Civil War.
Colonel Robert Anderson, from the slave state of Kentucky, chose to defend the federal fort rather than give…

The Plot Thickens

Seems our man in the Kremlin is enjoying the way events are unfolding so much that he wants to get his hand in yet again.  Vladimir Putin has offered to hand over transcripts of the meeting that recently took place between Trump and Lavrov to calm anxieties in what he regards as a "political schizophrenia" taking place in America.

I'm not sure what the game being played here is, but it is very similar to what took place between Russia and Turkey in Syria.  If you recall, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in December, 2015, which Erdogan said encroached on Turkish air space following a bombing mission over a border Syrian town.  Things got quite heated with Russia placing economic sanctions of its own on Turkey in the form of a tourist boycott.  This apparently shook Erdogan up so much that after a few months he apologized to Putin, and ever since the two have been comrades in arms in the ongoing battle over Syria.

Trump has been unable to even bring up the subject…

Russialeaks

Throughout its 120-day tenure, this administration's biggest source of leaks has been the President himself.  He has revealed his hand time and again, much to the chagrin of his White House staff, which seems to have absolutely no control over him.  As a result, their prime duty is damage control.

No sooner is it revealed that Trump divulged high security "intel" to Russian state department officials, than his Secretary of State and National Security Adviser are sent out to vehemently deny these allegations.  By morning Trump negated McMaster by admitting to the leaks in his tweets, saying he had the "absolute right" to share this information with Russian officials.  This forced McMaster to come out a second time to explain the angry tweets.

I suppose I could parse all this out, but what's the point?   It is reported further down in the Washington Post article that Trump prefers single-page, bullet-point security briefings, and often ignores even these co…

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

Protests have emerged in New Orleans and Richmond over the removal of Civil War monuments, notably the statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, two of the most revered figures from the era.  The protest in Richmond looked like something out of Birth of a Nation, replete with blazing torches.  For many white Southerners these statues represent heritage, but in most cases the monuments were put up long after the war and more in response to federal efforts to "reconstruct" the Southern states.

Lee Circle in New Orleans is a prime example of this.  Protests were less ominous in tone but displayed the same ignorance.  The Circle was renamed in 1877, the year Reconstruction was officially repealed, and the monument erected in 1884.  This monument had less to do with Lee, who died in 1870, than it had to do with winning the battle over Reconstruction.

Southern states had fought this reform act tooth and nail ever since it began in 1863.  Louisiana was one of the f…

The tale of the "tapes"

Trump's latest gambit to avoid talk about Russian collusion in the 2016 election is to stage his first trip abroad as POTUS.  He had Gen. McMaster, his National Security Advisor, loudly announce his itinerary at a press briefing, which also saw the return of Sean Spicer, who was apparently hiding in the bushes this past week to avoid questions about all the shit that came down.
This isn't an ordinary trip, mind you, but an historic one.  According to the highly vocal general it is the first time a President has met with leaders of three major religions all on one trip.  Trump is going to Riyadh to see the Saudi king and an unspecified number of other Muslim leaders to discuss peace in the Middle East.  Then onto Israel where he will meet with both Netanyahu and Abbas, in an effort to finally resolve the Palestinian question.  From there it is to Italy to patch up relations with the Pope.  Then onto Belgium where he plans to reaffirm America's commitment to NATO, and as th…

Coincidence, Perhaps?

The White House tried to do damage control yesterday, employing a wide range of surrogates to go on the airwaves to defuse the summary dismissal of James Comey.  We had Newt and Rand and Condi, among many others saying it was a long time coming and/or it was time to move on from the investigation into Russian collusion.  But, probably the most interesting of all was Sarah Huckabee Sanders the lead press secretary at yesterday's press conference.  Where's Spicey?

Meanwhile, Trump was hosting none other than the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak at the White House.  I don't know about you, but this doesn't look any better for Trump than did Bill Clinton meeting Loretta Lynch on the tarmac of a Phoenix airport when the Justice Department was conducting an investigation into Hillary's role in the Benghazi attack.  Many pundits point to that "chance encounter" as one of the main reasons for Hillary's loss, as it …
James Comey never saw it coming, taking the news report of his firing as a prank, but the biggest joke was the reason given by the White House for his firing, claiming that it was because of his handling of the investigation into Hillary's e-mail server abuse.  I'm not sure who the White House thinks it is fooling, but certainly not the broader American public.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the case for the White House on Fox News that it was time to move on from the Russian probe, but this summary dismissal of Comey is only calling more attention to it.  Fox News followed what it believed to be James Comey's motorcade in LA, making him look like O.J. Simpson fleeing police custody.
Tucker Carlson and other Fox News pundits continue to claim "there's nothing there," despite what was rather damning testimony by Sally Yates that the White House refused to heed her warnings regarding General Flynn.  Instead, she was fired when she wouldn't stand up for the Tr…

Thank you President Trump for calling attention to the Senate Hearing

I can't say we learned anything new from the Senate hearing yesterday given that both Sally Yates and James Clapper were limited to what they could say in public.  However, what was said was damning at least in regard to Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn.  Not only was he presented as a severely compromised national security adviser but that many of his actions are punishable in a court of law, carrying sentences of two to five years each.

Democratic senators tried to get as much as they could out of Clapper and Yates without compromising the ongoing investigation, while Republican senators went out of their way to discredit Sally Yates.  This was particularly apparent in the lines of questioning from Sens. Ted Cruz and John Neely Kennedy, who focused almost exclusively on former Attorney General Yates' refusal to defend Trump's initial travel ban.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, take a less combative approach, preferring to stick with the…

Vive la EU!

At his victory speech before the glass pyramid of the Louvre there were as many EU flags as French flags among his assembled supporters.  He came to the podium with Beethoven's 9th symphony playing, which has been redubbed "Ode to Europe."

It remains to be seen what Macron will do in France but for the moment Europe is breathing a huge sigh of relief.  Few doubted he would win the election, but Macron needed a resounding victory to push this ugly strain of nationalism creeping into Europe back into its dark corner.  He got it, scoring a whopping 66% of the vote, ending all talk of "Frexit."

He took virtually every French voting district in the process.  Le Pen managed to win only two northern districts.  Still one can argue that 34% is a lot of dissatisfied French, but Macron has five years to make his case and restore confidence in the country after what had been a disappointing decade of French politics.

Macron not only stood behind the EU, he championed it!…
This time it was Trump who got "schlonged" on television.  Needless to say, there was plenty of controversy over Stephen Colbert's monologue this past Monday, but Stephen says he has no regrets.  Why should he?  Trump can't even bring himself to take back his absurd allegations that he was wiretapped by Obama, which is what set Colbert off.  I suppose he could have called the President a stooge or other choice epithet but he chose "cock holster."

Members of the gay community found this equally offensive, so poor Stephen was taking it from both sides.  PC is dead.  All gloves, or should I say all holsters are off.

I was curious if this was a term Stephen made up or one he appropriated.  It's been around since 2003 according to Urban Dictionary, and is typically used by Marines to suggest mouth.  Leave it to a drill sergeant to come up with the term.

This incident is sure to boost Colbert's ratings on the Late Show.  Ever since he turned his monologu…