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Showing posts from July, 2017

Dr. Gorka

If you were curious who is the "military adviser" bending Trump's ear these days, it is Sebastian Gorka.  He's one of those characters a sci-fi writer would invent for no other purpose than to hate him.  Gorka comes from a British background but has been instrumental in shaping Viktor Orban's vision for Hungary.  Now, he is serving as one of Trump's advisers.

Currently, he's busy defending the trans ban, claiming Trump is doing transgenders a favor by not exposing them to the rigors of military life, given their high suicide rate.  Seems this self-professed expert doesn't bother to check out Snopes before he goes on air, as he would have learned that there are approximately 15,000 transgenders currently serving in the military, and an estimated 130,000 have served over the years.  Of course, estimates vary, but that's a significant number of persons to be dismissing from military service.

Gorka purportedly served in the British Territorial Army a…

Mack the Knife

It seems there was a delayed effect to the chip the Democratic doctor planted in McCain's head after removing his tumor.  Despite giving a heroic speech on the Senate floor, it took most of the week for the maverick senator to buck his own party and turn his thumb down on the "skinny repeal" Mitch was sure he would get through Congress.

Best laid plans were laid to waste as the crestfallen Senate leader knew he would be getting a nasty call from the White House.  How could he let the president down on this momentous occasion?  The Vice President, who had been hovering around the Senate floor hoping to cast the deciding vote, was more sanguine, putting his arm around Susan Collins' shoulders and saying, "boy, are you tough."  I suppose it could also be a good cop, bad cop routine with Trump soon repealing all federal money to Maine, Alaska and Arizona in the wake of this vote.

Collins got a hero's welcome back in Bangor with persons spontaneously cheeri…

The Madness of His Trumpness

Maybe Trump is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.  How else to explain these surly morning tweets, taking out his frustration on Jeff Sessions and transgenders?

No one particularly likes Jeff Sessions, but you almost feel sorry for him.  Here's a guy doing his level best to satisfy the bloated one and look at the thanks he gets.  Trump seems to have it out for his entire justice department, treating them like a team of personal lawyers who aren't doing enough to protect him.

As for transgenders, he not only caught the LGBTQ community by surprise but the Pentagon as well.  No one saw this coming, not even his Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who was enjoying a little bit of R&R when this shit hit the fan.  So far, the military is not reacting to the tweets, forcing Trump to deal with the shit storm himself.

Neither of these bold gestures makes any sense.  Sessions has been a steadfast supporter of Trump since the beginning of his campaign and is very popular amon…

The Last Boy Scout

Trump is certainly not one to miss an opportunity, rallying a bunch of boy scouts at a national jamboree around his health care bill and contempt for Obama.  For a man who doesn't want to talk about politics, he sure spent a lot of time talking about politics. 38 minutes worth.

The jamboree became a backdrop for one of his political rallies, in which he openly chastised Obama for not having attended a jamboree during his tenure, although Obama did so via video in 2010, marking the centennial of scouting in America.  The rambling speech was full of many cringe-worthy moments, including one in which he turned William Levitt into a strange cautionary tale, although it didn't seem to go anywhere.

More odd was Trump putting Tom Price on the spot in regard to the health care bill Senate Republicans are trying to pass this week.  I imagine many parents are concerned about a bill that would make it that much more difficult for them to get coverage for their families, but Trump turned…

Happy Trails, Sean

SNL won't have Spicy to kick around anymore, but the media couldn't resist reporting on one ignominious act in which Sean pilfered a mini fridge from his junior staffers in the early evening hours his first month in office.  I wonder if they will snatch their fridge back now that he's gone, but more likely they all pitched in for a new one from Walmart months ago.

It was a thankless job from the start as Spicer was forced to invent numbers surrounding the President's inauguration and it only got worse after that.  A press secretary's job is to cover for his boss but time again he had to sink to lower levels in doing so.

Sean's biggest problem was trying to explain Trump.  He would often go to great lengths to rationalize the president's tweets, making himself the brunt of jokes.  SNL had a field day with him, leading many to speculate how long Trump would keep Spicer, or "Melissa" as he affectionately came to be known.   It seems that as long as…

Trump and his Ten-Gallon Hat

"We've signed more bills -- and I'm talking about through the legislature -- than any president."
We've come to expect such boasts from Trump, who made this one at his opening speech for Made in America Week.  Unfortunately, it was easily squashed.  It seems the only president he has "trumped" in this regard is Obama, who signed 3 less bills by this point in his administration.  Trump not only trails FDR and Truman, who he had previously mentioned, but Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Trump mostly signed bills reversing Obama regulations.  Others were simple procedural bills.  The only bills he should be legitimately proud of are those concerning the Veterans Administration, although the legislation began months before he assumed office.  What does it matter to a man who is looking for any excuse to say he has done more than his immediate predecessor?

It is clear by now that Trump only measures himself against Obama.  The major part of that is eradicatin…

I never promised you a rose garden

Lynn Anderson's song sounds so appropriate right now.  Trump made a last-ditch effort to get fence-sitting Republicans to go along with the Repeal and Replace Bill that Mitch was trying to push through the Senate, only to see two of these senators jump to the other side of the fence.  The irony is that Sens. Lee and Moran chose to abandon the effort because they didn't think the bill went far enough in eradicating "Obamacare."
Susan Collins was the only holdout who stood for the principles of the affordable care act, believing that Republicans should work with Democrats to make a better health care system.  Others like Lisa Murkowski and Shelly Moore Capito might have felt the same way, but were sucked in by Mitch's last minute inclusion of funding for opioid substance abuse to keep the bill alive.  
Mitch only needed 51 votes.  He had the VP on call, but in the end it didn't matter when Lee and Moran dropped their support.  There was no way he was going to …

Pretty maids all in a row

Watching The Handmaid's Tale, it is eerie just how such a dystopian society might come into being.  I have alluded numerous times to a Third Awakening taking place where America goes through yet another religious revival.  We tend to dismiss these religious zealots but as Margaret Atwood made painfully clear in her book it is no laughing matter.  For some it is the equivalent of establishing Biblical law.

The Handmaid's Tale turns Christian fundamentalism into the equivalent of The American Taliban, a society in which women no longer have any rights whatsover, especially reproductive rights.  We are told of an environmental holocaust where fertile females have become a prized commodity to be bought and sold like chattel on an open market.  Atwood's America, or Gilead as she calls it, seems to have the upper hand as it has found a way to corner the market.  It is at once a feminist and capitalist nightmare.

Atwood wrote the book long before Trump became a political force, f…

As "cray" as that sounds

What a compelling argument,

One of the things with the wall is you need transparency.  You have to be able to see through it.  In other words if you can't see through that wall - so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what's on the other side of the wall.

After restating the need for openness four times, he goes on to give us the reason for this "transparency,"
As horrible as it sounds,  when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don't see them -- they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff?  It's over.  As cray as that sounds you need transparency through that wall.
The beauty of it is, Trump can now claim much of the current wall because it is exactly the type of construction he describes, and he would have to add very little to it, as it presently measures 580 miles,
... you don't need 2000 miles of wall because you have a lot of n…
Cue the music.  Hard to believe it has been 42 years since this movie splashed across cinema screens during the summer of 1975.  In those days there were very few cineplexes, so lines stretched for blocks to see Stephen Spielberg's deep sea thriller.  He was a hotshot 28 year-old director who had found the perfect vehicle in Jaws, a huge bestseller the summer before.

That's pretty much forgotten now, as James Kidd notes in this article, but Peter Benchley actually appeared in the movie, a little bit of Hitchcockian pretense.  Kidd offers an interesting survey of opinions on the book.  I liked Kingsley Amis' comment best, Jaws was about a bloody shark that could eat you alive.

Benchley had a great pedigree, but parlayed his family name into ready-made cinematic novels.  Itwas a bared-bones narrative, as I recall, taking bits of The Old Man and the Sea and Moby-Dick and turning it into a thrilling page-turner meant to scare you out of the water.

The movie was no great shak…

G20 - 1

It's been dubbed the G19 since the United States essentially chose to abstain from the summit other than the few issues that suited His Trumpness.   For part of the second day he had Ivanka sit in for him as apparently he had more pressing matters to attend to.   In response to Anne Applebaum's angry criticism of this unprecedented display of nepotism, Ivanka probably knows more about these issues than does her father.

Team Trump proudly announced a "cease-fire" in a region of Syria bordering Jordan.  This came out of the much ballyhooed 2-hour meeting with Putin.  One assumes this means Russia will hold back bombing missions in this disputed region for an unspecified period of time.

David Gergen offered plenty of praise for the "robust" meeting but was quick to note that this is the first time he had seen a US President come to the G20 and no longer be regarded as the leader.  It was clearly Angela Merkel's show from start to finish with Trump pretty …

WTF has Podesta got to do with any of this?

For whatever reason the real Donald Trump decided to fire off an early morning tweet about John Podesta:

What it means is anyone's guess?   Maybe it was just the first thing that popped into his head at 3:40 am or he was just hoping to deflect attention away from the limited role he would be playing at his first G20 summit.  I guess it depends on whether you view Trump in the middle stage of dementia or see him as the ultimate Machiavellian politician.

House Democrats are leaning to the former with a group of representatives having put forward a request to establish an 11-member commission to determine Trump's state of mind.  However, news pundits like Rachel Maddow seem to think Trump is playing a very clever game here, leading us to ponder if Trump is a genius or a senile old man.

My guess is that the tweets are the orchestration of the two Steves:  Bannon and Miller.  Trump's infamous CNN body slam is what got the House Democrats so agitated.  The meme didn't origi…

First Date

At some point today, Trump and Putin will officially meet for the first time.  They already had the opportunity to shake hands, which looked rather uncomfortable, but then it always looks uncomfortable when forced to arm wrestle Trump.

The media is fawning over this meeting like parents would a wedding, although it is doubtful that any kind of lasting relationship is going to come from this first date.   Trump's advisers are hoping that their president doesn't make any major gaffe like Reagan almost did when he met Gorbacev in Reykjavik back in 1986.  Gorby was ready to put nukes on the table and Ronnie almost fell for it, ready to commit the US to a nuclear disarmament deal that was clearly not in the US's best interests.  Of course, the famous summit has since been rewritten otherwise.

Mostly, Vlad is looking for Donald to ease sanctions and let things return to business as usual between the two nuclear superpowers.  It seems that Donald would dearly love to lift sanct…

Make Space Great Again

Maybe Trump actually wants to create a sex slave colony on Mars?  How else to explain this recent executive order.

This is an administration that has gutted its energy department, making it clear there is no room for science except when it comes to nukes.    Scott Pruitt has actually launched a program to formally challenge climate change science, and is in the process of dismantling the EPA as we know it.  This is the most anti-science administration since Reagan, who similarly went out of his way to eradicate the sustainable energy initiatives started under Jimmy Carter.  It's a wonder the solar panels are still on the roof of thee White House, but give Trump or Bannon or Rick Perry time to discover they are there.

Yet, Trump is rekindling the National Space Council, which was disbanded in 1993 over internal frictions between NASA and the NSC.  The Pere Bush and subsequent Clinton administrations decided to go with NASA.  But, the oddest thing is making Mike Pence chairman of …

Bollea v. Gawker

While I wouldn't call it Frontline, Netflix is putting out quite a number of documentaries worth watching, like Nobody Speak.  On the surface it sounds about as sensationalist as the case it explores, Bollea vs. Gawker.  Terry Bollea is better known as Hulk Hogan.  What made the story interesting is that Silicon billionaire Peter Thiel mysteriously covered Hogan's legal fees with the prime purpose of breaking Gawker.

The documentary splits time between two cases.  The other being Sheldon Adelson's mysterious buyout of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which the staff ended up investigating themselves as the new owners refused to identify themselves.  Both stories were driven by personal vendettas.  In the first case, Thiel had an ax to grind with Gawker for having outed him years before.  It didn't seem he wanted the world to know he is gay.  The second stems from a book one of the Review-Journal reporters wrote that cast Sheldon Adelson in an unfavorable light.  Both use…

Trump, Mika and Morning Joe

Mika just may turn out to be Donald Trump's Monica.  It all seemed innocent enough at first, our president firing back some angry tweets after she and Morning Joe lit into Trump's latest embarrassing episode - fake Time covers hung in several of his country clubs.  No less than eight framed copies according to a Washington Post article, which also had our tweeting president fuming.  But, the whole thing got ratcheted up a notch when he vented on Joe Scarborough, Mika's paramour, bragging that Joe begged him to stop a National Enquirer article that threatened to expose his illicit love affair with Mika.

Not that it was exactly secret.  SNL had already spoofed their on-screen romance, but apparently Joe and Mika weren't quite ready to go public so the White House thought it would put a little pressure on them to ease off on their attacks.  Joe apparently decided his journalistic integrity was at stake here and said, fuck it, go ahead, make my day, or words to that effec…