Category Archives: Michael F

Here’s Looking Down On You

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If you’re going all out to create a New Gilded Age, why not recreate contemporary media and make a cover photo?

Anyway, that’s Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, his wife Cruella, and what looks like the hired help touching vulgar cash (poor people’s cash at that, i.e., singles) for what’s probably the first time in a VERY long while (Mrs. Mnuchin has thoughtfully insulated/protected herself with leather gloves).

It takes work to make Mitt Romney seem like a man of the people…

I dunno, maybe they’re displaying what we non-one percenters might receive from the proposed tax cut, assuming we’re not one of the lucky ones who’ll get to “put more skin in the game.” Gee, almost enough to fill the gas tank once or twice.

Or maybe profound tone-deafness is also a disease of affluence.

Some People Like Creepy Clowns, I Guess

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And you can read about them here. There’s no accounting for taste. Some people just really, really like creepy clowns, for whatever reason. Maybe they think the creepy clown is going to bring back coal mining jobs, or build a wall to keep the foreigners out, or Make America Great Again…or maybe not, and maybe they don’t really care. The creepy clown is their personal cri de coeur (or, since it’s right wing identity politics, their cri de Coors). They especially like it when the creepy clown lashes out at professional football players because they think the players are acting, you know, uppity.

But most of us don’t like creepy clowns, and we’re pretty appalled that, one, the creepiest clown holds the highest elected office in the land, and two, that his administration is, so far, exactly what you’d expect from a creepy clown bought and paid for with rubles. So a lot of people expressed their profound dislike of creepy clowns in Tuesday’s elections.

True, the areas where voters really came out to vote no aren’t the clown’s strongholds. But it’s good start, and a good reminder that this administration has never had anything even approaching a mandate. He was “elected” thanks to phenomenal luck and quirks in the rules.

And because some folks just want to see the world burn.

But that’s not most of us. And if we get motivated — and vote — we can end the nightmare and embarrassment.

As for the clown lovers, don’t even try to convince them, because logic or reason won’t work.

 

Marketing Genius

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So, the guy who blew up a pro-football league, almost went bankrupt running a casino, and who’s own name/brand-name is now synonymous with crap/junk — but yeah, who managed to convince a bare minimum of people that high office as Amateur Hour was what we needed — now wants to apply his particular set of skills to naming legislation:

About a month into his presidency, Donald Trump hosted a White House meeting with business leaders and boasted, “I’m good at branding.” That may be true, but it’s not clear if the president has other priorities he takes as seriously.

For example, two senior administration officials told ABC News the president is determined to name the Republican tax plan “the Cut Cut Cut Act” – and this does not appear to be a joke.

It’s become a hallmark of Trump’s presidency: how American families’ lives would be affected by various proposals isn’t a subject the amateur president finds especially interesting. But branding and sales pitches are very much in his wheelhouse.

As this applies to the ongoing Republican difficulties in shaping a tax plan, Trump has nothing constructive to offer in terms of policy measures and substantive details, but he’s “holding firm” on supporting a name for the bill that a third grader might’ve come up with.

Christ. If that’s the best you can do, why not go all out: Zima, New Coke, Edsel…or, what the hell, Jeb! That’s available, right?

Not Like Everybody Says…Like Dumb. I’m Smart, And I Want Respect!

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The man with Fredo’s intellect and Sonny’s temperament reminds us that he’s certified, um…

During an MSNBC appearance, Trump was asked about his foreign policy advisers. “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain,” the Republican said. “And I’ve said a lot of things.”

The president said more things this morning on the South Lawn of the White House.

“Well, I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know – people don’t understand – I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is, I think, I really believe, I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.”

So…at least some Trump voters said they “wanted to send a message to Washington.”  But I think their message tells us more about  themselves…and isn’t exactly a compliment.

 

American Gothic Toxic

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Somewhere a basket is shy at least two deplorables.

Turns out Trump is … pretty much exactly what we thought he’d be: pathological, narcissistic, toxic … poison

Every morning’s check of headlines brings another another punch to the gut. Yes, that is what his base wanted — for him do to their ideological opponents what they cannot. And to restore what they consider the natural order: them at the top of the social pecking order. Vicariously, if not in any real sense…

Your daily dose of outrage has been the business model of conservative talk radio for decades. Now it is the governing style of the Executive Branch.

Except what the sitting president’s base feeds on is toxic. Something the saner among us eschew for our own mental health. Now, short of going off the grid or retreating to monasteries, it is there every day.

It’s hardly out of character for President Trump. He thanks people for great turnouts at refugee relief centers. He asks people who’ve lost everything whether they’re having a good time.

President Trump is poison. Everything around him gets damaged and degraded. It’s not any one thing. It’s everything. It’s hard to evaluate the dynamics of this call out of the context of waiting ten days, lying about his predecessors, creating this hideous spectacle with John Kelly’s son. Was the family prepped for something off because of the preceding three days? Probably. Was Trump angry about all the criticism? Probably so. It’s a perfect storm. And it all builds out of one man, Donald Trump.

Forget about all the “limited, local” “faster, better, cheaper,” “efficiency of the free market” nonsense. Movement conservatism is, at its root, a lot like Trump himself…petty, vicious, poisonous, toxic, and more than just a little racist. The distilled essence.

And we’re not even one year in…damn.

So, Who’s The Real Rocket Man?

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Though considering their mental ages/levels of maturity, maybe we should ask “who’s the real Missile Boy?” Adrastos has the details below; earlier this week Bob Corker told us what he really thinks (the Oval Office is functioning as a child’s playpen), and given Orange Narcissus’ record as well as his temperament…yeah, I think concern should be on our minds. Concern…and hope that the alleged grown ups keep a lid on things (who knew we’d be relying on the maturity of someone nicknamed “Mad Dog?”)

At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”

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But what’s even more unsettling, as I have previously written, is that Trump has a history of making comments about nuclear weapons that both display his profound ignorance about this all-important subject and suggest he believes a nuclear conflict is inevitable and perhaps destined for the near future.

Oh, and while our reality show president pouts (and lashes out at NBC), Puerto Rico is becoming a humanitarian catastrophe, wildfires are raging in California…I think I’m getting tired of all this winning…

The Madness of King Don

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“Let them eat cake. But only Trump Cake. Because it’s really terrific cake — the best, many people are saying — and believe me, I know cake.” 

Sad to say, I would not have been surprised if Trump had capped off his latest episode of Celebrity Apprentice POTUS by demanding the “lucky” recipients of — towels? — grovel forth and wipe his shoes. As Adrastos notes, it was an ugly parody of Mardi Gras throws, underscored by any number of statements his base might love, but which demonstrate also why his base loves, I don’t know, professional wrestling, massive wrecks at stock car races, etc.

Adding to the toxic mix we’ve got the Secretary of State making what looks like a hostage video where he non-denied calling Trump a moron and Bob Corker (note: both links have embedded video) likewise got a little too candid with what he really thinks of the Executive Branch…not that we didn’t know already, but Little Lord Donald is less actual POTUS and more spoiled brat using the Oval Office as a kind of playpen while the adults do their best to keep his grubby, smeary, stubby little fingers off the fancy stuff (and, heaven help us, the launch codes). I’m actually somewhat comforted by that.

But we’re still not even a year into this grand experiment in American “democracy” (with a lingering aroma of Russian, um, flavoring). And let’s not kid ourselves: the response to the natural disasters is hardly terrific or worth bragging about…and I doubt it will get any better from here. Good luck.

Nero Never Actually Fiddled

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Nor did he sing accompanied by himself or someone else on the lyre …

But our president sure does like to tweet. And apparently has the attention span of a gnat. While the Caribbean is still in full crisis, and Texas is now dealing with, among other things, flesh eating bacteria, Trump and the GOP think it’s the perfect time to pivot to … tax cuts.

For years, Republican lawmakers lamented the soaring national debt, pressing for spending cuts and clinging to the mantle of fiscal responsibility. But last week, Senate Republicans hammered out a deal to allow for as much as $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, betting that supercharged growth will make up for lost revenue, a potentially dubious prospect. The tax plan outlined Wednesday by the White House and Republican leaders in the House and Senate could cost more than $2 trillion over the next decade, according to a preliminary estimate by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

And, I dunno, maybe they think we have the attention span of gnats as well…

Stranger Than Fiction

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More evidence the Russians were all-in on The Donald

Suspected Russia propagandists on Facebook tried to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during last year’s election, The Daily Beast has learned.

The demonstrations—at least one of which was promoted online by local pro-Trump activists— brought dozens of supporters together in real life. They appear to be the first case of Russian provocateurs successfully mobilizing Americans over Facebook in direct support of Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Paul Manafort was cozying up with Russian oligarch, friend of Vlad — and allegedly-more-than-just-a-little-mobbed-up — Oleg Deripaska.

Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed the email ex­changes as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”

Nonetheless, investigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort’s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe. Those people, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters under investigation.

Would a producer even consider a scenario where a right-wing “populist” blustered and bullied his way through a political campaign, relying on his name recognition as a reality television show celebrity…and then managed to pull off a big upset thanks to a combination of weird rules and bad news cycle timing for his opponent…but it turns out the whole time the reality show guy’s been a pawn (and possible money launderer) of an intertwined foreign government and criminal syndicate?

Hmmm…

Was Trump Played Like A Cheap Fiddle? Well…

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First though, IF some sort of deal was made to extend DACA protections, then good. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live under that kind of stress. I also can’t imagine what it’s like to be so abjectly cruel as to demand deportation (hmmm, what’s the word? Deplorable? Yeah, pretty much).

And … I’ll never cozy up to Pelosi and Schumer, but before anyone writes them off for dealing with The Donald, consider what sort of shit sandwich they were served last November. I guess my advancing age has pushed me into the take-what-you-can-art-of-the-possible-camp…but, I’ll take what I can. Sucks that a combination of arcane election rules, voter suppression, corporate money by the (container) shipload, gerrymandering, etc., have produced a nation both richer than King Midas’ wildest dreams and one that casually accepts, oh, I don’t know, savage inequality, crap (or nonexistent) public goods,  but that’s what we’ve got, and at this point anything that doesn’t shovel more money upwards while kicking the have-nots in the teeth (much) is … if nothing else, a lesser of evils in my book.

Finally, just speculating here, but…I wonder if the latest round of not treating the Democrats like a punching bag has several reasons behind it. Offhand, Mueller’s investigation appears to be swinging into high gear, and Trump might feel like he needs all the breathing room he can muster. Also, while not a Rhodes scholar, neither is he so dim that he can’t realize his Administration is vying with the Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Harding doormats for worst ever. Perhaps he’s desperate enough to do almost anything to weasel out of historical, or legal, judgment. Or maybe he is on some things like a cheap fiddle that can be played…which, if the case, is…better than a shit sandwich. Not by much, but…

Shit Show

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And Rush would likely be the first to victim-blame anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in desperate need of supplies like water, batteries, or anything else.

So, take The First Step, Rush. Storms like Hurricane Irma are no joke. Ask anyone who’s survived one. Hell, where I live, we’ve only had two small (Category 1) storms in recent years, but they were scary enough. In 2008 the house shook badly and I vividly remember the proverbial “sounds-like-a-freight-train” noise; in 2012 the heavy rain coming down in (at times sideways) sheets seemed like it would never stop.

Afterwards, you’ve got a long clean-up that feels like an ugly hangover … the kind that won’t go away. And let’s see someone like Limbaugh live without electricity for a few days…or more. That gets real old real fast.

Problems don’t end when the media’s moved on to other shiny objects. Texas and Southwest Louisiana are still dealing with the messy post-Harvey cleanup. I’ve got friends living in FEMA trailers from last year’s massive flood…

I’m sure Limbaugh will react to the criticism in his usual way: act the snowflake and retreat to his safe space — oh, he’s just an entertainer, he’s just trying to fill a large block of time on his lengthy show, oh, it’s really the libruls fault for suggesting it’s climate change…always blame the libruls. And his loyal followers will eat it up it just like they’ve swallowed all the other shit he spewed. But geez, when it comes to a monster storm like Irma, just…STFU, and take The First Step.

 

War, What Is It Good For?

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For Erik Prince…apparently it’s good for cost-plus, no-bid government contracts and (blood) money by the wheelbarrow. While Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast residents continue to fight floodwaters, Prince made his case in a New York Times op-ed.

My proposal is for a sustainable footprint of 2,000 American Special Operations and support personnel, as well as a contractor force of less than 6,000 (far less than the 26,000 in country now). This team would provide a support structure for the Afghans, allowing the United States’ conventional forces to return home.

Sort of like Rambo III, but for the 21st century. No word on pesky liability issues.

And then there’s the source, i.e., for whatever reason, the NY Times decided that Erik fucking Prince was fit to print, a classic “opinions differ on the shape of the earth” rationale if there ever was one. What’s next? A Charles Manson column explaining Helter Skelter? Hey…both sides.

It’s one thing to be a merchant of death. Prince made a career out of it. It’s quite another to openly lobby for taxpayer funded, perpetual mercenary war…particularly at a time when we could and should probably look for better ways to spend trillions of dollars…like, I don’t know, maybe on flood and storm protection.

Just saying.

Like Watching The World’s Worst Elvis Impersonator

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At least that was my impression — apologies to the King’s ghost — while catching Tuesday’s, um, performance. I also thought maybe a no-charm, not-funny Lenny Bruce — apologies to Bruce’s shade — turns out I wasn’t the only one.

What I mean is … he’s the, old, wizened … ok, fat (not that I”m one to talk, but …) anyway, the old Elvis…but…by worst ever, not even a metaphorical song or two, just a pathetic trip to the center of whatever counts as the Donald’s mind (so maybe more Ted Nugent?)…alternately preening, bragging, strutting and posturing…then whining, petulant, playing the victim. Wingnut cri du coeur (cri du Coors? Coors Light?).

His audience of true believers, of course, still believe…just like those who insisted Elvis wasn’t dead…and they’ll keep believing even as the mother of all farces devolves further into madness. Not much you can do about these people…for what it’s worth, my .0000002 cents is don’t bother. Instead, continue to out-vote them (don’t forget that we DID last November) while remembering they’re always lurking around, their hearts and minds as … as solid a black void as it seems when the moon covers the sun.

Speaking of … I was fortunate to spend Monday in Tennessee, on the grounds once owned by the Donald’s now-favorite former POTUS (I doubt he knew anything about Jackson until quite recently). Never saw the mansion itself. The public viewing was in what I guess was an outer field, and while waiting I did take some time to think about the people forced to to do exceptionally hard work in exchange for … being treated as sub-humans. Sobering … though the eclipse itself was quite something to see. To that end, and also because Adrastos was nice enough to send a celebratory message, here’s a shot: the first an actual photo  — phone cameras, or maybe those of us using them, have limitations — the second a photoshopped version of what I recall seeing…

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Very much worth the effort (after almost being stymied by a single cloud). Sure hope to see the next one in 2024 … Cheers.

Deplorable Enough For You?

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Last weekend we got a not-so-gentle reminder of the sorts who comprise the base of the Trump-flavored GOP…and according to the POTUS himself, despite some pretty compelling evidence otherwise, not ALL of them are Kluxers, bigots, and neo-Nazis. So, there. That’s his story, he’s sticking to it…and none other than David Dukkke himself is grateful for our President’s unwavering support.

Which, you’d think/hope, would be more than enough to open their eyes: when Dukkke is on your side…

But this version of the GOP has slid so far down the rabbit hole…whether they want to admit it or not, the allegedly sane ones spent last year defending the notzoid (dangerously nutzoid) base…with the help of a compliant media that went out of its way to force an apology … from CLINTON (basket of deplorables now seems like an understatement in retrospect).

And…it’s only been a little over six months. The ride still has some distance to go…ouch.

 

King Putz, The Child Emperor

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..but with nukes. I think it was John Dean some time back who said the real fear is what Trump might do as he gets more comfortable … which I guess means for as long as it lasts, we’ll have to hope for a sort of unofficial regent (Axis of Adults) … or that Mueller finds something significant.

In the meantime, welcome to president as pathetic farce, a kind of sad parody of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a version of Dr. Strangelove where President Muffley can’t wait to launch Wing Attack Plan R and Operation Dropkick.

Scarier still is that Trump remains popular with about a third of the voting public, even after all this…lord.

This Week In The Annals Of Being Presidential

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The war in Afghanistan is…like renovating the 21 Club in Manhattan. Seriously.

Trump told his advisers that the restaurant, Manhattan’s elite ’21’ Club, had shut its doors for a year and hired an expensive consultant to craft a plan for a renovation. After a year, Trump said, the consultant’s only suggestion was that the restaurant needed a bigger kitchen.

Officials said Trump kept stressing the idea that lousy advice cost the owner a year of lost business and that talking to the restaurant’s waiters instead might have yielded a better result. He also said the tendency is to assume if someone isn’t a three-star general he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that in his own experience in business talking to low-ranking workers has gotten him better outcomes.

How nice of him to think of the low-ranking workers. Truly Jacksonian.

Meanwhile, Trump conceded yesterday that he, well, lied about the much smaller matter of whether he received recent phone calls from the Boy Scouts and President of Mexico . On the one hand, this demonstrates the degree to which lying is routine, even compulsive…on the other, I guess you could argue this is being presidential using the George W. Bush model, who was also known to lie about even the most petty things.

But what really gets me, is that, as with Bush Junior, there’s a floor of some 20-30 percent who’ll not only accept the Liar-in-Chief, but apparently revel/rejoice in him…at least until they’re on the firing line…

At this point, we’re beyond Amateur Hour. We’re even beyond The Gong Show. It’s like The Gong Show movie…if the Gong Show Movie was a one-man show starring Anson Williams in an ill-fitting blond wig. Heaven help us…

Real Housewives of… POTUS…

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First, no tears at all for JBS. While the few molecules of dignity he may or may not have once possessed are shredded by Orange Narcissus, perhaps it’s keeping him from pushing forward with a genuinely awful agenda.

However, Trumps actions are a bizarro mix, part reality show tantrum and part increasingly desperate behavior of someone trying to hide something…bigly. And whatever else, it’s…embarrassing on so many levels. The lunatic base, or if you prefer, the basket of deplorables, might keep clinging to him (like they do with their guns and religion?) but these are the folks who consume — with relish — things like reality television or professional wrestling (probably not many books though). That said, what Trump’s doing just isn’t good. Sure, we’ve seen some astonishingly dim individuals in positions of power (e.g., Bush/Cheney, and offhand, their own AG Alberto Gonzales), but…

I always thought Bush’s core supporters were…Bush voters. But now I’m wondering if, hell, maybe they really thought Bush Junior was…okay, but kinda sophisticated and nuanced. Not like Trump, who really speaks to them and tells us what they think. Damn, that’s a troubling thought, though I keep reminding myself the election was decided on a technicality…

And, to repeat yet again, despite all this, the country can likely trundle along, absent any serious crisis. But serious crises don’t wait until the reality show ends…and if/when we get one, look out…

Rubles Accepted

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If you haven’t read it already…

Rubles might be a-if-not-the primary source of Donald “I’m really rich” Trump’s funds…a classic case of someone in desperate need of cash and others who need thorough laundering of their ill-gotten gains.

Makes sense…and also explains some of the weirder behavior.

Of course, the true believers won’t be swayed — these are the folks who might have had “If You’re So Smart, How Come You Ain’t Rich?” bumper stickers back in the day. And trying to explain that Trumpsky the short-fingered vulgarian sold his equally short-fingered soul to goons who make the Italian mob almost look civic-minded won’t do any good. Trump was, gasp, right (well…if only a function of random chance) when he said he could shoot someone and not lose any supporters. They’re sticking to him.

But, if there’s any silver lining, they don’t make up a majority. They won on a technicality, an odd quirk in the rules. I keep thinking if either HRC or Obama had won in a similar way, the howling and screaming would be incessant and ear-splitting…just something to remember/keep in mind.

Twitter Twits

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OK, I exaggerate a little — best as I can tell, neither Manafort nor Kushner use Twitter, while Eric — who I think of as Zombie Fredo, based on his pasty countenance and dead eyes…Junior’s been called Fredo, but in my mind he’s more of a mutant/monstrous hybrid of Sonny and Carlo…anyway, Eric’s been kind of lost in the glare lately…and sorry to digress on such a tangent.

So…thanks to screenshots, we’ve got a serious race for, if not this year, at least this week’s Top Twit (I’ll let Adrastos determine if he’s also a malaka). And on a level of sheer magnitude-8.0-or-greater stupid, it’s damn hard to argue: son Trumps father, pun not necessarily intentional but why not use it since it fits?

But just like Rick and Ilsa always had Paris, thanks to enough wingers in the right States plus quirks in the election rules/technicalities, we’re stuck with Orange Narcissus. I think Junior may have won the week, but dad still owns the lifetime achievement crown…and even offered some stiff competition for the smaller title until Little Donald blew him out of the water…

“He Has Forbidden Us To Indulge Our Time Honored Pastime Of Hippie Punching”

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Ah, if only the Founders had considered movement conservatives when drafting the document…

OK, I exaggerate — a little — but the reaction to NPR’s Twitter feed speaks volumes about the political if not mental state of Wingnutistan or at least some more extreme elements.

Not recognizing large portions of The Declaration of Independence isn’t that uncommon. I’d guess most people, if they even know that much, might recall “all men are created equal…” and pretty much nothing else. And I’ll also guess there might be some confusion over the Declaration and the Constitution…after all, two centuries plus is, for them, like forever…hell, for all I know, they might lump the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gospels, and dinosaurs into the same it-was-long-long-ago category that they file whatever else qualifies as “thinking” about the past in their book.

I do wonder if the reaction would’ve been different had Public Radio dropped a few ringers into the feed, say, anything in support of or threatening to what I call the Four Redneck Freedoms (Firearms, Fireworks, Firewater…and Fire itself), or maybe something like the title above — just a little red meat to sink their teeth into. But…nah. In fact, I’m a little surprised you had that many wingers paying that much attention to commie NPR, though perhaps it feeds their never ending addiction to fake outrage and playing the victim.