Category Archives: Michael F

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.

Hey, I Can Do A Fake Time Cover, Too

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Sure, it’s not as flattering as Orange Narcissus’ vanity piece, but then again, it’s not as fake. McConnell/Trumpcare IS about as popular as Ebola, clocking in somewhat shy of  20 percent support (come to think of it, that’s close to where Dick Cheney, the human equivalent of Ebola, registered last I checked).

The BCRA is an accurate reflection of just how empty and vacuous the GOP has become. Sure, it was always a crock, but I’m old enough to remember when supply side had at least a few true believers (I suppose Sam Brownback still falls into that category, but his own legislature is pulling the plug/invoking the mercy rule)…it’s devolved from faster, better, cheaper, pays-for-itself into the usual toxic brew of anger and fear, fuck-you/die-off- poors, our overlords need their tax cuts, besides, what do you want from the government? Justice? Domestic tranquility? General welfare? Blessings of liberty? How about a shit sandwich…and get back to work, if you’re lucky enough to have a job.

Unfortunately, there are still enough people willing to go along — enough to win a national election (well, on a technicality). And enough dirtbags like McConnell to ram through the Ebola/Dick Cheney of healthcare “reform” if they can somehow find any kind of opening to slither through. I’ll give them credit for zombie-like persistence, even as their ideas are just as dead, or maybe I should say undead…

Take A Page From Their Playbook

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To add my.000002 cents worth to what Adrastos says…sure it sucks to lose, and especially sucks to lose, in this case by proxy, to an utterly unqualified shit-for-brains like Trump. But the long knives and circular firing squad…only play into their hands.

I’m — at long last — finishing Rick Perlstein’s book about Barry Goldwater and modern movement conservatism, and one thing that sticks out is…despite getting their clock cleaned in one of the great electoral landslides, the hard right refused to give in/slink away…and sixteen years later elected one of their own.

True, their movement has continued to congeal into an utter ugliness. In my librul eyes that’s a combination of the vacuousness of the — for lack of a better term, ideology (idiotology?) itself — and the presence of true creeps like Newt Gingrich, who I consider toxic waste, so no need to emulate that, but…combine a simple enough message (which, I’ll admit, is above my pay scale), and decent candidates…

And I’ll try to take some solace in the Georgia close loss. Hell, no pun intended, but Southern GOP voters take party identification and voting almost as a matter of faith. Questioning one’s faith is never easy…so if some 5-10 percent took a good long look at Trump and his surrogate and recognized the charlatans for what they are.

It’s a step forward, at least.

Is It Just Me?

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But my reaction to seeing this photo of James Hodgkinson made me think of…

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Here’s a visual

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Not to belittle a horrible act and what I assume will be several counts of attempted premeditated murder, but from what I’ve read, Hodgkinson shared at least a few temperamental if not psychological characteristics with Goodman’s movie character. Which can be interesting and even funny in the movies…not so much in reality…

Besides that, I’m out of town on vacation this week, so I hope you don’t mind the even-shorter-than-usual post…

 

Opening Act

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No, not Gallant’s upcoming testimony and must-see TV appearance — barring any breaking news, it should be the one of the headlines keeping the chattering classes busy (along with, one can hope, Theresa May’s ongoing re-enactment of the Hindenburg disaster); but since Adrastos mentioned his own interest I’ll wait for his words on both…and keep my own comments brief.

Certainly I’d like to see Gallant’s, um, Comey’s testimony leave a mark: anything to keep Orange Narcissus on the defensive is a good thing. That said, Comey is a major reason why we’re dealing with Team Trump in the first place. Thanks a lot…if only I could say “thanks for nothing,” but from day one it’s been much worse than nothing…a disaster. A tremendous, huge, total disaster.

With somewhat diminished expectations, my assumption if not wish is for a bigger (bigly?) version of Bridgegate: the lack of an actual smoking gun in the form of a a tape or text message allowed Christie to survive…though in a significantly degraded state. Of course, if there is a smoking gun in the form of a (pee) tape or whatever else…(never thought I’d think/say that, to be honest).

However, I’m not holding my breath. Goofus might be a creep, but Gallant, well… Gallant’s a wuss.

Professional Courtesy?

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OK, professional for lack of a better term, but for now it looks as if one orange-hued ball of hot gas, hell bent on global destruction, will do what he can to facilitate another

Three administration officials with direct knowledge of the intense White House debate said early Wednesday morning that Mr. Trump was expected to withdraw the United States from the 2015 climate change accord that committed nearly every nation to take action to curb the warming of the planet.

More here, and here.

Allegedly it’s not a done deal, which I guess means Jared and Ivanka could be engaged in some last minute attempts to yank Trump’s foot out of his mouth to the extent they’re able. Or maybe–as with all things to which the boy king finally applies his rudimentary mental processes–he came to the realization that “nobody knew it could be so complicated.” But I wouldn’t bet on that. Maybe it’s more just a case of Orange Narcissus insisting, once again, on being the center of attention for as long as he can.

It’s enough to make you want to scream.

Ecce Ryancare

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There, fixed it.

Or Trumpcare, or whatever you want to call it. We got a sneak preview last month, but it was finally scored by the CBO, and the verdict is…no amount of lipstick, perfume, paint, wire, chewing gum, or whatever else can hide the fact that it’s one giant shit sandwich:

A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would leave 14 million more people uninsured next year than under President Barack Obama’s health law — and 23 million more in 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. Some of the nation’s sickest would pay much more for health care.

[The CBO] warned that a last-minute amendment made to win conservative votes would result in deeply dysfunctional markets for about a sixth of the population. In those places, insurance would fail to cover important medical services, and people with pre-existing illnesses could be shut out of coverage, the budget office said.

It’s enough to make a wingnut candidate for Congress body-slam a reporter.

 

It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Clown Sings

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Or tweets, or opens his mouth, either to blab official state secrets to Russia or claim victimhood on a scale so absurd you’d swear this isn’t an actual president…or for that matter even a reality show president. He’s taking it down to Gong Show levels.

Not that it seems to matter to the base or what counts as the GOP brain trust, who continue to cling like a sucker fish…that’s what addiction to Laffer Curve voodoo economics will do to you. Hard to quit it, especially when it’s pretty much all you’ve got…well that and demonizing libruls.

So…how long does it go on? I keep repeating this, so apologies, but as long as there’s not an actual, major, honest-to-oh-my-god crisis, the US can probably lurch along with Goofus nominally in the top slot. The rest of the world is already learning to deal with the dingbat-in-chief, i.e., ignore his bluster, then flatter with false praise/walk on him like a rug…or if you’re Russia, just pull his strings. But…each day is another roll of the dice…sooner or later there’s going to be something. And then what happens?

Nixonian…Yes, But…

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…not to get all Slate magazine style contrarian; however…I see Trump as more…banana republic, or banana republican…the nepotism, the comic degree of his buffoonish ignorance. Berlusconian, if that’s a word.

Nixon, for all his faults, and god did he have faults, was still someone I can at least picture as President of the United States, deeply flawed but nonetheless intelligent, driven to, if not greatness, achievement…his massive flaws made for high drama…

Trump in contrast is low farce, POTUS as pro-wrestling, a funeral dirge played by kazoos, a cartoon figure so obviously tied to Russia it wouldn’t surprise me if he signs an executive orders demanding the capture of moose and squirrel, and for changing the Capitol dome to an onion dome (of course he’d stiff the contractors).

And…no tears for Comey. Yeah, it reeks to high heaven that he got the boot just as he began to take a serious look at Moscow-on-the-Potomac, but goddamn, he’s otherwise been such a pussy he should be worried Trump would grab him.

Meanwhile…again, the country can lurch along like this, and it’ll sell newspapers/drive traffic to websites…but given how painfully obvious it is that this gang could fuck up a two-car motorcade, lord help us if/when an actual crisis hits…