Category Archives: Michael F

Ave Geezer

ancient_coin_trump_450

GOP paterfamilias Don Donald might be a cult leader…but the GOP faithful are the cult itself, and they’ve been bending their knees to his brand of vicious bigotry and authoritarianism for some time.

Charles Pierce:

I don’t mean to keep beating this tin drum as loudly as I have been, but I think it’s important to keep reminding people that the current president* is an aberrational modern Republican only in the crudeness of a) his rhetoric and, b) the way he wields his power. (Also, he’s something of a nut, which, in my experience, transcends politics anyway.) For example, as was pointed earlier on Wednesday, Tuesday night’s Republican primary results in various states pretty much preclude any serious attempt by Republican office holders to throw a spanner into the crazy that is dominating our politics at the moment. This morning, on MSNBC, this is what Joe Scarborough had to say on the subject.

“It has devolved into a cult. Primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult.”

That’s a word that’s getting tossed around a lot these days. Retiring Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, opined that his party is in the thrall of “cult-like behavior,” while longtime Republican activist and cable TV megastar Rick Wilson says that the word cult “isn’t strong enough” to describe what’s going on. This makes Corker the moderate, I guess.

Now, to be clear, I don’t disagree with any of this. We are seeing politics on one side of the aisle turning into a cult, but, alas, that cult is modern Republicanism. Trumpism is merely one breakaway sect of it, and, truth be told, it hasn’t broken away all that far. After all, Corey Stewart got nominated for the U.S. Senate from Virginia not because of his loyalty to the president*, but as an adherent to a far older cult with which the GOP was quite content to be a part of over the previous four decades: the cult of the Confederate States of America.

Another example: as the results were rolling in Tuesday night, Congressman Steve King, the Republican crackpot who represents the Fourth Congressional District of Iowa, took it upon himself to retweet a famous British neo-Nazi named Mark Collett.

I will give Trump, well, small credit (small credit like his small fingers?). In the, thank heavens, absence of any major crisis (knock on wood) he’s managed to make the run up to the mid-terms mainly about himself. And at this point, even the most scathing of Mueller reports wouldn’t change the true believers’ minds. If anything, they’d view it at Trump’s passion/martyrdom … making him the first martyr ever who’s tastes run to dictator chic.

And…I dunno: given how thoroughly fucked Trump’s reaction will likely be in the event of a disaster of some kind…like with what happened…and what is still happening…in Puerto Rico…

If noting else, we’ll find out what sort of country we’re living in…for now.

 

Worst Reality Television Ever

apprentice_2_645

Each day brings a new “can you believe what this idiot said?” moment, notwithstanding that despite being a clown and a moron, Trump’s also bringing a history of hatred and bigotry, with real consequences for actual people…not that he or his base give a shit.

But, and sorry to keep repeating, his base might be loyal, might be rabid, and certainly might be dangerous, but they’re not a majority and, despite the lazy narrative of the media, they’re not any more “the real Americans” than the rest of us…which means they can be outvoted come November…and goddamn, let’s hope that happens. A couple of days ago, primary voters put candidates on the ballot ranging from good-enough to exceptional…and this fall we’ve got the chance to do something even Trump might understand: essentially cancel his show and go with a fall-season replacement.

OK, maybe we can’t actually cancel, short of a smoking gun/pee tape (and even then, no way the Senate convicts…sigh). But winning the House could keep them on the defensive long enough to reach 2020 without any additional damage…well, assuming no major crisis…yeah, not a comfortable assumption, but on that all we can do is hope…

Two more years…

Are We Sure It Can’t Happen Here?

boy_king_donald_3_flag_cross_2

Turns out I was wrong all this time. Contrary to what I’d thought (and yeah, haven’t read it yet, though it’s on my ever-expanding list) Sinclair Lewis didn’t coin the phrase “when fascism comes to the US it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” But it’s hard to watch the latest bit of performance art in Nashville and not think, damn…this is deeply disturbing.

Gratuitous cruelty is official policy. Puerto Rico was abandoned last year, even as Trump flat out lied in bragging about his response to the two storms that devastated the island. Ever more contorted excuses are, what– tested/focus grouped?– by Ghouliani and others as they no longer bother to deny felonies like collusion with a foreign government or obstruction of justice but instead rehash the old Nixon defense of “if the president does it, it’s not illegal” (notwithstanding that collusion occurred before he “won” the election).

And that Trump spent a decade or more as a full service laundromat for mobbed-up Russian cash…not to mention having a personal life that evangelicals would condemn if they weren’t so eager to give him a mulligan…is little more than gossip column fodder. Michelle Wolf got that one spot-on. They just can’t quit him.

But we’ve got to. Trump might be a joke, but the direction he’s taking the country isn’t. It’s a race to the bottom that doesn’t end well at all.

 

Swamp Things Don’t Drain Swamps

trump_swamp_thing

It’s become a dreary slog to keep up with the sleaze and rot. Revelations that Michael Cohen got paid $400K by the Ukrainian government in exchange for allegedly arranging a meeting between their president and ours — and the subsequent decision by Ukraine to cut short an investigation into Paul Manafort — get the “in other news” treatment for the most part (imagine the level of fury from the noise machine if this had happened with a Clinton or Obama associate. Actually, you don’t need to imagine, because the Clinton Foundation was attacked by the usual suspects for this very reason.)

I think the most frustrating aspect is that it shouldn’t be, and really isn’t, any surprise at all that Team Trump is functioning more or less exactly as expected. Trump’s always been sleazy and more than a little crooked. About all that’s surprising is, despite being corrupt to the core, he’s still kind of a pipsqueak in that world. A competent crook would have really raked it in … but I digress. Trump’s crookedness wasn’t even an open secret. It was in plain view for any news organization to report on…but throughout 2015 and 2016 the only thing deemed newsworthy by the elite press was…Hillary Clinton’s email.

Nice going, media.

Oh, and we can forget about any Republican heroes. They’re either all-in…or heading out like Jeff Flake.

Two more years…

From The Department of the Patently Obvious

trump_stromy_check_screen

Not exactly news, but yeah, she got paid, he knew she got paid…oh, and he openly lied about it. Which also isn’t exactly news , i.e., he’s a compulsive liar, but what is kind of…no, not weird, but troubling…is how the media is normalizing all this.

Adrastos cites Driftglass for “Stupid Watergate,” and it certainly is a case of history if not repeating then rhyming (as well as being both tragedy and farce). The obviousness of it all, the insistence of both the media and law enforcement to tread carefully (because, IOKIYAR — you can be certain if a Democrat showed one one thousandth of this degree of corruption…), the sad laments of people like Brian “where-are-the-Republican-heroes?” Williams, the high-handed pious pronouncements from Ghouliani and Pence that one year is enough and for the good of the country let’s put it all behind us…about all that’s missing right now is a smoking gun (in the form of a pee tape? Ugh) that can’t be dismissed as insufficient…though given the shamelessness of this administration — and an elite media that’s more interested in gossip and entertainment than journalism (now that I think of it, a pee tape — ugh — would likely be little more than fodder for the likes of Hannity and Geraldo)…

But it’s not just the corruption, which itself is beyond even Nixonian epic. Quite a bit of institutional rot is being exposed, and yeah, these are dangerous times.

RIP

irony_tombstone_oliver_north

Oliver North thinks companies doing business with Iran should be sanctioned by the Trump administration.

“If we sanction [Iran] again, we ought to sanction anybody else who does business with them,” North, who was recently elected as the new leader of the National Rifle Association, told Fox News. “That’ll stop the Euros from helping to bail them out while they cheat on this program.”

No word on if he thinks this should be applied to clandestine weapons sales with the proceeds going to fund illegal wars…or whether it’s OK for Halliburton to sidestep any restrictions by using a foreign subsidiary. 

Rudy Can’t Fail

nosferatuliani_2

Or can he? Hubris, meet Hannity. Sure, Trump’s core supporters won’t — and don’t — care (I’ll give Trump the slightest of credits: he was right when he said he could shoot someone and not lose his base. Yep.)

But forget about the base. They’re the same people who stayed with Bush Junior to the bitter end, the same people who supported Cheney, or, previously, Oliver North, Nixon post-Watergate, Agnew…Goldwater…the oldest ones still might think Ike was a squish.

Ghouliani didn’t lose those voters. But here’s hoping this latest own goal erodes more of the soft support. The same voters who helped turn Pennsylvania’s 18th and the Senate Seat in Alabama. Because, not to get over-dramatic, it’s not optional…we have to outvote them this cycle. If not…geez, I just don’t want to think about the consequences.

Oh, and on a less dramatic note, it’s always fun to watch Rudy faceplant. He’s a ghoul and a creep. If only he could do even more damage and then resign in disgrace…

Look Who’s Not Talking

Frank_Costello_Michael_Cohen

Fifth Amendment rights for me, but not for thee

“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump said at one campaign rally in September 2017. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

Trump also called staffers pleading the Fifth “disgraceful” and “a bigger deal than Watergate” at different points during the campaign.

However…

The president, however, pleaded the Fifth during his divorce from his first wife Ivana Trump in 1990 to avoid answering questions about adultery.

And Cohen revealed in a court filing Wednesday that he will plead the Fifth in Daniels’s defamation lawsuit against him.

Not that anyone should be surprised. Inconsistency — and grift — are Trump’s strengths. He’s admitted as much. Would have been nice, though, if the elite media had noticed and maybe filed some serious reports…in 2015 and 2016…

But her emails

What Else Can You Call It?

freak_show_el_caudillo

Sometimes I think it gets lost in the day-to-day, but consider just how bug-fuck nuts it’s gotten. On a given day, news about the president includes

Playboy and/or adult entertainers, Twitter, Hannity, Cohen, North Korea, Mike Pompeo, Comey, the Mueller investigation…(aside: the attack on Syria‘s already been bumped from the headlines)…and any other number of WTF moments that would, for any other administration, suck the oxygen out of the news cycle if not generate immediate demands for resignation…or prosecution…

Total freak show.

Additionally…I heard this last night on the Chris Hayes show, and I think saw/read this elsewhere…regarding the Mueller investigation…no one is arguing, for lack of a better term, actual innocence. Trump himself sticks to no collusion, while everyone else speculates on whether or not various people will turn.

POTUS as syndicate. Oh, and maybe (probably) with a pee tape.

Goddamn.

Brave Sir Robin Paul Ryan

holygrail_brave_paul_ryan_615

Bravely bold Paul Ryan,
Of Wisconsin District One
He was not afraid to lie,
Oh brave Paul Ryan
He was not at afraid
To flim-flam in nasty ways
Brave, brave, brave, brave Paul Ryan.

He was only the least bit scared
To face off against Don Trump
And to shred his dignity
And ignore the crude behavior
For to slash the safety net
Compromise can be required
And who needs any principles, Paul Ryan?

Brave Paul Ryan ran away
Bravely ran away, away
When elections reared their ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes brave Paul Ryan turned about
And gallently he chickened out
Bravely taking to his feet
To lobby, lie, and steal and cheat,
Bravest of the brave, Paul Ryan

Packing it in and packing it up
Sneaking away and buggering off
Chickening out and pissing off home
Bravely he is giving up the gavel.

Wake Up Call?

alarm_clock_trump_600

Well…with the election results in Wisconsin being the latest indication, let’s hope like hell it is. Not that I’m any authority — I still remember being astonished on election day 2016, but so were lots of others. Others who are letting their voices be heard.

Sure, Trump still has his cult-like minions, who really would let him shoot someone on 5th avenue (or pay hush money hide an affair), but they aren’t the majority, and there’s no reason to lay down to them.

And Trump himself is both an embarrassment and a danger. We’ve been extremely fortunate — or lucky — that there’s been no catastrophe so far, but if/when there is…and besides, as a friend has told me several times, every day Trump remains in office is, if nothing else, an affront to basic decency. The bar is set so low the revelation that Trump is a “subject” and not (yet) a “target” of Robert Mueller (at least in part because some thing a sitting president by law can’t be indicted); anyway, that revelation is greeted by Trump as some sort of vindication.

So…fuck ’em. Don’t try to reason or see their point or otherwise compromise. Outvote them in November, and outvote them again in 2020…time to wake up.

They Rebooted The Mittbot This Week

romney_bot_redux

And in rebooting, they set — or maybe just reset — whatever it is that makes Mitt run.

On Tuesday, the Utah Daily Herald reported that Romney made clear he’s still the same guy he was back in 2012. When asked to prove his conservative credentials at an event in Provo, he said:

I’m also more of a hawk on immigration than even the president. My view was these DACA kids shouldn’t all be allowed to stay in the country legally.

But, as always, Mitt’s principles extend only to the direction the wind is blowing…and he’s really going all in on the prevailing winds blowing from Vichy MAGA

Romney played his relationship with Trump off as a strength, not a weakness, when talking about his qualifications for U.S. Senate. His relationships with 40 U.S. Senators and the president are what will help him be effective as a Senator, Romney said.

 “(Trump) has endorsed me in this race,” Romney said. “He respects people who speak their mind, because now and then, as you know, if he says something I think is wrong, I’ll point it out. And if he disagrees with me, he points it out even harder.”

So much for his principled stand in 2016…and something to keep in mind if/when he’s anointed as some sort of “Republican Hero,” to use a phrase I heard Brian Williams say more than once in 2017.

Trump is a feature, not a bug. And Mitt’s no Republican Hero.

But A Very Classy Vassal

vassal_liege_600

Really, one of the best. Believe me, many people are saying this.

Actually, many people are once again speculating on just what might be in a Putin/Russian-held Trump dossier…because liege turns (on a dime) into lackey when Vlad’s the subject.

The former C.I.A. director John Brennan pulled no punches on Wednesday when he was asked why President Trump had congratulated his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for his victory in a rigged election, even after Mr. Trump’s national security staff warned him not to.

“I think he’s afraid of the president of Russia,” Mr. Brennan said, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, of the phone call on Tuesday between the two presidents. “The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things they could expose.”

The possibility that Mr. Putin could have some hold on the American president has lurked in the background over the past year as Mr. Trump displayed a mystifying affection for the Russian leader and ignored or excused his aggressive behavior and nefarious activities, most important, his interference in the 2016 campaign, a subject of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

What’s the line? Is is irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

Pee tape? Who knows? But they’ve likely propped up the rat’s nest that comprise Trump’s assets enough to own him outright…while Stormy Daniels et al have plenty to say when it comes to the salacious stuff.

And I can’t believe either/both are…topics of serious discussion in the political press. Goddamn.

Unsolicited Tea for the Tillerson

Image by Michael F.

First of all, I know that tea is slang for gossip, I watch, to my everlasting shame, the Real Housewives of Atlanta, after all. I’m seeking to expand the word’s meaning to include advice. Anybody buying that? I just want to fit it into my running Tea for the Tillerson joke.

Second, I’d like to thank my colleague and fellow Gret Steter Michael F for letting me use his image. I’m the world’s worst photoshopper so I gave it up in favor of memes years ago.

Michael and I discussed the irony of having *any* sympathy for the former Exxon-Mobil CEO. It’s the whole “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing writ large. I don’t have a lot of sympathy, just enough to fit into an album cover sized teacup.

Here’s my unsolicited advice for Rex: spill all the tea you have on Trumpy and spill it loud, proud, and immediately. You’re richer than God so you don’t have to wait to put it in a book: DO IT NOW. It’s a way to restore your good name post Rexit. Burn it down.

Think about it, Rex: before your trip to Trumplandia, the headline on your obit would have been “Former Exxon-Mobil CEO dies.” Right now it would be “Weak Secretary of State fired by President he called a fucking moron dies.” Is that how you want to be remembered? Another dutiful lamb to the Trump slaughter? The latest dignity wraith humiliated? What more can the fucker do to you? He’s already destroyed your reputation, so it’s time to fight back. Do the Sunday shows and fry the unfit fucker. It’s your patriotic duty, and it would be fun to burn it down. Make Rexit matter.

The last word goes to Los Lobos:

Class, Say Hello To Your Safety Instructor

barney_fife_gun_safety

Barney Fife would be an improvement — if I remember, he had only a single bullet that he kept in his pocket. I don’t think he ever shot his gun, either intentionally…or by accident.

As thousands of students walked out of their schools on Wednesday to pressure Congress to approve gun control legislation, three other students were healing from wounds inflicted when a teacher’s firearm accidentally discharged in a California classroom.

The teacher, Dennis Alexander, who is also a city councilman in Seaside, Calif., was showing the students a gun on Tuesday during his advanced public safety class at Seaside High School when the gun accidentally went off, Marci McFadden, a spokeswoman for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Mr. Alexander was pointing his gun at the ceiling when it fired, she said, causing pieces of the ceiling to fall to the floor. Ms. McFadden said that California law and district policy prohibit teachers from bringing guns on campus.

Cmdr. Nick Borges of the Seaside Police Department said in an email on Wednesday that nobody suffered serious injuries, however, a piece of bullet shrapnel ricocheted and hit one 17-year-old on the neck, and two other students were also hit by debris.

As for the rallies yesterday, it’s a steep uphill climb, but good for the students.  Against all odds and in the face of a deeply entrenched, well financed establishment, they’ve managed to at least keep the conversation going.

And the special election in Pennsylvania is also good news. Trump’s luster was never quite what he and the establishment media claimed. His “win” was an accident of dumb luck and weird rules. That said, maybe it’s also wearing thin. Sure, he’s got a couple of years to go, and I worry we’re entering a particularly dangerous time, his terrible twos…but still…you’ve gotta have hope nonetheless.

Twit Gets Schooled On Twitter

twit_of_the_year_cillizza

You’ve probably seen or heard this, or I could just say “Cillizza, am I right?”

Yesterday [Soledad] O’Brien released a series of tweets at CNN reporter Chris Cillizza after he wrote a brow-raising item on CNN titled, “Donald Trump is producing the greatest reality show ever.”

In the piece, Cillizza compares the mass exodus of Trump administration staffers to Survivor or Bachelor contestants and outlines various “plot twists.” The article first discusses the latest departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, then moves on to referencing former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the lawsuit from porn star Stormy Daniels.

“You can leave reality TV,”Cillizza wrote.  “But reality TV never leaves you.

“The truth is that even Mark Burnett couldn’t create such a high-profile reality show with this much drama, this many personalities and this high of stakes,” he continued later in the article. “This is a project only Donald Trump could make happen.”

I’ll give grudging credit: if you wanted a prototype for everything that’s wrong with modern elite journalism, you couldn’t find a better example than Chris Cillizza. He’s a perfect storm of the vapid, tedious, condescending horseshit that should come delivered with a complimentary barf bag. And O’Brien wasted no words in letting him know

I’d say that left quite the mark, but Cillizza almost certainly lacks the self-awareness to realize as much. Which could explain how he managed to slither up the ladder to begin with.

The Smartest Guy In The Room

trrump_scarecrow

As I’m sure you heard, yesterday Trump blurted out something that, had it been said by pretty much any Democrat, would’ve generated quite the spittle-flecked right wing rage-reaction

“Take the guns first, go through due process second,”

Hmm…you don’t often hear the person who’s job is to see the laws be faithfully executed say fuck the law…

But, best as I can tell, the wingnut response has been…crickets. Nothing.

Well, that’s because one, everyone knows it’s bullshit. Trump, as usual, has no idea what he’s talking about. It’s another “no one knew healthcare could be so complicated” moment, or, like late last year with his statements re: DACA. Less Lucy and the football and more empty calories. Political Diet Coke (if Diet Coke had calories).

When it comes to matters of significant public policy, Trump is simultaneously irrelevant but frightening: after all he’s still the president, and is in a position to wreak havoc if/when he isn’t scatterbrained or otherwise distracted…or worse, hit with a significant crisis that neither he nor his dwindling inner circle of advisers have the capacity to deal with. If that happens…

All that said, though, we did get a good look yesterday at just how Trump works. A combination of ignorance, bluster…telling people what they want to hear…and meaningless promises. Not surprising. Just typical behavior of someone who was born into privilege but thinks he’s earned it.

Three more years…

 

The Good, The Bad, And…WTF?

Good_Bad_WTF

Like Ed Kilgore says, with the bar for this administration set so low they needed a tunnel borer to put it in place, I’m surprised we didn’t hear at least one pundit solemnly declare yesterday that “Donald Trump became president of the United States,” given that he managed to appear concerned and mostly avoided overtly cloddish statements and behavior. Mostly.

If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave.  Saved a lot of lives, I suspect.  But if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run; he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.

And this would only be, obviously, for people that are very adept at handling a gun.  And it would be — it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them.  They’d go for special training.  And they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.   A gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us.

And if you do this — and a lot of people are talking about it, and it’s certainly a point that we’ll discuss — but concealed carry for teachers and for people of talent — of that type of talent.  So let’s say you had 20 percent of your teaching force, because that’s pretty much the number — and you said it — an attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes.  It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police, to come in.  So the attack is over.  If you had a teacher with — who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.

For fuck’s sake. That’s Charles Bronson’s Death Wish as public policy, escapist alpha-male fantasy as response to a reality that this alleged tough guy/winner obviously has no clue about.

A major point, if not THE major point, of universal public education was/is that it’s a way to socialize each generation into civil society. Assuming some sort of armed cohort among the faculty is needed or required seems like an implicit rejection of this mission…and a troubling sign generally. Besides, I doubt most teachers want to add that burden to what’s already a challenging profession.

Coolly blasting bad guys to smithereens looks easy in movies. But movies aren’t real life.

Oh Look: A Box Of Thoughts And Prayers

thoughts_and_prayers

Bet you can find it on the same aisle that has the sailboat fuel.

More seriously, if thoughts and prayers actually stood a prayer’s chance, why didn’t it stop yesterdays shooting? Or the one before that, or the one before that, or the one before that, etc.?

Already we’re seeing the grim ritual repeat itself, and we will for the next week or so, after which all is forgotten … until the cycle repeats.

Well, forgotten by us.

For those who manage to survive, life is altered dramatically, in ways we rarely hear about and hardly ever consider.

All because gun nuts insist that actual, certified nuts should be allowed to purchase/possess any gun on-demand. Makes you wonder who the real nuts are…

 

Running Government Like A Business

trump_snacks

Well, like a Trump “business.” In words he’d understand, what a disgrace. He should be ashamed, or worse.

FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Ms. Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company, Tribute Contracting LLC, set out to find some help.

Ms. Brown, who is adept at navigating the federal contracting system, hired a wedding caterer in Atlanta with a staff of 11 to freeze-dry wild mushrooms and rice, chicken and rice, and vegetable soup. She found a nonprofit in Texas that had shipped food aid overseas and domestically, including to a Houston food bank after Hurricane Harvey.

By the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000.

Meanwhile, electricity is STILL out for thousands of people, some of whom are so desperate they’ve taken matters into their own hands, despite significant risks.

For months, residents begged Puerto Rico’s power company and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to bring back their electricity — with few results.

So the people of the town of 40,000 — high in the mountains of southern Puerto Rico — have started restoring power on their own, pulling power lines from undergrowth and digging holes for wooden posts in a do-it-yourself effort to solve a small part of the United States’ longest-running power outage.

We have trillions of dollars to fund endless wars, and a Congress that went out of its way to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy. But the same federal government has abandoned Puerto Rico.

Their fate is our fate…just saying.