Category Archives: Michael F

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…

“Nauseous?” How The Hell Do You Think We Feel?

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“Mildly Nauseous” is how James Comey summed up his interpretation/implementation of “the Clinton Rules” last October in sworn testimony yesterday, ultimately tipping the scales in favor of, you know, the narcissistic, greasy Cheeto now holding the title of POTUS.

Nauseous? Hell, a lot of us are at the very least more than a little anxious. I wouldn’t count on Cheeto and his family of dipshits to successfully hit the ocean if they fired off a missile from the beach…and if the first hundred days are any indication, we’ll have to more or less daily hope that someone, anyone, can keep Trump distracted, perhaps by ridiculous anecdotes about his latest hero Andrew Jackson (note: just me, but a comparison to Jackson isn’t exactly a compliment) or at the very least in awe of “how complicated” everything is.

And god help us should he build a sense of comfort or confidence in office. That combined with the temperament of a spoiled juvenile is a recipe for something I don’t even want to smell, let alone experience.

So, thanks Comey. I really mean it…well, nah, I don’t, of course. Fuck you, asshole.

Laffer Curve…Emphasis On Laff

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Continuing on the path that makes him the repetition of history as farce (cementing Bush Junior’s place as tragedy) Team Trump unveiled their paper-thin tax, um, plan. Literally: it’s one page long. Even Herman Cain thought federal laws affecting tens of millions of people could run to as many as three pages.

It also brings back the oldest canard in conservative catechism, the zombie insistence that tax cuts will pay for themselves  … proven wrong over the last three plus decades, but it seems there will always be wingers who think of one more tax cut — and one more war — in the same way extras in the Walking Dead think of brains.

That said, a single page paean to voodoo economics doesn’t stand much chance of passage, even with the wingnut Congress we’ve got. Taxation is an explicit federal power, so you could expect any bill to get the full treatment before making it to (it pains me to say this) Trump’s, um, desk…but more likely this will die not unlike the AHCA (to be fair, a zombie version of that is stumbling through Congress, but I wouldn’t bet on it).

I dunno: this could be, under the circumstances, maybe not a good thing, but the best we can hope for: Trump as a largely ceremonial yet strikingly ineffective executive…capable of boorishness that’s…embarrassing as all hell to anyone with half a brain, and the embodied voice of those with any less (i.e., the true believers).

The country could probably stagger along like this on auto-pilot for one, or, heaven forbid, two terms. But, and sorry to repeat, that’s in the absence of a genuine crisis. If something happens…well, I just don’t even want to think about it and instead hope the next three years and, what, nine months, elapse as quickly as possible.

Don’t Let The Door Hit You…

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To the extent that my .000002 cents worth could be piling on…sure, why the hell not? O’Reilly really is a cynical sack of shit, both in public and apparently in private as well, so a kick or two on his way out the door is the least he deserves…

Of course, this is also a convenient way for Faux Noise to drop an aging and over-the-hill voice anyway (not to mention that Bill’s slightly less sycophantic than other Faux, um, talent? — see Hannity, Sean — when it comes to Maximum Leader Trump)…so this is as good a time as any for his graying head to roll. And it’s not like there won’t be, I don’t know, the usual: books, interviews (will be interesting to see how he handles hostile questions…assuming he gets any)…between that and whatever money doesn’t get doled out in various settlements…the only punishment, which I guess is better than nothing at all, is the knowledge that Faux cut bait/axed him.

And handed his slot to Tucker Carlson. Laff: axed a dick, replaced him with a weenie. Hope that burns at a little.

Trump: A Feature, Not A Bug

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Rick Perlstein notes notwithstanding the tendency of historians to paint the conservative movement in pastel colors, Trump-style bigotry and hate has always been a pretty generous side if not main course:

The professional guardians of America’s past, in short, had made a mistake. We advanced a narrative of the American right that was far too constricted to anticipate the rise of a man like Trump.

A few historians have provocatively followed a different intellectual path, avoiding both the bloodlessness of the new social historians and the psychologizing condescension of the old Hofstadter school. Foremost among them is Leo Ribuffo, a professor at George Washington University… Ribuffo argued that America’s anti-liberal traditions were far more deeply rooted in the past, and far angrier, than most historians would acknowledge, citing a long list of examples from “regional suspicions of various metropolitan centers and the snobs who lived there” to “white racism institutionalized in slavery and segregation.”

Saint Ronaldus himself, despite his alleged geniality, wasn’t above rhetorical if not actual calls for bloodbaths; if I remember right, he also had a callous, tone-deaf reaction to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Trump is the merely the distilled essence…the preferred flavor for, goddamn, people who I guess thought George W. Bush was OK, but a little too sophisticated and nuanced. They fervently believe Trump will crack skulls, or at the very least, speak for and to those who’ve decided that what is fundamental — in more ways than one — is “hating liberals, hating Obama, hating abortion and hating same-sex marriage.” And a hating lot of other things.

Fortunately for us, Trump will likely disappoint them. Aside from turning the executive branch into grifter’s paradise for the .01 percent, the administration can’t organize an Easter Egg roll. But…they can still do significant damage…so they still need to be opposed, not ignored and not appeased.

Duck and Cover?

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No surprise, I agree with Adrastos: Senate Democrats should filibuster seat-stealing plagiarist Neil Gorsuch and call Mitch-the-Turtle’s bluff. As far as decorum or traditions are concerned, that bridge was burned some time ago, with plenty of evidence that it was McConnell himself playing a major role as arsonist.

And aside from his not-entirely-original writing, I think we should note Gorsuch’s own actions and behavior. I read somewhere he placed a courtesy call to Merrick Garland immediately following his own nomination…well, goody for him…and while I’m well aware that the brass ring of a Supreme Court seat is quite a prize for a career judge, the fact that Gorsuch, aside from a phone call, hasn’t shown…to my knowledge, any…mixed feelings about accepting a stolen seat speaks volumes.

McConnell invoking the nuclear option on Supreme Court seats WILL suck as long as Trump or Pence is in position to nominate wingnut justices…but…maybe this will finally light a fire under Democratic voters…and if it doesn’t, well…shit.

The Art Of The Steal

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So, it’s becoming — or maybe I should say finally becoming — a topic of discussion (source), the only question being whether Trump is a wholly owned subsidiary with little more than naming rights, or whether he also owes his soul to creeps that make Bebe Rebozo seem like JP Morgan. Hell, when I watched Phil Ruffin speak at an alleged Trump fundraiser for veterans I literally laughed out loud…turns out Ruffin might be the most upstanding and legitimate partner Trump’s had in some time.

To expand his real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.

Duh. Glad they’re at long last taking a look, but this not being front and center throughout last year’s campaign was journalistic malpractice. Instead, we were treated to an endless nothingburger of Hillary’s emails, topped with an equally nothing secret sauce of alleged pay-to-play from the Clinton foundation. I mean, WTF? If Clinton had an iota of the sorts of business ties that look, pun intentional, par for Trump’s course, the wingnut howling might have disrupted the space-time continuum. As it stands, with the assistance of useful idiots like Devin Nunes, we’re treated to an almost farcical repeat of the latter stages of Watergate, when everyone fucking knew — knew — Nixon was guilty, but went to absurd lengths (quite literally for Rose Mary Woods) to give him the benefit of the doubt…and might have let him ride it out but for the tapes.

And yet, with all this, I think the most depressing aspect is that there are STILL a few folks — some of whom are my neighbors here in Red State/Red Stick — who will shrug their shoulders or maybe respond with, yeah, but her emails, or yeah, but Benghazi, etc. Goddamn.

Lethal Dose

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Today the House votes on the hastily concocted toxic brew they’ve come up with to replace Obamacare…right now the big question appears to be whether they can make it awful enough to appeal to the “Freedom” Caucus while not losing any of what the Times calls “moderate Republicans” (note: this is how the Overton window marches ever rightward).

Conservatives are upset by the failure of the House bill to repeal a set of regulations in Mr. Obama’s signature health law, which require insurers to cover a base set of benefits, like maternity care, preventive services, wellness checkups and rehabilitative services. These “essential health benefits” raise the cost of insurance and prevent companies from offering stripped-down options, the conservatives say.

“How can you talk about repealing the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, without repealing the essential health benefits?” asked Representative Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican who attended the meeting with Mr. Pence.

Regardless of today’s outcome, any normal liberal/progressive political party would have a field day with this. “They’re voting to ‘repeal essential benefits'” should be a message/talking point that becomes reflexively associated with Trump/Ryan care. But…Democrats…so, instead…

Representative Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho, likened the swirling cloud of uncertainty to the situation in November 2003, when the House approved a bill adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare after a roll-call vote that lasted nearly three hours in the middle of the night. The bill passed, 220 to 215, after House Republican leaders put down a conservative rebellion.

Yeah, that won’t surprise me. Then we’ll have a few news cycles devoted to the politics and spin, and finally…a relatively quiet death in the Senate. Rinse, repeat…and get used to the idea of government as little more than reality television through at least 2020…which is, well, not exactly all fine and good, but survivable…unless and until, heaven forbid, you get a real crisis…

A Feature, Not A Bug

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Steve King’s lately been telling the world what he really thinks (and though a different Steve — Scalise — hasn’t, his prior record was no impediment to being selected Majority Whip). I’ve wondered whether this could be a broader trend in right wing, um, for lack of a better term, thinking — a degree of economic stability allowed otherwise anxious wingers the luxury of letting their inner racist freak flag fly. Zack Beauchamp (via Paul Krugman) explains:

…a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

This isn’t to argue that progressive ideas should be abandoned. But it does suggest trying to appeal to certain blocs of voters might be less of an option than…getting our voters out. And let’s continue to remember we outvoted them. Which offers some hope.

 

No Real Surprises

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So, just shy of two months into the the regime of the digitally-challenged-Tweeter-in-Chief (maybe his tiny fingers make it easier to type on telephone keypads)…and…it’s all pretty much what you’d expect. Epic ineptitude combined with gratuitous ugliness and bullying. No wonder he still scores well with the GOP base.

I guess we could lurch along like this for a while. Hell, Reagan spent a good bit of his second term (and possibly some of his first) more than a little, um, disengaged. However, with the present occupant, you’ve got to wonder/worry: What happens if there’s a real crisis? And, in the absence of a crisis, how much damage/looting can they do?

In other words…goddamn, it’s bad…but…goddamn, it could be even worse.