Thursday, July 19, 2018

Continued Stray Thoughts on the Current Political Climate

With the cascade of stupid, immoral, illegal, subversive, un-American, and possibly treasonous things emitted by der Sturmtrumper, his pet Congress, his supporters, and his administration reaching levels that make it nearly impossible for any sane person to keep up with, I’ve started just keeping a running list of observations on the matter.  Every time the list reaches critical mass, I suppose I’ll post it and start a new one.  Can’t hurt; might help.  Here’s the most recent list:


1. Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times makes an important if rather frightening point – we are going through the trial runs of Fascism in the western world today.  An ideology that was crushed seven decades ago at the cost of tens of millions of lives and the wasted productive capacity of an entire civilization has wormed its way back into prominence because of the basic stupidity and moral bankruptcy of far too many people, and we’re going to have to figure out how to crush it again.

“Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy,” he notes.  “It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility.  You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes.  They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate.  That is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.”

This include rigging elections, propaganda machines spitting out “alternative facts,” and – most importantly – the breaking of moral boundaries by dehumanizing out-groups and treating them as enemies.  We see that with Italy’s treatment of the Roma these days.  We see that with der Sturmtrumper’s coldly calculated war on immigrants.  We see that all over.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

2. The fetishization of the military is also a warning sign of Fascism, and in fairness to der Sturmtrumper he didn’t create it here in the US – he only jumped on that bandwagon with both feet and started whipping the horses into an uncontrollable frenzy, to the applause of idiots.  The problem – one of the many problems – is that der Sturmtrumper thinks the military is a shiny toy to be tossed around the world on whim.  Again, this has been the standard GOP mantra for two decades now (Remember Iraq?  Remember how close we were/are to war with Iran?), but when you have a warmonger president who openly flirts with authoritarian dictatorship and who never served in the military (go get ‘em, Cadet Bone Spurs!), that’s a bad combination.  Perhaps that’s why he repeatedly tried to get the US to invade Venezuela for no justifiable reason last year – an aggressive and unlawful act that would have continued the American slide into a world pariah state that der Sturmtrumper seems to regard with gleeful anticipation.

Despite clear and specific warnings not to discuss the issue with Latin American leaders, der Sturmtrumper went out of his way to do so – confirming their distrust of the US and providing ample ammunition to this country’s enemies regarding our hostile intent – until HR McMaster finally sat der Sturmtrumper down and explained in no uncertain terms just how fucking stupid this was.  McMaster’s gone now.  Sleep well, America.

3. And now the Senate Intelligence Committee has agreed with the obvious – that Russia interfered with the 2016 US presidential election with the specific intent of getting der Sturmtrumper elected.  The Committee – the only major bipartisan investigation into the Russian subversion of the election – declared that after 16 months of election the intelligence community is correct and the House Republican whitewash was nonsense, and that the Mueller investigation is therefore fully justified.  Waiting for der Sturmtrumper to denounce the entire Senate in 3 … 2 … 1 …

4. As der Sturmtrumper continues to bumble his way into a world-economy-destroying trade war, the consequences are being felt here in the US – particularly by the kinds of rural areas that voted for der Sturmtrumper, oddly enough.  The Chinese response to der Sturmtrumper’s attacks will likely cost Iowa soybean farmers over half a billion dollars next year, while the Mexican response to der Sturmtrumper’s tax will cost Iowa pork producers well over a quarter of a billion dollars.  This is without taking into account proposed responses from the EU and Canada which will add to that damage.  Folks, this is what you get when you vote for a proudly ignorant and economically illiterate fool because he promises to keep you safe from brown people, and to be honest it’s hard to come up with much sympathy for the misfortunes of people who take such glee in the misfortunes delivered unto others by their Dear Leader.

5. The trade war is only going to get worse before der Sturmtrumper either gets his ass handed to him and retreats or, more likely, crashes the global economy.  He’s managed to piss off pretty much every major trading partner we have, and eventually they will figure out that they don’t really need us.  They can cut us out of the global economy and do quite well.  This has been true for several decades now, and it took a genuine idiot to force everyone else to see it.

6. Der Sturmtrumper’s war on Harley Davidson for having the temerity to follow free market principles and outsource some production in light of der Sturmtrumper’s costly trade war continues apace.  Now he’s threatening to bring in foreign companies to drive Harley Davidson out of business.  Consider that for a moment.  The American president is openly threatening to bring in foreign competitors to drive an iconic American company, one beloved especially by the sorts of people who, statistically, tended to vote for that president, into bankruptcy because that company is trying to survive in an economy made untenable by the president’s policies.  Remember that when he comes after you too.

7. According the New York State Attorney General, der Sturmtrumper’s pet charity – “The Donald J. Trump Foundation” – was “little more than a checkbook for payments to not-for-profits from Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization.”  Among other things, the charity spent $5000 to advertise der Sturmtrumper’s hotels, $10,000 for a portrait of der Sturmtrumper that was hung at the sports bar of one of his golf resorts, $100,000 to settle a legal dispute with the city of Palm Beach, and $258,000 to settle other lawsuits against der Sturmtrumper and his businesses – something that is clearly documented by notes in der Sturmtrumper’s own handwriting.  The foundation also violated campaign finance laws by providing “extensive support” to der Sturmtrumper’s campaign.  One more indictable offense that the GOP will happily overlook in their quest for absolute power.

8. Der Sturmtrumper – who has been credibly accused by over a dozen different women of sexual crimes ranging from harassment to rape – has appointed former Fox “News” leader Bill Shine to be his new Assistant and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.  Yes, this is the same Bill Shine who resigned last year after having been revealed as the guy who covered up decades worth of sexual harassment scandals at Fox “News” and has been named in at least four different legal actions related to sexual harassment or racial discrimination.  Is this the Great part yet?  Has America become Great again, or is this just one more example of the GOP’s ongoing war on morality, human decency, and women in general?  Details at 11.

9. There is only one legitimate SCOTUS nomination that der Sturmtrumper could possibly make, and that is Merrick Garland – the eminently qualified jurist whose nomination was stonewalled by a GOP Congress on pure naked partisan grounds, the first time that has ever happened in the more than two centuries of this nation’s legal existence.  Not that the GOP cares, of course.  They’ve got their right-wing extremist already chosen – apparently der Sturmtrumper and Anthony Kennedy had it all worked out, which does call Kennedy’s decisions over the last year into serious ethical question.  But there you have it.

10. Anyone who wants to know why der Sturmtrumper chose Brett Kavanaugh to be his nominee instead of a principled jurist like Merrick Garland need only look at Kavanaugh’s published record.  In addition to being the pet judge of the Federalist Society – a group so rigidly right wing that they would happily let their fellow Americans starve rather than have the federal government spend a dime or lift a finger to help them – Kavanaugh thinks guns have more rights than schoolchildren and women are little better than broodmares, hates any form of environmental protection, and – perhaps most importantly – believes that a sitting president is above the law, a position so extreme that the Founders would have had him horsewhipped as a tyrant’s sycophant.  Naturally a sitting president currently under investigation for multiple serious crimes and heading for impeachment if Congress could only be bothered with enforcing such things as the Constitution likes that last point.  Whether der Sturmtrumper should be allowed to appoint any Supreme Court Justice while under such a cloud – let alone a manifestly convenient justice such as Kavanaugh – is an open question but not one that the GOP is likely to care about as it would threaten their naked grip on raw power and such threats are unacceptable regardless of law, ethics, or Constitution.

11. Scott Pruitt, the one-man graft squad who saw the EPA as his own personal piggy bank, is out now, not that his replacement is much of an improvement.  We are ruled by short-sighted charlatans who will be dead by the time their catastrophic policies kill the rest of us so they don’t care.

12. Did der Sturmtrumper really go to Europe and try his damndest to kill NATO, the lynchpin of American security for nearly seven decades now?  Why yes, yes he did.  He attacked the Germans as Russian puppets (more evidence for the simple rule that if you want to know what the GOP is up to, look at what they accuse their opponents of doing) and complained that the US was somehow carrying everyone on its financial back.  Except those numbers were so completely false that it’s a wonder anyone could choke them down.  Remember folks: cui bono.  The only nation that benefits from such nonsense is Russia, and oddly enough that’s who der Sturmtrumper works for. 

13.  You know, if der Sturmtrumper isn’t a Russian agent he’s missing out on an opportunity to get paid, because he’s doing pretty much everything a Russian agent in his position would do. 

14. How precisely does der Sturmtrumper justify opposing a UN resolution to encourage women to breast-feed their babies?  This is a fucking no-brainer.  Breast milk is healthier, cheaper, actually designed for the purpose, and requires no packaging or storage.  And yet the US delegation to the World Health Assembly bullied and threatened other delegations to prevent this resolution from being passed.  When the Ecuadorian delegation was tasked with introducing the resolution for discussion, the US threatened a trade war and the withdrawal of military aid if they dared to do.  More than a dozen other nations reported this – many of whom would only do so anonymously fearing US retaliation.  What the actual FUCK is going on with these soulless thugs?  Is there nothing that they won’t attempt to destroy if they can’t profit from it?  Don’t answer those questions – the answers are too obvious to merit discussion.  For the record, a) they’re psychotic, and b) no.

15. If you want to see just how far the GOP is willing to go in order to protect their Dear Leader from the criminal prosecution he so richly deserves, consider Ben Benczkowski.  Benczkowski has been confirmed to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division despite never having prosecuted a criminal case.  Or a civil case.  Or even filing a motion in a federal court.  He was, however, a member of der Sturmtrumper’s transition team and represented a Russian bank that has been linked to der Sturmtrumper’s Russian affairs.  You know, it’s like they’re not even trying to hide the corruption anymore because they know full well their ideologically fanatical base doesn’t care as long as they get to have power.

16. For those of you slow on the uptake, the Reverse Robin Hood Tax Bill shoved through Congress by your friendly neighborhood GOP racketeers is having precisely the predicted effect on wages.  The quarterly wage index found that income for most people fell about 0.9% in the first quarter under the tax regime, the first time that has been true since 2015.  Manufacturing workers saw their pay decline a full 5%, while construction workers, restaurant workers, and retail workers all saw declines.  Upper income folks, though – their incomes rose.  Boy, howdy, who saw that coming, huh?  Except everyone, I mean.

17. All snark aside (and seriously, do you know how hard it is to do that these days?), how certain are we that Trump is mentally stable at this point?  Consider this recent statement on trade with the UK:

DT: We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom because they have product that we like.  I mean they have a lot of great product.  They make phenomenal things, you know, and you have different names – you can say “England,” you can say “UK,” you can say “United Kingdom,” so many different – you know you have, you have so many different names – Great Britain.  I always say, “Which one do you prefer?  Great Britain?”  You understand what I’m saying?

REPORTER: You know Great Britain and the United Kingdom aren’t exactly the same thing?

DT: Right, yeah.  You know I know, but a lot of people don’t know that.  But you have lots of different names.  The fact is you make great product, you make great things.  Even your farm product is so fantastic.

Or this, as part of a larger complaint that people don’t congratulate him on the size of his audiences:

DT: They never say I’m a great speaker.  Why the hell do so many people come?  It’s got to be something.  I guess they like my policy?  I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot records.  And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument.  I don’t have a guitar or an organ.  No organ.  Elton has an organ.  And lots of other people helping.  No we’ve broken a lot of records.  We’ve broken virtually every record.  Because you know, look I only need this space.  They need much more room.  For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot room.  We don’t need it.  We have people in that space.  So we break all of these records.  Really we do it without like, the musical instruments.  This is the only musical: the mouth.  And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth.  Right?  The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain.  The brain is much more important.

This is the rambling of a man whose grip on reality is fading fast – honestly, if your grandfather started babbling like that you wouldn’t trust him with the television remote, let alone the leadership of one of the most powerful nations on earth.

Remember that this is the guy with his finger on the nuclear button and try to sleep well at night if you can.

18. Every time I hear der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, cronies, and enablers complaining that the Mueller investigation has somehow gone on too long or is some kind of free-floating witch hunt, I consider the fact that the nonsensical Benghazi investigation (which at least six different Republican-authored reports declared had no substance) went on for 72 months, produced 0 indictments and 0 guilty pleas, and saw Hillary Clinton testify before Congress for 11 hours, while the Mueller investigation has lasted 14 months, produced 23 indictments and 5 guilty pleas, and der Sturmtrumper has so far refused to speak to Mueller directly because his own lawyers freely acknowledge that he’d commit perjury because that’s just what he does.  Guys, complaining about Mueller is a bad look and you should be ashamed.

19. In the latest WTF news, der Sturmtrumper has labeled the EU as one of the United States’ enemies – a rather bizarre position coming from the leader of a nation which has worked hard to foster the EU and who relies on the EU to help bolster its own security.

20. Perhaps this has something to do with der Sturmtrumper’s private meeting with his lord and master in Helsinki, the one that happened without any adult supervision.  Max Bergmann, who served in the State Department from 2011 to 2017 noted that der Sturmtrumper’s appearance at the beckon call of Vladimir Putin was virtually unprecedented.  “It’s bizarre for the leader of the most powerful country in the world to meet the president of a weak country on bended knee,” he noted.  Any other American president, if three days earlier the Justice Department said Russia meddled in the election, would probably have been cancelling the summit or making it about the confrontation, redrawing the red lines and saying, ‘If you do this again, we will respond so aggressively that it’s not worth your while.’  There is zero expectation that’s going to happen.”  And, lo and behold, it didn’t.

21. Former Fox “News” reporter Carl Cameron, at least, is clear on what’s happening.  “The Trump team were colluding with the Russians in 2016 – and they are still colluding. … Whenever the President denies the entire idea of Russian interference in US elections – and labels investigations into such interference a hoax or witch hunt he is enabling the biggest cyberattack in US history.” 

Folks, again: we lost a war with Russia in 2016 that we didn’t even know we were fighting, and as long as the GOP holds power and refuses to do anything about it we will continue to lose.  When it all comes crashing down, remember you knew about it long before it happened.

22. Meanwhile Mueller’s investigations roll on.  We now have compelling evidence that the Russian government engaged in a coordinated attack on the US, one designed to aid der Sturmtrumper and corrupt the US election.  We know that der Sturmtrumper’s campaign was thoroughly compromised by the Russians, and that it worked closely with them.  And yet der Sturmtrumper refuses to acknowledge any of this, and instead he aggressively defends Russia and attacks the American intelligence agencies defending this country.

23. Meanwhile foreign investment in the US dropped by nearly a third in 2017, der Sturmtrumper’s first year in power.  Foreign investment declined from $439,500.000,000.00 in 2016 to $259,600,000,000.00 in 2017.  Gee, you demonize foreigners, act like an unstable madman three doses behind on your meds, start random trade wars, and generally do your best to eliminate all laws protecting people from exploitation, and you become a pariah even in the business community?  Who would have thought?

24. Meanwhile we have moved into a new phase of Republican fiscal irresponsibility as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is set to release its economic and budget outlook report showing that the annual US budget deficit will top $1,000,000,000,000.00 every year that der Sturmtrumper is president, under the current GOP policies.  Given that the CBO tends to estimate rather low on these things, the actual fiscal damage to the United States will likely be much worse.  These deficits are structural and – barring a complete policy turnaround by the GOP – permanent, which makes them far more disastrous than the similar-sized deficits that happened during the last year of George W. Bush’s budgetary authority (2009) and the first three years of Obama’s (2010-2012).  Those were directly connected to the Great Recession and were temporary, and in fact Obama managed to decrease the deficit almost every year he was in office despite fanatical resistance by Republicans to any sort of responsible tax policy.  Those decreases are now just a memory, thanks to a GOP whose reputation for fiscal sanity is perhaps the greatest con job in American history.

25.  Apparently Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is unaware that Congress can actually override a presidential veto.  When quizzed on whether Congress could simply pass a law overturning der Sturmtrumper’s disastrous tariffs, he responded by saying that der Sturmtrumper would never sign such a thing so why bother?  Folks, this is your second in line for the presidency after Mike "Toady" Pence, right here.  Given that the Democrats almost universally regard these tariffs as stupid and self-defeating and that these tariffs flatly contradict decades’ worth of Republican dogma, it might not actually be that hard to find a 2/3 majority to bring some sanity to US trade policy, at least in the short term.  Just saying.

26. Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick – der Sturmtrumper just went to Helsinki and attacked the United States while defending this nation’s greatest enemy and if that doesn’t qualify as treason then it didn’t miss by much.  For fuck sake, even some of the GOP is appalled.  A collection of responses, courtesy of my friend Jack:

27. GOP Representative Will Hurd (R-TX), a former intelligence officer, was flabbergasted, a word that we should use more often in these parlous times.  Discussing his long experience of dealing with people who have clearly been manipulated by Russian intelligence, Hurd said “I never would have thought the US president would be one of them.”  Guess what?  Now you can think it. 

28. The American Conservative published an article that also scorched der Sturmtrumper for capitulating (their word) to Vladimir Putin.  “Trump basically made himself into Putin’s prison bride,” noted The American Conservative.  “What a disgusting performance, utterly devoid of self-respect or even a minimal sense of patriotism.”  And this is from an outfit that explicitly labels itself as conservative.

29. James Fallows put our current situation neatly in an article in The Atlantic.  “There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president,” he wrote.  “Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests – maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes.  Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.  Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.”  Either way, he’s working for this nation’s most implacable enemy and not for the United States.

There’s a word for people like that.  And an outcome.

30. The San Francisco Chronicle also minced no words.  “President Trump’s performance at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin was an unmitigated disaster,” the paper stated in an editorial.  “He cowered when he should have confronted, he deflected when he should have been definitive, he whiffed when he should have been taking to task the tyrannical leader of a nation whose military attacked American democracy.  On Monday in Helsinki, Donald Trump disgraced his country on foreign soil.”

31. This was a historic low for American diplomacy and world standing – worse than the fiasco of the Kennedy/Khrushchev summit in 1961 that led directly the Cuban Missile Crisis.  In an article in The New Yorker, Robert Kagan – a former State Department officer – noted that “whereas Kennedy in the end was trying to strengthen the American position, Trump is actively and deliberately weakening it.  By undermining our alliances and destroying the American-led world order, he is leading us back toward the kind of dangers that we saw in the first half of the twentieth century.  There may not be anything so dramatic as the Cuban Missile Crisis right away – Russia is not in the position the Soviet Union was in – but over time the costs and dangers are likely to be much higher.  We have never before had an American President who shared Moscow’s goals.”  Added Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, “The last three months have substantially weakened the US position in the world.  We are in a trade ware with our most important economic partners, have created doubts in the minds of our European allies (as a result of our harangues over defense spending and our withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA) as to US reliability and our willingness to speak truth to Russian power, and have failed to move North Korea closer to denuclearization while weakening sanctions and raising doubts in Seoul as to US dependability.”  Yes, all around, it’s been a lovely time for those who care about the United States and its place in the world.


33. Naturally American intelligence agencies have been outraged by this unprecedented assault from a sitting president.  Mark Lowenthal, former director of the CIA, declared it “beyond the pale” – “He’s the best president that Russia’s ever had,” he added.  Dan Coats, der Sturmtrumper’s own director of national intelligence, stated publicly that everything der Sturmtrumper said about Putin was an outright lie, and while most serving intelligence officers won’t go on public record (it’s their job to be secretive, after all), a few have been willing to note anonymously that der Sturmtrumper has apparently picked a side and “it isn’t ours.”

34. Former CIA director John Brennan was even more blunt.

35. Perhaps not surprisingly, former FBI Director James Comey – whose nakedly partisan firing started all of the investigations that are leading us to this point – was equally blunt.  “This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country.  Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.”  Patriots already have.  Many others have chosen servility and subversion, though.

36. And hot on the heels of this comes the criminal complaint against Mariia Butina as a Russian spy.  She hasn’t been much of a cloak and dagger figure living in the shadows, though – she’s a modern spy, out in the open.  She founded a Russian gun group and worked closely with the NRA.  She worked with the organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast, a right-wing organization that somehow missed the whole “separation of church and state” thing, though in their defense most of the GOP seems ignorant of that fact.  She’s consorted with GOP leaders and worked to broker a meeting between der Sturmtrumper and Putin in 2016.  She’s had her photograph taken with Rick Santorum and Wisconsin’s own Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries).  She was the first person to publicly ask der Sturmtrumper about Russian sanctions, at a campaign event in Las Vegas in 2015 where der Sturmtrumper just happened to call on her and just happened to have a complete answer to her question.  She’s one of the main conduits between the GOP and the Russians, and now she’s being formally accused by the Justice Department (not Mueller, you’ll notice).  This criminal complaint contains significant evidence that Butina was the secret back channel between the GOP and the Russian government, via the NRA.  Should be interesting times ahead.

37. Did you notice that less than 24 hours after a Russian spy was indicted for, among other things, funneling foreign money through the NRA in order to buy an American election – always remember, folks, the NRA spent $30,000,000.00 of Russia’s money to get der Sturmtrumper elected – the GOP Congress rushed through a policy stating that the NRA no longer had to disclose who donated to it to the IRS?  Isn’t that … convenient?


39. Is anyone else surprised by the fact that the reaction from the GOP to the indictments of 12 more Russians by Robert Mueller’s team has been to call for the investigation to be shut down.  “That is a very odd reaction to a successful investigation which just indicted many Russian operatives attacking our country,” noted Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.  “And it really does make you wonder.”  You can wonder about that.  You can wonder about the fact that there has been no action taken on the revelation that the Russians actually stole data from Americans and attempted to manipulate it for their advantage.  The answers aren’t that hard, though.

40. Meanwhile, the nation’s top maker of electronic voting machines has publicly admitted that they installed remote-access software on their machines – effectively opening them up to any hacker who noticed them.  This is “the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), but pretty much par for the course in an age of rampant electoral fraud.  Note carefully that I don’t say “voter fraud” – there has never been any evidence of any statistically significant cases of voter fraud despite the rush by the GOP to claim it as justification for suppressing the vote with Voter ID laws.  There has been, however, electoral fraud – fraud by the people counting the votes, not casting them.  Here in Wisconsin we’re intimately familiar with this (looking at you, County Clerk of Waukesha County!), and now you get to experience it too!

41. Did you know that Wisconsin’s own Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) – the same guy whose first major policy initiative was to destroy teacher unions, who has waged a relentless assault on academic freedom and tenure, who cut more than $2,000,000,000.00 from education in Wisconsin and then gave $800,000,000.00 to unregulated private “schools” and another $3,100,000,000.00 to a foreign company with a long history of reneging on every promise it makes to the communities it bleeds dry, whose hand-picked rulers over the University of Wisconsin System have shoved through policies so dire that other institutions of higher learning are openly and successfully recruiting its top talent and the UW Madison is, for the first time since the 1970s, no longer a top-5 research institution – has decided to start calling himself “the Education Governor”?  This is why satire is so damnably hard these days, folks – when the stupid and the arrogant can’t even tell that they’re lying anymore, there’s just not much room to maneuver. 

42. In case you were wondering which side the GOP was on, consider this:  The GOP spending bill ends funding for grants that help states protect their election systems from hacking and interference such as everyone but der Sturmtrumper and his most blinded minions now acknowledge happened to the US in 2016.  When Democrats proposed an amendment to the bill restoring that funding, the GOP refused even to let it come up for a vote.  “The refusal to appropriate a dime for state defense against Russian interference really represents nothing less than unilateral disarmament,” noted Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).  At some point you really have to ask yourself whether the entire GOP is in on this collusion, because it’s getting hard to explain their consistent refusal to defend the United States against attack by a foreign power in any other way.

43. Der Sturmtrumper is now actively considering whether to hand over an American diplomat to Russian forces for interrogation.  He has also endorsed Putin’s offer to put Russian agents into Robert Mueller’s investigations.  Consider that, next time you need to think about which party defends the United States and which party is made up of quislings.

Though in the GOP’s defense, the Senate has voted 98-0 to pass a non-binding resolution opposing the idea of letting Russian intelligence interrogate American officials.  Hey guys – how about making the next one binding?  Words are cheap and actions are necessary.

44. Andrea Mitchell (NBC News): We have some breaking news.  The White House has announced Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

Dan Coats (Director of National Intelligence): Say that again.

AM: Vladimir Putin …

DC: Did I hear you?

AM: Yeah.

DC: Okay … that’s gonna be special.

Folks – this isn’t normal.  The only president we’ve got just invited the leader of our most implacable enemy (a former intelligence officer) into the presidential mansion without bothering to let the guy in charge of national intelligence know ahead of time.  It’s almost like there’s an effort being made to circumvent the security people who might actually understand how bad of an idea this actually is.

45. Just a reminder:

There are still children kidnapped by der Sturmtrumper’s regime who have not been returned to their parents.

Puerto Rico still does not have full power.

Flint still does not have clean water.

Try not to forget.


LucyInDisguise said...

Okay, I think I’ve got all of my fingers on the proper keys on the home row, so let us begin:

1. Unfortunately, we know what it takes to crush Fascism, so we won’t really need to “figure out how to crush it again”. What’s sad, is that we may actually have to go through that shit again - mostly because no one heeded the warning, fools that we are …

2. One wonders, could it be that Venezuela is the next Poland? Oh, and just what, precisely, is this thing called sleep … ?

6. "First, they came for …", the motorcycles?

7. Not to mention the fact that none of that was his money.

8. “Shine on you crazy …” (NO! I shall not slander that song …) And yes, America has become Great again. Granted, not the US, but the rest of North America seems to be doing just fine.

9. You misspelled scrotum. Jus’ Sayin’.

14. Spoil-sport.

15. Look at it this way: at worst he’ll never be able to find a courthouse. Doesn’t know what one looks like.

17. Really? we’re only up to seventeen? Wow. And everybody but his base knows exactly how mentally stable the Orange Night is. The Irish were particularly amused to discover that they were part of the United Kingdom.

And, his “grip on reality” is definitely NOT “fading fast” - it never existed to begin with. And again, what is this sleep thing to which you keep referring?

21. Foxy Pundits throw smoke screen to delay torch and pitchfork parties. Film at eleven.

26. You sound somewhat flummoxed. And we should be surprised, because …?

29. “[H]e is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.” NAILED IT.

32. ❗️

38. 10 outta 10.

41. (Still waiting for that sarcasm font) All hail “the Edu-maction Guv'nor”. You’re an educator. You should show the proper deference when appropriate. [/s]

44. Dan's cringe when she started by saying the White House had ‘tweeted’ was absolutely the most precious thing!

45. Still sending donations. Will not forget. Remember to check your voter registration. They lost my daughters - we just caught that and got her re-registered. Never turn your back on the bastards.

‘Nuther powderful presentation of not very stray thoughts. Rather well targeted, actually. If you ever get tired of doing this, send me an email. I’ll send more cookies. Here’s a half dozen to tide you over on your up-coming excursion:

������ *


* Honest, those really are all chocolate chip cookies ... Blogger just repackaged them so the orange one wouldn't steal them!

David said...

1. This is where I make the "what people learn from history is that people don't learn from history" joke that is one of the running bits of humor in my field, I suppose. Cassandra should be the patron saint of historians.

2. I'm not sure Venezuela would be the next Poland, since I'm not sure who would rush to its defense and spread the war around the way Britain and France finally did in 1939. It would be a "splendid little war," no doubt, and then the rest of the world would turn its collective back on the new American pariah state, cut our economy off at the knees, expel our military from their bases and our diplomats from their embassies, and learn just how well they could live without us. So much of American influence comes from the illusion that we are the indispensable nation, and der Sturmtrumper is doing everything in his power to make other countries realize just how illusory that is.

6. Strange target, isn't it? Your average Harley dude - of which we have more than plenty here in Our Little Town - is more likely to be a supporter of der Sturmtrumper than not, and yet here we are. I've met a lot of Harley dudes (men and women) and they tend to be decent people who like loud motorcycles and black leather for reasons that escape me but so it goes. Now they're targets. It will be interesting to see where that leads.

7. Yeah, add theft to the long list of reasons the evangelical "Christian" community can't get enough of this guy.

14. Sorry - just too big of a target not to take my swing, I guess.

15. You mean at best, right? The less time this clown spends near actual legal matters the better for all of us.

17. The Irish are amused by a great many things, much like the Scots, and often hilariously clear in their reactions. But der Sturmtrumper once did have a grip on reality - you don't become a successful grifter on that scale without a firm grasp of statistics, psychology, and economics, among other things. Now? Not so much. He's being taken to the cleaners by alpha predators and he's too stupid to know it - as is his base. This would be amusing if it weren't the entire nation (including me and my children) who suffer for it.

26. I suppose the sheer brazen openness of his servility was a bit of a shock - I expected more weasel words and bluster than that.

41. Well, "proper" covers a wide range of appropriate reactions really...

45. Good advice.

And thanks! I will enjoy the cookies, virtual or otherwise. :)

LucyInDisguise said...

1. Prophesy different from History. Marginally, but different nonetheless. Ergo, despite her curse, there is a functional difference between the two that would make her an unlikely Saint for your field. Perhaps this guy

would be more appropriate. (I absolutely love the way the tale is told on that page!)

7. Please do not get me started on the damned evangelicals. Even my wife, a lifelong Lutheran, recently renounced her membership. Could’ve knocked me over by just thinking about a feather.

17. Not yielding on this one. If he had ever had an actual grasp, he would’ve understood that there are actually moral and ethical ways to gain what you want. I don’t believe that path ever even occurred to the Orange Menace.

26. The weasel and bluster only come when he thinks his lie not working … and even then, only if it will somehow confuse and befuddle. Oh, yeah, and anytime he loses his place in that ‘carefully crafted’ script, so, yeah, I can see where you could’ve become slightly dispirited.

41. Operative word in that sentence: deference. [runs and hides under nearby rock]

45. The only kind I give. (Especially when it’s purely unexceptional.)


David said...

1. History isn't prophecy - we don't predict the future. Hell, it's hard enough predict the past. But it would be nice if people listened to us when they pontificate about the past, really - that's where the Cassandra analogy comes in. As a professional historian, I grow weary of idiots telling me How Things Used To Be because their version of the past is identical to their impoverished ideological fantasies.

There is a certain Sisyphusian quality to it, now that you mention it.

8. I just like pointing out the hypocrisy, mostly because it makes me feel good and that's enough reason, really. It's County Fair season here and the evangelicals come out of the woodwork to infest the Fair with their propaganda and it annoys me. I like to think I was single-handedly responsible for getting the right-wing loons at the Constitution Party to stop coming ("Oh, you're the idiots who think the Constitution was based on the Bible!") so maybe I'll get lucky again.

17. You assume that if he understood there were moral and ethical ways to get what he wanted he'd do them. Moral and ethical are hard work. Bullying and cheating and generally being an asshole comes naturally to him and takes no effort at all, but they do require a fairly reality-based assessment of your mark and how to go about extracting what you want from him. I suspect he knew at one point that there were moral and ethical ways to get what he wanted but simply didn't care, and now I doubt he even remembers the distinction between them and how he operates. We may have to agree to disagree on this one.

41. I give him all the deference he deserves.

45. Much obliged. :)

LucyInDisguise said...

1. Having given careful and diligent consideration, I have come to the conclusion that Cassandra would, indeed, be your Ideal Patron Saint. Ironically, History IS a form of Prophecy. Prophesy by definition is simply a prediction, and, statistically, History is the single best indicator to predict future outcomes (ask any odds-maker).

8. ”I just like pointing out the hypocrisy … so maybe I'll get lucky again.” Speaking of your basic Sisyphusian endeavors and ignoring historical evidence! Et tu, David? Oh, the irony simply burns.

17. I think [now there’s a dangerous preposition …] the bone of contention here is the “presumption of conscious decision”. I see your point on using guile, deception, bullying and “generally being an asshole”. I see the evidence of the con man and agree wholeheartedly on that point. And maybe I’m reading you wrong on this point: you seem to be saying that at some point the Negative Orange Raccoon had a firm enough grip on reality that he intentionally chose that path.

I would contend that he ain’t that smart. Nor even close. He, like us all, observed his parent, and just bumbled his way down this path in a vain attempt to do his best vaudeville pratfalls and magic tricks in much the same way as his father before him. In many ways, he even suck-ceeded beyond his own wildest dreams. (Or, for that matter, our wildest, most terrifying nightmares!)

If he’d had a firm enough grip on the world around him, like most sane people, he would have looked around and been able to predict the future …

outcome …

of …

Oh, shit. I seem to have discovered a bit of circular reasoning here … see number 1 above. And, perhaps even number 8 as well.

Current Match Standing:
Point: 20-Love
Game: 4-3
Set: TBD
(however, I may have just scored a safety on myself)

41. 😀

45. Any time.


David said...

1. Well, as my friend who is a financial advisor keeps telling me, "past performance is not an indication of future earnings." On the other hand, "if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."

Or, as someone else once said, "for ever proverb there is an equal and opposite proverb."

Aaaaaaaaand we're back to Sisyphus. I say we adopt both as patron saints and be done with it.

8. Point! Sigh.

17. you seem to be saying that at some point the Negative Orange Raccoon had a firm enough grip on reality that he intentionally chose that path.

No, I'm saying that at some point the NOR had enough of a grip on reality to make that path work for him. You can't be a good grifter without a pretty good grip on a few things - enough to know your mark and what you can expect to get from them, at the very least. Delusional grifters tend to starve. It's a form of cunning rather than intelligence, I suppose. But there's no need to imply intent - it's entirely possible, indeed more than likely, that he just went down that path because that's the path he went down, that it was a matter of "least resistance" given his deformed personality (from all accounts he was pretty much the same asshole when he was a child) and he never really considered or even was aware of any other options.

Does anyone really understand how tennis is actually scored? I've tried and while they do seem to follow the "bigger number wins" philosophy (as opposed to golf, say, or track) where those particular numbers come from just eludes me. I tried playing tennis once. Do you know that if you can hit a softball out of the infield you can hit a tennis ball into the next county? And then you stand there watching it go, look around unsuccessfully for another one, and then go get something to drink. So, not a bad sport I guess.

LucyInDisguise said...

1. “I say we adopt both as patron saints and be done with it.” [In his best ever Yul Brenner impersonation ever!] So let it be written, so let it be done.
(Who, pray tell, do we need to call? is there actually someone in charge of inducting unwitting & certainly unwilling mythological figures into the mythological RCC so they can go through all that shit to make them a Patron Saint? it’s been a few years since I read the book )

17. First, at least we most certainly can agree that ‘The NOR’ is a fitting short handle for der Sturmtrumper (aka The Negative Orange Raccoon).

Second “ … and he never really considered or even was aware of any other options.” is precisely* my point.

I really do see and wholeheartedly agree with your argument. You’re soooo close. So let me try this:

The dividing line between ‘sane’ and ‘insane’ is a moral construct. (As a historian you know that there are things that were accepted in ancient Persia or Greece as normal and sane that would be considered insane or just flat out weird in our society.)

Found this online:

1. Neurotics build castles in the sky.
2. Psychotics live in them.
3. Psychiatrists collect the rent.
4. A psychotic thinks that two and two are five.
5. A neurotic knows two and two are four — but he hates it.

I believe that #4 applies to the NOR. I think, and again I’m probably reading this wrong, that you think #5 applies, and would add to that last bit “and will try to convince you that the proper answer is and always was five”.

I simply can not accept that The NOR is simply neurotic. In the final analysis, this is really all I’m saying: I think he began life as a damaged Human Being and figured out a way to go downhill from there. It is possible to be brilliant, or gifted, or talented, or all three simultaneously while being demonstrably and even clinically and/or criminally insane by our society’s current definition. Yes?

It is for that reason, and that reason alone, that I do not think The NOR ever had a “grip” on “reality”*. QED

[Special Note: This one is actually turning out to be fun. Good thing I broke my truck so I could have the time to flesh this thing out a bit today. Hope you are similarly engaged and I’m not pulling you away from important ‘life’ things.]


*Emphasis here on both of these points is intended and should be underline. [Damnit Blogger! Really? There are three primary ways to emphasize a point: Bold, Italic, & UNDERLINE! and you won’t accept that code? Really??? Strikethrough is a whole other issue to be ranted on at a later date.]

David said...

Okay – let me walk through my response then.

First, yes, NOR is a perfectly fitting handle for der Sturmtrumper.

Second, I think we’re making different points.

I’ve always loved the bit about psychotics, neurotics, and psychiatrists – I remember hitting my psych professor with the first three items back in the 80s, and he laughed (to his credit). Points 4 and 5 I heard in other contexts (the joy of being a psych major back in the day).

You say I simply can not accept that The NOR is simply neurotic.

I have no disagreement with the rest of that paragraph. I disagree with the verb tense in that first sentence, though. I’m also not sure that the definition of neurotic offered in Point 5 is applicable here.

Starting from the last item: for the NOR, I’d amend Point 5 to say that der Sturmtrumper at one time knew that 2 + 2 came to 4, but simply didn’t care. It’s apathy, not hatred. He could convince people it was 5, or 10, or whatever he needed it to be at any given point, and that was all that mattered to him. Doing that sort of convincing isn’t something a delusional person can do. Deluded people can convince themselves, but convincing others is another trick entirely. The best liars know the truth – that’s how they triangulate. He knew it was 4, and he knew he wanted others to believe it was 5, so he had to figure out a way to map out what he needed to do to get them there.

But when you start believing your own lies, getting high off your own supply, you become delusional. Someone who truly believes that 2 + 2 is 5 isn’t going to be able to convince someone else who knows its 4 because they don’t have that map.

At some point – and if I had to guess I’d say it was somewhere in the early 2000s – the NOR made the transition from Point 5 (as amended) to Point 4.

We agree that he has no particular grasp of reality now. I am arguing that he once did and found it useful as a tool to further his own criminal ends but has since lost sight of it.

There is nothing in my argument that conflicts with him being a damaged human being from the word Go. There’s nothing in my argument that conflicts with him being intelligent or stupid, talented or not talented.

I’m also saying that there’s a difference between being “sane” by your definition (which boils down to adhering to an agreed-upon framework of moral values, as near as I can see from your paragraph on Persia and Greece) and having a grip on reality (which I’m using to mean having an instrumental understanding of facts and consequences as regarding the achievement of one’s own goals). It’s entirely possible that the NOR has always been insane by your definition but had, for most of his life, a grip on reality by my definition.

Different points.

I love these debates. :)

I hope the truck isn’t too badly busted!

LucyInDisguise said...

Since you put it that way, Point. Set. Match.*

At one point early in my life, I worked with kids who were, I’m not at all certain what the current term is, but at the time we referred to them using the now thoroughly discredited label “mentally handicapped”. The class title was Psychology Field Studies. Three days a week we went with our instructor (an actual Psychologist) into neighboring elementary schools to work with the Special Ed Kids. Did that for an entire year. Loved the experience so much that, until I found out what was required to get there, I was convinced that I wanted to become a psychologist.

Bear with me for a moment. That information becomes relevant …

All through High School, everyone referred to me as “the group shrink” because, if I exhibited no other talent, I proved out to be a very good listener. And, occasionally, even offered sound advice. After serving in the Air Force, I applied to use my education benefits and pursue that very goal. Turns out, I just didn’t have the internal drive to get me there. But I did take a couple of semesters of advanced psychology courses and learned just enough to become dangerous. As in, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing …” kind of dangerous. Since that time, I have always tried to avoid “diagnosing” other peoples disorders and concentrated on trying to fix my own. (Which, frankly, has become something like a full-time job in recent years.)


The NOR is just so damn tempting a target. I simply cannot help myself. What is it that everybody says (that drives me crazy)? My bad.

I could connect with what you were saying but I was filtering it through the wrong database. I wanted so much to be able to declare him and his behavior “insane” as measured by my incomplete ruler. And so, this is precisely why debate is important. Your lucid points were eloquent, well thought out, and diplomatically presented, and you have once again, with certainty, won me over and saved me from the dark side.

I am also reminded that I need to listen (or, as in this case, read for comprehension) to information being conveyed without applying filters. Thank you for that.


*As to the other thing, these people seem to understand tennis scoring and have written a short article on tennis scoring that clears things up about as well as spending a day at a NOR rally:

So, with that, I shall instead award you two stones and a biter. We hope that the end is a long ways off.

Oh, and no - truck not broke bad - be back in saddle Friday. <<< I just solved the energy crisis! Hook up the electrodes! Mrs. Boyden just started twirling in her grave.

David said...

You are most welcome!

And thank you as well - you forced me to be more lucid than I originally was, to think through more precisely what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. It took some thought to respond to your well-presented points.

The NOR is indeed a tempting target, and I'm doing it too here, just in a different way. I don't have any problem with diagnosing people, especially people who have some impact on my life. I regard it as a necessity. I've only got so much time on this planet. I need to know who I'm dealing with.

That starts at home, though. Still working on how to deal with myself, really.

I sympathize with the Good Listener thing - I spent most of my high school and college career as the friend people took their problems too, and mostly they just wanted someone to listen to them while they solved them themselves. I ended up with a BA in psych along with one in history and spent a month as a live-in counselor in a group home for "troubled" teenagers before I figured out that this was not the career for me. I do wonder what became of some of those kids, though.

May the Truck Gods smile upon your rig!