Good news. It turns out that wicked super villain Vladimir Putin, master spy, enemy of democracy, and computer hacker extraordinaire, is actually quite weak in relation to the United States. Russia is encircled by NATO and US military forces, whereas there are no Russian troops on US borders. Its military budget of around $69 billion is a paltry sum compared to America’s, which is $600 billion and rising. Russia has one aircraft carrier, America has ten. Russia’s GDP is smaller than the state of California’s.
In fact, Putin is so weak, the only thing he could threaten us with was an astroturfing campaign that plagiarized hackneyed right-wing talking points from Fox News, Breitbart and the Drudge Report and disseminated them to an audience who was already sympathetic to their message.
That’s it. That’s all. The Lucifer in the Kremlin’s biggest play against America, the great opus generated by his devious and all encompassing, never-sleeping super villain brain, amounted to nothing more than cranking up the right-wing noise machine half a notch. I’m not impressed. In a country where political candidates are openly bought by wealthy plutocrats and special interests, and where such bribery has been legalized by the Supreme Court, you’ll forgive me if I don’t clutch my pearls and faint over Putin’s “attack” on our, ahem, sacred democracy.
And I have to say, hearing officials from the CIA and NSA gravely announcing that Russia is trying to “undermine faith” in our democratic institutions is obscene beyond words. It’s like watching a pedophile lecture against junk food because it causes diabetes in children. Those crocodiles have done more to undermine faith in American institutions than anything any foreign leader could ever do in their wildest, wettest dreams. At most, Putin merely exploited a climate of cynicism and disillusionment that their own underhanded conduct and blatant mendacity helped create.
There’s no proof of collusion, no evidence this influenced the outcome of the election, and all of the Americans who participated, save one, did so unwittingly. They were, to borrow Lenin’s term, merely useful idiots. The Russians who were involved won’t be extradited to stand trial, and this was all dumped on a Friday afternoon, where bad or embarrassing news is sent to die. In light of all the hype and hysteria surrounding this investigation, these developments are, to put it mildly, underwhelming.
People who’ve been pushing Russiagate the hardest insist this was a brilliant three-dimensional chess move on the part of Robert Mueller. It protects him from being fired by Trump and keeps the investigation alive. Maybe so, maybe not. I have no idea. Neither does anyone not involved with the investigation. At any rate, all of the hopeful speculation that Mueller “has the goods” and that there are bigger, juicier indictments on the horizon is beginning to smell like wishful thinking on the part of people who still, after more than a year, just can’t reconcile themselves to the fact that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, and that he did so not because he was helped by a hostile foreign power, but because he perfectly embodies the mental, moral, emotional, intellectual and epistemological retardation that characterizes an alarmingly high percentage of the US electorate. He’s our biological child, America. Get used it. He’s not Putin’s fault. He’s ours (we really do need to stop blaming others for our problems and shortcomings. It’s a positively Trumpian bad habit).…Read on
…that 17 years later we would all be plunged into their nightmares. From a 2001 UPI story long gone behind a dead link:
SANTA CRUZ, Calif., July 9 (UPI) -- Republicans have scarier and more frequent nightmares than Democrats concludes a prominent dream researcher.
“Republicans are nearly three times as likely as Democrats to experience nightmares when they dream,” Kelly Bulkeley, who teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, claims in findings to be released Wednesday at the 18th Annual International Conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams in Santa Cruz. “Half of the dreams of Republicans in my study were classified as nightmares, compared to only about 18 percent of the dreams of Democrats.”
…Sleeping Republicans inhabit scarier dreamlands, according to Bulkeley. Aggression, misfortune, and physical threats characterize Republican nightmares, while familiar settings and friendly characters populate the kinder, gentler bad dreams of Democrats.
Once again, Republicans are out in force urging us not to politicize a mass shooting while wasting no time doing precisely that. The Drudge Report (no link) has a picture of the shooter above a bold headline that says The FBI Was Warned, thus cleverly tying the Florida school shooting into Trump’s ongoing war against the FBI. Meanwhile, the ever unctuous Ted Cruz appears on Fox News to send his thoughts and prayers to an anxious nation, sermonize about the inevitability of evil, and, of course, take a few swipes at the Democrats:
Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt noted that “Democrats are calling for gun control, they’re talking about not allowing you to buy the AR-15 anymore.” …And since it was Fox and Friends, and since he’s Ted Cruz, there was the obligatory swipe at Obama:
“The reaction of Democrats to any tragedy is to try to politicize it,” Cruz complained. “They immediately start calling that we’ve got to take away the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. That’s not the right answer.”
Cruz also asserted that President Barack Obama shared the blame for a mass shooting that killed 26 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.Just like that, Republicans turn the focus away from gun control and throw the blame entirely on the Democrats, all while lecturing us about not politicizing the tragedy. It’s transparently hypocritical and sleazy but it works: mass shooting keep happening and nothing is ever done about it. Democrats might make a few good speeches, as Obama did after Sandy Hook and Chris Murphy did yesterday, but in the end, they trudge to the podium like eunuchs and whimper about the need for “sensible” gun control, which, when translated, means any kind of cosmetic gun control law their donors and the Republicans will allow them to have.
“Had the Obama administration simply followed federal law and enforced the law, existing gun laws made it illegal for the Sutherland Springs shooter to buy a gun,” he opined. “But the Obama administration failed to report his criminal conviction so he wasn’t in the background check system.”
I was very saddened to learn of the death of Chuck Dupree. Though I didn’t know him well, I admired his writing a great deal. He was an erudite guy whose writing was informed by a knowledge Arnold Toynbee, Richard Hofstadter, Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud, and he could could write authoritatively about ancient history, psychology, philosophy, technology and, of course, politics. In fact, the first post I ever read at Bad Attitudes one of Chuck’s pieces about Edward Gibbon. It got me hooked and made this blog one of my daily reads.
After I started blogging here, Chuck tutored me along on how to use this platform. He received more than a few emails and phone messages from me that began, “Hey, Chuck, I made another stupid and embarrassing mistake. How do I go in and fix it? Please help, quick!” Luckily for me, he always responded promptly and courteously, regardless of where he was or what he was doing (he called me back from a city bus in San Francisco one time en route to his eye doctor to help me fix some dumb mistake I had made). He was always patient and helpful, a really cool guy, and he would occasionally send an encouraging email, “Loved your latest! Keep ‘em coming!”
It’s a source of endless consternation to me that fuzzy headed boobs like David Brooks and Peggy Noonan are hailed as important thinkers, whereas genuinely insightful commentators are pushed to the margins and don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Oh well, such is life in our big dumb
republic empire, and which Chuck, as a devotee of Richard Hofstadter, well understood. I’d encourage you to visit Chuck’s old blog Belisarius Blogs! It tapers off around 2007, but it’s well with your time and attention to revisit (good writing always is). Besides, it's still relevant. Here’s an excerpt from a post called “Appealing to the Dolts” from 2007:
There was a time when the US was the best educated country in the world. Before that, Tocqueville reported, there was a time when even illiterate citizens understood how their government worked and were full participants in its implementation.But the American system has been about dumbing down the populace for several decades now. We’ve shifted our resources from education to incarceration, and our tax base from wealth to work, thus simultaneously freeing the rich from paying their fair share and providing them with cheap labor, either from convicts or from poorly educated, non-unionized workers.A process of dumbing down which the Bush-Cheney regime was more than happy to encourage and exploit, and their followers more than happy to go along with:
Basically, the Cheney administration is pandering to the dolts among us, those who’ve given up trying to understand the world because they’ve realized they’re not smart enough to do so. Disappointed by their own self-evaluations, they seek validation by forcing everyone else to believe the same historical lies they believe, and blaming their failure on oppression by the elite, by which they mean the smart.Change Cheney to Trump and Intelligent Design to climate change, and you have a description of Trumpism that could have been written five minutes ago (and should be pointed out to Clinton Democrats of the Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann school who seem to regard Trump as some sui generis phenomenon and have taken to the airwaves to issue apologies to George W. Bush). Unfortunately, Chuck won’t be here to witness the sordid and disastrous denouement of the psycho-social phenomenon he describes and that we are enduring now. It might be awful, but it will be interesting and provide loads of fodder for bloggers.
For example, take the concept of Intelligent Design, based on the idea that there are parts of the universe that are “irreducibly complex”—that is, too complex for stupid people to deal with. “I can’t understand it, therefore you’re not allowed to investigate it. If you figured it out, my belief system would be shown to be foolish.” This is the path the Roman Empire followed into the Dark Ages.
Thank you and farewell, Chuck.
Chuck Dupree, my invaluable partner in this blog since its beginning in 2003, died in San Francisco last month after a long struggle with cancer. Our acquaintance was mostly long distance (although happily not completely), and so I’m not the best one to write his obit. Let him do it, from his Linked In page:
I am currently a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. After too many years in the software industry I found joy in teaching children to play chess. I even taught through the first year of my graduate program, but the second year's schedule left no time for teaching.They will miss Chuck, and so do I.
Now that I've finished the coursework for my doctorate and gathering hours required for the degree I find that I'm truly loving my new profession. I get to work with, for, and around fascinating people who inspire me with their strength, resilience, and kindness.
So which is worse, Black Friday or the Super Bowl? Which of these spectacles most accurately embodies the degraded soul of contemporary America? I’m going with the Super Bowl. Let’s face it, Black Friday is strictly for the lower orders, a phenomenon of the poor and working classes, the kind of people who eat fast food, go bowling, shop at Wal-Mart and often have brown skin. As such, it can plausibly be explained away as an outlier in the greater glory that is American culture. But the Superbowl, ah, the Super Bowl, that implicates us all. Every demographic joins in for the fun, and the event itself contains every important theme of American life. Here is commercialism, nationalism, over-consumption and violent competition at its most hypertophic and grotesque, and it’s all centered around a sport that mimics warfare and causes brain damage in those who play it. Perfect.
This is what our descendants will remember us for when they’re languishing in post-industrial squalor, thirsty and famished, fighting over the few remaining scraps of arable land on an overheated planet. God bless America!
From The Week magazine of February 2:
Villagers in rural India were thrilled when a mysterious blue rock fell from the sky, thinking it was an “asteroid” or a piece of a UFO. When the 26-pound lump of ice landed in the middle of Fazilpur Badi, residents chopped off samples of it, said local official Vivek Kalia. But authorities determined that the ice was likely human waste that was discharged from a passing plane’s toilet, and that its bluish color was caused by liquid disinfectants.Back in the day I was an authority myself: Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs of the Federal Aviation Administration. I was well acquainted with blue ice, which occasionally showed up in the news, always treated as a harmless curiosity — a treatment we did nothing to discourage.
But this would change once a lump of frozen piss brained a cute little four-year old girl as she played in the backyard with Flopsy, her pet bunny rabbit. As the man who would have to face the press on that statisticaIly inevitable day I had better be armed with the facts.
Blue ice turned out to result from incomplete closing of the valve that drains airplane toilets. At cruising altitude the leakage freezes to the outside of the plane; at the warmer altitudes of the approach the giant ice cube melts free — and it’s curtains for Flopsy’s pet.
So what can we do about it? Nothing, I was told. There’s no way to punish the anonymous ground crew mechanic who didn’t tighten the valve properly. We don't know who he works for. He can't even turn himself in, because he doesn’t know he screwed up. Neither does the flight crew; there was no ice when the plane took off and none when it landed.
I thought about it for a while and then went to see the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety. The problem is that there’s a missing link in the chain of evidence, I told him. Once we find out whose plane it is, the company can be fined or sued or something. Next time they’ll make damned sure those valves are screwed down instead of up. Yeah right, the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety said. And how do you propose we find that out?
Simple, I told him. You put different-colored dye in the toilets. Orange for United, green for Delta, purple for Frontier, pink for American, whatever. He laughed, thinking I was joking. So there you have it. That's why Fazilpur Badi got shitbombed.
I watched as much of Trump’s
speech to the Reichstag State of the Union address as my forebrain, my common sense, and my generally good morals would allow. Trump’s lies didn’t bother me half as much as his open pitches to the worst, most reactionary, most fascistic sentiments in American life: We love our police. We love our military. We love Jesus, and we love patriotic little boys who place flags at the graves of our soldiers. You’d better not be one of those traitors who doesn’t stand for the national anthem, or one of those countries who votes against us at the U.N., or one of those brown-skinned freeloaders who gets here through chain migration and drags your MS-13 affiliated grandmas and grandpas with you. If you are, we’re comin’ for you. This is one nation under god, and we’re gonna build a fuckin’ wall to prove it.
And this was done with the full, enthusiastic support of the entire Republican establishment. There was the beaming, grinning visage of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who just received $500,000 from Charles Koch as a reward for delivering on tax cuts; and there was the approving, creepily repressed grin of Vice President Mike Pence, who wants to ban the burning of the flag and believes fetal tissue from abortions should have burials, and who derides non-coercive interrogation techniques (i.e., not torturous) as “Oprah Winfrey methods.” They all clapped and clapped. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gloated that this was the “best year” for conservatives in his entire congressional career.
There is not one single, solitary Republican who will go against Trump, not one, not he-man Lindsey Graham, not lovely Miss Moderate Susan Collins, not dying Sunday talk-show ‘statesman’ John McCain. Trump has sprinkled just enough sugar around to ensure their craven compliance, and the venal little cowards are all too happy to oblige. “How eager they are to be slaves,” the Emperor Tiberius frequently said upon leaving the Roman Senate. Or, in the debased vernacular of our own grotesque reality TV dictator, “What a bunch a fuckin’ losers.”
We are one stock market crash, one war, or one terrorist attack away from this collection of Christian ghouls, reactionaries, grifters, militarists and thugs from taking over completely. How do I know? Easy: There is no opposition.
The Democrats, apparently thinking that the best defense against plutocracy is aristocracy, dredged up yet another Kennedy whom nobody ever heard of to low soothing cliches in our ears about what wonderful people we are, how nice we are, how tough we are, how resilient we are, what survivors we are, and how we can do anything we want when we put our minds to it and join together. Words like “heartland” and “audacity” sprang mechanically from his lips, and by the time he busted out the alliteration (“Mississippi to Massachusetts,” “teacher in Tulsa”), I was convinced I was hearing the work of one of Obama’s speech writers on Thorazine.
One could see the handiwork of Democratic operatives making sure that all the appropriate groups were duly mentioned, all the correct positions were duly taken, and all the appropriate boxes were duly checked: Struggling rural communities? check. Opioid abuse? check. Coal miners and single moms? check. Empty criticism about our rigged system? check. Obligatory stab at the Russians? check, check, and double check — this is, after all, America, where there is always a wicked foreigner plotting to ravish our goodness.
There was not a single memorable phrase, not a single original thought, and not a hint of genuine vision or conviction, just a dull litany of issues delivered with all the inspiration of a Sunday school teacher giving the eulogy for an insurance salesman, capped off with the words you say when there’s nothing left to say, nothing left to hope for, and nothing left to do except go home and cry: Have faith.
I couldn’t help thinking about how nifty he would look in a pink knit cap the next time the Democrats decide to make another bold stand against sexual harassment.
If this is the best we can do, you’d better renew your passport and get the hell out now.
Look carefully at this picture and answer the question below:
Which statement best describes the photograph?
A. Every dog has his day. Miracles can happen.If you answered D, congratulations, you win the prize, which is a dress shirt with pictures of little money bags all over it:
B. He must be really charming!
C. This woman is obviously an escort.
D. None of the above.
By now you’ve noticed that the same person appears in both pictures. So who is he? Why, that’s world famous fashion designer Wyatt Ingraham, president, CEO and founder of a company called, logically enough, Wyatt Ingraham, which produces a line of men’s shirts known for their “bold and eclectic” designs. Here he is describing the philosophy that drives his life and work:
He’s bold, authentic, and always true to himself. He’s a gentleman too, but that doesn’t stop him from being tenacious in pursuit of his vision. Like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs, he grips it and rips it, and he always, always, always thinks outside of the box.
Oh, did I mention his full name? It’s Wyatt Ingraham Koch, son of Frederick Koch, nephew to Charles and David Koch, hence heir to one of the largest fortunes in America (if not the world). And he’s about to get a great big fat tax cut that you’re going to pay for, courtesy of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and their responsible “moderate” Republican colleagues, the ones who establishment Democrats and Beltway pundits habitually cream over, like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins. They chose Wyatt Ingraham Koch over you. They’ve decided that his personal, corporate and inheritance taxes should all be lowered at your expense. It’s nothing personal. That’s just how they roll. You came from the wrong sperm. Better luck next life.
Oh well, look at the bright side. These tax cut will stimulate production at his company, so there will be plenty of those bold and eclectic shirts floating around the boardrooms, yachts and discotecas of Palm Beach.
Besides, Wyatt is a bona fide polymath and Renaissance man. In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis at Mar-a-Lago, shopping at Neiman Marcus, and lunching at Cafe Sapori in Palm Beach. He also likes to chill out at his 450-acre ranch, Wonderland, where he plays paint ball and races dune buggies. Favorite TV show? Veep. Favorite meal? Spaghetti alla bolognese with an arugula salad. Favorite destination? Martha’s Vineyard, where he has “so many memories.” He also sings karaoke.
If only we could all be such prodigies. He’s so far outside the box, the very concept of shapes have no definite meaning to him, like when you’re two. His vision plumbs the outer limits of fashion while the rest of us are staring at our shoelaces. Where we see a piece of fabric that looks like Walt Disney puked all over it, he sees bold and eclectic apparel that, given the appropriate lack of self-awareness, can be worn in the boardroom, on the yacht, or at the discoteca with equal vim and dash. You can even wear it to Cafe Sapori and fit right in. You’ll never hear the Puerto Rican dishwashers laughing over what a clueless dipshit you are.
At this point, I could go on an extended rant about how inbred aristocracies always end up producing feeble and degenerate offspring, pampered and dimwitted mediocrities who are completely detached from reality and a have hyper-inflated sense of their own abilities, people like, for example, Wyatt Ingraham, Jared and Ivanka, Nero and Caligula, and, of course, Eric Trump and Don Jr., who like to shoot exotic animals and chop off their body parts for souvenirs. I could do that, but I don’t need to. The existence of Watt Ingraham Koch makes further ranting unnecessary. The argument is made, the thesis is proven. He speaks for himself, as do his shirts.
See you at the discoteca! Ciao.
l fell in love for about thirty seconds the other day.
It was quite amazing. I really didn’t think it was possible anymore. After a certain age, you’ve learned too much about human nature to ever fall in love with it again, at least completely and unreservedly like when you’re young (someone wittier than me wrote that, but I can’t remember who it was. Mencken, maybe?). Nevertheless, I experienced a brief resurgence of that long lost feeling that plagued me like a fever in my teens and twenties. Love? Lust? Infatuation? Who knows, who cares? It makes no difference. They all lead to the same ball flattening chagrin in the end.
I was in this depressing big-box store where you can buy cardboard flats of things like Stagg chili and Dinty Moore beef stew, and cases of frozen corn dogs at wholesale prices, except they don’t call them corn dogs. They call them deep-fried honey-battered frankfurters on a stick. Occasionally you get lucky and find frozen hamburger patties or cans of dog food stamped “For Institutional Use Only. Not For Retail Sale.” Muddy wet footprints mar the entryway. Classic rock plays on the sound system.
This is where the dregs shop, the under-educated, under-employed, shuffling, dragging, stooped and hopeless lumpenproletariat of God and Milton Friedman’s own America, with their curious mixture of shabbiness and hipster chic, of poverty sprinkled with grunge and hip hop flair. There’s a twenty-something mom with two kids in tow, a tattoo on her lower back, a studded belt and freshly dyed pink hair; dad’s distractedly following in sagging jeans, a brand new Volscom hoodie and a backwards Dodger cap. They are the unique products of American consumerism in its twilight phase: grown-up people with grown-up problems who still reflect the habits and tastes of their teen years. Adolescence unto death!
So I’m walking around this smelly groin pit of American capitalism gone bad in search of cheap toilet paper and deodorant soap, when I chance upon a striking, totally unexpected vision: a stunningly beautiful young woman, clean and well-dressed, radiating optimism and good health. She was unblemished and unbeaten, totally out of place in that seedy warehouse of frozen food and type II diabetes, and strikingly different from its luckless and misbegotten clientele. The one-two punch of a shitty economy and bad life choices hadn’t made its mark on her. What was she doing there? Was I imagining her? No, it couldn’t be. No hallucination could produce such palpable flurries of lust and hope in a soul as jaded as my own.
But still, she just didn’t belong there. This was most definitely not her world. Like those bored Victorian aristocrats who took day trips to Bedlam to gawk at the inmates or an anthropologist studying tattooed cannibals in some far off jungle, she was clearly only a visitor there.
Then a sound came out of her coat. A Red Hot Chili Peppers ring tone, Californication. Trouble. Apprehension gripped me. The hot bubbling froth in my loins began to cool and curdle. This beautiful specter was transforming in a split second before my eyes. Then the wet blanket descended: In one smooth easy gesture, natural and instinctive, she drew out an iPhone, whisked it to her lips and said in a loud, nasally voice that sounded like two geese squabbling over a stray corn chip, “Whaddup, dude?”
And then, seconds later, “Just chillin’.”
And with that, my thirty seconds of love were over.
Do you ever wonder how history will view Trump? Disney World is giving us a preview:
This makes my skin crawl, but it doesn’t surprise me. Trump, like all American presidents, will undergo a gigantic makeover in which his flaws and bad acts will be neatly and quietly airbrushed away. At most, textbooks will blandly describe him as “controversial” or “polarizing,” words that in no way capture the sheer reptilian awfulness of the man and the insidious dangers he and his followers represent. If he only serves one term and doesn’t do too much obvious damage, he’ll simply be ignored. He’ll be chucked down the memory hole with Millard Fillmore, Benjamin Harrison, Warren Harding and Gerald Ford.
More likely, the disasters he creates will be interpreted as well-intentioned mistakes or honest miscalculations. Whenever possible, they will be blamed on forces beyond his control (which includes the perfidy of foreigners).
You could call this the Meet the Press school of historical writing, in that it shares the same assumptions as the people on that show (and most mainstream pundits as well). Namely, that American presidents, and American politicians generally, are well-meaning statesmen who genuinely and selflessly act in the country’s best interests. They do not commit misdeeds, only mistakes. When confronted with undeniable proof that this isn’t true, all of society is blamed in a vague, sophistical way. This is the case with the Iraq War and the Wall Street crash, both of which were conceived, implemented and carried out by greedy people with bad intentions. The Meet the Press school sweeps away this untidy fact by holding us all equally guilty: Everybody thought Iraq would be a cakewalk! All the experts thought Saddam had WMDs! Nobody, but nobody, saw the housing crash coming!
Of course, blaming everybody is the same thing as not blaming anybody, which is why this is done. Individual bad actors are let off the hook, the status quo is maintained, and the beloved national myth that we are decent people who live in the best political system ever invented is preserved.
It’s possible that the opposite could happen. Trump could turn out to be so obviously harmful, so blindingly and undeniably villainous, that he’ll be held up as an outlier, a horrendous aberration that makes his predecessors look better by comparison. George W Bush’s former henchmen are already working this beat, as are conservatives of the David Brooks/George Will variety. For a while this happened with Nixon, who was definitely declasse when I was a child in the seventies, but in the end he received full absolution from our media elites and the thinking classes. I distinctly remember seeing him on such venues as C-Span and Nightline in the late eighties and early nineties, very much in the role of the Wise and Respected Elder Statesman and Foreign Policy Expert, all whiff of scandal politely forgotten. Now he’s remembered for opening up China, not Watergate.
I think the same think will happen to Trump. When his crimes and follies have faded into history, he’ll be euphemized as a bold, if flawed, entrepreneur who’s genuine desire to Make America Great Again foundered on the shoals of … partisanship? intransigent allies? a bad economy? (Which, as we all know, aren’t caused by people; they just sort of happen in nature, like earthquakes, dust storms and head lice.) Insert whatever Forces Beyond Anyone’s Control you wish to name. You’ll always be able to find some sycophantic journalist or hack historian willing to write it if you pay him enough money and throw in a few perks that appeal to his vanity, such as an invitation the White House Correspondents Dinner or an autographed photo off Melania Trump in which she refers to him as “hun.” Maybe Rich Lowry will be up for the gig after his passion for Sarah Palin fades.
But don’t worry. Future generations of Americans, assuming there will be such, will be just as indifferent to history as their ancestors. Trump hagiographies will be stacked, unread, in boxes at the Salvation Army, next to Nikki Haley’s autobiography and everything written by Tom Friedman, David Brooks and Deepak Chopra. Animatronic Trump will babble in a void while the people stand in line to watch Wonder Woman, eating deep fried Twinkies and posting selfies on Facebook.
Trump and Melania attended Christmas Eve services at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida, where, you can be sure, their prayers weren’t disturbed by the odors of the poor. The congregants, joyously anticipating all the jobs they’re going to create after the tax cuts kick in, gave the Trumps a standing ovation. As a special gift, I decided to share the thoughts of some Trump supporters posted in the comment section below the article. They warmed my heart and gave me hope for the future, and I just wanted to spread the good feeling around. Merry Christmas!
Behold, your fellow Americans:
America 1st. John (magnum) • 2 hours ago
Once again the Muslim loving liberals see what a great President Trump is and how he shows the world Christianity holds more positive messages than liberalism.
Izzlam luvs us America 1st. • an hour ago
Thank GOD ALMIGHTY we have a President who doesn't refer to 57 states or the Muslim call to prayer as 'the most beautiful music' MAGA
pez Doc Farmer • 2 hours ago
Merry Christmas Doc. This is wonderul...thanks. Papa Trump has brought Christmas home to us!
MooTieFighter Vigilabo_Vigilum • 2 hours ago
You're not a Christian. You're an arrogant, egocentric, narcissistic human that apparently has never made any mistakes in his/her life. He is standing up for Christians/Christianity like no president has in decades. Any REAL Christian is aware of that. What I have seen is many pretend Christians that are trying to demean/belittle our President under the guise of Christianity. You're a fraud. Does his past and present actions represent me perfectly, NO, but God will use who he wants and it looks like God knows what he is doing because he is blessing America and Isreal with this man.
3rdHorseman MooTieFighter • 2 hours ago
Only God knows who is a "real" Christian and who is not. Although the Bible gives us lots of assurances of what it takes to be a real Christian, you'll notice a whole lot of folks claim to be one, and aren't. Remember the Usurper Obama claimed to be one. HA!
reed1v 3rdHorseman • 2 hours ago
God is a republican
If you’re still not satisfied, have a little dessert:
A recent New York Times article about the Pentagon’s covert UFO program named, in perfect Pentagonese, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, made me reflect on how America would react if extraterrestrials suddenly showed up and made themselves known. What would it be like? What would America actually do? How would our exceptionalism manifest itself in the face of this profound, world changing event?
First, we could expect the inevitable Trump tweet:
Just met with the aliens. Short. Very short. Much shorter than me. Big heads. Bald. Very bald. Ugliest women in the galaxy! Uglier than Megyn Kelly and Rosie O'Donnell! Aliens refused to paint Trump name on spacecraft! Refused to buil Trump Tower on home planet! Refused free Trump steaks and discounted copies of Trump: The Art of the Deal! Total losers! Worst aliens in the universe! Sad, very sad. #GoBackHome!And with that, thirty to forty percent of Americans would be be instantly brainwashed into thinking that the aliens were evil commie libtards, worse than Colin Kaepernick and Nancy Pelosi, and those lazy Puerto Ricans who don’t know how to help themselves after hurricanes. It wouldn’t make any difference what the aliens actually were or what they did. They could be giving us a cure for cancer, a longer lasting light bulb, flying cars, space travel, three-dimensional chess and little pink happy pills that gave you boners and made you immortal, and it wouldn’t matter. Trump’s dead-enders, the lobotomized true believers who’ll be down in the bunker eating cyanide with Jared and Ivanka as the four-year MAGA Reich fizzles to an end, won’t care. Their fuhrer will have pronounced the aliens bad and that would be that.
With the right wing base firmly against the aliens, the Republican establishment would have no choice but to follow suit, although Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos might waver a bit if the aliens agreed to accept Jesus and promote school vouchers and intelligent design.
Nobody would care what the Democrats thought, and people would be right not to. But no doubt the Dems would hire some hack consultant for half a million dollars to write a safe, soft, donor-approved statement that said nothing, meant less, and convinced absolutely no one of anything at all.
Meanwhile, the folks at NPR would huddle in the corner, waiting for the mainstream consensus on the aliens to emerge so they could safely follow it without tripping up and saying anything too liberal. In between segments on basket weaving in Zaire and the benefits of Feng Shui in kindergarten classrooms, they could have someone recite alien themed poetry submissions on Writer’s Almanac:
Aliens, aliens, walking across my lawn,
Look, my cat!
What news from space? What news from beyond? What news of Jesus, Muhammad and the Buddha?
Does God dance in blue stars among aliens, I wonder, while ants march on red-checked tablecloths in backyards at dawn, oblivious to my Space-God-Alien catharsis?
My cat, my cat …
But what of the rest of America, the sleeping fifty percent who are completely disengaged from politics, but who can always be relied on to wave the flag, support the troops and consume on command? They’ll be huddled behind boarded up windows with duct tape and bottled water, waiting for the authorities to tell them what to do.
The UN would send a delegation with representatives from the EU, Russia, China, India, Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil, but Nikki Haley would refuse to attend unless the Aliens agreed to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Anything less would be an intolerable insult to the dignity of the US, who would remember their insolence and maybe, just maybe, refuse to invite them to the White House Easter Egg Roll.
So the more mature portions of mankind would gather to communicate with our alien visitors while the exceptional Americans sat in the corner and pouted.
“How is it that these strange unpleasant beings called Americans have come to exercise such a powerful influence over your world?” The aliens would ask.
And the representatives of humanity would shrug and say, “Because they’re rich, and they have an infinite capacity for violence and self-delusion.”
And then maybe something unusual would happen. Mexico could make a motion which Canada would second. And then every other country would quickly get on board: The world, with the help of alien technology, would not only fund but actually help construct Trump’s wall, not to keep people out of America, but to keep the Americans locked in.
The world could band together and actually start solving problems, and the dangerous children called Americans would be safely quarantined until they became adults.
From the New York Times:
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on a secret visit to Afghanistan on Thursday that the U.S. is “here to see this through” as they discussed a newly announced U.S. strategy to break the stalemate in America’s longest war and consulted on upcoming parliamentary elections.Do I have to keep repeating this advice to each clueless president since George W? Apparently, so here goes:
From Rudyard Kipling, in 1895:
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
I thought this was a joke when I first saw it, but then I remembered I’m in America in 2017, where there is nothing so ignorant, inane, dangerous, offensive or stupid that it isn’t being seriously suggested by one of our political leaders. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, objectivist, policy wonk and all around deep thinker:
“This is going to be the new economic challenge for America: people. Baby boomers are retiring — I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country,” Ryan, a father of three, told reporters as he riffed on how Republicans will tackle entitlement and welfare reform in 2018. “Baby boomers are retiring and we have fewer people following them in the workforce.And here I thought the poor were poor because they fornicated too much and had babies they couldn’t afford.
”We have something like a 90-percent increase in the retirement population of America but only a 19-percent increase in the working population in American,” he continued. “So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology … still gonna need more people.”
We really do have one of the most viciously greedy, stupidly short-sighted, arrogant ruling classes in all of history. It is truly jaw-dropping. This asshole is about to shepherd through Congress a gigantic tax break for the richest human beings who’ve ever walked the earth, while simultaneously raising taxes and eliminating deductions for working and middle class people. The ink isn’t even dry on the bill and he’s already promising to cut entitlements for the poor and the middle class in order to pay for (some) of it; entitlements which, by the way, he personally benefited from as a young lad, which afforded him the time and leisure to work through all those heady concepts in Atlas Shrugged, but never mind.
And what does he say to the people he’s about to rob and kick to the curb?
Go out and have more babies.
What does Paul Ryan say to strapped part-time workers who can’t afford a home, can’t afford rent, can’t pay-off student loans, can’t find full-time work, and who live one accident away from financial catastrophe? He looks right at them and sneeringly says, “I’m raising your taxes, I’m taking away your health insurance, I’m taking away the deduction on your student loan payment, I’m adding a trillion dollars to the deficit, and I’m ripping off what little Social Security you had coming, but, hey, it’s not my fault. We just don’t have enough people paying into the system. Don’t blame me, go out and have more babies.
Paul Ryan says to go out and have more babies, even though he knows it wouldn’t change anything he does: He is a Randian who opposes the welfare state on philosophical grounds. Even if there were more people paying into the system, he would still want to cut entitlements. Even if the poor squeezed out a billion bright new shiny taxpayers who could fund the social safety net, he’d still work day and night to take it away from them. When he says it’s all a matter of declining birth rates, of dollars and cents, he’s lying. He’s a thoroughly dishonest scoundrel kicking down at the poor and he knows it (and he’s defending it with glib, number-crunchy jargon that Beltway imbeciles mistake for deep wonky thought … ninety-percent increase in retirement but only nineteen percent increase in workforce … gotta have more efficiency, gotta have more technology, need more people, yep, uh-huh. Can’t argue with the numbers …)
There are 7 billion people and rising in the world. The human species is placing an unsustainable burden on the planet and rapidly depleting its resources. The climate is warming faster than even the most pessimistic scientists have predicted. Paul Ryan doesn’t care. He wants to cut taxes and gut social spending, and in order to do it he’ll ignore all common sense and all common decency, smirk at the camera and say, go out and have more babies.
All of this so a few hundred rich families and corporations can pay less taxes and get even richer.
The United States was created by morally compromised but deeply intellectual men steeped in the Enlightenment; it is being destroyed by shallow con-men and venal sociopaths with a smattering of cheap philosophy and bottomless greed. Take a good look at this dorky moral vacuum. He’s willing to strangle the country for a few greasy coins and a permanent seat at our banal aristocracy. That’s it. That’s all. A little money and status. That is the alpha and omega in his gnat-sized conception of life. A little money and status. It is for this the country must be drained and its people fleeced. Now reflect on the sad and pathetic fact that in America in 2017 there was no political force that could thwart him.
A year ago, I wrote the following about the incoming Trump presidency:
He’ll be a strutting, tweeting, TV nation Mussolini while the real business of government is carried out by Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, and they are going to unleash the most reactionary, corporate friendly agenda we’ve ever seen. It’s going to be worse than Bush’s first term. It’s the Koch Brothers’ country now, and they’re going to nail down the plutocracy and make it a permanent fact of our national life.And so it’s come to pass. Regardless of its final details, this tax bill will nail in the plutocracy forever. But, hey, did you hear Trump called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” at a ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers from World War II, and that he did it beneath a portrait of Indian killer Andrew Jackson, no less? What will that awful, awful, hideous orange vulgarian say next? Titter titter. Let’s discuss it for a week.
Now the Republicans are planning phase two of the putsch, cutting Medicare and Social Security. Paul Ryan is walking around literally looking like he’s splooging in his slacks. After all, his life-long dream of making Ayn Rand’s vision of America a reality is about to take a giant leap forward. But, hey, did you hear Donald Trump just gave a speech supporting pedophile Roy Moore for the Senate? What will that awful, awful, hideous orange vulgarian say next? Titter titter. Let’s discuss it for a week.
Coming up next, the end of net neutrality. This means that the one area where you can find alternative opinions and independent news, i.e., the one medium where you can find fundamental criticism of the emerging corporate order, is going to be strangled to death by a cartel of monopolies, and the Internet is going to become exactly like cable TV. But, hey, by then the awful, awful, hideous orange vulgarian will have made some outrageous new tweet for the pundit class to feign outrage over and titter about for the rest of the news cycle.
The Republicans have found the ideal front man, a shrewd con artist who knows instinctively how to manipulate and distract the media while they systematically dismantle the country and refashion in their interest.
And whither the resistance, the one led by the youthful energy of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton? Well, Chuck and Nancy are doddering around looking for their spectacles and muttering about Russia, although Chuck is also taking time out to party in the Hamptons with Jared and Ivanka, and Hillary is still going around blaming everyone but herself for her defeat. Viva la Resistance!
The war is over and we lost. The Republican’s agenda, once passed, will become permanent. It will become permanent in part because the Democrats will do nothing to overturn it. When they regain power, and they will at some point, they’ll tell us that they’re not going to dwell on the past, but, rather, do the work the American people elected them to do, and the next mushy, centrist, DNC approved creature who sits in the Oval Office will look us straight in the eyes — because that’s what his consultants tell him Real Leaders do — and boldly inform us that it’s time to move forward.
From the New York Times:
Executives at Mr. Weinstein’s film companies who learned of allegations rarely took a stand, cowed by their volatile boss or worried about their careers. His brother and partner, Bob, participated in payoffs to women as far back as 1990. Some low-level assistants were pulled in: They compiled “bibles” that included hints on facilitating encounters with women, and were required to procure his penile injections for erectile dysfunction.Ed. Note: A real man would have had the women do the injections for him too, amirite or amirite? Jeez, does a guy have to do everything for himself around this place?
What a pathetic excuse for a man must be the specimen who couldn’t find a better use for $450.3 million than this:
After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed.
From the New York Times:
Separately, Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, told The Associated Press in an interview published on Wednesday that “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.” She added, “I’ve yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.”What a sad, terribly sad thing to read. Imagine the blindness in which a loyal and loving daughter of Trump must have forced herself to live.
Following the address we made on November 13, 2017, which we believe our main broadcaster, the Fox Entertainment Group, was directed not to publicize, the situation in our country has moved to another level. Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency the President of the United States of America and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy. To the civil servants, as you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging that is taking place in the political sphere to the civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that.
To the generality of the people of the United States of America we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual. Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice.
To political parties we urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behavior. To the youth we call upon you to realize that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver. Be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation.
To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government. What the Department of Defense is actually doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country, which if not addressed may result in a violent conflict.
To members of the defense forces, all leave is canceled and you all are to return to your barracks with immediate effect. To the other Security Services: We urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.
From his Air Force One press gaggle:
China likes me. China likes me. And I get along with them; I get along with others too. I get along very well with Angela. You people don't write that. I actually get along really well with Angela. You know, they had that handshaking event. I was with her for a long time before that. And somebody shouts out, "shake her hand, shake her hand." And I didn't hear them. So by not shaking her hand, they said -- I have a great relationship with her. I have a great relationship with Theresa May. I have a great relationship with Justin Trudeau, who I just left.
I think I -- I'll be honest with you, I think I have a great relationship with every single one of them. Every person in that room today -- you had what, 15, or so, or 18? Asia Pacific … And I've got to fix what we have with Mexico, who was there today too, who I also have a very good relationship with. And I have a great relationship with France. Some of you were in France with me, with the Eiffel Tower dinner. We have a great relationship with Emmanuel … There's nobody that I can think of that I don't have a very good relationship with.
…but who knew? Fascinating stuff from the Monell Chemical Senses Center:
In the study, 82 heterosexual and homosexual men and women were asked to indicate their preference for the odors of underarm sweat collected from 24 odor donors of varied gender and sexual orientation. Subjects made four comparisons, evaluating and chosing between odors from (i) heterosexual males versus gay males, (ii) heterosexual males versus heterosexual females, (iii) heterosexual females versus lesbian females, and (iv) gay males versus lesbian females.
Homosexual men and lesbian women had patterns of body odor preferences that were different from those of heterosexual men and women. In particular, gay men were strikingly different from heterosexual men and women and from lesbian women, both in terms of which body odors gay men preferred and how their own body odors were regarded by the other groups. Gay men preferred odors from gay men and heterosexual women, whereas odors from gay men were the least preferred by heterosexual men and women and by lesbian women.
…a turd in the punchbowl. From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Floyd Abrams is the nation’s most prominent First Amendment lawyer, and he almost always argues in favor of free speech. But he has struggled with the case of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.The underlying issue here, which no court has seen fit to address, is whether any wedding guest would be dumb enough to eat a cake this man had been forced to bake.
A wristwatch that once belonged to the late Paul Newman, a movie star, was just auctioned for $17.8 million:
“The significance of this watch cannot be overstated,” said Paul Boutros, a senior vice president with Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, the watch auctioneer.
As we all know:
Trump received five deferments from service in Vietnam: four for academic reasons and one for bone spurs – calcium buildups – in his heels. In 2015, he said at a news conference he couldn’t remember which heel the bone spurs had affected. His campaign said it was both.
In July 2016, Trump told the New York Times: “I had a doctor that gave me a letter – a very strong letter on the heels.” The problem had been “temporary” and “minor”, he said, adding: “Over a period of time, it healed up.”
But the fine print in the interesting graphic below tells a different story. Those things on the so-called “president’s” heels were originally diagnosed not as bone spurs, but as birthmarks. And since birthmarks don’t heal up over a period of time, it should be easy enough to settle this thing once and for all.
Just show us your heels. Please.
…as far as it goes. Right from the start I thought the so-called “president” was getting a raw deal on his call to the Gold Star widow. Trump could have and should have said something like, “Really? I was trying to say how much I admired somebody brave enough to face death for his country knowingly. I’m truly sorry if that didn’t come through.”
But once again, Trump made his automatic reach for a lie whenever faced with the slightest challenge to his perfection. Which wound up dragging his chief of staff John Kelly down with him.
At least you’re not dead like Philip Larkin, who wrote this in 1978:
Most people know more as they get older;
I give all that the cold shoulder.
I spent my second quarter-century
Losing what I had learnt at university
And refusing to take in what had happened since.
Now I know none of the names in the public prints,
And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces
And swearing I’ve never been in certain places.
It will be worth it if in the end I manage
To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage.
Then there will be nothing that I know.
My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.
There! Feel better now?
News from a Virginia friend of mine, long since retired as a lieutenant in the Arlington police department. Unfortunately the world is not full of people like Florence.
The book you sent me by Wally Lamb is getting around. I just ordered it for yet another person who has become interested in working in the jail. Our wretched incarceration system drives me crazy. I have been working in the DC jail for over 4 years now and can count on my two hands the number of white Anglo faces I have seen. That alone says something is terribly wrong…
One inmate said to me, “I heard that you don’t get paid for coming. Then why do you come every day?” I gave him the usual blab blab but he wasn’t buying any of it. He leaned over and whispered, “I know why you come. You are working off your community service.” I love it. What a kick!
We had a GED graduation a few weeks ago. Seeing inmates with caps and gowns over their orange jumpsuits, processing in to the sounds of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ on a tape brought me to tears.
…when the Russians meddle in our elections? From declassified CIA documents:
The Nixon administration’s decision for a covert CIA role in the 1970 campaign continued the practice of the preceding Kennedy and Johnson administrations, which for nearly a decade had directed clandestine Agency actions in Chilean electoral politics. During Chile’s 1964 presidential contest, for example, CIA had channeled $3 million into the coffers of the eventual victor, Christian Democrat Frei. A year later the Santiago Station, working closely with the American Ambassador, used covert funds to help defeat as many as 13 leftist candidates who might otherwise have won congressional seats. In 1969, CIA operatives spent several hundred thousand dollars opposing congressional candidates allied with Dr. Salvador Allende Gossens, an avowed Marxist and founding member of the Chilean Socialist Party. In addition to funding political parties secretly, the Agency had carried out extensive propaganda activities and subsidized anti-leftist newspapers and radio commentators.
From the New York Times:
After years as a sleepy federal backwater, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission became one of Wall Street’s most aggressive watchdogs during the Barack Obama administration.
Now the agency — which is responsible for policing a broad swath of markets and financial machinery, from trading in commodities to digital currencies to the complex derivatives that helped torpedo the financial system in 2008 — is shifting its law enforcement strategy: It will increasingly look to banks and other financial institutions to come clean on their own about misconduct and problems in the market.
The commission’s director of enforcement, James McDonald, plans to unveil the new framework in a speech Monday night at New York University. It is premised on the idea that large financial institutions, given the right incentives, have the potential to be invaluable partners for law enforcement.
“We start with the shared understanding that the vast majority of businesses want to comply with the law,” Mr. McDonald will say Monday, according to a draft of the speech reviewed by The New York Times.