Don’t Worry About a Thing, he’s got the whole world in his hands

Our nation is in the hands of a world class financial genius.   He knows just how close to the brink to go before snatching victory from his adversary’s hand.   He’s crazy as a fox — and he’s never failed, never.   He was also the hero of one of America’s most popular and longest running reality TV shows ever.  He is a tremendous hero to some 60,000,000 or so great Americans.   

Pay no attentions to naysayers who try to frighten you about his supposed “impulsiveness” or “recklessness”.  His enemies will keep pointing to his several business bankruptcies, BUSINESS bankruptcies, not one of them a personal bankruptcy — personally he’s filthy rich.  Winners always play with house money.  Don’t forget this guy used to run some very successful casinos.

Still, there are those who won’t be happy until they see him fail, see America fail.  They write crazy, critical things, like this John Cassidy fellow in the New Yorker typed out in May of 2019:

The financial reprieve that Trump’s businesses received turned out to be temporary.  In 1991, his Taj Mahal casino, in Atlantic City, filed for bankruptcy protection, and, not very long after, so did his other two casinos—the Trump Plaza and the Trump Castle. In 1992, the Plaza Hotel filed for bankruptcy, and Trump agreed to turn over many of his remaining assets, including Trump Shuttle, to his creditors. With the help of the banks and his father, who repeatedly gave him money, Trump managed to escape the humiliation of personal bankruptcy, but his days as a swashbuckling entrepreneur were done. For a decade, or more, he largely confined himself to licensing deals, entertainment ventures, and minority investments that cashed in on his personal brand, which somehow survived his dramatic fall.

In May, 2019, this is all distant history, of course. But don’t let anyone tell you—not Trump, nor Newt Gingrich, nor any of the President’s other apologists—that the businesses Trump operated were successful, or that the huge losses they sustained were simply tax dodges. They weren’t.    

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The lying mass media will show misleading graphics like this one, purposefully designed to make him look bad:

Screen shot 2019-08-16 at 3.56.29 AM.png

Real Americans LOVE this guy, and the way he’s making America great again, so do the rest of us a big fat favor, MSNBC and the failing so-called New Yorker (whatever that is) and just shut the hell up, OK?

Imbecile-in-chief intent on laughing last

Of all the damage this destructive narcissist has done so far, the thing that probably irks me the most (from a competitive list) is his despicable championing of a down-the-line partisan hack with multiple skeletons in his closet for a lifetime position on the Supreme Court [1].   The Federalist Society poster boy (a life member who was in its inaugural class at Yale Law School in the 1980s) will rule on important legal issues, unappealably, for possibly decades.  Every one of his votes can be predicted based on the issues involved, the position radical, corporatist conservatives favor, and his thoroughly consistent past rulings.   There were twenty-four other names on the list the Federalist Society gave Trump, yet the president chose to force the most despicable controversial and openly divisive of them on America.   For a generation.

Looking at choir boy Kavanaugh’s perpetually smiling face, looming out of his black judicial robes, makes me sick.   It’s tempting to use words like “scumbag” and “piece of shit”, but you get the point.   If an ugly, syphlitic penis had a face, it would be that self-satisfied, smirking mug.

I just read an excellent article by a writer named Megan Garber about the power of uproarious mockery and how Trump used it against Christine Blasey Ford, whose testimony was so vulnerably candid and powerful that even FOX news was in despair, during the break in the hearings, wringing its collective hands that Kavanaugh’s chance for appointment to the Supreme Court was over.  That was before Kavanaugh “manned up” in the afternoon session to forcefully strike back against his vicious enemies, crying, snorting and accusing, aided by a shrill, indignant Lindsay Graham and an insurmountable one vote Republican party-line majority in the Judiciary Committee.

A few days later, while the FBI was doing a very limited, five day complete investigation into Blasey Ford’s accusations, Trump, in Mississippi, had a rally of supporters cracking up at her expense.    From Megan Garber’s account:

I had one beer,” the president, imitating Ford, said, thrusting his index finger upward to emphasize the number. He kept the digit upraised. “I had one beer!

The president then added another character to his routine: an anonymous interrogator of Ford. “Well, do you think it was—” he began to ask.

Nope!” he said, gleefully interrupting himself and his fictional questioner. “It was one beer.” The joke built speed. “How did you get home? I don’t remember.How did you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember.How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

At this, the crowd at the rally guffawed. They cheered. They broke out into applause. The president, thus galvanized, thus supported, thus loved, continued his one-man interrogation: “What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.

Of course, she remembered an awful lot of specifics, including, vividly, Kavanaugh’s drunken, dickish face looming over her as he held her down and groped her and his drunk friend Mark Judge nearby.  She remembered enough for the FBI to have easily found the exact home in which the attack took place that summer afternoon in 1982 — within a walk of the Country Club where she swam–  in  a locked room on the second floor, across from the bathroom at the top of the stairs.   Had the FBI been permitted to fully investigate, or even interview more than a small, select handful of “witnesses”, let alone talk to Kavanaugh or Blasey Ford, the specifics could easily have been confirmed.   Instead “Boof” Kavanaugh was.

Megan Garber includes this from what should have been Blasey Ford’s “end of story” testimony: 

“What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something you cannot forget?” Patrick Leahy, the Democratic senator from Vermont, asked Ford last Thursday, during her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The professor of psychology, serving as her own expert witness in the attack that she alleged Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge perpetrated, replied: “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”

“You’ve never forgotten them laughing at you,” Leahy said.

“They were laughing with each other,” Ford replied.

“And you were the object of the laughter?”

“I was underneath one of them, while the two laughed.”

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”

Contrast this level of certainty and detail to what was contained in the written answers Trump gave to the Special Counsel during the investigation of his possible criminal conspiracy with Russia during his historic 2016 presidential campaign and his ongoing (and continuing) pattern of obstruction of justice, a pattern that escalated dramatically and immediately once the Special Counsel was appointed. 

Remember that these written answers were submitted because the president’s lawyers had ruled out an interview with Mueller, a guaranteed “perjury trap”  since the president has proved himself, over and over, to be simply incapable of not lying.    Trump’s lawyers’ written answers claimed he had no memory of anything, no detail too large or too small for him to have no recollection of.   

Mueller called these answers “inadequate, incomplete, imprecise and insufficient”.  A good description, certainly of the stand-up guy president’s final answer, to a detailed question about the soon to be sentenced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

TRUMP:

[no answer provided] 

Why this has hilarious FUCK YOU not been more widely publicized, I have no idea.   

The evasive and “inadequate” written answers and Mueller’s detailed queries have been on-line for a while.  You can read them here.  Scroll down to the last one for the punchline, or just check out the question and its “insufficient” answer below.  [2]   

Hilarious, no?

 

[1]  multiple accounts of years of his black out “beer” drinking, two independent, credible and detailed accounts of gross sexual impropriety (the one at Yale never investigated at all, in spite of numerous witnesses to it coming forward during the confirmation hearings), his denial of details of his close association with his disgraced former mentor Alex Kozinsky (and Kozinsky’s sexually explicit listserve), a long pattern of extreme partisanship including aggressive prosecution of then president Bill Clinton and undisclosed, classified services rendered to Dubya Bush, including during the controversial Florida recount episode.   

There was enough controversy that the voice of American Jesuits said Kavanaugh must withdraw his name from consideration.  Instead the blameless jurist made a tearful, snorting partisan speech accusing the Clintons of launching a well-funded dark money campaign of revenge against him — an unhinged speech that should have disqualified him.   To wit:

A calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. 

[2]

SPECIAL COUNSEL’S OFFICE:

b. Following the Obama Administration’s imposition of sanctions on Russia in December 2016 (“Russia sanctions”), did you discuss with Lieutenant General (LTG) Michael Flynn, K.T. McFarland, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, Erik Prince, or anyone else associated with the transition what should be communicated to the Russian government regarding the sanctions? If yes, describe who you spoke with about this issue, when, and the substance of the discussion(s).

c. On December 29 and December 31, 2016, LTG Flynn had conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about the Russia sanctions and Russia’s response to the Russia sanctions.

i. Did you direct or suggest that LTG Flynn have discussions with anyone from the Russian government about the Russia sanctions?

ii. Were you told in advance of LTG Flynn’s December 29, 2016 conversation that he was going to be speaking with Ambassador Kislyak? If yes, describe who told you this information, when, and what you were told. If no, when and from whom did you learn of LTG Flynn’s December 29, 2016 conversation with Ambassador Kislyak?

iii. When did you learn of LTG Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak’s call on December 31, 2016? Who told you and what were you told?

iv. When did you learn that sanctions were discussed in the December 29 and December 31, 2016 calls between LTG Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak? Who told you and what were you told?

d. At any time between December 31, 2016, and January 20, 2017, did anyone tell you or suggest to you that Russia’s decision not to impose reciprocal sanctions was attributable in any way to LTG Flynn’s communications with Ambassador Kislyak? If yes, identify who provided you with this information, when, and the substance of what you were told.

e. On January 12, 2017, the Washington Post published a column that stated that LTG Flynn phoned Ambassador Kislyak several times on December 29, 2016. After learning of the column, did you direct or suggest to anyone that LTG Flynn should deny that he discussed sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak? If yes, who did you make this suggestion or direction to, when, what did you say, and why did you take this step?

i. After learning of the column, did you have any conversations with LTG Flynn about his conversations with Ambassador Kislyak in December 2016? If yes, describe when those discussions occurred and the content of the discussions.

f. Were you told about a meeting between Jared Kushner and Sergei Gorkov that took place in December 2016?

i. If yes, describe who you spoke with, when, the substance of the discussion(s), and what you understood was the purpose of the meeting.

g. Were you told about a meeting or meetings between Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev or any other representative from the Russian government that took place in January 2017?

i. If yes, describe who you spoke with, when, the substance of the discussion(s), and what you understood was the purpose of the meeting(s).

h. Prior to January 20, 2017, did you talk to Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, or any other individual associated with the transition regarding establishing an unofficial line of communication with Russia? If yes, describe who you spoke with, when, the substance of the discussion(s), and what you understood was the purpose of such an unofficial line of communication.

TRUMP:

(No answer provided.)

Suicide by gun doesn’t count! UNFAIR!

Our democracy is pay to play, now more than ever.   The Federalist Society caucus on the Supreme Court, in its infamous (unanimous) 5-4 Citizens United v. FEC decision, in 2010, ruled that money is speech and limiting its power in politics offends the First Amendment’s freedom of speech.   If you have more money, you get more speech, unlimited money equals unlimited speech, fair is fair.   Even if you’re a legal fiction, a certain perpetual type of business organization, you get additional, unlimited speech as a “person”.   Corporations are people.   You want proof?   They have freedom of speech, the intoxicating freedom, since 2010, to spend unlimited sums to advance their political aspirations.  That’s freedom, baby.

Sometimes such freedom is not reasonable or explainable.   Let me explain.

I’ve long noticed that gun suicides, an alarming number of American dead every week (about 458 at the 2018 rate), are not counted for purposes of gun fatality statistics in the United States.  I know, I know…  The National Rifle Association (reputedly Trump’s largest single donor during the 2016 election cycle) insists that including the bloated number of gun suicides would totally skew the gun fatality numbers and make gun ownership look way more dangerous than it actually is.  They don’t even have a rationale for not including gun suicides in the tally, but, the beauty part, they don’t need one.  The mass media always seems to go along with the NRA on this.

I noticed last week that PBS (our public broadcasting service), in a recent NewsHour piece about gun violence, didn’t mention the shocking number of suicides by gun — which they excluded while simply noting that gun suicide “makes up the largest proportion of gun deaths in America.”    PBS reported, in another recent piece I found, that last year 23,800 Americans killed themselves with guns.    We also hear that American suicide numbers are going up constantly and that suicide by gun is by far the most successful of the way of doing it, comprising more than half of the deaths (although only 6% of all attempts).  [1]

An hour after sending off a piece on this hideous truth to the Times, which I titled Et tu, PBS? I was watching a clip of Ari Melber from MSNBC that made me add (to myself) Et tu, MSNBC?  Melber spoke of encouraging signs of bipartisan progress on combatting the gathering climate catastrophe and our American plague of deadly gun violence.   He showed this graphic of gun deaths so far in 2019:

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 8.39.24 PM.png  

I did a quick mental calculation of 7.5 months of 23,8000 annual suicides by gun and realized the Gun Violence Archive (whatever that is) [2] had not counted (here I reached for my calculator) at least 14,875 victims of fatal gun violence (seven and a half months at last years rate).  Neither had MSNBC. 

So here we have another cooked “statistic” that is served up to us as a sobering “fact”.  Ari Melber and his team could easily have done the quick search and the calculation I did — in our instant information age it would have taken them a moment to get the actual number of gun fatalities in America. 

The number they would have arrived at for 2019 gun deaths so far is 23,967 (using last year’s gun suicide number).  Admittedly, 9,092 dead sounds better than 23,967 dead — by a long shot (or even a point blank shot to the skull), but still…

What the fuck, what the fucking fuck?

We live in emotionally unstable times, the predominant public emotions being fear, anger and hatred.   These emotions are stirred constantly by personally tailored notifications on the little computers we all carry with us in our pockets.   Our president, the billionaire offspring of the son of a lawless man deported from his native Germany (tax evasion and draft dodging) and a dirt-poor Scottish domestic servant, speaks on behalf of the desperate Americans who are setting new records for blowing their own brains out and killing themselves by drug overdoses in areas that no longer have paying jobs.  The president says, most recently, that only immigrants who are not dirt poor, or criminals (as he’s pointed out, many Mexicans are rapists.  they’re rapists) are welcome here.   Fuck refugees, people fleeing horrors of every kind, fuck all those subhuman fucks.  No room.  Get the fuck out.  USA!   USA!!!!

This troubling, divisive, false creature has a puncher’s chance of winning re-election, particularly in a system where a 78,000 margin in “swing states” is good enough to win, no matter how many millions of “popular votes” that candidate loses by.  Add to it that his party is successfully resisting all efforts to safeguard the integrity of our elections and ensure fair and accurately counted voting.   This in the face of proof that the 2016 electronic voting systems  were sweepingly and systematically hacked into, in all fifty states.  We’ll never know if vote totals were manipulated since there are no longer any paper records to consult.   The status quo seems to have favored Trump, look at his historic election mandate, so his party sees no problem with it.

Donald Trump may seem like a vain, thin-skinned strutting idiot who has no business running a candy store, let alone the world’s most powerful nation, but at least 60,000,000 Americans love him unconditionally.  His support has never varied much from around 40%, no matter what he does.   A writer named Adam Serwer put it perfectly, at the top of his piece The Cruelty is the Point:   [3]

President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear. 

Meanwhile, due to the policy of a powerful lobbying group, the voting public can’t even get basic information like how many of our desperate fellow citizens are using a few of their 393,000,000 constitutionally protected guns to blow their own heads off every day (about 65).   The NRA says “nothing to see here” and “UNFAIR!”.   And so it is.

Opinions are like assholes, true, but it would be nice if they were washed once in a while.   Lots of clean water would help, and some soap.  Sunlight, we are told, is the best disinfectant. 

 

 

[1]  I wrote a long, detailed piece on this the last few days, larded with quotations and citing every number I included,  that I was urged to send to the New York Times.   The Grey Debutante has two business days left to tell me if they’ll run some version of the overwrought piece.  They want an exclusive, so I had to take down the original and rewritten pieces from this blahg, just in case they did a google search.   If I don’t hear back by end of business Friday, I’ll be free repost it here.  And I shall.

2]  The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive has this cryptic statement on its daily ledger of gun deaths:  22,000 Annual Suicides not included on Daily Summary Ledger.  

{3]  The article ends with this beautiful, horrific paragraph:

Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

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An Inconvenient Truth

Google:

Oscar-winning documentary about the environment featuring the unlikeliest of movie stars. Former presidential candidate Al Gore holds this film together as, in front of an audience and with few aids beyond photo slides, he explains how humans have messed up the planet. Gore issues an urgent warning on what must be done, and done quickly, to save the earth.      

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I really should make a new category, like homo imbecilis or something, for posts like this, which are essentially about the heedless stupidity of “The Wise Ape”.  This award winning film was screened everywhere thirteen years ago, clearly presenting a dire picture of our ravaged earth and setting out things that needed to be done, “and done quickly”.    That was in 2006, thirty six years after the first Earth Day rally, thirteen years ago.

It’s 2019.  Our latest effort to save our planet here in America was electing a man who claims the freedom-hating Chinese invented the hoax of Climate Change to screw American business, a man who appoints former fossil fuel executives to oversee the climate and diplomacy, a man who removes government scientific findings from the EPA (Nixon’s Environmental Protection Agency) website, a man who mocks anyone who disagrees that he’s the smartest and handsomest (and sexiest) man ever to hold the office of president.  

A man who must have heaved a big sigh of relief yesterday when his former buddy Jeffrey Epstein woke up dead in his cell [1].   Bagpiper Bill Barr issued a statement, apparently they are going to mount a full investigation into Epstein’s convenient death, an investigation even more thorough than the exhaustive five day FBI probe that completely and totally exonerated Justice Kavanaugh of the sick, dangerous Clinton-orchestrated accusation of youthful, drunken groping.   Their boss — a man for the ages.

Homo imbecilis, amigos… 

 

[1]  A death as convenient as the perfectly timed death of Ken Lay, the Dubya Bush compadre who was going to prison for fraud connected to Exxon.  The only executive in many years poised to be actually imprisoned (actually, his codefendant Jeffrey Skilling, wound up serving 12 years).  Makes you think.

Kenneth Lee Lay (April 15, 1942 – July 5, 2006) was the founder, CEO and Chairman of Enron and was heavily involved in the Enron scandal, a major accounting scandal that unraveled in 2000 in the largest bankruptcy ever to that date. Lay was indicted by a grand jury[4] and was found guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud in the trial of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.[5]Lay died in July 2006 while vacationing in his house near Aspen, Colorado, three months before his scheduled sentencing.[6] A preliminary autopsy reported Lay died of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) caused by coronary artery disease; his death resulted in a vacated judgment.[7][8][9]

Lay left behind “a legacy of shame” characterized by “mismanagement and dishonesty”.[10] In 2009, Portfolio.com  ranked Lay as the third-worst American CEO of all time.[11] His actions were the catalyst for subsequent and fundamental corporate reform in regard to “standards of leadership, governance, and accountability”.[10]

Thank you, Jesus, for that fundamental corporate reform.  Ken didn’t die in vain…

Lay was one of America’s highest-paid CEOs; between 1998 and 2001, he collected more than $220 million in cash and stock in Enron and sold 1.7 million shares.[12][13][14][15] However, during his trial in 2006, Lay claimed that Enron stock made up about 90% of his wealth, and that his net worth at that time was negative $250,000.[16]

blah blah blah

As President, Lay flew Bush and his wife to Washington on an Enron corporate plane.[27] In December 2000, Lay was mentioned as a possible candidate for United States Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush.[28]

From 1989 to 2002, Lay’s political contributions totaled $5.8 million, with 73% going to Republicans, and 27% going to Democrats.[2] From 1999 to 2001, he gave $365,410 to the Republican Party.[1]

Too Much Truth can be dangerous!

Truth, a thing that actually happened, or a process that is really taking place, is often excluded from a conversation.  This is done to benefit the side that the truth would be harmful to.   Someone coined a good term for it “an inconvenient truth”. This is a large, explanatory truth that allows us to fully understand something otherwise unknowable.  

Few problems can be solved unless this often troubling truth is set on the table, since without it the clues to the more difficult underlying part of the problem have been made to disappear.  The suppression of this kind of truth is necessary if your intent is to hoodwink people, or to continue an unfair system.   When an important underlying truth, or even a key fact or two, is excluded from a conversation about problems, it’s impossible to arrive at a reasonable solution.  All that remains is the anodyne explanation, a partial story that puts everything in its best light and leaves out anything troubling, upsetting or controversial.

I have a personal tic about the importance of a truthful laying out of facts, of “transparency”.  I grew up in a home where most discussions immediately became adversarial and key points that needed to be addressed were swept off the table.   My poor father’s main technique in conducting these impromptu adversarial proceedings was constantly reframing what we were actually talking about.   This reframing served to remove certain topics from the discussion entirely and to constantly shift the “burden of proof” onto a set of moving cross-accusations.

Whenever you got close to making a point, the conversation would be redirected to your anger, your intractability, whatever unrelated point was necessary to derail your train of thought and make you eventually back off in frustration.  Luckily for me (he said, spreading irony like butter), decades later, as my father was dying he admitted with regret that he’d done my sister and me a grave disservice by turning everything into an unfair zero-sum fight to the death.  I say that with a touch of snideness, though it was a piece of great good fortune, to have my father confirm that for me before he went.

I can see things from another side more now than I could as a young man.  I can easily see now that an upset eight year-old asking his father to tell him about the dozens of family members killed by the Nazis only thirteen years before he was born would be very upsetting to a father.   My father, admittedly, did not respond well, but I can now fully understand the painfully difficult position my question put him in.   His regrettable reaction was to turn the inquiry into a conversation about “mere abstractions” (the people who died) and, more importantly, about why, at eight years of age, with all my so-called maturity, I still couldn’t simply act like a man.   My whimpering, defensive responses only confirmed the sorry image of my unmanliness.   The People rest.

“Nothing to see here!”, following a quick hiding of an inconvenient truth, is so common a refrain today that it’s hard for me to refrain from barking it out regularly.  Shame concealeth itself, only a sucker admits anything!  We live in a competitive culture where any admission of guilt, wrong-doing, shame, is seen as the mark of a loser.  Look at Al Franken [1].  Loser!   The winner, we all know, will always deny everything and make them prove every aspect of the case against him, and if it takes ten years, and a mountain of money for lawyers, so much the better.   The loser will question himself when accused, guiltily slink away, even if he hasn’t really done anything that bad.

I was thinking about this concealing damaging truth business in connection with the National Rifle Association’s wildly successful effort to have the number of Americans who shoot themselves to death daily with a gun (about 55 a day, more than two an hour) excluded from all discussions of gun violence in the United States.   It’s a standard ploy, take a harmful piece of verifiable information, claim it’s irrelevant — for any reason pulled out of your ass–  and bury it as deep as possible.

Here’s a recent personal example, you be the judge if the larger truth changes anything about the story.

An old friend recently refused to do me a relatively simple favor.  When I asked why he told me he didn’t need to explain anything to me, that I was a pushy bastard to ask, that I don’t know how to take no for an answer.  He eventually gave me a flimsy rationale, and later, when things began turning tense, admitted he wasn’t doing me the favor because of his anger and resentment toward me, which finally made sense, although it was not reassuring.

Do the facts really matter?   They don’t really, in terms of our friendship, though they help me see there was probably nothing I could have done to avoid his hidden anger.   Looking at the only solid facts we have, our recent emails and texts, and reading his original offer to do me the favor, before changing his mind later and getting angry when I asked why, it was hard to see this sudden rage as anything I could have seen coming.  Or anything I might have been able to avoid.  It was clear, in hindsight, that he’d been looking for a damned good reason to explode, my pushy query was the fucking last fucking straw!   

Feelings are often this way.  We feel a certain way and then marshal whatever facts we need to support the utter reasonableness of our feelings.   You can’t argue with feelings, they’re as real as our breathing, as the awful prospect of our inevitable deaths.   I can’t help thinking that the things that actually happened, or are currently taking place,  matter and should be part of our consideration, part of any real conversation.   A raw feeling, like rage, should not have the final say in a conversation or friendship (though, sadly, it often does).

This concealing of “harmful facts” is at the root of virtually every vexing and hard to resolve situation we face, as individuals, as a society.   The tobacco industry knew very well that it was pumping up the addictiveness of its deadly product, but nobody needed to know this.  They denied it for years and spent millions defending their denial against a giant class of addicted plaintiffs, before finally agreeing to make a huge payout to a fund for their past, present and future victims.   

The oil industry hired scientists, decades ago, whose studies laid out the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels, the relation of this massive burning to the accumulation of greenhouse gases and the warming of the planet.  They had the answer they didn’t want, so they decided to hire another army of experts to deny the science and create public skepticism and “debate”.   Hard to blame these industries, these “job creators,”  if you truly believe that maximum monetary profit is society’s most important product.

Has our current president monetized the presidency in a way that offends norms, laws, the constitution itself?   Too bad you can’t see his financials, he has an army of lawyers to fight that to the very end and beyond.   In fairness to him, those documents could reveal business connections to wealthy international criminals and even his own criminal money laundering.  The president would be a fool to let these fall into the hands of his enemies, whatever the law might say about it. 

Did former White House Counsel Don McGahn commit perjury, as Trump claimed, when McGahn told Mueller’s investigators, under oath, that Trump called him twice on a Saturday to pressure him to fire Mueller and then asked him write a memo saying they’d never had any conversation about it?   Too bad it will take months, if not years, for the courts to decide on the facially absurd blanket immunity defense the president is asserting as he blocks all subpoenas and document requests of any kind.  Etc…

I heard a great discussion of an issue deeply related to this whole truth vs. half-truth spin business on the July 31, 2019 broadcast of  WNYC’s On the Media.   The show is about an alternative to punitive incarceration and the hopeless cycle of violence caused by our carceral state.   The conversation centered on Restorative Justice, a community-based process of truth and reconciliation where perpetrators acknowledge the harms their actions have caused and seek the forgiveness of their victims.  Bob Garfield’s guest,  Danielle Sered, a pioneer in the Restorative Justice movement and executive director of an organization called Common Justice, makes a strikingly succinct and deep point well worth pondering:  

The four core drivers of violence are shame, isolation, exposure to violence and an inability to meet one’s economic needs.    The four key features of prison are shame, isolation, exposure to violence and an inability to meet one’s economic needs.

These are also, coincidentally, four key features of poverty: shame, isolation, exposure to violence and an inability to meet one’s economic needs.    It is a terrifying and demoralizing constellation of features that all but guarantees a terrible outcome, including a high likelihood of being locked up.   Those four factors form a terrible truth that explains a lot about the failings of our prosecutorial law enforcement culture and our enormous prison population.   We have a bumper crop of hardened, violent criminals that no amount of humiliating punishment seems to be curing them of.  Same goes for drug addicts.

If we were truly intent on creating a safer, better society, we would take this hard truth into consideration.   We need to seriously consider it in any discussion of creating a safer, more just society  that protects all of its citizens and maximizes their chances for a peaceful life largely free of shame and violence.   Like in a discussion of the crisis of opioid addiction and overdose, if we addressed the causes of this desperation instead of criminalizing and punishing the addicts…  If… we… were… truly… intent… (don’t forget, there is a very lucrative private prison system here, and a more profitable than ever private immigration detention center industry here, and a super profitable opioid production and sales industry… don’t forget).   

Or we can leave that awful truth about shame and violence and hopeless poverty out of it entirely.  Here’s an idea.  We could simply, honestly say that people born to the unspeakable shame and violence of poverty are just fucked.  Sad but true.  You know, in a way, they kind of made their choice to be born poor.  Had they been of better stock and born wealthy, they’d have every right to live peacefully and happily in the most exceptionally free and luxurious society the world has ever known.  Too bad those young children of the poor are already weak, dirty, morally compromised, lazy, other-blaming parasites.   

I leave the “race” and ethnicity of these doomed children for you to imagine.  Keep in mind, many millions of them are as white as the president’s family, as his mother’s nine pale, dirty-faced siblings in Scotland [2].  As Martin Luther King said often in the last years of his life, the color of poor people has little to do with it.  Poor children of every color in America are growing up in a country that has no use for them, except as cash cows for the privatized prison barons.   Racism, militarism and poverty are three faces of the same vicious, insatiable monster.   But that will have to be a hard truth for another day.

 

[1]  Former Senator Franken was accused, by a conservative media provocateur (and former nude model), of making her feel sexually abused on a USO tour years earlier.   It was not a super-credible accusation, not supported by a single witness, and it was made public before Franken was given any chance to comment, then was quickly followed by a handful of women who came forward to claim Franken had put his hand creepily low on their waists, or otherwise touched them inappropriately during photo ops.   

Franken responded to these charges by calling for an ethics investigation of himself (during which he’d be able to hear the full accusations, call witnesses and defend himself against the charges).   Hopped up members of Franken’s unthinkingly politically correct party, led by the ambitious Kirsten Gillebrand, formed a kind of lynch mob and angrily, publicly demanded that their colleague immediately resign instead.  Another reason to shake your head about elected Democrats and their high-minded circular firing squads.  Franken resigned, something he regrets every day, something I regret whenever I think of it.   

Read this excellent investigative piece by Jane Mayer and you’ll see what I mean about the poisonous effect of throttling the truth, and a lawful inquiry into the truth.   Do the actual facts of the case matter?   They fucking should.

[2]   Trump’s mother’s ancestry:

Mary Anne MacLeod (Trump) was born in a pebbledashcroft house owned by her father since 1895 in Tong on the Isle of Lewis.[2]Local historians and genealogists have described properties in this community at the time as “indescribably filthy” and characterized by “human wretchedness”.[5][6] The outbreak ofWorld War I weakened its economy and male population.[2]

Raised in a Scottish Gaelic-speaking household, Mary was the youngest of ten children born to Malcolm (1866–1954) and Mary MacLeod (née Smith; 1867–1963).[7] Her father was a crofter,fisherman and compulsory officer at Mary’s school.[2][3][8][9]English was her second language, which she learned at the school she attended until secondary school.[2]

 

As one account has put it, she “started life in America as a dirt-poor servant escaping the even worse poverty of her native land.”[8] Having obtained a U.S. Re-entry Permit—only granted to immigrants intending to stay and gain citizenship[8][9]—she returned to Scotland on the SS Cameronia on September 12, 1934.[13] She was recorded as living in New York by April 1935 in the 1940 U.S. Census.[13]

Though the 1940 census form filed by Mary Anne and her husband Fred Trumpstated that she was a naturalized citizen, she did not actually become one until March 10, 1942.[3][8][9]

FredTrump1950-02.png

 

Check out the mustache on Fred Christ Trump, in 1950, for fuck’s sake, five years after Hitler’s defeat in World War Two..  Talk about yer Nazi bastards….

Trump’s Aktion at Koch Foods, Forest, Mississippi : Torture

We are torturing people again.  MAGA, man, as great as we ever were!

Lawrence O’Donnell shared a Mississippi television station’s report on the aftermath of Wednesday’s roundup of 680 low-paid Hispanic workers at seven chicken “processing plants” by ICE.   Democracy Now! also played a clip from the wrenching piece in their report on the president and Stephen Miller’s latest aktion against “illegals,” many employed by Koch Foods.  I hope outraged accounts of this video of the crying children of the workers dragged away get onto the front page of the New York Times and on Fox as well.  The largest ever ICE raid in a single state, history making.  Maybe WJTV’s short report will wake up the collective conscience of our citizens.

O’Donnell introduces the short clip, which he shares in its entirety, saying “Alex Love and his video crew found the victims of Donald Trump’s torture  in Forest, Mississippi yesterday.”     It is hard to watch the upset children who are seen in the short report, but the entire piece is only about a minute long.   The cruelty Trump is displaying toward these children and their parents is undeniably torture.   Watch this short piece , if you haven’t seen it, and tell me it’s not.

O’Donnell notes that the only people arrested in the coordinated ICE raids were undocumented Latino workers, not any of the employers who illegally hired them.   He opines that this is so because we now have Republican law enforcement, Trump law.   It’s hard to disagree with his assessment.   You can’t arrest the Koch Brothers, who own at least one of the seven raided facilities!    This is America, where liberty and freedom from government coercion rule!

O’Donnell’s entire nine minute report is important to watch (I know you readers rarely click on the links here, but click this one, I have it cued up for you).  He nails an essential element of the fundamental unfitness for power that animates our cruel 78,000 vote Electoral College president.  Trump is a man without any empathy for anyone.  He is a sadist who orders torture, and apparently enjoys the power to make others suffer.   The law is never an obstacle to Trump’s appetites.

Federal law and the Army Manual define torture as 

an act committed by a person under the color of law specifically intended to inflict physical or mental pain and suffering  

Torture, in spite of its rebranding and widespread use under Cheney and Dubya, is still against American law, against multiple treaties and international agreements America is a signatory to.  Torture is also an offense against common decency, even among modern day savages.   This president authorizes and encourages torture, along with numerous hateful practices that make it permissible in his world — racism, misogyny, xenophobia,  intolerance, contempt for law, scorn for due process (fairness), exemption from all law for those in his circle, the harshest application of the law for his many enemies.  His angry base apparently loves these kind of public displays of utter contempt by Trump. 

O’Donnell, in yesterday’s piece, is outraged by the in-your-face hypocrisy of the shallow, self-serving, empathy-lacking Donald John Trump, seeking a propaganda op for a campaign clip where he can show fake empathy to recent victims of gun violence as his administration is busily torturing children.   O’Donnell pulls no punches in laying out Trump’s utter lack of temperament (and experience) to make policies of any kind.

This latest incident of the public torture of children (only seen by Americans because “enemies of the people” aired it) was carried out at the very moment Trump was at an El Paso hospital for a photo op, pretending to care for people who’d been shot.   Although his party continues to block all reasonable restrictions on weapons of mass murder, Trump planned to pose with people wounded in two cities ravaged by recent mass killings.   Two cities mourning recent gun mass murders whose leaders asked Trump not to come.  All eight survivors of the El Paso massacre declined to be visited by the president for his staged moment of false empathy.   Prudently, Trump’s handler’s banned the press from the hospital, seeking to write the alternative narrative as they saw fit.

Those eight survivors of the mass killing fighting for their lives in an El Paso hospital may have been squeamish about being in the presence of the man who’d inspired the shooter to drive hours to kill Mexicans in the border city.  Some may have heard Trump attacking Democrats in Dayton earlier that day, on a similar mission of staged, fake compassion.   Perhaps they believed that the mass killing had been perpetrated by a violent coward fired up to kill by Trump’s nonstop hateful rhetoric.  The shooter’s manifesto  made reference to Trump’s constant memes: infestation, invasion, rapists, criminals, replacement.  It could have been written by Trump, with help from the slightly more literate Stephen Miller.  

Trump was at the El Paso hospital for photo/propaganda ops with victims of the shooting, to show how much he cares.   Not one of the eight consented to see him, so he stood in the hallway, in character,  nonchalantly lying for a cellphone video about the size of his enormous crowds of support in El Paso and how much of a loser former Congressman Beto O’Rourke was with his tiny crowd.  We can talk about this, what an obliviously lying braggart Trump is, instead of Trump’s deliberate infliction of torture on children.

The great David Bromberg paused late in his show at Town Hall a few years ago, during the falsely sold war in Iraq (Operation Shock and Awe), and started musing about what has happened to our great nation, a democracy that once gave hope to the downtrodden of the world.   A man a few rows behind us, in a military uniform, stood up and demanded that Bromberg cut the politics and just play his music.  Bromberg stopped, looked at the man, thought for a second and said “we torture people now?”   Then he did as the protester requested, he continued playing, his point made.

Obama famously admitted “we tortured some folks” (the only “accountability” moment for any American involved in the recent hideous, inhuman, illegal practices)  so now we can simply get back to torturing children and their parents in the spirit of Dick Cheney’s “Dark Side” and American Exceptionalism?

We torture people now?   Seriously?

A lot to keep up with … Koch edition

The “news” shit storm comes at us hard, fast, furious, disgusting and delivered  directly to our pockets, with little notification beeps to inform us of the latest.   The instinct to turn away from this hurricane of spattering fecal matter is hard to resist and we resist that instinct at our peril.  I commonly respond to “what have you been up to?” with “trying not to go insane.”   I keep looking as the disgusting squadrons of turds are propelled like an endless fleet of bombers dropping their awful payload.  

The only way to counter the massive disconnect we are confronted with in today’s politics by sound byte is to make larger connections.   Nothing happens in a vacuum, context is crucial.   The constant aggravating ruckus makes it difficult to see the bigger picture, by design.   Meanwhile, the abused earth itself veers toward the premature end of its life cycle as good people despair.

Here’s a quick piece on how all roads, in the radical right, lead to the Koch network.  Determined, extreme right wing “liberty lovers” the Kochs have played an outsized, skillful, ruthless, long game.   Until recently this long game was played secretly, though lately the octogenarian Charles and David Koch are taking their bows in public.  After more than forty years of savage, determined fighting they have largely won everything they dreamed of — moving American democracy close to a permanent one-party far right government that will protect their glorious liberty in perpetuity.   

How do the Koch’s have anything to gain from Trump’s clampdown on immigrants?

We learn that 680 immigrants were arrested in a massive roundup in Mississippi yesterday.  They were grabbed at work, working in  Koch Foods’ chicken “processing plants,”  working for the Koch Brothers.   How does this help the Kochs?   As Democracy Now! reported today:

The arrests targeted chicken processing plants operated by Koch Foods, one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. Last year, Koch Foods paid out $3.75 million to settle an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission class-action suit charging the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination, and retaliation against Latino workers at one of its Mississippi plants. Labor activists say it’s the latest raid to target factories where immigrant workers have organized unions, fought back against discrimination or challenged unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

source

“Labor activists say it’s the latest raid to target factories where immigrant workers have organized unions, fought back against discrimination or challenged unsafe and unsanitary conditions.”

Why did the Kochs hire so many illegals to work in their factories, slaughtering, dismembering and packaging chickens?   Who knows, probably a strictly practical business decision.   The Kochs hate unions, and discrimination laws, and health and safety rules for food production.   Recall that Libertarians like the Kochs don’t like regulations of any kind.   Such restrictive laws strangle freedom!

For more on the talented, well-born brothers, their background and the source of their family fortunes and beliefs, listen to the great Jane Mayer, interviewed shortly after her book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, came out.     

Check out the interview, it is fascinating, and horrifying.