Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tantrum

Trump after the healthcare bill went out with a popcorn fart:

“It will be a lot easier and I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you Republicans are not going to own it,” Trump said.

That’s not leadership, that’s a tantrum.  It’s also the mindset of someone who doesn’t care that upwards of 22 million people would have lost insurance if that turd of a bill had passed: “Not my fault!”

Even the worst president we’ve had so far — take your pick — would not have literally stood by while one of his chief campaign issues died aborning.  He’s letting Mitch McConnell and the rest of that crowd take the heat, not even lifting a finger to get it passed.  So I suppose you can say there’s an upside to Trump’s fundamental ignorance about what his job is.

But I can’t get past the level of cynicism and cruelty that must be embodied in someone who can so cavalierly toss off the idea of people struggling and dying for what should be a fundamental element of life in America — as essential as safe drinking water and police protection — and treat it as a campaign talking point.  And the vindictiveness of wanting something to fail just to get back at Barack Obama for being Barack Obama is a level of cruelty and callousness that belongs on HBO on Sunday nights.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Too Late, Joe

Not that I really care whether Joe Scarborough is a Republican or an independent or a whirling dust cloud, but his dudgeon over Don Jr. meeting up with the Russians is about a year too late and more than just a little too contrived.

After all his snuggling with Trump during the campaign and the chumming it up down here at Mar-a-Lago, even Captain Renault wouldn’t buy the “shocked, shocked!” routine.

Call yourself whatever you want, but you’re still a pompous, smug, and arrogant ass with the moral outrage level of a cheap pimp.

Monday, July 3, 2017

His Own Private Island

The time has long passed that anyone actually cared about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his self-inflicted political demise.  Even the governor himself doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks of him or his legacy as he wheezes into his last few months in office.

Case in point: he and the New Jersey legislature got into a tiff over the state budget, which had to be passed by last Friday or the state government would shut down.  Well, they didn’t, so over the weekend the state closed all the state parks and facilities on one of the biggest beach weekends of the summer, closing out millions of tourists and their dollars.  But Gov. Christie and his family spent the weekend at the beach because he can.

People hoping to visit Island Beach State Park this holiday weekend were not allowed in because of the state government shutdown Gov. Chris Christie ordered amid the state budget standoff in Trenton.

But there was one family there: Christie’s. They are using the summer beach house provided by the state for a weekend down the Shore.

[…]

Christie told reporters Saturday that the the beach house is separate from the park and that his family will not ask for any state services.

Asked if this is fair, Christie said Saturday: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there.”

It must be nice to live a life where you don’t care if the entire world thinks you’re an asshole.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Your Most Obsequious Servants

Trump held his first-ever full Cabinet meeting and it turned into a creepy North Korean-style love fest where they heaped praise on the Dear Leader.

At Monday’s Cabinet meeting — the first President Trump had held with everyone on board — White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke up to thank Trump “for the opportunity and blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.”

Priebus said he was offering words on behalf of everyone in the room. But one by one, pretty much everyone else seated around the table took the opportunity to lavish their leader with praise, too, as the media looked on.

“It’s an honor to be able to serve you,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I am privileged to be here,” said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. “Deeply honored.”

“What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership,” Tom Price, secretary of that department, added when it was his turn to speak. “I can’t thank you enough for the privileges you’ve given me and the leadership that you’ve shown.”

Whereupon Trump stood on the table and rainbows and unicorns shot out of his ass.

Not to be outdone, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), held his own lovefest.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Despicable

This is sick.

The Trump Organization took in healthy profits in recent years for hosting a charity golf event to benefit children’s cancer research, despite claiming the use of the course had been donated Forbes reported Tuesday.

Since 2007, President Trump’s son Eric Trump has held an annual charity golf event at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., to raise money for the Eric Trump Foundation on behalf of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Forbes reported. To date, Eric Trump has raised more than $11 million — including $2.9 million last year — for the hospital’s research, most of it through the golf tournaments, according to Forbes.

The costs for the tournaments averaged $50,000 during the first four years, which is about what other charities pay for events at Trump courses. But the expenses quickly began to rise, reaching $322,000 by 2015, Forbes reported, citing IRS filings.

If accurate, these figures are hard to reconcile with Eric Trump’s claims that the charity is able to use the course for free and that many other expenses are donated. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” the president’s son told Forbes.

“In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free — that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization,” Forbes reported. “Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.”

[…]

According to Forbes, the spike in costs for the tournament started in 2011 when Donald Trump insisted the charity begin paying the Trump Organization for the events.

Ian Gillule, who worked as a membership and marketing director at the Westchester course, told Forbes that Donald Trump was not happy with the expenses the charity wasn’t being billed for.

“Mr. Trump had a cow,” Forbes quoted Gillule as saying. “He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not — everybody gets billed.'”

There are fewer things in this world that I hate more than people who use other people’s pain for their own profit.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Deeply Disturbing

At a press conference yesterday, Trump was asked if it bothered him that a lot of voters with anti-Semitic views voted for him.  Trump responded thus:

Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had – 306 electoral college votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there.

Huh?  What is it with this guy and his obsession about winning the election?  It’s not like we didn’t know; it was in all the papers.  But it’s really creepy that when asked a question about whether or not he was concerned about attracting anti-Semites — in front of the prime minister of Israel — he justifies it by saying how proud he was of winning with such enthusiasm.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in his platform — whatever it is — or not.  But if you don’t find this kind of response and behavior deeply disturbing, then there’s something wrong with you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two Guys Named Steve

You’re already familiar with Steve Bannon, the white supremacist who horned his way onto the National Security Council the way a party-crasher jumps the line at the buffet.  Now meet Stephen Miller, another top adviser to Trump who lied his way through the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit and, among other things, claimed that “millions” of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election and sternly warned America that the president’s powers “will not be questioned.”

According to Univision, the guy has been a racist and a jerk since high school.

Stephen Miller and Jason Islas grew up in sunny southern California in the late 1990s, united by their passion for Star Trek. But Miller stopped talking to his friend as they prepared to jump from Lincoln Middle School to Santa Monica High School.

Miller only returned Islas’ phone calls at the end of the summer, to coldly explain the reason for his estrangement. “I can’t be your friend any more because you are Latino,” Islas remembers him saying.

Islas recalled that Miller mentioned other reasons, which he considered “childish.” But that was his first sign of the change Miller would undergo when he was 14 years old: a political radicalization that defines his life even now as a senior White House adviser with direct access to President Donald Trump.

Miller, now 31, and Stephen Bannon, former executive director of the populist Breitbart website, have been described as the main architects of Trump’s immigration policies.

Several reports identified Miller as the brains behind the controversial executive order that temporarily banned people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. With Bannon, he also wrote Trump’s aggressively nationalist inauguration speech and in July wrote a draft of Trump’s acceptance speech to the Republican presidential nominating convention.

[…]

Univision Noticias spoke with several classmates who said Miller had few friends, none of them non-white. They said he used to make fun of the children of Latino and Asian immigrants who did not speak English well.

Early on, Miller began to write opinion columns in conservative blogs, the local press and the high school’s own newspaper, The Samohi. He also contributed at times to the national radio show of Larry Elder, a conservative African American, and once invited him to speak at the school.

Displaying his hostility toward minorities, Miller complained to school administrators about announcements in Spanish and festivals that celebrated diversity.

In his third year at the school, the 16-year-old Miller wrote a letter to The Lookout, a local publication, about his negative impression of Hispanic students and the use of Spanish in the United States.

“When I entered Santa Monica High School in ninth grade, I noticed a number of students lacked basic English skills. There are usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school,” Miller wrote.

“Even so, pursuant to district policy, all announcements are written in both Spanish and English. By providing a crutch now, we are preventing Spanish speakers from standing on their own,” he added. “As politically correct as this may be, it demeans the immigrant population as incompetent, and makes a mockery of the American ideal of personal accomplishment.”

In that article, Miller also complained about his school’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the existence of a gay club and a visit by a Muslim leader.

It’s one thing to be an obnoxious asshole in high school; it’s part of growing up.  But to bring it to the West Wing?  Well, in this White House, it’s a feature, not a bug.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Godfather Part Four

Via the New York Daily News:

President-elect Donald Trump rang in the new year together with Joseph “Joey No Socks” Cinque — a convicted felon with ties to notorious Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, a recently released video has revealed.

Cinque can be seen in a video obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News, cheering loudly as a tuxedo-clad Trump runs through a number of campaign promises before the hundreds of guests attending the New Year’s Eve bash the President-elect threw at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday.

“The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” Trump can be heard saying as an exuberant Cinque stands next to him, pumping his fists into the air.

Cinque’s Sunday appearance with Trump might raise some eyebrows.

Beyond a 1989 felony conviction for possessing nearly $100,000 worth of stolen artwork, Cinque “used to be friends with John Gotti,” according to a New York Magazine profile from 1995.

Cinque was also “shot three times and left for dead” in a 1980 incident that authorities described as “a hit,” according to the profile.

Further, Saturday’s Mar-a-Lago party was far from the first time Cinque cheered on Trump.

An Associated Press report from this spring showed that the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, a company owned and operated by Cinque, has awarded more than a dozen of Trump’s golf courses, hotels, casinos and private clubs with so-called “Star Diamond” awards “of true excellence in hospitality.”

The same report also found that about half of the roughly 30 people listed as “trustees” to the company are Trump friends or business associates.

Trump, meanwhile, was listed on the company’s website as its “ambassador extraordinaire,” and he even appeared in a 2009 tribute video to Cinque in which he said, “There’s nobody like him. He’s a special guy.”

But when asked by reporters about Cinque in May, Trump denied knowing anything about him or his criminal past.

“If a guy’s going to give you an award, you take it,” the President-elect said at the time. “You don’t tend to look up his whole life story.”

“Michael, we’re bigger than U.S. Steel.”

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Saturday, October 8, 2016

No Remorse, No Apology

Mike Pence said he cannot defend Mr. Trump’s comments, but “I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.”

Except he did not express remorse and he did not apologize. The only regret he has is that he was caught, and he said “I apologize if I offended anyone.” No, one does not put conditions on an apology. Neither does one blame their behavior on someone else or rationalize it by citing someone else’s behavior. That doesn’t work when you are 10, and it sure doesn’t work when you’re 70, regardless of whether or not you are running for president. Bill Clinton’s behavior twenty years ago is not an excuse for being a pig ten years ago, and if Mr. Trump wants to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her husband’s behavior, then should we not hold Melania Trump accountable for her husband’s? No.

Mr. Pence doesn’t deserve any wiggle-room. He knew what he was getting into when he signed up for this gig, and if he didn’t, then he’s willfully ignorant of Mr. Trump’s long history of misogyny, he’s too dumb to play dead in a cowboy movie, or he’s willing to sacrifice his hard-core Christian morals for political gain. That’s opportunism, not leadership.

Mr. Trump has stated he “will never withdraw.” Leaving that Freudian softball aside, what does that tell us about the character of a person who asks us to place the fate of this country and the world in his hands? At this point, I don’t think he should be granted the power to run a college fraternity; they have rules now about that kind of behavior. If you’re too boorish to run a frat, there’s always playing piano in a brothel.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

“The Business We’ve Chosen”

It’s hard to imagine someone being in the real estate and casino business and not crossing paths or making connections with organized crime.  It’s part of the business.  So I suppose that’s why it’s no surprise that David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter at Politico, would be able to track down Donald Trump’s connections with people who are, to quote Hyman Roth, in the business we’ve chosen.

In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.

But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.

[…]

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.

It would be really naive to think that we’ve never had a president with at least acquaintances with organized crime: think JFK and his Las Vegas Rat Pack buddies as well as his father’s business dealings going back to the Prohibition era.  But Mr. Trump’s deal-making and business past is on a whole other level.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

Short Takes

British PM Cameron admits to being involved in offshore banking.

The man in the hat did something terrible, according to Brussels police.

Mexico shuffles diplomats in retaliation for Trump’s bloviation.

Michigan faces a ton of lawsuits over the Flint water crisis.

At least four people say they were abused by former Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Short Takes

President Obama welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to the White House.

Michigan Gov. Snyder released more e-mails related to Flint’s water crisis.

Trump supporter charged with assaulting protestor.  (Yes, he was wearing a brown shirt.)

Senate votes 94-1 to pass bill to combat drug abuse.

Brazil seeks to arrest ex-president for graft.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Down Ballot

If the Republicans are worried that Donald Trump may make things awkward for their candidates out in the state and local elections, there’s at least one local party official who is showing that Mr. Trump’s magic can be spread down ballot.

The newly elected chair of the Republican Party in the county that includes the Texas Capitol spent most of election night tweeting about former Gov. Rick Perry’s sexual orientation and former President Bill Clinton’s penis, and insisting that members of the Bush family should be in jail.

He also found time to call Hillary Clinton an “angry bull dyke” and accuse his county vice chair of betraying the values of the Republican Party.

“The people have spoken,” Robert Morrow, who won the helm of the Travis County GOP with 54 percent of the vote, told The Texas Tribune. “My friends and neighbors and political supporters — they wanted Robert Morrow.”

Morrow’s election as Republican chair of the fifth-largest county in Texas left several members of the Travis County GOP, including vice chair Matt Mackowiak, apoplectic. Mackowiak, a Republican strategist, immediately announced over social media that he would do everything in his power to remove Morrow from office.

“We will explore every single option that exists, whether it be persuading him to resign, trying to force him to resign, constraining his power, removing his ability to spend money or resisting any attempt for him to access data or our social media account,” Mackowiak told the Tribune. “I’m treating this as a coup and as a hostile takeover.”

“Tell them they can go fuck themselves,” Morrow told the Tribune.

Yeah, I think we can imagine what his response would be to Hillary Clinton’s call for love and kindness.

But hey, he tells it like it is, he says what he thinks, and he doesn’t suck up to the establishment to curry favor from the politicians.  Isn’t that the way of the new GOP?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

Well, That Was Awkward

Via Raw Story:

While visiting lawmakers’ offices in Olympia with representatives from Planned Parenthood during Teen Lobbying Days, the group of Eastern Washington teens were stunned when State Rep. Mary Dye (R-Pomeroy) quizzed them over whether they had ever had sex.

Rachel Todd, a Planned Parenthood worker accompanying the kids, said that Dye asked them if they were virgins and indicated that one of them might not be.

“After she made the statement about virginity, all of my teens looked at me,” said Todd. “And I said, ‘You don’t have to answer that. You don’t have to answer that.’”

Failing to get a response, Dye shared some of her own views on marriage and sex.

Oh, I’m sure the teens were all just dying to hear about that.

One student at the meeting, Alex Rubino, called her conduct “insane.”

“It seemed kind of insane for her to say that, especially on the record, to constituents,” said Rubino, who noted that her lecture to the students came “unprompted.”

Yeah, that just about sums it up.

Short Takes

Heavy winter storm bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic.

British court says Vladimir Putin was behind the assassination of a Russian dissident.

E.P.A. official quits as the agency slams response to the water crisis in Flint.

Russia and U.S. jockey for position in Syria.

Drop in oil prices don’t help the U.S. economy this time.