Friday, June 15, 2018

You’ve Got Karma

One of the little tidbits to come out of the FBI Inspector General’s report on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to conduct official business was this:

James Comey used a personal Gmail account for official government business while FBI director, after leading the investigation into the Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the Justice Department’s inspector general said Thursday.

Hillary Clinton had a three-word response:

I would have gone with “lock him up.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It Takes A While

I’ve been so busy with work and getting ready for next week’s trip that I’ve been a little behind in catching up on the news; I’ve barely had a chance to do more than just glance at it.  So I’m grateful to Booman for encapsulating what’s been going on.

To put it bluntly, the president is completely screwed six ways to Sunday, and all that’s left is to wait for this to play out and get our goblets ready to drink the tears. Anyone who knows anything about Michael Cohen understands this already, and the rest of the people will eventually catch up.

[…]

Republicans are beginning to have their fantasies hit up against a wall of reality on a more frequent basis now. Their efforts to repeal Obamacare met up with reality. There rhetoric about excluding whole classes of immigrants met up with reality. Now that people have seen their tax bill and it isn’t popular, their false hopes for pulling out of their political tailspin has met with reality, and this is confirmed regularly in local, state, and federal elections where they’re getting stomped in Trump country.

So it looks like the chickens are coming home to roost, the shit is about to hit the fan, and karma is running over the dogma.

Maybe it’s the advantage of having watched this for so long — I started really paying attention to politics and the outcomes fifty years ago — that I’ve learned to look at the long game and not get caught up in the little glitches, annoyances, and disappointments.  Things have a way of balancing out.  Sometimes it takes quite a while, but it does.

Fifty years ago Bobby Kennedy was running for president.  He was a late entry in the 1968 primaries after LBJ announced in March that he wasn’t running for reelection, and it looked like he had a real chance at winning both the nomination and the election.  Then he walked through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

A lot of people lost hope and optimism after the events of 1968.  Nixon, Wallace, the “Southern Strategy,” hippies vs. hard-hats; it was all about calculation and cynicism.  And then Watergate happened and we thought we’d fixed it only to find we hadn’t, and then the Moral Majority and weaponized religion and heavenly-inspired hatred came along.  But we started to get some of the good back, and those of us who forty years before saw hope in Bobby Kennedy saw it again in Barack Obama, who would strike that chord for the old and the new.

Of course there would be a visceral reaction on the part of some people to the election of the first African-American president.  They saw equality for all as oppression of the privileged, and worse, they learned that just because you’re rich, white, and Christian, the world does not owe you anything more than the same respect that everyone else is entitled to.  So we got Trump.  But fraud and fakery masquerading as class and competence cannot last forever.  There will be a reckoning.  It may take a while, but it is coming.  Bobby Kennedy may have died in 1968, but his legacy and his goals survived in another form and did win.

My favorite movie was on TCM last night: “Casablanca.”  One of the takeaways of many in that story is that the problems of three little people don’t amount to hill of beans in this crazy world.  But human nature is such that good does win in the end because it is our natural state; doing evil and trickery requires too much energy to outlast that which is good.  As John Patrick once noted, man is by nature optimistic; otherwise we’d eat our young.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Reaching Their Limits

Ted Olson, the conservative lawyer who helped lead the fight for same-sex marriage in America, was asked to join the Trump legal team.  He turned them down.

Meanwhile, Ralph Peters, an analyst for Fox News, has quit the network, saying he can’t work for a “propaganda machine” that, in his words, “is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.”  (Not to be picky, but that has been Fox’s business model since they went on the air.  BTYFO.)

So apparently there are some people on the right who do have their limits.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Winning Where It Really Matters

It is very good news that Ralph Northam won the Virginia governor’s race, showing that “Trumpism without Trump” — championing his issues without embracing the man — doesn’t sell.  But even more important in the long run is that the Democrats made huge gains in the Virginia House of Delegates, their version of the state legislature.

Unofficial returns showed Democrats unseating at least 11 Republicans and flipping three seats that had been occupied by GOP incumbents who didn’t seek reelection. Four other races were so close that they qualify for a recount, and results will determine control of the chamber. The results marked the most sweeping shift in control of the legislature since the Watergate era.

Republicans, who have controlled the chamber since 2000, went into Tuesday holding 66 of 100 seats.

Several winners made history in a year in which a record number of women ran and Democrats fielded the most candidates in recent memory.

One Democrat became Virginia’s first openly transgender person to win elective office, unseating an opponent of LGBT rights. The election signaled a major shift in the gender of a body long dominated by men: Of the 14 seats Democrats flipped, all were held by men and 10 were won by women. And two of those women, both from Prince William County, became the first Latinas elected to the General Assembly.

“This is an unbelievable night,” said House Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) in an interview an hour after polls closed. “There were districts we didn’t think we had much of a shot in.”

The final results may not be known for a while since a number of the races are still too close to call and will need recounts, but even if the Republicans hang on, this is a major shift at the state level.

That is where it really matters.  State legislatures are where voting district lines are drawn and where gerrymandering takes place, creating GOP strongholds when there are a majority of Democrats in the region.  Medicare expansion, school funding, and infrastructure spending is determined by the state, doling out federal dollars as they see fit.  Gun laws, restrictions on reproductive rights, and even rules on who can pee in certain places all come out of the state capitol.  (It’s especially glorious that the Republican who proposed Virginia’s anti-transgender bathroom bill was defeated by Danica Roem, the state’s — and the nation’s — first openly transgender candidate.  Karma, ya done good.)

So while it is important who wins the presidency and who’s running the House and Senate in Washington, it’s at the state and local elections where the real work — and influence — gets done.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

They Deserve Each Other

Not only is Trump giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) a tough time at home, they just don’t like each other.

Via the New York Times:

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

The rupture between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell comes at a highly perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines when they return to Washington next month. Congress must approve new spending measures and raise the statutory limit on government borrowing within weeks of reconvening, and Republicans are hoping to push through an elaborate rewrite of the federal tax code. There is scant room for legislative error on any front.

[…]

In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, and berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.

During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly.

This is karma with cheese.  McConnell spent the previous eight years plotting how to get rid of Barack Obama and put a Republican in the White House so he could have smooth sailing to screw over the country and bask in the sunshine like a turtle on a log.  So along comes Trump and his entourage of gators.  At least President Obama was polite.

As for Trump, he’s learning what every president finds out much to their chagrin: you can’t always get your way even when your party is in charge.

Would you like some popcorn to go along with that heaping helping of schadenfreude?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

But His E-mails

Call it Shakespearean, call it Sophoclean, or just plain karmic, but I find it supremely ironic that a presidency that got elected on the basis of raising a huge hue and cry over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails is on the verge of collapse because of their own e-mail trail.

As for the “homina-homina” explanations by the various Trump defenders — “Well, nothing came of the meeting, the Russian lawyer didn’t really have anything” — the fact that Trump Jr. took the meeting with the full knowledge of what was promised is problematic enough.  If you aim a gun at someone with the intention of shooting them but the gun jams or you miss, it’s still attempted murder, or at the very least assault.

The inner circle at the White House is sounding like they know their time there is being measured in billable hours and that an administration that came to town planning to “shake things up” and “make history” is on the verge of collapse.  Even Vice President Pence is putting distance between himself and the shambles in the West Wing and probably wondering to himself if Jerry Ford left behind any notes.

The last thing these people care about now is how to run the government and do what they were ostensibly elected to do.  Healthcare?  Immigration?  Education?  Infrastructure?  The war(s)?  Those are mere distractions; they’re bringing out the long knives and going after each other now, and the peoples’ business — as if they ever really cared about it in the first place except for what they could get for themselves — will languish.  At some point the whole thing will collapse.

When it does, maybe — just maybe — enough people will realize that despite all the warnings, all the jokes, all of the debates, and all of the assaults on the lives of the innocent, we are the ones who brought this all on ourselves.  He never should have been given the chance in the first place, and we have only ourselves to blame.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Today In Karma

Via Politico:

Trump has been aggressively working the phones since returning this weekend from his foreign trip, talking to friends and outside lawyers as he obsesses over the deepening investigations into his aides and Russia.

Two White House officials said Trump and some aides including Steve Bannon are becoming increasingly convinced that they are victims of a conspiracy against Trump’s presidency, as evidenced by the number of leaks flowing out of government — that the crusade by the so-called “deep state” is a legitimate threat, not just fodder for right wing defenders.

So the folks who made their bones and rose to power by peddling conspiracy theories to the masses and still think birtherism and Pizzagate is a real thing are now claiming to be victims of conspiracy theories…?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

It Came From Outer Space

Oh, Karma, thou art a mirthful imp.

The Trump administration this week launched a new hotline called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) for people to learn more information about crimes that have been committed by undocumented immigrants.

However, the hotline was quickly flooded by pranksters who called up to report their close encounters with a different kind of “illegal alien” — namely, space aliens who fly around in saucer-shaped ships.

Fusion on Thursday asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a response to the people who called them to talk about space aliens, and an agency spokesperson angrily lashed out by calling everyone who participated in the prank “despicable.”

“I hope you won’t dignify this group with the attention they are seeking,” the spokesperson told Fusion. “But if you choose to do so… this group’s cheap publicity stunt is beyond the pale of legitimate public discourse. Their actions seek to obstruct and do harm to crime victims; that’s objectively despicable regardless of one’s views on immigration policy.”

ICE says that the purpose of the hotline is to serve “the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens.” Among other things, the hotline offers “additional criminal or immigration history… about an alien” that can be delivered “to victims or their families.”

I’m not saying you should call (1-855-48-VOICE), but if you see something, say something.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Report From The Heartland

One of the events at the Inge Festival is a big gala dinner where people from the town of Independence and the playwrights and actors and directors and guest artists get together for a big party in the Memorial Auditorium ballroom.  It’s a really nice time with music and lots of food and drink, and it’s a great time to meet the people who live in this part of the country.

I go there with the intent of enjoying my annual retreat to my theatre roots and not talk about politics with the local people because I know from twenty-five years of going there that they are by and large straight white conservative folks and it’s just plain rude to come into someone’s home and talk trash about their beliefs no matter if you find them not to your liking.  So I try to avoid topics that might turn their warm smiles into fixed expressions of “bless your heart.”

I sat at a table with some women from Independence who were both in public education and raising a family — a balancing act that they seemed to accept as part of their lives.  We skirted politics on a hard-core level, but I got the distinct impression that these women, all of whom were registered Republicans (a fact volunteered by them), they were sorely disappointed with their state’s governor and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.  (“She hasn’t got the sense God gave a lemon,” according to the woman seated next to me.)  As the evening progressed, I heard more about how the new administration was touching their lives, and they were not happy.  Being the guest, I smiled politely and enjoyed my salmon.

This was not an outlier.  Later that evening I sat in the lobby of the Apple Tree Inn with long-time friends from Independence who have been reliably Republican since childhood, and while they were not singing the praises of the Democrats, they were all shaking their heads at the path we are now on.  At one point I asked them if they were alone in their thoughts, and they said no.  The problem, one said, was that they know it’s not going to change any time soon.  Kansas hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1964.

It would be really easy to enjoy the schadenfreude and there’s plenty to go around in the abstract, but when you see it happening to people you like in a place you know, it’s not as much fun.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Return To Sender

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took a copy of the letter then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in February 2009 demanding that President Obama’s cabinet appointees complete the background checks before their confirmation hearings, applied a Sharpie, and sent it back to McConnell yesterday.

schumer-letter-01-10-17Mr. McConnell’s office said that this time everything was entirely different.  For one thing, Trump is a Republican and therefore the rules don’t apply to him.

I have no doubt that the Senate will whoop through Trump’s appointees without a scratch and we’re going to have incompetents and those with sketchy ties to the industries they’re supposed to be overseeing ensconced.  But this little call-out by Mr. Schumer indicates that someone is not willing to let them get in without being noticed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Comedic Karma

The spirit of Gene Wilder was watching over the Miami-Dade County Public School administration building today. The fire alarm went off around 12:45, meaning the entire building had to evacuate out to the street. That’s nine floors on one side and seven on the other. As we trooped across the street, someone said, “Well, it could be worse.”  I immediately thought of the grave-digging scene in “Young Frankenstein.”

Well, guess what…

We made it back before we got too wet. Thank you, Gene.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Karma vs. Schadenfreude

All this talk about the GOP leadership having some kind of “intervention” with Donald Trump to get his presidential campaign back on the rails led Greg Sargent to put up this headline:

Republicans nominate dangerously insane person to lead America, then panic when he proves he’s dangerously insane.

Overindulging in schadenfreude can provoke bad karma, so it’s never a good idea to chortle too much about the misfortune of others, but what the hell.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lysistrata In North Carolina

In case you weren’t paying attention during the unit on Greek theatre in high school, “Lysistrata” is a comedy by Aristophanes in which the women of Athens declare their intention to withhold sex from the men until they stop the Pelopennisian War.  Peace breaks out immediately.

That seems to be at least part of the thinking behind this move.

There’s a new kink in North Carolina’s LGBT controversy: A popular porn website is banning all computers from “The Tar Heel State.”

XHamster.com has been refusing to serve anyone from North Carolina since 12:30 p.m. EDT, Monday.

Instead, users with a North Carolina IP address are just seeing a black screen on their computer — no porn.

The extreme measures will stay in place until North Carolina repeals House Bill 2, a law passed on March 23 that effectively prevents cities and counties in the state from passing rules that protect LGBT rights.

XHamster.com spokesman, Mike Kulich, said the website believes in equality for everyone.

“We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which XHamster.com does not tolerate,” he said in an official statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Judging by the stats of what you North Carolinians watch, we feel this punishment is a severe one. We will not standby and pump revenue into a system that promotes this type of garbage. We respect all sexualities and embrace them.”

Kulich told HuffPost that the company’s statistics show that North Carolinians are more open-minded — at least about their porn — than laws like HB2 might suggest.

“Back in March, we had 400,000 hits for the term ‘Transsexual’ from North Carolina alone,” he said. “People from that state searched ‘Gay’ 319,907 times,” he added.

Kulich said the website plans to replace the black screen currently seen by North Carolina porn buffs with a petition demanding the repeal of the law.

“Hopefully, it will get as many signatures as the ‘transsexual’ searches,” he said.

Bruce Springsteen cancelling a concert is one thing, but cutting off access to porn?  That’s just cruel.

Heh.