Monday, July 9, 2018

What Goes Around

Not that I’m in favor of public humiliation of politicians in restaurant parking lots, I would remind those who are aghast at the rudeness and think it demeans the decorum of discourse of two things:

1. The people who are doing it probably took their cue from the raucous protesters at town halls in 2010 against Obamacare and Obama in general, and it worked for them quite well.

2. Karma is a heartless bitch.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Karma Of The Day

Via NBC:

JOHANNESBURG — At least two rhino poachers were eaten by lions on a South African game reserve, the owner of the lodge said on Thursday.

A ranger taking guests at the Sibuya Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape on a safari drive on Tuesday afternoon discovered human remains close to a pride of lions.

“We suspect two were killed, possibly three,” Sibuya owner Nick Fox said.

An ax and three pairs of shoes and gloves were found later when police and an anti-poaching unit arrived. The lions had been heard making a commotion in the early hours of Monday.

Hush, my darling, don’t fear my darling; the lion sleeps tonight…

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Food For Thought

Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker has some thoughts on civility and who we want sitting around our table.

Nothing is more fundamental to human relations than deciding who has a place at the table—and nothing is more essential to our idea of humanism than expanding that table, symbolically and actually, adding extra chairs and places and settings as we can. Jesus—at least as he is reported, or invented, by the author of the Gospel of Mark—was the Kropotkin of commensality, blowing up the long history of Jewish food rules by feasting with publicans and tax collectors and prostitutes and sinners of all kinds. It was nearly the whole point of his ministry. The Homeric Greeks, as any reader of the Odyssey will recall, obsessed about sharing food and offering places at the feast: to fail to offer food to the well-worn traveller is an insult to the gods (one of whom may, after all, have disguised herself as the needy wanderer). The modern restaurant—invented in Paris, after the Revolution—is a little temple of commensality: all you need, as shown in so many early Chaplin shorts, is five cents to enter and then to share.

All of this, of course, leads us to the less spectacular but still potent instance of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, who, over the weekend, was asked to leave a farm-to-table restaurant in Virginia called the Red Hen. It was not some fiery mob that drove her out, by the way, like protesters did to Kirstjen Nielsen at a D.C. Mexican restaurant last week; Sanders was asked to leave by the restaurant’s owner. “I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” the Red Hen’s Stephanie Wilkinson said afterward. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. [But] this feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

This double act (for Sanders left when she was asked to) has caused a small but very significant ruckus: many have sided with the Red Hen on the grounds that, on this week in particular, a week which featured the Trumpites’ cruellest organized exclusion of others to date, to not exclude one of the organizers, or at least the mouthpiece, of that exclusion would amount to a moral failure. On the other side is an argument, not in every case touched by obvious hypocrisy, that the Red Henites, by denying their own rules of pluralism to Sanders and her party, are engaged in an act of incivility just as wrong as the kinds the Trumpites began, albeit on a smaller scale. Should we not let Sanders and the rest of the Trumpite commissariat eat in peace? Are we not in turn offended when Christian bakers refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings? And when the wheel turns—if it is, God or Washington willing, allowed to keep turning—would the same Red Henites now not look with disgust at a pro-Trump tavernkeeper who excludes, on similar partisan grounds, the gay spokesperson for our first female President or the female spokesperson for our first gay President?

[…]

On the other hand, the Trump Administration is not a normal Presidential Administration. This is the essential and easily fudged fact of our historical moment. The Trump Administration is—in ways that are specific to incipient tyrannies—all about an assault on civility. To the degree that Trump has any ideology at all, it’s a hatred of civility—a belief that the normal decencies painfully evolved over centuries are signs of weakness which occlude the natural order of domination and submission. It’s why Trump admires dictators. Theirs are his values; that’s his feast. And, to end the normal discourse of democracy, the Trump Administration must make lies respectable—lying not tactically but all the time about everything, in a way that does not just degrade but destroys exactly the common table of democratic debate.

That’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s chosen role in life—to further those lies, treat lies as truth, and make lies acceptable. This is not just a question of protesting a particular policy; in the end there are no policies, only the infantile impulses of a man veering from one urge to another. The great threat to American democracy isn’t “policy” but the pretense of normalcy. That’s the danger, for with the lies come the appeasement of tyranny, the admiration of tyranny, and, as now seems increasingly likely, the secret alliance with tyranny. That’s what makes the Trump Administration intolerable, and, inasmuch as it is intolerable, public shaming and shunning of those who take part in it seems just. Never before in American politics has there been so plausible a reason for exclusion from the common meal as the act of working for Donald Trump.

And what about civility? Well, fundamental to, and governing the practice of, civility is the principle of reciprocity: your place at my table implies my place at yours. Conservatives and liberals, right-wingers and left-wingers, Jews and Muslims and Christians and Socialists and round- and flat-Earthers—all should have a place at any table and be welcome to sit where they like. On the other hand, someone who has decided to make it her public role to extend, with a blizzard of falsehoods, the words of a pathological liar, and to support, with pretended piety, the acts of a public person of unparallelled personal cruelty—well, that person has asked us in advance to exclude her from our common meal. You cannot spit in the plates and then demand your dinner. The best way to receive civility at night is to not assault it all day long. It’s the simple wisdom of the table.

There are a lot of other situations in life where we expect civility among the anonymous: in a crowd at a movie theatre, shopping in a supermarket, even in traffic and suppressing road rage.  I deal with it every day riding public transportation.  We expect a certain level of decorum and privacy when we take our place in the crowd and even form acquaintanceships with people whom we know only from riding the same train at the same time every morning.  Those whose behavior and attitudes are offensive are shunned and in extreme cases asked to leave.

This is what happened to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  She might not have known the people she chose to dine with at that place in Virginia, but she had already set the table, so to speak, for the people whom she expected to accommodate her.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Reading

We Can See Clearly Now — Charles P. Pierce on the waking up of America to what it did to itself.

Optimism may be illusory, but it’s all we have at this point, so, when it stirs, anywhere, it’s worthy of nurture and support. Over the past week, ever since the administration*’s crimes against humanity along the southern border were revealed, there became an edge to the political opposition that has not been there through all the marches and the rhetoric that have attended this government since the president* was inaugurated. Up until now, all of the #Resistance has contained a barely acknowledged undercurrent of futility. It was not that the opposition was empty. It was that it generally broke like a wave on a seawall when it collided with the immutable fact that the president*’s party controlled every lever of political power at the federal level, as well as a great number of them out in the states, too.

The week just passed has changed the calculations. The images from the border, and the White House’s fatheaded trolling of the situation, seems to have shaken up everyone in Washington to the point at which alliances are more fluid than they have been since January of 2017. There seems little doubt that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are riven with ideological chaos, struck numb by the basic conundrum of modern conservatism: When your whole political identity is defined by the proposition that government is not the solution, but, rather, the problem, you don’t know how to operate it when fortune and gerrymandering hand you the wheel.

You can fake it pretty convincingly, doing the bidding of your donor class and knuckling the powerless and making a nice living for yourself, as long as events pursue a fairly predictable course for which there are familiar precedents in your experience. You can even see the setbacks coming from around the corner. Even your defeats are predictable and, thus, explainable—or, at least, spinnable. Can’t repeal Obamacare? RINOs like John McCain!

The problem arises when something unpredictable happens, and the government you control has to be fast on its feet, and you don’t know how that really works. A hurricane and a flood drowns New Orleans, and the luxury horse-show official you put in charge of the country’s emergency management system—because who cares, right?—finds that he’s really not up to the job. Or, suddenly, you find that, no matter how hot the emotions run at your rallies or how brightly your favorite TV network polishes your apple, or how hard you pitch the snake oil that got you elected, the country will not stand for being complicit in the kidnapping and caging of children. The pictures begin to pile up. The mirror in which the country prefers to see itself cracks into a million sharp shards that begin to cut your political life away.

You can feel the difference in the air. The members of the governing party, uneasy about the prospects for this year’s midterms anyway, are fairly trembling at the moment, seeing in their mind’s eyes a hundred 30-second spots of weeping toddlers behind chain-link walls. The president* has gone completely incoherent, standing firm until he doesn’t, looking for help in the Congress that he’ll never get, and reversing himself so swiftly on his one signature issue that he’s probably screwed himself up to the ankles in the floor of the Oval Office. By Friday afternoon, he was back on the electric Twitter machine, yapping about the Democrats and “their phony stories of sadness and grief.” And a hundred Republican candidates dive back behind the couch.

The country’s head is clearing. The country’s vision is coming back into focus and it can see for the first time the length and breadth of the damage it has done to itself. The country is hearing the voices that the cacophony of fear and anger had drowned out for almost three years. The spell, such as it was, and in most places, may be wearing off at last. The hallucinatory effect of a reality-show presidency* is dispersing like a foul, smoky mist over a muddy battlefield.

The migrant crisis is going to go down through history as one of the most destructive series of own-goals in the history of American politics. The establishment of the “zero-tolerance” policy made the child-nabbing inevitable. The president*’s own rhetoric—indeed, the raison d’etre of his entire campaign—trapped him into at first defending the indefensible and then abandoning what was perhaps the only consistent policy idea he ever had—outside of enriching himself and his family, that is. Then the cameras began to roll, and the nation’s gorge began to rise, and the president* couldn’t stand the pressure that was mounting around him. Of course, because he knows nothing about anything, including how to actually be president*, he bungled even his own abject surrender. He’s spent the days since signing his executive order railing against what he felt compelled to do and arguing against himself and losing anyway.

That’s the optimism, and it may, in fact, be illusory, but the power balance in our politics seemed to shift this week. Terrible policies are still coming from the various agencies. Scott Pruitt remains a grifter of nearly inhuman proportions, and a vandal besides. Neil Gorsuch continues to prove himself to be the reliable conservative hack for whom the Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat. But the crisis at the border is a leg-hold trap for all of them. There’s no way for them to keep faith with themselves and get out from under the humanitarian disaster they concocted. One day, maybe, brave Guatemalan mothers and their very brave children may be said to have saved the American Republic from slow-motion and giddy suicide. Some even may be our fellow citizens by then, and we should remember to thank them.

Vamos Á Comer — Helen Rosner in The New Yorker on the absurdity of Kristjen Nielsen dining in a Mexican restaurant.

In September of 2016, in the run-up to the Presidential election, Marco Gutierrez, a founder of the online activist group Latinos for Trump, appeared on MSNBC to discuss what he saw as a looming immigration threat at America’s southern border. “My culture is a very dominant culture,” Gutierrez, who was born in Mexico, said. “And it’s imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.” Gutierrez meant this as a warning, a dire vision of what the future would look like were Donald Trump to fail in his Presidential bid. But Hillary Clinton’s supporters quickly reclaimed the idea as a welcome, and appetizing, possibility. At a campaign stop, Clinton said, “I personally think a taco truck on every corner sounds absolutely delicious.”

Last year, C.H.D. Expert, a hospitality-industry analysis firm, identified Mexican restaurants as the second most popular kind of dining establishment in the nation, and estimated that they make up about nine per cent of the half million or so restaurants in the United States—more than the total number of pizzerias. Countless additional restaurants bear signs of Mexico’s culinary influence: you can find fajitas at Chili’s, guacamole and chips at the Cheesecake Factory, churros at Disney World, quesadillas repurposed into burger buns at Applebee’s, margaritas at LongHorn Steakhouse, Baja-style fish tacos at hipster brunch spots, and nachos at every sports arena in America. Even the ubiquitous Caesar salad is Mexican—it was invented at a restaurant in Tijuana. In many respects, you might say, Mexican food is American food.

So it may have been pure statistical inevitability that caused Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security, to eat at a Mexican restaurant this week, in the midst of the nightmarish crisis at the border caused by the Trump Administration’s family-separation policy. On Wednesday evening, Nielsen arrived at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., that promises “classic Mexican cuisine with a modern touch.” It seemed almost unbelievable, on the day we heard a wrenching audio recording of migrant children crying out for their parents, that Nielsen, the chief enforcer of the Administration’s immigration policy, could be out in the world having dinner in a neighborhood restaurant like a normal person, let alone enjoying food from the very region the policy targets. As Nielsen and a dining companion sat in the restaurant for what a D.H.S. spokesperson later described as a “work dinner,” she was recognized by a patron at a nearby table, who covertly snapped a photograph, and sent it to friends in the hopes of inspiring a protest.

In short order, a cadre of demonstrators from the D.C. branch of the Democratic Socialists of America filed into the restaurant and stood between the tables adjacent to Nielsen’s. “How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting and imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum?” one shouted, before leading the crowd in a rumbling chant of “Shame! Shame!” “In a Mexican restaurant, of all places,” another cried. “The fucking gall!” In the blurry darkness of a video from inside the restaurant, posted to Facebook Live, Nielsen and her dining companion appear to be sharing an order of guacamole. The protest went on for more than twenty minutes, while Nielsen—shielded by two Secret Service agents—kept her head ducked low.

Some observers suggested that Nielsen’s decision to dine at a Mexican restaurant seemed like an intentional provocation, a trollish act consistent with the ethos of spite and petulance that guides much of what happens inside the Trump Administration. (See, too: Melania Trump’s Zara jacket, or Ivanka Trump’s smiling Instagram of her son.) This suspicion was compounded when, the day after Nielsen’s meal, it was revealed that Stephen Miller—the senior White House adviser responsible for the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy—had dined on Sunday night at Espita Mezcaleria, a buzzy Mexican spot in Washington’s hip Shaw neighborhood that, according to The Washingtonian, serves the best chips and salsa in town. (The New York Post reported that a customer at the restaurant, spotting Miller, cried out, “Whoever thought we’d be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging [for] money for new cages?”) In the midst of the Presidential campaign, which he kicked off by asserting that Mexican immigrants are rapists, Donald Trump celebrated Cinco de Mayo by tweeting a photo that showed him grinning and giving the thumbs-up in front of a tortilla bowl, with the caption “I love Hispanics!” Perhaps Miller, known for his smug embrace of xenophobic politics, was making a similarly sneering gesture.

MXDC is a slick, anodyne restaurant, one of a half-dozen or so East Coast establishments affiliated with the celebrity chef Todd English, who rose to fame in the nineties making Italian food in Boston. Neither English nor the restaurant’s owner, nor the bulk of its clientele, is Latino, but—as in so many restaurants in America—most of the staff is. Indeed, Nielsen and Miller would have been hard-pressed to find any restaurant, serving any kind of food, that didn’t rely on the labor of the same individuals their immigration policies seek to expel at all costs. Latino workers are the backbone of the restaurant world, at bistros, pizzerias, sushi counters, and rotisseries across the country—many of them are Central American, like the majority of the migrant families being torn apart in recent weeks. (And, it’s worth noting, many of those workers are undocumented: the hospitality sector is one of the largest employers of undocumented labor in the country.)

To many people—the protesters and hecklers, the demonstrators gathered in front of ICE and D.H.S. offices across the country during the past week, the horrified parents watching the news and holding their children close—it seems impossible that Nielsen and Miller could miss the through line that connects this Administration’s cruel, dehumanizing policies toward Latino migrants and the real lives of Latino people who already live and work in this country. It seems as if it would require high-wire moral acrobatics, Jedi-level compartmentalization, to enjoy the fruits of Latin American culture, and labor, at this time. But for many other Americans, including those leading our government, there is a simple, reflexive disconnect between cultural product and cultural producer, between policy and people. “Everyone hates Mexicans, but everyone at the same time loves Mexican food,” the Mexican-American writer Gustavo Arellano told the Huffington Post, in 2016. “When they’re eating it, they’re able to disassociate it from the people who made it, or who picked it or slaughtered those cows.” Shortly after Marco Gutierrez issued his taco-truck warning, a Bay Area online magazine asked him what sort of food establishment he would be happy to see on every American corner. “Uhh . . . Probably taco trucks,” he said. “What?!” the interviewer responded. “Yeah,” he said. “Taco trucks are fine with me.”

Doonesbury — Cruel Shot.

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.