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.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Got Karma?

It doesn’t get much better than this.

“It ain’t because of the raw milk,” he told the newspaper. “With that many people around and that close quarters and in that air and environment, I just call it a big germ. All that Capitol is is a big germ.”

He also said that mass illness is common when the state legislature convenes, calling it “the Capitol crud.”

The paper also reported the state’s public health bureau opened an investigation Tuesday after receiving a complaint about the raw milk.

Cadle told the newspaper that he passed around raw milk to those who wanted to “live dangerously” on Thursday in the House chambers. He then missed work Monday because of a stomach bug, but returned to the Capitol on Tuesday.

He said it was just it bad timing.

“There’s nobody up there that got sick off that milk,” he told the paper.

Well, I’m sorry they got sick, but, [snort]

Friday, February 5, 2016

You’ve Got Mail

It turns out that Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only Secretary of State to get classified e-mails on her private account.

The State Department has discovered a dozen emails containing classified information that were sent to the personal email accounts of Colin L. Powell and close aides of Condoleezza Rice during their tenures as secretaries of state for President George W. Bush.

Two emails were sent to Mr. Powell’s personal account, and 10 to personal accounts of Ms. Rice’s senior aides. Those emails have now been classified as “confidential” or “secret” as part of a review process that has resulted in similar “upgrades” of information sent through the personal email server that Hillary Clinton used while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. The State Department did not say who sent the emails to Mr. Powell or to Ms. Rice’s aides, or who received the messages.

It is against the law to have classified information outside a secure government account.

But… but… Benghazi!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Reversal of Fortune

The Republicans and the anti-choice movement just got their heads handed to them by a grand jury in Houston.

A grand jury here that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.

Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.

Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.

On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

She declined to provide details about the case against Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, including any documents or evidence presented to the grand jury, citing state law on the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

“As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us,” Ms. Anderson said. “All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

In a statement on Monday night, Mr. Daleiden said: “The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County district attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”

The release of the videos last summer created a furor and gave new strength to the conservative drive to defund Planned Parenthood. The organization was forced to apologize for the casual tone that one of its officials had used to discuss a possible transfer of fetal tissue to what she believed was a legitimate medical company. But Planned Parenthood said the fees being discussed were to cover costs and were legal.

No word yet on whether or not Carly Fiorina, who has based a good deal of her presidential campaign on demonizing Planned Parenthood and claiming that she saw a non-existent video of dismembered foetuses, has apologized or owned up to making stuff up.  Not that it would make any difference; she and the rest of the anti-choicers will go on lying and demonizing PP.

But it is righteous justice, especially since the grand jury was supposed to investigate PP and ended up indicting the accusers instead.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

And Stay Out

The British Parliament is set to debate a bill that would ban Donald Trump from setting foot on that sceptred isle.

The debate has been scheduled for January 18 in Westminster Hall, where any member of Parliament is allowed to participate.

An online citizen’s petition to ban Trump from the United Kingdom garnered more than 568,000 signatures, well above the 100,000 threshold required for a measure to be considered for a debate, since being filed on December 8.

The petition says that because the country has banned entry to people for “hate speech” before, “the same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK.”

Words have consequences, and Mr. Trump just doesn’t know when to STFU.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015

Smarmy Pharma Dude Gets His Karma Moment

It could not happen to a more worthy target.

Martin Shreli Busted 12-18-15It has been a busy week for Martin Shkreli, the flamboyant businessman at the center of the drug industry’s price-gouging scandals.

He said he would sharply increase the cost of a drug used to treat a potentially deadly parasitic infection. He called himself “the world’s most eligible bachelor” on Twitter and railed against critics in a live-streaming YouTube video. After reportedly paying $2 million for a rare Wu-Tang Clan album, he goaded a member of the hip-hop group to “show me some respect.”

Then, at 6 a.m. Thursday, F.B.I. agents arrested Mr. Shkreli, 32, at his Murray Hill apartment. He was arraigned in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on securities fraud and wire fraud charges.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Shkreli said he was confident that he would be cleared of all charges.

Mr. Shkreli has emerged as a symbol of pharmaceutical greed for acquiring a decades-old drug used to treat an infection that can be devastating for babies and people with AIDS and, overnight, raising the price to $750 a pill from $13.50. His only mistake, he later conceded, was not raising the price more.

My schaden is now freude.  Heh.

Photo by Andrew Burton, Getty Images.