Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Probably Not A Good Idea

I’m guessing that John Bolton is not someone you want as an enemy.

At a critical juncture in his presidency, facing a rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, Donald Trump is feeling besieged by snitches.

In recent weeks, numerous leaks have appeared in the pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other major papers and news outlets detailing the president’s attempts to enlist foreign leaders to help dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and also aid Trump’s quest to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s concluded investigation. And as is his MO, the media-obsessed president has been fixated on not just the identity of the whistleblower behind the internal complaint that brought this scandal to the fore, but also on who, exactly, has been namelessly feeding intel to the press.

In the course of casual conversations with advisers and friends, President Trump has privately raised suspicions that a spiteful John Bolton, his notoriously hawkish former national security adviser, could be one of the sources behind the flood of leaks against him, three people familiar with the comments said. At one point, one of those sources recalled, Trump guessed that Bolton was behind one of the anonymous accounts that listed the former national security adviser as one of the top officials most disturbed by the Ukraine-related efforts of Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who remains at the center of activities that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

As it is, Trump doesn’t have any friends.  He doesn’t even have a dog, which is what Harry Truman advised if you wanted a friend in Washington.  So when the going gets tough and subpoenas start arriving, the people who know what went on in the White House will talk and they’ll tell purely out of self-preservation.  And based on Mr. Bolton’s history as one who does not suffer anyone, much less fools, gladly, he could be a powerful enemy.  So it’s probably not a good idea to suggest he’s the leaker.

Debate Rap

I made it through the first hour and a half of last night’s Democratic candidates’ debate, which was more like an antic version of the lightning round of “Wait… Wait… Don’t Tell Me” without the bell and the final gong.  Whoever dreamed up this format was counting on a high Red Bull consumption quotient on the part of the candidates.

As I noted on Facebook, Bernie Sanders killed it with his impersonation of Larry David of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but I will give him credit for being back in full cranky mode two weeks after having a heart attack.  Mayor Pete Buttigieg was calm and on point, Sen. Elizabeth Warren withstood being attacked for being the current front runner as well as she could, and Joe Biden, after weeks of being hammered by Trump as the current target of misdirection for his own crimes, didn’t seem a whole lot different than the previous debates, which is to say, stumbling over his answers as he tried to be the adult in the room.

I went to bed before it was over so I missed the final question that asked the candidates how they felt about Ellen DeGeneres being friends with George W. Bush.  Good thing, because I would have thrown something at the TV and scared the cat.  At a time with a White House being turned into the headquarters of the most corrupt enterprise since the end of Prohibition, with sea levels lapping at the foundations of Miami Beach, with mass killings turning shopping malls and schools into armed camps, the finale on this debate was something out of a truth-or-dare session from summer camp?  Who needs SNL when you have inanities like that?

We still have another year of this.  Giant meteor, anyone?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Annals Of Irony — Part Infinity

Hey, remember how when there was a mass shooting — yes, there have been so many — the gun nuts blamed violent videos for causing people to grab their AR-15’s and commit slaughter?  Something should be done about that.

Via the New York Times:

The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many such amateur agitators, the GeekzTeam specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

But background checks and banning certain weapons would be an assault on our liberties.

As If To Prove The Point

Yesterday’s post about the inability of conservatives and Trumpers to use humor was made glaringly clear by the Trump campaign’s tweet to Elizabeth Warren.

Unless you think this is their idea of punching up and admitting that Sen. Warren is superior than they are. Otherwise, as Digby notes, let’s all freak out about how mean she was to the God-fearing Jesus-shouters who have an unnatural obsession with other people’s private lives and how it might ruin her chances for winning over the MAGAnauts.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Make ‘Em Laugh

Sen. Elizabeth Warren got off a good one last week at CNN’s LGBTQ forum.

[Rim shot]

Now that’s how you tell a joke.  And a lot of people got it and thought it killed.  And it did.

Then again, there are those among the Very Serious People who neither know a good joke when they hear one or get all freaked out by whom it might offend.

The glitterati gushed. “The single greatest response to this question, in or outside politics,” wrote actress Minnie Driver. “Made my day,” added actress Alyssa Milano. Javier Muñoz, who recently played the title role in the smash musical “Hamilton,” posted seven emoji of clapping hands.

But Republicans and some Democrats warned that the quip at the CNN-sponsored forum would play poorly among a big swath of voters.

“It’s about telling people who don’t agree with you that they are backward by definition,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist who advised Bill Clinton’s presidential reelection campaign. The line was a “stab” to those who don’t agree with her, he said, and “it is a battle cry for men to turn out against Elizabeth Warren.”

The 44-second exchange captured the promise and peril of Warren’s candidacy. She is quick-witted and sharp-tongued in a way that has played well in the Democratic primary and could prove effective against President Trump. But conservatives warn that she can come off as condescending and dismissive.

Oh, conservatives are warning about coming off as condescending and dismissive?  As if their current example of how to tell a joke is the headliner at the Laugh Factory.

The problem — and I’ve said this many times but obviously it needs repeating — is that the conservatives and the Trumpers do not understand the basic essence of humor or how to tell a joke, including the most important rule: punch up, not down.  Making fun of the snooty, the elite, the pompous, and the self-important works, but making fun of the poor, the downtrodden, the ones hurting does not.  This has been axiomatic in comedy since the ancient Greeks right up through today.

This also proves one cosmic truth about humor: it is the ultimate weapon against Trump and the base who support him.  They literally cannot take a joke, and every time someone gets off a laugh at their expense, it makes them look like the fools and trolls that they are, especially when they get all huffy about being made the butt of jokes.  And it proves the point that Mel Brooks and many others have known for time out of mind: if you really want to defeat someone, laugh at them.

Happy October Holiday

To some, today is Columbus Day. In some places, school is out and it’s a holiday. Not in Miami-Dade County, though, which means I’m at work, and to some people, celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus is seen as not necessarily a good thing.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. That means they get a six-week jump on Christmas shopping. I am sure they are thrilled to be inundated with jingling bells and heralding angels before the leaves are off the maples.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

Coming Out

logo_ncod_lgToday has been designated as National Coming Out Day.

2019 marks the 43th anniversary of my coming out to my family. They took it well; we now joke that Mom turned to Dad and said “Ha! You owe me five bucks.”

But every day is a coming out in some small way for me even though I know my co-workers and friends and even people who don’t know me but who read my blog, my plays, or my Facebook page know I’m gay. (If you didn’t already know, well, hey, guess what…) I don’t make a big deal out of it; I don’t have a rainbow sticker on my car, I don’t announce it to people when I meet them, and I don’t think I fit into the cultural stereotypes that seem to be a part of our society’s identifiers as gay; for instance, I usually buy my clothes at the next aisle over from auto parts, and the only reason I know show tunes is because I’m a theatre scholar; it comes with the job. Cultural stereotypes work if you own them. As one of my characters in my novel “Small Town Boys” says when someone finds out he’s gay: “Yeah, I know.”

I am still getting used to being out in some way or another. I have unfriended people I’ve known all my life who said they were sad to hear I am gay, and I am sure there are people who say things and call me names behind my back. Well, they would probably do it if I wasn’t gay; people who find nits to pick are looking for them.

What I hope for with this day is that people who are afraid of coming out will take some comfort and assurance by seeing others say it. It may not prompt them to come out; each of us must do it in our own way and at our own level, but even if they never do they may know that they are never alone. We’re a tribe and we support each other even when we don’t know you because we really do.

Rudy’s Buddies

This impeachment inquiry is providing some great comic relief.

Rudy Giuliani lunched with two associates at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on Wednesday just hours before the duo was arrested at a Washington-area airport, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are business associates of Giuliani who had been working with the former New York mayor on his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on former Vice President Joe Biden. A person who saw the trio eating at the Trump hotel spoke to the Journal for the story.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia on Wednesday and on Thursday were indicted for allegedly funneling foreign money into US elections. A law enforcement source told CNN they were booked on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, to connect to another flight.

Giuliani declined to comment to CNN on the report.

Parnas and Fruman are two of four men who were indicted on Thursday. Andrey Kukushkin has been arrested and is expected to appear in court Thursday in the Northern District of California, according to the Manhattan US Attorney’s office. The fourth man, David Correia, hasn’t been arrested. All four are US citizens, according to the indictment.

When asked, Trump denied knowing either Parnas and Fruman, but a little digging came up with some lovely photos of Mr. Fruman’s dinner at the White House back in May.

And the one-way tickets to Vienna?  Oh, they’re going to take in some opera at the Wiener Staatsoper. And bring back some strudel.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Little Twerp Is Back

Ralph Reed, the flaming hypocrite of “Christian” family values, is peddling a new screed that instructs all true believers to back Trump because… oh, who cares.  He’s never been anything more than just a grifter and a con man who’s gotten by on his quickly-fading rent-boyish charm who, instead of selling Earth Shoes or swampland in Collier County, Florida, happened on the flocks of pigeons who will gladly fork over their savings for his brand of Jesus.

This little twerp made his name screaming about Bill Clinton’s penis and is now telling us that pussy-grabbing is “low priority” because he thinks he’s getting what he wants from Trump.  Apparently he’s crafty enough to sell this to the foolish and the weak, but not smart enough to know that Trump will use him like he has everyone else and then never look back.

He’s got nothing to do with god or Christianity.  He and Trump deserve each other.

More From The Stable Floor

Sheesh.

Trump said Wednesday that it would be “easy” for the United States to form new alliances if Syrian Kurds leave the fight against the Islamic State to fend off a Turkish attack, noting that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us in Normandy” and were only interested in fighting for “their land.”

“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” he said in response to questions about Turkey’s incursion into Syria.

He got this talking point from some right-wing nutjob.  Who needs the State Department when you’ve got the blogosphere?

For more background on the history of the Kurds and our constant betrayal of them, read this post by Adam L. Silverman.