Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, June 23, 2017

This TrumpWorld Grab-Bag May Have Been Taped

As was hinted, we actually are going to be (probably?) disappointed if we are looking for the "tapes" that Trump suggested might exist of conversations between himself and former FBI Director James Comey, because Trump Himself has Tweeted that what with all the things going on, he's fucked if he knows whether there's tapes.

I truly believe he is fucked if he knows and he's fucked if he doesn't, based on all available information, but that might just be me. (It isn't.)  The reason I say this is, if he did Tweet (OMFG--when was a presidency hinging on shit-Tweets?)that there were possibly tapes to try and warn Comey that whatever he said could be gainsaid by evidence, then that's sort of like a threat, isn't it? And apparently, Comey already anticipated his credibility was at issue, hence the memos. And if the threat to Comey was to keep him, we should believe his testimony? That seems like the logical thing, right?

Do normal people actually telegraph that they are going to witness-tamper in the most personally damaging way, or is this just a Trump thing?

Anyhow, there is also the possibility that he's hedging on whether there are tapes or not because they exist somewhere maybe and don't back him up, which is a possibility that I find almost as frighteningly amusing as the still-probable pee tape.

But of course, that's not all I'm interested in talking about. One of the phenomenons that currently interest me is The Lawyering.   Pretty much everybody in the White House is going to have to, even if one of Trump's lawyers says they don't have to.  Look, even one of Trump's other lawyers, is lawyering up.  And yet another of Trump's lawyers about this Russia mess is...well, a right-wing hind-titterati shyster. He's usually a religious right whaambulance chaser.  It's kind of weird to see him representing a president, but here we are. But when Trump is down to relying on Jay freaking Sekulow, because other lawyers think he lies and doesn't pay bills, yeah, it's probably grab the wad from the mattress and consult professional counsel time.

But why the lawyering? Because the thing that Trump keeps insisting is a hoax keeps being real. Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson reiterated that in recent testimony to the House Russian hacking investigation. What is critical to know is that there do seem to be crucial failures in our system regarding whether we met transparency with the 2016 election. For one thing, even if there had been suspected fuckery as early as 2015, the FBI notified DNC late and off-handedly, by which point the DNC already knew there was an issue and wanted to do damage control because they were in the middle of an election thanks! There was some Trump-Tweeted mumblefuckery that hinted that the DNC did not present their servers to FBI--absolutely true.  But I believe there were reasons for that. They might not have believed that all FBI agents were going to handle that data responsibly because they were already in the process of being fucked with their own data.  And they really did not want more outlets for fuckery.

Understandable. Frankly--this is a kind of victim-blaming. Is it the DNC's fault that they had no script for an unprecedented breach?

Speaking of breaches--it looks like the Russian hacking efforts, just like Reality Winner leaked about, did impact voting offices.  Maybe votes were thrown out because the legitimate voters got thrown off of the rolls. This is why I've long despised voter ID laws--the idea that legitimate voters and citizens would be denied their franchise on fully bullshit reasons. But if some other country gets to say whose votes are legitimate?

That is deplorable. And if a POTUS was somehow decided based on so much hackery-fuckery?

That's not democracy, and reasonable people who were no supporters of Trump would be justified in wanting his ass out, somehow. Yes, I am one of those people and very biased. But with my own eyes I see where this election was screwed with. And I feel like it was stolen. But now that he's been sworn in, I feel like impeachment is the method, and his emoluments conflicts are more obvious than the Russian "collusion". But for the love of all that's holy, to get there--we gotta flip the House.

(Part of an ongoing series.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Politics is Really Local

The jaded political observer in me did not want to post about the "meaning" of the 2017 special election results because I just don't think you can generalize about special elections, but the political geek side really wanted to weigh in, and, well, my geek side is the 800 lb. gorilla that basically always gets its way.

I didn't get emotionally invested in the special elections because people just about know about them, the campaigns are rushed, the turnout is usually low, just about on a par with midterms, and I just think the idea of calling them a "referendum" on anything, especially on President Trump, is just too "early days" yet. Most of the special elections thus far have been in what count as recently historically "red" districts. Although Democratic and left-leaning independent voters might have been entirely over the idea of a "president Trump" on Day 1, Republican and conservative-leaning independent voters are just more open to the idea that parts of his agenda are worthwhile to them, and they will wait for him to grow into his role.

That said, Tuesday's losses in GA6 and SC5 don't come as an emotional blow to me. It would have been nice to pick up a seat or two--but it wouldn't have changed the balance of the House. As it is, red seats just stayed red. The composition of the House isn't more GOP than before--it's the same.  And I don't really agree with some of the "takes" I'm seeing out there--this is somehow a referendum on Nancy Pelosi?  I'm not sure I'm seeing that. Yes, Pelosi and her "San Francisco values" is trotted out the way disconnected 80's political slogans like "tax and spend" get trotted out. I just don't feel like the people who respond to that are the "reachable" voters, anyway.

I also don't think the results of GA6 somehow point to a need to go more decidedly liberal. Politics is local, and I think minor details like Handel having a higher political profile than newcomer Ossoff and living in the district (I hate to be petty, and can stomach a "technicality" or "nuance" argument as well as the next reasonable person; but you aren't dealing with reasonable people--you're talking about voters!) might have had a lot more to do with her win than anything Ossoff particularly stood for. And I fail to see how voters that weren't swayed against a candidate that said she didn't even believe in a living wage would be won over by the prospects of "Moar Socialism". 

But for the GOP scoffers who point out that the Dems haven't eked out a win over the GOP in these special elections so far, I do want to do at least a little "scoreboard" signifying:

Democrats have covered considerable ground since just November 2016 in some of these districts. They haven't become "wins" for Democrats, but they have become competitive (I note CA is not really GOP country anymore in many locales.)  In GA 6 and MT I know for sure the GOP did spend a whole lot of money.

What I think the takeaway for Dems should be is--think of wins as possible and run everywhere. Run like you want to win. For the party: stop being sad sacks and apocalyptic in fundraising, and just look to recruit great folks who are a good fit for their area and run the election like no one outside the location is watching. Take their money, but between you and me--I can't stand purity politics. Purity is for food safety and pharmaceuticals. I'm with Ronald Reagan, if I agree with a candidate 80% of the time, he isn't 20% my enemy--we just have a debate.

Maybe there is a leftist battle or reformation coming eventually, but for the love of mutts, I'd just like to win some elections and get control of congress back first, TBH.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

No Respect, I Tell Ya!

Amid word that Sean Spicer is interviewing people to find his replacement, this comment from Steve Bannon:

Neither Spicer nor deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to queries about the changes to the briefings. Asked why the briefings are now routinely held off-camera, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in a text message “Sean got fatter,” and did not respond to a follow-up.
I may have indicated he doesn't deserve a lot of respect, but...ouch.

Who Answers For Otto Warmbier?

I'm regretful if my posts are death-laden of late, but the faces of the departed are on my mind and I must blog them. And so it goes for this naïve and warm-hearted young man, Otto Warmbier, who died just after North Korea had the temerity to let us have his dying body back.

Do you know who to blame?  Because if you are blaming anyone but North Korea for this death, you can suck mud.

This young man was sentenced to death because he allegedly "stole" a propaganda poster. He plead for his life with honest regret--but it did no good. Who even knew that the North Korean budget for propaganda was so lean that the price of one poster was death? Because that was what they gave him. They tortured him, as if they thought he was not just an altruistic young man, but maybe a spy? This boy? This one? For no reason other than he was an American, and they had him, and they could.

But NK apparently realized that a death on their front porch was a little too much. So they gave his body back when all their efforts left his mind flown. Hopefully to a better place than this world. But they killed him, and maybe right away, and what they did is answerable to the current US government...

I dunno what Trump will do about this. Anything more than he's done over their missile demonstrations? I can not say. I know I would pursue whatever sanctions or even military demonstration I could get away with to let NK know they had no call to fuck with my citizens.

But Trump is likely asleep at his Twittermabob, dreaming about his Rasmussen poll numbers and his November electoral college. What did he have to do with Otto coming home more than accepting it?  But in this terrible condition? In this murdered condition? Will he try to speak for this silenced man?

Could he even?

Someone should. This affront to human rights is something the US should be responding to.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Finsbury Park Mosque is A Great Example

First of all, my sincere sympathies to those affected by this heinous attack--the deed of Darren Osbourne was appalling and hateful, and a bad reflection on what we hope a well-blended diverse multicultural society should be. What stirs me, is that if there were no great-hearted people among the congregation into which Mr. Osbourne plowed his rental van, Mr. Osbourne himself might have been torn to pieces by an angry crowd. But he was not, because by and large, the mosque-goers were sensible and law-abiding folks.  They sought out the civil authorities to make sure he was remanded to the law--instead of taking the law into their own hands.

They did the right thing--but then again, this was the nature of this congregation.  These have been the "good guys". These have been the folks we're talking about as the moderate guys who speak out against extremism.

Which is not to say that this horrendous and unnerving act of bias and discrimination would be okay if it happened to anyone else. But it only goes to show that so-called "discrimination" is often blind and undiscriminating stupid violence, and we would all get along better if we...just did. Get along. Better.

To Serve and Maybe Protect

Charleena Lyles, 30, a distraught woman with babies in her house and pregnant with another, called the police in fear because she believed there was an attempted burglary of her house. She was carrying a knife, and the officers discharged their weapons because this unnerved them, and they killed her. She was afraid and she armed herself. And this was no protection. She was afraid and called the police--and that was no protection.

Maybe she wasn't thinking clearly--maybe she wasn't. Who does at all times? When your home and your kids are threatened, and you have stressors and wonder if some thief in the night is going to take away something of yours, what is clear and logical thinking? She called the cops--that's what you're supposed to do. She worried what would happen if they didn't come on time, which can happen, too.  She armed herself with what she had at hand. That made a kind of sense, too.

And it killed her.

Calling the cops shouldn't have killed this young woman with so much life ahead of her. I don't know what training tells cops they have to shoot to kill someone who is agitated and scared and armed and might not even be thinking straight. I wish every training about how to be human in this world would have told them to just stop and think first--not "police training"--just being human training. She deserved that as a citizen. She deserved protection from harm. Her death is a disservice to the public.

I share in mourning with her family and lift her name up in my thoughts. Charleena Lyles--we'll say her name. But that is not enough.  Maybe if we learn from her loss how to understand victims, the mentally distraught, the unpredictable, but harmless caller for help--maybe that makes her death a little less in vain.

But she still deserved better. Her family deserved better. And better can definitely be achieved.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

They Let off Philando Castile's Killer

I thought they would let off the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile, just like they let off the killer of Alton Sterling.  I don't like it, but that's how it was.

What is a man's life? These men were and then were not. Lived and then did not. I feel like this is not justice and I do not know where his people can go to find it. I think of that baby who watched a man shoot Philando Castile, and I can't get beyond mad. Because that innocent baby watched an innocent man die, and lives a life knowing this is a thing that happens, to innocent people. Like law isn't even for everyone.

It should be. But this decision says otherwise.

Now, Live From the Thunderdome, Julius Caesar by Billy Shakes

Just a little background--prior to the play written by William Shakespeare, an Elizabethan playwright and possibly political pundit (no, really, how else explain all the "Henry" plays?), in about 1599, which is over 400 years ago, there was an actual guy called Gaius Julius Caesar, who was a general in the Roman Republic who became a dictator and was assassinated. The play derives from the historical events. This was about 2,000 years ago. He really was assassinated. Being assassinated is not a modern thing. Kings and Emperors and all kinds of leaders have been going out that way for millennia. Go read Frazer's The Golden Bough. Literary and historical long story short: folks come at a king. But they best not miss. Or it does not go well with them.

There has been a recent foofaraw regarding the decision of the New York Public Theater to stage the 400+ year old play in modern garb--even though staging Shakespeare's plays this way to make them seem timely is a long-observed trick.  The same was done with Obama. The same was done with other US presidents. It is, for the most part, just a statement updated for the times. The message of the play remains the same--don't fuck with violently disturbing the civil order, or worse will follow in it's wake. Cassius and Brutus aren't heroes in Julius Caesar, they are displayed as petty and divisive insecure men who carry out this act because the fault was not in the stars but in themselves

So when a couple alt-right goobers try to disrupt the play in the name, ironically, of free speech? Or something? I cringe at their pitiable education. I'm not sure you can rep for Western Civilization when you actually display no depth of understanding of it. And I am not sure how you play at being for freedom of speech when you are scared of this ancient and accepted speech that has been happening without your asses for years. Welcome to the conversation: now shut up and learn.

Obviously, we've established that updating Shakespeare is just a thing. (I personally fell asleep during a viewing of Richard III set in the 1930's with the outstanding Ian McKellan, Annette Bening, and a host of my actual favorite actors.). Dire cinematic representations of current or more-recent leaders are nothing new, though. When Shakespeare was doing his thing, his historical British monarchs were commentary on the current ones. Today, we can argue whether Olympus Has Fallen was meant as a commentary on Obama. There was even a fake docudrama based on George W. Bush called Death of a President. It was not pro-assassination--in that narrative, things became more authoritarian as Cheney came into power.

A play is the thing to capture the conscience of a king. How the in-group treats free speech, art, derision, the free press, says a lot about how secure the "King" must feel. I do not think this would-be King is very secure, based on how his followers cavort. They are jesters all, that say him mortal. The play Julius Caesar wreathing Trump in an actual warrior's laurels does him an honor he never earned. To have him seen as executed for growing too powerful, and not because his Tweeting became a danger to himself and others, is a favor.

One truly great actor, Marlin Brando, played the Godfather and Marcus Anthony.  Trump is a reality tv guy--no Brando. But he seems at times to reflect Godfather values, and Caesar tragedy. He is Fredo and Brutus. Gifted with momentary power, and likely to fuck it up. He seems a cautionary fable in the making.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How Do Demogogues See the World?

Through demogoggles! But what range--from "rule of law" to "deep state"--and all that had to change was which party was in the WH!

Addition: I don't know why anyone would act surprised, either.