Monday, October 9, 2017

El Pendejo

Here is my dream scenario. The Robert Mueller investigation finds that the Russians not only hacked individual polling places, but actually flipped the vote in certain precincts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. It could happen. My wife, Melody, voted for Steve Cohen in the last election and the voting machine registered a vote for his Republican opponent. She had to get a poll-worker to help her correct the vote. If it happened to Cohen, it could happen with Trump. So, after finding that the actual vote count was tampered with electronically with the assistance of cyber-whiz Jared Kushner, Mueller discovers that Hillary actually won the presidency. Being in virgin territory, Congress flounders around for an answer and ultimately turns to the Supreme Court. Since the Court still has residual guilt from unconstitutionally handing the presidency to George W. Bush and setting the world aflame, this time they decide to do the right thing and nullify the fraudulent, dark-moneyed, treasonous, Putin-influenced election of Donny the Liar. Of course, Bush is so relieved that he has been removed from the presidential cellar, he has emerged in recent months looking like a distinguished elder statesman. The election results are overturned and Big Don and his family of grifters are ordered to pack up and get out of that dump called the White House. Then the indictments start to fly. The RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) statute, ironically signed into law by the criminal Richard Nixon in 1970, is invoked, stating that the leaders of a criminal syndicate are culpable for the crimes they ordered others to do, or assisted them in the doing. That should just about cover the Teflon Don, Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, Stephen Miller, Jared and Ivanka Kushner, and Kellyanne Conway. A nice, supermax federal prison awaits their arrival but because they are a security threat, they must be placed in solitary confinement and placed on a twenty-four hour watch list. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

The human hazmat suit proved, once again, his complete lack of humanity during his humiliating visit to the island formerly known as Puerto Rico. After publicly feuding with the capitol's mayor during an unprecedented natural disaster, Trump tweeted, "Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan (and other Spanish speakers)...who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything done for them." Carmen Yulin Cruz, San Juan's Mayor, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Political Science from Boston University, then earned her MS degree from Carnegie Mellon University. She has previously worked in human resources at Westinghouse, Colgate-Palmolive, and Cellular One before returning to her native Puerto Rico and entering politics. Cruz is perfectly capable of handling a buffoon like Trump, who practiced his jump-shot tossing paper towels to a pre-screened crowd of jolly hurricane survivors. While Carrot Top's biological father was tweeting insults from his seventieth day on the golf course, Cruz was waste deep in contaminated water begging the government for help. In an interview on the radical Christian network TBN, Trump defended his actions to Holier Than Thou Mike Huckabee, declaring, "They had these beautiful soft towels. Very good towels. And also, when I walked in, the cheering was incredible." 

After the predictable blow-back from actual human beings with souls, the walking circus peanut was forced to read from a prepared speech, "We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico." Then, the Man With No Shame opened Hispanic Heritage Month by mocking a Spanish accent before a group of Latino leaders, saying, "We love Pueeerrrto Rico, or Portorico, as we call it." As late as last Sunday, under twelve percent of the island had power and only half the population had potable water. A power failure in a San Juan hospital caused the mayor to request additional help from FEMA, receiving zero response. On October 8th, eighteen days in from the catastrophic storm, Cruz tweeted, "Increasingly painful to understand the American people want to help and US Government does not want to help. WE NEED WATER." In return, Trump tweeted from the 14th tee, "Nobody could have done what I've done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation." Reputably, posters have appeared all over the island with Trump's glowing mug over the lettering, "El Pendejo," which roughly translates into "asshole" in English. If further proof were needed to show Trump's shallow indifference towards Puerto Rico, FEMA Administrator Brock Long stated, "We filtered out the mayor a long time ago. We don't have time for this political noise." I wonder if "pendejo" is more or less offensive than the Secretary of State calling the president, "a fucking moron?"

Meanwhile, the five living past presidents; Saint Jimmy Carter, Poppy Bush, Bubba, Dubya, and Barack, established a joint project called "One America Appeal," a recovery effort for hurricane victims in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and what looks like Louisiana and Mississippi. Their efforts include a website where donated funds can be targeted to where they're most needed, and a Public Service Announcement that appeared before Trump's new whipping boy, an NFL game. The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library announced that all five presidents will appear at a Country Music concert on October 21st at Texas A&M stadium, including the ailing Poppy. Trump is not invited because he's not remotely in the same class as the previous chief executives. Remember when chief counsel John Dean told Richard Nixon, "There is a cancer growing on the presidency?" Trump is the cancer. He is the fungus on the pendejo of life. There is no joy in this White House. One glance at Melania's face makes it looks like she is the unhappiest woman in America, which brings to mind the old quote by author Jill Mansell: "When you marry for money, you usually end up earning every penny."

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Revenge Agenda

He sat there seething- stone-faced, jaw clenched, his surgery-resectioned hair lacquered down and bobby-pinned into a ducktail, staring straight ahead lest he glance left or right at the assembled dignitaries and media professionals all doubling over laughing at him- not with him. His customary orange spray tan had been transformed into a glowing burnt umber atop his blushing face. He grimaced and made a little wave but, that aside, he never cracked a smile. The night was April 30, 2011. The occasion was the annual White House Correspondent's dinner, and Barack Obama was getting some payback for Donald Trump's idiotic promotion of "bitherism," the racist idea that Obama was not born in the U.S. and was thus unqualified to be president. Trump even claimed to have sent an investigatory team to Hawaii to verify his theory, reporting, "they couldn't believe what they're finding." So, with Trump in the audience, it was only appropriate that Obama preface his remarks with a large-screen display of his long-form birth certificate. "No one is happier...to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald," the president said. "That's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing?" Donald squirmed, the president continued, throwing barbs at Trump's pet reality TV show, The Apprentice. "Just recently...the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. There was a lot of blame to go around, but you Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately you didn't fire Lil John or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night." The crowd howled, Trump scowled. In fact, Obama had just ordered the raid on Osama Bin Laden which took place the following day. I've been convinced that from that night of public humiliation, Trump's vow for revenge emerged and materialized into a political campaign reeking with hatred and dependent on a backlash towards our first black president. I've heard of pendulum swings, but this one was straight out of Edgar Allan Poe.

Now, it seems I have company. The president's ghoulish pal, Roger Stone, said, "I think that is the night that he resolves to run for president. I think he (was) kind of motivated." His sycophant, Omarosa Manigault, a controversial contestant and documented liar from the first season of The Apprentice, who now makes one-hundred eighty thousand dollars a year as a presidential hireling, proclaimed, "Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It's everyone who ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe." Revenge is the fever which motivates his Obama-obsessed presidency. His singular agenda is to overturn the policies and achievements of his predecessor and destroy the legacy of Barack Obama. According to the Washington Post, in his first six months, Trump has passed no new legislation but managed to roll back sixteen executive actions, sixty-three cabinet level decisions, and fourteen acts of congressional revue. His scorched-earth approach to governing is diametrically opposed to all things Obama, regardless of the consequences. Just look at his cabinet. Almost every pick was chosen with the intent of destroying the agencies they were appointed to oversee. Here's a sampling:

Rex "Tea for the" Tillerson: Secretary of State- Former CEO of ExxonMobil with close Russian ties. No government or public service experience.
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of the Treasury. Trump's campaign finance chairman and former Goldman Sachs employee. Former owner of OneWest Bank, called a "foreclosure machine" by its detractors, which initiated foreclosures on active duty military families. Initially failed to disclose over one hundred million dollars of hidden assets in the Cayman Islands. Blamed it on the "complicated" disclosure forms.
Jeff Sessions: Attorney General. Denied a judgeship in 1986 for his racist past.
Mike Pompeo: CIA Director. Tea Party Kansas congressman who served on the House Intelligence Committee. Advocated the resumption of waterboarding, black sites, and the reinstatement of government programs that harvest communications of U.S. citizens.
Ryan Zinke: Secretary of the Interior. Strong supporter of coal and oil exploration. Claims climate change is not a "proven science."
Wilbur Ross: Secretary of Commerce. Billionaire recipient of the coal and steel industries. Implicated in the 2006 Sago, W.V. mine disaster which killed a dozen men because of overlooked safety concerns.
Ben Carson: HUD head. Lived in urban Detroit as a child. No bureau management or government experience.
Betsy Devoss: Secretary of Education. Lifelong advocate of charter schools and voucher programs. Wants to require government to pay for private school tuition. No experience in public education. Refused to rule out defunding public schools. Billionaire Republican donor and sister of Blackwater mercenary organization founder Erik Prince.
Rick Perry: Secretary of Energy. Famously stated that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy. Oops.
Scott Pruitt: Director of the EPA. Former oil industry lobbyist. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA over Obama regulations limiting carbon emissions.

This deconstruction of the Obama presidency continues while the city of Houston is still bailing out from one hurricane, while another chews up the state of Florida. And there are two more storms out there after this one. For a moment, it looked like it was the Lord's will to take out Mar-a-lago, but at the last minute, Hurricane Irma made a left turn and said, "Screw it. I'm going to Disneyworld." If Trump's visit to Houston is a precedent, I pray for the people of Florida. While visiting a shelter for storm victims, Trump claimed, "We saw a lot of happiness. It's been really nice. As tough as this was, it's been a wonderful thing. I think even for the country to watch it, it's been beautiful." Tell that to someone who just lost everything they ever cherished. Then, turning to the crowd of hurricane refugees, Trump shouted, "Have a good time everybody." Hurricane Harvey is estimated to cost taxpayers one-hundred sixty billion dollars and the cost of Irma is sure to be immeasurable. When hurricane season ends in November, I guess we just won't be able to afford Trump's billionaire's tax cut anymore. Donald Trump is the Republican opposite of Teddy Roosevelt. While TR said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," Trump's slogan should be, "Speak loudly and carry a small dick." All this is winning is upsetting my stomach. Please excuse me while I go take a Trump.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Many Sides

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke 

We're now all contestants in a reality show that we never asked to be part of. And it gets more real every day. The shameful and deadly episode that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia last week was a gathering of white nationalists, ostensibly to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park. But the torchlight parade, the attacks on clergy, the Nazi regalia, the Klan robes, and the Stars and Bars carried alongside of a swastika flag revealed the assembly for what it was: a collection of hate groups with various agendas and a new alliance between neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates. The Southern Poverty Law Center said, "It was the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades." The "Unite the Right" rally quickly descended into chants of anti-black, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBT slogans that were as vile as your imagination will allow you to conjure. The eruption of violence between the so-called "alt-right" and counter protesters caused nineteen injuries, the deaths of two state troopers in a helicopter crash monitoring the scene, and a young woman crossing the street when a crazed true-believer rammed his car into a group of pedestrians. Whether this type of vehicular homicide occurs in Paris, London, or Charlottesville, it's known by the same name: terrorism. In the ensuing chaos, the forgotten man was Robert E. Lee.

There is free speech and then there is hate speech. Only one is protected by the Constitution. Yes, you can mount a platform and say, "Mexicans are rapists," or "Criminal aliens...take a young beautiful girl...and slice them and dice them." You can even urge your supporters to punch someone in the face if you say it was just a humorous aside. But when your words initiate violence, you are responsible for the consequences. From his New Jersey golf resort, Donald Trump read from a card, "We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides." You know someone else wrote it because Trump doesn't know the meaning of the word "egregious." Before moving on to tout his achievements, ("We have companies pouring into our country."), Trump brought Obama into the controversy, claiming there were also hate groups and hate speech during the previous administration. By doing so, Trump is, in effect, saying, "Don't blame me." Since his rise to political prominence began by accusing Obama of being a foreigner and a secret Muslim, he has fed "his base," a constant barrage of inflammatory screeds against immigrants, the press, affirmative action, his predecessor, and particularly Hillary Clinton. On many sides? He forgets who the instigators are. Only one side chanted Nazi slogans like "Blood and soil." Only one side chanted "Fuck you faggot," and the ever popular, "Go back to Africa." If this assembly was about preserving Confederate monuments, there were similar far-right demonstrations in Portland and Seattle, where there are no statues of Confederate generals.

Trump's remarks drew criticism from all sides for his refusal to condemn the perpetrators of the violence, except from the white supremacists themselves. They loved it. Their popular web site, "The Daily Stormer," posted that the president "refused to answer questions about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him." There's something grating about neo-Nazis invoking God. Why can't the president say the words, "Radical, right-wing, terrorism?" In his own admonition, you can't fight a problem if you won't name it. The "problem" was encapsulated by the words of former Klan Imperial Wizard and rally attendee, David Duke, who said to the cameras, "This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that's what we believed in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he's going to take our country back." After blistering remarks from members of his own party, Trump issued a lukewarm tweet condemning "all that hate stands for," which, in turn, provoked a tweet from David Duke saying menacingly, "I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror and remember it was White Americans (sic) who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists."

The Charlottesville rally was disgusting but this clash between the emboldened neo-Nazis and those whose fathers and grandfathers lost their lives fighting the real Nazis is far from over. It has been suggested that if the counter-protesters just stayed away and ignored these racist rallies, there would be no violence, since that is the sort of narrative the alt-right seeks. Consequently,  there would have been no press coverage and no one would have died. I'm sure some German Jews said the same thing in 1929. Fascism must be confronted or it metastasizes. On a personal note: my grandfather was the only member of his family to escape Eastern Europe. His parents, two brothers, a sister, their spouses, and nieces and nephews, some small children, were annihilated by the Nazis despite his desperate efforts to free them. I inherited his letters. They are heartbreaking. While in Israel some years ago, I visited Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust. There is a register of names of Jews murdered by the Nazis, but there isn't the slightest trace of my grandfather's family. They just vanished. So, if some neo-Nazi yuppie in a Trump inspired uniform of khaki pants, white polo shirt, and a red "Make America Great Again" cap, comes goose-stepping down my street waving a swastika, I'll do my very best to hit him in the head with a tire iron. Then, the Teflon Don can once again talk about violence, "from many sides."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Kushner

Kushner. Any fan of the classic sitcom Seinfeld should know how to pronounce the name "Kushner" the same way Jerry used to say, "Hello Newman." The Trump administration's "Golden Boy," has had his luster tarnished in the past few weeks. The Justice Department has declared him a "person of interest" in the probe of the Trump campaign. He failed to note one billion dollars in loans from twenty different creditors on his financial disclosure form. The portion of Kushner's initial security clearance form that requested the names of all foreign contacts was left blank and had to be re-filed three times, ultimately adding the names of one hundred people- yet he still failed to report his foolish secret meeting with Don Jr. and Russian operatives offering campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. The McClatchy news group reported that the Justice Department is looking into Kushner's campaign digital operation which allegedly helped the Russians target specific voters and helped spread fake news about Clinton. And special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into Kushner's finances and business dealings. I'd venture a guess that Jared Kushner is sorry he left his cush life as a New York real estate mogul for this mess.

I sometimes wonder whether Trump supporters knew they were voting for a thirty-six year old son-in-law of the president, with no governmental experience, to become a shadow Secretary of State, flying around the world screwing up traditional alliances and defending Trump's most grievous offenses. Kushner's official title is senior advisor to the president, but he has been tasked with the most ambitious agenda since the New Deal. Jared's assigned duties include; resolving the conflict in the Middle East, modernizing the workings of government, re-inventing the office of veterans' affairs, solving the opioid crisis, overseeing criminal justice reform, and coming up with an infrastructure plan to repair the country's decaying roads and bridges. He's also the liaison to Mexico and China and showed up unexpectedly in Iraq looking silly in coat, tie, and flak jacket. I never thought I'd see an African-American president in my lifetime, but I was flabbergasted that there would be a Jewish president this soon.

Kushner is the type of Orthodox Jew who is observant until it conflicts with his schedule. Jared and Ivanka are shomer Shabbos, which anyone who saw "The Big Lebowski" knows that means not doing any sort of labor from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. The Kushners are said to turn off their cell phones, walk instead of drive, and keep a Kosher kitchen in their home. Jared makes exceptions for governmental business or when the family is off skiing in Aspen, and the Kushners have stated that they have received special permission from an "unnamed" rabbi to travel and ride around to parties in a limousine. As for keeping kosher, it was reported that the couple dined on shrimp scampi while in Rome, a no-no for non-eaters of shellfish. I wonder if he ever joins Pop-Pop for a special luncheon of McDonald's cheeseburgers.

Kushner's diplomatic skills have so far come a cropper. His disastrous trip to the Middle East was complicated by his longstanding relationship with Bibi Netanyahu and his family's millions of dollars in contributions to Israel. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was left infuriated after his meeting with Kushner, saying the American envoy was merely acting as a shill for Netanyahu's hard-line policies. There was speculation among White House insiders that Trump might pull out of any Mid-East peace talks, stalled since April 2014, because he was angry about the Abbas-Kushner rift. Kushner sits right in the middle of the probe of Russian interference during the 2016 election. His failure to report a secret meeting with a Russian governmental attorney, along with the Morgan & Morgan lookalike Donny Jr., and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort, puts Jared in the most serious legal jeopardy since he is the only one with an office in the West Wing who still sits in during security briefings. Thirteen years ago, then-prosecutor Chris Christie sent Charles Kushner, Jared's dad, to prison for sixteen counts of criminal tax evasion, witness tampering, and lying to the Federal Election Commission. Jared Kushner is living proof that the con doesn't fall far from the convict.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Watergate: The Sequel

Hello young 'uns. It's your old Uncle Randy back again with another story about life in these Unites States. It was the spring of '73. I was in my mid-20s and for some bizarre reason decided I needed to move out of the city and experience pastoral life. Big mistake. I found a rental house near the entrance to Shelby Forest State Park, about a half-mile down the roadway from Rev. Al Green. It got boring and lonely in a hurry. I had a little .22 caliber rifle out there and since there was nothing to do, I became such a good shot, I could shoot the "D" out of a Dr. Pepper can at thirty feet. I was also a member of a band that had a regular gig at the Admiral Benbow Inn by the airport. Curiously, they called their airport lounge the Club Car and insisted the band assume a railroad related name. We settled on the Breakmen in honor of the Singing Brakeman Jimmy Rodgers of Meridian, Mississippi, but we purposely misspelled it as an act of rebellion and because we enjoyed taking breaks. Five nights a week, I commuted from Shelby Forest to the airport and back. The Club Car was full of itinerant strangers and drunk, horny traveling salesmen. Once, after I had sung what I thought was a stellar version of a Dave Mason song, a slurring voice from the crowd shouted, "Hey twerp. Why don't you play something we might enjoy." I left the city to find some peace and I was catching hell instead. In truth, I was going crazy. Richard Nixon had been trying to kill me.

It was a weird time as well. The Vietnam War, the defining event of my generation, was winding down, after Nixon, and his fellow war criminal Henry Kissinger, screamed "bombs away" on the nations of Cambodia and Laos. In the vacuum created by the Americans, homicidal dictators emerged, ultimately causing millions of casualties. On March 29, the last American troops left Vietnam. The most divisive conflict since the Civil War had caused millions of people to take to the streets in massive anti-war protests, and in some cases, receive bloody repression from the police. Suddenly, this immoral war was over and everybody just quietly faded back into the woodwork and went about their business as if there were nothing more to say. South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after Apartheid to expose the countries worst human rights abuses and restore confidence in their government. Everybody here just went fishing. We never reconciled our differences over the Vietnam War which is the bedrock of our divisions today. 

Nixon was the first president to intentionally polarize the nation for political purposes. The long-held rumor that Nixon caused the collapse of the 1968 Paris Peace Talks, telling agents of the South Vietnamese that they would get a better deal after his election, has been confirmed. Under his watch, an additional twenty thousand American soldiers and countless Vietnamese died, proving him to be a vile liar, a soulless gargoyle of paranoia, and a proven traitor. His reward was reelection by a landslide. But something happened on the way to the coronation. In June of 1972, five men were busted breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, which opened a Pandora's Box of break-ins, thefts, illegal wiretapping, slush funds, cover-ups, incriminating private tapes, and a personal enemies list of the president's critics who were marked for retaliation by the IRS. It was the public that awakened and demanded an investigation. Televised hearings of the Senate Select Committee's investigation into Watergate and related matters began on May 17, 1973 and suddenly there was must-see TV and my tedious summer became fascinating. If you thought the OJ trial was riveting, you should have seen the Watergate Hearings. I watched the whole thing.

One week after the hearings began, a special prosecutor was named. Nixon fired him, only to have him replaced by an equally zealous seeker of truth. After a parade of despicable witnesses and two-hundred and fifty hours of testimony, the indictments began flying and the truth of Nixon's treachery was fully exposed. He was impeached on charges of obstructing justice, abuse of power, and interference with the impeachment process, and resigned in eternal disgrace to avoid being forcefully evicted from the White House. Anything beginning to sound familiar here? What took Nixon six years to self-immolate,  Donald Trump has accomplished in six months. You know the saying about those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Trump is supremely ignorant of history and thus is as doomed as Nixon. Trump's blatant criminality is in legal hands now and subject to the law rather than the whims of Congress. The only question remaining is whether he'll fight it or quit. My money's on the latter. The Watergate affair caused forty government officials to either be indicted or sent to prison, including the Attorney General, Nixon's key advisors, and his legal counsel. Trump's in Nixon territory now. It will be a rerun of the 1973 summer of televised hearings and will get yuge ratings, better than "House of Cards." Appointed President Ford said, "Never again must Americans allow an arrogant, elite guard of political adolescents to bypass the regular party organization and dictate the terms of a national election." Get the popcorn ready. We're all fixin' to binge-watch a tyrant's comeuppance.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump's Gettysburg Address

On October 23, 2016, Donald Trump made remarks at the historic Gettysburg Battlefield. He delivered a different speech than originally prepared, but we were able to gain access to the first draft of then candidate Trump's personal notations, scribbled on the back of a Burger King place mat. We believe we have succeeded in deciphering the erratic scribbles and have attempted to retain the original intent as best as modern graphology will allow. Here, unfiltered, is Trump's Gettysburg Address.

Eight score and two years ago my grandfather brought to this country a fantastic family name- Friedrich Drumpf - which he quickly changed to Fred Trump since German immigrants were frowned upon at the time. He formed a terrific business of bars and brothels catering to the new frontiersmen of the Klondike Gold Rush. Hey, I just coined the expression "New Frontier." I can definitely use that. Grandpa Trump took his fortune and moved back to Germany, but they kicked him out for both draft and tax evasion. Just imagine, if the kraut government had been nicer to refugees, I'd be peddling real estate in Hamburg today. But, three score and ten years ago, I was conceived in Liberty, which is a small neighborhood in Queens. Like my father, who inherited a small fortune, we were dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, just some more equal than others.

We meet today on a great battlefield of the Civil War because I need Pennsylvania's electoral votes. When I gaze across this landscape, I'm thinking to myself, "Hmm, what a terrible waste of space." This would make a fantastic location for a hotel and a private golf course, considering its historic significance. But, as Lincoln said, "We can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." At least until we get all these ugly markers out of here and stage a first-class ground breaking ceremony with the boys and Ivanka. I've been informed that a lot of men died here. Personally, I like soldiers that didn't die. People don't ask the question, why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out? Andrew Jackson saw what was coming while moldering in his grave and said, "There's no reason for this." His one hundred and fifty slaves most certainly would have agreed. Lincoln just couldn't close the deal but I, alone, could have fixed it. I don't understand the whole Lincoln thing. People don't realize he was a Republican, but many people say he was a melungeon. This I can tell you.

The fake media won't report it, but our crowd today is a hundred times larger than the turnout for Lincoln's speech. I looked at all those old Mathew Brady photographs and I've instructed Sean Spicer to produce pictures that show this was the greatest Gettysburg Address, period. Although I escaped military service because my foot hurt, if I had been at the battle of Gettysburg, I certainly would have won since I know more than all the generals. That old grey-haired granny Bobby Lee was much too low-energy to ever defeat Trump. And I never owned any slaves, only children in China who assemble my clothing line for slave wages. I would ask the blacks today, "What have you got to lose?" You should give me your last full measure of devotion if we ever make it easier for you to vote. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here because the crooked media is so unfair, but government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, is good enough to win the Electoral College. But I tell you this, no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly than me. Except maybe for Lincoln.

 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Stop Saying That

Since spring is the time for renewal and new beginnings, the occasion is ripe for the annual list of words and phrases that I just can't stand hearing anymore. And I stand behind that statement 110%.

Any such list would be derelict without including the annoying phrase of the year: "Alternative facts." Popularized by the vapid Kellyanne Conway, the term can easily be translated as "bullshit."

So. When asked a question, it seems everyone from pundits to pandits begins their answer with the word "so," as in: " Explain why are you in jail?" "So, I was running naked through Wal-Mart and got tackled by a security guard." This should only be acceptable at the beginning of a joke, i.e. "So, this giraffe walks into a bar and says, 'The highballs are on me.'"

There's no there there. Nothing to see here folks. Just keep moving.

Air quotes. If I see one more goober claw the sky with two fingers on each hand, there's a chance that I may get violent. Or at least violently sick. Please use your words instead, like "so-called" president, or the "alleged" Attorney General.

Nothing Burger. I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. No beef, no bun, no condiments, no garnishment.

No prob./No worries. This is a phrase popularized by restaurant wait-staff when you ask for something like unsweetened tea. It shouldn't be a problem if it's their job.

Breaking News. The original sin of all local newscasts. Now, everything is "Breaking News," even if its already broken. A wreck on the interstate is not really "breaking news," unless it was an oil tanker and the highway's on fire.
And while we're at it, a "Severe thunderstorm watch" is no reason to preempt  Jeopardy!

6:AM in the morning. An agonizing redundancy. Everyone knows A.M. means morning. Use one or the other or risk using needless words with ample abundance.

No-Brainer. This one's really a no-brainer. Use "foregone conclusion" instead. It makes you sound smarter.

Cray. I get it. I just wish my wife would stop using this expression in reference to me.

Alt-Right. Let's just call them what they are: Nazis.

America First. Speaking of Nazis, this expression was popularized during WWII and became the name of the national, anti-Semitic, isolationist organization whose purpose was to appease Hitler. Dog whistles or ignorance?

Game Changer. To have one's course altered, as in: That bout with syphilis was a real game-changer for Al Capone.

Non-usage of the consonant "T." When did this catch on? Examples: "No you di'nt Bill Clin'on," or, "I have something impor'nt to tell you." Used by all races and levels of education, this trend is irrita'ng for errbody.

Baby Bump. Such an unbelievable trivialization of the term "preggers."

Make America Great Again. Ronald Reagan used this slogan in the eighties and it still makes me gag. Let's go ahead and include, Bigly, "Many people say," the Liberal Media, "This I can tell you," Classy, and Radical Islamic Terrorism.

The Mother of All...and Blank "Gate." We just dropped the Mother of All Bombs in Afghanistan to retaliate for the Mother of All Wars in Iraq. At home, Chris Christie gave us "Bridgegate," and we're about to enter a phase called "Kremlin-gate." We're not even going to mention "Pee-gate."

Drop. As in; Beyonce's new single will drop this week. Now, even Rachel Maddow is saying, "New legislation drops tomorrow." And while we're at it, let's include the Mic Drop. Obama out.

Walk It Back and Misspoke. These terms will become increasingly commonplace during the tenure of Press Secretary Sean Spicer. They are Washington colloquialisms for "lying."

LOL. Enough already. Stop laughing at your own jokes.

And finally: Bill O'Reilly. So long sucker.

Now, let's take this thing to the next level.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Trumpcare Craps Out

Now that the farce called Trumpcare has imploded into finger pointing and recriminations, you can bet the insurance companies, aided by the GOP congress, will do everything in their power to assure the final destruction of Obamacare. Since the healthcare industry is in turmoil, may I ask a basic question? What in God's name is the insurance business doing in the heart of healthcare in the first place? Why should anyone profit from the misery of others? I roughly understand the basics of life insurance. People come together as a group and pay continual premiums into a general account. Miss a payment and they keep your money. Just ask me. Everybody's premiums are invested, making the insurance companies grandly prosperous so they can afford to pay death benefits to the beneficiaries of the dearly departed who had the courtesy to die within the allotted time frame. In other words, you're making a bet on when you'll buy the farm. The insurers even have mortality tables that provide odds on your death, sort of like a human expiration date. Should you win your bet, your family gets paid, only you're dead. If you live past the twenty or thirty years usually proscribed in an insurance contract, you lose and get squat. And they keep your money- all of it. The whole thing is purposely vague so that you need to hire an agent, or one will surely find you. The same principles apply to other insurance instruments, like car, home, travel, or personal accident. The difference is that not everyone will be involved in a car wreck, or have their travelers' checks stolen, or their house burn down, but sooner or later, everybody is going to get sick. 

The purpose of Obamacare was to spread the risks of healthcare costs among a large group of people, in order to pay the extortion rates of the medical and pharmaceutical industries. For instance, a bottle of Excedrin at Walgreen's costs six dollars, but in the hospital, it's six bucks a tablet. It's all a scam assembled by the institutions that stand to reap the profits from the treatment of the sick and elderly. That's why Obama asked for the mandate, so that younger people who tend to be healthier join the pool of the insured. Just as everyone is required to buy auto insurance, even if you never use it, everyone's purchase of health insurance would pay the costs of colossal, backbreaking hospital bills and prescription medications.The plan faltered because young people weren't interested in another monthly note and the bill had Barack Obama's name on it. Still, twenty million people were able to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act, even if they didn't know it was Obamacare by another name. The mistake was allowing the insurance companies to remain in place to continue fleecing the populism, but that would require a public option, and you know how those free marketeers love their capitalism. It's well known that the United States is the only country in the civilized world that doesn't offer health care to its citizens as a right and not a privilege. A study by the Commonwealth Fund of the healthcare systems in eleven developed countries found America dead last, despite being the world's most expensive.

By contrast, just across the river from Detroit is the nation of Canada- less than half a mile away, but light years away in the care of its citizens. Healthcare in Canada works like Medicare for everyone, advocated by Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign. All medical expenses are free except dental and prescription drugs. The government keeps drugs cheap by negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies on a federal level. Bringing that model to this country would bring peace of mind to patients, free doctors from endless paperwork, and since the profit motive would be removed, there would be no need for fraud or superfluous hospital tests to run up Medicare bills that benefit someone's bottom line. Of course, that would require that hospitals be funded by the public as part of the national budget. Now that the Jolly Orange Giant has turned his back on the healthcare issue, he has focused his gaze on tax cuts for the wealthy. So there will be no universal healthcare during Trump's tenure- how ever long that may be.

The reactionary Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare over sixty times. They had seven years to come up with a replacement, and they couldn't do it. Speaker Paul Ryan's hastily constructed America Health Care Act couldn't pass muster with the GOP Freedom Caucus, the act formerly known as the Tea Party. Although health insurance lobbyists helped shape the bill that slashed funding for Medicaid so the poor would suffer first, it still wasn't cruel enough for the hard-right zealots. Last minute revisions intended to throw raw meat to the jackals included turning the funding of Medicare over to the states, giving "health care tax credits" to the elderly, the immediate repeal of Obama's taxes on the rich, and the instituting of a test for all "able-bodied adults" to pass a work requirement before being enrolled in Medicaid. Herr Trump blamed the Democrats for not voting to destroy President Obama's signature achievement. Trumpcare went up in flames because of the activism of millions of people who opposed it and transformed town hall meetings into episodes of the Oprah Winfrey show. As it turns out, the public seems to like their Obamacare, which was formulated by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation in the early nineties and enacted into law by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land and a bruising defeat for the "Art of the Spiel." Donald Trump rose to prominence by appearing in a reality TV show called "The Apprentice." He should return to a career in reality television, only this time, Trump could be the host of "The Biggest Loser."

 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Never Again

Maybe the time has come for Jews to start arming themselves. The beast has been unleashed and I don't think Jared Kushner is going to save us. The alarming spike in anti-Semitic incidents has been tracked by several organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center compiled a list of incidents drawn from media reports and submissions to the SPLC web page. In the seventy days following the election, 1,064 hate crimes, including acts of vandalism, assault, intimidation, and harassment, were committed. Forty-two percent included direct references to the election, the president or his policies. Swastikas have appeared in public places and private homes. A wave of bomb threats at Jewish centers caused the evacuation of Jewish Community Centers for the fourth time in five weeks. Fifty-four JCCs in twenty-seven states have received bomb threats, eleven in one day. The Anti-Defamation League Headquarters was targeted and the New York City Police Department reported that hate crimes against Jews have doubled in 2017. If you believe it can't happen here, that's what they said in Germany in 1933. So before the pogroms begin, it's best that the haters know we're armed and there ain't gon' be no Inquisition 'round here anytime soon.

The most egregious demonstration of hate occurred at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in suburban St.Louis, where over two hundred headstones were toppled and hundreds of graves vandalized. Almost immediately, scores of volunteers showed up to repair the damage, including a group of Muslims from a nearby mosque which raised over twenty thousand dollars for the cemetery's reconstruction. Soon to be President Pence made an unannounced visit to help the effort and make a speech that said there is no room for antisemitism in a Trump administration. But where was the "so-called" president?  After receiving criticism for failing to address the rise in anti-Jewish sentiment, Trump was pressed on the issue while on "60 Minutes." When asked how he might confront the problem, this goon, this slob, looked into the camera and commanded, "Stop it!" Trump then claimed, "I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life." Isn't that a double negative? He could say he was the most pro-Semitic person ever. That would embody everyone from Moses, to Muhammad, to Jesus, and that should pretty much cover it.  After all, some of Trump's best in-laws are Jewish. I don't believe Trump is an anti-Semite, but he sure is surrounded by them. It's ironic how much the evangelicals love Israel. It's just the Jews they don't like.

When acting President Steve Bannon was chairman of Breitbart.com, he declared the site to be a "platform for the alt-right." The term "alt-right" is a smokescreen description obscuring white nationalism, Islamophobia, racism and antisemitism. Senator Al Franken recently attacked Trump's Senior Adviser by quoting headlines from Breitbart.com when Bannon was at the helm. A sampling includes: "Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?" "Gabby Giffords: The gun control movement's human shield," and "Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew." Bannon told the gleeful crowd at CPAC, the annual gathering of obstructionists, that his objective is the "deconstruction of the administrative state," whatever the hell that means. President Bannon said the cabinet officials who hate what their agencies do were "selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction." A conservative legal source claimed the plan was "to eliminate the vast administrative apparatus that does so much to dictate the way we live." In simple terms, they're trying to trash the New Deal and LBJ's "Great Society," and return power to the very same people who wrecked the economy and left hapless citizens destitute.

Just days ago, it was reported that more than five hundred headstones were overturned or vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. That takes some dedication. Within three hours, a contingency of Muslims arrived to help repair the damage. Maybe Trump is bringing us together- only in solidarity against hatred and evil. Imagine how you would feel if it was your family whose final resting places were desecrated. My mother is from St. Louis. My father went to Washington University. Those are my relatives buried in that Jewish cemetery. A list was posted of the names of families interred there. My great grandparents were among those listed. Thanks to social media, I was able to contact cousins who assured me that the graves of our family were untouched. I guess after the first two hundred headstones, the vandals got tired. My relief is cold comfort to those affected by the shock wave that convulsed the St. Louis Jewish community. In this toxic atmosphere, armed guards should be required at every Jewish center that's accessible to the public. To paraphrase Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, when the world's Jewry cries "Never Again," its not just a slogan, its a promise.

 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cruel and Unusual

The President is mentally ill. No, seriously. Pundits and mental health professionals are throwing around the words "malignant narcissist" lately, and although our giant, man/baby Chief Executive fits that category like one of his baggy suits, there's another term that may be more apt in describing the president's bizarre behavior: psychopathy. According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (created by Professor of Psychology, Dr. Robert Hare) is a diagnostic tool used by professionals to measure "psychopathic or antisocial tendencies." There are twenty items on the list, each of which is scored zero to two, depending on how well it applies to the subject. A prototypical psychopath scores a forty, although a thirty score or above qualifies for the diagnosis. I'll just give you a sampling here, and since Donald Trump has proclaimed that "bullet points" are his preferred way of receiving information, that's how we'll do it.
  
  • Glib and superficial charm
  • Grandiose estimation of self
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning and manipulativeness
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Impulsivity
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Lack of conscience or sense of guilt
Hell, I count thirty points right there. Tea-Party conservative Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the scourge of the Benghazi committee, was so disturbed he has suggested that all presidential candidates undergo a thorough mental exam in the future. For the rest of us, the future is now.

With the possible exceptions of Attila the Hun or Napoleon, I can't recall a single historical figure who has done more damage in one week than President Trump. Millions of people are marching in the streets worldwide, there's chaos and confusion in international airports, innocent people have been detained, our allies are nervous, North Korea is preparing to launch an ICBM capable of reaching California, and Germany has replaced the United States as the world's moral authority. Trump's nocturnal tweets are causing nightmares for his staff and his obsession with crowd size and the popular vote is Nixonian in its paranoia. Other presidents have used their first days in office to lay out a plan of accomplishment. Trump's first week was all nullification. We've just said goodbye to our first black President and now, welcome to the Bronze Age.

Thrashing about like a harpooned giant squid, Trump stood in front of a memorial wall at the CIA and bragged about how many times he's been on the cover of Time Magazine. He sent his stammering spokesman, the hapless Sean Spicer, out to scold the press on their inauguration coverage, then criticized his suit. He approved construction of the XL Keystone Pipeline, despite owning shares in the company that oversees the project. He signed a directive to build a taxpayer funded wall on the southern border, The Great Wall Of Trump, while stripping funding for cities that shield undocumented immigrants. He launched a major investigation into voter fraud, even though he won, claiming three million illegal votes were cast, all for Hillary Clinton. He threatened to send federal troops into Chicago and fired the head of the agency which serves as landlord for Trump's new hotel. He stunned the National Security Council by giving a seat to his chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, the white nationalist and former head of the alt-right Breitbart News, while demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will now be informed on a "need to know" basis. And a new phrase has been added to the lexicon; "alternative facts." If these are signs of an administration that doesn't know what they're doing, just imagine the potential damage they can do when they figure it out.

I'm fortunate Trump wasn't president in 1900 when my grandfather immigrated from Russia or you wouldn't be reading this. The Muslim ban, whatever they care to call it, is blatantly unconstitutional, but that's beside the point. It's also cruel and heartless and preys on the helpless. The quarantined seven middle eastern nations are, co-incidentally, all places where Trump has no business interests. Because his own staff wasn't even notified, airports from Dallas to Seattle were caught unawares and in-flight passengers were unlawfully detained and threatened with deportation. In return, Iran banned all visitors from the U.S. just as the hard work undertaken by the Obama administration was beginning to thaw relations frozen for decades. Trump's translators were quick to note that the ban is temporary- not for Syrian refugees however. They are barred indefinitely. Trump likes to watch TV. Maybe someone should show him footage of the wretched people, mostly women and children, who are merely trying to escape from what Trump casually calls "carnage." In Trump's America, that poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty about "huddled masses yearning to breathe free," should be replaced by a big sign that says, "You're Not Wanted." Or better still, now that Rex Tillerson has been approved as Secretary of State, the sign should read, "Welcome to the United States, brought to you by Exxon/Mobil."