Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From My Better Blog

For irrelevant reasons, I've recently re-read a series of posts I wrote several years ago on "Surgeonsblog," wherein I tried to describe, in as much detail as possible, what goes on in an operation. Some of it is pretty good stuff, and, based on comments, it was entertaining and informative. There was a time when I could be that way.

So, shamelessly, to those who have more time on their hands than they know what to do with, and who may not yet have discovered the pleasures of a surgery blog written for laypeople, I recommend reading it.

It starts here. You need to scroll past the comments at the end to get to "newer post" on which to click to get to the next one. There are nine of them; be warned. Also, being old, most of the links no longer work, but it doesn't matter all that much.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Horns Of A Dilemma

In designating the President as Commander-in-Chief of the military, our founding fathers enshrined their firm belief that our generals and admirals must not be left to their own devices; that in a democracy, they must be under civilian control. The control of the people (theoretically), through their electoral choices.

I feel certain they didn't envision an uninformed idiot like Donald Trump in that role, though; not only uninformed but disinterested in and/or incapable of making the effort to learn.

So -- and here's the dilemma -- how should we feel about the fact that an uninformed idiot president has decided to hand over control of the military to its leaders? Troop levels in Afghanistan: up to them. Shooting down a Syrian fighter jet: was he in on that? What does he think -- did he "game" the possibility -- of Putin's announcement that they'll start shooting down our planes?

I don't doubt the generals, notwithstanding Trump's previous claim to the contrary, are smarter than Trump and know a hell of a lot more than he about fighting wars. But fighting wars, especially since we're now in several wars of choice, is, in the end, about politics and policy. Big picture. Strategy, not tactics. Complicated and comprehensive world-views. If presidents can't think like that, at least they should listen to people who can. And those are people at the State Department, among other places; not at -- certainly not exclusively at -- the Pentagon. The State Department is currently led by a man with no experience, and is woefully understaffed; either deliberately or due to incompetence in the Gold House.

The job of the military is to do what they're told to do, presumably by a president who has a clue. To provide him with recommendations about how to carry out his goals. They're not supposed to be the global perspective guys, the "best interest of the US" guys.

So should we be glad that Donald Trump, the most unqualified president ever, having the attention span of a charcoal briquet and the ability to learn of a flattened armadillo on I - 84, has given up his role? Or scared shitless?

CPP has some thoughts, too.

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Monday, June 19, 2017


Here's my prediction for tomorrow's Congressional election in Georgia: that R woman will win, beating the young neophyte D guy. And Democrats will spin it as a great victory because he will have lost by considerably less than Hillary did in that district.

And hopes of re-taking the House in '18 will dim ever so slightly more.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Cabinet Of Doctor Trumpligari

Tomorrow's newspaper column:
Ben Carson said it was spontaneous, and Ben knows states of mind because he just explained that’s what poverty is, a state of mind. Which you can tell because homeless people should pretend they’re in a house then maybe they would be. I never thought of it how Ben said which I should of. And that was after he figured out what was on Egyptian minds who built pyramids for grain which come to think of it the people who stacked those rocks weren’t exactly rolling in dollars which brings it all together.

So anyhow, what we’re talking about here is the cabinet meeting Trump had which I’m sure you’ve seen video so I won’t.* Some say it’s like North Korea or Russia but not me because their video quality isn’t all that good plus when Donald started congratulating himself which he’s entitled to on signing so much legislation he stopped way sooner than Kim would have or Putin. By the way I’m not like some people who say signing executive orders isn’t the same as legislation which I don’t care if he hasn’t learned that part and Paul Ryan doesn’t either.

After Trump stopped telling us his excellency which he wouldn’t have needed to if the fake press hadn’t been spending so much time finding stuff out and spreading it around, he gave everyone in the room time to speak which is generous because that’s who he is. His charities and all and those big cardboard checks which you can’t cash but you can bet he sends real ones.

Boy those people didn’t hold back. One after one, and it gave me a thrill up my leg, they sung his praise like people singing praise of someone they felt like singing praise of but not told to. It was American as heck and I can’t figure out why other presidents haven’t had their cabinets and cabinettes do the same. Out it came, the praise did, everyone having the same idea spontaneously. Spontaneity like that just doesn’t happen. And there’s nothing wrong with it because there’s a reason.

For one thing, ever since Boris Putin stopped helping him with the election it seems like President The Donald is sort of losing friends outside the White House which finally has Melania and Barron in it which ought to make him feel better and they held hands for a minute so much he forgot to notice Barron. Besides, pats on the back are good unless there’s a knife which there isn’t because they all said how much they like him even though Republicans like James Comey and Robert Mueller are giving him grief but not ones in Congress which if they haven’t by now. And if a president can’t praise himself who can other than his hires and hirettes who did it right off the top of their heads.

So no it wasn’t creepy and he’s in charge and he doesn’t lie.

What’s creepy is all that fake news about Russia and even if it’s not fake what’s the big deal. It’s not like they tried to hack election machines in all fifty states and even if they did they only made it in thirty-nine* which, hey, it’s a free country. Besides when it was discovered Barack Hussein Obama got all hot and bothered and if that doesn’t tell you how the rest of us should feel about it nothing does because he also got all hot (it’s a pun) and bothered about global warming which only God can do. Also he called Russia about it on one of those red phones that Jared wants so why not.

Plus no one thinks Russia managed to change votes because there’s no evidence although some states don’t have paper trails and don’t want to like Georgia which is having a big close election so don’t be stupid. Good for Republicans in Congress for saying no when Obama tried to declare voting machines vital infrastructure so Homeland Security could help protect them which isn’t suspicious and if sharing your own private notes isn’t leaking it should be.

The only thing who calls this serious is the deep state which I never heard of before but it’s real.
*Okay, okay. 
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Idiot In Action. Again.

The bullshitter in chief. Is there nothing he says that's not?
WASHINGTON -- While President Trump berates Qatar for sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels, he is simultaneously authorizing the country to purchase over $21 billion of U.S. weapons... 
On what basis would any halfway rational person take anything Trump says as truthful? Or serious? Or consistent? Or based on knowing WTF he's talking about?

Bad, Bad Karma

After eight years of promoting "Second Amendment remedies" by Republican governors and members of Congress and their media mouthpieces, and quoting Thomas Jefferson regarding "the tree of liberty" and "blood of patriots" by Tea Party ammosexuals, Republicans are now blaming Democrats for the sort of rhetoric that, they say, led to the shooting in D.C.

So someone took them up on those Second Amendment solutions. Someone who, given his history of violence, wouldn't have been granted a gun license if Democrats had their way. Someone who aimed his rifle to the right instead of the left, as opposed to what had been suggested during the Obama years. Who knew it'd be a "liberal?"

I hope Mr. Scalise will be okay. I've dealt with gunshot wounds like his; I infer the bullet entered his abdominal cavity through his pelvis, damaged his colon and tore through his iliac vein. That's a big one, and hard to control. I've seen people bleed to death from it. Sounds like he got good surgical care, but isn't out of the woods.

Probably not the time to mention his opposition to Obama's efforts at gun control.

Will anything change? I'm gonna say no. Fingers pointing in both directions before the smoke cleared from the field. I guess I'm among the pointers. Pointer-out, more like, I'd argue.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

(Redacted) (Redacted) (Redacted)! Also, Fuck!

My upcoming newspaper column:
There’s a housing development under construction. Comes a fast-approaching forest fire, certain to incinerate it. Recognizing impending catastrophe, local authorities order evacuation. How should we describe someone who countermanded the order, “to protect jobs” of the builders, or because packing up is too expensive? Sensible and forward-thinking, or clueless and incompetent? Or, maybe, a tool of big firehose?  
When I consider the arrogant mendacity of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords, my acclaimed civility eludes me. To be printable, I’ll do a little self-censorship. 
Some say I’ve been unfair to Trump. (Redacted)!! I’ve been too (redacted) kind. Trump, his cabinet, and the fully Foxified can spew whatever (redacted) they want. It won’t change reality. Climate change is observable. Evidence is everywhere, and, as with good science, confirmation comes from multiple sources. By now, denial of the danger we face isn’t ignorance. It’s (redacted) evil. 
Not satisfied with the environmental carnage he’s already initiated, Trump, spouting nonsense, lumbers on. I wish I could understand what motivates him. I doubt even he does. Maybe his impulses are buried so deep in his (redacted) wounded psyche that it’s just a (redacted) morass of uncontrolled reflexes. But his pig-headed climate actions amount to premeditated internecion. Same with his (redacted) apologists. Too costly? To avert disaster? (Redacted!) 
We’ll always have flat-earthers and fakers; likewise, people with something to gain, financial or otherwise, by rejecting the evidence of climate change. They’re welcome to their (redacted), but they’re the last ones who should be making decisions for the rest of us. Not when our grandkids’ quality of life is at stake. Republican lawmakers claim climate science is “unsettled.” (Redacted)! Such people, unable to evaluate data or discern propaganda, or resist jobbery, deserve no place at the negotiating table. Not coincidentally, those (redacter-redacting) Trump-excusing legislators have received millions from the fossil fuel industry. Yes: evil.  
But what of their (redacted) supporters? What’s their excuse for bequeathing to their descendants an inhospitable planet? What need in their (redacted) brains calls them to dismiss the obvious? Conditioned tribalism? Greed? Participatory gullibility? I don’t (redacted) know. But it’s (redacted) disturbing. 
It’s not okay, by which I mean it’s (redacted) (redacted), willfully to ignore reality. If it’s normal for Republicans to cling to tax cut mythology, for example (Wait! What?), it’s (redacted) abnormal that science has become a partisan issue. Respect for facts is now predictable by political affiliation. 
Every (redacted) week we see letters regurgitating Foxolimjonesian (redacted): Hillary’s State Department misplaced billions of dollars; she gave twenty-percent of our uranium to Russia; illegal voting is rampant; climate change is merely a natural cycle. Will no amount of debunkage unwash their (redacted) brains? 
Among Trump’s (redacted) justifications for abandoning the accords was they’d made America a laughing stock. This he said while affirming that America no longer cares about science, brazenly lying about (or showing he has no idea) what the agreement entails, and making clear that we’ve relinquished our role as a world leader in anything but (redacted). Could there have been a more ironic argument? Even Vladimir Putin is all but laughing in Trump’s face. It’s not America the world finds comical, Mr. Trump. It’s you. And your superficial understanding of complex issues. And your (redacted) embarrassing, fact-free tweets.  
Why did he do it? Spite for Obama? Grievance over perceived slights? Whatever the reasons, his words prove it wasn’t based on thoughtful consideration. Or truth. With Trump, a lifelong bully, cheat, and seeker of revenge upon those who refuse to (redact) his (redacted), who can know? But there’s more than climate at risk from his tantrums.  
Within hours of Trump’s disgraceful performance, American governors, mayors, and industry leaders announced they’ll adhere to the Paris agreement, as did remaining Paris participants, who’ll work directly with states. The world has declared the president irrelevant! How’s that for “great”? Unchecked, Trump is (redacted) dangerous, even beyond his repressive attacks on Constitutional bulwarks against tyranny. 
Abandoning Paris is anti-truth. It’s anti-grandchildren. He assumes his supporters are (redacted) buffoons. Is he right? It’s time to stop (redacted)-footing around the (redacting) (redacted) that he is; time for his enablers to wake the (redact) up and stop excusing the inexcusable. 
On every level, what Trump did is unconscionable. (Redacted)!
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Let Us Count The Ways...

Donald Trump's headed to Ohio, ostensibly to talk about infrastructure and his plans to turn it into an ATM for private businesses. But, since Anthem, a major health insurer there, just announced it's pulling out of the ACA insurance exchanges, he's added a visit, on Air Force One, with some Ohioans who'll be hurt by it.

The White House, of course, points to Anthem's decision as proof that Obamacare is imploding. (Which, of course, is exactly what they've been working to hasten.) Anthem, though, doesn't quite see it that way:
Anthem, which said its decision to drop out of the state exchange does not impact individuals or families with grandfathered plans, pointed to the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s-endorsed GOP plan to replace the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, as the impetus for the move. (Emphasis mine, in case you missed it.)
As we are ever more in the thrall of news of the Trump/Russia treason, let's not lose sight of the many ways, of which this is hardly the worst, that the Trump agenda threatens the welfare and well-being of average Americans, including his own voters.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Good Journalism: An Act Of Courage

Several months ago I wrote about a speech Christiane Amanpour gave to The Committee to Protect Journalism. Today I received an email from a person who'd found that post, requesting that I connect to an article written for journalists, instructing them how to protect themselves and their sources from government spying.

I read it. It's really a primer for serious investigative journalists, and way above my pay grade, but it's chilling on many levels. Especially now, when journalism is under direct attack by Trump and his enablers, and when there's an ever-increasing accumulation of evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, rampant in the Offal Office and Congress, we depend on reporters brave enough to continue to do their work.

And, of course, people on the inside who believe in preserving our democracy enough to take great risk in providing information. The arrest of the woman who leaked documentation of Russian efforts directly to hack polling devices reminds us of the importance. (She may not be the perfect poster child: among other things, she was pretty clumsy. She should have read the article. And it's complicated: defending leakers is problematic. But in this specific case, as Trump and Trumpists across the land pretend the Russia connections are fake news, I'm glad to have had confirmation of what I've always suspected, something deadly serious. To the Trumpophiles, of course, the leaker will be the story, not the leakage.)

Anyhow, here's a link to the article. It's pretty interesting. How frightening is it that it's now an act of extreme courage to do a job considered so essential to freedom that our founders enshrined it in the Constitution!

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dear Leader

My upcoming newspaper column:
Having left our alliances in shambles to an extent Vladimir Putin daren’t have hoped for, Donald Trump returned from his world tour to the plaudits of his supporters; proving yet again that nothing will shake their adulation, ever. Literally a laughing stock among European leaders after he left, Trump’s arrogant know-nothingism only increased devotion amongst the devoted. Who needs Europe? Since when is Russia an enemy? Why care about human rights? Or climate change? Or that several hundred thousand German cars are built yearly in America?  
NATO’s workings continue to flummox Trump, who still asserts member nations owe us money. Whereas it’s true many spend less on defense than agreed, no one “owes” money to anyone. Undoubtedly he’s been told this, often. (It took Angela Merkel, leader of the free world, eleven tries to instill transient understanding of how the EU works.) One assumes, then, the falsehood is addressed to his base at home, whose intelligence Trump must hold high in disregard  
And what if those countries were to increase their military spending? If Greece added fifty thousand troops would we decrease our forces by that amount? If Germany built another airbase, would we close one of ours over there? What, in other words, is his point? Disunity, maybe? Trump, who can’t stop praising murderous despots, procaciously insulted our allies, while refusing clear commitment to Article Five, under which every NATO country joined in support of us after 9/11. How high were the fives in the Kremlin?  
In the Middle East, none of our past attempts at peacemaking have succeeded, so trying a new approach makes sense. Trump’s choice, after receiving lavish flattery, is to stop pressuring Saudi Arabia on human rights, and to resume treating Iran exclusively as an outlaw nation, rejecting efforts to bring them around. Remarkably, about the same time as Trump’s trip (choose your meaning), Saudi courts upheld sentencing a nineteen-year-old woman who’d been gang-raped to two-hundred lashes and six months in jail; while in Iran, their moderate president was reelected overwhelmingly over a hard-liner, in a record turnout. 
Of course, “moderate” in Iran is still pretty hardcore. But the fact is, subsequent to President Obama’s softening of sanctions there have been undeniable signs of westernization in Iran, especially among its young people. Barack Obama saw reaching out to that generation as a way forward; Dr. Krauthammer, in last week’s column here, referred to it as “Obama’s tilt toward Iran.” This doctor sees it not as “tilt” but long-term strategy. To look tough, right now, Trump is abandoning those younger Iranians, in whom resides the potential for rejoining the world. Many reasonable people like the Trumpian approach; others consider it simplistic and counterproductive. As with all things political, time will tell.  
Returning home, it took only moments for Trump to resume attacking the press and characterizing real news as fake. Like the rest of his flock, he cheered the election of that Montanan who beat up a reporter. (Even Fox “news” reporters who were there agreed the reporter hadn’t overstepped. And if he had, you’d think a person seeking public office might possess a modicum of self-control.) Good for him, they cheered. You’re next, CNN, someone warned. Out a newspaper’s windows, someone shot.  
To Trump and his enablers, any articles lacking the fawning apologetics he gets from “Fox and Friends,” Sean Hannity, et al, are fake, by definition and without questioning. The indispensable dependence of viable democracy on tough, adversarial investigative journalism is and will forever be lost on them. (As is the importance of the ACLU, even when it defends hate speech, as it did in Skokie, Illinois years ago and just now in Portland. Sadly, not all liberals get that, either.)  
Our greatest source of fakery, distraction, and obfuscation is the Gold House itself. Following the negative reactions from Europe, it produced a stupefying press release claiming, among other things: “President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy… He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people… and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor…” 
 North Korean schools teach that Kim Jong Un was driving at three, has written fifteen-hundred books, and plays golf at thirty-eight under par. 
Probably just coincidence. 

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