Friday, July 28, 2017

Poetry Emotion


My upcoming newspaper column. The keen observer will note a change in form.
Some say I am making things worse.
Then how ‘bout I try it with verse?
This might be the time
For turning to rhyme
To make it sound less like a curse

Than the stuff I am wont to produce.
So why not attempt to let loose
A handful of poems
Instead of the tomes
That Trumpites consider abuse.

No lim’rick falutes very high
But for them I don’t have to try
Very hard to compose
A meter for those
Who’ll allow me to come through the wry.

The problem of course is just that
The issues we need to get at
Are growing so big
We’ll all need to dig
Much deeper than settling for pat

Answers to questions we raise,
For these are the darkest of days.
A family of crime
Places making a dime
Above all of the various ways

They could do what is best for the folks
Who don’t have the means of the Kochs
To get what they need.
Instead it’s Trump’s greed
That treats the poor like they’re jamokes.

And yet it’s the people who stand
To lose most from this dishonest man
Who continue to think
That his obvious stink
Is perfume wafting over the land.

He’s rude and a cheat, some agreed,
But they figured he’d change with the need;
That after the vote
He surely would note
What he must rise above to succeed.

For them it was less to elect
A fraud than a chance to reject
Allowing a sequel
To making folks equal.
They had their lost pride to protect.

You’d think there’d be none who would root
For a guy who is trying to pollute
Our air and our streams
By whatever means
That help his rich friends get more loot.
I’m happy he tweets ev’ry day.
It keeps my depression at bay.
Trump’s skin is so thin
It lets us see in
To a mind in the throes of decay.

He said we’d get tired of winning,
But when will we see the beginning?
It takes more than bluster
Successes to muster.
On con men our hopes we’ve been pinning.
Like ev’ry R prez gone before him,
Trump says to those folks that adore him,
He’ll lower their taxes
While Defense he maxes.
But the math of it all looks to bore him.

There’s nothing Obama has said
That Congress won’t try to retread.
Trump’d call it untrue
If he’d said sky is blue,
And sign a law making it red.

Obama had aided the plight
Of those who Assad they did fight
But Vlad didn’t like it
So Don he did strike it
He let Putin tell him what’s right.

It’s only fake news, move along.
In fact we can see nothing wrong
With getting a hand
From enemy land
They sing: The new patriot song.

Trump says climate change is a hoax.
He figures us regular folks
Can roast as in Hell
Long as cronies do well.
Plus science is only a joke.

One wonders just what it would take
For their and America’s sake
For Trumpists to see
That the source of their glee
Is the thing, not the news, that is fake.

He’s president only for glory
That’s all that there is to the story.
He holds himself rallies,
With sycophants dallies
While most of us look on and worry.

His speech to the Scouts clearly shows
How deep his pathology goes.
He crammed his sick gloats
Down their innocent throats.
It’s daily he sinks to new lows.

Ain’t no one is gonna impeach
As long as control’s out of reach.
Rs see as their job
Poor people to rob
While Dems ineffectively preach.

To watch the R congressfolk flail
While trying to make O-care fail
Is to see they forgot
That good laws need thought.
For eight years they chose just to rail.  
McCain just rose up from the fog.
Did tumors his memory jog?
The maverick is back
No longer a hack.
He must have been reading my blog. 
I cannot yet quit before noting
That “Integrity panel” they’re floating
(Though they swear to some god
That it’s all about fraud)
Is aimed at preventing Dems voting.

Thus endeth my brief change of tone.
I cut it less close to the bone.
But danger is such
That too light a touch
Could possibly leave me alone

In thinking a diff’rence I make.
So after this silliness break
It’s back to the grind
Of speaking my mind
For all of our lives are at stake.
[Image source]

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Innocent Are They. It's The Poor Orphans, They Say.

Yeah. They met to discuss adoption. Jared, Don Jr, Manafort, innocent as lambs, just want to do what's right for Russian orphans. Men of generosity and selfless philanthropy are they. 

Bullshit. Complete, unmitigated bullshit. 

Read this lengthy opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee by a British citizen at the heart of uncovering Russian (and Putin's personal) corruption, and understand what's really going on. And gain insight into why Putin was so committed to getting idiot tool Donald Trump in office. Billions of dollars were involved, much of it Putin's:
... After Khodorkovsky’s conviction, the other oligarchs went to Putin and asked him what they needed to do to avoid sitting in the same cage as Khodorkovsky. From what followed, it appeared that Putin’s answer was, “Fifty percent.” He wasn’t saying 50 percent for the Russian government or the presidential administration of Russia, but 50 percent for Vladimir Putin personally. From that moment on, Putin became the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world, and my anti-corruption activities would no longer be tolerated... 
... In 2010, I traveled to Washington and told Sergei Magnitsky’s story to Senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain. They were both shocked and appalled and proposed a new piece of legislation called The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. This would freeze assets and ban visas for those who killed Sergei as well as other Russians involved in serious human rights abuse. 
Despite the White House’s desire to reset relations with Russia at the time, this case shined a bright light on the criminality and impunity of the Putin regime and persuaded Congress that something needed to be done. In November 2012 the Magnitsky Act passed the House of Representatives by 364 to 43 votes and later the Senate 92 to 4 votes. On December 14, 2012, President Obama signed the Sergei Magnitsky Act into law. 
Putin was furious. Looking for ways to retaliate against American interests, he settled on the most sadistic and evil option of all: banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American families...
Clear as the space between Trump's ears is that it's about repealing the Magnitisky Act (relevant and putrid details in the linked article). All that remains is to learn what Putin has on Trump that made him figure (correctly) that he could get him to do his bidding. If it's related to money, Mueller might eventually track it down. If it's run of the mill blackmail -- say, for example, related to video of certain excretory activities -- we may never know.

After reading the testimony, anyone who excuses Trump's coziness with Putin, and/or who claims it's wonderful to try to have a relationship with him, is either profoundly naive or cosmically stupid. Or brainwashed by decades of Republican disinformation to a degree about which the Foxolimjonesian machine can only dream.

[Image source]

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017


George Mason, a father of the founding variety, had objections that kept him from signing the Constitution. One of those objections, in his words, was:
The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.
It's as if the guy had crystal balls.

[Image source]

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Go For It, Flyboy!

In his long and unique career in elected office, John McCain has hewed more often than not to his persona as a truth-telling maverick. His stumbles are well-known, of course, the worst of which -- probably even worse than the Keating imbroglio -- was pretending Sarah Whats-her-name was qualified for any office, much less the presidency. Saying she "knows more about energy" than anyone. Defending her stupidity and uninformed demagoguery with that forced smile of his.

Still, his best and most honorable moments have been when he has spoken out, against his own party even, against obvious wrongdoings and misdeeds. His recent diagnosis of glioblastoma is very serious. It sounds as if it was a relatively small one, reportedly grossly excised, which, if accurate, puts him in a category of potential cure.

But it's a bad one, and the odds aren't great. Were I in his shoes, I'd be thinking seriously about living my remaining life as if I had, as people like to say, no more fucks to give. In my case, probably not much would change. I'd still rather spend my money, for example, on other people and causes than on myself. In his case, though, he could maverick the shit out of his current party and its unhinged, rudderless, morally bereft leader, away from whose dishonesty and incompetence they remain content to turn their faces.

I hope he's thinking about it. Hard. Really, really, hard. I have no doubt he knows what a faker and danger Trump is; and I'd guess he pretty much hates his guts.

So let 'er rip, Senator. Call out Trump and his apologists among your colleagues with your legendary indignation. You have nothing to lose, cured or not, and plenty to regain: the best parts of your reputation top the list. And you've withstood a hell of a lot worse than what Trumpists will unquestionably throw at you.

(I suppose this isn't the time to mention that his government-provided health insurance is far better than what Rs are trying to foist on regular folks and poor folks, and that they're hoping his financially worry-free treatments will be successful enough to allow him to return to vote away benefits for tens of millions of his fellow Americans; benefits that were never as good as his in the first place. One might hope his illness has engendered thinking on that, too.)

[Image source]

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Smörgåsbord Of Lies And Outrages

My forthcoming newspaper column:
Lies and outrages, coming so fast, there’s neither time nor space. Here are some surface-scratches.
From the emails “transparently” released by Don, Jr. after the NYT told him they were about to publish them: “… The Crown prosecutor of Russia … offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary … and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump…” To which Junior responded, “I love it.” 
Said Sean Spicer: “… there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption…” (“Adoption,” understand, is code for removing sanctions.) The day after the offer, Trump promised a big announcement about Hillary, which never came. But he didn’t know about the meeting. Sure. 
Questioned during Trump’s “Made in America” week about Trump family products made overseas, Spicer replied, “That’s out of bounds.”  
Trump claims 45,000 coal mining jobs. The actual number is 800. Fewer coal jobs were added in his first six months than in Obama’s last six. Related: Ford is moving jobs to China. Carrier, another Trump brag, to Mexico. Harley Davidson, touted by Trump, just announced layoffs.  
Having campaigned on canceling the “terrible” nuclear agreement with Iran on day one, Trump grudgingly recertified their compliance with it.  
Having campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare on day one, promising better, cheaper, lower-deductible coverage, saying it’d be “so easy,” after multiple embarrassing failures Trump’s now for repeal with no replacement. Which he promised he wouldn’t. Or, depending on which tweet, it’s “let it fail.” Except they can’t “let” it fail: they’ll have to make it fail, as several R governors tried by refusing its Medicaid assistance. Everywhere else, it’s working as intended 
Trump would let millions of Americans lose healthcare coverage out of spite, an important lesson in today’s Republican governance. Repeal alone will be devastating. They don’t care. 
Trump blames everyone but himself for his healthcare failure. Remember when, referring to President Obama, he said presidents must take responsibility?  
The top government ethics overseer quit to protest Trump’s lack of it.  
DOD is renting space in Trump Tower for $130,000/month.  
The latest House budget funds Trump’s beautiful border wall for twenty-eight miles.  
While investigating imaginary voter fraud (“Find me something,” said Trump) they’re eliminating the Election Assistance Commission, which prevents it. Suppressing Democratic votes is the end game. In 2016, it worked well.  
Rachel Maddow, now leading cable news in viewership, has a PhD in political science. Hannity and Limbaugh are college dropouts. Coincidentally, a large majority of Republicans believe colleges are bad for America. Our free press, too. Since it’s only in the past couple of years, it’s pretty obvious what’s behind the switch. (I’m as disturbed by the extremes of “political correctness” on some campuses as anyone, but I also recognize what a small part of college it is.)  
It means Trump’s and his party’s attacks on education and science (and criticism) are working. On Republicans. Time was, that party understood the importance of public education; understood why America’s founders did, too. Now they consider it a threat to their agenda, and it’s no mystery why. Same with labeling news they don’t like as fake, while producing a steady stream of fake news themselves. Like pretending, despite Trump’s sons bragging that Russian money is an “outsize” part of Trump’s businesses, there’s no connection between him and Russia.  
Following the money, which Robert Mueller is doing despite Trump’s attempts to discredit him, should reveal the depth of it, and why Trump seems to favor Russian interests. The role of Russian oligarchs and criminals in his past businesses isn’t in doubt. Is it coincidence that the government’s solid case against Russian money laundering through American businesses including Trump’s was settled for a pittance, right after he took office, and after firing the US Attorney leading the prosecution? For a compelling discussion of the preceding with someone who knows, read this. Trumpists: reject it as fake while you still can. Like the continuing revelations of who was at “that” meeting, truth will out. Unknown is whether the Foxified will ever believe it.              
[Image source]

Friday, July 14, 2017

Trump Got Played. And Isn't A Player

Tomorrow's newspaper column:
Opinions may vary. Mine is that Putin played Trump like a balalaika. Example: agreeing to work with Russia to create an “impenetrable cybersecurity unit” is like inviting Mexican drug cartels to build his border wall. (After bipartisan derision, Trump pretended he knew all along it couldn’t happen. Riiight.) 
Worse was denouncing, on foreign soil, our intelligence agencies and free press while claiming “no one knows” who hacked the election. Which never occurred. But is Obama’s fault. Even Trump’s UN ambassador said “everybody knows” it was Russia. (Keep your résumé up to date, Nikki.) Backfilling, she defended Ivanka’s place-taking for daddy, saying she’s part of a “public service family.” I may not understand the term.  
Every involved US intelligence agency and every member of Congressional intelligence committees, Republican and Democrat, agrees that Russia alone was behind the hacking. Virtually all acknowledge its purpose was to help Trump win, and that it was on orders from Putin. Still to be determined is to what extent Trump’s team was in on it, although Don Jr. is stumbling toward implicating everyone, making a tougher sell for Foxolimjonesians insisting it’s fake news. (If there weren’t still people who claim Trump never lies and was an honorable businessman, it’d be an impossible sell.) Besides, who wouldn’t believe denials from a man who ordered hacking and one who benefitted?  
This much is clear: under Trump, there’ll be no consequences for Russian election interference, let alone unequivocal acknowledgement. Time to “move forward,” the men agreed. Because a malign invasion by a foreign adversary is no big deal. Not to Trump, not to his loyalists. Unless the aim had been different. 
It was a lopsided engagement: A novice Secretary of State and a gullible president, neither with diplomatic experience, alone in a room with a seasoned kompromat political operative and a former KGB agent around whom people seem predisposed to become dead, with or without poison or bullets in their systems. Usually there are official note-takers at such meetings. That there were none is a thought-provoking decision, leaving only he-said/he-said versions of the extent to which hacking was discussed and claims of innocence accepted. One assumes, though, that the two known spies among the four will have made records of some sort. To be stashed with the other stuff.  
In fairness (for this columnist is nothing if not fair), a ceasefire in a portion of Syria was implemented, and if it lasts that’s a good thing. Then Rex Tillerson said US and Russian objectives in Syria are “exactly the same” and that maybe the Russians have “the right approach and we’ve got the wrong approach.” Wow.  
Admittedly, US foreign “policy” has been changing at the speed of Twitter; but it’s long been stated that “we” want Assad gone, while Russia continues to prop him up and abet his crimes. We’re left to wonder why he said it, and what Trumpists would have said, had it been John Kerry. With that and Trump’s “fuggedaboudit” attitude toward election interference, Putin got what he wanted, likely including giveaways about which we may never hear. If cooperation with Russia, with its major military and minor economy, is desirable, having easily manipulated amateurs on our side and professional malefactors on theirs bodes worrisome.  
For those who’d dismiss this as left-wing blather, read what the editor of The Weekly Standard, about as right-wing as there is this side of Breitbart, had to say. True conservatives still exist, even as they’re powerless in their own party.  
In terms of economic impact, meeting Putin was a sideshow. The G-20 summit, at and before which Trump handed leadership of the free world to Germany and economic supremacy to China, was the main event. By its end, centuries of respect for the US had all but evaporated. Trumpites who think our past leadership was only about giving money away are unconcerned. But Europe, China, and Japan had forged their own agreements by the time Trump got there; and with the US alone in rejecting the Paris Accords, such self-inflicted isolation will be disastrous, and not just in trade and energy production. In a connected, dangerous world, reputation is currency and incompetence has far-ranging consequences.  
“Make America Great Again.” Turns out it contains a homophone.
[Image source]

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Making Sense Of It

Simply repeating the facts makes it seem like a failed movie script. Junior must be dumber than his dad. And here I'd thought Eric was the stupid one.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Old (As In "Old") Friends

My next newspaper column. A certain amount of esoterica, since only readers of the local paper will know Larry. We did this once before and readers liked it. They miss him; especially the ones that hate my stuff.
Well, here we are again, Sid. A flaming “liberal” and a gun-toting, NRA Life Member, “conservative,” together again in The Herald because editor Jon Bauer saw our recent conversation on Facebook. And, yes, not only do I read you in The Herald, but I also follow your Facebook posts and your blog.

I also enjoy sitting down with you for coffee. You see, as friends, I both want, and like, to hear your views in order to check my own thinking. The fact that we may differ doesn’t matter because I know that we can still civilly listen to each other, take the time to digest what’s said and, then, respond knowing that the thoughts presented will not be treated with disdain or, worse, contempt and vitriol.

As you know, I don’t “do” politics because of the polarization that now dominates this arena. These days, it seems that the instant many people detect positions that are at odds with theirs, they lump you into the “enemy” camp and start lobbing verbal bombs. No longer is there a “neutral ground” upon which to meet and simply explore ideas and beliefs. And we, as a society, are definitely the worse for that.

I’ll add that there are other reasons I count you as a friend. We’re both granddads who are fully involved in the “spoiling” role that that title requires of us. You like cars. You served and were wounded in Viet Nam. Too, you enjoy the summer sausage I make from the deer I “slaughter” annually.

Still, despite differing views, we can sit, talk, and joke with each other. Makes you wonder who it is that wants this country polarized and, more importantly, why. I think we could identify the “who” were we to “Follow the money.” The “why” by “Divide and conquer.”

You’re right, Larry. The fact is that as human-Americans, dads, grandpas, indulgers in a sip once in a while, we, like everyone else, have much more in common than what divides us. We’re old enough to remember when even political discussions could be had among friends, which might be why we still manage. I long for those days, and, despite my inability to resist putting it too strongly in my writing, it’s fundamental to why I keep at it: to point out the craziness that’s replaced reasonableness. I acknowledge it’s sort of self-defeating to yell and scream about how we’ve come to yell and scream at each other (present company excepted), but it’s hard not to.

I’d say it started with Newt Gingrich when he adopted his scorched earth policy as Speaker, and hit its lowest point when Rs got together, literally on the day of Obama’s inauguration, to plan how to block everything he did, no matter how good it might be for America. The days of comity are long gone, but the blame isn’t equal. Plus, I don’t think there’s even been an attack on science and expertise like we’re now seeing. It makes me crazy. And frightened. So I shout it out.

I don’t mean to let any felines out of bagatory confinement here, Larry, but you’re the kind of conservative I grew up around: thoughtful, skeptical, curious, not inclined to suffer fools, or vote for them. I’d like to think those are traits we have in common, as neither political party has exclusive claim to them.

And you’re right, of course: while “the people” fight among themselves and fail to listen to each other, thinking our opinions matter, those who keep us at each other’s throats are piling up the cash.

Sid, I’m not a “registered” anything, thus who started this “scorched earth” hell doesn’t matter to me. Each side has often behaved hypocritically and even despicably in the years since I first started voting. I just want an end to it all. Too, my beliefs don’t shoehorn into any party and can be best summarized as “I’ll only support a candidate whose loyalty, first and foremost, is to the country and not to a certain party.” This past election, Jim Webb received my write-in vote for President as did James Mattis for VP. Thus, I think both parties would view me as an unwanted pain in the butt.

Probably. Not me, though. In fact, I think if they’d let us, we could solve it all. But let’s get to the important stuff: that deer sausage you make. It’s darn fine sausage. You and I have gone to the shooting range together. I think I impressed you with a shot or two. I’d enjoy a hunt, too, up to a point. I’d not be the one to pull the trigger, but I’d help you carry the load back to your truck. Not gonna kill. Happy to eat.

Sid, your shooting did, in fact, impress the hell out of me. But, then again, my rifle was in the hands of a surgeon and, that, as they say, puts an end to that discussion.

Okay, then: as grandfathers of adorable kids who happen to have preexisting conditions, maybe I can suck you further into quasi-politics: think universal single-payer healthcare ought to be back in the mix?

In a word, “Yep.” (Try to pick yourself up from the floor.) In any discussion of tough problems, every possible solution should be on the table. Too, that “Yep” only comes with an iron-clad agreement that whatever mish-mashed, hodge-podged, load of doggerel comes from those we call “our representatives,” they themselves will be subject to whatever fresh new hell they inflict upon us.
Agreed. And it applies to lots of other stuff they produce that affects others but not them. Of course, among other things, they’d have to grow uteri or know what hunger feels like. (Ha. I said that without space for you to respond). Thanks, Larry. Next round of coffee is on me.

Popular posts