Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's my party...

     ...and you can buy if you want to. I've been kind of busy today and didn't really have time to post earlier. I'm in the midst of negotiating a deal with a publisher, sending out and receiving books and dealing with literally hundreds of birthday wishes on FB. Plus, no sooner than I finished my latest novel in the middle of last month, I began another one that's an immediate followup in the series.
     So, yeah, your aging porcine powerhouse is now exactly a year shy of hitting the big 6-0. And, while I'm a bit old to be expecting cash, cards and cake, it would be nice if you could stop by my Amazon author page and purchase a book or two. I was originally planning on taking them off the market but I have a few reviews pending from some new readers so I'll keep them all up for now.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Shithead

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” - "President" Donald Trump, January 11, 2018
This man has to go. Now. And people are getting kind of fed up waiting on Robert Mueller and his glacially slow investigation and Republicans pretending as if the 25th Amendment doesn't exist. Because I think we can all stop shaking our heads and denying that Donald Trump is a racist. If Charlottesville and Trump giving cover to his white supremacist supporters didn't prove that in spades, then there's no denying it now.
     Slate knows it. CNN's Anderson Cooper knows it. His former ambassador to Panama knows it. There's no more plausible deniability and the last refuge Trump's racist voters, supporters and sympathizers have left is acknowledging he is a racist but "one who tells it like it is." After all, if Haiti and other countries with black people aren't shitholes, then why did they come here, in the first place?
     Well, one answer is that they came to America looking for a better life through better opportunities for their families before Donald John Trump made our nation the laughingstock of the planet, before he and his Republican and corporate enablers turned it into the First World's Premiere shithole. And. lest there be any inexplicable lingering doubt that Donald John Trump is a racist cut from the same rotten piece of whole cloth as his running buddy David Duke, Trump punctuated his despicable remark by asking why Norway can't send more of their people over.
     Well, why would they? They live in a far better, more progressive country than ours. Someone should tell Trump he can stop buttering up the Norwegians- They already bought the F-52's. And someone should also remind him not all Norwegians are like Quisling. Typically, Trump denied having said these things despite there being Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Oval Office when he said it, as well as the press.
     And, as always, his timing couldn't have been worse except if he'd waited a day and made the remarks about Haiti and certain African nations today: Today is the eighth anniversary of the horrendous earthquake that devastated Haiti that killed anywhere from 100,000 to 316,000 people and displaced one and a half million.
     If the community of nations was an actual family, Haiti would be the youngest in a family of scores that always gets the hand-me-downs, beatings and derision from bloated, pampered, racist white fucks such as Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh. Through seemingly unending political corruption and repressive regimes, American corruption that only begins with the Clintons and the Red Cross, and then natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Haiti, the world's first black republic, has never gotten a fair shake and that trend promises to continue for the foreseeable future.

He's Not Racist. He Only Plays One on TV
Donald Trump has always been racist and you have his father Fred to thank for that. During Trump's Quixotic campaign, we'd heard the disgusting tale of Fred and Donald Trump being sued in the early 70's for racial discrimination in their rental practices. HUD, now headed up an anti public housing fanatic named Ben Carson, sued the Trumps. It was the Donald's inglorious introduction to nationwide fame (or infamy) and then as now, Trump denied any wrongdoing, saying the government's allegations were "absolutely ridiculous."
     Since then, Trump has not been shy about showing off his racist opinions in interviews over the decades, including saying that blacks were "inherently lazy" when his Atlantic City casino went belly up. And, of course, he pricked up a lot of dog ears when, during his campaign announcement, used his coarse dog whistle to call for a wall to keep out Mexicans because they're "rapists and criminals."
     Since then, he hasn't been shy about making his racist views known even though he's now under a bigger, more powerful microscope than NBC or the Miss Universe Pageant ever presented. Despite knowing that a rash tweet or an injudicious thought could result in a stock market crash or create an international incident (like, say, nuclear war with North Korea that could easily pull in China and its considerable might), Trump blithely barrels across the world calling nations with black populations "shitholes" and then following up by wondering why we can't have more white, respectable Nordic types.
     Then there was Trump's lackadasical response to the hurricane that submerged Port Arthur and Houston, a city with 36% Hispanics and his execrable response to the subsequent hurricane that struck our territory Puerto Rico and left much of it, to this day, without power. Trump's remedy? Throw paper towels at them then laugh as they catch them.
     No President of the United States can pretend to unify the nation and respect the countless cultures that make up our national fabric while being so derogatory to those who aren't sufficiently white enough to pass his baleful muster. And Trump's remarks about Haiti and African nations shocked even the GOP lawmakers who were there during that impromptu meeting to talk about DACA and Jeff Flake's compromise bill.
     Besides, as the old adage says, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, especially if they have unparalleled views  of shitholes like Trump Park, Mar-a-Lago and Trump's Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City
     Now, those are shitholes.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Man Boy Who Cried Wolff

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart... I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!” -"President" Donald J. Trump, January 6, 2018
To paraphrase an old quote about discipline and genius, "Genius without discipline gives us artists. Discipline without genius gives us bureaucrats. And an abundance of neither gives us people like Joe Chadwick and Donald Trump.
     This morning, just before the Trump crime family went to the mattresses at Camp David a la The Godfather, Donald Trump put out a series of tweets today that, even by his abysmally low standards, had to be seen to be believed. In a way, it was predictable that Fire and Fury, the #1 hottest-selling book in the nation, if not the world, would bring out the street fighter in Trump.

     So it was highly ironic and more than a little amusing when Trump decided to amplify his message that first went out on Twitter and made himself an even bigger laughingstock by proclaiming before the media, "That's what I do. I do things proper." Repeatedly. Yes, the man who bragged about going to "the best colleges, or college" apparently hadn't learned a baseline of English language skills.
     OK, this is all very funny and, yes, let's give him what for and laugh at the poor idiot with the language skills of a 19th century Lower East Side guttersnipe. But remember that this particular idiot has his tiny finger on a big button that, until days ago, he was bragging was on his desk (it is not). The real story, of course, is no laughing matter, even if Trump actually mentioned Alzheimer's victim Ronald Reagan while trying to scream that he was a "very stable genius."

     Kinda like that.
     This, of course, is the real issue, not his Norm Crosby mangling of the English language. And let's revisit that latest battle of "wits" between Trump and Kim Jong Un in which Trump threatened nuclear war, again, on Twitter. And, as Johnathan Capeheart wrote in his lede yesterday in the WaPo, "Wolff paints such a chaotic portrait of President Trump that we now know that the biggest nuclear button in the West Wing was the one on Wolff’s tape recorder."
     Which, while it may be a clever and topical bon mot, is of course not true. Trump's metaphorical big red button, a cartoon image with sinister implications if there was ever one, is the only true big red button that matters because this immature, sputtering manchild ravaged with insecurities that go back to his childhood has the capability to destroy the world in a nuclear winter that could last for tens of thousands of years.
     And, legally, since such a chain of events could happen with dizzying speed, there's no one who could or would likely stop him short of mass insubordination. And Trump doesn't even seem to have stopped to consider the corollary implications of bombing even a rogue nation such as North Korea. Such as their biggest ally China bombing us in retaliation.

Epiphany Day
In The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon, Anthony Summers once related a nightmarish tale of Richard Nixon, still in his rookie year as president, ordering a nuclear strike on North Korea while dead drunk. It was only stopped by Henry Kissinger, the unlikeliest of heroes, when he telephoned the Joint Chiefs and told them to belay Nixon's order until he sobered up in the morning. By Kissinger's own account, "If the President had his way, there would be a nuclear war every week!"
     Would Rex Tillerson do that if Trump decides to slam that big red button in a childish act of rage? It's one thing to call your boss "a fucking moron" behind his back (after a meeting at the Pentagon in which Trump expressed a desire to exponentially ramp up our nuclear stockpile in defiance of decades of non-proliferation treaties). It's another to call the Pentagon and tell our highest-ranking military leaders to hold off on a nuclear first strike. Plus, Tillerson's no Henry Kissinger and may be on the way out.
     And experts on the subject of nuclear strikes have different things to say on the matter. And just the very fact that we have to have this discussion, to begin with, and just two days before Trump's Twitter tirade and spittle fest at the media, is very discomfiting to say the least. The problem is that Trump has no plausible deniability. It seems to perpetually escape him that, in order to have that, you have to be plausible.
     He's also yet to learn after 71 and a half years on this planet that when your sanity is questioned by anyone, whether it be by a Harvard-educated psychiatrist of international note or a hack such as Michael Wolff, you don't punch down. Because when you do, you've immediately lost the argument. Johnny Pesky, the legendary Red Sox infielder, understood that decades ago when he was made the goat of the 1946 World Series loss to the Cardinals. He knew that the more he argued against him holding the ball too long, the guiltier he looked so he just took his lumps.
     Trump has never learned that and it's obvious he never will. The Bizarro World between his ears is such that a funny meme on Twitter went viral yesterday: The now-infamous Gorilla Channel hoax. The very fact that so many people were taken in by it is not a reflection of the gullibility of people but one on a so-called President who's so bizarre even down to his clownishly long ties that any wild fabrication calling his sanity into question invites more suspension of disbelief than Trump can ever muster.
     Today is Epiphany Day but that fact alone is hardly a revelation.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Confession

     I don't always know what I'm going to write until I write it. That often goes for my fiction because I'm what my fellow writers refer to as a pantser, or writing by the seat of one's pants without a template like an outline or chapter synopsis. Now, no doubt, that may invite some "neener neener" comment by Jailbird Joe Chadwick, a guy who probably pressured the smart kids in his private school in Jerusalem to eat their own boogers then razzed them for it.
     But in all seriousness, I don't know what to say for my inaugural post of 2018 but I trust that I'll eventually come up with something.
     I think part of this stultifying paralysis comes from the fact that I'm haunted by the feeling that, when it comes to Republicans and Trump, I've said it all since 2015, since practically the day the Donald rode an escalator down into presidential history and had an ex KGB goon named Vladimir Putin help him steal the election.
     I've psychoanalyzed this buffoon to the best of my poor layman's abilities but, after a while, one finds oneself with a soured feeling of deja vu, that's it's all been said, to no avail. In violation of the so-called Goldwater Rule, countless psychiatrists and psychologists have analyzed Trump through his actions, speeches and other public statements. And who's to refute them, especially when they're all, seemingly, saying more or less the same thing- That Trump's plainly unfit to lead the nation and the free world.
     Yes, we all know he's lazy, arrogant, megalomaniacal, feckless and shiftless. He's spent 112 days golfing in the first year of his ill-gotten presidency, quite a stat for a guy who attacked former president Obama on the rare occasion he picked up a golf club (However, one must consider that during Trump's youth, the only legitimate reason for a black man to be on a golf course was if he was a caddy or groundskeeper).
     Like a typical Republican, he's bound and determined to hurt poor people, takes no responsibility for his toxic actions and lies, lies, lies like a bearskin rug. He is completely and utterly unaware that he's even capable of hypocrisy let alone constantly indulging in it and when he hears something unflattering about himself or his so-called administration, he waves it off by sneering, "Fake news."
     And the craven, wet-legged Republicans in Congress have a choice to make- After a string of defeats of people who'd chosen to walk off the cliff with Trump or those who'd been given the Kiss of Death by him, Republicans have to decide whether to continue siding with him as they use him for a useful idiot to continue hurting the poor, enriching the 1%, continuing the risky military adventurism bloating the MIC and turning our woefully understaffed diplomatic corps into an international laughingstock.
     Or they could repudiate him, distance themselves from him at the risk of losing Trump's red meat base. This November 6th, all 435 congressional seats are up for grabs, obviously, as well as eight Republican Senate seats in mostly red states. But Alabama used to be a red state and their boy Roy Moore (R-Lolita), who reluctantly got the aforementioned Kiss of Death from Trump as had Luther Strange before him, got his ass handed to him by Doug Jones, albeit a dull Blue Dog if ever there was one.
     So, after Alabama, no GOP seat is safe.
     But I've already said these things. So what should I be saying, instead?
     That the grand jury empaneled by Robert Mueller isn't just searching for irrefutable evidence of indictable crimes- It is searching for the soul of a nation that had allowed so much to get taken from it since Nixon  including the power of the rule of law that had been seriously eroded since Bush II. We have allowed so much to be stolen from us by Republicans and the corporations that benefit so much from their largesse and neverending orgy of deregulation that it only becomes apparent of how much is missing from our lives if you're my age or older and remember the way this once great nation used to be.
     Because what Bob Barr once said still holds true and always will: "If you give the government power, it will use it." And we have ceded far too much power to these people when we can't seem to muster more than electing a few Blue Dogs like Doug Jones every election cycle, so-called Democrats who are alarmingly willing to work with Republicans in the spirit of "compromise" and "bipartisanship" in which Republicans hold no stock while they enjoy the tyranny of the majority.
     Yes, my hopes for a better future hang like a wet, heavy coat on a wooden peg on Mueller's investigation but that alone will not solve our ills. Trump may be heading for the third or fourth shortest term in US presidential history. But even if Pence goes out the door with him, the evil, the moral leprosy that put both in power will be left behind, like the dry rot in the piling beneath the pulled-up rotten carpet.
     Like the salt in the earth beneath the dead grass. We need to switch it all out and it's going to take a hell of a lot more than just one midterm election to do it. It's going to take the complete overhaul of the mindset of the 40% of us who still vote and the well-informed, good-hearted engagement of the other 60% who don't.
     And that's what I fear and that's why it's been so hard to get myself to write anything here because I have to be honest and admit what I've just called for seems out of reach of a lazy, complacent nation that had allowed so many freedoms and so much power to fall into the wrong hands.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Open Letter to Carolyn Reidy and Mitchell Ivers



(This letter has also been emailed directly to Carolyn Reidy and Mitchell Ivers just to let them know how deeply I disrespect them.)
Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: 212-698-2897
Fax: 212-632-4084

Dear Simon & Schuster, et al:

     Thanks largely to Jason Pinter and his now-viral post on Twitter, we have been afforded a glimpse of the shit show that ensued when your right wing imprint, Threshold, decided to crawl into bed with Milo Yiannopoulos last winter. Here is a guy who’d been fired by Breitbart for making apologist statements in behalf of pederasts, got banned from Twitter for life (which would’ve made for a huge plank in his marketing platform) and was banned from speaking to his old grammar school in the UK as well as Berkeley. Granted, several of these incidents had come to light after your executives had seen fit to sign Milo to a $255,000 contract with an $80,000 advance. But you must have known, should have known what you were crawling into bed with when you signed to a lucrative contract a bigoted, self-loathing gay man who had launched a speaking tour called “Dangerous Faggot.”
     And not only was he escorted straight past the editorial offices of Simon & Schuster but was even led straight to the executive suites. By his own admission, he tried his level-headed best to alienate you out of giving him a contract, showing what a self-destructive piece of shit he truly is but, when the performance art was over, you shoved a large pile of money his feet and shook his hand.
     And now here you are, embroiled in a $10,000,000 nuisance lawsuit in which your lawyers had lost the first round when they had their motion to dismiss rejected by a New York State Supreme Court Judge. And I do not feel sorry for you one bit. And this is a contract you'd actually had the gall to defend, stating. "We do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form." Which was an odd tack to take since by the summer of 2016 Yiannopoulos had been banned for Twitter for life harassing and basically stalking black actress Leslie Jones over her role in Ghostbusters
     And, if Simon & Schuster's official corporate line is to condemn "discrimination and hate speech", then explain why you'd chosen to publish a book in which he smears feminists as fat women who own lots of cats? Or says that gay men should stay in the closet?
     This is the price you pay for getting involved with right wingers in the first place, let alone setting up a right wing imprint such as Threshold. Lord only knows why a once-prestigious publishing company would flush itself down the cultural tubes by setting up a right wing imprint instead of a progressive one that at least would’ve attracted intelligent, thoughtful writers presenting intelligent, thoughtful books. But “fairness and balance” only seems to apply when giving right wing nut jobs such as Milo a voice in the national debate.
     Your entire business model is Byzantine and perplexing. Not that this is entirely your fault. The Big Five as a whole is perplexing in its outdated and non-agile business model that never seems to be able to keep step with the Protean changes in today’s publishing business. And Lord only knows why you, Ms. Reidy, were recently honored with being made Publisher’s Weekly’s Person of Year in 2017 after embroiling your publishing company in a lawsuit that has made it, moreso than usual, the laughingstock of the English-speaking world, the publishing business in general and social media.
     Let me tell you a true story:
     About seven years ago, I got fed up with literary agents launching their flunkies at me with countless form letters because they themselves didn’t think I was worth the ten seconds it would take to hit the “send button.” So I submitted my novel, THE TOY COP, over the transom to Judith Curr, co-founder of your other imprint, Atria Books.
     Judith got back to me, sent me an encouraging letter then tried to hook me up with a buddy of hers who just happened to be a literary agent named Judith Sanders, with whom she just happened to have lunch the day before. “Send her the whole manuscript,” she said, “and we’ll take it from there. She ought to be emailing you any minute.”
     Needless to say, warning bells went off.
     Part of the publishing business’s moral leprosy consists of a generation ago your ilk making literary agents primary gatekeepers because you no longer felt like going through the slush pile. Now, in this massive, undeclared kickback scheme you audaciously call a business model, we’re forced to take on an agent and waste untold amounts of time soliciting the attention of these morons who literally fail at their jobs nearly 100% of the time.
     When an agent tries to put you in touch with a publisher, that’s bad enough. But when a publisher such as Judith Curr tries to find an author an agent, it makes it look even more like the collusive kickback scheme that ought to be enforceable under the RICO statutes. And that’s exactly what it is- It’s racketeering. It’s the publisher’s way of telling the author, “Nice property ya got here. Be a shame if… nuttin’ happened to it.”
     Here was the sticking point- Vicky Sanders had rejected 10 days earlier, through the usual form letter, a brilliant novel I’d written entitled AMERICAN ZEN. It was the last of several such letters I’d gotten from Sanders over the years and I’d already written her off on my agent contact list. So when Sanders indeed wrote me within minutes after sniffing out a possible paycheck and opportunity, I told her I didn’t want her anywhere near my literary properties.
     She then pretended she had any control over the situation and did the Aesop’s Fable sour grapes thing and rescinded an offer I’d already rejected, stating there “was too much history between us.” I responded the real problem, in fact, was that there was no history between us and she had nothing but her stupidity, laziness and arrogance to thank for that.
     So what’s the difference between Milo and me, despite the fact Milo has no talent for writing whatsoever? Milo had a literary agent, some idiot named Tom Flannery, therefore, despite his self-immolating behavior, he had instantly had more credibility than me and was led straight to the executive suites before he’d even caught sight of an editor.
     And what happened to THE TOY COP almost seven years ago? When Judith Curr realized I wasn’t going to put any cha ching in her agent buddy’s pocket, she immediately shunted me to one of her flunkies and they both passed on the book.
     And now your formerly great publishing company is embroiled in a nuisance lawsuit over the guy you did choose over me, thereby spending more money than you likely would have made by publishing that putrid piece of shit, Dangerous. Well played, Carolyn, well played.
     Lord only knows what you people were thinking. Even Milo’s right wing editor, Mitchell Ivers, a man who thinks liberals are the ones suppressing free speech (great hiring choice, there, by the way), couldn’t stand reading it. He was given a box of shit a la Steve Mnuchin and was asked to turn it into a bouquet by Simon & Schuster’s executives while they prepared themselves to ride the Milo Gravy Train.
     But a box of shit is still a box of shit and never even rises to the level of fertilizer if it doesn’t have anything viable to fertilize. I would think, seeing as how literary agents, from whom you buy almost all your properties, fail at their jobs nearly 100%, publishing executives would know that just because a person has a literary agent it doesn’t mean they’re worthy of a publishing contract.
     And the moral and legal stench of getting into bed with a guy who’d already made himself a psychedelic bozo is wafting across the internet and you have egg you likely will never wipe off your face.
     If I ever get a literary agent, I will instruct him or her to simply bypass Simon & Schuster in the submission process on the grounds I would never wish to be published by a corporation that had shown the astoundingly bad judgment of offering a large publishing contract to a hateful bigot such as Milo Yiannopoulos.
     And people such as Yiannopoulos, and by extension, Donald Trump, should and will serve as an object lesson in the dangers of doing business with such toxic individuals without first examining our souls and determining who and what we are as a species and judging how far we’re willing to go in the name of corporate profits. And, as much as I loathe Milo and everything he stands for, a part of me hopes he wins his lawsuit and you lose another $10,000,000 to that psychopath for breach of contract.
          Very Sincerely,

     Robert Crawford

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

You've Been Warned

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse." - Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post
Today marks the 85th day that Donald Trump has spent on a golf course since January 20th. As a dwindling minority that still accepts and supports Trump as our President would know, if someone could teach them how to use a calculator, that's a quarter of Trump's first year in office. Remember that bland yet chilling inaugural speech to a shriveled post-Obama crowd in which he said he would work hard for the American people? Before anyone knew it, he was already off to a golf course with his name on it, eventually bankrupting the Secret Service in less than seven months because Trump found a way to profit off his own security detail.
     It's difficult for anyone of reasonable intelligence and cognitive capabilities to understand why and how anyone outside of the 1% that just got the biggest and bestest Christmas present in US history in the tax scam bill could still support this malignant megalomaniac but here we are. And perhaps the painfully methodical Mueller investigation and the deliberately sluggish processes of the federal government are the only things that are keeping this administration on life support.
     From the first day, Trump's Russia-enabled "presidency" is like a 20 year-old old Ford Pinto that you just know is going to blow itself and several innocent bystanders to smithereens but, miraculously, still hasn't. You know nothing lasts forever, especially in the age of term limits. And yet the exhaust pipe still keeps churning out exhausting lie after lie and becomes almost unto a miracle of perseverance.
     After all, there's no way a man like Donald Trump could last for more than a year, year and a half (perhaps even close to two years, pending Congressional testimony and grand jury indictments) in the highest office in the land. There's no possible way such a counterproductive and counterintuitive kakistocracy assembled by Trump could survive all that time in the public and media scrutiny.
     And yet, we had eight years of Bush II, with nary an article of impeachment written besides a completely ignored one written by the now-forgotten Dennis Kucinich. Bush survived eight years without one serious Congressional challenge despite having committed some of the most egregious war crimes in American history in Iraq and Afghanistan. So don't tell me pure evil doesn't have a survival instinct. It would hardly exist if it hadn't.
     And yet every time Trump screams "fake news" or "witch hunt" with wearisome frequency without being significantly challenged, the more he lowers the bar of the national discourse and the more Overton's Window shifts ever more to the right. In fact, the last 11 months have shifted that window so far to the right it's now just a smidgen to the left of Nazi Germany.

Yes, I Just Invoked Godwin's Law. Here's Why.
Anyone who's even done a cursory examination of the earliest years of the Third Reich should see countless alarming similarities between it and the first year of Trump's rule. In fact, if one goes to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC (at which he'd spoken last April in which he'd robotically denounced anti Semitism without once mentioning the wave of it in this country since his election with hardly a mention from his administration), one will see a list of 14 signs of emerging fascism.

     A well-informed individual can hardly look at this list and not be tickled by one memory or another of Trump doing his woven-headed best to make these things a reality in just the first 11 months of his reign. "Corporate power protected" was honored in a big way just with the tax scam bill that Republicans rammed through (while denying the filibuster to the minority Democrats). The corporate tax rate was suddenly cut almost in half from 35% to 21% in the face of history and economic sanity that show time again that tax cuts do not create jobs. And whatever the tax "overhaul" didn't do for corporations, his ruinous Cabinet that's crawling with billionaires are busy filling in the gaps with an orgy of deregulation. "Labor power suppressed"? Check.
     "Rampant Sexism." He's Donald fucking Trump, whose entire life has been a shambling shrine to crumbling and outdated male sexism and sexual assault. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, assaulted a female reporter March last year and Trump defended him. "Religion and government intertwined"? At first, that's a hoot since Trump's a bigger fan of Hitler's speeches than the Bible. But then, showing he has some survival skills, after all, Trump nominated and shoe-horned into his Cabinet evangelical bozos such as Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson and, most notably, Mike Pompeo, who leads prayer meetings at Langley. and, in the WH, Ralph Drollinger, who once said mothers serving in public office were "sinners."
     "Obsession with crime and punishment." Trump pretty much covered that in his inaugural speech. For good measure, he also folded in "Powerful and continuing nationalism" into it, even though it's all but obvious he only cares about 1% of the nation. "Disdain for human rights." Far be it for a billionaire to be invested in human rights and Trump does his fellow oligarchs proud by strenuously ignoring that pesky human rights issue. Last September at the UN, Trump made his thoughts known on that subject and he pulled a public hissy fit because UN's Human Rights Council included his business buddies, Saudi Arabia, one of the most egregious human rights abusers on the planet.
     "Rampant Cronyism and corruption"?

     Just stick their pusses next to the words in the dictionary.
     "Identification of enemies for a unifying cause."
     Trump did this just seconds after he got off the escalator at Trump Tower the day he announced his candidacy when he called Mexicans "rapists and criminals" to a mostly paid crowd. Sally Kohn and Jon Stewart were excited about Trump's new candidacy "if only for the entertainment value." Then, like John Carpenter's Thing, entertainment nightmarishly morphed into policy.
     In "supremacy of the military", Trump is merely a typical Republican- a draft dodging chickenhawk who loves the idea of a strong, misadventurous military in the abstract while showing nothing but disdain for individual service members who prove mouthy or inconvenient. Witness Trump's despicable "he knew what he signed up for" remarks to La David Johnson's widow and sending Army Rangers into a suicide mission in Niger.

Shall I Go on?
Let's return to "Powerful and continuing nationalism," shall we? Because this is one part of those 14 warning signs that not only did Trump fulfill, but even expanded upon. In a watershed moment of his alleged presidency, there was a torchlit rally in Charlottesville organized by the alt-right, which is a paper-thin rebranding of the neo Nazi and white supremacist movement. One of their own plowed his car at 40 mph into a crowd of people, killing Heather Heyer. Trump wasted no time in demonizing those in attendance... namely the so-called "counterprotesters" who weren't counterprotesters but protesters of Nazi violence.
     The man with a Jewish son in law and daughter who's converted to Judaism defended those who'd caused that death (and who were filmed chanting, "Jews will not replace us" and that neo Nazi trope, "Blood and soil."), eventually calling them, his Jewish Secretary of the Treasury to his immediate right, "some very fine people." Later, at a failed rally in Arizona, he ridiculed the antifa movement. Yes, for the first time in US history, a sitting US president took the side of Nazis, Klansmen, white supremacists and neo Confederates. So, rather than merely honoring the fascist code of "Powerful and continuing nationalism," Trump also gave white nationalism a huge boost and a thumbs up from his campaign backer, white nationalist leader David Duke.
 
     Don't believe the KKK endorsed Donald Trump? Would you believe their biggest newspaper, The Crusader?
     "Controlled mass media." Hm, that's a toughie. Let's start with Trump personally banning all but Russian media when he entertained his comrades in the Oval Office the day after firing FBI Director James Comey. How about, a month into his rule, Trump banned respected news organizations such as CNN, the BBC and the Guardian from press gaggle briefings? Or when Trump threatened to eject CNN correspondent Jim Acosta? "Fake news", "witch hunt", blah blah blah.
     "Obsession with national security." This one leaves a lot of people scratching their heads. In tried-and-true Republican dogma, Trump seems to be obsessed with our nation's security while inexplicably endangering it at the same time. One needn't look any further than Trump's Asian Doppleganger, Kim Jong Un. Between calling him "rocket man" at the UN General Assembly and goading that other megalomaniac into launching missiles at our base in Guam, Trump seems bound and determined to be not just the 45th president but the 45th and last.
     Let's also return to "disdain for human rights." Less than a week after he was sworn in, Trump said on national TV that, after speaking with the highest levels of US intelligence, he asked, "Does (torture" work?" And he claimed to have been told, "I've spoken as recently as twenty-four hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question, Does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was yes. Absolutely." Even the Bush administration, which turned torture into a major crux of US foreign policy, bristled at the very word "torture", giving rise to the more PC version, "enhanced interrogation." For good measure, Trump also vowed to not only kill terrorists but their families, as well (a promise he'd almost immediately made good on).
     "Disdain for intellectuals and the arts"? Duh.
     And then, there's the big Kahuna,,,

"Fraudulent elections."
Yes, of course there was fraud in the last election but not in the way Trump and Kris Kobach are obsessed with believing. Like a true banana republic dictator, it wasn't enough for Trump to "win" the Electoral College. He became obsessed with losing the popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 to Hillary Clinton and immediately claimed all three million and perhaps even up to five million voted illegally or were dead. He was so obsessed with this slight to his imagined popularity that he even set up a Voter Fraud Commission with fellow conspiracy theorist Kris Kobach.
     But that's not what Robert S. Mueller III has spent the better part of the year investigating. While Kobach's commission has not turned up one instance of voter fraud in 2016, there's plenty of evidence to more than suggest that there were loads of Republican electoral fraud and colluding with the highest levels of the Russian government to that end.
     Trump's more than suspicious relationship with Russian dictator Vlad Putin, a former KGB operative, began years before that now-infamous meeting at Trump Tower June of last year between another former Russian KGB agent, Trump's sons, a Kremlin-linked Russian attorney and his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. We all know the story now: The Russians offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, Don Jr. broke his neck to get it, realized they had bupkiss, then when the story broke 13 months later, Trump personally crafted the official narrative of that meeting and claimed it was all about adopting Russian orphans.
     They weren't just talking about Clinton. Obama-era sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea were also on the table, says the Russian lawyer. In fact, those sanctions that have proved so harmful to Russian businesses and banks were the primary concern of those selfsame Russians to the point they were openly meeting with then Senator Jeff Sessions to discuss just that. Then there was the reason Michael Flynn got sacked as National Security Advisor- Discussing those same sanctions with Russian officials and lying to Mike Pence and the FBI about it. Fake news? Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI, as did George Papadopoulos.
     So, no. Robert Mueller has not been digging deeply all these months to see whether or not your abuela voted illegally for Hillary. People like Flynn, Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos are but mere pawns, rooks at best in this shameless Kremlin takeover of our electoral system in this Richard Condon novel come to life. Mueller is after the big chess piece he can topple:

      The queen.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Xmas From Our Home to Yours


      May you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

#somuchwinning

    (Tip o' the tinfoil hat to Constant Reader CC)
     Did you ever see SILVERADO? It was one of the best westerns of the 80's, maybe of all time. The bad guy Cobb was played by Brian Dennehy. And every time Cobb said he was making "an adjustment", he would wind up killing someone.
      "Don't force me to make an adjustment," he said to one character. Translation: "Don't make me kill you."
      Seems as though they're all Cobb, now, especially AT&T, who are using weasel words and phrases such as "workforce adjustment" to justify 1000 layoffs right after the holidays. I honestly believe these executive cunts actually enjoy firing people just before Christmas. It probably gives them erections, maybe putting people out of work and announcing it just before Christmas even makes them spontaneously ejaculate. And it's always just before Christmas when firings and layoffs are announced. Even at his worst, Scrooge didn't lay off Bob Crachit.
     So, how is this GOP tax scam bill going to create jobs, again, Trump? Oh yeah. Empowering the actual labor force was never the intention, was it?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

It's Time to Remember Edwin Lemkin

     I just got done looking at the obituary of my old Social Studies (what we used to call it in the 70's) teacher, Mr. Edwin Lemkin. It dutifully notes that he was 89 when he passed away in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 23rd, 2010. However, there isn't a mention of his career as a professional educator in East Meadow, New York, where I'd completed high school, or anywhere else. There's no picture. There's just a ghostly trail tracing some of the courses he taught in 1966 and beyond.
     A decade after that, I formally made Mr. Lemkin's acquaintance when it had been decided I would have him for Social Studies in my senior year. He was a short, squat fireplug of a man, with a borderline pugnacious personality. He made no bones about the fact he was former Navy and looked as if he had been born to be a Navy Chief or higher. I used to love making jokes that his booming voice called to mind a naval foghorn.
     But Mr. Lemkin was much more than a man who quit the US Navy and carelessly decided on a second career in education. He turned out to be quite an astute and learned man and, all jokes aside, I quickly realized why East Meadow Senior High had chosen to contract his services.
     I don't know what action he saw in the Navy but I'd be willing to bet he saw early action in Vietnam, a war that had just ended so recently, it hadn't even begun to be taught in high school curriculums. But if there was, I'm sure he could've given us his thoughts and impressions on the war in Southeast Asia. Perhaps he'd even seen action in WW II or Korea.
     But I'm writing this 40 years after the fact because present conditions in our nation's Capitol, which are having a ripple effect in every corner of Sarah Palin's "Real 'Murrica" make me think of one thing Mr. Lemkin said in either 1976 or '77.
     Out of the nine months we had him as our senior year Social Studies teacher, the one thing he said that stuck in my mind the most was his thoughts on George Wallace.
     "George Wallace stands for hate... and that's why he's never going to get elected President of the United States," he confidently said. And we three dozen or so students in his classroom perhaps were comforted that such a noxious racist such as George Wallace, while not exactly relegated to the fringes of American society (he took five states in the 1972 primaries), would never go on to the most powerful and exalted office in the free world.
     George Wallace was the last of the nationally known Dixiecrats. He never changed party affiliation to the end of his days but he would fit in perfectly with today's GOP. The man who had once famously pulled a stunt such as standing in a doorway at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and who said in his inaugural address just months earlier, "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" cynically tried to garner mainstream support by proclaiming he no longer supported segregation.
     Yes, a man that filled with racist hatred was actually winning states in the 1972 Democratic presidential primaries and that was frightening enough. And it took a wouldbe assassin's bullets to derail his presidential aspirations forever.
     Mr. Lemkin, were he alive now, would be appalled to see who we'd elected president just last year. Perhaps he was appalled by Jeff Sessions' ascension to the junior Senate seat in Alabama but Sessions, as we soon realized to our individual horror, was just the hors d'oeuvre in the rancid banquet of racism to which we've been subjected since Trump threw his double weave in the ring in June of 2015.
     It started very much like Trump doing the same thing four years earlier. He was in and out in three weeks and made not a ripple in the political waters. He went back to his ill-gotten real estate empire, shitty reality TV show and beauty pageants and we thought that was that.
     But after eight years of a biracial President, "Real 'Murrica" decided it had had enough. Wall Street's Dow Jones going through the roof wasn't enough for them (a fair enough assessment, since Main Street and Wall Street have two completely different economies where the wildest fortunes of the latter have little or no impact on the former). Rising employment wasn't enough for them nor health care that insured an additional 20,000,000+ Americans.
     By 2015, "Real 'Murrica" had had it up to here with the Obamas and wanted to elect someone who was the polar opposite of Obama, someone who'd infamously called the Hawaiian-born President a fraud, that he was born in Kenya, thereby trying to delegitimize the most unassailably legitimate President since Bill Clinton. And Donald Trump had finally found his audience and at the perfect time.
     Birther Zero's campaign took off since Trump said to his largely mercenary crowd, which he almost stiffed as he had so many others he'd contracted over the decades, that Mexicans were rapists and criminals and that he was really really rich. It no longer mattered to the fact-allergic crowd that early in his presidency, Obama had ordered the deportations of up to 2.5 million people, mainly Hispanics. Because Trump promised...
     ...a wall.
     One not seen on such a massive scale since the Berlin Wall was erected in the days after Checkpoint Charlie. Only this one would be far more massive and militarized than East Berlin's wall.
     And that was all they needed to hear. He would give them a wall after effortlessly demonizing an entire nationality and then audaciously saying he'd make Mexico pay for it.
     Two and a half years later and almost a year into his so-called presidency, Trump had not delivered on that wall, much less one for which Mexico had pledged to pay.
     Instead, since then we've heard comic book ideas such as a transparent wall to foil drug runners, "a virtual wall" and other bizarre ideas even Rube Goldberg wouldn't have dreamed up. Alas, so far the only concrete evidence we've seen of the plans to build a wall along the southern border are the US government's land grabs along southern Texas, the same state that Trump won by 9 points. Many of those landowners who've seen their land stolen from them by "eminent domain" or bought for pennies on the dollar were Trump voters who cheered for the very same wall that they, not Mexico, they will subsidize with their ancestral land.
     In other words, it's the same tired refrain from Republican voters who also went to the dark side as they have most of their lives, "Yes, well, he's a lunatic but since I voted for him, his insane bullshit won't splash back on me." These were the same people in the Rust Belt and other depressed parts of the flyover states that Trump effortlessly conned for a year and a half that he would make them great again, too, until their jobs continued disappearing overseas and the 1% got a fat, greasy $1.5 trillion tax cut at their expense.
     But I'm here to talk about Mr. Lemkin and racism and his premature confidence that a man like George Wallace would never get elected president.
     No, he didn't. But we elected far worse.
     Say what you want about the former Alabama Governor but he was a lifelong politician and regardless of whether or not the Klan would've gotten him elected had he not been shot, he probably would've had the survival skills to throw them under the bus if something like Charlottesville had happened on his watch. After all, by 1972, realizing there weren't enough racists to get him elected, Wallace went populist and had repudiated segregation.
     But this summer, Trump embraced the racists, even calling them "very fine people" even after one of them murdered an innocent woman named Heather Hyer. In the one statement he made denigrating the racist troublemakers in Charlottesville's alt-right rally, he delivered it with the reluctance and insincerity of a five year-old boy forced by his parents to apologize to his neighbors for putting a baseball through their window.
     And indeed, the very next day at Trump Tower, Donald Trump essentially took back everything he'd said the day before and that's the day he called the white supremacists, antiSemites and KKK members "some very fine people," hardly disguised dog whistle language that immediately pricked up David Duke's ears.
     In fact, Donald Trump has gone after African Americans with more vitriol than he ever had the white nationalists who'd taken a life and inflamed the entire nation. It was the Nexus phase of the development of a man who with his father was sued by HUD for denying leases to African American applicants.
     And, before we entirely leave the subject of Alabama, there was Trump's reluctant and cynical championing of a racist made straight from the crumbling Wallace mold: Pedophile Roy Moore, a man who'd said that America's best days were during slavery.
     No, Mr. Lemkin, George Wallace never got elected President of the United States. What we got, instead, four decades later was the refinement of that message in the form of Donald Trump, President of a Disunited States of America, a man who brought millions of outraged women to the National Mall less than a day after his nightmarish inauguration. A man who makes the late Governor Wallace look like a model of statesmanship by conspicuous relief. And we slowly and gradually tolerate this overtly racist behavior. Worse than that- We're assimilating such racism back into our national culture.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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