Friday, August 28, 2015

Political Surrealism: The Constitution is Unconstitutional as Herr Trump Rolls On and a Milestone is Reached

It would seem we've come to that inevitable moment of political surrealism which only a candidate such as Donald Trump can facilitate.

Here is what the Citizenship Clause of the 14th amendment to the constitution of the United States of America says: "All persons born, or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

In 1898 some ferocious xenophobic sorts tried to get around the amendment when an American born man of Chinese descent attempted to return home after visiting abroad and they didn't want to let him back in. The Supreme Court ruled against them and said the only people born on the country's soil who aren't automatically citizens are the children of enemies of the U.S. and those of foreign diplomats. They also threw into that shunned mix anyone born on a Native American reservation because, when it suits the government and there aren't any oil deposits to be found, reservations are considered sovereign entities.

The ever unsubtle Trump has been running around the country side saying if he is elected president, he's going to forcibly deport the estimated 11 plus million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in this country. As a part of this plan he is adamant that what is now called the, "birth right clause," doesn't apply to children born in the United States if their parents are here illegally, therefore they have to go also.

So there we have it. The leading candidate for the republican presidential nomination and the current darling of rogue conservatives everywhere is telling us one of two things. Either the constitution, at least part of it anyway, should be totally ignored, or the constitution itself is, unconstitutional.

Well why not? Hey, anything goes when you're pandering to a panicked and pissed off mass of middle aged white people who find their numbers and power shrinking on a yearly basis. Indeed, in a situation like this it is best to skip over the details and paint with a large brush.

Unfortunately, inconvenient legalities aside, someone has to deal with the nuts and bolts of the Trumpster's program. NBC is reporting the American Action Forum, which it describes as a center-right policy institute, estimates it would cost between $100 and $300 billion to arrest and remove the undocumented aliens in the U.S. Don't worry though, the nation won't get that bill in one lump sum. The AAF also estimates it would take 20 years to round up all those slippery characters and ship them out.

Of course once you kick them out you have to make sure you can keep them on the other side of the border. The institute estimates that will cost an additional $315 billion.

Then we come to the kitchen and roofing factor. The AAF believes if Brother Trump were to actually give the heave ho to those 11 to 12 million people the national work force would shrink by about 6.4%. By the end of the 20 year eviction process the economy will have withered by 6%, costing the nation $1.6 trillion in lost wages and spending. According to the report the hardest hit sectors would be the agriculture, construction, retail, and hospitality industries.

Finally we have that really big elephant in the room, Trump and his wild eyed toadies have yet to address. Let's say El Donald does get elected and starts to throw these folks out, but they decide, fuck it, we're not going. It isn't just them you have to contend with. They have millions of supporters who, because of a myriad of reasons, are far more apt to identify with undocumented immigrants rather than Donald Trump. And--thanks to the NRA, they have guns--lots and lots of guns.


That's not the armed resistance to an over reaching federal government, Ted Nugent, Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the blazing super nova right wing imagined is it? No, it's an apocalyptic scenario most sane people would rather avoid.

It is easy to write off Donald Trump as a buffoon and a grotesque braggart who is nothing more than a punch line for late night TV show hosts. However, he is in the lead now and has been for a while. It is time to take him seriously and believe him at his word.

The arch conservative, George Will recently compared  Mr. Trump's  politics to, "Caesarism." The other day he wrote, "Trump promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment  to the leader's savvy management and iron will. Trump supporters consider the presidency today an entry level job because he is available to turn the government into a triumph of the leader's will."

His choice of his words were significant. For those of you not familiar with pre World War II European history, "Triumph of the Will,"  was a documentary directed by Leni Riefenstahl, celebrating the success of the National Socialist Party in Germany. Yes, we've reached a milestone of sorts. Two days ago, perhaps the most influential conservative author and commentator since Bill Buckley, however obliquely, compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and his followers to Nazis.

There is a reason he did. Mr. Trump has no sense of democracy, because he has been ruling his corporate empire with unquestioned authority his entire adult life. If you disagree with him, he simply fires you. If you become too much of a bother he attacks you with a phalanx of lawyers in order to get his way. He, more than even the most absurd and accomplished jail house litigators, uses the system to beat the system. And like them, he has no respect for it whatsoever.

The truth is, Donald Trump is the most unqualified front running presidential candidate I have ever seen and I've been a resident on this blue ball for 65 years.

I'm not sure who to be more frightened of--him, or the people who applaud his furious, moon lit, howls.

In the end, Don Trump is everything the world hates about this nation and given his politics, it is hard to blame them.

That any of us would even consider voting for him is a travesty beyond belief.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Latest Incarnation of American Reality TV: It Was Just a Matter of Time and This Morning the Awful Bell Tolled

The details are tumbling in willy-nilly and the cable news networks experts for hire are speculating, pontificating, and analyzing. In the end, however, it doesn't take much to understand exactly what happened early this morning in Virginia. America produced yet another crazed fuck, he was able to get his hands on a gun and then--like they all do--he used it.

So why has there been the day long, wall to wall, hub-bub on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX? Let's face it, as tragic as the incident is, it's just another nightmare in a long, terrible, line of them. And, while it certainly won't be any consolation to the family and friends of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, in the grand scheme of things, the body count was minimal.

In fact the media focus has been so intense on the murders of Parker and Ward the outlets barely even noticed James Holmes was officially sentenced in a Colorado court today and that whack job killed 12 people and wounded 70 a scant three years ago. For those still interested he got life for murder and 3,200 years on all the other charges.

For better, or worse, the gruesome answer to the question on the table is the shooter, Vester Flanagan executed his victims as they were broadcasting live on location via WDBJ in Roanoke, VA. As confusion meshed with horror, the studio producer, who was engaged to Ward, the morning anchors, and the station's audience watched the reporter, her photographer, and the woman they were interviewing go down in a hail of bullets while it was actually happening. Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward apparently died at the scene, while a Chamber of Commerce spokesperson was badly wounded. Vicki Gardner was transported to a local hospital and emerged from surgery in, "stable," condition. According to various sources, Brother Flanagan pulled off 15 rounds before fleeing.

Flanagan, a former on air employee of WDBJ who used the name, Bryce Williams, was quickly identified as the shooter. It didn't take an intervention by Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. Not only was he was he caught on camera by Ward, but the perp filmed the shooting himself. Then, as he took it on the lam, he posted a video of the savagery on Facebook and began to tweet his grudges against. Alison Parker and her photographer.

That's right America, thanks to a failed television reporter we have arrived at the dark and terrible nexus of murder and social media. Before he killed himself, you could almost hear Vester Flanagan saying to us, "Look at me! My production will be the standard everyone else is judged by."

He was right too. If you have any sort of real sense of this country you have to know there are some sick twists with glittering eyes sitting out there right now thinking to themselves something along the lines of, "What a great idea, I bet I can do it better." You also have to know those monsters either have a gun already, or they're going to get one soon with very few questions asked.

It's reported, Flanagan had been calling ABC in New York the past few weeks, promising them a big story. Early this morning he faxed the network a 23 page list of excuses for his barbarity. It was a litany of the usual suspects. He was the victim of racism, of sexual harassment, he was bullied, yada, yada, yada. Thrown in among the bitter complaints was an ode to Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech Shooter and Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris who shot up Columbine High.

Yes, he might have wanted to be a Ed Bradley, but Vester Flanagan was a lot more akin to Charles Whitman. The problem being we make an Ed Bradley only once every few generations, while it seems like we're stuck with another Charlie Whitman every couple of weeks.

Welcome to the latest incarnation of reality TV, America. You might claim it's appalling, but don't insult me by saying you thought it could never happen here.

Given our society and technology, we all knew this sort of terrible shit was only a matter of time.

This morning, the awful bell finally tolled.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The NRA Moments of the Week: Patriots in Oktaha and Tragedy in Hoover

Sometimes it is just too easy.

Oktaha is a sparse little hamlet of 300 or so people located south of Muskogee, Oklahoma. One of the few businesses there is a place called, Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gear. It's run by a couple of people named Chad Neal and Niki Mayhorn. They both hold some pretty strong views when it comes to Muslims.

As you can probably guess they don't like them. In fact, so much so, after the gruesome shootings at a couple of Chattanooga, TN military facilities in July they declared their store to be, "Muslim Free." To make it official they taped a sign on the front door which read, "This property is a Muslim free establishment. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."

Neal told the media, "I don't want any terrorists, or Muslims, or cults, whatever you want to call them training on my gun range." He further explained that there was a military recruiting station in a Muskogee mall, which is located 17 miles away and he wanted to protect, "our local soldiers."

It would be easy to point out that while Neal and Mayhorn won't allow Muslims in their joint, presumably they would have been more than willing to sell products and range time to reasonable people such as Adam Lanza, James Holmes, or even the ghost of Timmy McVeigh. However, we must stay on point here and grind one axe at a time as it were.

Word went out from the store owners that because of the sign on the door they had begun to receive threats against their property and selves. Local volunteers showed up to, "protect the business," and someone, it isn't clear who, named them, "The Patriots."

Muskogee County Sheriff, Pearson had another description of them. He was quoted as saying, "I saw several of the gentlemen out there yesterday. The way they were holding their weapons, with fingers on the triggers, you can tell a couple of these gentlemen have no idea about weapon safety. It is like the Clampetts have come to town."

For those of you not of a certain age the Clampetts were a television family of incredibly ignorant, although good hearted,  hillbillies who accidently struck oil and became fabulously wealthy. After moving to Beverly Hills they found themselves involved in situations they were not just ill prepared for, but had no understanding of.

On Monday it was reported one of the Patriots on duty dropped his weapon and it discharged  when it hit the ground, wounding him in the arm. Later reports say Neal and Mayhorn clarified the accident by saying the wounded man was not on guard per se, but had come to help them re-install a door inside the store. Ah yes, that not only explains everything, but makes all the rubes hanging out at Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gear appear far more mature and reasonable.

The victim, Terrence Veninga said the loop on his holster which held his Colt .45 in place was somehow dislodged and the gun fell out. He told the Tulsa World he would more than likely need several surgeries to repair his arm, then added breezily, "I'm probably going to be out for quite a long haul. I'm going to have to learn to shoot left handed."

That's the spirit, Terry. Who says Americans are getting soft?

Tragically this sort of gun quackery usually doesn't end as happily. The AP reported that on Tuesday a man in Hoover, AL went to baby sit his two and a half year old son at the apartment of the child's mother while she was at work. When she returned home she found him dead from a shot to the head. He had been killed with a semi automatic hand gun his boy had been playing with.

Captain Gregg Rector of the Hoover police described the shooting as, "...a horrible accident resulting from a child getting hold of a hand gun."

He also told the media, "Everyone knows it's a good idea not to have guns around kids, but we don't always practice it."

You think?

For obvious reasons I'll be in the bar. Please, hold my calls.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Traditions at St. Paul's

Ah, those old school rituals. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about one of the traditions at St. Paul's Prep School in Concord, New Hampshire:

"On the Sixth Formers' last night on campus, they gather as a class in the Old Chapel. At the conclusion of the service, the rest of the student body waits outside to congratulate them and say their good-byes."

Over the years a wildly diverse group of seniors have participated in this hallowed rite of passage. They include John Jacob Astor IV, who would eventually go down with the Titanic. Then there was Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox and current Secretary of State John Kerry. The banker J.P. Morgan was also there, as were actors Judd Nelson and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Even cartoonist Garry Trudeau made the walk. William Randolph Hearst would have, but for reasons which aren't entirely clear he is listed as, "not graduating." John Franklin Enders did though and in 1954 he was named a Nobel Laureate in Physiology, or Medicine. He was called the father of modern vaccines by the people heaping praise on him.

Well what do you expect of a school which has been around since 1856, accepts only a little over 15% of its applicants, and reportedly charges $50,000 a year in tuition and fees. Obviously this isn't a place for the unwashed hoi polloi.

Unfortunately now we're learning about another tradition which has been around St. Paul's for a while--perhaps since the early 1970's. That's when the school began admitting girls.

It is called, "the Senior Salute." It occurs toward the end of the spring term, presumably before that last service in the Old Chapel and involves a senior male, a Sixth Former, inviting an underclass girl to various secluded places on campus. The actual purpose of the date depends on who is talking and right now at St. Paul's there are a lot of people talking real fast.

Young Mr. Owen Labrie, a recent grad, apparently interpreted the Senior Salute as an opportunity to nail a 15 year old freshman. He is on trial at the moment, facing a variety of ugly charges, one of which is rape.

Larbrie denies any sort of thing that vile happened, although he admits sex was certainly on his mind. So much so he has said he went as far as to put on a condom while making out with the unnamed girl. According to one report by NBC, after donning it, Owen Labrie experienced a, "divine intervention," and refused to go any further.

It could happen. After all Labrie says he wants to attend Harvard's School of Divinity with the aim of  becoming a minister. However, he has two problems. First, divine intervention has been notably absent among priests and pastors in the same situation over the years and second, the girl not only has sworn in court he raped her, but NBC is saying the prosecution has physical evidence she was sexually assaulted.

The defense has leaked word to the press it has a series of email exchanges, sent after the fact, which indicate the, "Salute," was not only consensual, but that the young lady knew exactly what she was getting into yada, yada, yada.

Maybe Labrie's lawyer does, but that still doesn't let his client off the hook. In New Hampshire 15 year old girls can't legally agree to have sex. Indeed, no matter how many times she might have said yes, in the eyes of the law it was still no. Which, in the end, probably has a lot more to do with the defendant alleging a pre coitus epiphany than any real intervention by the good Lord.

The school issued a statement which says something along the lines of, none of this hedonistic nonsense is part of their campus culture, or values. Of course, you have to say something and one can only imagine what St. Paul himself would think of the mess. Hell, he didn't even like women, or sex.

The truth is someone in a position of authority knew about the Senior Salute. The entire student body numbers only a little over 500, while there are nearly 120 faculty. And as we all know, in this day and age, no one can keep their mouth shut about such goings on. No, a few might have been in denial about what was happening, or even delusional, but there were plenty of adults at St. Paul's whose understanding of the tradition was exactly the same as Owen Labrie's. But, instead of putting a stop to it, as the spring term came to an end, they just pulled on their blue blazers, straightened the Half Windsor knots of their ties, and walked away.

Today in court, the now 16 year old testified, "I felt like I was frozen. I felt like I had no control. I felt like I couldn't say no. I didn't want to believe that this was happening to me."

Tomorrow, she faces cross examination by the defense.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Where Cops are Being Killed and the People Who are Doing It

Within a day, or so you'll be able to hear the howls from National Rifle Association types even without a television, radio, or internet connection. That's how loud and shrill they'll be.

This morning NBC reported the release of a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. The team of researchers used the FBI's Uniformed Crime Reporting Data Base to take a look at how and where police officers were killed in the line of duty between the years, 1996 and 2010.

What they found was, during the study's time, frame 782 cops were murdered. Of that number, 716 were killed by guns, 515 by handguns.

Sure, we all know it is a dangerous job. After all there are a lot of mean streets out there in places like Chicago, Detroit, and LA. However, what will drive the NRA and their toadies into stuttering rages is one cold truth which emerged from the blizzard of numbers. That is, if you are a cop working in a state which is high in per capita gun ownership, you are three times more likely to be shot to death than in one with low ownership.

According to the report, the states with the highest per capita gun ownership and cop killings were, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Montana. The states with the lowest per capita rates in both categories were, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

In fact the stats show a police officer is far more likely to be shot and killed in what is called a public setting than in confrontations with violent criminals committing felonies. NBC quoted spokesperson David Swedler as saying, "In states where firearms are more prevalent officers responding to reports of domestic violence are more often entering potentially lethal situations compared to officers responding to such calls in states with lower firearm prevalence."

In other words, because he has a gun at home,"Bama," Bob is more likely to shoot a cop after beating the shit out of his wife because she over cooked the meatloaf than a street dude is while pulling a liquor store heist.

The study did not have any sort of legislative agenda and didn't advocate for restrictive gun legislation, it was simply reporting the data from a public health perspective.

The organization, Everytown isn't encumbered by such restraint, even if they are a little weak kneed when it comes to the anti-gun movement.

Everytown's director of research, Ted Alcorn was quoted as saying, "Nothing does more to reduce these deaths than a strong background check system. FBI data shows that in states that require strong background checks for all hand gun sales, blocking criminals from buying guns in unlicensed sales online, or at gun shows, there are 48% fewer law enforcement officers killed with hand guns."

Yes, well the gorilla in the room, the NRA, is on record opposing background checks for sales conducted in private and at gun shows. And they own legislators from Washington D.C. to Juneau, Alaska, so no one, even those tepid souls at Everytown, should get their hopes up.

Every valid study done over the last few decades shows if there are more guns available, there will be more gun deaths. The NRA and its cohorts deny every last one of them while braying incessantly that if there are more guns we will all be safer.

Their logic is deadly nonsense and deep down they must know it. But for reasons best left to sex therapists and psychiatrists the gun fetishists keep saying it over and over again as they threaten, cajole, and buy every lawmaker within reach.

Land of the free and home of the brave my ass. The NRA might be selling that song, but we all know, because of the guns, we're neither.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Price You Pay For Boarding a Ship: Perry Takes on Water, Trump in Heavy Seas, and Oklahoma State Representative, Kevin Calvey Rages at the Wind

As the top heavy luxury cruise ship, S.S. Donald Trump plows through heavy seas it appears Rick Perry's craft has begun to flounder and is taking on water at an alarming rate.

It shouldn't come as a surprise. The former Texas governor was an early out in the last republican presidential contest and has consistently polled in single digits during this cycle. Last Thursday he was relegated to the 5pm, By The Way, These People Are Running Too, Fox debate where his performance was judged by most as less than impressive. Showings like those don't attract the high rollers who are needed to pay the bills. Hey, those brutes aren't stupid. If they're going to spend hard cash to buy a politician they are going to make sure he, or she at least has a chance of winning.

According to the Washington Post the calls from Perry's Austin campaign headquarters began going out the next day. The staff there and in the far flung reaches of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina were told they could either work for free, or abandon ship.

Governor Perry's troubles doesn't mean it has been clear skies and fair winds for Mr. Trump. A little over a week ago he had to fire staffer Sam Nunberg because of some overtly racist Facebook posts he made years ago. Then, almost immediately after the debate and his crude and oafish attacks on moderator, Megyn Kelly two things happened.

In no special order, first, Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of yanked Trump's invitation to speak at a gathering sponsored by the site. Trump being Trump immediately began to ruthlessly disparage Erickson's character and past, seemingly oblivious that just 24 hours earlier he had been more than happy to share a stage with him.

Second, depending on who you believe, long time advisor, Roger Stone either quit, or was fired from the campaign. Stone claims he resigned because in, his words, "the food fight with Megyn Kelly," was distracting from the core issues of the campaign. Trump's people issued a statement saying, Stone was fired, "...because he wanted to use the campaign for his own personal publicity. He had a number of articles about him recently and Mr. Trump wants to keep the focus of the campaign on how to make America great again." It doesn't take a sophisticated interpreter to figure out that message. Quite simply it's no one, but no one around here gets press except me, Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma the local tea party whirling dervishes took another one to the chin. District Judge, Patricia Parrish ruled the latest in a series of stringent anti-abortion acts signed into law by the governor is unconstitutional. The story in The Oklahoman by, Kyle Schwab reports that supporters of the law argued they were just interested in the safety of women when they passed the act. It was a law which restricted doctors to administer abortion drugs only in accordance with U.S. FDA label instructions.

The opponents of the law claimed that was prima facie bull shit. They pointed out the FDA protocols are outdated and most doctors prescribe the drugs in ways that are actually safer to women than the instructions on the bottle labels. In other words, the physicians know their patients health far better than a federal bureaucracy.

To say the arch conservative Oklahoma legislature is obsessed with the issue is an understatement. Schwab points out this is the fourth state law struck down by a court and a lawsuit challenging yet a fifth, limiting the availability of abortions, is pending.

After hearing the ruling, state representative, Kevin Calvey became so unhinged he lost track of who to hate and attacked the wrong court for the decision. He also forgot to express his deep concern for the safety of women. He was quoted as saying, "We can blame our extremist liberal state Supreme Court for this latest deadly ruling against babies in Oklahoma. Our state Supreme Court rules for the abortion industry every time, so much so that the abortion industry challenges pro-life laws in state court instead of federal courts."

The case never reached the Oklahoma Supreme Court and this latest attempt at republican sponsored big government thuggery was challenged by the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and a nonprofit women's clinic in Tulsa named Reproductive Services.

Some industry.

It's never easy when common sense, run amok egos, and the constitution start to roil the cold, dark, waters. At those times some poor souls always end up sleeping with the fishes, while others fight through rogue waves, and a few, driven mad by either scurvy, or syphilis rage at the wind.

Yes, in the end, that's the enormous gamble you take when you board a ship and set sail. There is absolutely nothing on the ticket that guarantees you'll get to the other shore.

sic vita est


Friday, August 7, 2015

What We Learned From the First Republican Debate

The questions to me were not nice.
Donald Trump

Poor baby. Listen, Don, when you're leading the charge up the hill, you will be the first one to get shot at. It is a tradition as old as time itself.

So, what did we learn during the republican debate last night?

First, Fox News thought so little of the seven participants in the night's undercard they didn't even admit the public into the hall to hear them speak. It wasn't so much a sponsored debate as it was a direct insult---one which was specifically designed to shatter egos and dry up future donations to their campaigns.

In fact, the only way Roger Ailes could make it any clearer he wants Carly Fiorina and the other six hopeless losers immediately out of the picture is to leave the severed heads of horses in their beds Monday morning.

That being said, judging who came out on top in the main event, which really can't be called a debate, but rather a reality TV episode, is a subjective art. Everyone has an opinion about who won, just as everyone has an opinion about which vegetables are best breaded and fried.

The Huffington Post didn't completely dive into that oily pool. It divided up the candidates into three groups. First were the brawlers, who consisted of Donald Trump, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul. Then came the grownups--Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Finally there were the irrelevants, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, and Ben Carson.

The Hill rated, Trump, Kasich, Rubio, and Christie as winners. In what could be called the so-so duo there was. Huckabee and Cruz. It counted Bush, Paul, Walker, and Carson as losers.

And on and on it goes. From this perspective it is clear, Marco Rubio and John Kasich did their campaigns the most good. Kasich had the advantage of a home town crowd and deftly played to it. Rubio, whose first answer was rattled off so fast the initial thought was he had eaten a black molly just before showing up, settled down and seemed on point the rest of the night.

Chris Christie probably improved his standing, as weak as it might be. He was in control of his facts, as dubious as they were, shrugged off the inevitable insult about hugging Obama after Hurricane Sandy, then absolutely gutted Rand Paul when it came to national security.

The two biggest losers of the night appeared to be Senator Paul and Jeb Bush. Paul, already had his nose bloodied after trying to give the Trumpster a poke or two, then he was finished off post haste by Christie. Bush looked about as comfortable as an 8th grader forced to stand and recite Marc Antony's eulogy to Caesar in front of his home room class. Given his performance, the only saving grace the former Florida governor has, at least momentarily, is the control of a Super Pac with more money than everyone else in the campaign, except his nemesis, Uncle Don.

Dr. Ben Carson's night certainly could have gone better. You know you're having a tough time when your most memorable line of the evening was, "I wasn't sure I was going to get to speak again."

Ted Cruz seemed equally lost in the crowd and he knew it. With about 15 minutes left to go he was so desperate to make an impression he pleaded with the Fox panel of moderators to respond to a question asked of someone else. The answer he got was something along the lines of, We'll  return to you Senator, but now we have to go to a commercial break.

The best that could be said of Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee is they didn't entirely fuck up. That's hardly a ringing endorsement, but at this stage just surviving could be considered an accomplishment. Overall, Huckabee probably didn't suffer any damage. Walker might have though. Entering the evening he was in the top tier poll wise, but his performance clearly didn't justify his current popularity.

Then we come to Brother Trump, who was, well, The Donald. He was center front, looming imperially over the stage, booming loud, and egotistical to a fault. Think Stephen Colbert, only without the sophistication, eagle, and pistachios. His infamous coarse responses to attacks against him morphed into snide one liners spoken with the air of a man dealing with utter dolts.

On the downside it became quickly obvious he had no clue how to conduct himself in last night's format. At times he seemed to believe he was making a canned stump speech to a crowd of tea party slugs. However, despite these short comings, like Walker and Huckabee, he didn't completely screw the pooch and, more importantly, he was just agile enough that no one managed to deliver the knock out punch he so richly deserves.

Of course, no matter what his success, El Donald can't stop being the vengeful, petty, bullyboy that's his true nature. Early this morning his twitter account began to spew a caustic series of posts condemning Fox News moderators, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and, in particular, Megyn Kelly.

It would seem Mr. Trump, as most vicious demagogues do, seeks to excuse his brutishness by making himself the martyr. In short, to question any awful thing he ever did, or said, is a personal affront which must be answered with overwhelming savagery.

In that regard he has a lot in common with radical Islamists.


Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is open. Please remember to tip well.

sic vita est


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tonight in Cleveland: Roger Ailes Gives You a List to Choose From

At some far off moment next year, prior to the national election, we're all going to think to ourselves, "Good God, it seems like this political bull shit has gone on forever."

We'll have Fox News to thank for that.

Tonight in Cleveland, a year before the republican convention, the entire platoon of ruthless wankers who are seeking the GOP nomination will be on display in what amounts to a mutant hybrid of, "Americas Next Top Model," and, "The Dating Game." The first round comes at 5pm CDT.

The undercard will include people, Roger Ailes considers has-beens, wannabes, and abject losers. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore will perform before a dinner audience and those toggling to and from reruns of, "The Big Bang Theory."

Yes, Brother Ailes took one look at the field and here is what he saw:

Both Perry and Santorum are 2012 retreads. Jindal, whose actual name is Piyush, is one smart guy. However, after months of working republican movers and shakers nationwide he hasn't gained any real traction. To complicate matters he kicked off his campaign with what has to be considered the lamest announcement video ever seen on this, or any other planet. Meanwhile, Graham has only half jokingly said he'd use the U.S. military to force congress to do what he wants. Fiorina has been canned by Hewlett-Packard. Pataki is a dinosaur in this new age of republican politics which demands you be more conservative than everyone else in the world. And no one outside of his immediate family even knows who Jim Gilmore is.

To decide who would be the, "A," team, Ailes, used a set of polls, identified only after the fact, to focus voters on the group taking the stage at 8pm CDT. The main attraction will be Donald Trump, who has risen to polling heights by doing an ultra conservative take on a movie character played by Warren Beatty, the half mad Senator, Jay Billington Bulworth.

While the public and media will be there hoping Trump provides more shock, entertainment, and comedy material, the pros will be focusing on Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and the rest. Because of time constraints--and as long as Trump doesn't run completely amok--each guy chasing him will only have about 10, or 12 minutes of actual speaking time to make their case. The rest of the hour and a half they'll be standing there, for all intents and purposes, wax mannequins.

If someone is going to significantly close the gap between reality and surreal fantasy tonight they're going to have to be quick and to the point. As much as some of them might want to, there will be very little, if any, time to mud wrestle with The Don. That said, there is a case to be made for some desperate soul to bait him into an unseemly name calling fit. That's right, poke the fucker with a sharp stick and hope he rolls so far off the tracks his candidacy will never recover.

Ultimately, what the viewing audience needs to remember during these dark proceedings is the whole production was carefully arranged by Ailes and his crew. The gang of ten who will be on stage at 8pm is already being called, "the leading candidates," by the rest of the media and we're still months away from the first caucus and primary.

The truth is what's nominally a news organization is now not only, unabashedly, promoting a single political party, but it's giving us a none too subtle hint of the list of candidates they want voters to choose from.

It's not something you usually see outside of, say, the current government of Hong Kong.

Given the circumstances and dubious direction we're headed, it might be wise to keep the Belize option open, although I have a friend who highly recommends Costa Rica.

Indeed, at times like these it is always best to have multiple choices, especially the ones not picked for you.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Fox News Welcomes You to the Latest Episode of American Presidential Politics

Here is where we stand at the moment. In a little more than 72 hours that gaggle of grifters, fools, and gangsters known as the republican field for president will show up on a Fox News stage. Of course, they won't all be there at the same time. No, in an effort to hold the confusion down to a minimum and possibly influence who stays in and drops out of this wild charge toward the convention, Fox has established what amounts to a play off system.

According to the rules established by Mr. Roger Ailes and company only the top ten contenders, determined by an average of five reputable polls--still unnamed and chosen exclusively by Fox--will make the prime time arena. The remaining seven will be invited to a sort of NIT tournament held that afternoon when many of the potential electorate are far more interested in Dr. Phil Mc Graw's psycho babble than politics. When asked, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina described the situation this way, "It sucks."

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicates that, as of today, the prime time line up will be, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. The losers bracket will be filled out by Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina George Pataki, Senator Graham, and Jim Gilmore.

It could be argued that given their latest poll numbers, some of those seven should be grateful anyone at all will give them free air time. According to the NBC/WSJ survey, Fiorina, Graham, and Pataki are at less than one percent, running behind Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, who are both polling 1.4% . Former Virginia Governor, Jim Gilmore is sitting at ground zero, meaning not even a single person mentioned his name.

When it comes to former Texas Governor, Rick Perry the only good news out of all this is he is less than one point behind both Chris Christie and John Kasich, so there is still an opportunity for him to slip in the back door.

Just in case things don't fall right, Perry has already begun downplaying the importance of participating in the evening event, saying he is more focused on the long term. While you have to say something, he actually has a point. Earlier this afternoon, The St. Louis Post Dispatch noted that in August of 2007 the eventual GOP nominee, John McCain was sitting at 7%, well behind the leader, Rudy Giuliani. In fact his numbers had gone so far south he was also trailing Senator Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. By February of 2008 Giuliani and Thompson were out of presidential politics forever and Romney was beginning to think about 2012.

Other factoids provided by the poll include, Big Don Trump has gone from 1% in early June, to leading the pack with 19%. Meanwhile Jeb Bush has dropped 8%, Marco Rubio 9%, and Scott Walker, 2%.

The poll also tells us, Uncle Donald's loyal fan, Ted Cruz leads among tea party types with 22%, but Trump and Walker are close on his heels at 20% each. When it comes to everyone else who is a registered republican Brother Cruz has problems.

Speaking of which, when it comes to the Hispanic vote, The Don is in serious trouble, despite his cheery predictions he'll carry the demographic. NBC and the Wall Street Journal teamed up with Telemundo for second poll which focused soley on Latinos.

The survey showed 75% of Hispanics view Mr. Trump unfavorably and 61% went to the top of the meter by saying they viewed him "very" negatively. 55% said the candidate's announcement speech, at least the, "rapist, drug dealer and I assume some good people," part of it was racist, insulting, and has no place in presidential politics. 14% of those asked said Trump at least had the guts to say what he really thought about an important issue.

Overall 67% said Trump is hurting the image of the republican party, 12% say he is helping it, and 16% believe he has no impact one way, or the other

Those last two numbers are swords that can cut both ways. The downside being that, among Hispanics, the image of the GOP is so incredibly putrid a brutal clod like Trump either improves it. or at least doesn't diminish it. It's rather like saying if  Senator Jim Inhofe were to move from Oklahoma to Texas the collective IQ of both places would go up.

So there we have it. It's obvious Fox News wants to be the supreme arbiter in the republican nomination process. There's no other reason for them to sponsor a debate with such stringent, not to mention questionable, restrictions this early in the season.

Indeed--cull the herd immediately and minimize the blood letting from now through the primaries. The goal being, find a viable, clear cut, front man as quickly as possible so the donor pool won't be diluted for months on end, giving Clinton an advantage. After all, it wasn't an informed public who kicked our ass the last two times out, it was the extended nomination process.

Yeah right.

Ladies and gentlemen, Fox News welcomes you to the latest episode of American presidential politics.