Monday, May 29, 2017

A Look at Hard Numbers on Memorial Day, 2017

In the United States the last Monday in May is set aside as Memorial Day. It is a time when we the living are supposed to honor those who have died while fighting the nation's wars. It is a government sanctioned holiday, but thanks to capitalism and the greedy slugs who run it, millions of Americans are stuck working their asses off rather than meditating on the sacrifice of others. Of course, to be brutally truthful, most of us who aren't stuck behind a counter somewhere tend to pay little attention to the meaning of the day either. We just kick back and enjoy the time off.

A lot of uber patriots will tell you all the people who died in our wars did so defending freedom. While that's true in few instances, many of the conflicts the republic has engaged in didn't really have anything to do with defending freedom. Most, in fact, were fought to expand our territory at the expense of others, or defend countries run by questionable people who we deemed friendly to our political and economic interests.

Actually it gets rather complicated, not to mention baffling, when you take a look into the causes of most our wars--and there is a bunch of them to choose from. Wikipedia lists 79 different wars, or conflicts where the U.S. military took casualties. At least 23 were waged against various tribes of Native Americans. I say at least because it depends on your source and what you call a war. There are some experts out there who claim the government of the United States waged as many as 40 separate conflicts against the indigenous people of the continent.

But, let's face it, causes and motives are a matter for philosophers, historians, politicians, and other congenital liars. What we are concerned with here are hard numbers. The blood and bone statistics so to speak.

According to Wikipedia, 1,354,644 Americans troops have died in wars since 1775. The total rises significantly if an estimated 300,000 dead Confederates who fought in the Civil War are thrown in. Then there are nearly 41,000 who have been declared missing in action since WWI. Obviously there were MIAs prior to then, but The Great War was the first time anyone thought to keep track of them.

When all those numbers are put together they equal the total population of Idaho, plus about 12,000 extras from Washington, Oregon, or Montana. Take your pick.

As horrifying as our stats are however, when it comes to war casualties, the Europeans make us look like two bit shirkers. In WWI the French alone lost 1,397,800 dead. That's 43,000 more people than currently live in New Hampshire. In WWII it's estimated 10.6 million Soviet troops were killed--500,000 more human beings than now reside in North Carolina. The Germans on the other hand lost a little over 2,000,000 in WWI--everyone in New Mexico--then, two decades later suffered anywhere from 3.7 million to 4.4 million military deaths. That's equal to all the people in either Oklahoma, or Kentucky, although, to be honest, since the sons of bitches started both wars no one west of Nuremberg, or east of Potsdam really gives a shit.

Yes, I could go on, but what's the point? No one reflects on gruesome war time body counts while grilling bratwurst, or burgers on a sunny day. Why should we?

After all, for modern America war is a constant, low grade fever. We've been fighting in Afghanistan for 16 years. An American baby born the year we invaded is now driving a car and only two years away from being eligible to enlist.

Given such a reality, it is easier to shut it all out and chug a light beer from a cold, sweating can than dwell on the sacrifice and insanity, both of which are far too abundant, not to mention persistent.

Indeed, don't worry if you missed the solemn cemetery processions today. If history has taught us anything, it's that there will be more to come--a lot more.



sic vita est


5-29-17

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sean Hannity: The Vile Duality of the Beast

I'm not a journalist. I'm a talk show host.

Sean Hannity



At least he got that right.

Sean Patrick Hannity's bias was so intense during the last election cycle it is a wonder he didn't pull down a regular pay day from the Don Trump presidential campaign. Then again maybe he did. In the murky world of conspiracy theories where Hannity likes to dwell much of the time all things are possible. Who knows if there weren't envelopes of cash passed from Mike Flynn to the Fox News personality? After all, it's obvious Flynn has a taste for shady money transfers and serving as a bag man certainly wouldn't be beneath the former National Security Advisor.

Over the years Hannity's speculations and accusations have run the gamut from whole hearted support of the idea Barack Obama was born in Kenya, to Hillary Clinton being either desperately ill last autumn, or dead drunk. His advice to democratic operatives at the time was, "sober her up." 

Perhaps his most famous moment came when he went all in on the side of Cliven Bundy. Bundy is the Nevada rancher who was grazing his cattle on government owned land--and might still be--at tax payer expense. According to Hannity, Bundy was something of a cross between Patrick Henry and those brave lads who stood fast at the Lexington Green a couple of centuries ago. Unfortunately for Hannity, Brother Bundy proved himself to be such a vile racist he would have fit right in at a Ku Klux Klan pep rally.

The song and dance routine performed the night he had to disown the evil old reprobate remains one of the greatest moments in cable TV history. The only thing even close is Karl Rove's on air meltdown the night Obama won re-election.

Of course those things are in the past now and as always we've moved on. Over the past few weeks, Sean Hannity's attention has been focused on the murder of former Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich and what he calls, "the tin hat conspiracy theories," which claim Trump's presidential campaign had help from the Russians.

Yes, Fox's new main man has gone all in once more. The short version of the latest right wing phantasm is, Seth Rich stole all those emails and attachments from the DNC last year because he was sickened by the committee's corruption. He sent the information to a third party in the UK who handed them to WikiLeaks. In this scenario the Russkies had nothing to do with the DNC hacking and therefore are innocent of meddling in any way during the last presidential election. Tragically, Rich was found out and "liberal fascists" put out a hit on him in retribution.

One of the main purveyors of the theory is a New Zealand internet hot shot and convicted hacker who goes by the moniker, Kim Dotcom. (Hey, you can't make this shit up.) According to the Washington Post, Dotcom is suspected of trying to hack into Rich's email account as late as last week in order to plant fake archives to prove his accusations.

Rich's father, who is running his late son's Gmail account, didn't bite on suspicious email from Dotcom's website so apparently the account remains safe for now. In the meantime the Post reports, Dotcom tweeted he was going to prove Seth Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks. Hannity glommed onto the tweet and told his audience to brace themselves for a, "revelation." He went so far as to invite Mr. Dotcom onto his show so millions would hear proof of the conspiracy directly from the horse's mouth.

Then things got a bit dicey. Fox News, who had been using private investigator, Rod Wheeler as a source for its coverage of the lurid affair, realized he had gotten a good part of his information from a FoxNews.com reporter and none of his dope could be verified. Yesterday, in the face of external criticism and what has been described as internal revulsion by some of their news staff, Fox retracted the entire story.

Hannity, being Hannity remained defiant, at least early on. He tweeted he was not Fox News, or FoxNews.com and he wasn't retracting a God damned thing.

The same can't be said for Kim Dotcom. The Post notes he took to his website and said he wouldn't speak any further about his allegations.

Which leads us to last night, the evening Sean Hannity was going to prove to the world through Mr. Dotcom the DNC is a gang worthy of a Mario Puzo novel.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Dotcom was, for the aforementioned reason, a no show. In his absence and in lieu of any proof of deadly criminal activity, Hannity told his viewers he'd received a, "heart felt," letter from the Rich family and he'd sent them a, "heart felt," letter in return. He went on to say that out of respect for their feelings he was going to drop the subject of Seth Rich's murder for now. That would be the respect he'd been completely devoid of until the whole alt right myth came unglued and his guest bailed on him.

In an attempt to cover his ass with the hard core Trumpers viewing the non revelation, Hannity gravely warned that democrats and the Trump hating media were pursing their crazed conspiracy theory of collusion between the campaign and Russia without a scintilla of proof. He also solemnly promised to pursue the truth with whatever means available to him.

Well, you have to say something don't you? Especially after all the rats, no matter how heavily into hallucinogens they might be, have jumped ship and left you alone on stage with your dick in your hand.

Not to worry though. Sean Hannity won't be concerned about such embarrassing moments for long. He is way beyond that now. Let's face it, when you're a right wing shill who will say anything it takes to further your world view shame is, but a fleeting shadow. Ultimately, Mr. Hannity may admit he isn't a journalist in a candid moment, but that doesn't stop him from selling his show as journalism to the angry rubes who listen and watch him.

None of us should buy that deeply twisted Hannity line and as for his perpetually outraged audience, I choose to go with Ted Koppel. He told the smarmy shit, "You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts."

What Koppel left unsaid was, Sean, you not only attract them, you feed on them. And--they feed on you.

Indeed. Such is the vile duality of the beast.



sic vita est


5-24-17

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fox, Breitbart, Drudge, and a Guy Named Rod Wheeler Go All Conspiracy Theory

Here we go. It took a little while for the latest iteration of right wing conspiracy craziness to gain traction, but thanks to a Washington D.C. Fox outlet, Breitbart, The Drudge Report, and a guy named Rod Wheeler we are on our way.

Early in the morning of July 10th, 2016, 27 year old Seth Rich was walking home from a bar in Washington D.C. He was a block, or so from his place in the district's Bloomingdale neighborhood. Tragically he never made it. After responding to a report of shots fired metro D.C. police found Rich on the sidewalk. His hands, knees, and face were bruised up and he'd been shot twice in the back. He died later that day at a local hospital.

Police have yet to identify a suspect, or recover the weapon. Their theory then and now is Rich was the victim of a robbery attempt gone wrong. It is a big city crime so common, one can picture it happening. He's confronted by a thug at four something in the morning on dark street in an area which had suffered a rash of muggings. He either puts up a fight, or gets beaten just because the dude, or dudes want to prove how bad they are. Then, in an attempt to escape the nightmare, Seth Rich breaks away and makes a run for it, but is gunned down from behind.

Every piece of evidence indicates Mr. Rich's death was a tragic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unless, of course, you're one of the right wing conspiracy meth heads who haunts the internet. You know, a member of that elite club of alt. journalists who claim the mass killing at Newtown, CT never took place and Hillary Clinton personally ran a child sex ring out of the back room of a Washington pizza joint.

Yes, because Seth Rich worked for the Democratic National Committee there had to be more nefarious powers at work than your average street punk. The twisted theory floating around out there goes this way. Russia didn't hack the DNC and neither did anyone else. Seth Rich, appalled by the ruthless behavior of Hillary Clinton, Donna Brazile, and John Podesta, secretly gave 44,000 plus documents to WikiLeaks via a journalist in order to expose their crimes against the nation and humanity. At some point he was identified as the mole sabotaging the democrats so he was terminated with extreme prejudice, or, as the alt. news guys like to say, assassinated.

Earlier this week former police officer turned private investigator Rod Wheeler sorta kinda agreed. He told a D.C. Fox outlet, Seth Rich had contact with WikiLeaks and the proof was on Rich's lap top which was being held by either metro D.C. police, or the FBI. He also said the local cops had been told by unknown persons to stop investigating the murder.

It didn't take but a moment for Breitbart, Fox, the Drudge Report, and the Russians to jump all over Wheeler's statements. In an instant they were screaming to high heaven Vladimir Putin had been set up and played the patsy by the gangsters at the DNC. Those lonely voices over on YouTube, who have been singing this tune for nearly a year became absolutely orgasmic.

According to a separate Fox report, Rich's laptop had been turned over to the FBI for forensic analysis within four days of his murder. The report states evidence found on the laptop proves Rich sent all the stolen documents to an American journalist living in England named, Gavin MacFadyen who routed them to WikiLeaks. MacFadyen isn't available to confirm any of this, because he's dead.

Meanwhile, it's been revealed, Wheeler who has been described by the right wing media as the Rich family's investigator doesn't even work for them. He was hired and his fees are being paid by a third party, who one source claims is Fox News contributor, Ed Butowsky. In addition, it turns out the ex cop, who is playing the part of independent investigator, is a regular Fox news source and is also a sometimes paid contributor. His main brush with fame came in 2007 when he announced to a stunned Fox host there were gangs of lesbians roaming Washington armed with pink pistols, raping young girls. Ten years later the shocking report remains, as they say, unconfirmed.

On Tuesday the Washington Examiner quoted a police source, "with knowledge of the investigation," as saying, "It (the laptop) never contained any emails related to WikiLeaks and the FBI never had it."

Later on Tuesday Wheeler began to do his version of the Hokey Pokey. He admitted he's never actually seen Rich's laptop and what's more, he has only heard of the possibility of evidence on it from a reporter he spoke to for a FoxNews.com story. In other words, Fox reported something as fact and their only evidence is a source who got his information from--you got it--Fox.

In response to the madness, the Rich family issued a statement through a spokesperson to Business Insider which said, "We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers."

The spokesperson, Brad Bauman added, "It's sad, but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda. I think there is a special place in hell for people like that."

Even if there is it won't stop gaggles of malevolent rubes from screeching that Seth Rich was murdered by Hillary Rodham Clinton and her pals. In fact, as these words are being written, we can be sure even Gavin MacFadyen's death is being woven into the conspiracy. That's right--his lung cancer was just another black ops cover story.

Let's face it, there is no end to this delusional merry-go-round ride. That's the pristine perfection of the lunacy. To even attempt to prove these crazy fucks wrong is to become one with the conspiracy. Or, to borrow a phrase from the 1960's and warp it more than a tad, you're either part of the solution, or part of the problem.

Who knew such a concept would last this long?

Indeed.


5-19-17

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The White House and the Guy Who Runs It: A Looney Tunes Cartoon Run Amok on Steroids

Is this any way to run a railroad?

The eminent scholar and philosopher, Daffy Duck.




Let's just imagine for a moment we've traveled back in time to a little over eight years ago. A man named Barack Hussein Obama has just been elected president of the United States of America. Let's also imagine all 17 agencies which make up the U.S. intelligence community are convinced the Russians interfered with the 2008 election process.

They pulled it off, at least in part, by stealing electronic documents from the Republican National Committee then feeding them to a third party. This third party then released the documents--some true, others heavily altered, and more than a few absolute bullshit--to the public in increments designed to deliver the maximum amount of damage to Mitt Romney's campaign.

Once in office Obama appoints, as his National Security Advisor, a man who not only previously received money from a Russian government entity, but turns out to have had questionable contact with the Russian Ambassador and subsequently lied about it to everyone. 

In the mean time the FBI decides to investigate the iffy goings on in order to see if there was collusion between Obama's campaign and the Russians during the election. Hey, Inspector Erskine would demand nothing less. After all, there is not only the National Security Advisor issue, but Obama's first campaign manager had received money from a vitriolic pro Russian Ukrainian politician who was so deep in Putin's bag he'd been run out of office and into exile.

Then, comes the weird part. Just over 100 days into his presidency, Barack H. Obama fires the FBI director, who is heading the investigation. He admits he did so, after couple of a lame excuses from his staff, because, as he tells an interviewer, the whole Russian connection thing is a load of crap concocted by the republicans just because they lost the election.

Finally, on the very next day after he fired the head of the FBI, Obama meets with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador in the oval office. During the meeting, which is off limits to the American press, but faithfully recorded by state controlled Russian media, he blurts out highly classified information which has been supplied by a foreign intelligence agency--one who hasn't given the U.S. permission to share the sensitive data with anyone.

Now, if all that had actually happened in 2009, exactly what could we have expected from republican leaders and millions of the right wing rank and file? I mean besides the blood thirsty mobs rampaging through the streets carrying shotguns and nooses--because that's a given.

Yes, one shudders to think.

As it is, however, we are stuck with Donald John Trump pulling this shit and all those beady eyed Make America Great Again types are just fine with it.

Trump himself doesn't even think this latest revelation is a big deal. Earlier today he ran with two tweets which put together read, "As president I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS and terrorism."

Obviously El Don didn't consider the Russians might track down the location of the assets who provided the information--it's reported to have come from Israeli sources--then give it to their pals the Iranians, who, you know, really hate Jews no matter where they're at. Or that, now he's blabbing to an antagonistic power, other allies might think twice about sitting down for a latte with us, much less share whatever classified information their people have uncovered.

In the end Trump seems more concerned with who ratted out the the content of the Russian meeting than he is about the fate of an Israeli spy sweating out a dangerous extraction from Raqqa. He later tweeted,  "I have been asking Director Comey and others from the beginning of my administration to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community."

Wait. What?

First off, you silly son of a bitch, Jim Comey isn't going to find anyone because you fired him. Second, in the last few days, you've been the biggest intelligence LEAKER in Washinton.   

Good God, no wonder Dr. Duck's question is so relevant during these chaotic times. The White House has been reduced to a run amok Looney Tunes cartoon on steroids and the nation is being led by an obscene caricature of Foghorn Leghorn. 

Is it any wonder the bar is open? I didn't think so.



5-16-17 

Friday, May 12, 2017

James Comey Goes From Villain to Saint Within Minutes as Trevor Noah Gets the Jitters

Never, in the annals of American politics has a man gone from villain to martyr so quickly.

Indeed, within minutes of his firing by Donald Trump, James Comey ceased being that evil son of a bitch who cost Hillary Clinton the presidency and became a fallen hero in the epic battle against a corrupt autocrat. It is a transmogrification the likes of which we have not seen since the Coptic Church decided Pontius Pilate deserved to be a saint.

The current craziness is so severe, if you believe, "The Daily Show," host, Trevor Noah, we are on the verge of witnessing Trump disband congress and send the 82nd Airborne into Times Square. Of course, Noah is from Africa, where such things happen with disturbing frequency, so one can understand his trepidation.

Besides, who is to say we are immune to a coup d'├ętat? After all, our man, DJT has a proven affinity for tough guys. He sent Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan a warm note of congratulations after Erdogan fixed an election which gave himself dictatorial powers. Then there is the whole vaguely nauseating bromance with Vladimir Putin, not to mention certain debts, as yet unconfirmed,  El Don may, or may not owe the Russian president.

Right now, the situation is, as they say, fluid. The narrative, especially the one coming from the White House, changes every few hours. Apparently no one in the west wing, not even Donald Trump, can come up with a plausible reason why James Comey was fired.

My personal favorite was the first excuse--that the head of the FBI was canned because of his malevolent behavior toward Hillary Rodham Clinton a week before the election. That notion was such prima facie bullshit no one saying, or hearing it was able to keep a straight face.

According to initial White House statements, Comey was fired on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Deputy AG Robert Rosenstein. Sessions may have been okay with this explanation, despite pledging to recuse himself from any part of the investigation into a Russian-Trump campaign connection, but, if reports are true,  Rosenstein wasn't. Several news outlets have said Sessions' deputy, who allegedly authored the Clinton fiction, threatened to resign rather than take his place under the bus.

Then the big orange guy gave an interview to NBC's Lester Holt. While disparaging Comey personally--"he was a showboat, a grandstander,"--he let us know he would have fired the FBI Director no matter who recommended what. Trump went on to add the whole Russian investigation is a conspiracy of sorts concocted by the democrats who are angry they blew the election.

Well, why not? Let's face it, who among Trump supporters doesn't like a good conspiracy theory?

In the mean time the mainstream media is rife with stories about a January 27th dinner meeting between El Don and Comey. It came right after then Deputy AG, Sally Yates, told administration officials its national security advisor could be compromised by the Russkies. Trump maintains Comey asked for the meeting in order to plead for his job. In addition he claims Brother Comey told him on three different occasions, the dinner being one of them, he wasn't under investigation by the bureau.

Another version of the story, which is being reported by everyone other than FOX News, is Trump set up the dinner and twice asked Comey to pledge loyalty to him personally. Comey refused both times, but promised Mr. Trump he would always be honest with him.

The White House claims Trump, presumably because of his high ethical standards, would never ask the head of the FBI for his personal loyalty. Not only that, but scads of agents in the bureau have been calling Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders to thank Donald Trump for getting rid of the former director.

As of today there is no official explanation why disgruntled FBI agents would call the Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary--who knew the title even existed--under any circumstances. Although it could be the current Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, last seen lurking around White House shrubbery, is now permanently unavailable.

Whatever the case several media outlets are reporting FBI employees have told them James Comey was admired throughout the bureau for his honesty and integrity.

At this point in the chaos, Trump appears to be a man on the run and his White House looks to be in utter confusion. It is so bad the boss was reduced to tweeting, "As a very active president with lots of things happening it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at a podium with perfect accuracy." He added, "Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"

Being the perpetual adolescent bully boy he is, Trump couldn't help but also tweet, "James Comey better hope there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

Ahh yes, quite presidential.

Comparisons to Richard Nixon's infamous, "Saturday Night Massacre," are being made by some of the overwrought talking heads on cable news. It's nonsense, or at the very least premature. A special prosecutor hasn't been fired by the president and the top two Department of Justice officials haven't resigned because they refused to abet his crime.

No, we aren't that far gone yet, but it's easy to see we are getting there. Don Trump might be the greatest con man in the world, but he is also its worst poker player. Every time someone mentions Russia in connection with his election victory, administration,  or business life, he's immediately driven into a severe episode of delirium tremens. In other words, he displays the panicked disbelief and anger you see in an amateur after he's gone all in and had his bluff called.

Quite, honestly, what else should we expect from a man who has a third grader's knowledge of American history and the perception democracy is a great idea only so long as it lets him get away with whatever he wants?

Donald Trump's presidency is doomed not because the self proclaimed great negotiator doesn't know how to handle the press, or public. He plays them both like a drum. It's all coming unglued because in his entire adult life no one has ever told him no, then made it stick. It's a revelation he simply doesn't understand, or is willing to put up with.

And there lies the sum of Trevor Noah's fears. How will  a run amok egomaniac, who happens to be in charge of the world's deadliest military, react if a pink slip hits his inbox?

The truth is none of us, including jittery South African TV hosts, can know for sure. However, if things keep going the way they have been, the odds are distinctly in favor of us finding out.





sic vita est



5-12-17

Monday, May 8, 2017

We Bought the Ticket and Now We're Taking the Ride

The best thing that can be said about Donald Trump and the foul idiots who run with him is they never let themselves get hung up on one issue for too long. Yes, as we've seen so often the whole wretched bunch careens from one outrage to another with nary a pause, or scintilla of conscience.

Take Idaho republican congressman Raul Labrador. He's been in Washington for three terms now and during those six years he fought tooth and nail to get the Affordable Care Act repealed. When the still unvetted republican, "replacement plan," passed last week we can assume he was a part of the giddy crowd who gathered on the White House lawn to celebrate the victory with sausages and beer.

After the cheers subsided, the congressman goofed. He went home and held a town hall meeting to explain his vote on the bill. In response to an angry question from a constituent he said, "No one wants anybody to die. You know that line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care."

Perhaps in Raul Labrador's world they don't, but not in anyone else's. According to a 2009 study done by the American Journal of Public Health, taken before Obama Care went into effect, 45,000 Americans were dying every year because they lacked health insurance.

When news of his alternative fact hit the internet, everyone who has ever been without health care in this country--and there are a whole lot of us--had some unkind words for the representative. Within hours Mr. Labrador claimed the whole thing was a misunderstanding and his statement was, "taken out of context." What he was talking about, he said, was no one dies from a lack of emergency care because they don't have health insurance. No, they don't, but scads of people do die of things like heart disease, cancer, and a myriad of other deadly long term ailments because they aren't insured.

Sadly, as much as we'd like to, we don't have time to dwell on the representative's unique statistical knowledge, which is shared by far too many on the right. That's because, as previously stated, these twisted fucks never stay still long for either an in depth study, or a justly deserved prefrontal lobotomy.

No, today we are focusing on what former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates is saying to a senate subcommittee. Or, at least we should be.

However, as always Donald Trump, a resident of Mar-a-Lago Resort, jumped on twitter in order to head Yates off at the pass, so to speak.

This morning, hours before Yates was scheduled to appear before the subcommittee, Trump tweeted, "Ask Sally Yates under oath if she knows how classified information got into the news papers soon after she explained it to W.H. counsel."

El Don was obviously accusing Yates of being the source of infuriating leaks which started seeping out immediately after he was inaugurated. Many of the leaks roiled around former general Mike Flynn who was the newly minted National Security Advisor--the person Yates is testifying about at this very moment.

The leaks so enraged Trump he was moved to create his own alternative logic. It was a truly bizarre moment, one when reality crashed headlong into his stream of consciousness based propaganda. How else can you describe it when on the one hand the big orange guy was complaining about the media airing, "classified," information while at the same time tweeting those revelations were, "fake news?"

Flynn was sacked after 24 days. The official reason he lost his job was because he lied to Vice President, Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador.

In a further effort to change the narrative, Trump sent a second tweet this morning. It read, "General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama administration, but the fake news seldom likes talking about that."

Well, Flynn got his security clearance renewed by the Obama administration, so, yeah, sort of. What Trump failed to say is Flynn was also fired by the Obama administration. In fact a report surfaced today which says during an hour and a half meeting between Trump and Obama two days after the election, the president cautioned Trump not to hire the dude. As Obama put it, "I'm not a fan of Michael Flynn." The warning didn't stop Brother Don from hiring the retired general, or now, trying to lay a degree of blame on Obama for his decision to do just that.

In the mean time, Trump operatives are telling anyone who will listen that Yates' testimony will be politically motivated and therefore tainted because she was appointed by Barack Obama to her job as Deputy A.G. They are also eager to point out she was fired because she refused to enforce Trump's immigration embargo on Muslims from so called terrorist prone nations.

Yates spent 27 years in the department of justice, the vast majority of it in the non political job of U.S. prosecutor. When she was appointed by Barack Obama as the Deputy A.G. she was confirmed by a bi-partisan senate vote of 84-12. Her decision not to enforce Trump's executive order was based  in part because, "...nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful..." In other words, it was a legal opinion which has since been validated by more than one federal court.

It doesn't matter though. Despite the anger in town hall meetings and the testimony of  Sally Yates there is no slowing The Trump Express. It's an out of control beast fueled by an inexhaustible supply of feral lies, bullshit assumptions, cruel disinformation, and boundless, fascist, enthusiasm.

Indeed, to paraphrase the late, Hunter S. Thompson, we bought the ticket and now we're taking the ride.

The problem is there doesn't appear to be a way of slowing it down, much less bringing it to a stop.

At least not yet.




sic vita est


5-8-17

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The New State of American Health Care

Just before this post began to be composed, the United States House of Representatives voted to replace the Affordable Care Act with their own version of national health coverage. Which is to say there won't be any for a lot of us, or if there is it will cost more per year than a membership at the Augusta National Golf Club.

This monument to cruelty and mendacious rhetoric has been expected ever since Donald Trump took office. After all republicans in the house have loathed what they derisively called Obama Care long before it ever took effect. So much so they voted to repeal the ACA over 50 times when they knew either the senate would reject their decision, or Barack Obama would veto it.

The only surprising thing is it took this long since the last inauguration to kick the ACA to the curb. We have the hard right wing of the GOP to thank for the momentary reprieve. Those bellicose wankers don't want any government involvement in the corporate health and insurance complex. Their philosophy being, "Let 'em die in the streets if they can't pay for their own health care."

This state of mind was expressed perfectly by former republican congressman turned--what else--radio talk show host, Joe Walsh. In response to an emotional monologue by late night TV star Jimmy Kimmel, which included his own experience as the father of a newborn with a life threatening heart defect, Walsh tweeted, "Why do American taxpayers have to be obligated for the health care expenses of an individual anyway?"

Hmm. Maybe out of a sense of decency to our fellow citizen and human being? Or, just because providing health care is far more gratifying than paying for another fucking bomb.

According to the radical left wing publication known as the Wall St. Journal, the bill put together and passed by republicans will allow employers to get rid of 10 specific types of health services. Among them are prescription coverage, mental health treatment, and hospitalization. In addition it will allow companies to void the limits on the amount of out of pocket expenses for their workers when they become the victims of catastrophic illness. It's a scenario which goes like this: Your spouse shows up at your place of work and the HR rep says, "Oh, don't worry, the company insurance will cover all of the cancer treatment expenses after you pay only $1,000,000."

In addition it allows states to get rid of the caps on insurance rates when it comes to pre-existing conditions. In other words, if you have a heart defect, like Kimmel's kid, you can get coverage, but could well be paying, let's say $100,000 a year, or so. That's so long as a state legislature doesn't wipe out the clause entirely, which it can now do. As a moral lesson to slackers, it also allows states to force Medicaid recipients to find a job no matter what their condition. Plus the premiums for senior citizens on fixed incomes can sky rocket unchecked just because they're old.

Yes, as Hannibal Smith used to say on TV, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Fortunately, if you're a congressman, or are on the staff of one, none of this shit applies to you. The hacks who wrote the new law know it is so horribly rotten and sadistic they intentionally left themselves an exception which allows them to keep all the Obama Care benefits no matter what parts their states kill.

That's right, as the bill is currently written, republican legislators will remain safely covered and economically protected by the very same law they have spent years raging against. News of the hypocritical loop hole broke several days ago, but instead of taking a magic marker to the existing language, a whole new bill was put together which will, in theory, close the escape hatch. The house leadership claims a vote on the additional measure will come at a later date.

No doubt, unless, of course, the media and public eventually forget about it. In that case, it's party on dudes.

Now the measure is headed to the senate where God only knows how it will mutate. Then quite probably it will go to a joint house/senate committee. Finally, if the amended law passes both houses it will end up on the desk of El Don. When it gets there the big orange guy will unabashedly tell everyone he personally created, "The best, the greatest, most incredible new health care system for America ever." Just don't ask him what it actually says, or does, because he won't have a clue, nor will he care.

Well, hey, why should he? Let's face it, details are for we the little people to suffer.

And, as everybody, except a bunch of overstuffed, jowly, blue collar racists realize, Donald John Trump is not one of us.





5-4-17