Friday, January 19, 2018

The Art Of The Deal

What a great negotiator. What great deals he'll make. Asshole.

His Piehole Is A Shithole

My next newspaper column:
“Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.” (Michelle Obama.) The same can be said about a president’s supporters.
The point isn’t that Donald Trump, Very Stable Genius, compared countries containing dark-skinned people to the last stop indigestible fiber and billions of bacteria make before exiting the colon. In part, it’s how it made undeniable his racism, and that of those who’ve been bending over backwards to pretend it isn’t. And it’s the clarity in the unabashed delight of his base when they heard the news: David Duke was orgasmic.  
Even that, though, is less important than how it shows Trump neither understands nor loves what America has, until recently, always meant; and how that contempt is revealed in his policies. The American idea is both foreign and anathema to the Very Stable Genius, and, now revealed undeniably, to his rebarbative supporters. To Trump, America is riches to be plundered. It’s a zero-sum game, a grift, an endless source of aggrandizement; the humanitarian miracle for which it stands means nothing to him. And he’s made it a place where he needn’t fake it. Enough people love him precisely for his racist gutter talk and his bluff ignorance that he assumes it’s okay.  
How okay? Congressional Republicans lightly tapped Trump with the “unhelpful” stick. Fox “news” apostles told us it’s just how people talk. Rand Paul said calling him a racist makes negotiations on immigration difficult. (No, sir. It’s his racism that makes it difficult.) Senators Cotton and Perdue (the latter once encouraged praying for President Obama’s death) claimed they “don’t recall” hearing the words, hours after attending the meeting. Then, when the VSG decided to lie about it, memory miraculously restored, flat-out insisted he didn’t. Later, in a display of condescending logomachy, they weaseled that “-house vs. –hole” makes some kind of difference.  
People who leave destitute countries to come here risk everything. In so doing, they identify themselves as courageous strivers; indeed, such families produce high-school and college grads and professionals at a higher rate than typical white, native-born Americans. Their crime rate is lower. They, not Trump, are the people making America great. They always have; now more than ever, as Trump and his cohorts attempt to make us a country ruled by white male billionaires, insulated and protected by purposeful stupefaction of everyone else: bible-schooled, science-illiterate, history-deprived, propagandized into docility, “faked” out of the means of resistance.  
Immigrants the Very Stable Genius derides fled that life, intent on bettering themselves. (Trump profits by employing Haitians on the cheap.) Norwegians? Other than to experience the character-building effects of impoverishment following medical care, and retirement insecurity, why would they come? (The happiest country on earth, Norway is a flourishing democratic-socialist atheist-majority country where, according to Trump, the people “work very hard.” Norway refutes every argument Republicans make for their policies.)  
There’s no doubt Trump said it: Lindsey Graham, lately a supine, unapologetic Trump apologist, attended the meeting and confirms it. Hardcore right-winger Erick Erickson tweeted that Trump called friends to brag about it.  
You can’t say things that are false ― knowingly false ― and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account,” said the Genius last week, obliviously believing he can change libel laws. Trump, whose falsehoods since taking office now exceed two thousand, who raised membership fees at Marks-are-Loco to $200,000 and has charged the Secret Service at least that much for using its golf carts. Whose D.C. hotel is Pay-to-Play Central. 
Fox’s most adorably aggrieved talker, Tucker Carlson thinks fact-checkers target conservatives. It’s true: and firefighters target houses that are burning. Like complaining that reporting on Jeffery Dahmer didn’t mention his other consumables, Foxophiles moan that “mainstream” media’s coverage of Trump is ninety-percent negative. 
Our democracy can’t sustain wondering if a president is telling the truth, and when his party lies to protect his lies. When -- the one thing they’re right about -- they’ve come to count on getting away with it. When ordinary citizens convince themselves, in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence, that their leaders aren’t lying. (Cue Trumpists: “But Obama said you can keep your doctor…”) 
To today’s Republican electeds, and, evidently, their voters, the founding ideals by which our nation once illuminated the world have become abhorrent. So has truth. Donald Trump, Very Stable Genius, is both cause and result.
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Very Stable Genius Loves Norway.

How ironic is it that the Very Stable Genius hails Norway as an exemplary nation? It is, after all, a fantastically successful democratic socialist nation, with high taxes and lots of "free stuff." They're hard workers, he says, after he and his party have been claiming for years that socialism makes people lazy. I hope poor Paul Ryan wasn't listening too hard. It could bring back scary memories of how he got by with the help of social programs.

And why in gods' name (Norway is now, by majority, an atheist nation) would any of them want to come here?

... We like where we live. In fact, Norway is the happiest country in the world. We are that way because we live in an egalitarian society where we strive to give everyone good and equal opportunities -- regardless of ethnic, gender and social background... 
... Today, Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, and we will not give up on our cradle-to-grave welfare. Our parental leave is a generous year, kindergarten is cheap, and our higher education is free. Health care is also free for every Norwegian citizen. Our society strives to be tolerant. Every political party promotes liberal values, gender-equality and human rights. The plumber´s son goes to school with the CEO´s daughter, and social mobility is high. Hence, our leaders have diverse backgrounds and anyone could meet the NATO secretary general skiing in the woods or our Prime Minister at the supermarket doing her own grocery shopping. 
So instead of trying to import our whiteness, the US President should try letting some of our ideals in...
If Norway isn't proof of the emptiness of Trumpic Republicanism and the falsehood of everything it stands for, I don't know what is. So, yes, let's finally give Trump what he wants and bring in the Norwegians. By the bucketful. Enough of them to bring their form of government to ours. That must be what he has in mind.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy Talk

My next newspaper column. Chillin' at the end of a nice vacay in Hawaii.

Taking a mental health break from Donald J. Trump, VSG:
"Thangzz doc yer th greatiss .... No, rilly man... yer the... zzzzz ..." "Wha? Operation's over? No way. You're kidding, right? Oh yeah, lookit that. Wow. The operation's over? No way. You're kidding, right? Over? You're kidding, right? Is the operation over? You're kidding. Right? Oh yeah..." "I robbed a bank, y'know. Had to kill a guy. Put the money in a Swiss bank. The account number is...."  
I've been asked frequently: "Did I say anything when I was out?" Readers of my blog wondered the same. Evidently, it's a pretty common concern: do people reveal stuff or otherwise embarrass themselves when under the effects of anesthesia drugs? Relax, people: the answer is "no." Mostly.  
Sodium pentothal, formerly used extensively in the operating room but now largely replaced, has been referred to as “truth serum.” Whereas it's still true that under the influence of para-surgical drugs people can get a little disinhibited, it's not the case that they'll get all revelatory. I haven't learned any secrets from my patients. When asked, however, I've been known to say, "Well, you did mention a Swiss bank account." Only once did that result in a worried look. 
Most surgical patients get a little something to relax them before they get wheeled into the OR. It's not unlike a couple of my perfect martinis. So yeah, tongues loosen a little. Giggles sometimes; rarely, tears. "Wow, this feels great..." Stories get told. Amusingly, when the story is interrupted mid-sentence by the arrival in their brain of the knock-out punch, I've seen people wake up later and begin exactly where they left off, unaware of the passage of time. And yet, I've never heard anyone say anything they'd be sorry about. Except telling me how wonderful I am (for my regular column-haters, there’s no drug that potent.)  
When possible, I enjoyed operating on awake patients. We’d talk, usually light-heartedly. Given some sort of anti-anxiety drug, the conversations can be loose, chatty, funny. People will say the same thing over and over, ask the same questions repeatedly. My goal is to keep them comfortable; if they want to ramble on, it's fine with me. Most often they doze, wake up, talk a little, doze some more. It's pleasant, not confessional. 
Because such talk is commonplace, even when particularly entertaining it went out the other side of my mind as quick as it enters; my head -- and, I'd aver, those of everyone else in the OR -- is a sieve that way. Talk like that is texture, not substance.  
The flip side of this is a theoretical utility. Studies of suggestibility under anesthesia are equivocal. Still, I liked to give some positive thoughts to my patients as they went off to sleep and when they emerged: "We'll take good care of you. You'll be comfortable when you wake up." And, after it's over, "Everything went great. You'll be happy we did this. Comfortable, no nausea." I have no idea if it had an effect or not. 
I always made it a point to talk to my patients when they were awake in the recovery room, not only telling them how it went but -- unless it wasn't true -- telling them I expect things to be fine, give them some positive vibes. With practically no exceptions, no matter how engaged and appropriate they were in those conversations, people never remembered what was said, or even that I'd been there. Or that they'd asked me the same thing five times in a row. But I always did it.  
If it were possible, I'd love to see a study of people wherein, within a standard time of awakening, they'd hear suggestions. Some would hear words saying they'd be comfortable, be up and out of bed soon; others would hear something neutral, unrelated to pain. The floor nurses wouldn't know who heard what. Pain medication use would be recorded, along with nausea, time before getting out of bed. I'd like to think the former group would outperform. (The studies I'm aware of played recorded messages during surgery.)
The problem with any sort of surgical studies is that even when operations are "the same," they really aren't. Different surgeons, different operating times, incision size; different people getting the procedure, for differing reasons. It's really hard to standardize. Still, it'd be interesting. Valid or not, I liked doing it. 
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Monday, January 8, 2018

Under The Radar?

Here's something fairly obvious that hadn't occurred to me: by appointing so many "acting" officials, including several US attornies, Trump has bypassed confirmation hearings, and has a bunch of high-level people accountable only to him. Just another example of flouting the rule of law, yet one more cynical piece of the march to unchecked power.
... Senators have a right to ask prospective U.S. Attorneys how they plan to enforce federal law on marijuana, and, of course, the legislators have the right to vote these officials down if they don’t like their answers. But Sessions has installed acting U.S. Attorneys in much of the country—including in such high-profile locations as Manhattan and Los Angeles—and senators can’t exert any oversight of them. This gesture of contempt for the Senate’s role in confirmations is reflected well beyond the Justice Department. Throughout the government, Trump has nominated many fewer officials to Senate-confirmed positions than his predecessors; instead, Cabinet secretaries have filled these crucial positions with acting or temporary officials who avoid scrutiny from senators...
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Come To Think Of It...

Here's a good point, from a former US Attorney:
“The thing is, with Steve Bannon, we keep forgetting he was on the national security council,” said Moore. “And then to come out and say, ‘I don’t really know him, he’s Sloppy Steve’ or whatever, he was their pick to be on the national security council. He helped run the campaign.
Yep, just some guy we gave a top security clearance to, and put on the Security Council. No idea who the fk he is.

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

It's Now Or Never

Here's my upcoming newspaper column:
Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country. Constitutional protections against tyranny have never been so seriously threatened. 
Donald Trump, would-be dictator and wouldn’t-be cogitator, began the new year by describing our Justice Department as a “deep state” adversary, while demanding it prosecute certain people he doesn’t like. There followed silence of the lambs who once mewled that President Obama used government agencies against enemies; now mum, as a “president” demands DOJ, CIA, FBI do exactly that. In a foreign leader, we’d all see it for what it is. Even Trumpists. 
This year is the turning point. Either people who once supported Trump, and people previously disinterested or naively persuaded by disinformation will wake up to the danger, or they’ll ratify, actively or passively, the end of Constitutional governance. What would follow was once considered impossible in the United States: dimming the beacon of a free press, hastened by indifference and too-easily constructed belief in fakery; a Department of Justice, helmed by a beholden Attorney General, becoming the enforcement arm of despotism, punishing adversaries as demanded by a delusional, vindictive, “semi-literate” (direct quote from inside the W.H.), narcissistic, sociopath. Lawful protests, quelled. Voting legislated into meaninglessness, voices stilled by complacency belatedly acknowledged. 
In no way is this overstatement. It’s begun, if not yet irreversibly. But if awakened voters don’t turn out in Alabama-like numbers for year-end national elections, it’ll become permanent. It will have been the last chance for the will of the people to have an impact, much of its meaning having been already lost when Trump was parchmented into office. 
Only by the still-remaining direct election of federal legislators might his authoritarianism be stopped. Watching Congressional sycophancy and acquiescence, it’s clear the current crop of Republicans won’t do it. Happy to have a resolutely know-nothing in the White House, actively ignoring the implications, they’re pursuing only self-enrichment. And, to protect it, they’re making a mockery of oversight. Ignore, if you must, today’s throwback links, but not this one.
Who’d have thought millions of Americans would succumb to a rightwing propaganda machine, even such a well-financed and coordinated one? Who can process the extent to which truth is no longer a valued or expected fundament of our political process? Swallowed whole by supporters, Trump’s untruths are approaching two-thousand.  
One may wonder why Trump chose “the failing New York Times” to host his recent interview, but in doing so he made clear how unsuited he is for the presidency. Those who read his mostly unchallenged word salad, his delusions, his inability to form complete sentences and aren’t horrified are a greater threat than Trump himself. Because, having the power, possibly for the last time, to vote Trump’s enablers out of office, not to do so, out of disinterest, or inanition, or ignorance of what’s happening, or, worst of all, selfishness, ought to be unthinkable. Given the stakes. 
It falls upon all of us – not just Republicans and self-described conservatives – to make preserving Constitutional republican democracy our highest priority. Liberals must interrupt the pursuit of political purity and the rejection of candidates who don’t believe exactly as they do. More, they have to turn out. 
Conservatives have to recognize that deregulation and tax cuts (and, for many, blaming immigrants and the poor for their problems) are less important than living in a free society wherein citizens, however remotely, still have voice. 
In 2018, we all must become active in preserving our uniquely successful form of government: at minimum, by paying attention, and voting. Now or never, enough Americans have to hit the “pause” button, putting aside everything but restoring sanity and balance. If you haven’t read that interview, do.  
Then read this summary of Trump’s first year. Before dismissing it as “fake news” or lies, Trumpists, do some fact-checking. Make the effort all citizens should, now more than ever, to inform themselves before casting their votes. Step outside the Foxolimjonesian bubble; seek other voices. Revisit how the Constitution is meant to work, consider the evidence that Trump would tear it up if he could. It’s there for the gathering. Across the country, 
Democrats, open wider your arms. Start now. And, no matter what, don’t stay home come November. Unlike last election, in this one popular vote will make all the difference.
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Credit Where Credit Is Don't

Having done nothing significant for airline safety other than failing to appoint a new director of the FAA, Trump takes credit for 2017, "the safest" year for airline flight. As it happens, there were no US deaths for the past several years, and the only recent steps to improve safety were by Obama. Also, the record was for world-wide travel, for which Trump has done less than nothing. But, sure, okay.


If you want to take credit for airline safety, about which you've done nothing, Donald, what claim you regarding the fact that coal mining deaths in 2017 were double those in 2016? In that area you actually HAVE taken action. Namely, rolling back coal mining company safety requirements.


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Comes Now The Hard Sell

Tomorrow's newspaper column, today:
Kicking off a multi-million-dollar campaign to sell their cheaply-bought, self-enriching, middle-class deceiving, poor-people-harming tax cuts, it’s fitting that the Koch brothers began with an ad featuring a young girl thanking Trump for “allowing” her to say Merry Christmas again. In the alt-universe, the apparitional war on Christmas remains a favorite manipulation, perfectly illuminating their (the Koch’s, Trump’s, McConnell’s, Ryan’s, Hannity’s, et kleptera) confidence in their ability to distract bedazzled voters from their rapacious, destructive agenda.  
Allowing! Well, clutch my pearls and call me Sarah!! Because until Trump, borne to us on wings of angels, beleaguered Christian-Americans had been prohibited – under penalty of (?) – from saying those sanctified words, even amongst themselves, evidently. Kenyan brain implants. Inserted as you watched Fox “news,” neuro-receptors ironically impervious to disturbances. 
Confident that the programmed will continue to buy the fiction of attacks on Christmas and other imaginary horrors, Republicans are relentlessly undoing environmental protections, blessing the poisoning of ourselves and our children. As they deploy voter suppression laws across the land, as they remain silent about (or, improbably, ignorant of) the effluvium of lies coming daily from Trump, they distract the distractible, via a phony “war.” (For those who believe the lie that Obama eschewed the words, it’s disproved in two seconds of googling.) 
Allowing!! Believe it! For, whilst you turn your gaze to heaven, Rs have more regulations to extinguish. Like ones penalizing nursing homes for lousy care. Which they just did. Say it loud: Merry Christmas! (Not you, grandma. Hands off the call button!)  
Allowing!!! All praise be to Trump, giver of those things which He hath not yet taken away. How sweet the sound, how long the silence.  
In this, the most believer-dense democracy on earth (teetering, but not yet pushed over the cliff), wherein Christianity is sprinkled on laws like ash from fires ravaging parched land, and where prayers in the Cabinet Room are led by a neurosurgeon-cum-housing expert giving thanks to God and Trump (not necessarily in that order) for erasing budget deficits after the signing of a bill INCREASING them: people will weep in agreement, thank Dear Leader for allowing them, once again, to mouth those forbidden, commercialized words. (Not fake news: during Barack Obama’s presidency, when an actual president was tweeting “Merry Christmas,” Trump tweeted “Happy Holidays.” You can look it up.)  
Around that Cabinet Room sang they their hosannas and genuflected them their knees. (Only missing were fifty-foot posters and a stiff-armed and -legged military parade.) And He smiled upon them. (More of a smirk, really, but it warmed in them that which had replaced their souls.)  
So cocksure of his deceptions is Trump that he hied himself to Mired-in-Loco immediately post-signature to announce to his pals, “You all just got a lot richer.” Fast flew he, outracing his biggest lie of all, that the bill was about helping the middle class, that he and his buddies would suffer. 
So anxious he was to reap his millions, he signed the bill this year, allowing its effects to commence in 2018 instead of 2019; those who care to look may feel the hurt in time for the next election. Oops. (“Oops” assumes cultists will find their way out of their thrall, to search beyond the promises. Shall one hope?)  
The thing about predictions concerning what I and nearly all analyses consider a regressive, budget-busting, Koch/Trump/Corker-enriching, capitalism-threatening tax bill is that at some point we’ll learn who’s right. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it loud and clear. Will Trumpists, if it’s they? It would require unprecedented rejection of claims of fakery, but there’s a first time for everything. So, while we await the reckoning, let’s take a moment: the year is almost new, a time for resolutions and resolve. 
Here’s mine: knowing the unlikeliness of puncturing the reality-resistant bubble in which Trumpists live, I’ll keep trying. Because, years from now, wandering amongst the rubble, I don’t want my grandchildren (or theirs) to think I was among those gone silent as democracy crumbled around us; when our government, helmed by an amoral, ultracrepodarian mammothrept excused and enabled by an avaricious, conscienceless Congress, turned away from science, from the needy, from inclusive governance; polluted our land, ignored the climate crisis, dismissed our future as less important than making themselves and their paymasters “a lot richer” now. While average Americans paid the price. 
Silence is acquiescence. So, no.
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Friday, December 22, 2017

The Temperature At Which It All Burns Down

My next newspaper column.

Vulnerable, Entitlement, Diversity, Transgender, Fetus. Evidence-based. Science-based.

Attendees at a meeting confirmed researchers at the Centers for Disease Control were told not to use those words. Days later, CDC’s head issued a non-denial denial, claiming reports “mischaracterized” what was said. Either way, it’s hardly Trump’s first attack on knowledge.

The EPA website scrubbed references to climate change and links to resources for understanding it. Ryan Zinke just upbraided a national park superintendent for using the phrase. On Monday, though the Pentagon disagrees, Trump removed global warming from the list of security threats to our nation. Leadership! Problem solved.

Is it hot in here? Feels like 451ยบ Fahrenheit.

None who still support Trump will find this disturbing. Certainly not Congressional Republicans, whose latest secretion is a greedy, grift-, graft-, and loophole-laden, dishonestly sold, economically unsound (see: Kansas) tax bill, refusing input from experts, holding no hearings, addressing concerns of none but their corporate benefactors. Overstated? We’ll find out. Maybe even before it’s too late.

How obvious is their disregard for you, Trumpophiles; how cheaply bought they believe you to be? Temporary trifles for you; permanent payola for the corpocracy.

In happier times, liberals and conservatives wanted the same thing: the best future for America and its children. Differences lay in how to achieve it; especially the role of government in protecting and providing. The end, if not the means, was shared. If it still applies to some, it most surely does NOT to Congressional Republicans currently in our employ, nor to the temporary indweller of the Gold House.

If you act to silence scientists, defund and ignore their research, you’re not concerned about your kids’ future. More so if you choose to allow widespread poisoning of their forever home. Whitewashing history books, diverting taxpayer funds to Bible schools and Scientology-based charter schools steals from kids intent on learning to think for themselves. That’s not forward-looking, either.

If your idea of tax reform is ninety percent of it benefitting the top one percent, busting the budget to prepare for defunding social programs, gifting unpublicized carve-outs to America’s most wealthy, you’re concerned only about self-enrichment, future be damned. If you supported a candidate for the senate notorious for flouting Supreme Court rulings, ruing the end of slavery and subservience of women, advocating repressive theocracy, you favor neither democracy nor the Constitution.

But that’s just nibbling at the parchment’s edges. We’re now witnessing a Constitutional-crisis-inducing effort to delegitimize inquiry into interference in our democratic institutions by a foreign enemy. Fox “news,” Trump’s Soviet-modeled propaganda organ and disinformation generator, is leading the calumniation. Attacking Robert Mueller as “a partisan hack,” leader of “a coup,” and worse, Fox talkers speak with one increasingly seditious voice. Long since having crossed all lines, one even implied a Jones-worthy FBI assassination plot against Trump.

Robert Mueller, Republican, Vietnam Marine veteran decorated for bravery, whose reputation for dogged honesty serving presidents of both parties has been unquestioned throughout his career: pilloried by miscreants fearful of what he’ll find, afraid of being thrown off the money train, of their arrant mendacity being revealed. Preprogrammed, the Foxified swallow it: hooked, party-lined, America-sinkers.

In the world’s longest-lasting (so far), most admired (until now) and emulated democracy, we’re witnessing suppression of facts our government dislikes, of voting by people it dislikes, and, now, coordinated attempts to subvert a constitutionally empowered inquiry it dislikes, into its very legitimacy. How can any lover of what America once stood for not be appalled?  

Unable to refute content, unhappy readers charge that, consumed by hatred of Trump and Trumpists, I’m not even-handed or civil enough. (Thoughts on Hannity? Pirro? Limbaugh? Asking for a friend.) They miss the point: it’s not hatred, it’s love. Of a country to whose sick I dedicated a career of healing; in one of whose wars I was wounded while serving; in which my vulnerable grandchildren will grow up. I wish its democracy to endure, with breathable air, tolerable climate, diversity valued, its wealth more generously accessible, policies evidence-based, treatment of transgender people and fetuses science-based, entitlement to health and happiness a given.

Trump and his co-conspirators are looting America, attacking our founding principles, burning it all down. This isn’t a time to discuss the occasional value of fires. Such exigency demands non-stop shouting, “Wake up!!” Screaming at the top of our lungs.

Oh. And Merry Christmas.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

First Thought, Second Thought

Always about him until someone reminds him to pretend to care. But he's monitoring, so.

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Of Dull Knives And Gunfights

Talking Points Memo is one of the most informative, insightful, and intelligent liberal websites out there. Here's a slice of a post from Josh Marshall, its creator:
Behind the new faux controversy over Mueller getting Trump transition emails is a key and probably too little discussed aspect of the Russia story: Mueller’s team has some of the most accomplished and aggressive prosecutors and legal minds of their generation. They’re facing off against a team of has-beens, 3rd or 4th rate lawyers and in some cases simple incompetents. Why? Because Trump values sycophancy above competence and because none of the top lawyers were willing to work for him...
He goes on, compellingly: namely, that Mueller's people know what they're doing and, likely, already have the goods. Of that, I think there's little doubt. The big question is what Congressional Rs will do with the info when it comes out; and to what extent, if any, Trumpists will find it enlightening, and wise up.

The answer remains to be seen. About that, I'm less optimistic.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Tough Call

My upcoming newspaper column:
Here’s what I wish Al Franken had said: “Yes, the USO picture is real, and so are some accusations, and I’m ashamed. I’ll never do it again. I understand my colleagues’ calls, but I work hard at my job, fight the right fights, and I’ll work just as hard to regain my reputation. If I fail, voters will replace me. Until then, I’ll keep working for progressive causes and exposing the dangers to democracy and our planet that this administration represents. I hope my colleagues will continue to work alongside me, as they have until now.”  
Or something.  
I take him at his word that some of the claims against him are false, but, because there’s no acceptable number, it doesn’t really matter. I do wish there were a way to ascertain truth in a he-said, she-said situation, because it has enormous implications and potential for abuse, in either direction. Which is why I’m troubled by the pre-touchdown end-zone dances of people like Roger Stone and Steve Bannon, who somehow knew in advance that charges were coming, against Franken and others.  
If, along with other examples of men behaving badly, this leads to changes in how women are treated in the workplace and elsewhere, it’s a good thing. If the recent spate of public exposure will wise men (holiday reference) up and give women the respect and safety they deserve, maybe it’s worth it. But the loss of a hard-working, smart, progressive senator who’s done more for women in a day than Trump has done in his life, over pale claims compared to those against Trump, is a high price.  
And that’s the problem: politically, it’s an unfair fight. Liberals have lately been quick – too quick, in some cases – to rid themselves of alleged abusers, broadening the definition to near-meaninglessness. There’s a difference between rape (of which the occupier of the Awful Office has been accused) or grabbing women by their pudenda (about which the occupier was recorded bragging. On tape. In front of people. Before suggesting it’s fake), and patting someone’s behind. The former are criminal offenses. The latter is, at minimum, oafishness. Does it merit summary firing? I don’t know. I really don’t. I do know, though, that there’s an orchestrated take-down effort happening. 
Is it coincidence that the charges against Franken came after he was so hard on Jefferson Sessions? Someone just pitched (clumsily) a fake abuse story about Chuck Schumer to news organizations. NPR canned Garrison Keillor, a Trump satirist, for what was evidently an isolated offense, a pretty minor one, about which he’d apologized, and the apology accepted. Until someone mysteriously stepped in. MSNBC fired Sam Seder, Trump antagonist, for a satirical comment excoriating Hollywood(!), sent to them, out of context and years later, by the same Republican operative who later forwarded that Schumer fakery. Now it’s The New Yorker and Ryan Lizza, outer of Scaramucci. 
 These overreactions reflect the sort of self-righteous “liberalism” Trumpists criticize but are happy to weaponize. In this arena, Democrats are the ones who’ve found a conscience. Republicans take advantage. Democrats take the bait. Franken takes the fall. 
Mitch McConnell, after effectively endorsing Roy Moore, called on Franken to resign. Does that compute? Is it because Franken, ashamed, admitted failings while Moore and Trump, unashamed, didn’t? Is that the criterion by which we should believe women?  
To defenders of Trump and Moore (let’s not forget Clarence Thomas), the only believable women are those accusing Democrats. That’s looser than Donald’s dentures. Many Republicans deny, others just don’t care about, or define away, abuse of women and young girls. Or, per preachers(!) excusing Moore, it’s okay because teenagers are “pure.” Besides, the Bible says women’s proper role is obedience and being vessels for the seed of man. 
It’s a microcosm of where the parties stand on issues affecting women. Reproductive rights, pay equity. Women’s health in general, child care for working moms, CHIP (after outrage, it might get funded). Rape, even: there can’t be rape in marriage; make the best of a bad situation; if rape is inevitable, (and I quote) “relax and enjoy it.” 
Do women who vote for this perversion of conservatism accept people like Roy Moore’s claims of their inferiority? Does their racism/Bible-based homophobia Trump everything? Sixty-three percent of white Alabamian women (and eighty percent of self-identified evangelicals) voted for Moore. So which is it?
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Bar And The Low Bar

When pushback comes to shove-it, there are no "moderate" Republicans. This guy, one of the very few ever unanimously deemed unqualified to be a judge by the ABA, is now a lifetime federal one.
... Every Republican present voted to confirm Grasz, 56, to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. That includes moderates like Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), as well as retiring Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). Every Democrat opposed him in the 50-48 vote...
These are horrible people, every damn one of them. There are no standards. If he'd okay their latest voter suppression plans, or gerrymandering, or assault on civil rights, they'd give their yea to Charles Manson, may their version of a god rest his soul.

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The Man In The Moon

Trump directs NASA to refocus on putting people back on the moon. Then MARS.

First thought: Okay, cool. New technology. Neat live video, if I live that long.

Second thought: Trump directs NASA to stop paying attention to how we're destroying the planet, and how much worse it'll get with his deregulation/fossil fuel madness.

Third thought: Yep. Important to think at least twice.

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