Monday, October 31, 2016

Non-Election Nightmares

In an election season that is certainly making Satan giggle, Halloween just seems a little underwhelming.

Best Ghost Photo Ever
Most ghost photos can be explained by double exposures, foggy lenses, pareidolia, or plan fakery. A few have enough documentation to suggest something paranormal. The image above is of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. According to legend, the lady was the wife of the Second Viscount Townshend who, in the early eighteenth century, had faked her death and imprisoned her in their English mansion for life for adultery.

This picture, taken in 1936, is supposed to be of the poor woman whose ghost has been seen for 200 years. Many have concluded it is a hoax but the photographer was a man of stellar reputation, he had a witness to the image he shot, and the Lady has been seen on many other occasions.

Best (probably fake) Witch Video

This video is allegedly dash cam footage from a Saudi Arabian border control vehicle. If it is not a real witch, the best explanation is that it is a prank that veteran agents played on a rookie, the guy screaming hysterically.

 Or maybe just a tree and shadows. Slenderman is a fictional 2009 internet meme that has rapidly become an urban legend. You can find pictures of him all over the web. Slenderman is said to be a demon that lurks around playgrounds because he loves tormenting children. In 2014, two very real 12 year-old girls stabbed a classmate 19 times and nearly killed her. They claimed there were compelled to murder by the Slenderman.

Angel (or the Flash) Video

This is said to be traffic cam footage of an angel saving someone. The flashes alone seem to be proof of a hoax.

Robert the Doll
Robert was a gift in 1904 from an unhappy maid to the son of her employers. She had cursed the doll with black magic. The child, Robert Eugene Otto, would talk to the doll who could be heard responding. When the child grew up he stored the doll in an attic room from which the doll could be seen staring out from different windows and heard walking about.

Today, the doll is an exhibit in a museum where it is claimed he has been seen moving and visitors who have disrespected the doll report their lives have been cursed and writer letters to the doll begging his forgiveness.

The Sound of Hell
According to the story, in the later part of the 20th century, Soviet scientists in Siberia drilled a borehole deep into the earth. They encountered an opening some 14 km under the surface and lowered a microphone down the hole because, why not? They then recorded 30 seconds of the sound of souls being tormented in Hell.

There is no evidence of any such hole being drilled (Illuminati coverup) and the noises seem to be from the soundtrack of a 1972 movie. But, that hasn't stopped religious fundamentalists from pointing to this tape as absolute proof of Hell.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Comey's Bombshell

For future reference, THIS is how you rig an election.

A normal investigative chief when told that his subordinates want to look into something would have asked pertinent questions (Do we have anything serious? Not yet. Do you need any subpoenas? No.) and told his people to get back to him if they find something. That chief would then say and do nothing until he had something substantial to report.

FBI Director James Comey didn't do that. Comey had been chastened by charges that he had surrendered to political pressure by his announcement that there was nothing to the Clinton email investigation. Comey was afraid of being criticized again so he clumsily elevated a probable nothing-burger into a major event.

Now, afraid of the aftereffect of his bumbling, Comey is hiding from the media and will remain in hiding. He is afraid of being criticized and afraid of having to admit he bumbled badly.

If this takes the worst possible path - swinging the election to a President Donald Trump with his alt-right Svengali Steve Bannon as White House Chief-of-Staff - then James Comey will likely go down in history with names like Philippe P├ętain and Vidkun Quisling. These are men who cravenly delivered their people to fascism while mewling pathetically that they didn't know what else to do.

Why did I leave England? Political refugee status is easier to get if you are already in the country.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Back into the Maelstrom

I've spent the last two weeks as an election refugee in England. I wasn't completely unaware of news from the States (damn you free hotel wifi) but I didn't drown in campaign sewage.
I met a splendid couple from Shanghai in the English Lake District who had been following the US news for months with a mixture of amusement and apprehension. They had many questions about American elections which I answered happily until they asked me about Donald Trump. I answered that he is insane and scary.

The most memorable encounter was with a Mexican student traveling Europe I met on a train headed north out of London. He was well versed in the American election and we spent a couple hours discussing it and other topics. As I was debarking this young man looked at me and said in a compassionate and reassuring voice, "Don't worry, Trump won't win."

I think he won't but I will stop worrying on November 9th.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump Broke the Camel's Back

In and of itself, Trump's "pussy" tape would have damaged but not murdered most campaigns. The problem was that it was piled on top of 18 months of shit emanating from The Donald's pie hole. It caused a sudden shift the American Zeitgeist. In the words of Star Trek's Jean-Luc Picard, "The line must be drawn here. This far, no further."

LePage Wants a Trump Dictatorship
History will record that this week marks the official birth of the new American Fascist Party. Maine governor Paul LePage openly called for Donald Trump to impose "authoritarian" rule over the United States. The Republican Party is now officially split into a dominate neo-fascist party under Trump and Rance Priebus and a rump center-right party of traditional Reaganites like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain.

Trump Unbound
Trump has declared his "shackles have been taken off" and he is using this new found freedom to wage civil war against the party that nominated him. To mix my strongman metaphors, Trump's final act as his party's nominee will be to tear down the temple of Republicanism like the biblical Samson.

Methadone For a Political Junkie
I'm leaving for two weeks going to England, hoping the soothing voices of BBC newsreaders will re-energize my soul after the decaying rot of this American election season. Also, I am certain that things will only get worse in the coming days and distance may keep me from ODing on political bile.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

So, I Watched the Debate

  1. The biggest take away for me was Trump's pledge to have his opponent arrested and imprisoned. That is what you would expect out of fascist Italy, Stalin's Russia, or Hussein's Iraq. It is a terrifying prospect.
  2. Trump specifically said he has never groped a woman. At least two women have accused Trump of exactly that. Jill Harth sued Trump in 1997 for sexual harassment and rape and that he groped her. Temple Taggart, Miss Utah 1997, says that Trump grabbed her and forced her to kiss him.
  3. Trump again showed no contrition for his obscene statements on the Access Hollywood tape.
  4. The lurking. Trump choose to stand closely behind Clinton as she spoke in a clear attempt at physical intimidation. Clinton was clearly not intimidated.
  5. Clinton was cool, controlled, presidential while Trump was angry and a little whiny.
  6. I loved the last audience question.
And, because I need this...

Trump's Sleepless Night

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world. ~ Leonard Cohen
Donald Trump brags about his chronic insomnia. According to Trump, his inability to sleep more than three or four hours a night is a sign of his superhuman constitution. His inability to stay focused, his poor judgement, and his forgetfulness are all signs of chronic insomnia.

But that was before the events of the last couple of days. Unless Ivanka slipped a half-dozen Ambians into his warm champagne (only losers drink warm milk before going to bed), Trump likely didn't get a wink of sleep last night.

His mind monkey was jumping frantically between all the contradictory talking points that Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway tried to stuff into his brain, mixing them up horribly. His ego was seething with anger at all the treacherous Republicans withdrawing their support. He was imagining all the vengeance he will wreak on Paul Ryan and Mike Pence.

At some point last night he remembered how much he hated Nancy O'Dell for refusing to let him fuck her. Trump probably got a small erection remembering how he tried to get her fired after she rejected him.

He got up several times wanting to use Twitter only to find that someone (Ivanka) had hidden his cellphone. He had to wait until after breakfast before he was allowed to play with his phone. He also probably got a small erection when Ivanka gave him the phone.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Trump: A Most Vile Man

Donald Trump has turned our democracy into an extended Jerry Springer episode. Nothing is so repugnant that there isn't something worse waiting to surface.

I waited to watch Trump's after midnight "apology" video. I had listened to Nixon's "I am not a crook" speech while waiting because I wanted to compare Trump's "apology" to a previous worst moment in presidential history. Tricky Dicky handled it better.

While Trump did apologize he then undid the apology by claiming he wasn't really like that. We have ample evidence from Howard Stern, Alicia Machado, reports from the set of The Apprentice, and the endless spew of misogynist bile from Trump's mouth that the Access Hollywood outtake was an accurate reflection of Trump's psychopathy. In his scripted (by others) speech there was no sign of genuine contrition.

He then buried his apology under his standard stump speech condemnation of Democrats.

This is far from over.
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan disinvited Trump from a major rally in Wisconsin. This is a huge snub which may be repeated by other Republicans.
  • Trump has hours, not days, to convince Republican leadership not to disavow him. As it is, they are looking for how to handle Trump withdrawing from the race.
  • Access Hollywood claims to have many more hours of outtakes of Trump being Trump.
  • The production company for The Apprentice is going to be under incredible pressure to release outtakes from that program showing Trump being a misogynist thug.
Then there is the debate where Trump will be unscripted and face this issue repeatedly. If Trump's "apology" video is a predictive then we can expect him to turn every question into an attack on Bill and Hillary. I have no doubt that Hillary will be fully prepared to handle this obvious tactic.

I am leaving the country for two weeks specifically to escape the most revolting period of this election. I really wish I had left yesterday.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Siberian Candidate

Any doubts that Donald Trump is Russia's handpicked candidate for the American presidency can be put to rest.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights gave a speech in which he criticized Trump for supporting torture. In response, Russia's UN ambassador virulently complained and defended Trump. Vlad Putin sees Trump as a convivial puppet for Russia, so much so that it intervenes on an international level to protect Trump from criticism.

Trump, for his part has:
Putin knows that the only thing needed to turn Trump into a servile puppy is a little praise. Putin called him "bright" and Trump imagined he had been called a genius. Since then, Trump has looked up to Putin as a great leader.

An American president so easily manipulated is a godsend to Putin.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Warm Bucket of Piss Debate

John Nance Garner, FDR's first Vice-President, once described the office as "not worth a bucket of warm piss." If vice-presidential debates meant anything then Dan Quayle would have sunk the Republicans in 1988. So what, if anything, can we get from the Kaine-Pence snoozefest?
The Daily Show had the perfect event graphic.

Trump's Losing
One of the clearest signs a candidate is losing is when party loyalists start wishing the Veep candidate was on the top of the ticket. Remember when Republicans wanted to flip the ticket and put Sarah Palin over John McCain? Or those loyalists saying the Veep will make a great presidential nominee four years from now. Both things are happening now.

Is Trump Jealous?
The most delicious rumor out of the debate is that narcissist Trump is livid that Mike Pence upstaged him as a debate performer. Pence's defense of Trump was tepid and most commentators agree that Pence was more interested in promoting Pence than defending Trump. Trump's campaign is denying those reports, of course, they would have to. In the immediate aftermath of the debate Trump will go along with his handlers. But if Trump is losing bigly in late October, watch for Trump to throw Pence under the bus and blame his disloyalty for any defeat.

'That Mexican Thing'
The only memorable line was Pence dismissing Trump's hatred of Hispanics as "that Mexican thing." That line will have legs. It won't flip any votes but it will be remembered.

Pence in 2020?
Failed vice-presidential candidates rarely move up.
  • Bob Dole had to wait 20 years to take his lose as Gerald Ford's second to top a ticket and get creamed by Bill Clinton in 1996.
  • Walter Mondale was Jimmy Carter's Sancho Panza in 1980 only to get humiliated as a presidential nominee in 1984.
The only losing vice-presidential candidate to later win the presidency is Franklin Roosevelt. Mike Pence, you're no Franklin Roosevelt.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Trumping Taxation

Rudy Guiliani calls Donald Trump a genius for not paying taxes. To paraphrase Donald on John McCain:
He’s not a genius, He was a genius because he lost a billion dollars. I like people who didn't lose a billion dollars.
So the proud billionaire is admitting he doesn't pay taxes. For years, Republicans have complained about voters not "having skin in the game," that poor people need to be paying federal taxes. They have even proposed that if you don't pay taxes you should lose the right to vote.
All that time Donald Trump had no skin in the game and, according to Ayn Rand Republicans, has no right to vote let alone run for public office.

As the nation's richest welfare queen, Trump certainly has a unique perspective on taxation. He wants to reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans because, obviously, for him zero is just too damn high.