Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bird Is the Word

Let everyone else talk about 100 days, I want to explore the word "bird."

A Bird In the Hand
"Bird" is one of those old, old English words that predates Germanic (Vogel), Latin (Avem), or French (oiseau) influences. A long time ago some English bloke picked up a little feathered creature, said "I shall call you bird," and the name stuck. There was another Old English word, fowl, that came to be used for farmyard birds.

Pretty Bird
The use of the word "bird" to describe a young woman dates back to the 13th century, although etymologists suspect that was a misspelling of a similar word "burde" meaning a well bred young lady. This usage would be used periodically but really caught on in the 20th century.

Flipping the Bird
Showing the middle finger has long been a way to show disrespect. An early example is Diogenes flipping off Athenians in the 4th century BCE. The Greek name for this action (katapygon) means "given to unnatural lust."

The bird connection comes from hissing bad performances, also dating back to the ancient Greeks, which sounds like an angry goose. In the late 19th century hissing had come to be called "giving the bird." No one knows just how these two signs of contempt merged except it happened in the early 20th century.

Charlie Parker
The nickname for the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker is "Bird." There are many story as to how he got his name. My favorite is while touring with Jay McShann in the late 1930's Parker's car struck a chicken, also known as a yardbird. Charlie stopped the car so he could pick up the chicken for his landlady to cook.

Friday, April 28, 2017

'I Loved My Previous Life'

Poor baby. Donnie complained to Reuters recently how much he misses the old days - you know, four months ago - and that there is just so much work to do.
Working hard or hardly working
Let's take a look at a typical Trump work week.
  • First, it is only four days long. He leave early each Friday for his weekend vacations in Florida where he golfs with his millionaire buddies.
  • Every workday, he is channel surfing the various AM chat shows on the cable news networks. He also watches the evening chat shows. The reports of five hours of TV a day are probably low.
  • He also obsessively watches the Sean Spicer pressers which he describes as a soap opera.
  • His daily briefings must be condensed to one page with bullet points instead of complete sentences or even, gasp, whole paragraphs.
  • Rather than studying the fine details of all of the available options on a decision he must be presented with just one option focused mostly on how it will play with the media. All the work of actual deciding is left to others.
  • And don't forget all the time he devotes daily to Twitter.
Trump's tax plan is just one page long and a short page at that. It is only 230 words of sentence fragments arranged in bullet points. It would take me ten minutes to write and just one minute to read. There is no analysis of anything. No effort went into studying the potential impacts on the economy, the deficit, individuals, or how it might be paid for.

Little reading, even less thinking, but plenty of golfing and TV. Before the election he got to sit around in a luxury penthouse doing nothing. Now he has to sit behind a musty old desk doing nothing and the stress of all that extra work is getting to him.

British bookmakers are laying even money odds that Trump will quit before his first term is up. Whether it is a force resignation ahead of impeachment or the more likely quitting out of boredom and frustration, I am tempted to take that bet. This manchild has found himself, at the age of 70, with the first real job of his life and he hates it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Official Trump Bribery Receptacle (and Kayfabe)

A couple of disconnected items.

Bribes R Us
Ivanka Trump has announced the official mailbox for all corporate and governmental bribes to her and her husband. She plans to create a private fund to receive "donations" from governments and multi-national corporations. Ostensibly to help female entrepreneurs (i.e. rich women friends of Ivanka) a lot of the money will certainly go to "overhead," in other words the pockets of Ivanka, Jared, and the rest of the Trump clan.

Fake Faith
Tom Sullivan has a fascinating article in the link above. The word he mentions, kayfabe, appears to be old carny slang to remind their fellows to stay in character because a rube is present. It is part of professional wrestling lingo meaning maintaining the illusion of reality in their fake performances. The contract between pro wrestling and its fans is that they will fake reality and their fans will believe its real.

That relationship explains Trumpism better than anything else I've read. Trumpists want to believe so badly they unquestionably accept the charade. They realize it is fake but  maintain the illusion of reality as they call truth "fake news."

Take the border wall. There is no interest in funding it in Congress or Mexico, now or ever. Yet with each setback Trump floats a new funding scheme which his acolytes swallow blindly, condemning any statement of reality as "fake."

The delusion of illusion is so thick they accepting bizarre funding proposals like corporate sponsorship ("this mile of wall is brought to you by Coca-Cola"), have drug smugglers pay for it (like their money isn't stashed away safely), or just pretend that Mexico will magically pay for it eventually.

Somewhere in there Trumpists know it is all fake but they want to believe so badly that they do believe and in believing they have to declare any hint of truth as "fake" lest it shake their beliefs.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Trump Interview: By the Num...
Oh, Look, There's a Puppy

I wish I could say I was interested in the incoherent gas flowing out of Donald's pie hole that was his interview with the Associated Press. The most interesting part, to me, was the various outlets contesting to list the crazy.
For me, the interview revealed nothing new. It showed a rambling, undisciplined mind still obsessed with the election result. It showed a man believing fanciful imagined "facts." It showed an egomaniac who truly believes the entire universe revolves around him. And it showed a man drowning in his own ignorance.

Or, to put it another way,

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Christians Hypocrisy: the Ten Commandments

Lots of smart people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have taken clean shots at the Ten Commandments.

1. Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me
The text of the Bible accepts the existence of other gods who are more exciting or sexy than He is, hence His public jealousy which would be off putting in a clingy girlfriend. But Christians worship many things above God like guns and money.

2. Thou Shalt Not Make Unto thee Any Graven Image
Graven Image (noun): an object (such as a statue) that is worshiped as a god or in place of a god.
Christianity is all about worshiping the graven image of their dying Jesus or his mom. That is not even getting into the snuff porn that is the Passion of the Christ.

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord thy God in Vain
Watch any sporting event in the United States and you'll see some athlete thanking God for interceding in the contest and throwing the game in his favor. You'll see politicians calling for divine intervention to rig elections or declaring he'd been talking with God and God told him to run for office.  Oddly, God's handpicked candidates seldom win.

Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy
The Sabbath is Saturday, a remembrance Christians ignore. The blame for this falls on the rabidly anti-Semitic Council of Laodicea in the 4th century CE. "Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath," they wrote, declaring it illegal for Christians to share a Sabbath meal with Jews.

Honor thy Father and thy Mother
Anyone organizing a cult, be he L. Ron Hubbard or Charles Manson, understands what Jesus is saying here. "Leave behind everything you ever knew and everyone you ever loved to follow me." Biblical scholars have spend millennia trying to explain away this very clear statement of a cult brainwasher.

Thou Shalt Not Kill
Spanish Inquisition burning prisoners.
This one was broken by Moses before the print had cooled on those stone tablets. Moses came down from Mount Sinai and found the Israelites getting rowdy, gathered his priests, and ordered them to kill 3000 of his own people. Later he committed genocide against the Midianites, ordering the killing of all the men, women, and children except the virgin girls who were kept as slaves.

Christians have kept up the bloodlust through the centuries with their pogroms, crusade wars, and slaughter of heretics. In recent years, pastors have called for the murder of doctors and urged their followers to kill gays for Christmas. Killing has become a Christian sacrament.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
For many Christians, adultery is only a sin if I don't like your politics. The number of pastors who have committed adultery is so large it might be easier to list those who have remained chaste. Then there is the story of the Missouri pastor who committed adultery with his best friend's wife and murdered the poor cuckold. He then had the balls to delivery the eulogy for the man he killed.

Thou Shalt Not Lie, Steal, Covet
The other "shalt nots." Interesting is the Wahhabist Christians like Mike Pence who refuse to eat lunch with a woman lest he be tempted to covet her french fries.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Lost Armada

Last week, Trump bragged that an American battle fleet was steaming towards North Korea as either a display of power or a prelude to war. Actually, the carrier USS Carl Vinson was headed to the Indian Ocean to play a game of hide-and-seek with the Australian navy.
Spain misplaced an armada once too.
We are being told now that the carrier has been turned around and will eventually get to the Sea of Japan for a brief visit.

I like to think that our admirals and generals have concluded that the safest course of action is to ignore Trump's many psychotic rants. ("Did you see what Der Spiegel said about me? I want you to bomb Germany right now!") The slow, roundabout way the Carl Vinson is getting to the Korean coast is a subtle statement by the Pentagon that, no matter what Donald may say, the American military will do nothing rash.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ivanka, China, and How to Buy Trump

China figured it out how to tame the American paper tiger.
For years, Trump has been threatening a devastating (for the US) trade war with China and maybe, just for fun, a real war too. China, being dedicated capitalists, wanted to avoid a conflict that might damage their bottom line. They knew Trump was the most purchasable White House resident since Warren Harding they just had to find the cheapest way to buy his compliance.

Enter Ivanka. She wanted monopoly trademarks for the overly priced garbage she sells. China granted them. This costs the Chinese government nothing. If their bourgeoisie want to waste their money on such nonsense they will make money taxing the transaction.

In return, Donald granted China ownership of Taiwan, declared that China was not the master currency manipulator he had been saying for so long, and accepted that China will do very little about North Korea.

This begs the question, what concessions might Bashar al-Assad get if he opens a boutique mall in Damascus to sell Ivanka's jewelry? Would Trump cancel the battle of Mosul if ISIS started selling Ivanka handbags there? Can immigrants cross the border with impunity if the carry their passports in Ivanka wallets?
I don't know what to do or where to turn in this taxation matter. Somewhere there must be a book that tells all about it, where I could go to straighten it out in my mind. But I don't know where the book is, and maybe I couldn't read it if I found it.
Read more at:
I don't know what to do or where to turn in this taxation matter. Somewhere there must be a book that tells all about it, where I could go to straighten it out in my mind. But I don't know where the book is, and maybe I couldn't read it if I found it.
Read more at:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Whopper Weapons

American generals are peeing their pants in excitement over the first ever use of what they gleefully call the "Mother of All Bombs." Militaries throughout history have been obsessed with having the biggest fucking killing thingies.

MOAB (aka: GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast) - USA
This thing has been sitting on the shelf, unused, for 15 years. It's too big to fit on a standard bomber so must be delivered from a transport plane which means it is useless against any enemy with anti-aircraft capabilities. It is less effective than standard ordinance and is only useful for generals suffering from SPS (small penis syndrome) who've run out of Viagra.

TSAR Tank/TSAR Bomba - Russia
The Tsar Tank is a World War I weapon and the biggest tank ever built. This 27 foot tall tricycle design, two big front wheels and one tiny rear wheel, was designed to roll over trenches like a monster truck over a Mini Cooper. It was too heavy for its wheels. The prototype got stuck in the mud outside Moscow in 1914 and sat rusting until it was dismantled in 1923 for scrape.

The Tsar Bomba is the largest nuclear weapon ever built with a yield as much as 100 megatons or 2000 times bigger than the Hiroshima bomb. It was too heavy to fit on an ICBM so had to be delivered via a specially fitted bomber. Unfortunately, no bomber capable of carrying it could fly fast enough to be out of range before it detonated, meaning the airplane would be disintegrated along with the target. Volunteers?

Schwerer Gustav - Germany
The biggest artillery gun ever built. It required special railroad tracks to be laid to move it to the battlefield. Once there it would take 250 soldiers three days to prepare it for use, 2000 soldiers to defend and operate it, and it was only able to fire 14 shells a day. It was used once in combat on the Russian front for two weeks in 1942.

Panzer VIII Maus - Germany
The "Mouse" was a shorter but much heavier tank than the Tsar Tank. It was six times heavier than the US main battle tank, the Sherman. That weight was a problem because the Germans could not fit it with an engine able to move it faster than a brisk walking pace making it useless during a mobile tank battle.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Great Moments In Dumbfuckery

United CEO Oscar Munoz can thank Sean Spicer for making him the second dumbest person of the week.

Hitler Was Not 'Using Gas On His Own People'
Fingernail scratches on the wall of an Auschwitz gas chamber.
Presidential spokesperson Sean Spicer wanted to claim that Syrian President Bashar Assad is the worst person in human history which, of course, means saying he is worse than Hitler. So Sean fudged history, a lot. In the end, Sean stumbled through a press briefing (and three later clarifications) in an epic display of dumbfuckery that will stain Spicer for the rest of his life.

'There Is No Soviet Domination of Eastern Europe'
Russian tank in Prague, 1968
President Gerald Ford in the 1976 election was trying to sound tough on Russia when he declared the thirty year old oppression of Eastern Europe had never happened. When given the chance to walk back his statement that Russia hadn't either annexed or installed puppet governments in ten countries, Ford boldly listed several occupied countries, declaring each free and sovereign states.

'In Defiance of Both Our Crew and Security Officials'
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz wanted to defend his employees when they had a passenger roughed up and dragged, bleeding, from the plane like a pig to slaughter.  The best he could come up with was to describe a quiet, 70 year-old doctor like he were a violent young ruffian. This description was put in an internal memo to United employees and completely contradicted the public PR pablum he had been spewing.

'We Care About the Small People'
Shrimp farmer Dianne Wilson
British Petroleum Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg was trying to undo the PR disaster of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that had be compounded by BP's arrogant prick of a CEO, Tony Hayward, when he uttered this gem. Nothing says compassion than comparing the victims of a disaster to drowning pygmies.

Hayward had started the dumbfuckery when, in his posh Oxford accent, he described the spill as "relatively tiny." The day after pledging to Congress that the spill and clean up would have his undivided attention, Hayward flew back to England to participate is a millionaire yacht race.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Boycott United Airlines

United Airlines slogan is "Fly the Friendly Skies." The reality is a glimpse into brutality of America's future.
You've probably seen the video and read the story. United had overbooked a flight and "randomly" picked an Asian looking gentleman to be removed and replaced by someone United deemed more important. When, as any American would, he refused to be bullied by the airline they had him beaten senseless and dragged from the plane by white police officers.
Nazi occupied Poland, circa 1942
The fact that the man was a respected physician returning to his hospital was of no consequence. United Airlines treated him as subhuman trash.

The people on the plane were aghast, but in 1933 the German people were upset by overt Nazi government violence against Jews. But, in time, they became inured to the brutality. With the Sessions Justice Department giving cover, Americans too will accept violence against people of color as the new normal.

United Airlines stock is up today on Wall Street, proving that America's moneyed elite think jackbooted thuggery is a sound business practice.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Syria Hypocrisy

Suffer the Children
I can look in their faces and say 'You can't come'. ~ Candidate Trump (Feb. 2016) when asked if he could "look [Syrian] children aged five, eight, ten, in the face and tell them they can't go to school here"

That [gas] attack on [Syrian] children yesterday had a big impact on me. ~ Trump (Apr. 5, 2017)

Well, Syrian children have to come with Syrian adults. ~ Nikki Haley (Apr. 9, 2017) explaining why the Trump Administration will continue to refuse to take in children refugees of the Syrian holocaust.
Trump cares about the children but no so much that he cares to help save their lives.

Assad Has to Stay (or Go) 
Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out. ~ Nikki Haley (Mar. 31, 2017)
We don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there. ~ Nikki Haley (Apr. 9, 2017) 

It's important that we keep our priorities straight. ~ Rex Tillerson (Apr. 9, 2017) explaining that removing Assad is not an American priority

There has to be a degree of simultaneous activity. ~ H. R. McMasters (Apr. 9, 2017) proposes removing Assad at the same time as fighting ISIS
Consistent messaging is so last year.

Donald Trump Says
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate. ~ Oct. 12, 2012

What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval. ~ Aug. 29, 2012

The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not! ~ Aug. 30, 2013

President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. ~ Sept. 7, 2013

Friday, April 07, 2017

When In Doubt, Wag the Dog

The American missile attack on Syria will have little practical effect.
  • The Americans warned the Russians well ahead of time, and the Russians in turn warned the Syrians. So Assad was able to evacuate his personnel and equipment ahead of the attack. Beyond some destroyed buildings, nothing of value was damaged.
  • Pledging no further action, the attack will have no preventive effect.
  • Trump will see a small uptick in his poll numbers. This is because Americans love it when their president blows shit up. This bump will likely be short lived.
  • Trump's base in the alt-right, already angered by the demotion of their hero Steve Bannon and Trump's failure on any of their other issues, hate the Syria attack because it violated their isolationist creed. They are viewing this missile attack as another betrayal. Which it is.
Continuing my Night of the Long Knives analogy, the attack on Syria was intended to tell the Wehrmacht and Abwehr (Pentagon and NSA) that Trump is turning his back on his radical followers and that in the future he will support the military/industrial complex. Trump can resume his radical agenda after the militarist neocons have been co-opted.

Update:  Syria reacted to the US missile attack by bombing the town they had previously gassed. Thus showing the missile attack was sound and fury signifying nothing.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Bannon vs Kushner - Night of the Tiny Dagger

Okay, I know this is totally Goodwin's Law stuff here but the power struggle between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner reminds me of a PG-rated version of the Night of the Long Knives.
Bannon takes the role of Ernst Rohm. Both are hideous to look at, although Rohm earned his scars in World War I while Bannon's ugliness oozes from his soul to his face.

Both are anarchists. Both saw democracy as weak failed institutions. Both saw their Fuhrer as a tool to be manipulated and used to achieve their personal goal to totally destroy the current society, replacing it with brutal dictatorship. Both were raging anti-Semites. Both had a large army of rabid and frightening supporters.

Both hated women. Rohm was homosexual while Bannon is allegedly a serial wife abuser. His three short marriages only lasted long enough for the women to realize what sort of sick hot mess they had married into.
The Kushner/Himmler parallels are not as neat. Himmler, of course, was a rage infused anti-Semite who tried to kill the entire Jewish "race." Kushner is, himself, a devout Jew. But if we put that notable difference in a box there are several points of comparison.

Both are skeevy schemers who prefer to work in the shadows. Both will look you in the eye while stabbing you in the back, remember how neatly he shivved Chris Christie as payback for a decade-old grievance. Their most valuable skill is ruthless, heartless efficiency. Himmler was the quintessential psychopath bookkeeper. While Kushner may be less of a psychopath (so far) he is every bit an obsessive bean counter.

Both are sycophants. While both Himmler and Kushner desperately crave power neither had the wherewithal to wield it in their own names and must kiss up to more powerful men.
Kushner's big problem, and where he failed Himmler, is he let Steve Bannon live. Bannon remains in the White House and while his portfolio is diminished he is still positioned to plot his revenge. Bannon's alt-right troops (his SA) remain loyal to him, not Trump and certainly not the Jewish Kushner.

Kushner forgot the first rule of betrayal - make the first shot count because you won't get a second.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Trump and the Grapes

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.' People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves. ~ Aesop fable version by Plato
It would be funny if he were just some random prepubescent 70 year-old, but he's not. Hearing Trump crying that he didn't really want the vote on TrumpCare he was calling for is a pathetic rationalization for failure. For thousands of years every school children has been able to recognized and ridiculed the "sour grapes" excuse.

Trump now seems to be saying he doesn't care what healthcare looks like as long as he gets to attach his name to it like it were another overpriced hotel.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Great Classic Torch Songs

I thought about writing an April Fool's story about the Trump Troubles but, really, that is just being repetitive.
Torch songs are a music staple, songs about the pain of unreturned or lost love. Country music is full of them but I prefer sultry women in evening dresses to cowboys wearing denim and boots.

Cry Me a River (1953)

A man has come crawling back to the love he rejected and she wants him to prove he is suffering as much as she did. Written by Arthur Hamilton for Ella Fitzgerald in the film Pete Kelly's Blues, it was cut in editing because the word "plebeian" sounded too communist. First and most famously recorded by Julie London in 1955 it contains one of the best rhymes in music.
Remember, I remember, all that you said
You told me love was too plebeian
Told me you were through with me 'n'
Now you say you love me
Well, just to prove that you do
Come on and cry me a river
What's New (1939)

Originally written for Bing Crosby and recorded by several men including Frank Sinatra, I think it sounds much better in a female voice and Linda Ronstadt's 1983 recording is the best rendition.

A woman meets a former lover on the street and she tries to make small talk with him while still being deeply and painfully in love with him.

My Man (1915)

A French song, Mon Homme, made famous in Europe by Folies Bergère chanteuse Mistinguett. It crossed the Atlantic for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1921 where Fanny Brice stopped the show with her English language rendition.

Standing alone on a street corner, a woman tells of her desperate love for a man who barely care about her. He's a horrible lover, both physically and mentally abusive, but she can't help herself.
Two or three girls
Has he
That he likes as well as me
But I love him

I don't know why I should
He isn't true
He beats me, too
What can I do?
When Barbara Streisand performed the song in the movie Funny Girl she defanged the song by cutting the line about being beaten.

Crying (1961)

I dissed male torch songs but this one deserves mention. Basically the same story as What's New, a man meets a former lover and confesses he is devastates by the fact she does not love him. If Orbison's plaintive wailing of the word "crying" doesn't rip your heart out, then you have no soul.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Shallow Throat and Flynn Immunity

Who Is Shallow Throat?
You say "The snow is melting in Moscow" and I reply "But it's sunny in Cyprus."
We now know who Shallow Throat (Devin Nunes' secret contact) is. He turns out to be two people because Trump minions always use the buddy system on cloak-and-dagger missions.

One was Ezra Cohen-Watnick, which means my guess that it was a White House whore was partially correct. Watnick was brought in by Michael Flynn and is so incompetent that Trump's own CIA director and Defense Secretary wanted him fired. Watnick went running to Trump himself, probably in tears, to keep his job. Seriously, Watnick is a part of the Flynn-Russia cabal within the White House and it didn't take long for real intelligence personnel to figure out there was something hinky about the guy.

The other was Michael Ellis whose previous claim to fame was being a two times trivia winner on Jeopardy.

These two Kaos agents managed to keep their identities secret for a whole week before blowing their cover. The process is that the White House leaked information to Nunes who turned around and leaked it back to the White House. Watnick could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by just leaking things to himself.

Flynn Seeks Immunity
Will Flynn win the Immunity Idol?
We shouldn't be surprised that our reality TV presidency would quickly devolve into an episode of Survivor! Just two months ago, Michael Flynn was at the pinnacle of his professional career, now he is begging the FBI to let him rat out his subordinates, partners, neighbors, random strangers to keep from spending the rest of his life in Leavenworth.
It's Kansas, so even outside the prison is a hellhole.
Flynn himself last year suggested that requesting immunity is a defacto admission of criminal acts. So we know that Flynn thinks he is guilty of something nefarious. Professional investigators are going to want to dig up all of Flynn's dirty deeds before negotiating. Then they will want someone big enough to justify immunity.

Worst Honeymoon Ever
We are exactly 71 days into Trump's reign. Warren Harding had just finished his first year when investigations began into the Teapot Dome scandal. Bill Clinton's troubles leading to his impeachment didn't start hitting the fan his third year in power. Nixon's problems didn't emerge until Deep Throat contacted Bob Woodward in Nixon's fourth year in office.

Yes, Trump has outlived William Henry Harrison. But it is still the earliest scandal to ever erupt in presidential history. So, yea Donnie, you hold the record.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Devin Nunes: Secret Agent

Ed Platt and Don Adams in "Get Smart"
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is trying to live out his childhood dream of being James Bond but he is coming off more like Max Smart. Huff Post has great research on Agent Nunes but I'd like to add a little more.

Midnight Rendezvous
Nunes received a secret phone call upon which he bailed out of Uber cab driving him and disappeared into the night. By some mysterious means (picked up by a Russian agent, another Uber driven by a sexy femme fatale, took the Metro) he is transported to the White House whereupon he walks in without a security check because after hours security is lax.

Who Did He Meet?
Nunes saw his secret contact, let's call him Shallow Throat, at the White House. Unless Shallow Throat was a White House staffer he had to be checked in by security, making the meeting far from clandestine.

Nunes pledges to keep Shallow Throat's identity secret. His colleagues on the Intelligence Committee all have top secret clearance so it's not a national security issue. Perhaps it was embarrassing, he could have been meeting a hooker with upstairs access.

Much more likely is that Nunes is involved in a criminal conspiracy and reveling his contact would be self-incriminating.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Random Little Thoughts

This is a purge of some random little thoughts clogging my brain.

Worst 100 Days Ever
David Gergen on CNN said Trump had the worst 100 day start to his presidency ever. Not quite true. William Henry Harrison caught a cold at his inauguration and died of pneumonia 30 days later. It's impossible to have a worst beginning than dying. Although Trump's troubles are all of his own making.

Two Words Never Paired
There are a couple of words that I will never place in the same sentence, Trump and.

President. When I was in middle school I had a history teacher who proposed the theory that men's abilities rise to meet the challenges of the Presidency. He believed that it wasn't that great men became President it was the office that propelled men to greatness.

I thought it was silly then and I haven't changed my mind. The office just gives man-children bigger toys to break.

Definitely Smarter Than Trump
Crows and ravens are smart.
In this photo a crow is dropping stones in a tube to raise the water level higher so he can reach the food floating on top. That takes understanding the nature of water displacement, something humans only figured out 2200 years ago. Crows are routinely seen using tools and devising new ways to use tools to solve unique problems.

If you've ever sat on the docks of an Alaskan town listening to the ravens conversing you'd soon realize that ravens have a larger vocabulary that President Whats-his-name. Sad.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Far be it from me to feel sorry for Paul Ryan, he is a mean spirited jerk who never met a working class American he didn't want to fuck over. Still, how Trump treated Ryan on Saturday is horrible.
Ryan worked his ass off selling TrumpCare, staking his reputation and influence on the bill. Trump repaid him by specifically promoting a Fox talking head he knew would call for Ryan to resign as Speaker of the House.

This is what loyalty gains you in the Trump universe. Win and he'll claim all the credit. Lose and he'll kick you to the curb with cutlery sticking out of your spine. The fact that he'll need Ryan's loyalty later never enters his mind.

The question before the court is whether Ryan will debase himself and take the abuse like a vassal or stand up like a man the next time Trump demands his servitude.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump Wimps Out

I remember it like it was only yesterday (Shit, it was only yesterday). House leadership and Trump spokespeople were demanding a Friday vote on TrumpCare regardless of the outcome. They were using the analogy of Hernan Cortez burning his ships to give his men no choice but to conquer the Aztecs.
Actually, Cortez scuttled his fleet.

For poor Trump, his troops responded to the suggestion by murmuring even louder about mutiny. It was a public vote that Steve Bannon openly wanted so he can create an enemies list of Republican congressmen but, faced with a humiliating defeat with forty to fifty defectors, Trump retreated. He has withdrawn the bill and announced he will have nothing more to do with health care issues.

Interestingly, Trump did not call Fox News or Sean Hannity or Breitbart. He gave the scoop to the Washington Post and New York Times. It's like he is hiding from his supporters.

Trump has done something no leader ought to do. He has threatened retaliation and retreated. He has let Congress taste their independence and let them win. Trump has weakened himself for the future, he squandered what little little mandate and influence he has with Congress for nothing.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump Tries to Bully Congress

The threat is stronger than the execution. ~ Chess Grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch
There were Presidents that knew how to bully Congress. Lyndon Johnson was a master of the art. But they were all experience politicians who knew just how hard to squeeze congressional balls to get results without losing the ability to do it again next month.

Donald Trump, (tiny) hamfistedly, has gone all Vito Corleone on congressional conservatives, threatening to kill their careers if they don't vote for TrumpCare. The problem with existential threats is that they can't ever fail.
If the horse head in the bed doesn't scare them no lesser threat will. If you are already committed to destroying someone you can't threaten them again. Death is a one time thing. And if you forgive them, this time, no future death threat will be credible. You've already proven you'll back down. Then there is the Bart Simpson school of mutual defense.
What if nobody goes? He can't kill all of us.
Individually, we are weak like a single twig.
But as a bundle, we form a mighty faggot.
~ The Simpsons
If, as seems possible, the Freedom Caucus emboldens moderate Republicans to also oppose TrumpCare and Paul Ryan is forced to pull the legislation then Trump will be faced with having to slaughter a couple score of Republican legislators or be proven to be a toothless paper tiger.

Whatever, tonight will be entertaining. Either Trump and Ryan will be left trying to save their pie smeared faces or the Freedom Caucus will fold like cheap lawn furniture.

Update: After the vote was delayed White House staff hauled a big toy onto South Lawn for Trump to play with so he wouldn't throw a tantrum.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What Is Comey Up To?

What sort of infinite dimensional chess is FBI Director James Comey playing?
In late October, Comey announced an investigation of Hillary Clinton. An announcement that unquestionably threw the election to Donald Trump. A man he was, at the time, investigation for a criminal conspiracy with Russia to pervert the election. Now, two months after Trump was inaugurated, he announces the investigation of the treasonous conspiracy by the now President is ongoing.

Look, I have no doubt that Trump was and is involved in a criminal conspiracy. But, why did Comey deliberately help elect a man he was planning to seek indictments and impeachment against a few months later? What is Comey's plan?
  • Is he seeking to incite a Constitutional crisis? 
  • Is he trolling for bribes from Russia to make the investigation go away? 
  • Is he trying to post himself and the FBI as the defacto head of the government? 
  • Is he plotting to install Paul Ryan on the throne after both Trump and Pence are impeached for treason?

Or is he simply an idiot with the political skills of a baboon?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trump-Merkel Diplomatic Body Language

Want to know what happened in the private meeting between Angela Merkel and Donald Trump? Just study their body language.

At the presser before the meeting things were awkward but diplomatic. They even shook hands.
Then they had their private meeting where, like a stern schoolmarm, Merkel gave Trump a harsh lesson in the realities of NATO and the European Union.

Then came the post-meeting photo op where Trump pointedly refused to shake Merkel's hand. In this photo you can see Merkel leaning towards Trump while Trump, reflexively, leans away, avoiding eye contact like a chastened puppy. The body language screams Trump's fear.
It wasn't a hostile meeting but Trump had been humbled and embarrassed. His ignorance had been stripped bare. He had been schooled by the mean German lady. She had said "no." He desperately wanted to get away from Merkel, from the press, from those clicking cameras. That is the body posture of a loser.

Friday, March 17, 2017

What War With Korea Will Look Like

While visiting South Korea Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened preemptive war with North Korea because the idiot doesn't understand what the word "diplomacy" means.
Camp Humphreys, Korea
As is America's war habit, it will start with extensive conventional aerial bombardment that will destroy half of North Korea's twenty bomb nuclear arsenal in the first 48 hours. Kim Jong-un fires off the rest of his nukes before they are all gone.

The missile fired on Okinawa falls harmlessly into the ocean but one aimed at Tokyo explodes a half-mile above the Japanese capital. Three nukes hit Seoul, two others strike the largest American base at Camp Humphreys thirty miles to the south. The rest are successfully shot down but the damage is massive.

Over two million civilians die along with almost 40,000 American soldiers and dependents. An enraged Trump carpet bombs North Korea with nukes, killing over 10 million people in an afternoon.

China mobilizes its two million man army and places their 260 weapon nuclear arsenal on alert. Russia uses the ongoing chaos to invade the Baltic States. Israel drops nukes on the Iranian capital then denies they are responsible and says it must have been the Americans.

Through it all Steve Bannon is seen wandering the White House repeating the same word.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Humpty Dumpty Theory of Health Care

Paul Ryan has said TrumpCare will develop in three steps.

Step One: Blow up America's health care system into tiny little pieces.

Step Two: Have Tom Price apply band-aids to the shredded corpse.

Step Three: Ask Democrats to fix it.

The TrumpCare plan was crafted with less thought and planning than a sneeze. The headline aspect should be that TrumpCare will save Social Security $3 billion by the simple expediency of prematurely killing off millions of retired people.
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
I suspect Ryan and Trump are thrilled by this unintended consequence. But the goal of rest of the plan is destruction for the sake of destruction and chaos for the sake of chaos.

There are no plans for hearings in the House so this pile of congealed snoot will sail through the House on a party-line vote with little debate. In  the Senate it will either be debated into oblivion or railroaded through using a combination of threats and  dictatorial legislative tricks.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Free Market Health Care Will Work

You are watching pre-season baseball on TV when suddenly your appendix bursts. As you writhe on the floor in agony you manage to reach your cellphone.

The first thing you do is shop for an emergency room. You could just go to the closest but that one is expensive and only has two stars on Yelp. So, you shop around, calling a couple of hospitals to find out how much they charge for appendix removal. You finally select the hospital run by Supercuts. They're cheap and they'll give you a free haircut while you're in surgery.

You're in too much pain to drive so now you need to find an ambulance. In the old days you would dial 911 and government employed paramedics would respond. But that socialist concept has been replaced by the free market.

You could take the bus but they don't run on Saturdays. You consider calling a cab but think you might need an IV and definitely need pain killers. So you order Uber's new paramedic service. Their drivers are not trained and licensed paramedics but they are the only service that doesn't require you to schedule your emergency two days in advance.

You somehow miraculously survive and wait for the insurance company to reimburse you. In a couple days your insurers tell you that since you did not buy the "burst organs" rider to your insurance they can only cover the cutting you open and sewing you back up parts of the surgery. And the insurance company charges you for the haircut.

Since you made a claim on your insurance you lose your "healthy person discount." Your rates skyrocket. Also, the insurance claim dings your credit rating. Also too, some of the clippings from the haircut got into the incision. You die of septicemia because your insurance company won't cover haircut related infections.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

When Is the Best Time to Attack the US?

You're Vlad Putin planning your invasion of the Baltic States, or Xi Jinping looking to finally retake Taiwan, or whoever's running al-Qaeda these days seeking the perfect date for that long delayed terrorist attack on Bowling Green. When is the best time to do the deed?

Trump Works Banker's Hours
If you want to attack when the President is off the clock then you definitely want to strike Saturday morning. Trump will be on the golf course having left strict instructions that nobody is to interrupt his backswing for an international crisis. Your invasion will have until Monday after lunch, which is the earliest Trump is willing to listen to bad news after his weekend off.

The date and time for World War II's D-Day was chosen for the most favorable tides and weather. It also serendipitously coincided with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's wife's birthday. Rommel had taken the day off to go home and celebrate with his family. It took precious hours for the man tasked with Germany's defense against the invasion to get back to his headquarters.

But, maybe the weekend is the worst time to attack. Perhaps you want Trump fully involved in the decision making.

During WWII, British intelligence services devised several plans to assassinate Hitler. None were carried out in large part because it was decided that Hitler alive was better for the Allied's military efforts.

Every time Hitler injected himself into military planning the German war effort suffered. From the invasion of Russia in 1942 that got bogged down because he didn't consider that Russian winters were worse than German winters, to Stalingrad where his forbidding tactical retreat led to the lose of an 800,000 man army group, Hitler's military decisions were notable for being profoundly stupid.

If I'm Kim Jong-un, I want Trump running things when I invade South Korea. Trump is such a fuck up Kim might find himself ruling both Koreas and Japan and threatening Alaska before Trump can be replaced.