Monday, January 30, 2017

Tsar Donald and His Mad Monk

I wish this were a parable.
Steve Bannon makes Donald Trump dance.
Tsar Donald the Simple
After a week of signing royal decrees he barely, if at all, understood, a bored and somewhat depressed Tsar Donald was allowed to relax Sunday evening watching cartoons. Around him, the nation was roiled by a constitutional crisis of his making.

The Mad Monk, Steve Bannon
Behind the scenes, a crude, foul smelling reprobate was the true power behind the throne.
The real president.
Bannon manipulated the Tsar like the puppet he is.

Among his many outrages, Bannon deleted any reference to Jewish victims in a Holocaust remembrance and then, lest there be any misunderstanding, let it be known that the deletion was a deliberate snub of the Jewish people.

He had the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed from the National Security Council to make room for his double-wide butt.

But the Mad Monk saved the worst for his attack on another religion, Islam. This attack left people with valid passports and valid, approved, visas stranded in detention in airports. It separated families and caused real human suffering. And when federal judges ordered the detained released an entire co-equal branch of government was simply ignored.

The Russians finally rid themselves of the simpleton Tsar Nicholas and the Mad Monk Rasputin but it was too late to prevent a brutal civil war and an even more brutal dictatorship.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Popinjay's Mulligrubs

Trump's spokeslackey let slip a fascinating fact by admitting his lord and master is "demoralized." Poor Trumpy is depressed.

Trump had expected worship after he declared his inauguration a day of "patriotic devotion." What he got was giggles. Being President isn't the godlike experience he had expected.

Sure, Trump gets to sign royal decrees (executive orders) but they are boring. He doesn't even seem to understand what they say. This Daily Show clip shows Trump signing one of his executive orders, if you're impatient skip ahead to the five minute mark.

He could be signing a paper written in Bulgarian for all he knows. When he holds up the paper to show his signature his expression is utterly lugubrious. His is the face of a despondent puppet.

Then there is the constant whining. There may come a time when Trump finds the joy of being a petty despot, but for now it is just no fun at all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump's 'Art of the Lie' - Part 2

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~ Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
The Tweedles also wore red hats.
Trump's carnival of lies has switched to voting with his unsubstantiated claim that "three to five million illegals" voted against him. When asked for proof, his press spokesman said that the proof is in the fact that Trump believes it to be so.

This dovetails nicely with Trump's racial purity belief that all American citizens of Mexican descent are here illegitimately. Trump has said there are 30 million people in this country illegally; the number of Americans with Mexican heritage is 33.7 million, according to the Census Bureau.
The truth is whatever people will believe. ~ Roger Ailes

In Trump's "Art of the Lie," anything he wishes to believe trumps every fact. In Trump's world the only fact that matter is whatever he believes at the moment.
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. ~ John Adams
To Trump, truth is fungible. Facts are a burden. When the people abandon their desire for proof and facts their lives will become easier. When the beliefs of the one leader replaces the multilayered truths of the populous, then unity will be achieved.
Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights. ~ Timothy Snyder

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump's War With the Media

Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon was a smart guy. Trump, not so much. Trump spent his first weekend as leader of what used to be called the "Free World" pitching the most easily provable and most completely unnecessary lie in history.
That Obama's inaugural crowd was much bigger than Trump's is a notable but not very important fact. In a normal world, partisans like me would play it up for a few days but most people would see it and let it quietly pass into history.

Not Trump. Saturday, he went to the CIA to deliver a bizarre speech attacking the news media which I'm sure left the assembled spies attending thinking, "who the fuck cares?"

Also on Saturday, Trump sent his spokeslackey out to angrily berate reporters for not calling it the bestest inauguration ever. He proceeded to make a series of ludicrous statement that were all petty fabrications.

Today, Kellyanne Conway went on Meet The Press to declare that "alternative facts" are better than true facts.

Napoleon knew better than to go to war with the press. He cultivated them. Trump has opened hostilities with journalists who are part of a 200 year history of an aggressively adversarial press. This first round definitely goes to the media.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump Loves Military Parades

Of course he does. Of course our new fascist president wants to have American troops parading through US cities. All his favorite dictators, like Kim Jong-Un and Vlad Putin, do it.

Who could mistake the message when Trump sends a parade of tanks and rocket launchers rumbling past the Capitol Dome the day before an important vote?

Consider the spectacle of fighter squadron practicing strafing runs over Manhattan. They have to practice, don't you know, because when the shit gets real they don't want to accidentally hit Trump Tower.

Imagine the effect of columns of American troops, bayonets glimmering in the sun, parading through Hispanic neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Parades like the one below is how Germany convinced Czechoslovakia to accept Nazi rule in 1939 Prague.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Trump Twilight Zone

After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history.
Scotland's Sunday Herald had just the right view of the Trump Inaugural Zoo. The only sane way to look at the coming reality is to see it as a long, particularly disturbing episode of The Twilight Zone.

It's a Good Life
A six year-old emotionally stunted child with godlike powers controls an entire country. He constantly demands people tell him how good he is and everyone must surrender to his slightest whim lest he point his stubby finger at them and banish them, or worse.

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
A man traveling peacefully looks out the window and sees a grotesque monster tearing everything apart. He tries to alert others to the danger but nobody believes him until it is too late.

To Serve Man
A strange creature with a bad combover arrives and announces he is the savior of mankind and will make America great again. His promise is too grandiose to believe but, in time, people accept his seeming benevolence. His plan to serve man is fake, his real goal is to consume us all.

He's Alive
A creepy little loser is approached by a shadowy figure who teaches him to enthrall crowds and encourages him to be bloodthirsty and ruthless. In the final scene the figure is revealed to be Steve Bannon Adolph Hitler and he exclaims, "We ARE immortal."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Biloxi and the New Jim Crow

Biloxi, MS showed this week what the new Jim Crow will look like in the deep south. Biloxi renamed Martin Luther King Day to "Great Americans Day" in an effort to bury Dr. King under a pile white segregationists. Biloxi's mayor, named FoFo because Southern whites are weird, rescinded the announcement.

Biloxi is the home of the Jefferson Davis Museum. The museum will celebrate MLK Day with a Civil War reenactment where Johnny Reb will rout the Northern scum in a fictional battle that never occurred in Biloxi. On Lincoln's Birthday they will host a pilgrimage to the tomb of the unknown Confederate soldier where they will honor the men who gave their lives for "the American way of life" (i.e. slavery).

Sixty years ago, Biloxi was noted for whites rioting to prevent blacks from setting foot on their all white beaches. In the worst of the riots Biloxi police recruited rioters to attack African-Americans throughout the city and the only people arrested were the black victims. (How dare you bleed on the good white people of our town.)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Worst Athletes In History

With Donald poised to gain the title of Worst President In Human History, I thought I'd look at the worst players in sports history.

Quarterback - Ryan Leaf
In three seasons, Ryan started 21 games and lost all but four of them. In his 1998 rookie season he averaged just 2.7 yards per pass attempt while throwing 15 interceptions and only two touchdowns. The Chargers would have been better off running on every down.

To top it off, Ryan was arrested in 2009 on drug smuggling charges while traveling from Canada to face burglary charges in Texas. He has been found guilty of felonies in both Texas and Montana.

Running Back - Michael Haddix
First round draft pick in 1983, he was picked ahead of Dan Marino and Roger Craig. Michael started half the games that year and averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. That set the tone for his eight year career as he had just 3.0 yards per carry in 52 starts.

MLB Pitcher - Les German
We have to go all the way back to 1896 for this guy. Worse than Jose Lima who had some good years to mix with his 2005 ERA of 6.99 or James Shields' 6-19 win-loss record last season.

Les went 2-20 for the Washington Senators in 1896 with an ERA of 6.32. That was in a season when Cy Young went 28-15 with a 3.24 ERA. German's other five major league seasons were only marginally better.

MLB Batter - Ed Brinkman
The quintessential good field, no hit baseball player. He played 15 seasons in the majors despite averaging four homers, 30 RBIs, and a .230 batting average per season. In 1972 he finished ninth in MVP votes while batting only .203.

Honorable mentions: Catcher Bill Bergen with a career .170 batting average from 1901 to 1911 with a low of .132 in 250 plate appearances his final season.

Pitcher Ron Herbel had just six hits in his nine year career for a batting average of .029.

NHL Goalie - Michel Belhumeur
Played 42 games for the Washington Capitals between 1974 and 1976 and won exactly none of them. His goals against average for the Caps was 5.32.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Trump Dossier

If I were Vlad Putin I wouldn't want to just rely on Trump being an easily duped toady. I'd want some positive blackmail leverage in case Trump tries to grow a pair in the event Russia sends tanks into Latvia. That is the sum of the Trump dossier released yesterday.

Golden Shower Report
The titillating headline of the dossier.
If Mr. "Grab 'em by the Pussy" ordered up some Moscow prostitutes to pee on each other for his pleasure you can be damn sure Russian agents have hi-def video of the whole thing. It is an old KGB technique to honey trap Westerners and use the resulting evidence to pressure them.

Later in the dossier was a report of Trump attending sex parties in St. Petersburg, Russia. Again, it is standard Russia spy practice to record such compromising activities by prominent people.

Trump Lawyer In Prague
I've known several lawyers in my life and they fall all across the intelligence spectrum. Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, strikes me as being on the dumb side of that spectrum. The dossier claims that Cohen met secretly with Russian officials in the capitol of the Czech Republic last August. It sounds like something straight out of a John Le Carre novel.

Bizarrely, Cohen has denied the meeting by posting a picture of the cover of his passport. This just proves that Cohen has access to a photo of an unidentified passport cover. That's less Le Carre and more Get Smart!

Cohen is mentioned frequently as a key intermediary between Russian agents and the Trump campaign.

Shutting Down
The last section of the dossier reports that in September, 2016 the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian agents to shut down the hacking operation and scatter the operatives to the wind.

There is nothing that can be called proof in the dossier. The only verification possible is the reliability of the unknown, to us, sources.  Believe it or not, it's your choice.

A strange tidbit is that Trump and the Russians are using the exact same talking points to deny the dossier. Both use the phrase "witch hunt."

The Russian claim they have no compromising information on Trump is laughable. They wouldn't be doing their job if they hadn't researched Trump and we all know that Trump is a walking compendium of compromising acts.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Who Killed the Black Dahlia?

Seventy years ago today was the last time anyone other than her murderer saw the raven-haired beauty Elizabeth Short alive.
She had been dropped off at the ritzy Biltmore Hotel by a friend who had given her a ride up from San Diego. She had lied about meeting her sister there. Beth, as she was called, wasn't going to stay at the Biltmore, she could barely afford a flophouse. It was Beth's way to affect money she never had.

What happened at the Biltmore is one of the many mysteries surrounding her death. Was she meeting someone there who would give her a place to sleep or did she just linger there a while before walking out into the night.

The next time Beth was seen was January 15, 1947. A housewife walking her three year-old along South Norton Avenue a couple miles south of Hollywood spotted a broken mannequin in a vacant lot.
She had been sexually mutilated and grotesquely posed. Most disturbingly, her body had been neatly bisected at the waist, cleansed, and drained of blood. The autopsy revealed she had been beaten to death with the mutilation being postmortem, although she had clearly been tortured before death.

The Prime Suspects
We can deduce a few things. The murder was not done in a hotel or boarding house. The amount of time and privacy needed required a private home. The neatness of the cuts suggests medical training. And this was almost certainly not his first kill. You've got to work up to this.
  1. George Hodel - Hodel's son makes a strong case. He was a doctor, a sexual deviant who had used his 14 year-old daughter as a sex toy at parties, and his time in the Philippines coincided with a series of sexual sadist murders there. In a follow-up book, the son undermines his case by also accusing his 60 year-old dad of being the much younger Zodiac killer.
  2. Walter Bayley - The favorite suspect of LA Times reporter Larry Harnisch. Bayley was a skilled surgeon, knew Beth's sister, and his estranged wife lived a block away from the dump site. Bayley was 67 years-old and suffering from Alzheimer's.
  3. Patrick O'Reilly - Another doctor, a friend of nightclub owner Mark Hansen with whom Beth had stayed for several months. Accused of sex crimes including beating women for sexual pleasure. Protected from prosecution by the well connected Hansen.
  4. Maurice Clemment (AKA Ed Burns) - His name was in Beth's phone book that the murderer had given to the press. Only here because Black Dahlia Solutions spends considerable effort describing bizarre codes and symbolism connecting them.
The Silly Suspects
A number of other people have been accused who definitely didn't kill Beth.
  1. 'Queer Woman Surgeon' - The LA District Attorney had a list of 25 suspects. The weirdest theory was that an unknown lesbian doctor had killed Beth and cut her up for ease of transport. Hey, it was the 1940's and they were desperate.
  2. Red Manley - The man who had driven Beth north from San Diego and the last person to see her alive. The LAPD pressured him to confess even after they had proof he couldn't have done it.
  3. Orson Welles - Here's the theory, Welles had a magic act where he sawed a woman in half. Beth was cut in half. Get it? Really, the claim is out there.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Russians Are Here

Grabbing pussy?
If there was any doubt before it is all erased. The Russian bear has embraced America with its propaganda to save us from the tyranny of democracy.

What is surprising is how willing Trump and all Republicans are to be seen as Putin's puppies. They are not even trying to appear independent.

Trump and Republicans continue to dismiss Russian interference as either meaningless or a service to Americans.

Trump and Republicans have also stated rather clearly that they think US intelligence agencies are incompetent and unbelievable while Russian intelligence agencies are infallible. It is apparent that the only intelligence briefings they believe will come from Vlad Putin.

On a personal note, the Russians intense study of my little blog seems over. For five weeks after the election almost half of all the pageviews I had came from Russia. I was able to track them reading, literally, everything I've written here for the past eleven years. (Aside: Has it really been that fucking long?)  They read the insightful stuff as well as the stupid shit I'm kind of ashamed of.

That's all dried up. I guess they have completed their dossier on me. It was freaky but I kinda miss being spied upon.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Flat Earthers

This holiday season I've been fascinated by all the effort that goes into proving that the Earth is flat.
According to a Gallup poll, more than one in six (18%) of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth and a substantial number of those believe the Earth is a giant snow globe with a flat base.
These guys are dedicated. Someone went through the effort of filming a six hour YouTube video on his flat earth theories. The theories vary depending on the level of ignorance of the theorist but they all have some things in common.
  • Antarctica is not a continent but a wall of ice surrounding the Earth disk.
  • An impenetrable dome called The Firmament covers everything.
  • NASA scientists, astronauts, astronomers, polar explorers, pilots, and every government are engaged in a grand conspiracy to conceal the flatness because they are all Freemasons.
  • Passengers who fly non-stop from Sydney, Australia to Santiago, Chile are all lying when they say it only takes twelve hours.
  • The moon landings were fake, satellites are fake, pictures of planets and stars and distant galaxies are all CGI fakery.
  • They refer to Google Earth a lot even though Google Earth uses satellite images they say are impossible.
  • There is no such thing as gravity
  • And, of course, the Bible says it so stop confusing me with facts.
They jump through some incredible hoops to reach these conclusions. They reject all astronomic observations after Ptolemy (100 ACE) as wrong and cling to maps that are only accurate when measuring distances through the North Pole.

Here is a video where a guy spends twenty minutes proving conclusively that, if short lines are the same length as long lines, then a flat earth makes sense.

No amount of scientific logic will enlighten their dim bulbs. Indeed, they consider enlightenment to be evil. Still, the simplest proofs are the best.
On a flat earth, Polaris would be visible from Australia. On a globe it would not. It is not.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

What to Expect in the Coming Year

It is said that whatever happens in the first days of a new year defines your destiny for the rest of the year. If so, this is what we can expect.

Rampant Corruption
As their very first act of the new year, Republicans in Congress blatantly stripped the Office of Congressional Ethics of power. While they walked that back today we can be certain this is only temporary and they will accomplish the same goal, just more subtly, in future weeks.

Targeted Taxes
Trump threatened to impose a huge tax on General Motors cars entering the US from Mexico. While this is specifically outlawed by the Constitution (Article I, Section 10) and treaty (NAFTA), we've known for a couple decades now that Republicans view the restrictions within the Constitution with contempt. I'm not crying for GM though, they will just have to bribe some congressmen.

Rebirth of Jim Crow
North Carolina Republicans have appealed to the Supreme Court to allow a gerrymander directly designed to diminish African-American votes.

Trump tweeted what seems to be a threat of war (probably nuclear) with North Korea. He has previously suggested war (probably nuclear) with Iran. Trump seems to think that nuclear war is a kind of game (available for $31.99 from Amazon).