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.