Sunday, March 26, 2017

Backstabber-In-Chief

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 He has withdrawn the bill and announced he will have nothing more to do with health care issues.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.

Screw-up-In-Chief
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.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Devil's Music

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? ~ The Joker
Lots of music has been said to come from the devil - heavy metal, blues, Katy Perry - but that's mostly crazy talk. Although it would explain Ozzy Osbourne. Here are three musicians with closer connections to The Dark One.

Giuseppe Tartini
The Venetian composer said that in 1713 he dreamt that the devil appeared at the foot of his bed where he literally sold his soul for a song.

The devil took Tartini's violin and played the most wonderful sonata he had ever heard. Tartini arose and tried to transcribe what the devil had played. He said what he transcribed is a pale imitation of the devil's composition but it is still an extremely difficult piece beyond the skills of most violinists.

Niccolò Paganini
Tall, with long, thin, impossibly flexible fingers, Paganini is accepted as the greatest violinist to ever live. It was also generally accepted in 19th century Europe that only with the help of Satan could Paganini have played like he did.

Paganini began playing the violin at age five by age twelve he was a virtuoso. He pranced around the stage as he played, as if he were possessed. At his concerts people would cross themselves as protection. Once, a rich sponsor lent Paganini a violin but refused to take it back for fear it was now cursed.

Paganini was said to have murdered a former lover, trapped her soul in his violin, and used her intestines to make the strings. Some said they could see the devil accompany Paganini as he played. As he was dying, Paganini refused last rites and no church cemetery would accept his burial for fear he would pollute consecrated ground.

Robert Leroy Johnson
According to legend, Johnson was walking down a dusty road in rural Mississippi when, at a crossroad, he encounter Satan sitting on a log. It was there that he sold his soul to become the king of Delta Blues.

When Johnson performed he turned his back to the audience so no one could see his hands. It is said than Johnson never touched the strings, that they played themselves.

Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27 of unknown causes and the location of his burial is also unknown.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Things to Remember With Trump's Wiretap Allegations

Die große Lüge - The Big Lie
  • If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. ~ Joseph Goebbels
  • In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted. ~ Adolph Hitler
  • Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. ~ Adolph Hitler
  • It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. ~ Joseph Goebbels
  • A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. ~ Joseph Goebbels
  • In the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. ~ Adolph Hitler
  • It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. ~ Adolph Hitler`
  • The truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ~ Joseph Goebbels
  • You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. ~ Kellyanne Conway
Demand proof!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Jeff Sessions Goose Roast and Other Stories

Trump Goes Batshit on Staff
For a brief moment someone, probably Ivanka, convinced Trump to take his anti-psychotic meds, thus allowing him to make a coherent speech last Tuesday. But, like many people who share Trump's disease, he hates taking his medicine because they rob him of the companionship of the voices in his head.

So Trump flushed the pills down the toilet and by Friday he was fully Berlin bunker paranoid. Obama is spying on him. Sessions betrayed him. They all betrayed him. It was a rant that was quickly leaked to the press.

Who Leaked It?
The Trump meltdown was reported to the media in almost real time. Assuming the Washington Post doesn't have the Oval Office bugged (betcha Trump's head voices tell him that soon) someone in that meeting was on the phone as soon as his ears stopped ringing.

Only the limited number of people in the room could have leaked details about that meeting. I can think of two possible culprits. Steve Bannon is a bomb thrower with no real policy agenda, his goal is to achieve anarchy. Bannon wants chaos and all these leaks are stoking chaos.

Then there is Mike Pence. Pence's name wasn't mentioned as part of the meeting which is a perfect cover. Pence realizes that if he plays his cards right by the end of Summer Trump will be in a hospital for the mentally ill and Pence will be President.

Sessions Is Owned by Russia
A Three Stooges short.
Lawrence O'Donnell had an insightful essay on Sessions troubles. By Sessions recounting a fully remember conversation snippet where Sessions related to the Russian ambassador an earlier visit to Russia, Sessions put to lie his contention that he "doesn't recall" what they talked about.

O'Donnell points out that the Russian ambassador can send Sessions to a federal prison any time he wants by talking about the meetings. That blackmail threat hangs over Sessions head now like a two ton anvil. Sessions now has to do anything the Russians order him to do. The Attorney General is now a Russian asset to use as they please.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Sessions' Little Perjury Problem

Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. ~ Sir Walter Scott
Senators are people too, so it is easy to deduce what Jeff Sessions was thinking when he deliberately lied to the Judiciary Committee.

Sessions knew the issue of Russian agents contact with the Trump campaign would come up and he knew he was part of that contact. He had already composed a lie for the question.

So, when Sen. Franken asked a general question about Russian contact Sessions responded with his canned answer that no one, including himself, had any contact with Russian agents.

Franken hadn't asked specifically about Sessions, Sessions volunteered that lie. Why? Sessions was so focused in covering up his own meetings with that Russian agent he missed the fact he could have avoided obvious perjury by simply omitting any reference to himself and Russians.
When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends. ~ Mark Twain
The current line out of the White House is that Sessions meetings with the Russian agent was routine Senate business (constituent services?). Were that the case the wisest course would have been to reveal it openly in committee. That would have caused a little kerfuffle but ultimately disarmed the issue.

But the meetings that Sessions, Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Cohen, and probably others had with Russian agents during the campaign were far from routine. Trump's people feared if the length, breath, and depth of the Russian connections to the Trump campaign were know it would open them all up to public revulsion and probable criminal charges of espionage.
The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time-and then shut up. ~ Robert Heinlein
So they lie. Their fear is so great they engage in active lies when passive lies, lies of omission, would be more effective. They get caught in their lies because they tell too many of them. Their best hope now is to lie even more fervently.
The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. ~ Mark Twain