Good morning Widdershins. It seems as if the 3:00 a.m. phone is a’ringing off the wall these days. It is a telltale sign when yesterday’s headline story falls to fifth place in the next day’s news line-up.
There are several big news stories in the chute for today. Hillary is campaigning in “swinging Cincinnati” today. She is bringing along St. Betty of the Kingdom of Don’t Endorse until the last dog dies. Perhaps this is an audition or perhaps Hillary will take St. Betty down to the Ohio River and release her in a basket. In five months or so she should wash up in the Louisiana bulrushes. There are those who would consider it good time management.
The limping, one-robe short Supreme Court is scheduled to deliver three opinions today. One on onerous Texas regulations for women’s health clinics, a gun case involving domestic violence, and the last one involves the conviction of former Governor and Rolex model Bob McDonnell for hawking dietary supplements made out of tobacco plants.
And who knows what is going to happen in Europe today. I’ll try and update in the comments as information becomes available, but I have an appointment this afternoon and I’ll be unavailable for most of the afternoon. Your take on the events will be appreciated.
Here are some observations to get things started this morning.
With the Congressional sit-in last week, I don’t believe there have been so many senior citizens on the floor since the last open casting call for a Life Alert commercial. I have competing opinions about the sit-in. On the one hand, voters don’t like gimmicks. On the other hand, Democrats have stiffened their spines and are following Hillary’s lead on sensible gun safety.
Without belaboring the issue since I’m sure you have read enough about it, for what it’s worth here’s my observation. The new N.R.A. approach is to claim a delay in purchasing a weapon through a “no fly/no buy” proposal is an encroachment upon constitutional rights. So under this theory, even the 5 to 7 minutes for a background check would be an impermissible delay of the purchaser’s rights.
Let’s get this straight – there are no guaranteed, inviolate rights. All rights are subject to some manner of restriction. You can’t throw a parade at rush hour. You can’t assemble on private property without permission. You can’t be forced to house soldiers without being compensated. You can’t libel or slander a person.
The great fallacy in the N.R.A. position is this: The no fly/no buy provision would only affect about 200 people a year. The reason – very few Americans are on the list and only about 200 people a year from the list attempt to purchase a weapon. It’s not a significant deterrent, but any regulation is an anathema to the N.R.A. and a rallying cry for the ever-present “slippery slope” arguments.
Here’s the burr in my saddle – if there is an impermissible delay on the constitutional rights of 200 potential weapon purchasers, isn’t it also an impermissible burden on the constitutional rights of 2.7 million women to be denied health care through Planned Parenthood? Or how about the Texas women who have to drive eleven hours across Texas for services? Or how about the poor eastern Kentucky women who must drive seven hours to Louisville for services?
If only an AR-15 had serviceable utility in a Pap test there would be no questions about women’s health care.
A Brextraordinary mess is what it is. There has been so much written, I will leave it to your sensibilities what to believe. Here’s what I think: This whole mess is due to piss poor leadership.
David Cameron called the Brexit referendum to smooth over an internal political problem within the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson, former Conservative mayor of London and genetically related albino Trump orangutan, fanned the flames of bigotry and immigration fears. Nigel Farage, the Independent Party charlatan, has admitted lying to the voters. The Labour Party’s shadow cabinet is bailing out like it’s flossing day at the dental clinic.
Here’s one of many ironies: The Conservatives brought an austerity budget six years ago. Services suffered. The economy stagnated. It was forecast to happen. The voters who voted in the Conservative Party are the voters who voted to leave the E.U. These voters have gotten it wrong three times now and are looking for someone to blame other than themselves. Truth is indeed inconvenient.
The other piece that might have currency in our presidential election is this: Since when does being educated make one an “elite”? Time and again I’ve heard analysts say, “This was a vote against the educated elites,” without so much as a nod toward the Luddite anti-intellectualism it represents. At one point I heard someone say, “Experts aren’t believable.” It’s one thing to choose not to educate one’s self, it is quite another to have access to the truth and consciously refuse to believe it.
That goes beyond confirmation bias and epistemic closure. That is sadomasochistic self-delusion and Trump’s only hope.
III. CNN and Pandering
CNN has hired the guy who ran the campaign calling CNN a liar. Yes, CNN (Motto: Try to think of something too obvious for Wolf Blitzer to say — you can’t.) hired Corey Lewandowski after the Trump brood of children fired him. Lewandowski will be offering “analysis” regarding the Trump campaign except he’s under a nondisclosure agreement and Trump is paying for his defense in the reporter disparagement case.
There’s not much doubt CNN is making a play as Fox-lite.
IV. Full Employment for Fact Checkers
When Trump gave his book report on Clinton Cash, it took twelve (12) writers to fact check him during the speech. “Voracity for mendacity” and “rife with distortions” were the characterizations of the speech.
The most amazing lie is a product of no one within the Trump organization understanding time zones. Benghazi happened beginning at 9:00 p.m. local Libyan time which is 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Nonetheless, Trump insisted Hillary was in bed. When confronted by reporters, Trump replied, “How do you know she wasn’t in bed?” Because it was 3:00 in the afternoon you prancing old dried up Apricot!
Clawing for some semblance of scant relevance is not a good look. It’s like Chris Humphries leading his NBA resume with, “Once Married a Kardashian.” Not helpful.
BerningBum and his stable of angry voices are trying to “turn back time” to their fifteen minutes of relevance. There are plans to have a group flatulence release on the night of Hillary’s speech at the convention. This “gas” will be courtesy of a bean supper prior to the night’s festivities.
So this is really a thing. No word yet on the sphincter training regimen or whether BerningBum will change his slogan to, “A Fart to Believe In.”
Here are some other articles:
As always, take the conversation in any direction you might like.
Good Saturday and weekend Widdershins!
Well this week certainly ended with a bang and not a whimper did it not? The British electorate (mainly in England) pulled a fast one on the pundits and voted adieu to the European Union. Not everyone was in agreement with that decision. The Scots were plainly not, which lead to the rather clueless image of Donald Trump speaking at his new Scottish golf course and praising the decision by the voters. And then he went into salesman mode pitching the virtues of his golf course. Meanwhile, the £ sank, stock markets tumbled, and the Prime Minister announced his resignation. Pretty good for a Friday when all you normally get is the Friday News Dump.
However, in keeping with our lazy weekend/no strain the brain tradition, let’s look at the lighter side of all things British and in particular some comedic clips. I’m thinking particularly of Monty Python. They were, at least to me, funny, irreverent and a bit out there for the time that the Pythons were together. The movies and the teevee show were certain to provide a laugh at one thing or another.
With that in mind I’ve selected a few Python clips below. Feel free to add your own, clips of Benny Hill, or any other British comedic items.
(1) Monty Python & The Holy Grail ~ Insulting Frenchman
You just know something like this is gonna happen between the French and English now.
(2) Holy Grail ~ The Black Knight
(3) The Life of Brian ~ Stoning Scene
(4) The Spam Sketch
(5) Upper Class Twit of the Year
(6) Ministry of Silly Walks Sketch
(7) The Lumberjack Song (there are several versions of this)
Okay Widdershins those are my selections of Monty Python’s typically British comedy from both the teevee show and a couple of their movies. I’m looking forward to your selections below.
What a week! It’s only Wednesday and things, they are a’poppin’ my friends. Where to start?
Let’s start with the businessman par excellence and overripe dancing persimmon, Donald Trump. His campaign finance report was abysmal – no, that is too kind. Let’s put it this way, if the Donald’s fundraising is Trumpalicious, Kanye has replaced Mother Teresa on the sainted humility list.
One thing is for certain, Trump believes charity starts at home. About one-tenth of every dollar he has raised, $6.0 million in total, finds its way back to a Trump enterprise.
Here’s a list of some things highlighted in the May FEC filing:
- $423,372 to rent out Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach club
- $349,540 to Tag Air, his fleet of private jets
- $29,715 to rent out the Trump International Golf Club
- $35,845 to rent out the Trump National Golf Club
- $72,800 in rent on Trump Tower
It’s hard for contributors to get excited about giving money to a campaign where the campaign is $45 Million underwater. It is underwater because the primary expenditures by der Drumpf are being carried as a loan. He has promised to write this amount off as a contribution. He also promised to be faithful to his first wife, his second wife, and his third wife. So, the loan write-off hasn’t happened yet. Until it does, every dollar coming to the campaign has the potential to go out in the pocket of der Drumpf.
As Hillary said, “Trump has written lots of business books. They all seem to end in Chapter 11.”
If this wasn’t enough, Monday brought a lesson in rewarding loyalty from the mouth resembling the business end of the Lincolnshire Buff hen. Trump fired Corey Lewandowski, the cuckold campaign manager who suffered the same fate as wives one and two. Lewandowski was and is the loyal lieutenant who would gladly throw himself off the penthouse of Trump Tower for the amusement of his master. Corey, just like Wun Wun on Game of Thrones, died a valiant death due to the arrows launched by King Trump’s children.
A seasoned veteran of palace intrigue, that’s not metaphorical, a real seasoned veteran of palace intrigue, Paul Manafort, assumes the reins of the campaign. Since karma has a sense of humor, this isn’t the first time Manafort has been involved with an Orange Revolution (more on that later).
Manafort has a resume so checkered it is as black as a pirate’s Jolly Roger and just as foreboding. Let’s start with former business partners of Mr. Manafort. Roger Stone and Lee Atwater were two former partners who should give you a clue as to how fast the swirl is around the moral turpitude drain.
From an article explaining Manafort:
Many of the world’s dictators eventually became his clients. “Name a dictator and Black, Manafort will name the account,” Levine wrote. The client list included Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos (with a $900,000 yearly contract) and the despots of the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, and Somalia. When the Center for Public Integrity detailed the firm’s work, it titled the report “The Torturers’ Lobby.”
Manafort has been investigated by foreign governments, been accused of prolonging shooting wars, complicity with arms merchants, and even fixing an Orange Revolution in Ukraine. This last one is too complex in the amount of space available, but the long and short of it is this: Manafort took a kleptomaniac goon named Viktor Yanukovych, gave him a shower, a haircut, a new suit, and taught him to say, “I feel your pain,” and effectively co-opted the Orange Revolution in Kiev by getting Yanukovych elected Prime Minister.
And karma has thrown in a little added chuckle of delight, Manafort’s sidekick in this Ukraine madness was none other than a tad deviant, Ted Devine of BerningBum fame. It is indeed a small world when it comes to swindlers, cheats, and their man servants.
These are just the highlights of Manafort’s dealings; there are other aspects of racketeering and outright swindles. Just think what a presidential campaign will do for Mr. Manafort’s career.
Finally, I’m always looking for the next new thing and I think I’ve found the new and improved “Sarah Palin” of 2016. It is Katrina Pierson. Katrina, a disaster sharing her name with another disaster, is one-piece of highly volatile work. Once when asked about Trump’s Muslim ban, she answered, “So what, they’re Muslim.”
Here’s how Katrina made an original splash on CNN:
Pierson’s most recent act of provocation was wearing a necklace of bullets for a CNN interview, to show her love and support for the NRA. When she was criticized, she said she’d wear a necklace of fetuses next time, to bring “awareness to 50 million aborted people that will never [get] to be on Twitter.”
Call me crazy, but in that sentence, the punch line should not be “getting to be on Twitter”.
Although not as checkered as Manafort, Katrina’s background is a bit quizzical even for a Tea Party maven. Here is an article describing Pierson, but my favorite observation came from one of Katrina’s fellow Texans who said, “We all have to pay the bills, but for Katrina, there is no principle that she isn’t willing to abandon for the right price.”
These are but two of L’Orange’s menagerie of half-witted nincompoops. There is an old Japanese proverb, “When a man’s character is not clear to you, look at his friends.” When it comes to der Drumpf, I’m fairly well convinced further inquiry into his character isn’t necessary.
And in honor of the Orange Revolution:
What’s on your mind today?
Good afternoon wonderful denizens of Widdershinlandia. Prolix here. For those of you expecting the activist stylings of MB on this fine Monday, she is deluged with work and family business. To quote Lt. Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds, “And cousin, business is a-boomin’!”
For the next six weeks or so, MB is going to be spread thin. She will be around as much as her schedule will allow, but I will be posting on Mondays. Beyond that the weekly schedule will pretty much remain the same. So let’s get at it.
Picture this: It’s 1960 – the height of the Mad Men era. Skinny ties and big hair abound on Madison Avenue.
You tune in one of the three television networks and you hear a debate between an automobile executive and Ralph Nader. Nader calls for reform within the auto industry to make cars safer through redesign. The auto exec replies with, “Cars don’t kill people, bad drivers do. Why should responsible car companies have to suffer for what irresponsible drivers do? Our drivers are responsible drivers. People like our cars just like they are. They don’t want them to change. People have a right to drive like they want.”
This argument rages on for a few years, culminating in 1966 with the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The legislation mandated a series of safety features for automobiles such as safety belts and stronger windshields. This was a historic shift in responsibility for automobile safety from the consumer to the government.
Here’s what I didn’t know and it now seems impossible; Congress passed this legislation unanimously. Huh? Impossible! What is this concept of unanimity of which you speak? Congress is incapable of such a feat.
Once upon a time, it was possible. In a time far, far away, in a galaxy where Congress cared more about health and safety than campaign contributions, it was possible.
During this time, over 50,000 people a year were dying on America’s roads. And what is really depressing, even with the legislation it took until 1980 before the number of deaths began a steady decline. The reason, there were older, deadlier cars on the road that had not yet cycled out of the stream of commerce.
This little jaunt down memory lane isn’t about cars. It is about guns – not just about safety, but about congressional ability to act when it had incontrovertible facts placed before it. Therein lies the rub.
Since 1996, the NRA has effectively stopped all research on guns. It has stopped the collection of data and the funding regarding any weaponry investigation. This moratorium grew from the passage of the appropriately named Dickey Amendment effectively abolishing CDC research on guns.
From the standpoint of the NRA, this was smart. How could you say there is a problem with guns if there is no federal research saying there is a problem? Unlike the experience with automobiles in the 1960s, there could be no shift from the consumer to the government if there was nothing upon which to base the change.
Here’s the forehead slapping discovery – the reason the NRA said research should stop:
The NRA sought the ban because it claimed previous gun-violence studies were biased. But what it fears most is an honest search for facts and truth. Since 2011, the gun lobby has even backed state laws prohibiting doctors from asking if a patient owns a gun or keeps it out of reach of children.
This ostrich mentality regarding research ran headlong into the American Medical Association last week.
The nation’s largest doctor group, calling gun violence a “public health crisis” said Wednesday it will “lobby Congress to overturn legislation that for 20 years has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence.”
The decision by the AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates puts the doctor group at odds with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republicans in Congress. The move is significant given the AMA represents practically every state and national physician association in the country.
When you look at a list of the most deadly mass shootings and their increasing frequency, having no research upon which to base answers is asinine craziness at its zenith. Even Jay Dickey, the former Republican representative who led the bill through Congress, has openly expressed his regret for helping the ban advance.
Ignorance can’t be the basis upon which public policy is based.
How do I know this subject is current, hip, and happening? Last night while writing this, John Oliver did a segment about this very subject. I’m including a couple of videos that have been posted this morning. Playback on websites other than youtube has been disabled so you will have to click through to watch.
As John Oliver says, “We can’t ever allow any opportunity to pass without telling legislators, repeatedly, time and again, fund the research into gun violence.”
What’s on your mind today?
Good Saturday and Weekend Widdershins
Thank goodness we’ve reached the end of an awful, mind numbing and terrible week.
What can we say except we saw the loss of wonderful, promising lives due to the senseless actions of a terribly disturbed, sexually confused individual. (I refuse to use the name of this monster) Let’s just say he decided to take out his frustrations and anger on some totally innocent victims.
These young (and yes some not-so-young) folks had gone to Pulse, a dance club/nightclub to have a good time, dance, wrap up their weekend, and prepare for a new week. Hell even the Rude Pundit remembers going to the clubs to dance his ass off. And Fredster remembers going dancing in his better days, except it was called the disco back then, and it may be coming back! Alas, all of my polyester shirts bit the dust a long time ago.
So with celebrating the lives of these victims and survivors, and remembering our own dancing days, let’s take a look at some of the great disco and dancing songs. Of course your contributions are welcomed and encouraged in the comments.
(1) Le Freak ~ Chic
(2) Disco Inferno ~ The Tramps
(3) Knock on Wood ~ Amii Stewart
(4) Night Fever ~ The Bee Gees
(5) Love to love you baby ~ Donna Summer
(6) YMCA ~ Village People
Okay Widdershins, that’s a grand total of six songs because I’m leaving room and bandwidth for you to add your own contributions below. There are tons of dance and disco songs out there – I barely scratched the surface.
You can always count on some things. Things like the swallows returning to Capistrano. Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico. And every reelection, John McCain going berserk as an outhouse rat. Just like in 2010 when he whiplashed to the right of Attila the Hun, this year it looks like he has found his inner Trumpinator.
McCain must convince more Arizona white people, who happen to adore L’Orange One, to come out and vote. So yesterday in an effort to incite some whiteys, McCain blamed the Orlando butchery on Obama. His logic was something along the lines of “scary black man created ISIL by his bad decisions that I wouldn’t have made because I would have started better wars or continued the old ones.” Or something like that.
Shortly after McCain got back to his office here on planet Earth and took his afternoon Aricept, his office released a statement saying, “Oopsie, Daddy got loose again.”
If that wasn’t enough, yesterday Ted Cruz, you remember him, the Mortimer Snerd look-alike, was positively orgasmic over the events of Orlando. Cruz sees the Pulse massacre as an opportunity for his brand of conservative prismatic realism. Taking reality and distorting it as a colorful mirage to fit his warped conservative sensibilities. His solution to Orlando: More guns.
Cruz was exhibiting profound butt hurt because he didn’t like someone else conducting a filibuster – especially a filibuster producing results unlike his “Green Eggs and Ham” soliloquy. Of course, Cruz was still giddy from Tuesday night.
In case you haven’t heard, Tuesday night there was a dinner that morphed into a big conservodroid circlejerk – not the kind requiring drop cloths and disinfectant, but the metaphysical type where everyone twaddled on about how great Teddy Cruz is. Comparisons to Reagan were abundant. The cabal’s game plan is to figure out how Cruz becomes the biggest, baddest Conservative in all the land. Good luck to them with that.
During Cruz’s Senate speech for more guns, more guns, more guns, he talked about “slippery slopes.” In the world of the NRA and the politicians they have dutifully paid for, every proposed gun safety proposal is an impermissible constitutional impediment. It seems to be lost on these people that this phantasmagorical constitutional right of which they so fondly speak was only discovered in 2008. Yeah, eight years ago courtesy of the contortionist intellectual rummaging of dead, fat Tony after a century of constitutional case law saying no such right existed.
Both McCain and Cruz focused upon the favorite Republican hobgoblin: slippery slopes. Conveniently, they always ignore the kinds of slippery slopes they don’t mind seeing like cutting the number of women’s health clinics, or reducing SNAP benefits, or reducing access to voting, or reducing civil rights protections. Those types of slippery slopes tighten the crotches of crusty old Republicans faster than Cialis in their Citrucel.
The slippery slopes causing the consternation du jour are the “no fly, no buy” legislation and universal background checks. Republicans ignore the fact that 95% of Democrats, 86% of Independents, and 87% of Republicans support universal background checks. It appears the NRA hasn’t just rented this current crop of Republicans, they have bought them outright.
Here’s a slippery slope they won’t talk about. Some industrious reporters, surprising but they still do exist, timed how long it actually takes to buy an AR-15 rifle. With a full background check, it took between 5 and 7 minutes. Let’s put this in perspective: You can walk into a Wal-Mart and within 7 minutes your government has said, “You may now own a killing instrument suitable for war or if you’d rather, an assault on the nearest gathering of people you hate.”
Seven minutes started a slippery slope of empowering the death of 49 souls in Orlando. The United States government approved the purchase of an instrument of death capable of this mass carnage in just seven minutes. And it never seems to matter to these NRA bastards, not even for seven minutes that this slope is made slippery by the blood of innocents.
Take the conversation in any direction you might like.
Where do you start in a week like this? Dwell on the horrific? Dwell on the histrionics? Dwell on the hollowness? Or just say to hell with it all?
Like all of us, my heart hurts for the folks in Orlando. Happiness turned into the horrific. Frivolity turned frantic. Dancing turned into death. There are no definitive answers and in all likelihood, there never will be. As unsatisfying as this is, we should make peace with it. Otherwise, disappointment will add to the despondency.
For what it’s worth, the shooter was a toxic soup of self-loathing, narcissism, and brutality. Coming from a family where fantasy seemed the norm, his socialization was problematic at best. Being a twice-married closeted gay homophobe does not lend itself to a startling degree of self-awareness; though it might lead to a last-minute deflection excuse of ISIL allegiance.
Invariably there is the “same old, same old” gun control chatter. So far in 2016 there have been 132 other mass shootings. Will this one be different beyond claiming the record number of lives? Perhaps – perhaps not.
Here’s the rub – depending on the use, the average lifespan of a gun is generational. That means a useful lifetime of somewhere between 20 and 25 years on the low side. We don’t know exactly how many of these AR-15 type weapons there are in the stream of commerce because sales are not reported. We do know there is a gun in circulation for every man, woman, and child in the country. The statistics are mind-blowing: America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of its civilian-owned guns.
During the ten years of the assault weapons ban, 1994-2004, we were just beginning to see the results of the ban. Then it ended. Now, with the AR-15 being the most popular rifle sold, the number in the stream of commerce is staggering. Again, we don’t know exactly because the CDC can’t collect information on such things and the manufacturers won’t report.
The best all around article on this Gordian knot of death is one entitled, What No Politician Wants to Admit about Gun Control. It is well worth the read. The conclusions are staggering. It is something to keep in mind given the holy war about to be unleashed over gun sales to those on the “no fly list”. A holy war over sales to a paltry 247 people – total. Barring people on the no fly list from buying guns is not a big “ask”.
Let’s face it – death isn’t enough to defeat the gun merchants. It’s going to take different thinking and a different political climate. Hillary is doing her best to make that world a reality.
Turning to the histrionics – Donald Trump and Barack Obama are two scorpions in a media bottle. My question is this: Where has this Barack Obama been for the last seven and a half years? Yesterday, the world did not come to an end when it appeared he was emotionally capable of being angry. Where has that man been?
Trump is the political equivalent of the crazy man standing on the street corner. No one dares make eye contact with him. No one wants to engage him. He’s a big orange turd in the Republican punch bowl. He’s a pariah. No Republican dares stand up for him other than Sleazy, the rotund troll who closed the bridge.
Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, another of Trump’s opponents early in the campaign, has transformed himself into a sort of manservant, who is constantly with Trump at events. (One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order.)
If there was an “Unpresidential Handbook for Dummies,” Trump would be its author. Trump’s vanity exercise may well lead to the overruling of Heller and Citizens United. In the greater scheme of things, he does have a purpose.
As for the hollowness, the Republican Party, as Professor Krugman puts it, is a Party Agrift. It is a party without a soul. Those who now pretend to take a stand against Trump were, four years ago, engaged in a primal mating dance. Case in point: Mittens.
What is alarming is Trump’s Donny-come lately pro-gay Islamophobia is straight out of the European playbook. Welcome to the political styling of Paul Manafort. All those years of working for two-bit dictators does pay a dividend. A word of caution: It has worked.
Repeatedly Trump confuses political talking points for a substantive understanding of the issues. One of his favorites is “political correctness”. Political correctness has become the double secret code word for “white male victimization”. Criticism of political correctness is a way for white males to delegitimize the experiential reality of minorities.
This election will revolve around the victimization of white males. As we have pointed out previously, conservatives believe that discrimination is a larger problem affecting whites than minorities. It worked in the Republican primary. It is an anathema to those who decide elections, the ten to fifteen percent in the middle. The hollowness with which Trump is approaching this election is intellectually bankrupt and ironically, he does know about bankruptcy.
It has been a miserable week so far and as I write this a 2-year old has been attacked and carried away by an alligator at Disney World’s Grand Floridian hotel lagoon.
We need better news. At least the Bloomberg Poll says Hillary is ahead by 12 points.
Here’s Ken Burns at Stanford with some good life lessons after eviscerating the Meerkat-headed buffoon.
What’s on your mind?