Friday, February 17, 2017

Suicide Squad


At the end of WW II, when Nazi Germany was on the brink of defeat, there were mass suicides throughout the country. Not only Nazi party members and government officials, but also regular citizens. Entire families, children murdered by their parents before killing themselves, chose suicide rather than face defeat and justice at the hands of the Red Army or the Allied Forces.

The Germans that bought into the Nazi myth of invincibility, that victory was their destiny, could not bear the humiliation of their ultimate defeat. Of course, many didn't want to stay around and be held to account for the horrible atrocities committed by their brutal and inhuman countrymen.

That was then and this is now. Then it was a death cult sheathed in political garb, but its followers were held in total thrall to their charismatic insane leader.

What about now? We have a charismatic and severely personality disordered leader that has risen to the Presidency on the backs of the self-pitying racist and prone to violence disaffected groups in this country. Skin-heads, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members are in total thrall to the Trump cult of personality.

Less than a month into his Presidency, the Trump administration is in total chaos. Rank amateurs with no clue how to work the levers of power in Washington D.C., their racist and unconstitutional agenda is floundering.

There is a feeling that Trump won't last the entire term of his presidency. Talk of impeachment fills the air along with other constitutional maneuvers extant to provide for the removal of the President, should his closest aids find him unable to serve due to ailments physical or mental. With any luck, the Trump years may fade into just a laughingly ridiculous aberration.

When that happens, what will become of the true believers, the fellow travelers, the 60+ million people that believed in Trump, that he was somehow different, that he'd not only make America great again, that he'd make them great again too? The people that jammed his rallies at every campaign stop, that ridiculed the press covering them, that reveled in Trump's victory as if it were their own, what of them? The base that ignored every idiotic pronouncement, every lie about protecting the little guy, lies about bringing back jobs, what of them?

When the crisis happens, will these people don their Nike sneakers and slink into their homes and find that the humiliation of their having been duped by a conman too much to bear and emulate the Germans of 1945, even as Trump has tried to emulate the Germans of 1933?

History does seem to have a way of repeating itself, doesn't it? 

The 25th Amendment, explained: how a president can be declared unfit to serve - Vox

The 25th Amendment, explained: how a president can be declared unfit to serve - Vox:

'via Blog this'

Sadly, it's hard to imagine the current Vice President and the Cabinet of Misfits having the patriotism or integrity to carry out their duty under the 25th Amendment, should the need arise. It's Party before Country for this band of self-dealing wretches.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

45 Seconds from Broadway


It was a long while since I had seen my Broadway friend, so after many attempts to set up a lunch date, we finally found a suitable time. I think it was my offer to pay that got things moving along.

"Hey, how ya doin'?" he called out to me from across the way. He was about a half hour late, but that was early for him. "I'm doin' fine," I replied, knowing that despite his feeble attempts at small talk, he didn't really want to know. We go way back, and organ recitals just aren't part of our relationship.

After ordering the most expensive items on the menu, and a bit more chit chat, he mentioned what I knew he'd be anxious to talk about.

"Did you see that Times article about how the producers of Hamilton and Harry Potter are crying the blues about scalped tickets? Are these guys for real?" I think I knew where this was headed.

"You mean how they are concerned that an out-of-control secondary market hurts people trying to get tickets to popular shows? That and the fact that the excess price on those tickets is lost to the cast and creatives of the shows? Those blues?" I knew I was baiting him. I felt a tinge of guilt, but it's always fun to get under his skin.

"Oh jeez," he murmured. "You really are kind of a putz, aren't you?" I wasn't offended, I've been called worse.

"These producers are putting on such a con, and you have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker!" Our waiter was just now bringing our order.

"A con? What's wrong with trying to help the little guy? You know nobody can touch Hamilton for face value for many months. With Harry Potter coming it could be the same or worse. At least somebody is trying to figure something out." I'm not sure if I fully believed it myself, but I love to watch my friend go off on a rant. He looked like he was gagging on his food as he tried to reply.

"How can you be so pathetically naive? That's not how the system works!" He wasn't shouting, but he was speaking with his usual amped intensity. "It's all P.R.! Nothing more! There's always bad publicity when regular folk can't get tickets, but who benefits? Why, for goodness sake, it's the producers! What makes a tight ticket? Do you have any idea?"

The train had left the station and was picking up steam. Tactically, my best option was to step aside and let it roll.

"Come on now! Don't be dumb with me now! It's the scalpers and speculators who scoop up all the seats, that's what makes a tight ticket! Since 9/11, who buys tickets in advance anymore? Not enough people to matter. How do you think a Hamilton or a Book of Morman, or Harry Potter can possibly build up their stratospheric advances without the brokers digging out all the seats? And what's more, these days they are buying out months of premium-priced tickets to boot!" He started to finally chew his food, so it was safe for me to answer.

"Well, that may be true, but what about seats that go for thousands of dollars each? Is it fair that the shows don't get a piece of that?" A little logic could go a long way, even in emotional arguments, I thought.

He still had food in his mouth, and when he spoke, he sprayed. "Fair??? This is business, my friend. There is no "fair" in business. Besides, what spurs demand more than crazy headlines about crazy prices along with a lack of supply? Consider those transactions loss-leaders. It helps the show to keep selling those voluminous premium-priced tickets, which by the way, aren't they going for $849 now? Ha! I'm sure a lot of little guys are buying up those!! What a joke!!"

He was always very passionate when we spoke about "the business" of Broadway. It was almost as entertaining as a show itself. Still, I needed to prod him with more opposing ideas.

"Well, everyone seems to agree that scalping is bad, right? The producers and politicians are on the right side of this, aren't they?" I covered up my plate, I didn't want any of his food or spittle to find it's way across the table.

"Hahaha!!! You CAN'T be that dumb!! You're just pulling my chain now, aren't you? AREN'T you?"
He was chewing and laughing but there was a steely stare from his eyes.

"Well," I didn't really know which way to go now. I didn't want to cause a scene in the restaurant. " it would be nice if all the seats didn't wind up on the secondary market, wouldn't it? I mean, in general terms." It was time to be more conciliatory. I didn't really want him to have a stroke.

"Nice??, yeah, I guess it would be nice. It would be nice if we didn't have a lunatic in the White House. It would be nice if there were peace and harmony in the world. It would be nice if everyone that had a pit bull had a Pekinese instead. It would be real nice. Don't hold your breath! Nice doesn't cut it in the real world, my friend!" He seemed to hit all the major bullet points. My eyes began to lower.

"Look," he continued, "here's the deal. It's a smokescreen. The producers profit from the secondary market. Hell, Ticketmaster runs its own secondary market. Could that happen without the producers assent? Could Stub Hub continue without funnelling lobbying cash to politicians? More than all this though, could Hamilton have a weekly gross of over three million dollars, without the existence of this entire infrastructure? It ain't nice, but it sure is profitable." The next table had stopped what they were doing and were listening to him, nodding their heads. I wondered if they were Broadway investors?  My friend seemed like he was summing up for the jury. I knew what the verdict would be.

"Look, I gotta run. I'll take the rest of this to go. Are you finishing yours? If not, put it on my plate, I'll have it later." I don't even know what I had ordered. "Sure, take it all, that's fine."

As he got up to leave, the check arrived. "We should do this again sometime," he said as he scooped up his doggy bag and headed out. Before he got to the door, he turned to me and said, "Don't forget, Show Business is all about putting on the show."

I paid the check, left the tip, and walked out. But, I was still kind of hungry.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chris Matthews Comes Clean

Chris Matthews Criticizes Court Decision On Muslim Ban: “The Courts Have Gotten Into Somebody Else’s Marmalade”:

'via Blog this'


Chris Mathews, he of MSNBC, home of the most liberal hosts on cable TV, has always been an odd fit on that network. For years, he was vehemently an anti-Clinton voice and he goes back to the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil backroom political deals. At best, he's a Reagan democrat, at worst a phony liberal, in spite of his admiration of Barack Obama.

Now that Trump's racist and fascist travel ban was struck down by the Ninth District Court of Appeals, Matthews is now kind of queasy. He says that he prefers "strong Presidents, even this one". I guess that when a court uses its constitutional check on the co-equal executive branch of government, Chris Matthews grows soft yearning for a strongman as President. Even a misfit such as Trump.

No, Matthews need not toe a liberal MSNBC line. Just look at the idiotic neo-con they have in their morning slot. But views that are soft on and wistful for a fascist presence in the White House have no place in American political discourse.

The danger to this country is not the lack of a "strong" President, it's the long lack of a strong Congress and Supreme Court to help to preserve and protect the American principles of justice that we all claim to love so dearly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

U.S. Senate Censorship


The link above will show the letter from Coretta Scott King from 1986 that she sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee when it was considering Jeff Sessions for a Federal Judgeship. He was not appointed to the post.

During the current Senate debate on Sessions' appointment to President Trump's cabinet as U. S. Attorney General, Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to read the letter from Martin Luther King's widow into the record. She was silenced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell using a procedural maneuver to prevent her from reading aloud the contents. He said that the letter was "impugning" Sessions.

If you think that McConnell's behavior is reprehensible and overtly racist, click the link and have a read to get an idea of the character of the man Donald Trump has chosen to be his Attorney General.

Then count down the days until the midterm elections.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mourning in America


After just two weeks in office, it's clear that Trump and his administration are the rank amateur fascists we feared they were,  with no understanding of the U.S. Constitution or the principle of divided government with checks and balances.

Trump is just an empty suit, after all, with his power being manipulated by shadowy behind the scenes malevolent and seditious bad actors. Nothing new here for a Republican administration. We saw similar situations with Reagan and George W. Bush. They were both bumbling incompetents controlled by cadres of evil self-serving war mongers.

It's hard to imagine Trump lasting for his entire term, but in any case, it's a dark time for America. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rump Roast

The radical conservative Republicans, by changing the Senate rules in various committees to allow the rubber-stamp approval of Trump's various unqualified cabinet nominees, have reduced this government to a state of "rump government", that is, just a shadow of what it was once upon a time.

The American Experiment, a government of checks and balances, is in imminent danger of failing. When political norms are ignored, such as the Senate refusing to act on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, then the notion of Constitutional fealty is gone. There can be no loyal opposition when the majority rules with no regard for anything less than ideological conformity.

Now, Senate Republicans threaten a "nuclear option", encouraged by Trump himself, to jam through a Supreme Court nominee and remove the prospect of an opposing filibuster. It may be the Senate's prerogative to set its own rules of order but without any respect for tradition and precedent, there will be no longer any place for the separation of powers into co-equal branches of government. All power will be consolidated by the executive.

Never before have we seen a President rule by edict the way Trump has begun his presidency. It is up to Congress and the Supreme Court to reign him in, and the sooner the better. The longer Trump is allowed to continue on his reckless and ruinous path, the less chance that this country will survive.  


Well, now we know what Trump's plan for us really is. Keep an eye for when he starts to talk into his shoe.


Protestors Slam Peter King, President Trump's ‘Muslim Ban’ & Proposed Wall

Protestors Slam Peter King, President Trump's ‘Muslim Ban’ & Proposed Wall:

'via Blog this'


I saw this protest as I got off the train tonight. A very impressive demonstration, certainly over a thousand people filling the block in front of Peter King's District Office. About 20 pro-Trump people stood in opposition.

I was VERY surprised to hear how boisterous the protesters were. In this district on Long Island, it is completely Trumpland. Likely, many of the protestors were from out of the area.

Peter King, always vile and anti-Muslim, is rock solid in this district. Long Island is a hotbed of the worst strains of xenophobic Republicanism.

Still, nice to see a big protest against King on his home turf. Who'da thunk it?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Madman Theory


According to the good folks at Wikipedia:

The madman theory was an important part of Richard Nixon's foreign policy. The madman theory was a feature of Richard Nixon's foreign policy. He and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile.


Now that President Trump and his national security advisor have taken to provoking Iran, as they promised they would, one might think that Trump is taking a page from old Tricky Dick's playbook. I mean, what is more nuts than to push on religious fanatics to whom martyrdom is a happy goal and who only recently agreed to scuttle their nuclear program? Seems like something only a madman might consider.

Ah well. More red meat for the base. And the doomsday clock starts to tick more and more.