Take a memo. Please.

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The reverberations of Trump’s rampaging State of the Union speech had barely faded before he started tweeting like an arrested tween. His wild claims about the Nunes memo, reflective of the fevered rhetoric proffered daily by his favorite network, were contradicted by the content of the memo itself, a selective, shabby attempt to draw the public’s attention away from the Mueller investigation with an almost laughable claim of concern for Carter Page’s civil liberties. Why do major modern political scandals always turn on weak spindles like Page and – for Hillary Clinton – Weiner? Maybe that’s the only kind of spindle we’ve got.

Porter sighted with two notorious racists.This, again, feels like a big distraction from what the administration and the congressional majority are actually doing. If we’re obsessing over one or the other revealing memo, we’re not thinking about recent surveys – including one by CNBC – that indicate that the vast majority of large businesses have no intention of spending their tax savings on hiring people. That’s no big surprise, but it’s probably worth mentioning once in a while, right? After all, misguided workers who voted for Trump should be given the opportunity to understand that you can’t trust the rich to help anyone but themselves, and that tax cuts are a poor investment in job creation.

Still, the administration will trot out the handful of examples that seem to fit their narrative, even if they don’t. I’m sure they’ve crowed about AFLAC, even though practically none of their sales workforce is eligible for the bonuses they promised so loudly. This is what they do with immigration and other issues – they essentially hold up the exception and claim it’s the rule. Doesn’t matter … think about the memos! The last few days they have been pushing this story about the FBI agent texts suggesting Obama was “keeping tabs” on the Clinton email investigation – subgenius senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is their wingman on this conspiracy theory. My guess is that they are using this to distract attention away from the fact that one of Trump’s chief aides is a serial spouse abuser who can’t get security clearance to save his life … and yet he STILL handles top secret, burn-after-read briefings for the President. In other words, they don’t want you to think about what an insufferable ass General Kelly is, not to put too fine a point on it.

Just another week in paradise. Is it November yet?

luv u,


State of the Yum-yun.

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Seems like a good time to respond to some choice bits from Trump’s first state of the union (or state of the umion, pronounced Yum-yun, if you’re reading the official announcement).

First, the big fat entrance. Rep. Claudia Tenney gets a word in Trump’s ear as he’s working his way down the aisle. Always wearing some bright color and right up front when Trump is in town.

First flub goes to Ryan: “I have the distinct privilege of preventing … presenting to you the President of the United States.”

Now, on to Trump’s remarks, delivered in a slithering, slow voice, lots of breath. Kind of nauseating, frankly.

The chief and his enablers.“A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land,” he tells us, referring to a year ago, then  jumped right in with the anecdotes and the guests of honor. “We always will pull through together, always.” Runs through a litany of lifesavers, mostly from disasters of our own making, through climate change, gun violence, etc. “The state of our union is strong because our people are strong. And together we are building a safe and strong and proud America.” Platitude.

Touting more jobs for Black and Hispanic people. Big cheer for “massive tax cuts,” of course. More take home pay! (Mitt Romney, come back – all is forgiven.) Calls out “cruel” tax of the individual ACA mandate, which very few people actually paid – big cheer from Republican recipients of government subsidized health insurance. Crowing about the titanic benefits of this “new American moment.” “You can dream anything, you can be anything, and together we can achieve absolutely anything.”

Some short takes:

  • “We share … the same great American flag …The motto is ‘In God We Trust,'” he says, then makes a big point about standing for the national anthem. So much for Mr. We’re All In This Together.
  • We’re “…totally defending our second amendment and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.” Shoot ’em up.
  • Calling on congress to empower cabinet secretaries to fire people. Is that novel?
  • “We have ended the war on American energy and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal.” So much for the section on climate change.
  • “Companies are roaring back, they’re coming back. They want to be where the action is.” Well, it’s a kind of silent roar.

Trump starts talking about reducing the price of prescription drugs, and he gestures to the Democrats to stand and applaud. He does it again as he talks about repairing infrastructure, though the focus of this section sounds like he wants to roll back the environmental impact review process. He proposes $1.5 Trillion plan for infrastructure, but it must provide for streamlined permitting. Smell a rat?

Starting to talk about lifting people out of “welfare”. “Let’s invest in workforce development and let’s invest in job training, which we need so badly.” Calls for vocational schools and paid family leave – probably the Ivanka plan. A bleat on prison reform – very vague.


“For decades open borders have allowed drugs and gangs come pouring in.” Now he’s naming “guests” whose kids were killed by immigrants! MS13. Using them to call out “alien minors”. This section is fucking disgusting, worthy of Der Sturmer. He is “calling on congress to close deadly loopholes” in immigration laws. Dirtbags are clapping.

He wants to protect all Americans. How? He wants to defend Americans. “Americans are dreamers, too.” Oh, I see. Pretty much the only immigrants he’s talking about is gang members. MS13 again. Talking about arrests of gang members. So what is the problem? They’re going to prison. But Trump is talking about sending reinforcements. Now talking about bipartisan immigration reform – his draconian plan. Building a “great wall”. His rhetoric on immigration is all about violence by immigrants, merit and race based rules, and “protecting the nuclear family by ending chain migration.” Then he’s blaming opioid deaths on immigrant drug dealers. Just a lot of thinly coded language aimed at racial division.

Next, he’s praising cop – another guest in audience – who stopped a pregnant woman from shooting heroin. Then he adopted the baby. Point? This is not a speech; it is a series of extended anecdotes. It’s like a fucking variety show. He’s using these people as human shields.

Foreign policy and military section:

  • “Weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means to our true and great defense.” Calling for end to defense sequester. Well, the GOP created it, so why not, right?
  • Taking credit for eliminating ISIS.
  • Calling terrorists “enemy combatants”. Sounds like the start of an argument for torture, Gitmo, etc. Just signed an order to re-examine detention policies and keep open Gitmo. Score one for the jihadist propagandists.
  • Touting new rules of engagement. Calling out artificial timelines. Recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Asking to cut off aid to countries that criticize us at UN. “Enemies of America.” “America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.” “Terrible Iran nuclear deal.” “Communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.”
  • Threatening North Korea again. “Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite … aggression.” Applauding that kid Warmbier. Extended anecdote about Korean guest who crawled to freedom and a further tirade against North Korea. Jesus H. Christ.

Big fat ending:

Patriotic claptrap roll call. Republicans chanting “USA, USA, USA!”

“The people dreamed this country, the people built this country, and it’s the people who will make America great again.” Yep. When they get rid of you.

The state of it.

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I imagine if you didn’t watch the president’s state of the union address and listened to NPR (aka Empire) news the next day, you might think they were talking about a speech made by a reactionary republican legislator or pundit. That’s all they had on their guest list for the two days following the address. You have to wonder why they feel these people need all this air time. Instead of wallowing in the predictable knee-jerk partisan reactions to the speech, why don’t they drill into some of the issues? Sure, they do a little “fact check” report, kind of like Politifact (and just about as superficial). But report on, say, oil and gas drilling and its implications for climate change and ultimately human survival? Not when one of their big sponsors is “think about it dot org”.

Doing too little? Seriously?Then there’s “Morning Joe” (or “Morning Blow”) on purportedly liberal/progressive MSNBC. Their foreign policy braintrust of, well, Joe Scarborough, Richard Haas, and various senior editors from Politico have been engaging in a narrative that goes something like this, in short – “W” Bush did too much, Obama does too little, and both put us in greater danger from the scourge of jihadist terrorism, which has killed nearly one person in the United States so far this year (call it none). Setting aside the obsessive focus on this rare and sensational threat, I agree with the assertion that both presidents’ foreign policies have put us in greater danger, breeding a new generation extremists, several of whom, for instance, attacked the offices of Charlie Ebdo in Paris. But the notion that Obama does too little is ludicrous. Bush and Obama basically have the same foreign policy. Obama is following Bush’s playbook from 2006-08. And yes, it is murderous and destabilizing and designed to radicalize people.

Of course, the pundit circle’s prescriptions for what we should be doing are drawn from the same volume. This week on Morning Blow they were latching onto co-host Mika Brzezinski’s father’s suggestion that we should deploy troops to the Baltic states to provide a “tripwire” against further action by Vladimir Putin. The braintrust was opining that NATO should be beefed up; more troops in Poland, etc. Again – Obama has been following the same policy as Bush, in essence. Aggressive eastward expansion of the U.S.-European trading zone and of NATO, right into Ukraine, which is as integral a part of Russian security planning as Canada and Mexico are for the U.S. Want to keep Putin from overreacting? Stop boxing the Russians in. Just saying.

The only new piece of foreign policy from Obama has been the Cuba opening, but like Boehner’s invite to Netanyahu as a way of scuttling the Iran talks, there are many ways for Congress to undermine the new policy.

Next week: Domestic policy. Stay tuned.

luv u,


State of it.

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I have to think that President Obama really wants to be remembered as one of the great presidents, like FDR or Lincoln. (Don’t say Reagan, because that would just be silly.) I just don’t know if he thinks big enough. But whatever his motivations or limitations may be, we simply cannot allow ourselves to be confined by them. What America needs is a healthy dose of movement politics – the kind that brought us the five day work week, earned black people the vote, and brought the Vietnam war to an end. It’s the only way fundamental change happens, and we had best start facing that fact.

That is something the late great Howard Zinn understood. (Very sorry to hear of his passing this week.) And it’s something that gets repeated frequently in these strange days when the closest thing we have to a national progressive party behaves like a timid opposition even while it enjoys the largest majorities it has seen in Congress since the Watergate era. One can, with some justification, fault Obama with being too conciliatory, to modest in his ambitions, too willing to reach out to the other side (particularly in the knowledge that they will be satisfied only with his – and our – complete failure). But Congressional Democrats, by and large, are perhaps the most timid creatures ever to cast a shadow. Sure, there are the Graysons, the Kucinichs, the Sanders (and by each of these I really mean there is only one), but the main body of the caucus in either house is completely cowed by the opposition.

Whether or not Obama is serious about making positive change, he should understand one thing: the Republican party, particularly those in Congress, will not support him no matter what he does. He could adopt all of their positions (instead of just many of them) and they will still work to destroy him politically. That is their clear objective, whatever noises they make for the cameras and microphones. From a political standpoint, I don’t blame Obama for addressing the G.O.P. retreat this week and taking their questions. I think he should call them out, and we did see a little bit of that today. But if he seriously thinks that they are going to work with him on anything substantive, he is smoking crack. He would be well-advised to start appealing to his base, a.k.a. the people who got him elected, and use his considerable rhetorical gifts to articulate a more progressive vision of governance.

Of course, he won’t… unless we really push him. Now would be a good time to start, folks.

luv u,