State of the Yum-yun.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

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 king’s speech.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

How did you spend that prime time hour this past Tuesday night? I will admit to watching the entire Trump address to a Joint Session of Congress, and I have to say … it’s evident he hired a speechwriter sometime over the past six weeks. His inaugural was a patchwork hodgepodge of paranoid tropes and random utterances, crudely constructed by the likes of Miller and Bannon with some input, most likely, form Trump’s demon spawn. Wednesday’s speech was full of craven ideas and scapegoating, but it was comparatively well-crafted. Someone massaged the prose a bit, inserted some lofty rhetoric and clever turns of phrase. I think that accounts in large measure for the “tone” difference TV commentators have been crowing about ever since.

Maytag Repairman-in-ChiefAnd the substance of the king’s speech? Nauseating, in my humble opinion. The truly low points for me were the jingoistic celebration of the widow of that Navy Seal killed in that botched Yemen raid, the announcement of a special Homeland Security office tracking victims of immigrant crimes, the promise to raise the already bloated military budget by 10% … I could go on. Of those three, the first one was strange in that Trump had previously (that day, I believe) thrown his generals under the bus for that failed mission, on Fox News. (Plus, the Navy Seal’s father is hopping mad about it, and rightfully so.) But point to a war widow, and politicians will always stand up and cheer. It’s their way of channeling our relief that we are no longer called upon to fight wars or to pay for them up front. Cynical in the extreme.

That extended riff on the victims of immigrant crime was particularly disturbing. They are setting up an office (with the acronym VOICE, no less) to do something like what Der Sturmer used to do to German Jews – namely, front page any violent crimes committed by individuals in that group as a means of stoking outrage against the entire group. It’s an effective tactic, and the Trump bots are embracing it wholeheartedly. (I got into some mini-Twitter wars with a couple of them after the speech.) It’s up to us to push back on this and to encourage our representatives to do the same.

Let’s face it – it’s going to be a long, long four years. Perhaps even longer. So we need to start building now.

luv u,


State of the Hoover.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Listened to Obama’s fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night and was not surprised to hear many of the same small-bore themes we’ve heard from this president many times before. I am not One-way ticket to Hoovervillesomeone you could describe as disappointed in the president: he is very much the kind of leader I expected him to be following his 2008 election. Probably the most prescient look at the then-early Obama presidency in 2009 was published in Harper‘s under the title Barack Hoover Obama. The author Kevin Baker pointed out that, like Obama, Hoover was a very intelligent, well educated, worldly, and highly capable man – that was the reason he was elected president.

And yet, Hoover failed miserably. Baker sums it up in this passage:

Hoover’s every decision in fighting the Great Depression mirrored the sentiments of 1920s “business progressivism,” even as he understood intellectually that something more was required. Farsighted as he was compared with almost everyone else in public life, believing as much as he did in activist government, he still could not convince himself to take the next step and accept that the basic economic tenets he had believed in all his life were discredited; that something wholly new was required. Such a transformation would have required a mental suppleness that was simply not in the makeup of this fabulously successful scientist and self-made businessman. And it was this inability to radically alter his thinking that, ultimately, distinguished Hoover from Franklin Roosevelt.

This is, in a nutshell, reflective of the tragedy of Barack Obama, who was elevated to presidency at a moment in our history when enormous economic challenges demanded solutions of similar magnitude; when every month upwards of 750,000 Americans joined the ranks of the unemployed; when our hopelessly corrupted investment banking system was imploding and homeowners faced with a tsunami of foreclosures. Yes, he stanched the bleeding, but for a variety of reasons – not least of which being a lack of willingness to try something different – he did not provide an alternative vision of society that would have place us on the road to full employment, environmental sustainability, guaranteed housing, single-payer health care, and secure retirement.

What do we have instead? A vague proposal for something called MyRA and other similarly lame initiatives. We need to drive a more progressive agenda forward. If God had intended voting to be consequential, s/he would have given us decent candidates. It’s really just up to us.

luv u,


Talking points.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

This week will really be short swipes at various topics. I’m utterly up to my eyeballs… so the rascals are safe!

State of It. Republicans and Democrats sat together, nice-nice, during the State of the Union address. Such an endearing sight, was it not? In some cases, it seemed like something they may actually have wanted to do; others seemed pressed to do so by a sense of the public mood, perhaps. Either way, it’s a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic or spec’ing new curtains on the top floor of the Towering Inferno. (Name checking Irwin Allen here.) Congress is poised to choke ordinary Americans off from a range of federal benefits and services, just as they are dealing with similar reductions at the state and local levels. They have the votes to do it.

Sad thing is, Obama seems ready to assist them in this. His somewhat schizophrenic SOTU lurched from major investments to multi-year spending freezes. Domestic spending kept level for five years? Sounds like McCain. What would the impact of that be on all of these domestic initiatives he’s mentioning in the same breath? We shall see how that shakes out. Of course, the CBO came out with dire estimates regarding both the federal budget and Social Security practically while Obama was speaking. The primary culprit? The tax cut deal, which is blowing the predictable hole in the Federal budget and starving Social Security of its payroll tax funding. Guess how they’re going to try to fill that hole. Ask Paul Ryan.

World Service. The uprising in Tunisia has sparked some pretty serious protests across the Arab world, most notably Egypt. That oppressive regime for which torture is as fundamental a part of the penal system as iron bars is a bit unnerved, to say the least, and will no doubt rely upon the good graces of its sponsor the United States more heavily than before. It’s hard to imagine Egypt without Mubarak, but it will come one day. What that will look like I can only guess. 

Goodbye and Good Luck. MSNBC’s firing of Keith Olbermann is not good news in my house, particularly around the 8:00 pm hour. I don’t think I need comment on the stupidity of this decision, but I feel compelled to say that coverage of it has been pretty lame. NPR’s Talk of the Nation  is one example, which featured Bill Carter of the New York Times talking about how NBC thought him too “aggressive” and how they were concerned about incitement to violence. No comment on whether that was a reasonable position to take – just bland assurances from the man whose very tempered paper helped get us into Iraq.   

Science! The internets are abuzz with speculation about NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdulati and his mysterious past. Stop guessing, conservative bloggers – I know right where he comes from…. across the street from my childhood home in New Hartford, NY, that’s where! He lived there from about 4 years old until after high school, and a brighter and more decent guy you couldn’t imagine – so stop obsessing, you knee-jerk racists.  

luv u,