Remarks And Asides, 5/18/2017

I just heard Tr-mp say, during a tiny press conference, that “We don’t have healthcare in this country.” Damn. We’re going down faster than even I thought we would. All the doctors and nurses have fled the country!

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Trump also said there was no collusion with the Russians, but that he could only speak for himself. Since he has a spotless record of speaking for himself so truthfully, why don’t we just drop the whole thing and move on? Tax cuts for the rich, anyone?

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Roger Ailes is dead. May he rest in fair and balanced peace, much like the fair and balanced journalism and sexual assault he oversaw at Fox. In other words, he’d better hope there is no hell.

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Now we finally have a special counsel appointed who will, hopefully, figure out how many Tr-mpers were involved, besides Tr-mp himself, with the Russians during last year’s election. Tr-mp, on cue, tweeted: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” During his short press conference today, he reiterated that claim. I never really thought about it in those terms, but it could be Tr-mp is a witch, since he cast a strange spell over 46% of the electorate and has given Republican Party leadership magical herbs and potions such that they don’t care how his dark arts are darkening our democracy. In any case, here’s to Robert Mueller exposing the Russian-friendly coven and the big, bad Orange Witch that leads it!

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Oh, for the record. The theme on cable news yesterday seemed to be that Democrats were “over their skis” on impeachment talk. Even many Democrats said there is not enough evidence yet to speculate about that. I continue to remind you that the Emoluments Clause is being violated every single day and Tr-mp should be impeached for that. I don’t know why Democrats refuse to talk about emoluments anymore, but then they are Democrats. They seem to only be able to juggle one ball at a time. But not me. Emoluments! (There is even a twist to the story; he may be violating “a different emoluments clause, one that specifically bars him from receiving money or gifts above and beyond his mandated salary from governments right here at home.”)

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Speaking of the coven, how ’bout this:

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

If you remember, and it is hard to keep track, the folks at the White’s House denied there were any contacts at all with the Ruskies during the campaign, let alone 18 of them from April through November. Now, why would patriotic Americans like those associated with Tr-mp want to spend so much time talking to our nasty adversaries? Stay tuned. When the witches involved get tied to the special counsel’s stake, they may start talking.

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Image result for pillow fightOh, speaking of Michael Flynn, he is so far refusing to comply with a subpoena for documents issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee. But don’t worry. Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is all over this. He might seek a contempt of Congress vote against Flynn or he might hit him with a feather pillow. My money is on the pillow-slap.

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In case you missed it, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught on tape (those damned tapes!) just a month before Agent Orange cast his final spell on the Republican electorate during the primary last year and clinched the nomination. McCarthy said:

There’s two people I think Putin pays. Rohrabacher and Tr-mp.

Dana Rohrabacher is a congressman from California who thinks his district extends all the way to Moscow. He’s a very Putin and Russia friendly guy. Tr-mp, of course, is the guy whose unseemly-shaped mouth is, according to at least one pundit, a holster for Putin’s pocket rocket. McCarthy didn’t say exactly why Putin would pay Tr-mp for such services, since, obviously, Tr-mp would gladly perform them for free.

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Image result for toby keithSpeaking of performing for free, the godawful Toby Keith will hook up with Tr-mp in Saudi Arabia and perform a men-only concert for those dangerous Muslims who abide by strict Islamic law. Apparently, the Tr-mp team doesn’t think American prestige around the world has suffered enough, so, since Ted Nugent was busy molesting a 13-year-old assault rifle, they got the next best act available that could embarrass the country abroad. No word in yet on whether the godawful Keith will do his great American classic, “I Like Girls That Drink Beer.” One thing we know for sure: there will be no pussy grabbing at that concert. Tr-mp will have to wait for the post-performance party.

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Speaking of people who embarrass the country, there is a report out there that we will see less of Sean Spicer. And just when he was getting the hang of lying and whining in a more friendly manner. Darn.

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Speaking of lying and whining, Tr-mp said yesterday to a group of Coast Guard graduates:

Image result for abraham lincoln shotLook at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.

Abraham Lincoln could not be reached for comment.

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In the I’m-just-trying-to-cheer-you-up category, I offer the musings of Tony Schwartz, who actually wrote The Art of the Deal and helped make Tr-mp infamous. Schwartz thinks Tr-mp is “in a pretty significant meltdown” right now and will not go through any impeachment process. “I surely believe that at some point over the next period of time he’s going to have to figure out a way to resign,” he said. Okay. Now back to the bad news.

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Joe Lieberman is, according to CNN, the “front-runner for FBI director.” Oh, my. The former Democratic senator from Connecticut (he had to run as an independent to keep his senate seat in 2006) once was the party’s nominee for Vice President way back in 2000, the year the Supreme Court was handing the presidency to another guy who lost the popular vote. Then Lieberman fell in love with John McCain and backed him against the Scary Negro in 2008. Then he helped ruin the construction of Obamacare. Then he retired to make a lot of money in the private sector. Now, he is back and, apparently, ready to keep the Orange Witch from being burned at the stake.

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Finally, there is “first I heard of it” Mike Pence. You may remember him. He was the white-haired guy running with the broad-shouldered guy for high office last year. Oh, and he lied a lot just like his running mate did. Well, those two “won.” And they hired a guy named Michael Flynn, who had been chanting “lock her up” at Tr-mp campaign rallies, to be our National Security Adviser. A real class act. Anyway, people keep saying Michael Flynn was eventually fired for “lying” to Pence about Flynn’s ties to Turkey and other sins. People keep saying that but those people don’t have any evidence for it other than Pence’s word that he knew nothing and that Flynn lied to him. But as head of Tr-mp’s transition team, Pence had to know something. Why assume Pence wasn’t lying when he vouched for Flynn?

Then there were the multiple lies Pence told about why Tr-mp fired FBI Director Comey. It was because of the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Pence said over and over and over. Then Tr-mp contradicted him and said he would have fired Comey no matter what anyone, even God, said about it. Uh-oh. I don’t think Pence has Image result for mike pence and trumpbeen seen since.

Now we find out that Michael Flynn told the Tr-mp transition team—more than two weeks before Tr-mp’s tiny inauguration—that he was under federal investigation for his duties as a lobbyist for Turkey, duties that paid him around $500,000 and which caused him to reject an anti-ISIS plan that was opposed by Turkey. The transition team made Flynn our National Security Adviser anyway, and now we are supposed to believe that Pence didn’t know anything about that federal investigation. So, we are forced to believe Pence is the dumbest guy this side of Tr-mp, or he is a liar.

In any case, it doesn’t much matter to me either way. Mike Pence is just as illegitimate as Tr-mp. And should Tr-mp get tossed out of office or quit and open up a “Brazilian wax” shop in Moscow, I will dedicate this blog to unpresidenting Pence. Nothing about this administration is legitimate and I won’t accept any of it as normal.

 

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Mike Pence: “It’s The Greatest Honor Of My Life” Being “Shoulder to Shoulder” With An Admitted Sexual Predator

At this point in this long and ugly campaign, what else can be said? If you watched that debate last night (not to mention the circus leading up to it) and believe Donald Trump is qualified in any way to be president of the United States, then, like Trump, there is something wrong with you that a stadium full of psychiatrists, or a coliseum full of priests, can’t fix. The man is a creep. A lie-stained lunatic. A dangerous authoritarian who would, as he openly stated last night, use his presidential power to jail his political enemies—and only Allah knows what else he would do.

Since there is almost nothing else left to say about Trump’s lack of character and his lack of class and his lack of competence, I do want to say something about his running mate, the Jesus-loving, God-fearing, family values-honoring, Mike Pence. This morning I heard Mr. Pence say, as he does all the time, that being Trump’s running mate is “the greatest honor of my life” and that he is proudly standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Trump, with the same Trump who, behind closed doors, admitted that sexually assaulting women—with impunity—is one of the benefits of being a “star.” And pence on cnn.jpgjust why did Pence say he still wants to shoulder-kiss a man who believes fame entitles him to freely fondle the genitals of, say, Mike Pence’s daughters? Because, as the born-again VP candidate told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Trump “said last night very clearly that that was talk, not actions. And I believe him.”

Let’s think about that for a minute. Pence said that he believes Trump when Trump finally denied—after trying to dodge the question from Anderson Cooper three times last night—he has kissed and fondled women without their permission. Let it sink in just how that must sound to children around the country. A presidential candidate actually has to tell us that when he bragged about being a sexual predator, he was essentially just having a good time with the boys on the bus and he didn’t really mean it. And his running mate actually has to tell us that it is okay with him that Trump lied about being a sexual predator because he was merely talking about being a sexual predator and not acting on the talk. It really is breathtaking.

Here’s an excerpt from Trump’s infamous bus conversation:

TRUMP: I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.

Trump, according to Pence, was simply kiddin’ around when he said he was “automatically” prone to “just start kissing” women he found “beautiful.” That was “talk, not actions” said Pence. But what kind of man would pretend, while working on a TV show that highlights beautiful women, that he cannot control himself around them? What kind of man would lie to others about his inability to prevent himself from sexually assaulting women? Is that the kind of man that a born-again Pence wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with? Would he want his two daughters, or his wife, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Trump? Or does Pence believe that the women in his life are not attractive enough to trigger an “automatic” response from the Orange Groper?

We all have asked, when trying to comprehend Trump, what kind of a creep is this? But now, as we try to understand how Pence—who claims the moral high ground with every Christian breath—can proudly embrace Trump, it is time to ask, what kind of creep is Mike Pence?

Will Bernie Folks Listen To Van Jones And Noam Chomsky?

CNN contributor Van Jones, you may remember, once worked for President Obama as his Special Advisor for Green Jobs, or as some liked to call it, the “green jobs czar.” You also may remember that Glenn Beck repeatedly attacked him after his appointment in 2009, essentially suggesting he was, like Obama, a left-wing terrorist who hated white people. Other conservatives attacked him, too, including Republican members of Congress. Those ol’ boys were mostly offended because Jones, just before Obama appointed him, attended a lecture at Berkeley, in which he was asked why Democrats couldn’t get that famous stimulus packaged passed in 2009 even though they had 58 votes in the Senate:

QUESTIONER: …how were they, Republicans, able to push things through when they had less than 60 senators, but somehow we cant?

JONES: Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.

QUESTIONER: I was afraid that was the answer.

JONES: As a technical, political kind of term. And Barack Obama is not an asshole. Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.

As you can imagine, since this was pre-Drumpf, everyone on the right was outraged that the Scary Negro’s appointee, himself an even scarier Negro, called lily-white legislators “assholes,” even though it was true and even though he did so before the Scary Negro appointed him. Here’s a screen grab from Fox “News”:

I want to particularly call out one Republican congressman who went after Jones. His name is Mike Pence from Indiana, who is now the governor of that Drumpf-loving state. Back in 2009, Pence was very upset with Jones and demanded his resignation, saying, “His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate.” Yes. Pence said that. He said that extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in government or in public debate. None. Nope. No place.

Except when they do.

Less than a month ago, while meekly endorsing Ted Cruz, Pence said,

I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, D.C.”

Hmm. Things have changed a bit since 2009. Not long after Pence made that statement about Drumpf giving “voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans,” Cruz got shellacked in Indiana’s GOP primary. Shortly after that, Pence endorsed the extremist views and coarse rhetoric approach:

I’m fully supportive of our presumptive nominee, and I do think Donald Trump will do well in the State of Indiana. I’m going to campaign hard for the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in the White House.

He meant, of course, that Indiana needs a partner in the White’s House, even if that partner is really, truly a profane extremist. Apparently, Pence, like other Republicans in bed with Drumpf, don’t mind white folks doin’ all that fussin’ and cussin’; they just don’t like uppity Negroes doin’ it. Ain’t acceptable.

In any case, Van Jones resigned in September of 2009, after it became clear President Obama wasn’t in the mood for a fight. There were important things to get done and Jones was a distraction. That was too bad for the Obama administration but good for Jones. He has enjoyed a pretty good career since then, including a lot of face time on television, where he appears often, these days as a Bernie supporter.

But even though Jones is a Bernie man, he ain’t nuts. He isn’t about to let the Bern get the best of him or his country. I have never seen him badmouth Hillary in the way most Bernie people do when they get in front of a camera. He’s cool about it. That’s why he made a video for van jones videoMoveOn.org, an organization that also went all-in for Bernie, but apparently understands that things are getting out of hand with some Bernie folks. The video is a warning that Drumpf can win the general election if we, liberals and leftists and anyone else who doesn’t like Orange Man, don’t “work together” to make sure the profane extremist doesn’t make the White’s House his home.  (You can watch the video at https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmoveon%2Fvideos%2Fvb.7292655492%2F10153454110680493%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560  and then come back for a word from a leftist’s leftist, Noam Chomsky.)

The comment section accompanying the video is an interesting read. There are some real Hillary haters on there, folks who won’t vote for her no matter what. Even if it means a President Drumpf, they don’t care. They want a “clean conscience.” Which brings me to Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky is a real radical leftist. Over the years he has said some things I agree with and some things I think are ridiculous. No need to go into that here. What I want to do is post something he said to yet another leftist, Amy Goodman, on her fine program, Democracy Now! After raising the point that corporate forces are funding elections and writing legislation and that a “countervailing force” is necessary to defend “popular interests, needs and concerns,” Chomsky said this:

noam chomskyBut now, going back to who should you push the button for, well, my own—in the primaries, I would prefer Bernie Sanders. If Clinton is nominated and it comes to a choice between Clinton and Trump, in a swing state, a state where it’s going to matter which way you vote, I would vote against Trump, and by elementary arithmetic, that means you hold your nose and you vote Democrat. I don’t think there’s any other rational choice. Abstaining from voting or, say, voting for, say, a candidate you prefer, a minority candidate, just amounts to a vote for Donald Trump, which I think is a devastating prospect, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. So—but meanwhile, do the important things.

I have to admit that surprised me. We are, after all, talking about Noam Chomsky. But even though clearly he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton—heck, even Bernie isn’t quite radical enough for him—he still has enough sense to see that even radical leftists should not commit national suicide by voting for a third party candidate or not voting at all.

Now, I say this to all you earnest Bernie folks out there: If Noam Bleeping Chomsky can “push the button” for Hillary, you can too! We can’t afford to let the assholes win! “Do the important things.”

Top Of The Ninth: Secularism 2, Religious Fanaticism 0

It’s getting late in the game. As same-sex marriage bans fall, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, the religious reactionaries are swinging for the fences and, as the governor of Indiana is now discovering, whiffing.

When it is all over, even the most zealous Religious Right Republicans will finally have to admit that this is not a Christian nation. America is becoming, day by day, ruling by ruling, boycott by boycott, a secular country, at least when it comes to our laws regarding discrimination.

Mike Pence Surrounded By Bigots When He Signed SB101 Into LawDemocratic strategist Richard Socarides said last night on MSNBC that Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s problem is that “he was lying through his teeth” when he denied that the now infamous Indiana law, disguised as an effort to protect religious liberty, was really about allowing what I call Bible-based bigotry to have its way. The law most certainly was designed to allow discrimination against gays or quasi-gays or anyone who doesn’t have sex the way, presumably, Governor Pence and his evangelical friends do.

Richard Socarides finally said out loud the truth about what the evangelical-influenced legislature and governor in Indiana were trying to pull off. That they weren’t able to pull it off, that they weren’t able to lie their way to a victory for discrimination based on an ancient set of manuscripts, is wonderful news.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, where trees on the Ozark Mountains cover a multitude of reactionary sins, conservative lawmakers passed a similar “religious freedom” bill that even the CEO of Wal-Mart—who could only manage to express himself in a tweet—found so offensive that he urged the Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, to veto the attempt to put gays in their rightful, hell-bound, place.

No matter what one thinks of Wal-Mart, that is progress.

Last October I wrote about “The Slow Triumph Of Secularism.” That was just after the Supreme Court had then decided not to decide the issue of gay marriage and let stand a lower-court ruling that entitled gay citizens to the same matrimonial bliss, or non-bliss, as those who have sex in the Religious Right sense. Things look even better now, what with a groundswell of negative reaction to what happened in Indiana and what is happening in Arkansas.

So, the game is almost over and the forces of secularism, which demand that the rights of LGBT folks are respected as much as anyone else’s—as much as any pew-renting patron of literalistic religion—are, with success, ridiculing the forces of reactionary politics, with the help of Wal-Mart and, uh, believe it or not, NASCAR.

There may be a setback before it is over—the governor of Arkansas may ignore Wal-Mart and NASCAR and every other objector and sign the discriminatory law passed by his legislature—but I can confidently say that secularism will win this important game.

And, as I said back in October, that means the American experiment is working.

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[photo credit @seamonkey237]

Come See The Results Of Right-Wing Media

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, a Columbus, Ohio, Democrat, is undecided about whether she will vote for health care reform.  Outside her district office, this is what she faced, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch:

The kind of anger that would make these conservatives—yes, they are conservatives; what else could they be?—behave in such a way is a product of months and months of right-wing media feeding hate and fear to soul-starved people.

On Chris Matthews’ show, I listened to Mike Pence meekly condemn what he saw on this video, even as he made the case that it just shows how angry people are out there.

I can’t believe I share a planet with such people, not to mention a country.  

House Republicans No Match For Obama

President Obama, during the Q&A part of his visit today to the House Republican retreat, explained to Republicans that their use of damaging rhetoric about him in front of their constituents back home—such as claiming that his crazy policies and plans would “destroy America” or that the health care reform bill was part of some kind of “Bolshevik plot“—made it nearly impossible for them then to turn around and work with him on anything, even if they happen to agree on it.

In other words, if Republicans paint Obama as the Devil, then claim that they want to work with him, they are in effect saying they want to make a deal with the Devil.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think that would play well in the Bible Belt, which, of course, is why Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, have no intention of “working” with the President. 

I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen the event, which ran about an hour and a half, to check it out here or here.  Or read the transcript here.  It was quite unusual, and I have never seen anything like it.

Obama, as usual, was very impressive, not just with his teleprompter-less answers and his understanding of all of the issues raised, but he also impressed with his commitment to get things done.  And surprisingly, he demonstrated a strong willingness to call out Republican questioners who asked questions that were clearly designed to fit nicely in a campaign ad against Democrats back home.

And, of course, after the event was over, Republican leaders were on the tube in full partisan mode.  I doubt if Obama had left the building before Mike Pence was waving around a copy of the Republicans’ policy book, which was featured prominently during the event.

So, here we go again.

UPDATE: Less than an hour after the event, Congressman Trent Franks* from Arizona was on television repeating the Republican line that Obama’s domestic policies will ruin the country and his national security policies are a terrorist’s dream. However, Mr. Franks did manage to say that Obama was “articulate” and that he didn’t think that in his “heart” he meant to do such things.

Well, I guess that’s an improvement.

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*Congressman Franks represents a district in Arizona that although geographically widespread, actually comprises largely conservative voters living in the western suburbs of Phoenix.  Anyone who has ever been to those suburbs can easily understand that Democrats aren’t likely to be wildly popular there. So, what motivation does Mr. Franks have to be bi-partisan, when he would be thrown out of office in 11 months, if he were to try it? 

Men Of Constant Sorrow

Lest anyone think that conservative Republicans have not been consistent in their fear-mongering over the years regarding the encroachment of “socialism,” here are a few selections from Rep. Mike Pence’s article lamenting his own party’s plans to provide a prescription drug benefit to seniors back in 2003:

Not only is the need for a universal public subsidy questionable, adding a universal drug benefit to Medicare may have certain unintended consequences. Namely, seniors with private coverage from a former employer may actually lose their coverage. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that thousands of seniors could lose coverage they currently enjoy from a former employer if Congress creates this new entitlement.

Mike+PenceSound familiar? How about this:

The final, and most ominous, consequence of a universal drug benefit could be that it will usher in the beginning of socialized medicine in America.

Nobody said conservatives were original. They have been painfully consistent through time in their attempts to scare the dook out of old folks and their claims that government-provided benefits will lead to nasty socialism.

The truth is that Pence did concede in his article that it was okay to provide seniors “near the poverty level with urgent and sufficient prescription coverage.”

The problem is that neither he, nor any conservative, ever makes clear just how the government can do that without being open to the charge of “socialism.”

That’s called having it both ways.

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