Friday, February 24, 2017

My Experience

I've been trying to limit my exposure to partisan reports of what's going on in America in the wake of November's  hopeless election. Though my strong sympathies lie with the left, I am making a real effort to understand the experience of the "other side," because I truly believe we cannot go on being so vastly divided.  And besides, I personally have not been subjected to any of the hate-at-large that shows up so much in the media, so I've been willing to exercise the benefit of the doubt and cut people who think differently than I an appropriate amount of slack.  

Until today.

My sisters and I were sitting in a booth in a popular breakfast place.  Our conversation turned to the topic that seems most on everyone's minds these days--the exploits of the Current Occupant and his mostly-absent family.  Being left-leaning types, we were expressing displeasure about the amount of money the taxpayers have been required to shell out to keep the Emperor and Empress in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

Somewhere in the middle of our meal, the party at the booth behind us finished their breakfast and got up to leave.  Whereupon a white, 65-ish male member of the group stopped at our table, leaned over and said with a smirk:

"I couldn't help overhearing your conversation.  And I wanted to ask...do you ladies ever discuss anything intelligent?"

I suppose anyone who reads my verbose yet mostly well-reasoned political rants on Facebook or here on this blog would think I proceeded to give the gentleman an earful of progressive debate, generously peppered with colorful language.  

But, no...  Taken aback as I was, I at least retain some vestiges of a sense of courtesy and decorum...which told me that this was neither the time nor the place to make a scene.

I looked him in the eye for a couple of seconds, and said very slowly and clearly:

"Ummmm...  GO AWAY."

And, with his smirk still plastered on his face, he straightened up and kept walking.

So there it is.  The incident that gives the lie to my carefully manufactured belief of immunity from the ugliness and rudeness in which the USA is drowning. 

But at its core, this is more a manifestation of our culture's utter abandonment of courtesy--just the basic damn manners our mothers taught us before we went to pre-school--than it is a demonstration of the gaping political divisions between us. 

Suddenly, it's not only ok to eavesdrop on a stranger's conversation, but you can and should feel free to make uninvited comments if the mood strikes you.  Especially if your views are critical of the topic.

Yes, I know the Current Occupant rode the wave of exactly that sort of behavior to victory last November. And his presence in the White House seems to have conferred a blanket blessing to its continuance and escalation.

But the condition existed well before Trump ever gave a thought to political spectacle.

Snarkness is in.  Rudeness is strength. Winners don't NEED to be polite.

From there, it's a short leap to hatred and contempt.

A leap, I'm afraid, too many of us have already made.
 




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Deal of the Century

Apparently, the theory I expressed in the previous post--about Trump and Congressional Republicans having made a pact--isn't unique to me...





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Voter Fraud


Editorial cartoon by John Branch, 2015.  I hope he doesn't sue me. 

And then there are SCROTUS' "poor loser" declarations of widespread voter fraud costing him the popular vote victory.  We know SCROTUS is our "five-year-old-in-chief."  We saw demonstrations of that aspect of his personality often enough during the campaign.  It seemed to have a particular appeal to white male members of the Republican base, the ones who whine, "Unfair!"  "Cheaters!" whenever their privilege is infringed upon; and   "Nya nya nya nyaaa nya!"  "Losers!" when that same privilege hands them a win. 
Ugh.
But I'm inclined to believe that Trump's voter fraud allegations have less to do with his kindergarten level of impulse control, and more to do with a smoke-filled-room collusion between himself and Republican legislators.  My guess is that he made a pact to provide fuel for future voter-suppression measures, in exchange for...what?  Maybe Republicans studiously sitting on their hands any time SCROTUS flagrantly defies his Constitutional restraints?  Or takes favors from foreign governments once considered enemies of the American state?
If you really want to get steamed about "voter fraud," read this post by a friend, about her experience in a voting booth in New Jersey on Election Day 2016. 
It should give you a pretty good idea of what form voter fraud might have taken last November. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conway


I have steadfastly endeavored  not to get on board the "Trump is Going Down!" train that has been rumbling around since...well, since before the election.  The very fact that Trump won gave the lie to that misbegotten wish.  How many of us were convicted, on the evening of November 8, 2016:  guilty of inhabiting a media bubble of our personal political choosing?  It was every bit as real (or unreal, as the case may be) as the bubble that burst on election night 2012; the one that had Carl Rove going ballistic on national TV when it became apparent that Obama had handily, and early on, achieved re-election.

Fool me once--shame on you; fool me twice--shame on me.  I have not been able to allow myself to hope in the direction of a Trump failure; could not deal with the prospect of experiencing that election night shock and heartbreak over and over again, every time an administration faux pas is tweeted into submission, or a plausible avenue to impeachment  is ignored by the Trump-enthralled Republican Congress.

But things have gone from bad to worse to undeniable in the first four weeks of the reign of SCROTUS (So Called Ruler Of The United States.)  As of this writing, we have seen the judicial branch step up and properly perform its Constitutional duty of holding a despotic executive in check, followed closely by the demise of SCROTUS' "Russian Connection" NSA chief, and this morning, the withdrawal of his pick for Labor Secretary.  And who can ignore the contributions of this woman to the tragi-comic unraveling of the Trump Administration?

From the day of the inauguration, Kellyanne Conway set the tone of the public face of  the Trump Whitehouse:  a bizarre alliance of sycophantic yes-men and financial allies wrapped in a gaudy veneer of red, white and blue. 



Conway appears on camera over and over again, each time spouting more flagrant nonsense than the time before.  A scant three days after the inauguration, there was the birth of the concept of  "alternative facts," on live TV, in front of god and everybody.  A week and a half later,  it was the obviously NOT spur-of-the-moment concoction of a massacre that did not happen, presented as just cause for SCROTUS' Muslim travel ban.  But institutional incompetence in the SCROTUS White House is as steadfastly ignored and thus hard to eradicate as bedbugs in a flop-house mattress.    

Either  of these heretofore unimaginable missteps, along with any one of the string of smaller fabrications and outrages emanating from Conway during the first weeks of the SCROTUS administration, would have frog-marched the offending advisor unceremoniously OUT of the West Wing and the public eye, under any other administration.  But, no.  We Americans who possess the ability to witness and judge these happenings as unworthy of the office of President of the United States, have been forced to watch with chagrin, then disbelief, then horror, as deliberate fabrication has become the accepted standard of communication for our vainglorious Chief Executive and his minions. 

We all knew Trump traditionally demonstrated no love nor use for the truth.  Possibly we held on to some vain hope that he might magically step up to the solemn duties of leader of the free world once that mantle was draped upon his shoulders.  But, again, no.  All the energy of the Trump transition team has been concentrated into dragging the position down to Trump's level, rather than helping  him rise to it.  

But last week, Kellyanne Conway crossed a line.  She went on TV and unapologetically promoted the line of products bearing the name of the SCROTUS' daughter.  Because retail stores were "unfairly" (as dictated by a SCROTUS tweet) dropping the line, at least in part due to customer dissatisfaction with the familial/political associations of its creator.      

According to Politico, Conway had this to say during a February 9 appearance on "Fox and Friends"--arguably Conway's favorite platform from which to disseminate her apparently limitless volumes of base-targeted misinformation.  

"It's a wonderful line.  I own some of it.  I fully--I'm going to give a free commercial here.  Go buy it today, everybody.  You can find it online."

This was not an ambiguous utterance pounced upon and spun by hopeful left-wing Trump detractors.  It was an unadulterated and pure, obvious and in-your-face, confidently defiant promotion of the first daughter's products.  On national television. 

And it was also a flagrant violation of ethics rules governing the conduct of employees of the executive branch of government. 

From the Office of Government Ethics website , the exact section which deals with government employees using their offices to promote products or services:      

Subpart G contains...provisions designed to ensure that employees do not misuse their official positions. These include:

·         A prohibition against employees using public office for their own private gain, for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom they are affiliated in a non-Government capacity, or for the endorsement or any product, service, or enterprise...
Conway was confident that she could appear on the air and say anything and not be held accountable.  Certainly the experience of her first nineteen days as the administration's personal fake news generator had indicated as much.  But she might just have underestimated the tolerance of the American people; might have dipped her toe just a little too far into the waters of unchallenged deceit.  She evidently failed to consider an episode that had transpired a little more than month prior to her on-air Ivanka plug, even before her illustrious boss had ascended to the throne. 

That would be the early January high jinks of the Republican Congress, to wit, their attempt at an under-the-radar assault to render powerless their own ethics watchdog.  Which, wonder of wonders,  bore some unintended consequences.  When the Congressional plan was uncovered,  public outcry  caused Congress to quietly sweep the proposal under the rug, as if it had never happened.  We The People demonstrated there are things up with which we shall not put; and, mystifyingly, the official annihilation of at least an appearance of an ethical code for our elected officials is one of those things.  Even the SCROTUS-elect accurately sniffed the direction of the winds of public opinion on that one, and managed to churn out a disapproving tweet directed toward Congress.   

It would seem that ethics violations are a sticky wicket for the American people.  And yet, though Conway has not been able to spin and dance away from the Ivanka promo, the wheels of discipline are painfully slow.  It took OGE director Walter Shaub four days to churn out a weak non-threat to the White House Defense Counsel:

 "Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted." 

Oh, please!  "Reason to believe"?   What is ambiguous about this violation?  What's not to understand about Conway's meaning?   It was a commercial.  She SAID it was a commercial.  Were we not listening?  Are the rules vague and difficult to understand?  Hell, no!  It's right there in black and white, on the Ethics Office's very own website.  If I can look it up, anyone can.  The rules were broken.  Big time.  Discipline her.  Now.     

And where are our new and improved Trump-bitten mainstream media on this one? You know-- the outlets that have claimed to have "redoubled" their efforts into investigative journalism, for the sake of a well-informed electorate?  I suppose redoubling zero still amounts to zero.  Where is the outrage, the "off with her head!" that should be reverberating across the media bandwidth?   Does that still only apply to manufactured scandals nefariously churned out and endlessly prolonged in the interests of the 1% (who by some estimates, own 90% of American media outlets)?

It does seem that the tide could be turning against Conway and her blatant Faux-news persona.  Coverage of  the administration's eroding trust in Conway's performance is slowly creeping onto the pages of  "impartial" media outlets, like the Washington Post and the New York Times.  She may indeed have put her foot in it once and for all.  Is she on her way out?  I wouldn't bet the farm on it, yet. 


As I was formulating this essay in my mind, trying to puzzle out the madness behind the stubborn persistence of Conway and her normalization of deliberate untruth, all I could think was, "Why in the hell are we still seeing this woman on TV?"  Witness the Sunday morning talk show circuit as recently as this past weekend, where she was booked on every program as the administration's spin doctor regarding the Flynn debacle.  Really?  What fascination do the media--particularly video media--have with this lying sack of crap?
And then,  I came across the following video.  It explains so much about Conway and her slimy ability to change any question by any interviewer to fit her own narrative--a talent obviously prized by the SCROTUS administration.  The video is quite instructive, but the golden nugget is in the last seconds of Ezra Klein's narration:   




“Just remember,” he says.  “She’s just doing her job.  It’s the news shows that keep booking her that are letting you down.”



THAT is the understatement of the century.

Well, I guess they couldn't say it was because she is a clueless, lying sack of crap...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hail to the SCROTUS!

A few posts back, I made the promise that I would only refer to the Orange Abomination by my favorite name for him, coined by a disenchanted Republican strategist during the primaries:  Cheeto Jesus.  Ah...such an apt appellation!  The coloring is certainly spot-on.  And the mindless, sheep-like adulation of clueless millions brought to mind a modern-day messiah-type personage.  It was perfect!  I grabbed on to it and have wielded it freely since last summer. 

But ...I have Christian friends.  Christian friends whom I respect...in fact, a couple of them are ministers.  It can't have been easy for any of them to be confronted with such an unappealing metaphor involving the object of their sacred devotion.  I'll admit, I did cringe when using the offending moniker where those friends might be likely to come across it.  Since I really have nothing against Jesus, and I rather like Cheetos...why insult THEM

But nothing else seemed quite the right combination of accurately descriptive and blatantly disrespectful. 

Until today, when this meme fell like manna from heaven:


Perfect. 

Just...absolutely perfect.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Goodbye, Mr. B.!


We step out of the used appliance store on River Road in Eugene, make our way back to our car parked by the street.  Husband looks out into the road...
"Uh-oh!  Kitten!"
A small tiger kitten, maybe twelve weeks old, is trying to make his way across the five-lane street which, luckily, isn't very busy this time of day.
Frozen in horror at the prospect of the little guy's imminent demise, we gape...until a young man on a bike swoops into the picture, scoops up the kitten, rides over and hands him to me. 
"Is this yours?"
"He is now."
Yes, he was probably somebody's.  Yes, he was wearing a collar (with no I.D. on it.)  But I came to the swift and unwavering conclusion that anyone who would leave a baby outside where he could end up alone in the middle of a five-lane road did not deserve to have an animal and was not getting him back from me. 
Home he went, with us.  And with us he stayed.   For almost twenty years.
 
 
The naming process was interesting, as it generally is in our household. 

"He's a cute little booger," my husband kept saying, with a mischievous gleam in his eye.

I put my foot down.  "No.  We are NOT calling him 'Booger.'"

We named him Bart instead.  After Bart Simpson.

But, of course, he had nicknames.  "Uh-oh Kitten" stuck for the rest of his life.  And there was "La-boy," because the little noise he emitted when he wanted your attention came out sounding like, "La!"   I called him "B" or "Mr. B."  But mostly he was Bartie.  Our boy, Bartie.

 
In his youth, he attached himself to Spritie--our boisterous, in-your-face cat-in-charge of the household in those days.  Sprite tried to show him the ropes, tried to mold him in his own image of flamboyant felinity; but though Bartie was devoted to Sprite, he never quite took up that torch.  Bartie was a pretty boy, and sweet...  He really had no bad habits, other than his tendency to bite his brother Beaker's ear when they were milling around our feet at dinner time. 
 
 


In 2007, when Spritie died, Bartie took on the mantle of elder statesman of the "herd."  And he wore that distinction for ten years...almost to the day.  Plagued with chronic digestive and tooth problems, his last two years were kind of rocky, but he just kept going, and going, and going.  We pampered and petted him, pureed his food for him, laid a cushion or a blanket on every seat in the house for him... In the end, he energizer-bunnied his way almost to his twentieth birthday.  His final decline was surprisingly swift.  In two days, he went from his normal  (though old and frail) self to too weak to walk.  I sat beside him Monday afternoon...tried to talk him into going.  But he was stubborn.  So stubborn.  I imagine that's how he got to be as old as he was.  He was sticking around until he couldn't hang on anymore, by golly.
Of course, we couldn't let that happen.  It didn't make sense.  So we gave him that gentle final nudge, sent him on his way back to the Spirit of Creation last night.     
We will miss you, Mr. B!  But, oh...you're free now!  Run to the light, be part of the stars!   
  
       

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Not Getting Past Anything

Trump is driving us all so crazy, we don't know whether to shit or go blind.  Three weeks of Trump administration have been so outrageous that there isn't a clear place to START trying to get rid of him.  And Congressional Republicans have suddenly completely capitulated to his will.  We all know they are a group of 1%-er assholes driven by greed and power-hunger.  But, honestly, I would have thought there were at least a handful who would hold out against this outrageous mess of a Chief Executive we are saddled with.  But...not so much.

And I'm still so angry at self-righteous progressives who continue to declare that Trump's victory was not THEIR fault.  Even Jill Stein, in an interview with Salon, spent a lot of time and energy polishing up her blamelessness in this fiasco.  I'm willing to concede that Trump is not Stein's fault; it was merely her existence that provided an outlet for holier-than-thou progressives who couldn't sully themselves by casting a vote for the more qualified and less deadly--by a factor of thousands--major party candidate.  Stein, her party, and her platform were not a choice.  They were a non-choice.  But the poisonous Bernie-backers STILL insist that if Sanders had been the candidate, he would have mopped the floor with Trump.    

Let's look at that for a moment, folks.  Bernie Sanders was only a Democrat when he decided to run for president. Prior to that, and again now, he was/is an independent. Purposely distanced from the Democratic party in order to keep his seat in a purple state. I get that. I like(d) Bernie Sanders. But I don't wonder why the DNC and the Democratic party at large was not all that willing to throw their support behind a candidate who only declared allegiance to the party when it suited his agenda.

Bernie wanted to avail his campaign of the financial and networking advantages, not to mention the national stage, associated with the Democratic Party. I get that, too. But to all the folks who are still insisting that Bernie was the second coming and he would have beaten Trump...I have to ask: Why didn't he run as an independent? If he would have taken out Trump so handily, he should have been able to do so whether backed by the Democrats or not. We'll never know, because he didn't give it a shot. That's on HIM, not on the Democrats.

So shut the fuck up, already.  We have enough problems without you and your weak "I told you so's."