Saturday, October 05, 2019

Great Apples!

                                ~ photo by my friend Nawrie's cousin, in her Montana garden.


  1. Robert Reich: Don’t assume the Senate would not remove Trump from office. [Click] The math for Republicans is changing; it won’t be long before none of them have to worry about primary challengers.

    The Rush to Testify is Bad News for the White House [Click] This is what I have been thinking, stated better than I have been able to.

    How paper is making a comeback [Click] Some amazing stuff!

  2. Maryscott O'Connor

    Dave Stuart has written the definitive digest history of how we got where we are:

    “Through trying to figure out how we arrived at this bizarre and challenging political moment, and also as I was trying to kill time between parent-teacher conferences today, I mapped this out. I give you: a brief political timeline of the modern United States. Settle in and enjoy.

    -We win WWII. Unless you're black or gay, things are pretty good and most people mostly like each other until Oswald (maybe) kills Kennedy.

    -Vietnam and Watergate force us to swallow some hard pills, shaking our confidence that we're really God's Favorite Nation. It's a bit like finding out that your girlfriend's ex had a slightly bigger dick than you.

    -Reagan tells us that no, we really DO have the biggest dick of all, everyone feels great, and the love is sufficient to elect him twice. At some point, Ford and Carter happen, but few seem to notice.

    -Reagan poisons the well with two incorrect, but very powerful ideas: low taxes create economic growth, and government is BAD BAD BAD. This sets his party on a slow slide to policy paralysis.

    -He's not a great president, but he's not a horrible one either. For that matter, neither was Nixon (aside from the paranoia and the destruction of Cambodia), so the country remains in reasonable shape, and Reagan has enough personal charisma to give his VP a shot at the big chair and to allow his party, who hasn't had a real hero to worship since Eisenhower, to lionize him, pinning his reputation on the board somewhere just south of Jesus Christ.

    -Bush I is twice the public servant Reagan ever thought about being, but he doesn't have the acting chops, and his largely admirable career is punctuated by a largely forgettable presidency. We still mostly like each other at this point.

    -Clinton does a kind of good job, but he lights the fuse of some bombs that're going to detonate on us 20 years down the road.

    -First, he accelerates the drug war and incarcerates an unprecedented number of Americans. Poor, mostly black communities are left unable to recover from years of segregation and the crack epidemic of the 80s.

    -Second, his economic team, led by Wall Street bottom feeders like Larry Summers and Bob Rubin, embark on a frenzied orgy of financial deregulation, excitedly dismantling all of the protections put in place after the Great Depression to keep that whole shindig from happening again.

    -Third and highly consequentially, Clinton holds power through a shiny new political strategy called 'triangulation'. Roughly translated, it means that Democrats can win if they just pretend to be Republicans. This leaves Republicans nowhere to go but far, FAR to the right, and raises a new crop of treacherous, butthole Democrats who will remain a thorn in the party's side for 20 years.

    -Around the same time, Newt Gingrich teaches Republicans that they don't have to know anything about policy as long as they win on politics. People are really starting to dislike each other now, and there's not even the veneer of cross-aisle trust.

    -Partly as a result of what I hope was the greatest blowjob in the history of civilization (otherwise, it may not have been quite worth it) Clinton is unable to hand off power to his Veep and we're left with a fake cowboy with serious daddy issues.

    -Bush 2.0 is a manageable enough dimwit until 9/11 gives him license to act out said daddy issues which he does by starting wars. Meanwhile, his new generation of Republicans, who have grown up actually believing the spin that Reagan was some sort of intellectual demigod, begin trying to outdo each other by hungrily fellating his legacy. Taxes must be LOWER. Government isn't just bad, it's EVIL. We hate each other now, but it's about to get worse because the Clintonian time bombs are about to explode.

  3. (continues)

    -Three decades of rightward drift, media echo chambers, and spiked Kool Aid drinking have rendered the reasonable Republican a thing of the past. The Democrats who invaded the political center have gotten a taste of what used to be a dish served only to conservatives: Big Money. And they like it. Hey, maybe all that 90s era deregulation wasn't so bad after all! So nobody's looking when Lehman Brothers collapses and a handful of high finance card sharks trigger a global crisis the likes of which haven't been seen since swing music was the new thing. Now everyone's living in one of those poor neighborhoods Clinton didn't help.

    2 -On the political side, Bush fatigue has dragged the Republican brand so thoroughly through the muck that the party seems to be teetering on the brink of extinction and the election of an immensely popular, unusually progressive black dude could be the final nail. Suddenly, nobody's a Republican, and nobody ever was. They're "independent". Bush who?

    -Enter Mitch McConnell, a man who, if there is any justice, will be remembered as one of the five or six worst Americans in the history of the Republic, up there with John C. Calhoun and Charles Manson. McConnell is Gingrich on crystal meth. A nihilistic parasite who, in his agonizingly long career, has hit the hat trick of destroying the integrity and function of all three branches of government. His strategy is pure scorched earth. He sets out to validate every awful thing Republicans have been saying about government since Reagan's quippy one-liner about it not being the solution to blah blah blah... It was easy to do since he worked for the government. Kind of like saying 'it stinks in here', then taking a dump on the floor to prove it.

    -Obama tries, but half the country thinks he's the literal Antichrist, egged on by the smut peddlers on Fox News and the nation proves too broken for him to fix. Republicans have, by now, degenerated into a fanatical band of Bible-stroking pirates, trying to pry loose every valuable from the ship before it sinks under their weight, and Democrats are barricaded in their office closets, wetting themselves.

    -Democrats figure Obama is popular enough that they can nominate an uninspiring, milquetoast corporatist to succeed him, because that worked out so well the last two times - just ask President Al Gore and President John Kerry, and Republicans now hate Democrats so much that they'll vote for Donald Trump, which a decade earlier would've been a bad punchline, just to keep our whiny, moralizing asses out of power.

    -It's a complete catastrophe, but the people who voted for him can't acknowledge it, because they'd lose too much face to those crybaby perverts on the Left that they hate more than they hate Hell itself. Everybody hates everybody. Everything's broken. Everybody's poor.

    -The Millennials are taking over and they don't know how to do anything because their parents spent so much time telling them they were special and gifted that they didn't have time to actually teach them anything, and they grew up so sheltered that even talking to somebody with a different opinion makes them feel dirty and scared.

    -Republicans won't stop the freakshow because they've descended to a level of cowardice surpassing even that of the Democrats. Democrats CAN'T stop the freakshow because they've had the volume on max for so long that everyone else is deaf or wearing ear plugs. No outrage is too outrageous. No low is too low. No sin cannot be forgiven [rationalized].

    -And here we all are in the shadow of a belligerent toddler with the power to kill everyone on the planet twice, which, it turns out, may not be necessary since the whole thing is burning to ash anyway. “

    hrs · Public

    1. Aside from other caveats, Stuart is clearly too young to member what things were really like in the decade or so after WW II.

    2. Thanks, Puddle. That was superb. Wish I could think, let alone write, as clearly as that.

    3. The only Dave Stuart Wikipedia knows about is the founder of Jazz Man Records, who wouldn't have been the fellow who wrote this piece, what with being dead and all. Unless it was done by spirit writing. So I probably don't need to know about him. I'd say he hits a lot of the high notes, which I like, but doesn't play the whole tune.

  4. NYT Opinion by Roger Cohen: Trump and His Henchmen in the Flames [Click] “Is this Trump’s public suicide or his genius for survival?” The author, while describing Trump’s use of Hitler’s Big Lie technique, opines that it is something new, indeed unprecedented. But it is hardly the first time that NYT writers and editors have shown they have no grasp of history. Otherwise OK. Hmmmmmm...maybe I will add the whole thing as a reply to this. Then read puddle's post.

    1. We all know President Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a map, let alone find Finland, that happy country (the world’s happiest, according to a United Nations agency) whose happiness Trump this week attributed to the following: “You got rid of Pelosi, and you got rid of shifty Schiff.”

      The Finnish president, Sauli Niinisto, was staggered. He is not alone. We have hit uncharted political territory. An unstable president has lurched under the pressure of an impeachment inquiry into a form of madness that is either a very public suicide or some weird genius for survival. Trump is Robert De Niro, armed with a gun, in “Taxi Driver” gazing into the mirror repeating: “You talkin’ to me?”

      We are. Nixon wanted his profanities deleted from transcripts. Trump has no such qualms. He trumpets his view of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry on Twitter: “BULLSHIT.” He will not be a one-term president! That’s weak, like Carter, like Bush One! He cannot be WEAK like them! He cannot lose! It’s all an attempted “coup”!

      The White House, I hear, now operates like the 26th floor of Trump Tower during the campaign. There’s no structure or plan. There’s no war room or communications cell. People wander in and wander out, except they’re all lawyered up now, no doubt. They’re not even in crisis mode. Trump just goes out and shoots his mouth, as he has from Day 1. Like a good Mafia boss, he now has everyone complicit. They’re all in this together — Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and the rest. Since John Kelly escaped in January, Trump’s henchmen are all that’s left.

      Thanks to a whistle-blower, Trump’s attempts to get the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian-turned-politician, to investigate a rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, is now public knowledge. The United States gets this. Does it ever. This is not the double negatives and assorted convolutions of the Mueller report. This is President Pressures Foreign Leader to Find Dirt on His Political Opponent.

      Houston, we have a problem! Polls show a plurality of Americans now supporting impeachment and Trump’s approval rating sinking as low as 41 percent. He is vulnerable in several states he won in 2016, including Ohio. If he shrinks to his core unshakable support, he probably has no more than a third of the vote.

    2. So what does he do? Double down! If there’s any guiding principle it seems to be: If Trump says often enough in broad daylight that he tried to get foreign powers to interfere in our election to his benefit, how can it be wrong? “China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” says Trump, as he leaves the White House to go to Florida.

      The remark is met with justified outrage. This is abuse of power. This is abuse of foreign affairs authority. These are impeachable acts. But, guess what, everyone starts reporting and writing on what Biden and his son Hunter did or did not do in China. Trump is a mass-media magician. He got McLuhan — “the medium is the message” — without reading McLuhan.

      The term self-impeachment is now doing the rounds. As with a self-immolation, it can be hard to watch Trump’s blathering at its current crazed pitch. Can this be anything but the long-awaited and very public self-destruction of a man unfit for office? It may well be, but I am not entirely convinced.
      As always with Trump, the rational and the Cartesian bump up against his fiendish antennae for the mass hypnosis of our age. He has his finger on the pulse of the technological character of evolution — even though he knows nothing about it. Repeat something often enough, brazenly enough and aggressively enough to people dazed enough by the cacophony around them, and they will lose their bearings enough to believe anything, even that his conversation with Zelensky was “perfect.”

      There is no down range for this president. He’s too disorganized. There is only the next minute. Let’s talk Trump and golf for a minute. He likes to say, “I’m a feel player.” He’s not a believer in going to the driving range. Drop it and hit it. Fire and forget. Just hit the effing thing! Well, fire-and-forget got him to the White House, so why would he stop believing in it, even now?

      Because, if Trump could manage a glimpse over the towering heights of his ego, he might see that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has him in her sights. She knows he will grow madder and madder under the pressure of the impeachment inquiry. As that happens, those working-class white women and suburban housewives who voted for Trump in large numbers in 2016 may well desert him: Derangement is not really their thing. Can the 53 Republicans of the Senate be far behind?

      They are stubborn, those Republican senators. But watch one of them, Joni Ernst, being grilled at an Iowa town hall meeting recently and you start to believe that enough might defect for conviction of Trump in the Senate to be just possible. “Where is the line?” asks Amy Haskins of Manning, Iowa. “You still stand there, silent, and your silence is supporting him.”

      To which Ernst offers only evasions. The line, through all the madness, may be right here.

    3. Yes, but it's all just preaching to the quire. Folks like my dad who watch Fox News and listen to far right podcasts can't see that Trump is descending further into madness every day. They believe his poisonous lies. Even if they do constitute only a third or a quarter of the electorate, they are motivated to vote, whereas everyone else, even the leftiest of lefties, remains largely apathetic, or perhaps dazed as the author suggests. In any case, it is notoriously hard to wrangle any political animal except Right Wing Republicans. And with the DNC still run by Clintonistas rather than honest to God New Deal/Great Society Democrats, their nominee is bound to be as disastrously divisive as was HRC. So Trump will win again with his 25% of the vote, or whatever it is; never mind that the poor man should be in a secure psychiatric ward for his own protection. And if that happens, the United States as we know it will not survive.

    4. I don't think the USA is going the way of the Weimar Republic, but the next President is going to have one helluva mess to clean up; it probably can't be done in a single administration. I have hopes that the young folks will get us on the way to fixing things. First by voting in their millions--along with many others who didn't vote in 2016.

    5. So far the indications aren't bad--there has been a big surge in voter registrations.

  5. No Sign of Backlash against Dems for Impeachment Inquiry [Click] Good.

    Trump throws Perry under the bus. [Click] Pence and Giuliani weren’t enough, evidently. I think there were others (in the Ukraine fiasco), but a person can’t keep track of the players without a scorecard. Could Pompeo be next?

    Simon Tisdall: If Donald Trump goes down, he’ll try to take everyone with him. [Click]

    When a Vice President Becomes a Threat [Click] “The fragility of Mike Pence’s partnership with Donald Trump could soon be on high display.”

  6. I have been reading a collection of Ursula LeGuin short stories, seemingly experimental, and just read one from her Hainish cycle with elements that are reminiscent of certain things in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover stories. I wonder if I should read the Hainish cycle stories again, or MZB's "The Shattered Chain" and "Thendara House." All good reads.

    1. I have been a major fan of both Le Guin and MZB. Never noticed the similarity. And there's so much new stuff to read I essentially never go back to anything I have read before.

    2. Alan, Is this the collection you mentioned before? I can't quite call the title to mind... something about a fisherman? Er..."A Fisherman of the Inland Sea" perhaps? I read that when it came out, sometime in the mid '90s I think, and enjoyed it. Don't think I've read all her Hane books.

      Used to really love her, but I've gone off her lately. She made a petty and totally gratuitous slam against Engelbert in an essay I started to read over the summer, and it really turned me off. It wasn't just making fun of the name itself, as many people do, but she impugned his character and talent, something I should have thought was beneath a lady. I found it quite shocking and distressing, especially since I have greatly admired her since my teens. It may be foolish or petty of me, but I can't bring myself to read anything of hers now. Not sure when or if I'll be able to again.

    3. The things I noticed in the LeGuin short story that reminded me of Darkover related to shared consciousness/experience and the idea that if something impossible seemed to be happening, it was an illusion.

    4. Yes, that is the book, and you have the title exactly right, Cat. I have been rather put off MZB because of the apparently more and more credible personal scandals and also her terrible behavior in her last years toward Darkover fan fiction writers (one in particular), which seems to have been the result of her strokes. Her last books, in collaboration with Deborah Ross, just don't seem to be in the same league as the ones she wrote herself. But the best are ripping good stories.

  7. The Best Economic News No One Wants to Talk About [Click] “Something’s happening to wages that neither Democrats nor Republicans care to acknowledge.” The writer talks about percentage growth in wages, but doesn’t mention absolute growth. Still, it’s something.

    Top Biden Donors Gather Amid Storm Clouds [Click]

  8. 'He wants you in a mud fight': can Democrats avoid being dragged down to Trump's level? [Click] Joe seemed to have some trouble with that, but
    Senator Warren [Click] dispatched something similar with aplomb. [Suddenly I find myself reminded of the doggerel verse about Lizzie Borden…]

  9. I admit, I have a tremendous sex drive. My boyfriend lives forty miles away. Click here and Check me out i am getting naked here ;)