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Where are the purists when you need them?

At the moment it really looks like the Democrats may do well in November, but we have to bear in mind that we’re talking about the Democrats, who have an affinity for losing. To quote a character from the Firesign Theatre, “sometimes I think they do it on purpose”. No one has documented the misdeeds of the party better than the folks at Down with Tyranny, and today they make a good point.

The Senate is looking much more difficult to win than the House, and it is only common sense that we should do everything possible to preserve the seats we have, but…

New Jersey has a completely different nightmare brewing for the Democrats. It is not a swing state; it’s a pretty safely blue state with a PVI of D+7. Hillary beat Trumpanzee there, winning their 16 electoral votes 2,148,278 (55.45%) to 1,601,933 (41.45%). So in 2012 Menendez, always a shady character but before the most recent scandals that rocked the politics of New Jersey, beat Republican Joe Kyrillos 1,987,680 (58.9%) to 1,329,534 (39.4%). Should be a safe seat, right? And it would be– except for Menendez, who is adamantly refusing to resign.

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran asked his readers to “try to envision Sen. Robert Menendez trying to manage his daily calendar when he’s juggling his second trial on corruption charges with his campaign for re-election. Will he march in parades? Or will he attend the trial every day to save his neck?” He points out how dangerous– actually he said “ridiculous”– it is “in the Trump era, when a single Senate seat can tip the balance of power.”

New Jersey voters haven’t sent a Republican senator to Washington for half a century, and with Trump soiling the brand so badly, Democrats could win by picking a name out of the phone book.

Their only chance to lose this seat is to do exactly what they are doing– rallying around Menendez with a unanimity that virtually ensures he will win the primary race on June 5, provided he’s not sent to prison first.

Sure, the Supreme Court has legalized bribery, but it’s not at all clear that the ruling applies to Democrats. It’s fairly clear that the trial judge has his or her doubts on that score.

Where is the Kristen Gillibrand analog who will rise up in the Senate, or even in a caucus, and urge Menendez to retire for the good of both the party and the country? He may not be convicted, given the impediments to proving bribery, but there’s really no question that what he did was grossly improper. In fact, the case against him is far stronger than the case against Al Franken, who was railroaded out of a seat from a state no longer as safely blue as it was, and certainly not as blue as New Jersey. We have a zero tolerance policy toward sexual impropriety (nothing Franken did, or is alleged to have done, comes close to abuse, harassment, or misuse of his position) while we apparently have an infinite tolerance policy for bribery, so long as the bribes are thinly disguised as gifts between friends. The Democrats would risk nothing by getting Menendez to step aside, yet they’re doing nothing to make that happen. If the Democratic brain trust were consciously trying to figure out a way to lose, which we at least have to hope they are not, they could not improve on their current strategy.

No one can make me watch

Tomorrow night we will see if the Very Stable Genius can act presidential, which he can prove merely by reading from a teleprompter without wetting his pants or foaming at the mouth. Wedo not yet know whether he will meet the challenge, but if he does, we can expect that the New York Times and its ilk will be proclaiming that a new day has dawned. Needless to say, Obama, even George Bush, proved nothing about themselves by being able to read from a teleprompter. In fact, if memory serves, Obama was mocked for doing so.

Luckily I have no television, though I know that if I looked hard enough, I could find it streaming on the internet. But, why should I do so when my feelings on the subject are a little like this ladies’:

Here’s hoping that Joe Kennedy, and particularly Jimmy Fallon get better ratings than the genius. We await Sarah Huckabee’s lies on that subject.

Credit where due: a friend posted this great cartoon on his Facebook page. I think it speaks for millions.

A golden bowl for the very stable genius

If I were a clever, or even just prolific, tweeter, I’d simply tweet this, but as I’m not, I’ll pass it along on this humble blog. The Guggenheim has probably earned itself millions of dollars in donations:

The Washington Post’s Paul Schwartzman reports that the first family asked the Guggenheim Museum to loan an 1888 Vincent Van Gogh, “Landscape with Snow,” to install in the White House. The museum’s curator declined the request but came back with a counteroffer: How about a solid gold toilet?

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan created the piece, titled “America.” The artwork — which also happens to be a fully functional, flushing toilet — opened for public use in a fifth-floor restroom at the Guggenheim in September 2016.

A curator for the Guggenheim, Nancy Spector, told the White House’s Office of the Curator that the Van Gogh was en route to an exhibition in Spain, according to the Post.

So rather than suggest another painting from its collection, the museum proposed something quite different. “Fortuitously,” Spector wrote in an email obtained by the Post, “America” was available after being “installed in one of our public restrooms for all to use in a wonderful act of generosity.” The September 15 email also explained:

The artist “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” wrote Spector, who has been critical of Trump. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”

This reminds me of a recent incident at New London’s Garde Theater, when it posted this sign:


I’ve heard since that the Garde got donations from all over the world. I sent one myself. I have to confess I almost never go there, but I’m thinking of changing that as well. Anyway, it’s good to see institutions like this joining the resistance.

Warren’s future

This morning’s Boston Globe has a front page article about a problem Elizabeth Warren will have if she runs for president. She will have to defend her claim to Indian heritage, a claim she apparently made based on what she’d been told as a child.

The Globe eludes the fact that this can only be an issue if the media, other than Fox, which preaches to its choir, echo and re-echo right wing talking points about what truly is a non-issue. The Globe found someone to tell them that this is exactly what it and other media outlets will do:

“She’s saddled with it,” said Jeff Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University who has closely followed her rise.

He predicted that, if she runs for president, her claims to Native American heritage will be picked over on conservative websites and the issue will bubble over into questions at her news conferences.

If you don’t think they’ll beat this to death, I submit into evidence Hillary’s emails, and the endless stories about this non-issue in the non-Fox media.

Yet that same media has pointed out (once is enough, we won’t hear it again) that the Very Stable Genius probably knowingly lied about his own heritage.

According to multiple reports from The New York Times and the Boston Globe and a biography, Trump’s father repeatedly sought to conceal the fact that he was the son of German immigrants.

Fred Trump sought to pass himself off as Swedish amid anti-German sentiment sparked by World War II. According to the biography “The Trumps: Three Generations that Built an Empire” by Gwenda Blair, Fred Trump denied knowing German and did not teach it to his children.

In his book, “The Art of the Deal,” Donald Trump reaffirmed the myth of his family’s origins, writing that his father’s father came to America “from Sweden as a child.”

In reality, Fred Trump’s father, Friedrich Trump, immigrated to the United States from the German city of Kallstadt as a teenager in 1885.

It is minimally possible that the Very Stable Genius was simply repeating what he’d been told as a child, but that seems far more unlikely in his case than in Warren’s. But, because he is both Trump, who is expected to lie, and a Republican, and therefore permitted to lie, it is impossible to believe that the media would ever confront him ( which it has not done to date), as the Globe expects Warren to be confronted, with this lie, which, in light of his attacks on Warren, is generously mixed with hypocrisy. It is not just Trump who is immune from such media confrontation. Just as there is no Trumpism, only Republicanism, so there is no Trump only memory hole treatment for lies; that’s a treatment all Republicans get.

Hypocrisy that knows no bounds

Apparently the Hannity fed right wing is in the middle of another anti-Obama fever dream:

Sean Hannity says that Robert Mueller’s investigation is “over.” Instead, everyone should be emptying cells at Gitmo to handle President Obama and his cohorts because Republicans are shocked, shocked to find that “Donald Trump was right all along.” They have landed the definitive evidence that Obama “illegally wiretapped” Trump in the worst scandal ever.

What is that evidence? The dreaded FISA memo.

Several GOP lawmakers told Fox News earlier Thursday afternoon that the alleged abuses detailed in the four-page memo are “shocking.”

This memo, which is apparently fluttering through a thousand Republican hands—all of which have left #ReleaseTheMemo tweets on Thusday morning—somehow remains … unreleased. That’s also shocking, considering that the the abuses here “far bigger than Watergate.”

Republican Representative Mark Meadows can barely hold back the tears …

“It’s troubling. It is shocking,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told Fox News. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”

Of course if the memo really said what they are asking us to infer, they would release it in a second. There’s simply no question about that.

But I’m here to talk about hypocrisy, not mendacity (you can tell by the title of the post).

These are the same people who just voted to legalize spying, without warrant or probable cause, on the communications between any American citizen and a foreign national. It is a more than regrettable fact that a goodly number of Democrats voted for this violation of our rights, but it was nonetheless an action spurred on by and virtually unanimously backed by Republicans. I know that hypocrisy is what we’ve come to expect from these people, but it should not go un-noted.

More on “shithole”

I spend a lot of time playing *Words with Friends* with my brother-in-law, who lives in France. If you play the game you know that, unlike in Scrabble, if you play a word that isn’t a word, you simply get to try again, without losing a point. Also, the game has a built in dictionary which you can query to determine if a combination of letters is a valid word. You’d be surprised to know that there are a lot of letter combinations that are considered valid words, though the dictionary goes on to say that it “cannot provide a definition at this time”, often because they aren’t really words (at least when my brother in law plays them; it’s an entirely different story when I’m the beneficiary of the game’s largesse).

Anyway, the folks at Zynga, the game’s makers, are going to have to do some quick updating, since it turns out that *shithole* “is not a valid Words with Friends word”. Lest you think they are merely being prudish, rest assured that *fuck*, *shit*, and *shat* are perfectly acceptable, among many others. This oversight on their part is a particularly bitter pill for me, since as I write I have most of the letters required to make *shithole* in my hand. Ah well, life is full of disappointments.

UPDATE: To illustrate my point a bit, my brother in law just scored 83 points playing *zonula*, which the game helpfully explained was a valid word thought it abjectly apologized for not having a definition available at this time. Makes you wonder how they could possibly miss *shithole*.

Worth pointing out

RE: this shithole remarks.

Trump wants more people from Norway to emigrate to the United States. Shouldn’t the media be pointing out that you’d have to be half crazy to do something like that? Why would anyone rather live in the US than Norway? Well, climate maybe, but who wants to live in Florida, and anyway, it will be underwater soon.

Are the Democrats ready for this?

Everyone’s talking about a blue wave in November, but everyone seems to forget how the Democrats have excelled at the fine art of losing. There are a couple of things that you can count on during this election season, and my question is: are the Democrats planning for them.

First, and I confess I’m not sure what can be done about it, is the probability that the Russians will interfere in our election yet again. They did it before, in multiple ways, and there’s every reason to think they’re planning on doing it again. I just read an article that asserted as much, but unfortunately, forgot to save its link. But I don’t think I need proof to assert such an obvious fact.

Here’s another thing we can predict with confidence. During the campaign multiple women will step forward alleging sexual harassment by Democratic candidates. Whether their allegations are true or false, they will have been sought out by, and pushed forward by, Republican operatives. Given the current consensus that we must believe any and all allegations, and that any transgression, no matter its nature, deserves the political death penalty, we may see many of our candidates taken out at the last minute. After all, we are the party of consistency, and if we did it to Al Franken, we must do it to anyone accused. It matters not that we risk trading a Franken for a Bachman. It is better than even money that sexual harassment is more widespread on the right, but it’s unlikely that the Democrats will mount a similar operation, so their harassers will skate free.

I would say there’s a 90% chance this will happen, and that the groundwork is being laid now. I’m just getting this on the record so I can say I told you so.

They must be cruel rather than be kind

One of the things I like about Paul Krugman is that he totally steers away from blaming our current state of affairs on Trumpism, and puts the blame squarely where it belongs: the Republican Party. This morning’s column, in which he castigates Republicans for their predilection for inflicting pain on the poor is a good example. In this case, he points out that the Republican drive against health care is truly more about inflicting pain than saving money. Along the way, he states:

Second, there’s the issue of work requirements for Medicaid. Some states have been petitioning for years for the right to force Medicaid recipients to take jobs, and this week the Trump administration declared that it would allow them to do so. But what was driving this demand?

The reality is that a vast majority of adult Medicaid recipients are in families where at least one adult is working. And a vast majority of those who aren’t working have very good reasons for not being in the labor force: They’re disabled, they’re caregivers to other family members or they’re students. The population of Medicaid recipients who “ought” to be working but aren’t is very small, and the money that states could save by denying them coverage is trivial.

The policy in question supposedly requires the able bodied to work, and grants benefits to the disabled. Something Krugman didn’t mention is the fact that the states in question get to define what is able bodied, and I can tell you, based on over 20 years of representing disabled people (or is it 30, we geezers have bad memories) that lots of people who you, I, or any right minded person might consider disabled will be deemed able bodied. After all, if the point is to be cruel, as Krugman rightly alleges, why stop at denying benefits to the undoubtedly able bodied when you can declare anyone you like to be able bodied and deny a whole slew of people.

I won’t bore you with war stories, but I can tell you that right now, even in the federal disability system, cruelty reigns. I should add that one relative bright spot is the state run SAGA system. I can’t begin to count the number of people deemed disabled by the folks running that system that were deemed able bodied by the sadistic administrative law judges holding court in Connecticut nowadays. There’s no reason to think the states clamoring for work requirements will do anything but deny benefits to disabled people in huge numbers.

Sound like anyone you know of?

So, yesterday I started watching some lectures I got from the Learning Company. The course is called An Introduction to Formal Logic.The first lecture is an introduction to the course, and the lecturer spends the time disabusing his students of any notion that man is an essentially rational creature. In all sorts of ways we have tendencies to behave irrationally. It often takes some effort to behave rationally. The tendency toward groupthink, for example, is quite strong. We often actually talk ourselves into believing things we know to be untrue, provided the members of a group of which we are a part believe it. Sound like any group of people the New York Times can’t get enough of? (See my previous post.)

But I digress.

Among the various logical fallacies into which many of us fall, one sort of struck me as pertinent today. Here’s the description from the course book:

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the name given to the fact that the less people know about an area or how to do something, the more likely they are to overestimate their ability to do it or understand it. The more ignorant we are, the more brazen we are in our belief about our abilities and knowledge.

Sound like any very stable geniuses you know of? If not, here’s a hint:

President-elect Donald Trump said he doesn’t need intelligence briefings every day because he is “a smart person” and doesn’t “have to be told the same thing in the same words” every day.

In an interview on Fox News that was taped Saturday and aired Sunday, he was asked about reports that he is getting the presidential daily intelligence briefing only about once a week rather than every day.

“I get it when I need it,” Trump said. “These are very good people that are giving me the briefings … You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years … I don’t need that. But I do say, ‘If something should change, let us know.'”

The above was somewhat randomly selected, but you get the picture.

I think the course was recorded long before the Age of the VSG, as it’s hard to believe there wouldn’t at least have been a veiled reference to him otherwise. How could any rational person withstand the temptation?