TOO EARLY TO BE DRINKING? – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Isn’t it too early to be drinking? by Garry Armstrong


I heard these lines recently in a movie. They made me laugh.


“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” he said.
“No,” she said. ” I’m awake.”

The line had stayed with me many years after the laughter faded, replaced by memories of work, reporters, bars, and pubs from New York to Saigon.

As a reporter, I covered Presidential politics from 1962 to 2001. From JFK to Bush, Jr. As a newbie reporter, I saw veteran correspondents fueling up with multiple Bloody Marys as we began our day on the political or campaign trail. I was impressed. During my rookie year, I summoned up enough courage to question one famous reporter who had begun his career working with Edward R. Murrow. He was on his third Bloody Mary — in one 10-minute period.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” I asked, slowly and politely.

The veteran reporter who’d covered FDR, World War II in the trenches, and the McCarthy Hearings, among other assignments. He looked at me for a long moment, then finished his drink.

“Is it too early to be drinking?” he repeated my question and ordered another Bloody. “No, I’m awake!”

I shook my head in amazement and admiration. He was clearly fortifying himself for the day to come. It would be another long day on the road. Cold, dreary, and filled by interviews with people from pompous to angry to clueless when asked about election issues and the candidates.

I remember one fellow decked out in a hunting outfit, cradling a shotgun. He sneered when answering my questions. When finished, he said “Figures the media is not tellin’ the truth. A Negro askin’ me stuff about that Catholic in the White House. That’s what’s wrong with our country.”

The veteran reporter had overheard the conversation. He gave me a wry smile.

Garry-With-TipONeill

Years later, I shared the story with “Tip” O’Neill, Speaker of the House and a personal friend. He laughed so hard the bar seemed to shake. Then he looked angry for a moment, patting me on the shoulder with a huge sigh.

“Garry,” he said, “Here’s looking at you, kid!” The Political Legend smiled as we clinked glasses. “Some days, it’s never too early to start drinking,” O’Neill concluded. And ordered one more round.

I wonder about “eye-openers” for those covering last year’s Presidential race and even more about how those trying to cover “news” in this insane political year are managing.

These days, for those who still drink, maybe it really is never too early to start drinking.

PUNCTURE! TORN FROM THE HEADLINES OF THE DAILY BEAST!

Puncture? I think this is one of those.

This story is not, as far as I can tell, a joke, but who knows? Half the stuff I read online is a complete lie, a partial lie, something that once held some truth but no longer does. I haven’t seen this story anywhere but in “The Daily Beast.” Who are usually moderately accurate, with occasional wild distortions. I’m pretty sure, though, that you could call this one “puncture,” one way or the other.


Gunman Attacks Congressmen; ‘He Was Looking for All of Us’

Steve Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, was shot with several others when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice early this morning.

WRITERS: ANDREW DESIDERIO, OLIVIA MESSER – 06.14.17 8:11 AM ET

Hoax?  Maybe I should point out, per the NRA, that “it’s not guns that kill people. It’s people that kill people.” I can’t seem to bring myself to do that, so I’ll just quote from the published article.

A person, with an M-1 gun, tried to kill a bunch of U.S. reps in a small suburban ball park where they practice in the morning.

Rep. Mike Bishop was standing at home plate when the gunfire began.

“As we were standing here this morning, a gunman walked up to the fence line and just began to shoot,” Bishop told Detroit’s WWJ radio. “I was standing at home plate and he was in the third base line. He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.”

Bishop said the gunman was clearly targeting lawmakers.

“He was coming around the fence line and he was looking for all of us who had found cover in different spots,” he said. “But if we didn’t have return fire right there, he would have come up to each one of us and shot us point-blank.”

One of the congressman’s security detail returned fire and everyone survived, though five are in the hospital

Curbelo said he would be open to the idea of providing a security detail for members of Congress who gather off of Capitol ground for events like the baseball practice.

“We ought to consider trying to provide some protection, because that’s obviously a rich target for anyone seeking to kill or in any way threaten lawmakers,” he added.

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It’s a whole different ball game (pun intended) when the shooter is shooting at the lawmakers. I believe the shooter, as he was dragged away was mumbling that he wanted to “get them all.”

Scalise’s office released a statement saying he spoke to his wife before entering surgery.

“We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers,” his office said.


I sure am doing exactly that. You never know. The incident might have knocked some sense into their heads. It’s a thought.

IN TRUMP’S WORLD VOLDEMORT WINS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I get it! I finally have some understanding of Trump and his followers. It’s not pretty, but at least it’s something I can wrap my head around.

David Brooks wrote an editorial in the June 2, 2017 New York Times called “The Axis Of Selfishness”. He posits that Trump has a very dark view of humanity and the world. Trump believes that man is motivated solely by selfishness and self-interest. Life is merely a competitive struggle for gain and dominance at the expense of others.

There are only winners and losers. There is a limited amount of ‘stuff’ to be had and everyone has to try to get as much as possible for themselves. You are either on top or you are on bottom beneath someone else’s heel. There is nothing in the middle. No area of compromise, no mutual interest, no sharing, no neutral zone where people coexist in peace, prosperity and equality.

This explains a lot. He is sympatico with brutal dictators because they share his philosophy of life. And they are ‘winners’ who have come out with the most power and the biggest piece of the finite pie. It’s every man for himself, us against them, eat or be eaten, dominate or be subjugated in a dark world with no humanity or humanism.

No touchy feely stuff like morality, good, selflessness, compassion, caring, or justice enter his world. It’s as if those qualities don’t exist for him. That really is sad. If he weren’t screwing up the entire free world I might feel sorry for him — another squishy emotion that he doesn’t recognize.

If this is how Trump sees the world, his behavior almost makes sense. No wonder he’s such a dick! No wonder he’s paranoid. No wonder he thinks all Muslims are out to kill us, that Western European democracies as well as Canada and Mexico are out to cheat us, that all non wealthy, non white Americans exist entirely to mooch off everyone else — and all liberals want only to destroy him.

No wonder Trump can’t let anything go — or stop tweeting. He has to be right and everyone else must be wrong. No wonder he has to demean others. In his mind, the only way you can lift yourself up is by denigrating others.

Brooks says the problem is that Trump’s worldview is self-perpetuating. If you act aggressively, competitively, and selfishly towards all others (people or nations), they will respond to you in kind. Thus your misanthropic attitudes are confirmed and the vicious circle of the worst humanity has to offer goes around and around.

The rest of us acknowledge the existence of greed and venality, but we believe social evolution pushes mankind to be cooperative, empathetic, idealistic, loyal, and righteous. We believe humanity is designed to strive for these ideals in our personal and public lives. We can see the wonderful world we can make if we work together and care for one another.

In our world, Harry Potter beats Voldemort every time. In Trump’s world, Harry Potter is a minor character with little power or even influence. Voldemort is the undisputed king.

I don’t want to live in that world! Neither does most of America.

We have to hope the people who share our better view of life can muster the strength needed to banish Orange Voldemort’s darkness, and bring back America’s light. We have to fight to reinstate compassion, decency, justice, and right as the guiding forces for America.

EXPELIO TRUMPUS!

IMAGINE, IF YOU WILL …

It’s only a paper moon …

Imagine, if you will, living in your native land. It’s a country where one terrible president can somehow undo the work of all forty-four presidents who preceded him! Where suddenly, you and your nation are not the “good guys.” The world has a darker hue … and it’s only 124 days (or something close to that).

Is this some kind of record?Imagine seeing years of vigilance in combating racism and discrimination vanish like smoke before your eyes.

Decades of fighting to reach any accord to deal with the frightening effects of climate change, then seeing them tossed overboard for no  reason. Imagine a president who not only encourages a foreign power to hack our elections, but is subsequently subject to blackmail by the same Russian. In public. On television.

And all of this in fewer than five months since election! Hard to imagine? So now, just imagine how we feel about it!

Trump’s Paris betrayal: the stupidest decision of the 21st century.

I don’t often write blog articles with the sole purpose of commenting on news items, but as a decision today by President Donald Trump deeply implicates climate change–without a doubt the most serious problem facing every American and every person on earth right now–I felt I couldn’t let it go by without at least a few words. My academic expertise is in the history of climate change, I’ve taught courses on the history of climate change (and wrote about them, here and here), and most post-academic career involves climate change, so I believe I’m qualified to speak on the subject.

Trump’s decision to abrogate the Paris climate change accord, at least where the United States is concerned, is not merely a strategic misstep (though it is), a betrayal of American trust and power in the world (which it is), and an immoral surrender to fossil fuel economic interests that seek to destroy their own children’s future for short-term gain (which is beyond all doubt). It is also abysmally stupid: uninformed, a decision born of ignorance and deliberate misunderstanding, and yet another hallmark of the total incompetence with which Trump approaches a job that’s simply far too complex for him to understand or to do well.

John Kerry, seen here arriving in Paris in November 2015 to negotiate the climate accord, pledged the United States’s trust and goodwill to the world by signing the treaty. Trump has destroyed that trust.

Fighting climate change is not about choosing “helping the Earth” over job security or economic prosperity for Americans. Fighting climate change is job security and economic prosperity for Americans. The private sector has already decided that fossil fuels are on their way out and the future is renewable energy. Trump’s decision means that America is jumping off this train, and it will be all the more difficult–and expensive–to try to jump back on it once Trump is out of power, which is inevitable. Why would he want to make American business less competitive? That’s exactly what this decision does.

Furthermore, the decision to back out of Paris utterly destroys any influence or power that the United States has in the world to foster international cooperation on climate change, and much else. Trump has willingly ceded that influence to China. When the United States returns to the Paris Accords after Trump is removed from power–note I say when, not if–we will have to do so upon terms of China’s choosing, not ours. Add to this the possibility that other countries will seek to punish us economically for Trump’s decision, and we have a decision that carries a host of bad consequences, and exactly zero good ones.

Meet the world’s new leader on fighting climate change–and probably almost everything else. Retreating from Paris puts China in the driver’s seat on almost every major economic and political issue today.

Because climate change has such disastrous long-term consequences, Trump’s decision today will probably go down as the single worst move of his already failed presidency. It’s probably the decision he’ll be remembered for more than any other, and for longer than any other. It’s how he will go down in history: a clueless denier, willfully blind to proven scientific reality, incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions, and who probably doesn’t care about them anyway. As a historian, I predict that few decisions of this century will ever, whether in hindsight or in the moment, look as bad as this one.

This is, however, hardly the end of America’s efforts to fight climate change. In fact, it’s the beginning. As meaningful efforts to fight climate change now shift to the state, local, private sector and international fronts, Trump has ensured mainly that the freight train of unstoppable progress toward a decarbonized world will run right over him without a millisecond’s pause. All of us who actually understand the issues surrounding climate change are riding on that train.

All images in this article are in the public domain.

Source: Trump’s Paris betrayal: the stupidest decision of the 21st century.

KNOTS, PRETZELS, AND THE PRESS – BY TOM CURLEY

It’s been fun since the election watching the right-wing press, mostly lead by Fox News, bend themselves into evermore twisty and convoluted pretzels as they try to explain the latest gaffe/scandal/complete act of idiocy coming out of the White House.

The Dunderhead-In-Chief keeps admitting he does things, like, I don’t know. Like, give up code word “intel” to the Russians. In the Oval Office. Admitting that he fired an FBI Director because he was being investigated by the FBI over his connections to Russia … to the same Russians!  You know, stuff like that.

Hey guys, the CIA just told me some really cool stuff. Wanna hear it?

His defenses all boil down to: “He can do that if he wants to, so there” and “It’s Obama’s fault!”

This is nothing new. If we’ve learned anything in the last four months it’s that no matter how crazy we think things will be, they’ll be even crazier. We also know that the SCROTUS M.O. is to distract today’s scandal with a worse scandal tomorrow.

So, the question becomes, where does he have left to go? What scandal could be worse than today’s? Wait, I got it. He actually shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to prove he wouldn’t lose any of his supporters.

SEAN HANNITY: Breaking news. President Trump just shot a man on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Secret service agents immediately pounced on the man and wrestled him to the ground.

SEAN HANNITY: Here to discuss this breaking story we have Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Kellyanne, let’s start with you.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well first off I think it’s very unfair the way the fake news media have been saying the President shot a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: But he did! He shot a guy! On Fifth Avenue! On live TV!

What the hell?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s one way of looking at it. I didn’t see the President shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. I saw the President save a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: Save him?? From what?!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Radical Islāmic Terrorism.

BERNIE SANDERS: WHAT???!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: And besides, the President was elected in the largest landslide in the history of the world. So, he has the right to shoot anybody he wants.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO HE DOESN’T!!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, he can order drone strikes. He can send troops into war. He can launch missiles. In every case, he’s killing somebody. So why can’t he just take out a gun and shoot a man?

SEAN HANNITY: Hmmm. That makes sense. Executive privilege.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO IT DOESN’T!! Well, actually, it makes a little sense … No! What am I saying??! This is still crazy! He shot a guy to prove that none of his supporters would leave him!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s ridiculous. He was saving a man from Radical Islam. Every White House aide agrees with me.

SEAN HANNITY: This just in: President Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News that he shot the man to prove none of his supporters would leave him.

BERNIE SANDERS: SEE???

SEAN HANNITY: This also just in. A recent CBS/NY Times Poll says that President Trump has not lost any of his supporters. 85 percent said, “The guy had it coming.” The other 15 percent said “The guy probably had it coming.”

And so it would go. Full confession. This idea is not new. Google “George Bush ate a baby” and “George Bush Saves a baby”.

Everything old is new again. Just dumber.

BREAKING NEWS OVERLOAD – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We’ve been shell shocked by the barrage of non-stop breaking news that’s been coming at us at warp speed. These past eight days have been a news tsunami. As soon as we started to digest the news of one day, we would get hit with another major story the next. At one point, my husband and I couldn’t remember what the crisis was only two days before! Yet, at the time, we were sure that it could never get any worse than it was then.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

This news fatigue is like information overload but on steroids and turned up to Def Con 5. Cable Newscasters are screaming at us at top volume around the clock. Everything is OMG!!!!! For our part, we’re all becoming adrenaline junkies. If there was a day without a major story to occupy our emotional and intellectual energies, we’d go into withdrawal.

We have gotten used to the 24/7 drama way too easily.

To recap the major news stories of the past eight days:

Trump fires FBI Director James Comey while Comey was investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. At first Trump’s staff said the firing was because of Comey’s treatment of Hillary Clinton in the campaign (Right!). Two days later, Trump gave an interview in which he admitted that he did it because of the Russia investigation (This smacks of obstruction of justice).

Trump invites high Russian officials into the Oval Office and bans all U.S. Press from the meeting. The event is photographed by a Russian photojournalist. (WTF?) A few days later it came out that Trump revealed TOP SECRET intelligence to the Russians. This may have compromised operatives and operations of a major ally, Israel (You’ve got to be kidding!)

Comey leaks that Trump asked him to pledge loyalty to Trump. The FBI Director swears fealty to the Constitution, not the President! (This also smacks of obstruction of justice). A few days later, Comey’s associates reveal the contents of a memo Comey wrote documenting a conversation with the President. In it, the President pressured Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia. (That IS obstruction of justice!)

For dessert, we learn that Michael Flynn told Trump’s people that he was under investigation by the FBI BEFORE he was hired by the administration. Despite that information, Trump appointed him as National Security Adviser, a high security level position. (You can’t make this shit up!)

It was exciting to live through the Watergate investigations. But then the story unfolded in slow and steady drip, drip, drips over a long period of time. People had time to digest information, regroup and brace for the next headline story. We’re living through a waterfall of stories tumbling out on top of one another onto our heads. And Trump has only been in office for four months!

Trump supporters wanted Trump to shake things up in Washington. I don’t think they realized that this meant he would put all Americans into a giant blender and turn the switch onto HIGH! If this goes on for four, or even two years, I don’t think that there will be enough PTSD Treatment Centers in the country to handle the demand!