WTF IS GOING ON? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’m so confused. I used to think I had some handle on what was going on in the news. Pretty much all bad, all crazy, all the time. But I had definite opinions on how I thought things would play out.

No more. I’m clueless now. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I was sure that no matter what Trump did or what Mueller found, the Republicans in control of Congress would not do anything to censure, let alone impeach him. I thought we would have to wait for Democrats to regain control of both houses in Congress before impeachment could even be considered. And even then, I didn’t believe that there would be enough votes in the Senate to actually convict Trump and remove him from office. So any impeachment by the House would end up being a toothless gesture.

At that point, my brain would freeze over. I had no idea what would happen next in my own scenario.

Now I’m less certain about this whole theory. I’m really not sure what will happen in the future or even later today. So much happens so quickly these days. Often out of the blue, or so it seems. Trump makes spontaneous, off the cuff policy announcements that no one in his own White House knows about or is prepared for. He often backtracks the next day. Or not! Headline news stories blare out constantly with revelations from various investigations, law suits and ethics probes involving the president and his merry band of unethical misfits.

I worry that Trump will bomb a random country and start another pointless war. I live in fear that Trump will fire Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, which would have the same effect. One minute I’m sure he’ll do it and throw the country into a major constitutional crisis with no satisfactory resolution in Republican controlled Washington. The next minute I’m sure he won’t risk the major political explosion he would trigger if he interfered with the Mueller investigation.

This perpetual uncertainty makes me very uncomfortable. I pride myself on staying informed enough to understand what’s going on in the news at any given time. I’m shaky on Mid Eastern and Far Eastern policy and economics. But I usually have a handle on domestic news and policies. I have to narrow my focus since I don’t want to spend even more time than I already do consuming news every day. I’m a slow reader so I can only cover so much territory.

Things are happening so quickly and so randomly that I can’t keep up any more. Even though I do try.

I have to admit that sometimes all the national drama can be exciting and energizing. But the crazy and the unpredictable are going into warp drive. Trump seems to be devolving and dragging us all under with him. It’s getting less and less exciting and more and more scary and insane.

I wish I could turn away from this slow motion train wreck, but I can’t. So I’ll keep reading and watching MSNBC and hope that my sanity survives longer than Trump’s does.

Robert Reich: The Meaning of America – http://robertreich.org/

HUMAN RIGHTS


Robert Reich: The Meaning of America
We are forgetting the ideals on which our nation was built.
By Robert Reich / Robert Reich’s Blog February 18, 2018, 2:33 PM GMT


When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Photo Credit: Celso FLORES / Flickr CC

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.

Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”

That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.”

That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.

It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work.


Robert Reich is the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.


Source for complete post: http://robertreich.org/

NUTS, NUT-JOBS, AND NUTTER BUTTER – BY TOM CURLEY

Back in August I posted a blog called Normal, Normalizing And Normalizing Nuts. It was about how we all have to start recognizing that our “Nut-Ball In Chief” is well, nuts.

I pointed out that it was really important the press and the media focus on this fact like a laser beam. Every story about our NBIC (I’m too lazy to keep typing Nut-Ball In Chief), or coverage of his latest NBIC Tweet should always go back to the same topic. “THIS GUY IS MENTALLY ILL!!”

I’ve said this before and I will keep saying it. When Grandpa’s mind starts to slip and he  shows signs of dementia, we take away his car keys. We hire nurses to come into his home to help him. Or we put him in a nursing home. But what is the one thing we don’t do? WE DON’T PUT GRANDPA IN THE OVAL OFFICE!!!

On the plus side, the media has been doing this more and more. There is a large group of psychiatrists and psychologist called “Duty To Warn” that are writing letters and screaming at the top of their lungs. THIS GUY IS BAT-SHIT CRAZY! They just use more medically correct language.

But I didn’t start this particular post to talk about our NBIC. I want to talk about a larger group of nut-jobs. Specifically, the nut-jobs who voted for this nut-job. Trump supporters.

Let me be even more specific. Trump supporters who still support this NBIC. I understand that on election day lots of former Obama supporters voted for him and lots of other people who felt he might “shake things up” voted for him. As far as the latter group goes, I would say an earthquake also shakes things up. That doesn’t mean I want to be around when one happens.

I get it. You had your reasons. That was then. This is now.

We know how crazy this guy is. We know how incompetent this guy is. We know how clueless this guy is. We know this guy is “A fucking moron.”  And still, 28 to 33 percent of Americans still support this train wreck??

The media has been doing something since this guy got elected which drives me crazy. No matter what he does, no matter how stupid it is, no matter how mind-boggling and horrific it is, the media always tags the story with this. “But his base still supports him.”

To this I say “SO WHAT!!!”  Because those assholes still support this jerk, everything he does is OK? Well, they say Republicans won’t do anything because they are “afraid of his base.” They are afraid of being “primaried“ by a more right-wing Republican.

Really? Has anybody noticed that most of the Republicans in office are folks who “primaried” a more moderate Republican. Most are Tea Party whack jobs. They’re all white supremacists. They defend NAZIs! Who the hell is out there who is more right-wing than the crazy bastards who are currently there???

The only thing we can do is to vote them out next year.

The other thing that drives me nuts are the constant stories about “How do we reach the Trump voter? What will it take to turn them against Trump?


I have the answer.


NOTHING. These whack jobs are lost. They believe every stupid conspiracy theory put out by the alt-right. They will never wake up. Even after they don’t get new jobs. Even after their taxes go up when rich billionaires’ taxes go down. Even when they get poorer and poorer. Even when they lose their health care.

They are lost. Forget them. Ignore them.

Try to remember this very, very important fact. THEY ARE A MINORITY!! Our NBIC lost the popular vote by more than three million votes. Almost three-quarters of the population of the U.S. DON’T LIKE THIS IDIOT. Focus on the other half of the country, the folks who didn’t vote at all. At least there’ s hope for them.

As for “the base?” You are never going to change their minds.

What a lovely couple

Or this guy.

Or this one.

Trying to reason with a current Trump supporter is like trying to teach a pig to fly. You just frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.

PS:  What does any of this have to do with Nutter Butter? Actually, nothing. I just like to write alliterative titles in threes. And I like Nutter Butter.

ARE PEOPLE REALLY THAT STUPID?

It’s not the first or the last time Garry and I will have this conversation. Really, we started having it a few years ago when we realized how many people were convinced there is no global weather change in progress. When Trump hit the ground running for office, we had a lot of trouble believing other Americans could be stupid enough to really vote for someone so obviously unqualified for the position.

When he was elected, I had to accept how many Americans are far more stupid than I imagined possible. Even all these months later, I still can’t fathom the depth of their dumbness.

Last night, on Facebook — I swear this is true — there was an article announcing all the hurricanes are man-made with laser beams. Proof? A Chinese guy with glasses said so. I got through perhaps three paragraphs before I clicked off. I’m sure millions of American morons already believe this. Somewhere, men and women are discussing how “They’ve proved it! The government is creating hurricanes so they can take over the world.”

Nothing anyone tells them will convince them otherwise.


You think I’m making it up?

Geo-engineering theorists and researchers say that Hurricane Harvey is a pretext to impose martial law  © Neon Nettle

Hurricane Harvey Exposed As ‘Man Made Weapon’ Used To Impose Martial Law   © Neon Nettle


And if that’s not enough, check out: PUTIN HAS PROOF US MADE HURRICANES WITH MACHINES.  Feel free to put your brain in cold storage and believe. You saw it on Facebook, so it must be true.

Garry commented he sees total stupidity in the vacant eyes of Trump supporters at the last rally — wherever it was. “Maybe Alabama?” he asks me.

“I think so,” I admit.

It is so hard to keep track of this stuff. Why is the president holding rallies anyway? He was already elected. How many times does he need to be elected? Isn’t once usually enough?

Garry thinks the empty-eyed, slack-jawed followers must have eaten something. Maybe they weren’t always that stupid, but something came along and stupefied them. I said I think it is because we have allowed and encouraged the mythologizing of history. A war to promote slavery becomes a sentimental cause célèbre. A battle to eliminate our Natives is suddenly a rational battle to create a “real country” as if it wasn’t “before.”

All countries do it. It isn’t just us. After some appalling event has occur, before the last blood is dry, there’s a rosy wash splashed over the occurrence. It wasn’t so bad. It doesn’t take long, either. Ten years, tops — and suddenly, everyone is saying “Oh, it wasn’t all that bad.”

An older person … a gray-haired elder stands and says “NO, no, it was terrible. I was there.” We pat him or her on the head because obviously, she or he must be senile. We know we are right because it says — right here, in this book or on the silver screen — it wasn’t bad. It was noble. It was just. It was good.

The years have marched on. As my interest in history has deepened, I have lost all patience with glorious tales of rulers and their battles. All monarchs are tyrants. All are corrupt despots. The people who follow them are no better than their rulers. They either have lost — or never knew — that when you dispose of intelligence to mindlessly follow evil, you are equally evil.

Don’t forget: somewhere today, groups of people are talking about how hurricanes are made by secret government agencies … because there are no climate changes here! When you can’t believe science, you might as well believe any deranged idea someone promotes online.

CRISP TREES AND TELEVISION TESTIMONY

A CRISP AND SHINY DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Today is one lovely early summer’s day. After all the cold and rain, this is the kind of day you hope for. It’s the first beautiful day in a quite a while.

It’s also the day James Comey — America’s former FBI Director — is giving live-on-television testimony about his relationship with America’s president. We are expecting a great television experience.

For a goodly number of us, it brings back nostalgic waves of memory for the Good Old Days of Dick Nixon and Watergate which oddly, doesn’t seem like nearly as big a deal now as it did then. Time puts everything into perspective.  I do not have my popcorn ready because it is too early in the morning for anything quite that salty and crunchy.

Later, after the Big Show, I’m sure I’ll have something more to say on the subject. Or not. It’s hard to know how I’ll feel. Later.

To keep your visually occupied,  these are some very crisp photographs I created last night while I was messing around with pictures. That’s what I do while there’s stuff on television in which I’m not terribly interested. I go through the files of pictures from the past few months to see what I’ve shot, but never did anything about.

These were originally photographs of young, leafy oak trees on a very bright day in May.

I love shooting upward towards the sun, but I’m never sure what to do with the pictures. Unless there’s a special set of clouds or birds or something, well. There are just so many pictures of leafy trees that anyone needs, so I wanted to find something different for these.

I think I would call these pictures crisp. Let me know what you think. They are a highly filtered form of line drawing or sketch. I think I like them.

ASK YOURSELF: WILL DONALD TRUMP EVER BECOME PRESIDENT? @alternet — BILL MOYERS

Ask Yourself: Will Donald Trump EVER Become President?


As our institutions bend and buckle and approach the breaking point, the president bombs Syria and is hailed by an obeisant media.

As our institutions bend and buckle and approach the breaking point, the president bombs Syria and is hailed by an obeisant media. It’s been a week now since Donald Trump once again became our president.Here’s how it happened.After he unleashed missiles on a Syrian airfield, members of Washington’s national security establishment and élite pundits swooned. Top Democrats and Republicans led the way. Good soldiers all in the military-industrial-political complex, they stood smartly at attention and saluted the commander-in-chief for sending a message to the world, although exactly what the message meant remains far from clear.

Photo Credit: Peter K. Levy/Flickr

The headline above Glenn Greenwald’s story at The Intercept summed up the response: “The Spoils of War — Trump Lavished with Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria.” The hawkish Hillary Clinton, who long had been critical of Barack Obama for not bringing Bashar Assad to heel, “appeared at an event” — and this was before the bombing even happened! — “and offered her categorical support for what Trump was planning.”

Up in the choir loft, the media and pundits sang as one from the official hymnal, praising Trump’s “presidential moment” and transforming him from a pathetic dunderhead suffering from narcissistic personality disorder into the Lord of Hosts. It was CNN’s Fareed Zakaria who pronounced the decision to fire away as the “big moment” when “Donald Trump became president of the United States.”

The theatrics were perfect. The Pentagon shopped to the media a video of the missiles as they were lofted up and away. MSNBC’s Brian Williams was among those moved by the aesthetics of violence: “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two Navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

When I heard those words, I thought back to that night in 2003 when another president lit up the skies over Baghdad with the “shock and awe” of his air attack on Iraq. Suddenly the press was talking about George W. Bush as if he were George Washington, George Marshall and George Patton rolled into one. A touch of George III came later, as our newly refurbished president donned a flight suit and strutted aboard the aircraft carrier with the banner behind him that read: “Mission Accomplished.” Not quite.

Then a more recent scene and another miraculous moment came to mind, from six weeks ago — Feb. 28, to be exact. Donald Trump spoke to a joint session of Congress. He paused, pointed to the balcony and recognized the widow of the Navy SEAL who was killed during a raid on an alleged terrorist compound in Yemen, the very first military mission dispatched into harm’s way by the brand-new commander-in-chief himself.

That mission went badly, so much so that at least two dozen local civilians, including women and children, were killed. Trump did not mention them. He focused on honoring the grieving widow in the balcony who was trying, unsuccessfully, to hold back her tears as wave after wave of applause rolled across the House chamber and ricocheted from wall to wall.

There’s much more to read at: Ask Yourself: Will Donald Trump EVER Become President? @alternet

DRIP. DRIP. DRIP.

Everything is on the table now, from resignation of the president on down. Discoveries that contact with the Russians took place far earlier than previously suspected throws a whole new layer of potential guilt on the administration.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Flynn wants immunity. If he gets it, he’ll sing like a bird. He might sing like a bird anyway. There is a credible rumor that himself has opened the resignation option. Apparently should Flynn give it up, the president’s future is not bright. But he will want immunity too. Lots of immunity hanging on the wires.

So many people, including Kushner, seem to have been involved with Sergey Kislyak. This is all about how many of SCROTUS’ cronies were “chatting” with Kislyak. When. What were they saying. In case you aren’t clear who’s who in this mess, Sergey Kislyak is likely Russia’s biggest spymaster. Not a nice guy.

trump_nixon-800x430

This is about how much the Russians knew. How they knew it. And how much involvement did the Republican party have in the Russians knowing it. Was there collusion on the part of the president and his cohorts? Did it start as early as March 2016?

So it is Nixon-like. He didn’t have to spy on the Democratic party, but he did it anyway. As to SCROTUS, my guess is whatever he got from his Russian connections, he could have gotten the same results without Russian involvement. Just a guess.

Nixon was elected by a wave of Americans who didn’t like the negative talk about Vietnam. He got in kind of like SCROTUS. With a plurality in Congress and all that. But there was this thing hanging over him. The burglaries at Watergate and his collusion in its cover-up. Nixon wasn’t half as bad as SCROTUS, but it was bad enough. These days, he looks pretty good. That IS ironic.


Sessions was responding to a Washington Post report, published Wednesday night, in which Department of Justice officials confirmed that he had twice met the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign. Sessions also appears to have misled the Senate about his contacts. At a January 10th confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee, Senator Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat, asked Sessions what he would do, as Attorney General, “if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” Sessions, under oath, replied, “I’m not aware of any of those activities.” He added, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

The New Yorker, By , March 2, 2017


That was the beginning.  One month later, so much is going on, it’s hard to keep track. This is very Richard Nixon. Faster, but the same pattern. This is how it went. Drip. Drip. Drip.

One down, one to go. Two down, another on the way. Three down, four down. Five down. Drip. Drip. Drip.

And finally, the president went down. His Vice-President had already gone down, replaced by a perfectly pleasant fellow who never really got much of an opportunity to do anything. Ultimately, the pall of Nixon lay over Washington like a layer of oil on a roadway. Traffic that hit the oily patch went spinning wildly off the road.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

We were watching NBC News and they were saying if the GOP does not deal with “the Russian issue,” it will take down this presidency. No one will get the opportunity to do anything — which would be fine with me. So, if you aren’t old enough to remember, this is how it went.


Nixon hated the press, but at least he didn’t go out of his way to make all of them hate him at the same time.

The taking down of Richard Nixon became a daily event. I bought myself a tiny radio which I listened to whenever I could. I came back from work and planted myself in front of the television. The story kept going. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Sergey Kislyak and Jeff Sessions - Photo: CNN
Sergey Kislyak and Jeff Sessions – Photo: CNN

Then, there was nowhere left for Nixon to turn. He resigned. He wasn’t half as bad as this guy. He just taunted the press with “you can’t get me.” They got him.

At this point, the entire press corps is on SCROTUS’ tail. Like hounds with a strong smell of game in their nostrils, they will track him wherever he goes. He literally asked for it. What an incredibly stupid thing to say to the press. They may not be as “up to strength” as they were in the 1970s, but being press is what they do. What they are. Reporters live for exactly this kind of thing. With all the awfulness of what’s happening, this is the blood of life to the press.

Drip. Drip. Drip.