Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump vows to rebuild "depleted" military

Because, like how the hell else are you supposed to suspend the Constitution and make slaves of our nation's citizens?

No, I'm just kidding. Nobody thinks that might happen. It would be impossible.

And besides, I really don't want to make Trump's "list" of enemies!

Nixon had a list of enemies. It was awesome! It was conceived by Chuck Colson, one of Nixon's trusted cronies and White House Council, who was informally named "the meanest man in American politics". Chuck supposedly had a sign on the wall of his White House office that read "Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow!"

Colson organized the "Hard Hat Riot" in New York City, where hundreds of union workers were tasked with beating peaceful anti-war protestors with lengths of iron rebar! And he gleefully helped the actions of C.R.E.E.P., or the Committee to Re-elect the President. Many of whose members spent time in jail after the downfall of Nixon. Some of the proposals considered by John Mitchell (Nixon's Attorney fucking GENERAL!) were firebombing the Brookings Institute, and breaking into Daniel Ellsworth's psychiatrist's office to possibly find embarrassing info on the man who published the Pentagon Papers.

Google this stuff, kids. You probably have NO idea if you're under 40 just how close we came to losing our form of government.

Yeah, Colson was one of the baddest of the bad. Feared deeply by his political foes, respected by his allies, he was a serious player. And a threat to anyone who crossed him, or the president.

In actuality, there were several lists. The first one publicly addressed was during Watergate testimony by John "I'm not gonna take the fall" Dean, when he told of a list of political foes who needed to be screwed by the IRS back in 1971.

The list, in order:

Arnold Picker
Alexander E. Barkan
Edwin Guthman
Maxwell Dane
Charles Dyson
Howard Stein
Allard Lowenstein
Morton Halperin
Leonard Woodcock
S. Sterling Munro, Jr.
Bernard T. Feld
Sidney Davidoff
John Conyers
Samuel M. Lambert
Stewart Rawlings Mott
Ron Dellums
Daniel Schorr
S. Harrison Dogole
Paul Newman
Mary McGrory

So, some of those names are politicians, some journalists, and some are activists. But PAUL FUCKING NEWMAN? He was such a threat to the most powerful man on Earth that he made Nixon's top 20 list?

I guess Dick was a little thin-skinned about celebs who might say something against his policies.

Hmmm, I think I'm starting to see a similarity here!

The greatest thing about the Enemies List was the fact that Hunter S. Thompson went on a rant the day after the list was released. Saying he openly, in print, often referred Nixon to a "cheap little punk", and went on to say about his being passed over, "I would almost have preferred a vindictive tax audit to that kind of crippling exclusion."

The enemies list expanded after Nixon became more powerful, the list growing to hundreds after Nixon successfully won the 1972 election. Many of the staffers of George McGovern's campaign were added.

But even by then, after the June of 1972 Watergate break-in was being discussed, was leading to Nixon's inevitable downfall.

I'm 100% sure that Donald Trump is counting his enemies on his tiny infant fingers, and having Steve Bannon write them down because he can successfully negotiate the complexity of a "grown-up pen". The list is being added to every single day. I'm sure it will all come out in Trump's eventual trial, as his cheap goons gladly give up the Orange Cheeto in exchange for not having to spend any time in a prison.

I look forward to seeing that list.

But having said that, with Trump promising to increase our already bloated military force, I would prefer to not be on that list.

Just in case history doesn't quite bend toward justice like we hope it does in this case.

Case in point: Instead of his being beaten until he was bleeding out of every orifice in prison like he deserved, Chuck Colson apparently found Jesus and became a evangelical preacher, who was eventually given a medal by President George W. Bush on his work against homosexuals and his love of almighty Jesus.

Because the biggest bastards are almost ALWAYS given rewards.

I wonder how many of those peaceful anti-war kids are still suffering from the effects of being bashed with iron clubs by Colson's thugs?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Russians are coming!

Today a Russian spy ship was tracked and approached to within roughly 30 miles of the Groton sub base.

Now, before everyone freaks out and starts thinking there are Russian boats cruising up and down Long Island Sound, there are some things we need to know. First of all, Russia and pretty much every other nation on Earth knows to respect the 12 mile limit, which is absolutely a line drawn in the water.

The original limit was 3 miles, but back during the Cold War, we all decided we didn't want Bolshevik vessels in sensitive areas like Long Island Sound or Chesapeake Bay. And we extended the limit to 12 miles, which precludes any way they can legally (as in, not being torpedoed) travel in those areas.

There is no point in Long Island Sound (or Fisher's Island Sound, which also is near Groton) that a Russian boat can approach without being accosted. Here's an image that shows Groton's location, along with a contour of the 12 mile limit:

As you can see, any Russian boat can't get any closer than some miles outside a line between Montauk and Block Island. So yeah, while they technically were there, there wasn't really any there there!

However, based on events of the last week or so, the Russians are getting much bolder in their ways. Military jets have flown very close to a US warship in international waters, and the Russians haven't previously sent any spy boats much farther north than Delaware until today.

So probably, Vladimir Putin is being emboldened by the complete lack of leadership shown by his pal Donald J. Trump. Trump probably won't realize he's being punked by his BFF Putin until there's an international incident that will demand strong and decisive action.

And I can predict that the guy who has his tiny little hands on the orange football doesn't have what it takes to match the wile of a man who was powerful in the KGB and currently has more power than anyone else in the world, given our current president.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Night Music Club v.48

1975 Jethro Tull's "Minstrel In The Gallery" was probably my favorite song at that time. Something about Ian Anderson's lyrics and showmanship really resonated with me. This was a time when "Monty Python's Flying Circus" was aired every Sunday night on PBS, and the band Jethro Tull's uniquely British character fit in very well with that time.

And the song is mapped out to portray a dichotomy in time. The song starts with an acoustic guitar only, then after an electric bridge, repeats the lyrics with a heavy rocking beat. This is demonstrated graphically where one side of the album cover shows a stylized medieval court entertained by a band of roving minstrels, and the other shows the band in their present day recording studio.

Here's what I'm referring to:

And, this...


The minstrel in the gallery
Looked down upon the smiling faces.
He met the gazes observed the spaces
Between the old men's cackle.

He brewed a song of love and hatred,
Oblique suggestions and he waited.
He polarized the pumpkin-eaters,
Static-humming panel-beaters,

Freshly day-glow'd factory cheaters
(salaried and collar-scrubbing).
He titillated men-of-action
Belly warming, hands still rubbing

On the parts they never mention.
He pacified the nappy-suffering, infant-bleating,
One-line jokers, T.V. documentary makers
(overfed and undertakers).

Sunday paper backgammon players
Family-scarred and women-haters.
Then he called the band down to the stage
And he looked at all the friends he'd made.

The minstrel in the gallery
Looked down on the rabbit-run.
And threw away his looking-glass
Saw his face in everyone.
Written by Ian Anderson, Martin Barre • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

Sunday, February 05, 2017

A guide on how to impeach Trump

(photo of a president who was never impeached)

This is not necessarily about Trump, but more of an overview of the impeachment process. I just hope that Trump will have to deal with it sometime soon.

When Barack Obama won the popular vote AND the electoral college back in 2008, there were almost immediate calls from righties to "Impeach Obama".

In the last several weeks, there have been many similar populist cries for Trump's impeachment.

I actually wonder if there are many people who understand the process. Even though it happened less than 20 years ago with President Clinton, I feel that our short attention span culture has forgotten much of it.

And today's millennials were either not born yet or too young to understand it.

So, here's a primer on what impeachment actually is.

The Constitution reads literally that "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." (Section 4 of Article Two of the United States Constitution)

There's actually a lot of stuff packed into that sentence.

First, we know the President and Vice President can be impeached. Impeachment is the trial, kind of like being tried for a crime. Conviction for both things is punishment, except the punishment for being impeached AND convicted is removal from office, while being convicted of a crime in court usually ends with a prison sentence.

Unless you're Scooter Libby, who revealed the identity of an active deep cover CIA field agent, which is a HUUUUUGE felony. But after his conviction, his boss's boss commuted his sentence, so his punishment consists solely of an inability to vote as a convicted felon. Other than that, he's probably doing well.

And this is weird, what grown adult goes by the fucking name "Scooter"? Like, really?

And what about ol' W not giving his li'l helper a pardon, rather than a commutation of his sentence, which leaves his record forever blemished as a felon? THAT'S what you get for helping a child tyrant. Trump voters apparently ignore history.

What's the definition of "all civil Officers of the United States", you ask? (even if you didn't, I'm going to tell you)

"By this term are included all officers of the United States who hold their appointments under the national government, whether their duties are executive or judicial, in the highest or the lowest departments of the government, with the exception of officers of the army and navy. A senator of the United States, it was once decided, was not a civil officer, within the meaning of this clause in the Constitution."

Yes, it is, like much of our government's framework, a little confusing. The key phrase here is those "who hold their appointments under the national government, whether their duties are executive or judicial..."

So it seems that besides POTUS and VPOTUS, pretty much anyone who hasn't been elected to Congress but is a civil servant is impeachable. That goes for Supreme Court justices too. But since that one senator in 1789 (at the very dawn of our nation), nobody but Presidents, the odd cabinet member, and ill-fated judges have been impeached.

Being that presidents CAN be impeached, and understanding that impeaching a president does not mean he will necessarily be removed, let's talk about the impeachment process.

This is the area that first requires a crime to be committed, and then Congress to act upon it.

Treason and bribery are clearly mentioned in the paragraph. But what of "high crimes and misdemeanors"? That leaves a lot of interpretation there!

In our history, people have been impeached and removed for "crimes" such as "chronic intoxication" (shout out to judge John Pickering, our first impeached guy), tax evasion, conspiracy to solicit a bribe, and making false statements to a grand jury (I'm talking to you, Bill Clinton).

(photo of a president who WAS impeached)

President Andrew Johnson was impeached largely on the charge of a violation of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress the previous year to protect their Secretary of War, who was replaced by Johnson. So technically, a president may be impeached for violating laws passed by Congress. Trump may be in some danger of doing something like that, given his nature.

President Richard Nixon was definitely going to be impeached, but he resigned before the actual proceedings took place.

President Bill Clinton was impeached largely for perjury, due to his verbal gymnastics about whether he did or did not "have sex with that woman".

Bill, let me help you with this. If you're a MARRIED guy, and a woman who's NOT your wife favors you with the kind of act that, while it is SUPER pleasing, can't POSSIBLY produce a baby, you've still DEFINITELY had sex with that woman! Got it dude?

So how does the whole impeachment process get rolling?

First, you need to have actionable proof that a president has committed treason, taken bribes, or indulged in what we've already said is open to interpretation, which is high crimes and misdemeanors.

We're only two weeks into Trump's presidency. I don't know if any of the horrible ghastly things he's done so far qualify for that definition. Which kind of makes it funny that people were calling for Obama's impeachment the minute he got elected! Like, you have to actually be IN office at the time, and THEN commit a crime to be impeached.

Let's pretend there's fairly good evidence that Trump took ten million dollars from a powerful eastern dictator to help fund his campaign. Foreign contributions are very illegal, so we'd have an actionable charge.

The charge would go to the House Judiciary Committee, who would rule on whether it should come up for a vote. It if does, you need a simple majority of the House to vote to move the Article of Impeachment forward to the Senate. Since in Trump's case, they are the majority party in the House AND the Senate (nice work Dems!) they hold the cards. A good indicator on how they feel is if the Articles make it out of the Judiciary Committee, since they hold the chair and the majority. Should it get out of there and go to a full House vote, the odds are better that they'll get the support to move it along.

Then the Articles go to the Senate, where selected House members are the "prosecutors" who will present the case to the Senate. They are picked by the House Speaker, which is why it is so important to have a strong opposition party. Again, elections have consequences.

The Senate will essentially hold a "trial", where the president may call his own witnesses for his defense. After all the arguments are heard, it goes for a vote. The Senate needs a 2/3 votes, or 67 senators, to successfully remove the president.

Which is unlikely even in the worst of times. But impeaching a president can do significant damage, as shown in the Clinton impeachment. He suffered a loss of support, a massive humiliation, and by necessitating a defense, it robs him of time and political capital to try to enact future policies.

So even a failed impeachment can be a victory for the minority party. Of course, the real losers in impeachments and government shutdowns are the little people. The fearful and hateful politicians will continue to live comfortably and largely be insulated from the effects of this process.

But then again, if an impeachment successfully removes a child-monster with his finger on the button that will annihilate the world, well, it might be worth it!

(Disclaimer: I'm just a sort of interested political fan, so if any or all of my facts are wrong, I wouldn't be surprised.)

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Monday Night Massacre

He hasn't been in office for two weeks, and already he's topping Nixon in outrageous behavior.

Tonight President Trump fired the acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who defied to enforce the presidential order to ban all Muslims from entering our nation legally; except of course, from those nations that Trump does business with, including the one that spawned 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers that killed over 3,000 Americans.

He wouldn't want to offend his business partners, after all.

Sally Yates (American hero) is a patriotic citizen and a thoughtful attorney. She looked at the facts and made a studied decision (unlike Trump's usual tactic of seeing what his Greek chorus of fascists want to do) and she said the order wasn't legal and therefore not subject to DOJ enforcement.

She was immediately fired, and Trump's people skipped the regular order of progression in this case and found a Trumpette lawyer to fill in as acting AG.

If there was ANY doubt that Donald Trump is the most anti-American president we've seen in several generations, this will likely erase it.

We need to, as Americans regardless of party, block ANY Trump appointees from the cabinet and any posts that he may fill.

This isn't about politics. It's about preserving our nation as a free democracy and keeping it from the hands of hateful greed-mongers who only seek to enrich themselves while at the same time crushing the middle class and stripping them of their wealth.

This is a call to arms (figuratively). We need to act out, speak out, and show the world that we don't agree with a dictator who once he was made the leader, used his power for evil.

We've already seen that act about 80 years ago. It sucked then, and it will suck now.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump is a short-crowded vulgarian

Sean Spicer's (Trump's press secretary) first White House briefing today consisted mostly of an angry rant about how media reported the size of the inauguration crowd. On his very worst day, Nixon's press secretary Ron Ziegler never sounded that crazy! And this was just about the number of people who showed up.

Spicer could have said the rain kept many people home, or that too many people couldn't get out of work, or that the parking situation in DC was especially dismal, but he railed like a lunatic about how the press was outright lying about the crowd! It's almost as if Trump was beside himself with fury, so he made his hired mouthpiece go out and put those renegade reporters back in their place!

Trump, like many bullies, is hyper-sensitive to anything remotely sounding like an insult. Nothing I can think of has bothered Donald Trump more than being referred to as a "short-fingered vulgarian" many years ago in the long defunct Spy Magazine.

You HAVE to read this hilarious Vanity Fair article.

I guess Donald Trump is acutely sensitive to ANYTHING related to him being referred to as "small".

Today millions showed up around the world to march for woman's rights. Trump may actually help bring us together in ways we'd never anticipated.

I only hope there's a workable nation left when he's removed from office!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Buyer's remorse

Welp...here it is a few minutes before midnight on the night before January Twentieth.

In just over twelve hours we'll have a new president.

Right now, I feel safe and enjoy knowing my rights are being protected.

In just over twelve hours, I'm going to feel a lot differently.

Does anyone with cognitive reasoning abilities have any doubt that Donald Trump will be something of a problem for our nation?

We're likely fucked. In the most unwanted ways possible. But hey, ain't it great how democracy works?

Most Americans who voted for Trump are likely to be victimized by his policies in the coming years. Then we'll see some buyer's remorse!

However, I won't bother with schadenfreude...I'll be equally as fucked as them!

But hey, before he leaves office, I want to thank President Barack Obama for his thoughtful and compassionate leadership of our country in the face of unprecedented obstruction and incivility.

I am thankful that we've had President Obama, and Michelle, and their great kids living in the our nation's most notable mansion for the last eight years. Joyce and I visited their house, and it was wonderful.

Anyway there will be an inauguration tomorrow with a parade. Here's my video of President Obama's parade back in 2009. It was about 30 degrees colder than the weather predicted for Trump's big day.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Requim for my cousin

Well, this is gonna be a tough one...

I needed to wipe my eyes a few times doing this.

As bad as 2016 was in that so many beloved figures in popular culture have passed, there was nothing that prepared me for the news that 2017 brought.

On the second day of the New Year, I was informed that my cousin Thomas Miller had suddenly passed.

Until late in 2016, he was absolutely in the prime of his life. He was healthy and thriving and at the top of his game. He was an accomplished commercial pilot, an attorney, he basically ran a charter airline, he flew the Eagle One Rescue helicopter, even volunteering to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Tom had a passion for flight that was inspiring. He worked overtime as a young adult to be able to afford flight lessons, and later his own Piper Cherokee. He became a flight instructor, and actually took me on training flights a number of times. He also went back to school to become an attorney, although his love of flight pretty much precluded him from hanging a shingle in front of an office to practice law on a daily basis.

Tom even trained to become a jump pilot for my parachute organization, and he flew me and Joyce many times to make our jumps back in the 80s. He never got over how crazy it looked for him piloting a plane full of jumpers to open the door at 12,000 feet and watch us all simply leap out! For all his flying experience it was kind of fun to freak him out a little!

He went on to become a multi-engine commercial pilot, and he graduated to private jets, where he flew celebrities and ex-presidents around the world. He has a photo of himself with President George H.W. Bush. He flew many famous people to amazing places. All while making his way into the corporate world as a director at a charter airline.

He also had a world of other interests, such as boating, where we'd often see him speeding around our sailboat on Long Island Sound. Of course he named his boat "Miller Time"!

And he loved old trains, to the point when I created a documentary about a Rails-to-Trails hiking path and I included a snippet of an old NY-New Haven-Hartford engine rolling out of a station, he wanted me to give him the link to the archived video to see it! And we'll never forget his love for classic cars and motorcycles.

Tom loved family and was always there to help, often even without anyone asking. He was quick and sincere in his offer to assist his friends. He leaves a loving wife and close-knit family who loves him dearly, and an extended family and friendship circle that will always remember him.

Even though we're nearly the same age, my cousin Tommy will always be a role model for me and many others who knew him. I will continue to look up to him for as long as I live, and he will always serve as an example of someone who knew how to do life "right".

And perhaps his most important example will be to live life to it's fullest! There is nobody I know who was better at it.

A famous Irish actor once said this to me, and I believe it true.

"Live each day as if it were your last, because one day you will be right!"

I will miss you always, Tom. We will keep you in our hearts forever.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Can we do mental health screenings on Presidents-elect?

Everyone with even the slightest cognitive ability can plainly see that Donald Trump has some mental health problems, no matter how hard they try to ignore this fact.

People who voted for him have to be aware of, but choose to ignore, the obvious signs that Trump suffers from some serious psychological issues. They apparently have an internal filter that conveniently avoids acknowledging the terrible things that Trump says and does on a daily basis because they hear only the things they want, such as lower taxes for the wealthy, and the threat to magically sweep all illegal immigrants out of the country.

So a number of professors of psychiatry have written our current popularly-elected president, and asked him if they can do something about Trump's dangerous mental condition.

This is from The Huffington Post:
received this stunning letter to President Obama from a source, with written permission from Dr. Herman, Dr. Gartrell and Dr. Mosbacher, because the source knew that I had been interviewing Psychiatrists and Psychologists about Donald Trump’s alleged “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”.

Virtually every mental health professional I interviewed told me that they believed, with 100% certainty, that Mr. Trump satisfied the DSM criteria of this incurable illness and that, as a result, he is a serious danger to the country and the world.
The article goes on to describe the characteristics of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”, and reading the list makes it chillingly clear that Donald Trump is ruled by a severe mental illness.

And he has absolute authority to do anything he wishes with our nuclear arsenal!

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM - 5, Cluster B) for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” by The American Psychiatric Association (APA)

Here, according to The APA, are the 9 criteria for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. If an individual has 5 out of the 9 they have a confirmed diagnosis of this illness. Many individuals have “traits” of narcissism but only about 1% of the population has clinical NPD.

“Summary : A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believe that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”

What does it mean if someone does have NPD?

If someone does have “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” they can, indeed, wake up, see a Tweet or a news report from a foreign leader criticizing him, mocking him, calling him “weak” or threatening his ego in any way and order some kind of impulsive, vindictive, punishing, immediate response that could include an unhinged order to attack that foreign leader or foreign country with military force, even including the authorization of nuclear weapons.

It is extremely likely that there would be some kind of impulsive, angry diplomatic response.

Before I read this, I knew we Americans were pretty much fucked.

Afterwards, I now know the entire world is fucked!

For further reading, here's a look at the DSM-5 discussion of NPD.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can the Senate confirm Merrick Garland?

There's an interesting little story circulating about a loophole in the Senate rules that may lead to a confirmation of President Obama's pick to fill the vacant seat of Justice Scalia.

From the Daily Kos:

Senate Republicans refused to give President Obama’s pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Scalia even the courtesy of a hearing. It was disrespectful, and historically unprecedented. But there is still something we can do to get Merrick Garland confirmed before Obama leaves office.

At 12:00 noon on January 3, 2017 (according to the Constitution), the terms of 34 U.S. Senators will expire. At that point, the Senate will briefly consist of 66 sitting senators—until Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as Senate president, begins swearing in the senators-elect.

Before Biden begins the proceedings, he has a chance to preside over a Senate that consists of 34 Democrats, 2 independents who caucus with Democrats and 30 Republicans—as the remaining Senators are in limbo of being newly sworn in. At this point, Democrats could ask to finish Senate business as it pertains to President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

For the past year, Republicans have claimed that the "American people" should decide the fate of that Supreme Court seat. Hillary Clinton got 2.7 million more votes than Donald Trump, and more Americans voted Democratic in the U.S. Senate races. Democrats are entirely justified to make this move, and it's the only way to guarantee that Garland will be confirmed.

Senate Democrats pulling off this move must be willing to proceed over the very loud, but still out-of-order objections from Republicans. That’s to say nothing of the Republican sore feelings that would come from Democrats winning the right to fill the SCOTUS seat the entire nation knew belonged to President Obama. But it's the right thing to do.

This brings up all sorts of interesting Constitutional questions. Does a 66-seat Senate have the legal authority to do this? Can the Republicans filibuster the vote, although the rules may refer to 60 senators being needed to do so. How long can Vice President Biden delay the swearing in of the new Congress? Will the 36 Democrats and Independents agree to do this?

This move, if legal, would certainly go a long way toward curtailing some of the worst excesses predicted during a Trump presidency. As long as the remaining Justices remain alive until January of 2021, when we'll certainly see a more moderate president taking the Oath of Office.