Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Night Music Club v.51

It's been a while, but recently I saw a film that reminded me of a lot of great songs from the 1980s, so here I go again...

The Cold-War spy thriller "Atomic Blonde" is a frenetic journey through Berlin during the final days of the Berlin Wall. It's definitely more a comic-book movie than a James Bond-style romp because there is literally NOTHING subtle about this film! Especially the extended, ridiculously violent fight scenes and gun battles! Fortunately, all it takes for Lorraine (Charlize Theron's character) to feel better is a splash in a tub filled with ice!

Well, except for the broken heart...(spoiler alert!)

Anyway, one of the things I liked best about the film was the soundtrack! Tunes by Nena (99 Luftballoons), The Clash (London Calling) and Siouxsie and the Banshees (Cities in Dust, which although was about ancient Pompeii's destruction, it stands as a vivid metaphor to the aftermath of a nuclear war) brought about a bit of cold-war nostalgia.

Being a teenager in the '70s and a young adult in the 80's, I was brought up with the knowledge that the world could end at pretty much any moment! Think about that. The United States and Soviet Union had a nuclear strategy called M.A.D., for Mutual Assured Destruction; or, in other words, both nations had so goddamn many weapons and delivery systems to guarantee that in the case of a nuclear war, there was NO doubt that both countries would be pulverized into radioactive dust, and then the dust would be atomized into a vapor that would no doubt poison the rest of the world!

As a child in the 1960s, I recall that in addition to our standard monthly fire drills, we had nuclear war drills. These were the infamous "duck and cover" routines that may have spared some of us from the initial blast, providing we weren't within the direct kill-zone, but did nothing to prepare us for what we might have had to endure in the succeeding days.

Because, everyone, including the teachers, knew if actual war on that scale broke out, we'd ALL be fucked!

Yeah, try getting a good night's sleep with that thought rattling around your head...

I think that's why I grew up with a sort of hey, whatever happens, happens kind of attitude. Try to effect change where it's possible, but beyond that, you're pretty much at the mercy of...whatever!

Falco released the Euro-hit song "Der Kommissar" in 1981, in German. The following year he released a version in English. But both of those songs failed to chart in America at the time. The band After The Fire released their own English version of the song that was moderately successful, and it brought new interest in the original German version, which became a minor hit.

After The Fire's version is much slicker and marketable, which is probably why I prefer Falco's version in German. The music video looks super-low quality, even for early 80's sensibilities. Which is part of its charm.

Here's Falco - Der Kommissar:


I dug a little deeper (2 seconds on Google) and found the After The Fire version of the song, which is a lot cooler and more intriguing than Falco's original. But I still like the Falco version a bit more. Because I think he says "I miss my fucking friends" rather than ATF's safe-for-radio version that has the lyric "I miss my funky friends". But golly, we have a president that says quite a few nations are "shitholes", so I guess the bar for civility has gotten very low indeed!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Trump Year in Review!

Wow. This year has been a real humdinger!

Technically it ain't over yet (I'm writing this on 12/30) but it's the weekend and pretty much everyone is just doing the pre-New Years thing. I'm hoping there are no surprises in the next day or so that will mess up my breezy review of a monumental year in the life of our great nation.

2017 started with an overarching sense of foreboding, as January spelled the final three weeks of having a reasoned, intellectual, empathetic President in charge. Barack Obama remains one of the best presidents we've had in the last 70 years. He may not have done everything I wanted to have him do, but a large part of that was because of the Republican controlled Congress for the last 6 years, led by schmucks that publicly said they would do everything they could to ensure Obama's presidency would fail. If the Democrats had control of both Houses of Congress, there certainly would have been sweeping changes to the culture of corruption that rules the land. We'd have gotten Single Payer Healthcare. We'd have made enormous strides in equality and compassionate care for our least privileged citizens. And we would have led the world in science and technology and socially-responsible legislation.

But in 2016 a minority of Americans voted for a clown from a failed TV show to be their leader, and due to quirks in our electoral process, the guy with 3.5 million LESS votes than his opponent was made president.

Which, by the way, is exactly WHY we need to reform the way we elect our leaders. I'm a big fan of "one person, one vote", and let the people decide. The electoral college is a holdover from the early years of our republic, and we need to move past this obsolete system of choosing our leaders.

Of course, you can't simply say that Trump "stole" the election, because he had a lot of help from unlikely places.

White supremacists loved Trump. His populist message, with his genius slogan "Make America Great Again" (and you have to admit, it was a catchy slogan that translated well to the low-information masses) struck a chord in middle-American. The Russians certainly helped Trump. Voter suppression, especially among minorities, was a significant factor. James Comey's remarks about the Clinton emails (which he quickly retracted immediately after the election) absolutely was a gift to Trump. Wikileaks hacked into the DNC computers and released a boatload of damning emails from many of the main players.

But we cannot deny that Hillary Clinton was very much a victim of her own hubris. By campaigning like she'd already won, it turned off a portion of her base who assumed it was a slam dunk. The machinations of the DNC in tilting the primaries to Clinton absolutely was a factor. I still think the use of super-delegates is the antithesis of the idea of democracy, and running elections on the taxpayers tab that are intrinsically unfair is just plain wrong!

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz didn't quit as head of the DNC right before the convention and take a job with Hillary's campaign because she did everything above board. Clinton's use and destruction of a non-government email server while Secretary of State, which was absolutely against State Department rules, did little to endear her to the undecideds, and it basically gift-wrapped a perfect crowd pleasing chant of "LOCK HER UP!" to every Trump rally and extensive media coverage.

So Trump won in the Electoral College, and the fact that he immediately challenged the results of the popular vote was basically a clear signal of what his presidency would consist of. Trump isn't emotionally stable enough to be "presidential", and his insane obsession with his "popularity" has led him to Tweet his unmeasured thoughts to the world. Usually while he's taking an angry shit, I would think, since that's the ONLY time he doesn't have at least ONE advisor within arms-reach of his thumbs when he's typing a typically outrageous thought.

We saw a million women protest in DC the day after the inauguration, which showed that there is an intense and strong resistance to Trump's rule.

A week into his term, Trump signed an executive order to ban travel from seven countries that he considered hostile. Most were Muslim nations, but he left off the home country for 15 of the 19 hijackers who on September 11th murdered over 3,000 Americans, because he does business with Saudi Arabia and he didn't want to anger them.

In February Trump fired Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, for being dishonest about a meeting he had with a Russian operative. This firing is just the first domino to fall in a year of dominoes.

Trump then set about trying to reverse every single accomplishment of the Obama administration. Not because it would be good for the nation, but merely for the selfish desire to erase his predecessor's legacy. Because it galls Trump to no end that Obama was always WAY more popular than Trump can ever hope to be, and it eats at him like a cancer of his own design! So he is making decisions based solely on his vindictiveness.

At the beginning of March, Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, probably because he is knee-deep in the scandal. Trump then obsessively tweeted about Obama yet again:

FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Trump in early May. The president said he fired Comey for incompetence. Comey suggested at a congressional hearing later in the year that he was fired because the president wanted him to “go easy” on Flynn in the investigation of ties with Russian officials.

On May 17th former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named as special counsel to conduct the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The appointment gave Mueller the authority to investigate potential collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. He takes his job seriously as we'll see.

Wake up and smell the covfefe! Our Commander-in-Grief had a rough July. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned in July after Anthony Scaramucci was named as head of White House communications. Scaramucci, a GOP donor and investment banker, lasted on the job for 11 days, after he mentioned that Trump advisor Steve Bannon enjoyed an activity that studies say is 99.9% impossible for most males to achieve (this study doesn't actually exist as far as I know). But if Bannon does manage that, well, bravo to you pal! Wear a bib.

In late July the president announced – via Twitter – that he would ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. Many of his military leaders seemed to have a different opinion. And this is once again a position in direct opposition to his campaign promises. I think he wanted this because his BFF Vladimir Putin has cracked down on what he calls "sexual deviants" in Russia, and it may be that Trump is trying desperately to please his father figure Putin. Because Trump's dad never showed him any love.

August brought a cute little Twitter war between him and North Korea's Kim Jung Un (and this is the closest President Bone Spur ever got to battle!) Then, tensions at a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, erupted into violence leaving a young woman dead. As protestors marched at one end of a street in the Virginia college town, a car roared down the street from the other end, slamming into the crowd. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured. Following the incident, Trump was criticized for being slow to condemn the neo-Nazis. Two days after the violence, he condemned both the white supremacists and the counter-protesters.

Of course, the counter-protesters didn't murder anyone, but that doesn't matter to our Dear Leader.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively, over a 26-day period, bringing record winds and water. While Trump is somewhat proactive in getting aid to the two states that voted for him, he seems just fine with letting Americans in Puerto Rico suffer and die because of lack of basic services. His remarks about Puerto Rico's economy served as his excuse for letting them die.

On October 30th, Robert Mueller's investigation resulted in indictments to two of Trump's advisors. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, surrendered at the FBI field office in Washington, D.C. after being indicted by a grand jury. Also on that day, special counsel’s office announced it had struck a cooperation agreement with former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, who had in July pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about contacts with Russian officials.

People from Trump's inner circle are talking to prosecutors, and Mueller is patiently building a case that may change the course of our nation's history.

Dec. 1 Former national security adviser Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The former national security adviser had denied that he talked with Kislyak about sanctions levied by former President Obama. A guilty plea means that he's likely working with prosecutors to exchange testimony for a reduced or suspended sentence. Because really, who wants to go to prison while their boss is acting like a buffoon?

Doug Jones became the first Democrat in 25 years to win a U.S. Senate seat from the state of Alabama. He defeated former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (shown here prancing around the stage with a prop gun). Trump supported Moore up until the day of the election, and after the loss he said he knew it was gonna happen and he really didn't even like the guy. What a nerd! And Moore has refused to concede to this day, even after the election results were certified in Alabama.

In mid-December Trump's horrible head of the FCC Ajit Pai was the tie-breaker when the Federal Communications Commission voted to allow them to speed up service for some websites, and slow down, or even block it for others. Anything that screws consumers, Trump is all for!

Then, on December 20th, in an inevitable end to the year from hell, Republicans who pretended to be moderate voted in lockstep with their corrupt party and gave the wealthiest people in our nation the biggest tax break in history, while adding a trillion and a half dollars to the deficit. The poor and middle class will see a pittance for a few years, but the rich are stealing the wealth of America and adding to the fiscal burden.

This is the most heinous thing Trump and the Republicans could have done, and they did it with smiles and slapping each other on the back.

So, here we are at the conclusion of possibly the worst year in American politics since 1973. And much like that time, when Watergate was just gaining momentum, we are at a very critical time in our nation's path. The coming year may be a reckoning for the powers that be. The mid-terms in November may see a sweeping change in Congress. And as the Mueller investigation goes on, we may start to see members of Trump's party starting to turn against him.

Much like the Watergate years, it will take time to build a case against the President. Much like Nixon, Donald Trump will become increasingly paranoid and tend to lash out at his enemies, with his Tweets being fodder for the prosecution. We may get to see a president resign or be removed from office sometime in mid-to-late 2019.

But we'll have to wait. In the meantime, we need to support our legislators and the candidates who will run against the opposition. There can be no unchallenged Republican seats. We MUST find people who can turn the tide of history!

And hopefully, we'll assign Trump to the dumpster with the eternal label upon him, "Worst President Ever!".

Oh, and Happy New Year to you!

Addendum: One thing I forget when I posted this 20 minutes ago...if Hillary won the presidency, she would have ALREADY been the subject of impeachment hearings, and the nation would be mired in televised hearings already. And regardless of whether or not she was convicted, it would definitely result in a gigantic mid-term victory for the Republicans next year. So as awful as this is, maybe it NEEDED to happen to get this country back on track. Yes, I would have liked for Hillary to win. But the consequences of that might have resulted in an even WORSE situation in 2018 and 2020 than even the most cynical of us can imagine. I welcome comments on this thought. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Alabama saved 2017

I'll take "Words I never thought I'd utter" for 200 Alex.

Yup. Tonight was an historic election. The great state of Alabama got together and voted against a pederast and vitriolic bigot, and elected a somewhat bland Democrat by default who, by the way, prosecuted the KKK for murdering four black children in a racist terror attack.

I'm thinking this would have been a landslide for a candidate like Doug Jones in just about any other state, but I'll take a 1.5% win in this case.

Banned mall visitor and serial child pursuer and removed judge (two times) Roy Moore pretty much stooped to expectations by refusing to concede and instead imploring his supporters to go home by 11PM and sleep on it, and tomorrow he'll begin to try to get a recount.

Winning a seat against a suspected child molester and racist should happen without any doubt. But for a Democrat to win against even someone as evil as Roy Moore in ALABAMA (where Trump won by 23%) is huge!

Congrats to Doug Jones.

Or, as I like to call him, Dougie Jones.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Last Friday was a roller coaster

December 1st started out great! The news that Micheal Flynn was being arraigned and pleading guilty to lying to an FBI agent was awesome! Obviously he cut a deal with the prosecutors to avoid the charges in return for talking about his cohorts with Robert Mueller.

This will all lead to Trump's eventual downfall! Now THAT'S the way to start a day!

Then, later in the day, several of the GOP votes I was counting on to block Trump's insane tax giveaway announced they were supporting it!

And late in the evening (actually, the early morning hours of Saturday), the Senate passed the bill by two votes.

This will all lead to our NATION'S eventual downfall! Now THAT'S the way to ruin a day!

Yes, it'll go through reconciliation, and some of the less onerous provisions may be dropped or modified to appease the fence-sitters.

But the worst parts of this bill will likely be voted through. And we'll all be (with the exception of the 1%) paying for it for decades!

Elections have consequences.

Something tells me we're in for some even WORSE fucking consequences the longer this administration is allowed to carry on.

C'mon Mueller, you're our only hope!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Big wins for Blue

Just a year ago we were in DC for election night.

Well, we all know how THAT turned out!

In the intervening year, almost every one of my fears of a Trump presidency has been met.

And surpassed!

So, in what I hope is a preview for the 2018 mid-terms, the Democrats won big in state and local elections.

Democratic governors in VA and NJ. Huge pickups in the VA legislature. Massive wins in towns and cities across the nation, including right here in Connecticut and my home town, where we picked up seats on all the town boards, with our mayor running unopposed.

This bodes well as Trump's leadership is bringing down his entire party. A lot of Republicans are polling so poorly in advance of next years mid-terms that they're choosing to retire than have to run a campaign that's almost certain to fail.

And Roy Moore, who is Trump's favorite to replace Alabama senator Jeff Sessions (or as I like to call him, "the guy most likely to get fired next") is being loudly and credibly accused of sexually harassing 14 year-old girls.

Any Republicans who defend the guy are going to find themselves out of the legislature and probably unemployable.

Have fun, Republicans! The chickens are coming home to roost!

Friday, November 03, 2017

On voting and fairness

All my adult life I've held the belief that when we step into a voting booth, there is an expectation of fairness that we deserve.

(OK, we don't actually step into voting booths anymore, but the sentence works better than "when we step up to that cheesy little folding card table with the plastic walls!")

That expectation has been severely damaged by the actions of Hillary Clinton, her inner circle, and the Democratic National Committee.

Every bit of evidence that's appeared regarding the 2016 Democratic primaries points to Clinton working to rig the system and remove ANY doubt that she would win the nomination.

Clinton apologists will respond with "she was just doing what was within the rules", or "the Democratic party used to select their candidate in smoke-filled rooms without ANY input from the average voter".

Here's the thing, when the Democrats hold a primary, our state and local governments have to expend time, money, and resources to ensure it will run smoothly and fairly. But when a major party decides on their own to usurp the process there should be some penalty for their actions.

Everything about the 2016 Democratic primaries and convention stunk to high heaven. Such as:

Things like giving Clinton the questions before a debate so she has time to prepare answers.
Things like "super delegates", which almost guarantees the DNC's candidate of choice will win.
Things like counting those votes ahead of them being cast at the convention, which results in significantly less supporters of her opponent to vote due to the appearance of an inevitable outcome.
Things like DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning her position on the eve of the convention and taking a job with the Clinton campaign.
The hacked DNC emails that demonstrate a callous disregard of the will of the voters.
Things like the theft of the concept of fairness, which is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.

The optics on all of this simply look horrible.

If the primaries were run from the top down in a fair and DEMOCRATIC way, we'd likely have someone other than Trump in the Oval Office right now.

And Democratic voters would have much more faith in the process right now.

As for me, the DNC will have to work hard to regain my belief in the fairness of my party.

Right now, I can only in good faith support my local Democratic candidates and party.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Manafort and Gates arrested and indicted

The dominoes are all lined up and the first push just happened!

I'm bummed that it appears we don't get to see a "perp walk", but I'm thinking they're saving the ol' frog march for the Marmalade Ass himself!

And getting this sort of house arrest, with an ankle bracelet and being allowed to leave their homes only for medical, legal, or religious reasons seems kind of strict. Probably Special Prosecutor Mueller is already working on them to squeal, along with that Greek dingbat who pleaded guilty (I can't spell his name and I'm too lazy to look it up).

Once people start talking, Trump will be so scared he'll be shitting string!

Something tells me Donnie won't do so good in gen pop!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

25th Amendment Section 4 now

The 25th Amendment of the United States Constitution includes these words in Section 4:

"Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."

I'm sure mental instability is a valid reason for the Veep and either a majority of the Cabinet or the House to invoke this clause.

Let's use just one example of how President Trump sees reality.

This is what he says happened:

Here's the video:

Compare the two, and see if you don't think the President is suffering from a severe form of self-delusion or cognitive dissonance.

Friday, September 29, 2017

No vote on Healthcare

The GOP threw in the towel this week, so we won't be seeing a vote on Trump's campaign promise to "Repeal and Replace".

I feel kind of bad for the Trumpster. He's floundering badly, and even his strongholds like Alabama are voting against him, with Trump's personally backed candidate getting his ass whipped by a twice-removed judge who believes in biblical literalness.

Not really. I don't feel bad at all for Trump.

I wouldn't piss on that fucker if he was on fire!

This won't be the last shot at repeal. Each Congressional session has some bullshit about reconciliation that allows a simple majority to make major changes to laws that were put in place by a super majority (60 votes) earlier. It's sort of a sore loser loophole that allows hateful Republican shitbags to try to fuck up things at least twice a year.

This isn't done.

I'm guessing it'll NEVER be done.

The battle continues.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Healthcare vote will come down to the wire

Don't let the latest news assure you that the GOP's vindictive "repeal and replace" bill is dead. There's still time for the GOP to bribe or sway a critical "on the fence" vote and give them the necessary 50 votes to provide VP Pence with the tiebreaker and change the way Americans access healthcare for years to come.

The next six days will be critical in how our nation decides to provide protections for their people. Are corporations more valuable than the collective millions of individuals in their grand scheme of things?

The irony of all this is that if the repeal bill passes, the vast majority of GOP voters who supported Trump will immediately or soon after be negatively affected by this law. The very people who supported this misguided bill will lose benefits or be charged so much to cover pre-existing conditions that they'll effective be priced out of insurance coverage.

I've been to Wal-Marts in red states. These people are not in the best physical shape. They are going to need coverage sooner or later for major conditions. And my fear is that they'll only then realize that voting for a party that places billionaire corporation's concerns over them might be a bad idea.

I'm not going to breathe until the noble month of October begins.