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.)