“Don, it’s Angela again …

trump-getting-schooled

Merkel-‘splaining

Oh, dear, the terms of the Geneva Conventions (of which the U.S. is a signator) had to be explained to him by a foreign leader who assumed her own office prepared.  The current inhabitant of the White House has heard of Geneva – he looked into opening a hotel there once or his people did anyway – but he thought “conventions” were for salespeople and  were usually held in Vegas or some other place with tons of sun and lots of golf courses. Not Switzerland.

Come to think of it, sheltering freedom-loving people from war-torn areas like Syria, saving their lives, seems like such a Red-Blooded American thing to do, you’d think he (or his people) would have heard of it. And how it is sort of required of the world’s Good Guys.

Is this the kind of thing folks meant when they said they wanted a President who would “shake things up”? Someone who would defy the U.S. Constitution, ignore the Bill of Rights, and break International Law on a daily basis? Not because they have a “plan.” Or because they are trying to accomplish something postive. But just because they aren’t possessed of even the average high-school senior’s knowledge of U.S. government.

That level of ignorance in the Highest Office in the Land does shake things up. And not only domestically. When the ignoramus in the Highest Office in the Land is also the Most Powerful Person in the World, it shakes up foreign leaders, too. Gets them concerned.

The irony of the democratically elected, female leader of the reunited formerly Nazi Germany having to SCHOOL the alt-right assclown misogynistic pal of Putin is almost too rich to absorb.

Funny times we live in. Are we having fun yet?

I Hope This Happens …

science-march

Science March on Washington

And I hope that prominent scientists from around the world join U.S. scientists in a march on Washington. It’s important to make the point that America’s greedy, bone-headed, baseless anti-science bias is not only destroying our own country but everyone else’s.

Never ratifying the Paris Agreement, putting a ban on outgoing communications by EPA and other science departments, and nominating an oil robber baron (Rex Tillerman of Exxon/Mobil) as Secretary of State are the kinds of things that make so many other countries hate and fear the U. S.

Their hatred and fear comes from dreading what fresh dangerous, destructive, shit move we’ll pull next … not because we’re “free.”

Besides, I’m not convinced we are free anymore. This is not the nation I was born to.

This is how The Donald’s friend rolls …

Death of Russian Ex-Spy Who Provided Trump Dossier

We’re talking Trump’s bestie, Vladimir Putin, here. The guy who fixed the elections in the Ukraine, then generously suggested the men who did it help his American buddy Trump.  The guy who can’t wait to renegotiate that $500 billion deal between Russian oil and the U.S. And who better to handle the negotiations than Rex Tillerman, late of Exxon/Mobil?

Speaking of late. It’s too soon to connect the dots and be certain that the dead Russian ex-spy found in a car in London was murdered. But Oleg Erovinkin was the Russian source for a lot of what Christopher Steele put into the Trump dossier and people who cross Putin do have a tendency to wind up dead. Especially if they’re doublecrossing ends up in the media. Would Vladimir enjoy seeing Oleg on 60 Minutes? Would Trump?

Words on a page can be easily disparaged. Less easily when connected to a face.

Speaking of words. Wasn’t Trump saying nice things about Russia just yesterday? Or was it today? He says nice things about Russia a lot and has already indicated he’ll consider lifting their sanctions.

And The Donald thinks Vladimir Putin is “very, very smart.” Maybe even smart enough to poison someone and make it look like a heart attack.

ABC Chats with the Star of Project Pennsyvania Ave

abc-trump-interview1-bugh-ps-170125_16x9_992

Somebody Tell Him This Isn’t a TV Show

This is starting to get really scary. The current inhabitant of the White House does not belong where he is. He’s too small for the suit. He knows what he knows and it isn’t much. Not much more than what the star of a reality TV show knows … ratings, reviews, how he stacks up against the competition.

He is possessed of alternate facts. Which is a short distance from saying he hears voices the rest of us can’t hear, he has delusions. However, his delusions are not the usual ones of grandeur, but their opposite. He knows he has no business being President (he is utterly unequipped for the job) and he wants to pretend that his only real job is to give “home run” speeches and bring home the ratings bacon. Something he used to know how to do.

He signs things that are put in front of him without reading them. He leaves it to lawyers to handle stuff when there are words involved he doesn’t understand such as emoluments. He is around – but barely involved – in a kind of Government by Committee involving Mike Pence, the rest of the GOP leadership, his top advisors (who tend more to his image than to policy), his daughter and her husband.

This can’t possibly end well. But it does have to end and hopefully sooner rather than later. It’s unsettling to have someone this out of touch – with this much power – nursing resentments and fostering hates.

It’s dangerous.

You Can Fake It After All

ordinary-people

When I read this morning that Mary Tyler Moore had died, my first thought was not of the TV series bearing her name, but of Ordinary People (1980), the extraordinary debut feature film by Robert Redford about repressed middle-class white Americans who find displays of emotion difficult and expressions of love nearly impossible.  In it, Moore gives the performance of a lifetime as Beth Jarrett, a beautiful, brittle, relentlessly positive Midwestern housewife who carries a not entirely healthy torch for her dead older son and who can’t forgive her younger son for still being alive. Donald Sutherland as her kind but unassertive husband, Timothy Hutton as the surviving son Conrad, and Judd Hirsch as Conrad’s shrink are also extraordinary.

I can manage happily without ever again seeing Moore as Mary Richards throw her hat slow-motion in the air to the strains of the relentlessly positive The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song.  Not that I hated the show or thought ill of it. Quite the contrary. If I watched more TV and ranked it, it would score high. For TV, it was fairly close to life at times and a good place to start if you want a gentle introduction to 1970s America.

But it was TV – in the 1970s – and a “comedy” – so the characters are “survivors,” none of whom wind up in recovery or the mental hospital or jail, all of whom really love each other under the gruffness, whose darkest days are never that dark or last too long. And my viewing relationship with TV is an odd one. I look below the surface of the show to the writer’s well from whence it sprung, listen not to the actors’ words but to their subtext. In my distorted world, The Andy Griffith Show is about small-town loneliness. People in Mayberry are so lonely it aches. And – to my twisted mind – The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the saddest shows ever aired, every single one of whose characters is hanging on by their fingernails, unwilling to think too hard about anything, afraid to feel. Mary saddest of all.

And it is a small leap, really – barely a hop – from the almost real Mary Richards to the painfully real Beth Jarrett, hiding her hate and terror behind the makeup of normalcy, holding tight by her lacquered nails until they finally break – or her tortured son Conrad breaks them – and she can’t go on. Not one more step. Not in the company of her husband and surviving son, who have found their way to the real – and decided to live there – leaving Beth to run away, find others around whom she can pretend again, toss her hat in the air.

The GOP leadership knows climate change is real …

and that a lot of its principal causes are manmade. Yet they still do shit like this.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trump-issues-epa-media-blackout-suspends-agencys-grants/

Why?

One reason is that keeping hard science information down to a minimum, especially such information coming from within the government itself, provides their lies and denials more ballast. And pleases those voters back home who really believe that the world is only 5,300 years old. And that Jesus had a baby brontosaurus for a pet.

But the main reason is because so many of the bosses they truly serve (not to be confused with constituents, whom they are morally bound to serve but whom they screw on a regular basis) are in the oil and gas industry. Or ancillary industries that profit from or depend on oil and gas. The Koch brothers are the prime example, but pretty much everyone who continues to get rich off Old School energy donates big to the GOP.

The GOP leadership knows what climate change is doing to the planet. They know that  its our fault. And yet they persist in helping to destroy our ability to sustain life on Earth. And someone should tell Trump that climate change is the greatest threat to our “borders,” not the absence of a wall. Most of southern North America and South America will be heading our way when their countries become uninhabitable, unable to sustain crops. they won’t be stopped by a few bricks. And a lot of American “rapists” and “murderers” will be seeking refuge … from the December heat … in Canada and points further north.

Speaking of government reports, the above scenarios are just a few of the reasons that the Pentagon named climate change – not ISIS –  the greatest threat to U.S. security.

The GOP leaders know all this. So do the CEOs and CFOs and major stockholders of every company in the energy industry. Yet, from all reports, they are all able to sleep at night.

How? How do they sleep? And how can any of them ever look at themselves in the mirror without experiencing revulsion? They can’t all be sociopaths. Can they?

Here’s a Big Surprise …

trump-and-comey

Trump has decided to keep James Comey on as FBI director. I’m sure his decision has nothing to do with the fact that Comey helped suppress and distort Trump’s ties to Russia and the hacker evidence of election tampering, and then later decided that we just HAD TO KNOW MORE about his opponent’s ever innocuous emails.

When I saw Comey pulling that shit … in real time … I assumed he was angling for a job at FOX when his term expired. I mean, for one thing, it looked like Hillary was going to win (and probably did win) and no one would permit an FBI director to stay on in a job where he had violated the public trust … and possibly the law … in such a blatant way.

Nobody, right? Except Trump, the beneficiary of Comey’s crimes.

Trumpland is in no small part Nixonland, where LOYALTY is the ticket in and your visa to stay and your reason to be on a daily basis. And Trump and the late Nixon are both sick men, psychologically, only capable of feeling their own pain. compulsive liars. Probably sociopaths. Both of them committed treason to get where they got. Nixon had Kissinger scuttle the 1968 Vietnam peace talks, a clear act of treason. Trump (and/or his people) were in constant contact with Putin and his people, who were engaged in election interference … acts of war. It is virtually impossible to believe that Trump peeps didn’t aid and abet them.

But at least Nixon knew how to locate nations on the globe and who was running them. And he didn’t convey the impression to foreign leaders of a child with a box of crayons and a map of the world to color in. Bush Junior’s ignorance was frightening to allies and other foreign leaders, but they felt like there were people in his administration who (while neoliberal and wrong-headed) were capable of conversing in a knowledgeable manner. That they wouldn’t be acting (with the exception of Dick Cheney) purely out of personal greed. Or on a whim. Leaders around the world have no such assurances now.

Comey belongs in the Big House not the White House. But, even if charges are brought against him for his execrable behavior during the election (if that’s even possible under the law), Comey will be granted a full pardon by the Crook in Chief he helped elevate.

More Nixonland. Minus a brain.

Sean Spicer in a lavender tie …

sean-spicer

acting like a press secretary. As opposed to yesterday, when he showed up in a dark blue tie to lie for five minutes and storm off. Sean’s lies are more deft today – at his first full press conference – and his manner genial. This is bad news.

Spicer’s got skillz … and possibly stamina, he’s promised to stay as long as the reporters want … so, unlike poor Kellyanne, he doesn’t look like he’s going to dry up and blow away any day now.

My guess is that yesterday Spicer relayed a tantrum, produced by the star of Project Pennsylvania Avenue, who values ratings above all else. Today someone … probably Ivanka or poor Kellyanne … told him the reviews on the tantrum were Rotten Tomatoes and they’d have to go a different way if they wanted to stay on the air.

Too bad. A win for “normalizing.” The Goebbels act would have made it easier to get rid of the Turd in Chief. And this Sean guy is versatile … man tantrum one day, lavender tie the next … which augurs well for The Turd. And poorly for the country’s good.

Blue People Trapped in Red Bodies

womens-march-indianapolis

This photo from downtown Indianapolis makes me nearly as happy as participating in the huge march and rally in Los Angeles did yesterday.

FOX reported (with admirable discretion given the fact FOX is the propaganda arm of the GOP) that the Indy Women’s March attendance was in “the thousands,” and I won’t make a guess based on one photo about how many thousands that might be. But I think it’s a safe bet that yesterday’s crowd was one of the largest for some time in my hometown, surpassing even the crowd that gathered to protest the 2000 firing by Indiana University of Bobby Knight. A Trump supporter, but – more importantly – a basketball coach.

Here’s the thing. We can’t right this ship unless we can turn a bunch of the red states blue and do it in two years … before the damage of unrestrained GOP gangsta rule becomes incalculable and irreversible. Mitch and Paul are licking their chops. So are their 1% “Fuck America, I Got Mine” supporters. Some of whom are now proposed for the Cabinet. Betsy DeVos, for instance, of Amway money, who never met a good public school she didn’t want to close and turn into a shitty charter school for the profit of a friend.

Indianapolis already knows that Trump lied about bringing jobs back to Carrier. The money he allegedly secured for Carrier will go toward automating the plant. Automation, by the bye, along with internet businesses such as Amazon and Uber, globalization, robber baron corporations who feel great loyalty to their short-term stockholders and none to their employees or communities, and those 1% UnAmericans who ship their jobs and profits overseas are the reason there aren’t any jobs left in Middle America. Not because a few black and brown folks still get food stamps. And a few elderly folks make enough from social security that they don’t have to share cat food with their cat.

In a month or two, all of Indiana will realize that the Obamacare they wanted to repeal is the Affordable Care Act that saved their kid’s life and made it possible for grandma to get a new hip. And the Hoosier faithful were never real warm to the idea of cozying up to the heathen Russkies. Just how far Trump has his head up Putin’s ass will hopefully become apparent to them and they won’t like it. And the Conman in Chief is no “Music Man,” that great mendacious musical written by a Hoosier, Meredith Willson. Not only will the Hoosier kiddies receive no musical instruments, the Music Man won’t be shown to have character and decency after all. And he’ll grab some other woman’s pussy after he’s done with Marian the Librarian.

And then there’s Pence. Speaking of musicals. Folks in Indiana don’t need to be told what a little shit Mike Pence is underneath the innocuous exterior. Initially as a Congressman (which took him awhile to attain because he used his campaign funds the first time around to pay off his mortgage), then as Governor, finally as Tea Party Senator, Mike has been doing to Indiana what he’d now like to do to the country. Which is basically to keep women barefoot and pregnant and close to the dinner table, deny rights to gay people, and tolerate and empower the intolerant. As governor, he pushed through the Religious Freedom Protection Act … because, you know, folks in Indiana are so restricted in their church-going.

Hmm, I wonder if the Religious Freedom Protection Act applies to Muslims.

How we got from Indiana voting for Obama in 2008 to cursing the nation with Mike Pence is the question that needs to be answered and addressed. If we’re to make sure that America (and especially states like Indiana) continues to have a pulse. Forget the Great Again garbage. Great Again like what? Like when black people knew their place and the only brown people were the wives of rich Indiana businessmen who spent their summers by the country club pool. Guys, the Fifties were sad and weird. And a helluva lot sadder and weirder if you weren’t white.

Somehow, some way, we have to make Hoosiers understand that their interests are not served by the servants of the 1%. They are still waiting for those jobs and that money Reagan promised them would trickle down. And, meanwhile, almost 40 years later, a whole lot more jobs and money have trickled out.

People in the middle of America have been lied to for so long, they are used to it. FOX news makes them angry – provides them their daily one-minute hates and gets the blood pumping – and then there’s their favorite bedtime story of what a Paradise This Would Be if the government just got off our backs.

To be told the truth is jarring for those of us who have been emotionally sustained by lies. It shames us, embarrasses, makes the blood pump in more stressful ways, keeps us up at nights. But a little time spent with Donald Trump as President might just open some eyes and minds. Maybe even hearts.

Events such as the women’s march in Indianapolis are a start. It remains to be seen whether it was an isolated protest by blue people trapped in red bodies. Or the beginning of real and lasting change. But I know it gave me hope.

Can’t Imagine Why Local Fox …

la-me-aerial-footage-of-crowds-gathering-in-downtown-los-angeles-for-womens-march-video

lowballed the crowd estimate for the L.A. Women’s March, but there were a hell of a lot more than “a hundred thousand” people in downtown today to say “He’s not my President.” Dodger Stadium holds 53,000, guys.

I say we could have easily filled Dodger Stadium ten times over. And a network estimate, later in the day, put the Los Angeles crowd at 750,000.

This is just getting started, folks. Let’s not give that piece of shit a single day of peace.

P.S. That’s me in the photograph, standing next to the woman in the pink hat.

Can’t Handle the NBC News Crew

lester_holt_savannah_guthrie_and_chuck_todd-h_2016

providing chatty commentary for Toad’s Wild Ride as if this were a normal day. Nothing against Lester, Chuck, and the solemn blonde woman who replaced Savannah (sorry, I don’t watch much TV). But I can’t listen to anymore comparative statistics, informative details from the research team, historical anecdotes as background to the advance of an armored tin can holding a nihilistic rotten sardine. At least there are folks along the parade route booing … they know what time it is.

It’s the worst day in modern American memory. Goodbye, Lester, Chuck, and Not Savannah. I’m off to brave the rain and join my wet brother and sister protestors in downtown Los Angeles. And to say hi to the skate boys in their ski masks. If this keeps up, I might help them burn a car one of these days. Or at least decide to look the other way. 

None of what is happening on this Inaugural Day is business as usual. None of it is okay. And to pretend that any of it is normal – even if only through one segment from hairspray commercial to cheeseburger paid ad, let alone a whole TV day and night – is grotesque.

With SCAmway Heiress Betsy DeVos …

poised to head the Education Department, where she intends to continue to hack away at public funding for public schools until there is none of either left, it’s good to look back a year. When Mother Jones published a good article on the looming crisis inspired by DeVos’s greedy ilk and looming as one of next big crises. Well, I guess if can’t find a decent high school to attend, you can always try selling Amway. It will make you RICH!
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/charter-schools-mortgage-crisis-bubble

 

The “Last Tango” Twitter Storm

hollywood_tweet1_jess

According to some, our current time should be called the Post-Truth Era, which has brought us our first Post-Truth President aided by (among other things) dozens of post-truth “news” stories, articles, statements, and tweets.

The “Last Tango actress was raped” story, which went viral these past couple days, is a good example of what Post-Truth looks like, how it behaves, and how hard it is to combat.

Some facts before I continue:

No, ‘Last Tango in Paris’ Director Did Not Say Marlon Brando Committed Rape
3 December 2016 5:54 PM, PST | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

The 1972 film “Last Tango in Paris” was pilloried across the internet this weekend over the belief that director Bernardo Bertolucci had admitted that a rape scene between stars Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider was an actual rape. But in an interview a decade ago, Schneider herself said that no sex of any kind took place during the scene, in which then-48-year-old Brando’s character uses butter to have anal sex with the 19-year-old Schneider. In fact, she said she felt “a little bit raped” by her director and co-star because they manipulated and coerced her into doing the scene, »
– Tim Molloy

I had to search for the Tim Molloy retraction article above. Every other publication (and social media, of course) went with the click-bait version that Bertolucci and Brando raped Maria Schneider on camera in a movie you’ve seen. And Bertolucci is finally coming clean after all these years.

Except, none of that happened. There was no rape. There was no real sex, consensual or otherwise. And the Bertolucci interview was from 2013, not now. Oh, and he didn’t say what those articles said he said. He said what Tim Molloy said he said.

There is an interesting discussion in this general area. Several actually. About power relationships (and abuses of same) in Hollywood and the wider world. About what is permissible in Art to obtain (or hope to obtain) a great performance. We could bring up the recent Profiles theater scandal. And talk about Balanchine. And that horrid studio director who made child actor Jackie Cooper cry on camera by telling him his dog had died. And the butter scene in Last Tango will be a good addition to that discussion. Along with dozens of other mindfucking directorial stunts from that era and before and after. We can talk about the psychic price of emotional coercion. And the extra responsibilities one should feel toward a young person that you’re about to turn into an overnight star.Truffaut clearly felt such responsibility, Bertolucci didn’t. He didn’t care about anything but his film.

I would love to have these discussions .. and many more on similar topics … and you’ll probably find that we agree on most of them. I’m not a fan of the tactics mentioned above. Or of the behavior. In the service of Art or personal pleasure or anything else.

What we can’t have is a discussion about rape in relation to Last Tango in Paris (1972). Because no rape occurred. And no sex happened, consensual or otherwise. It was rated X for nudity and language and adult situations as portrayed by actors. Not C for Crimes.

Here, let Maria Schneider tell you. Again. She stated that not only was there no actual sex in the infamous “butter scene,” but no real sex in the movie, period. “Not at all,” Schneider said.

Who starts these things? Who sat in a room somewhere, happened to see a three-year-old interview with Bertolucci who’s nearly 80 now and hasn’t made a film in years, decided to distort his statements just enough to get attention, then watched the Internet version of the Telephone Game spin out. Who does this? And what do they get from it?

I lost friends over this, by simply stating that the story didn’t happen the way they had heard it did. They were only Facebook friends, but, hey, in times like these we need all the friends we have.

And here’s a depressing thought. If it’s this hard to cry bullshit on fake 50-year-old movie gossip, how the fuck are we ever going to correct the record on stories of national import.

How will we ever get a real President again? One who’s sort of friendly to the truth. Who’s Post-Post-Truth.You know?

If you wrote this shit as a movie, you’d be laughed out of Hollywood …

trump-pic

A clueless alleged President Elect totally in bed with the Russian Gangster Czar, cutting deals on hotels in former Soviet states instead of attending to his transition, having his kids sit in on important government meetings, interrupting other meetings for the really important stuff (so he can talk to Indian hoteliers about still more personal business deals), merchandising your upcoming Presidency 24/7 with everything from caps to cups to chia pets for christmas before you’ve even set foot officially in your new white home (which you’ve let everyone know is a big step down from Trump Tower and you’re not happy), calling a meeting of reporters to give them crap in a vocabulary so limited it would embarrass Koko the Gorilla. Koko’s nicer, too! And more worldly wise.

No one would believe any of this in a screenplay … even for a movie with “Bad” somewhere in the title, maybe Bad President starring Billy Bob Thornton … and then you throw in the Media pretending this is business as usual? Nothing to see here?

Welcome to America Through the Looking Glass. Fuck me. Please make it stop.

 

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

russians_are_coming

That’s the title of a 1966 Cold War satire starring Alan Arkin as the commander of a Soviet sub that accidentally runs aground in new England, causing mass hysteria among the town folk. American kids back then had “duck and cover” drills just in case Russkie atom bombs were launched during Civics class, Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev could be seen pounding his shoe and saying “We will bury you” in a popular pre-cat-video meme, and the dicey (to say the least) Cuban Missile Crisis (Adios, Fidel) was a fresh memory for all.

We fought hot proxy wars with the Russia, the biggest of course being Vietnam. Southern California contractors got rich building missile system after missile system designed to protect us from the Russkies (and their little buddies, China) and stealth planes to spy on them. Devotees of spy stories are still talking about the Soviet mole who supposedly infiltrated the highest ranks of the U.S. intelligence services but was never found.

I could go on and on. But it’s fair to say that Russia is America’s most significant historical foe and – to young Republicans everywhere, especially in the Midwest and South – the most hated.

Now? Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are besties and rightwingers in the Midwest and South cheer? They cheer some more when Russian propagandists flood the internet with false stories against the Democratic nominee, which FOX and other rightwing outlets pass along, And they seem to think it’s just peachy that Russian hackers (under the direction of their present-day KGB) plagued the Clinton campaign with dirty tricks for the better part of a year and set out to rig the general election in favor of their butt buddy Trump.

trumputin-530x298

Some of this stuff qualifies – by the way – as acts of war, but they have provoked no public outrage among the rightwing populace. And not much among the GOP faithful, traditionally Russia’s greatest opponents.Yeah, we know, the country isn’t Commie anymore, it’s mostly run by gangsters. But Putin isn’t Brando in his bathrobe during his retirement years. He’s John Gotti with a nuclear arsenal, a KGB that kills people overseas when it’s not busy hacking our elections, and military operations in Syria et al.

Putin’s a piece of shit. So it’s no wonder he’s attached himself to the biggest piece of shit to ever to run for public office in the United States of America. He wants Syria to himself. He has oil to sell and horses to ride shirtless. And he’s willing to cut good deals on hotels and the like in Georgia and other former Soviet regions that he rules gangster-style now instead of with tanks. Business is business.

I get all that. I just can’t figure out why no one in America seems to be upset about it. Especially the folks in those regions of America – many of whom favored Trump – who were historically most afraid of Russia. And alarmed by all the bad things Russia might do to us.

The Russians aren’t coming, they’re here. And they’ve done a bunch of bad things, not the least of which is installing their gangster-style business mole in the highest office in the land. And still no one’s upset. ‘Cause, you know, Mexicans. Muslims. Gays.

Welcome to Vladimir Putin’s America. Borscht, anyone?