Oct 11, 2017

October 8, 2017: Autumn, Once Again




Autumn, Once Again

It’s been two cold winters
And hot long summers
Since we celebrated
The arrival of spring

The trees now turn
the cold wind falls
setting leaves, a-chatter
a ritual rattle

I’ve made it
once again
But it’s never
quite the same

Momma don’t go
Daddy come home.

---
To Kate Camfield.  December 11, 1959-October 8, 2015.
And my step-father Vernon Lyles, whom today we laid to rest. 
And, lastly, to John Lennon for the coda

Sep 8, 2017

September 7, 2017: Time nor Place, Sowing Confusion, No Idea


 “Politics is a performing art involving timing and context.”
                        ----from “The Quotations of Chairman Joe”

It is the reason that Reagan was so successful.  It is the reason that he was called the ‘Teflon’ president.  Reagan understood that politics is a performance art and, like any artist, understood that timing and context are everything.  Not so the dolt now occupying his seat. 

Nowhere is this more dangerously on display than in the ongoing disputes involving North Korea.  At a time when Disgustus, full of bombast and sounding like some iron age god, warns of ‘fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen”, threatens a deeply insecure, indeed paranoid regime.  At a time when he openly declares that the “time for talking is at and end”; at a time when he threatens any country currently doing business with the regime with retaliation and sanctions, we find him openly criticizing our South Korean ally accusing Seoul of “appeasing” the adversary and threatening to end the current trade agreement with South Korea. 

These are seriously mixed messages sowing confusion among our friends while outraging the rest of the world community. 

Clearly something must be done with our trade agreements.  Since ratifying five years ago the current accord with South Korea, an agreement that was supposed to lower if not eliminate altogether our trade deficit with the country, the trade imbalance has doubled.  This is not the outcome intended and it has strained relations between the United States and its ally.  Addressing this issue is important for it has cost, by some estimates, 90,000 jobs in the United States and added to our standing as the world’s largest debtor nation.  But this, given the severity of the crisis over nuclear and missile testing by the North, is not the time.  Nor, perhaps, is South Korea the place for our trade imbalance is much more serious if one looks to either Japan, China, or the European Union. 

But Disgustus, perhaps seeking the ultimate diversion from his Russian troubles, has done his utmost to inflame the situation, now saying that we will not trade with any country doing business with North Korea.  Since this involves not only China but also India, Russia, Japan and a host of other nations it is clearly an empty threat; for such action would quickly bring not only the United States but the entire world financial structure to the ground.  While these actions might finally fulfill the masturbatory fantasies of one Steve Bannon they would do nothing to either address our economic woes nor keep the peace. 

In recent weeks, especially in the disgusting months of July and August we have witnessed and increasingly unhinged chief executive as he delivered a campaign speech to a Boy Scout Jamboree, and act for which the Boy Scouts was moved to apologize; we have seen him address a graduation of Coast Guard cadets using the occasion to whine about how he is treated in the press; we have seen him stand before a gathering of law enforcement officers and condemn
ObamaCare and call for the reinstatement of police brutality; we have seen him take the care and time to head off to Missouri to campaign against a Democratic senator while a region and a city drown; we have seen him speak to the nation and draw a false equivalency between the voices of hate and domestic terror and the forces that gather to protest them.  We have seen him, as ever the ingrate he is, call the White House, the very symbol of the American Republic, “a dump”. 

Clearly, this man knows not who he now is or the place that he now defiles.  Disgustus has no idea of time and place; no idea of what is appropriate and what is not; no idea of what is decent and honorable and what is corrupt and disgusting. The emperor does not wear well the emperor’s raiment. 

Evidence is gathering that the country is having its fill.  MSNBC recently aired video of a focus group gathered in Pittsburg a city that had voted for Clinton.  Gathered in the cross section of ten voters were four that had voted for tRUMP, none of whom support him now.  One lady said that “of course I knew he was crazy, but I expected that he would at least be professional, he’s not presidential, he’s not even professional”.   Another said that he had hoped he would be a great executive, delegating to competent executives and running the government like the businessman they all thought he was.  Clearly, he had bought the illusion presented on the ‘reality’ television show “The Apprentice”.  With tRUMP, illusion—fa├žade—is everything.  Then there was the man who said he voted for tRUMP but regretted it telling the interviewer that he wished Disgustus was on the other side because of the damage being done by this man to the causes he holds so dear.  They are not alone.  Disgustus has lost, in the last month alone, 9% of the white male voters without a college education and fully 56% say that he is “pulling the country apart”.  He is also tearing apart our alliances and the fragile, if enduring, peace that they have produced.

Donald J. tRUMP has no idea.  He has no idea of time and place.  He has no idea of where he is nor what he is doing.  He is the ultimate vandal realizing the wet dream of the “Generation of Swine” to bring the whole house down about our feet. 


Impeach and Imprison. 

September 6, 2017: Ignorant and Enraged, Hateful and Cruel, Demeaning Office and Country.


They put their trust in us.  They were persuaded by the previous administration to come out of the shadows.  They wanted to do what is right.  They registered with the government.  They subjected themselves to a rigorous vetting process, demonstrating responsibility, that they had a job or were in the process of educating themselves so to do.  They proved that they had no criminal records, that they have otherwise violated no law.  They are the 800,000 or more so-called “Dreamers”, young adults brought here as children illegally by their parents.  They arrived here at an average six years of age and this is the only country they have known. 

With a straight face and a stroke of the pen, Caesar Disgustus has put their future in jeopardy, threatening to tear apart families affecting millions of Latinos. 

He couldn’t help himself.  It was an Obama administration initiative and all things Obama are like a red flag before an ignorant and enraged bull.  He also couldn’t stop from characterizing these young people as he has previously characterized persons with Latin heritage.  Contending, with a straight face, that many of “them” are thugs and gang members and then adding, as a lingering afterthought, that “some of them are good people”, Disgustus returned to his campaign platform punishing those least deserving and most vulnerable as he wages his struggle to Make America White Again.  Mischaracterizing libeling and scapegoating a people is, and was, a disgraceful exhibition, demeaning the office he holds and the country he represents. 

Many pleaded with the ignorant twit to stay his hand.  Rescumlican senators Lindsay Graham, Susan Collins, and John McCain, among many others begged him not to take this action.  House Speaker Ryan likewise made the plea.  No matter.  These people are the ‘establishment’, an evil force representing the ‘deep state’ that Bannon and his ilk fear and loathe.  Word coming that tRUMP still talks with Bannon, and that his chief of staff cannot step in to prevent it, is revealing; for the paranoia that inhabits the soul of this administration runs deep, producing a dynamic in which any appeal by anyone of substance is bound to produce the opposite action in this White House.  Such is the dysfunction of this government. 

It was a hateful and cruel action taken against those who have trusted us and have tried so hard to make amends and to integrate themselves into our society.

It is well to observe that nowhere in this campaign to right the ‘wrong’ are the employers of these undocumented workers called to account.  No one on the ‘right’ side, if not the ‘white’ side of this issue is going to jail nor suffered to pay any penalty for their actions.  Instead they will be allowed to pocket their ill-gotten gains through the exploitation of these laborers forced into the shadows—reputations and fortunes intact.  In the fantasyland of Disgustus, the capitalist can do no harm. 


Impeach and Imprison. 

September 5, 2017: Simple Dulsatory Polemic, Elevation of Scum, Stirring the Shit


“This White House can be depended upon only to stir the shit, no matter how much it stinks”.
                        From “The Quotations of Chairman Joe”


Keith Olbermann, in a recent pronouncement in a podcast for “Gentleman’s Quarterly” that he calls “The Resistance”, described Donald J. tRUMP as “Scum”.  Indeed, he is.

The elevation of scum to the highest corridors of power, indeed, into the very inner sanctuary of the oval office, did not happen overnight.  We did not happen upon these crossroads by accident. 

It is now a decade since I first began writing, albeit furtively and sporadically (for life makes many demands upon the leisure time of the working man), these columns.  I began this journal with the opening headline, a parody of Earnest Hemingway, entitled “The Scum Also Rises”.   Indeed, unfortunately, it does.

So, began my chronicle of the decline and fall of the American Empire. I have attempted in recent columns to demonstrate that the mendacity that is the conservative movement has, after more than half a century, metastasized into a full-blown and virulent cancer now taking the form of our very own Caesar Disgustus.

Disgustus is beyond being a mere national embarrassment; he is beyond being a mere national humiliation. He is, a national shame, a national disgrace. 

As pointed out by Olbermann and many, many, others, the month of August reached a new low in this administration’s determined effort to plumb the depths of political depravity.  August, a month given to vacationing in which Congress out of session and the country otherwise distracted, is normally a slow news month.  The networks find themselves giving increasing air time to ‘fluff’ news stories about vacation spots and celebrities.  The most serious stories tend to revolve around the hurricane season and the weather.  Not this year.

To prevent the administration from moving the Keebler Elf –one Jefferson Beauregard Sessions—from the Justice Department to Homeland Security and appointing a new Attorney General, the Senate, in a rare exercise of wisdom, remained technically in session.  But no matter, for this White House can be depended upon to stir the shit, no matter how much it stinks. 

As so, we find Disgustus coming to the aid and comfort of Neo-Nazis, crypto-fascists and White Nationalists contending with a straight face that there were ‘good people in that crowd’ at Charlottesville, Virginia, a mob chanting “the Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil”.  We found him pardoning Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff of Phoenix who in his own words ran concentration camps holding illegal immigrants in which abuse, shame and torture were routine.  Found guilty of violating two court orders to cease and desist, Disgustus, during national emergency, was nevertheless found taking time to the real agenda at hand, which is to placate and appease his knuckle-dragging bigoted political base of support by granting a full and complete pardon.  Here Disgustus demonstrated not only his support of fascist police-state tactics, his not-so-latent bigotry, but his complete contempt for the rule of law. 

But, alas, our Disgustus is easily distracted. As hurricane Harvey did its worst along the Gulf Coast, Disgustus was attending to more urgent matters.   Dumping in some places over 50 inches of rain, producing in the process the greatest rainfall ever recorded on the North American continent and putting the country’s fourth largest city (Houston) under water, Disgustus would nevertheless be found tweeting about a newly released book by the now former sheriff of Milwaukee Wisconsin (another troglodyte), and heading to the great state of Missouri to tout the real agenda of this administration—you guessed it—tax cuts for the already rich, openly campaigning against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in the process. When Disgustus could finally find within himself the call to action he could not find within himself the need to meet a single flood victim nor stand beneath a single rain shower.  Instead he was found boasting of the federal government’s response, praising the states’ Rescumlican governor, expressing awe about the strength of the storm but finding no words of comfort and solace for those where were battered by it. 

This man is so myopic, so self-absorbed, so emotionally crippled, so ego-centric and self-serving that he cannot find within himself the words or compassion that this country identifies as the mark of a true president.  Donald J. tRUMP is worthless in a national emergency. 

And now we have hurricane Irma, a category 5 monster bearing down on the leeward Islands and heading for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and then, perhaps the Southeast United States.  As the country braces for another hit, Clarabelle the Clown trains his seltzer bottle upon the so-called “Dreamers”, young adults brought here illegally by their parents; here by no fault of their own, brought here at an average age of six years of age and now living and trying to function in the only country they’ve ever known. 

Disgustus says he wants a solution to the immigration problem and about that he is quite right.  This issue has been on the back burner for far too long and gridlock has prevented action for nearly two decades.  But instead of moving to deport the parents who brought them he, like the playground coward that his is, moves against the children.  Instead of working toward comprehensive reform that will not tear apart families and spread fear and hardship upon the second largest ethnic group in the country, Disgustus, like a true coward, wages war on the youngest and most vulnerable among them.  

There is a pattern here:  defense of bigots and white nationalists, pardoning a bigoted sheriff in the middle of a hurricane, pimping for another bigoted sheriff’s book while the storm rages, working to end the Obama-era “DACA” program and threatening to deport over 800,000 duly vetted and registered undocumented young people—many currently serving in our military—speaking before a gathering of police officers and giving them permission to return to brutal tactics, empowering—through Arpiao’s Pardon, police profiling and other tactics—discriminatory practices reminiscent of Jim Crow and what emerges is a profile of the most racially bigoted man to occupy the oval office since at least Woodrow Wilson. 

Donald J. tRUMP is a hateful bigot and a swine.  It is no mere coincidence that his first encounter with government—a lawsuit involving racial discrimination at Trump properties—has forever shaped the way he sees government and governance.  When he calls America “Back” to its greatness what he is calling for is a return to Jim Crow.  He has surrounded himself with people like the Mercer’s who long to see the civil rights laws repealed.  And now we find him, in the teeth of every form of hurricane, political and otherwise, holding steadfast to the mast of White Supremacy in his campaign to ‘Make America White Again”, by making America hate again. 

Impeach and Imprison.        


Aug 30, 2017

August 31, 2017: False Equivalency, Ever the Vandal, Bad Hair Day



It has been nearly three weeks now since the confrontations between white nationalists and counter protesters embroiled the administration in yet another series of controversies.  Citing violence and blaming ‘all sides’ Disgustus, in his immediate reaction to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, moved to quickly assert a false equivalency. An old fascist trick, Disgustus even referred to a newly-minted and wholly mythical “Alt-Left”.  There is no “Alternative Left”, there are only the sane and the insane; solid, honest and well-meaning citizens and the stark-raving mad.

Nevertheless, this mantra was quickly taken up by Faux News, citing violence by the likes of “Black Lives Matter” and other such groups, the evidence for which is nonexistent.  On Tuesday of the following week, tRUMP reversed himself, calling out the white nationalists and their ilk and condemning them, but within 48 hours he was once again defending his original statements, a posture he took with him to campaign-style appearances in Phoenix late last week.  Make no mistake about it.  Disgustus, ever the vandal, in deliberately and consciously moving to legitimize the worst elements of American Society.  As the political process, first legitimized Barry Goldwater, then Richard Nixon and his ‘Southern Strategy’, and now Donald tRUMP, so Disgustus is, by way of recognition, using his office to legitimize the white nationalists and crypto-fascists. 

“There were some good people, very good people, in that crowd”, said Disgustus to reporters at Trump Tower in New York as General Kelly, his Chief of Staff, stared gloomily down at his shoestrings.  The press conference was touted as a roll-out of an administration initiative to push an infrastructure and, therefore, a jobs bill.  Instead Disgustus, never missing an opportunity to stomp all over his message, led the discussion down the long and twisted road of racism and his tortured defense thereof.  One reporter quipped that “there are no good Nazis”, a point wholly lost upon the ever ignorant Disgustus who, reportedly, sleeps beside his copy of Mein Kompf whenever possible.  Let us finally face it:  Disgustus is a fascist.  Not, perhaps, a Hitler, but assuredly a Mussolini.  El Duce on a bad hair day. 

Impeach and Imprison.

 

August 30, 2017: Tragedy that is tRUMP, Nose of the Camel, Newly Minted Legitimacy



“The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path”

                         ----Pink Floyd “Brain Damage”

The tragedy that is Donald tRUMP is that not only has he has squandered his presidency, but that he has legitimized the worst elements of American Society.  In this he is not solely responsible, for he had a lot of help.

William F. Buckley Jr. once remarked that the difference between conservative and liberal is that the conservative has more kooks on his side.  So, it seems.  Buckley, to his credit labored with Eisenhower to marginalize at least some of the most egregious craziness rampant in the movement by banishing the likes of the John Birch Society from the Republican Party councils.  Not so anymore.  A decade or so ago, the Birchers were welcomed back into the fold, invited to the annual C-Pac conclave, a veritable cesspool of excrement, also featuring the likes of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter.  The nose of the camel, as is said in the Middle East, was back under the tent and the Rescumlicans welcomed it in.  And so, began the movement toward a form of ‘populism’, a political term that Huey Long would not embrace because of its historically racist implications. 

The tragedy that is Donald J. tRUMP is that first through his nomination for, and then elevation to, the presidency the Rescumlican Party and then the country at large has legitimized what he represents.  His elevation, in turn, of Steve Bannon and his ilk have, in turn, not only legitimized ‘stale-fart’ News but all that it represents.  Bannon can now, after a short stint in the West Wing, take his White House credentials with him as he parlays his newly minted legitimacy into an ever-greater political voice.    Bannon now, in his words, has his hands back on his weapons, only now his missiles are armed with ever greater warheads.  Disgustus and his Rescumlican enablers are responsible. 

mpeach and Imprison.

 

August 29, 2017: Beware of Darkness, Faux Populism, Herding the Swine



“Watch out now
Take care, beware
Of greedy leaders
They take you where
You should not go”

                            ----George Harrison “Beware of Darkness”

Last week’s departure of Steve Bannon from the White House was celebrated on nearly all sides as a move toward sanity.  The adults have finally triumphed, it is earnestly held, and now the Rescumlicans can move on to the real business at hand, which is always cutting the tax rates imposed upon their benefactors and paymasters.

Bannon had always been a cruel joke, a national embarrassment.  The darling of the Mercers, Bannon had commandeered tRUMP’s presidential campaign as it reeled from the emerging duel embarrassments of Paul Manafort and the ‘pussy-grabbing’ tapes, lending it enough of a ‘populist’ narrative to secure narrow victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania thereby winning the Electoral College and, with it, the presidency.  But it was always a ‘faux’ populism, emerging as it did from the darling of a hedge-fund manager and the political party of Wall Street financiers.  For no matter, what was being said about the return of good paying jobs and infrastructure investments, the real agenda of the Rescumlican Party, since its inception, has always been about comforting the comfortable. Lincoln and Stanton were, after all, renowned railroad and corporate attorneys. 

No sooner had Bannon been banished than Disgustus could be found once again on the anti-social media ‘twitting’ away his presidency by calling out the Rescumlicans in congress for failure to repeal ObamaCare; once again on the campaign trail this time in Arizona calling out and criticizing its two Rescumlican senators; and on the phone with several Rescumlican senators demeaning them for not adequately defending him and protecting him from the ongoing Russian investigations.  In sum, it is difficult to tell, as of this writing, that Bannon is gone.

I suspect he isn’t.  For Bannon is a bit of a queer bird: a conservative at war with the conservative movement.  Bannon is said to represent the ‘base’ of the movement as it has morphed from a loose coalition of religious evangelicals and Wall Street financiers to now include a strong contingent of White Nationalists, crypto-fascists and Neo-Nazi’s marching under the guise of a ‘populist’ banner.  These people have little in common with main-line religious fundamentalists and loathe Wall Street and international financiers-- with the single possible exception of another queer duck: Robert Mercer.

It appears to this observer that Bannon, like nearly all of tRUMP’s appointees, was ill-suited for his appointed tasks—and no more obviously than his short stint on the National Security Council, an act almost on par with Caligula’s appointment of a horse to the Roman Senate.  Bannon’s role in life is as provocateur, not administrator.  But Disgustus, never able to tell the difference, judged him the man of the hour. 

Now Bannon returns to “Stale-Fart” News to once again lay hold of his weapons and the West Wing breathed a sigh of relief.  It was a short-lived respite.  For while General Kelly is said to have gained control of the paperwork, we find Disgustus openly waging Steve Bannon’s war upon the Rescumlican establishment. 

Bannon immediately announced that the tRUMP presidency, from the point of view of achieving any of the agenda that his ‘movement’ represents is over.  He has returned to his role as rabble-rouser, provocateur, and cattle-prod hoping to herd the swine toward some white nationalist restoration.  Disgustus, however, now finds himself face-to-face with his real mistress: greed.  Having assembled a cabinet based entirely upon greed and the service thereof, and having swallowed whole Paul Ryan’s philosophy of greed, Disgustus is now the puppet of the very forces that he so recently vanquished:  greedy leaders, about to take us where we should not go.

Impeach and Imprison.

 

Aug 25, 2017

August 25, 2017: No Inherent Value, Idiocy Enshrined, The Republic Itself


“It is an idea as old as Aristotle: A republic rests upon a large and controlling middle class.
To wage war upon the middle class is to wage war upon the republic itself.”
                        ----from “The Quotations of Chairman Joe”
               

He takes his science on climate change from Arthur Robinson, a biochemist, not a climate expert and contends that concerns about the climate are overblown.  He is a strong supporter of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, contends that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a mistake; that African-Americans were better off economically before the civil-rights movement; that there are no white racists in America today, only black racists.  He is a rabid Clinton hater, deeply immersed in the various conspiracy theories that abound on the fringes of the political wrong.  He has helped empower the so-called “Alt-Right” a gussied-up term for white nationalists, crypto and proto-Nazis, which “has included anti-Semitic and white-supremacist voices”, foremost among them Brietbart “News”.  He has contributed millions of dollars to Republican candidates, 22.5 million in 2016 alone, and he is the largest private contributor to Donald J. tRUMP’s presidential campaign. His name is Robert Mercer, “a reclusive Long-Island hedge-fund manager, who has become a major force behind the (t)RUMP presidency”; and he has had “surprising success in aligning the Republican (Rescumlican) Party, and consequently America, with his personal beliefs.” (1)

“Mercer is the co-C.E.O. of Renaissance Technologies, which is among the most profitable hedge funds in the country.” (2) David Magerman, described by reporter Jane Mayer for the New Yorker magazine, as “a senior employee at Renaissance,” …” told the Wall Street Journal that Mercer’s political opinions ‘show contempt for the social safety net that he doesn’t need, but many Americans do’.  He also said that Mercer wants the U.S. government to be ‘shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.’ Several former colleagues of Mercer’s said that his views are akin to Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand.  Magerman told me (Mayer), ‘Bob believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make.  A cat has value, he said, because it provides pleasure to humans.  But if someone is on welfare they have negative value.  If he earns a thousand times more than a school teacher, then he’s a thousand times more valuable.’  Magerman added, ‘He thinks society is upside down—that government helps the weak people get strong, and makes the strong people weak by taking their money away, through taxes.’” (3) an attitude “‘typical’ of the ‘instant billionaires’ in finance who ‘have no stake in society’ unlike the industrialists of the past, who ‘built real things.’”  (4).

Andrew Breitbart was an idiot when alive; in death, his idiocy has become enshrined in his legacy “Breitbart News”, an online blog/journal whose most accurate reporting involved Bill Clinton getting head in the oval office.  Since then it, along with the “Drudge Report” and Alex Jones’ insane “InfoWars” radio broadcasts, has become the fetid petrie dish for toxic anti-social conspiracy theories poisoning and killing rational political discourse in this country.  The ‘Alt (alternate) Right now presents us with ‘alternate facts’ from some presumed alternate universe.
Breitbart was taken over by one Steve Bannon who moved to secure its existence by enlisting the financial patronage of the Mercers who have contributed millions of dollars to underwrite the fraud.  From the cesspool of the ‘Alt-right’ straight into the damaged ears of Rush Limbaugh to the fake news of Fox (accurate about 18 per cent of the time), and on into the Koch-addled brain of the Republican Party this “alternate reality” is imposed upon us.  Mercer made Bannon at Breitbart and his financial support of tRUMP made Bannon tRUMP’s campaign C.E.O. (a position hitherto unheard of), and Kellyanne Conway his campaign manager.  It also put them in the White House.

A study of Mercer and Bannon are important not only for what it tells us about the deep paranoia that lurks just beneath the surface of the alt-right (alt-wrong); a paranoia held in common, though not to the degree, of the long-suffering conservatives.  For this derangement is of an entirely higher level of magnitude, finding Bannon and his ilk confusing themselves with Leninists (perhaps explaining their infatuation with all things Russian), and plotting endlessly with a fictional ‘deep state’ producing, in turn, perpetual crisis and turmoil as they wage war upon the ‘establishment’, the ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘institutional competence and memory’.   For these reasons, we can see in Mercer and Bannon a reflection of the mind, such as it is, of our very own Caesar Disgustus.

It is no surprise, then, that as of this late date hundreds of senior level positions have not been filled; that the State Department has been savaged with many ambassadorships not yet staffed; that draconian cuts are in the works for virtually every federal agency not involved with the military-industrial complex; that lack of experience is put at a premium.    

But a study of Mercer and Bannon also reveal how Disgustus views humanity: Ones worth is directly related to one’s net worth.  Is it any wonder, then, that tRUMP would assemble about him a cabinet and group of advisors that are worth an estimated $61.380,600,000, a figure greater than the GDP of 114 of the world’s nation-states? (5).  tRUMP’s entire concept of human worth is invested (and infested) in money.  It is for this reason that he constantly inflates his fortune and for this reason that Disgustus has assembled what comedian John Cleese has described as a ‘crew of a pirate ship’ in the form of multi-billionaires skilled in the dark arts of separating labor from the wealth that it creates. These are the only people he ‘respects’; the only people, in this view, that have worth; people, in whom, the narcissist sees his own reflection.

Two points follow from the above.  Disgustus only recognizes money, indeed worships only money.  Nothing else has value.  Secondly, in the words of his biographer David Kay Johnson, the people who supported tRUMP have value only in the votes they give him.  He will not be their savior, for Disgustus they have no real value. 

Let there be no mistake: whatever Disgustus says about others he is attributing to himself and he is now about the business of creating that very dystopia so graphically attributed to others in his inaugural address. The struggle to create that ‘more perfect union’ has run amok.  The struggle for the ‘American Dream’ has become the ‘American nightmare’; the ‘American Utopia’, is fast becoming the ‘American Dystopia’.

Meanwhile the war against the institutions that have built and nurtured the middle class continues unabated; and with it the war against the republic itself.  Whatever and whomever this man touches he diminishes and destroys.

Impeach and Imprison.

----
(1).  Mayer, Jane “Trump’s Money Man. How Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge-fund tycoon,
                        exploited America’s populist insurgency” The New Yorker March 27, 2017
                        pp 34-45

(2).  Ibid. pg. 36
(3).  Ibid. pg. 37
(4).  Ibid. pg. 37
(5).  Harper’s Index “Harper’s” magazine. May 2017 page 11.

  


August 14, 2017: Trapped in ‘Doodyville’, Phinias T. Bluster, Barnyard Blowhard


“And if you go Chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ‘em a “hookah” smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call ‘The Donald’
When he was just as small”

                        ----Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit” (parody)

We have been sucked down a rabbit hole or, perhaps, a worm-hole drawing us into a time-warp, like something straight out of science fiction, taking us not to Alice’s “Wonderland” but straight back to that place so very dear to every card-carrying member of the “Generation of Swine”: “Doodyville”.

Yes, kids it’s “Howdy-Doody” time. That place that, so long ago, first caught our imagination. The problem is that “Howdy” and “Buffalo Bob Smith” are no longer with us, but Phineas T. Bluster is still mayor and the pesky village idiot “flub-a-Dub” is still loose about town. 

Something has gone seriously wrong in “Star Trek’s” transporter room for “Doodyville” has morphed into Washington D.C. and Bluster is no longer mayor but president of the United States, and “flub-a-dub” is now leader of North Korea.

We’ve had a ‘war of words’, so to speak, in the last week or ten days, striking the international community like a hammer hitting a tuning fork.  What is terrifying is that this war of words involves the possible use of nuclear weapons. 

Caesar Disgustus is, at this point in his reign, in desperate straits.  He needs a major diversion, something that will get the country’s attention once and for all off the Russian investigation and his web of corrupt financial dealings associated with it.  “Flub-a-Dub” needs security and to be recognized as an important regional, if not global, leader.  The problem is that neither of them are any good at walking back from the rhetoric, neither can admit mistakes, neither can be seen to capitulate. 

Disgustus had made his case for the presidency by telling the country that he is the greatest deal-maker in history.  That remains to be seen.  But what is clear is that any negotiations worth their salt are not conducted in public under the harsh glare of klieg lights.  All serious negotiations are done behind closed doors so as to prevent the necessity of each side, or both sides, from being seen as retreating by compromise.

“Twitter” is not the medium for conducting any public policy, especially international relations. It is obvious to even the most inexperienced negotiator that one does not negotiate on ‘Twitter’, for this medium is made only for the simple declarative statement, here twisted by Disgustus into baiting and bombast. Not only is the ‘(anti) social media’ altogether too public for such delicacy but one cannot address complex issues in 40 characters or less, unless, of course, one is a birdbrain.  Now the birdbrain in the White House is presently painting himself into a corner; climbing out on a limb from which he will not easily climb down.  Disgustus says he is responding to new threats by the Koreans.  It is a lie.  “Flub-a-Dub” and his regime have been making the same bellicose statements for years, and what is different is not the range of the latest missile tests or reports that they can now be armed with nuclear weapons.  These things have been a long time in coming and the U.S. has very few options to prevent it.  What is new is that we have an idiot of our own at the head of the government, a barnyard blowhard full of hot air and bluster who knows not where he is going nor how to get there.  How long we will be down this rabbit hole, long we will be trapped in “Doodyville”, how long we will be lost in this national nightmare remains to be seen.   “Clarabelle” the clown has long since morphed into ‘Captain Kangaroo” and can no longer alleviate the tension.  It is a very dangerous situation.

It is clear that the swine in the ‘Peanut Gallery’ have smoked too much ‘hookah’ and have dropped altogether too much acid.  Our collective ‘flashbacks’ have become a national, indeed an international nightmare.

Only a twit uses ‘twitter’.
Only a birdbrain ‘tweets’.


Impeach and Imprison.

Aug 11, 2017

August 10, 2017: Marooned in Baku, Giant Red Flag, Little Due Diligence


 
“It’s a horrible law and it should be changed”
              ----Donald J. tRUMP on the Foreign Corruption Practices Act.
 
“Why would someone put a luxury hotel there?  Nobody who can afford to stay there would want to be in that neighborhood.” Said a former top official in Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Tourism (1).  Originally intended as a high-end apartment building the Trump Organization, after signing multiple contracts with Azerbaijani developers quickly began transforming the “tower into an ‘ultra-luxury’ property…with ‘spectacular views of the city and the Caspian Sea’”.  It was a strange location for such a grandiose undertaking for “the Trump Tower Baku is in an oddly unglamorous location; the underdeveloped eastern end of downtown, which is dominated by train tracks and is miles from the main business district…Across the street from the hotel is a discount shopping center; the area is filled with narrow dingy shops and hookah bars.  Other hotels nearby are low-budget options…there are no upscale restaurants or shops. Any guests of the Trump Tower Baku would likely feel marooned.” (2) 
 
Indeed, the building is virtually encircled by highways, on and off ramps the tangle of which presented “New Yorker” magazine’s reporter-at-large Adam Davidson with a “comical exchange with a taxi-driver who had no idea which combination of turns would lead to the building’s entrance”.  Given the difficulty in reaching the building as well as its placement within the matrix of the city, Davidson said that “the more time I spent in the neighborhood, the more I wondered how the hotel could have been imagined as a viable business” (3).  Why and how indeed.
 
Davidson further elaborates that by the time the Trump Organization entered the picture the construction boom in Baku had ended “and the occupancy rate for luxury hotels in the city hovered around thirty-five percent.  Jan deRoos, of Cornell University, who is an expert in hotel finance, told me (Davidson) that the developer of a five-star hotel typically must demonstrate that the project will maintain an average occupancy rate of at least sixty percent for ten years.  There is a long-term master plan to develop the area around Trump Tower Baku, but if it is implemented the hotel will be surrounded for years by noisy construction projects, making it even less appealing to travelers desiring a luxurious experience—especially considering that there are many established hotels on the city’s seaside promenade.” (4)
 
As with launching his home mortgage adventure on the cusp of the real estate collapse of 2007-8, tRUMP, once again demonstrating his flawless business acumen and with consummate timing jumped into the middle of a construction project that made little sense.  The question is: why?
 
“According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index”, writes Davidson, “Azerbaijan is among the most corrupt nations in the world” and “(t)he Azerbaijanis behind the project were close relatives of Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister and one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs…at the time of the hotel deal Mammadov, a career government official, had a salary of about twelve thousand dollars, but he was a billionaire” (5).  In reports by major news organizations (6) citing “a series of cables sent from the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan in 2009-2010, which were made public by WiKiLeaks” …Ziya Mammadov is described “as notoriously corrupt even for Azerbaijan”.
 
According to Alan Garten, then legal advisor to the Trump Organization, tRUMP played a ‘passive role’, merely “allowing his famous name to be used by a company headed by Ziya Mammadov son Anar (net worth estimated at over a billion dollars)” for which he received, according to limited public filings at least 2.8 million dollars plus an additional 2.5 million in 2012. “The Washington Post published Garten’s description of the deal and reported that Donald Trump had ‘invested virtually no money in the project, while selling the rights to use his name and holding the contract to manage the property”’. (7)
 
But the tRUMPs were, as usual, less than completely forthcoming.  Not only have they failed to fully disclose everything they were paid in the transactions, the deal tRUMP made with Anar also included Ziya’s brother Elton, then an “influential member of the Azerbaijan parliament. Elton signed the contracts, and in an interview…confirmed that he founded Baku XXI Century, the company that owns Trump Tower Baku.”  He would not confirm who owns Baku XXI Century, citing a ‘commercial secret’, but “added that he ‘controlled all its operations’ until 2015, when he cut ties to the company” (8) about a year and a half before Donald J. tRUMP, upon being elected to the presidency, likewise did the same.
 
While there is presently no evidence of bribery, kick-backs, money-laundering or racketeering the Baku project nevertheless raises eyebrows.  Real estate ventures, especially large real estate ventures, and very especially large real estate ventures that make little sense both in terms of location and immediate and mid-term viability, draw special attention of prosecutors and those familiar with the ancient arts of corruption.  Large real estate projects involve thousands of contracts with suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors, and investors.  Projects of this magnitude may have financial dealings that span the globe.  These projects are perfect if one is looking to set up a shell company through which to launder money or bribe officials.  Indeed, in this particular example “Alan Garten, the Trump Organization lawyer, did not deny that there was corruption involved in the project”. In fact, many of the contractors were paid in cash. Davidson was told that bribes were paid and that graft was routine. ‘I’m not going to sit here and defend the Mammadovs’ Garten said.  But from a legal standpoint, he argued, the Trump Organization was blameless.  In his opinion, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act doesn’t apply to the Baku deal, even if corruption occurred. ‘We didn’t own it,’ he said of the hotel. ‘We had no equity, we didn’t control the project…” (9), therefore there could have been no violation of the law.
 
But, according to “Jessica Tillipman, an assistant dean at George Washington University Law School, who specializes in the F.C.P.A,…” you can’t go into business deals in Azerbaijan assuming that you are immune from the F.C.P.A…nor can you escape liability by looking the other way.  The entire Baku deal is a giant red flag—the direct involvement of foreign government officials and their relatives in Azerbaijan with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Corruption warning signs are rarely more obvious.”
 
“As the Mammadovs were preparing to build the tower, the family patriarch, Ziya, was cementing his financial relationship with the Darvishis, the Iranian family with ties to the country’s Revolutionary Guard.”  “At least three Darvishis—the brothers Habil, Kamal, and Keyumars—appear to be associates of the Guard.”  “A cable sent on March 6, 2009, from the U.S. Embassy in Baku described Kamal as having formerly run ‘an alleged Revolutionary Guard-controlled business in Iran.’ The company, called Nasr, developed and acquired instruments, guidance systems, and specialty metals need to build ballistic missiles.  In 2007, Nasr was sanctioned by the U.S. for its role in Iran’s effort to develop nuclear missiles.”  The cable also said that “Kamal had recently established ‘a close business relationship/friendship’ with Ziya Mammadov” leading to “at least eight major road construction and rehabilitation contracts, including contracts for construction of the Baku-Iranian Astara highway” (10).
 
The Revolutionary Guard has been identified by the United States as a “major supporter of Hezbollah and other international terrorist groups.
 
The question presents itself: what were the Darvishis seeking to gain through their dealings with the Mammadov’s?   “Mounting international sanctions made it far more difficult for Iran to sell oil abroad, receive foreign funds, and import products.  International banks became increasingly reluctant to accept funds from businesses owned by the Revolutionary Guard, severely limiting its ability to support allies such as Hezbollah and the Syrian government.  At a moment when Iran was struggling to find ways to send money outside the country Keyumars Darvishi joined Azarpassillo (an Iranian Front Company) and began making one deal after another in Azerbaijan…It might also have caught the attention (of the Darvishis) that the Mammadovs had their own private bank—one that had unfettered access to the global financial system. 
 
 
The trail is long and tortured.  Ziya has been removed from his post, his son has lost his seat in parliament, and tRUMP has since backed out of the deal.  But for several years tRUMP has prospered from deals that involved a business relationship with what the publication “Foreign Policy” called “The Corleones of the Caspian” (11) and, by extension, their associates with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and terrorist groups. 
 
“American companies”, writes Davidson, “must insure that they are not receiving funds that originated with any sanctioned entity.  Ignorance is not a defense, especially if there is ample warning that a foreign partner could have a link to such an entity.  Most firms, upon hearing of even a slight chance of Iranian involvement, conduct due diligence that is much more extensive that what is typical for F.C.P.A compliance.  Erich Ferrari, an attorney who specializes in sanctions-related legal cases, said that before the Trump Organization cashed any checks it should have been certain of the ‘source of the funds’— ‘not only the bank it was remitted from but how the Mammadovs actually earned the money they paid.’  He said of the Baku deal, ‘It takes a lot to shock a lawyer, but I’ve had very few clients do so little due diligence.’”  (12)
 
tRUMP is seen here evidencing the same lack of ‘due diligence’ that he applied to vetting his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.  He is also demonstrating his contempt for the law as well as his firm belief that the rules simply do not apply to him.  In seeking his fortune snorkeling in the financial cesspools of the world, tRUMP may have, perhaps inadvertently, played an important albeit secondary role in supporting terrorism.  For by lending his name he at a minimum helped legitimize what, by all accounts, was a very corrupt enterprise.
 
It is time for a full investigation.
 
Impeach and Imprison.
 
-----
  1. Davidson, Adam.  “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal” “The New Yorker” March 13, 2017
p. 48
 
  1. Ibid.
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid. p. 50
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid. p. 53
  9. Ibid. p. 54
  10. Ibid. p. 52
  11. Ibid. p. 55