White House Correspondents’ Dinner goes too far…

April 29, 2018

I think the White House Correspondents’ Dinner might have jumped the shark (gone too far).

Just watched Michelle Wolf’s monologue (a comedian who performed there) and I felt so dirty — even if I did see the humor. To say her jokes were raunchy would be a supreme understatement.

I know raunchy is in, in the comedy business, but it seems to me that if these high-level journalists engage in such in public (I think it’s all on C-Span) they can hardly criticize Donald Trump for his vulgarities.

It’s times like these that I miss the good old days of my youth when the girlie magazines were hidden behind the counter or in my dresser drawer. When adults played Red Foxx records when the kids were not around (well not my folks but some must have).

But seriously folks, once we’ve elevated smut to as just acceptable speech for public display with our leaders and those who cover them yucking it up, somehow I think we have degraded ourselves. To be fair I did spot some uncomfortable faces out there when they panned the audience. So far I just have seen the video of Wolf’s bit. I see those last two words were almost a play on words — biting humor?

Interesting enough, I thought her funniest joke was a clean one:

Not word-for-word, but close enough:

Strange that the Trump campaign would go all the way to Russia to collude when Hillary couldn’t even make it to Michigan.

Even so, I think Trump deserved the lambasting he got but at the same time I don’t blame him at all for skipping the dinner (again). While it is true that he can dish it out but can’t take it, even so there would have been no point in going through the humiliation. Not sure it is ever in the interest of a president in attending the correspondent’s dinner.

This is not the first time there has been bad taste and controversy at the correspondent’s dinner. But because this thing is put on display for all to see and it is made up of the movers and shakers and hangers-on in our nation’s capital, I think it just further drags down the level of national discourse.

Yeah, I think they might have jumped the shark this time.

p.s.

In case you are not familiar with “jump the shark”, it means when a television show goes too far for a new idea and in so doing degrades the quality of what came before (or something like that). The derivation was from the old Happy Days sitcom when they ran out of ideas and they had the character Fonzie jump over a shark (and if you want more you’ll just have to look it up).

AND, I think Michelle Wolf is a good comedian. First time I ever saw her, though. However, to me a comedian should never read from notes (she did sometimes) — if you can’t remember your jokes you are an amateur, but this was a different kind of venue than the normal comedy ones — and I have noticed that comedians read from scripts in those old comedy roast things they used to broadcast. Still…

 


Cosby finds out sexual abuse not as popular as it once was…

April 27, 2018

The times have caught up with Bill Cosby. His fame, his money, his lawyers, could not protect him, it appears.

At 80 he is now facing what could essentially amount to a life prison sentence after being convicted on several counts of sexual assault. He had a long list of accusers in various incidents that did not go to trial and I won’t go into that or all the facts of the case that finally appears to have done him in — for one reason I don’t know it all.

But he had no chance in the time of #Me Too (a movement against sexual abuse of women).

It’s kind of like a comedian I heard decades ago who started out his act with something like “drunk driving is just not as popular as it once was”. He may have gone on and told some of those jokes but seemed to use that as a kind of cover. He was up against Mothers Against Drunk Driving. But Cosby appears to have no cover now.

I think Cosby did himself in when he admitted in a deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by the accuser in his criminal trial that he drugged women to loosen them up for sex. There were strategic reasons for that, such as avoiding perjury charges, I suppose, but he’s got to be questioning his high-priced lawyers on that one.

And there were just too many accusers in other incidents with all too similar stories.

It is ironic that in a time when a new movement against sexual abuse of women has taken such a hold we have a president who was elected even after a videotape of him bragging about molesting women was released during his campaign (albeit the tape was a decade old or so). But then again the revulsion of such a man being elected probably helped spur on the movement if not instigate it.

Everyone has always known about the legendary Hollywood casting couch and lecherous bosses here and there in life in general but what has astounded me in the past year or so of the #Me Too movement and its aftermath or its ongoing effect is how widespread sexual harassment has been.

While Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, he was finally convicted Thursday (April 26, 2018) of sexual assault in a Pennsylvania court for an assault in 2004.

The woman accuser did not file charges until a year after the incident.

Originally authorities declined to pursue the case. But subsequently Cosby agreed to pay his accuser $3.4 million is hush money. And later authorities re-opened the case. The original trial ended in a hung jury. But the second resulted in conviction.

Cosby sure paid a lot for sex (don’t know whether there were other hush money deals over the years). Seems like it was not money well spent and neither were his legal fees (unless perhaps his lawyers get it all overturned on appeal).

To be fair, even though he has been found guilty in a court of law and even though from all that has come out publicly we can assume at least he is a letch, he did have an argument (not saying he is correct) that he was being taken advantage of himself by a woman out to get money — $3.8 million. But the woman did attempt to press charges before accepting money. And sexual assault remains a crime regardless of payoffs.

Cosby seemed an expert at copping a feel — he should have copped a plea for a lighter sentence.

p.s.

The Cosby verdict can be seen as a win for human dignity and a loss for sexual predators and a signal that sexual abuse can’t hide behind power and fame.

But just as I can see a positive here I can’t help but have that nagging feeling that sex and romance, one of the major factors in making life worth living (and I don’t mean assault), are threatened in this new reality of the #Me Too movement.

 

 

 

 

 


Canada cop proves you don’t always have to shoot first and ask questions later…

April 25, 2018

Wow! one heck of a brave cop! That Toronto, Canada officer who took down that man who murdered ten and injured at least 14 by running over them with a van (on April 23, 2018).

After watching a video of the event (several times) I don’t think many people would have faulted him if he had just shot the guy dead. I mean the murderer egged him on to do so, actually asking to be killed, and he extended an arm out with what appears to be a handgun and points it at the officer, puts his arm down again and then extends it all over again in rapid fashion. He does this at least two times, it appears to me by watching the video.

Yeah, who could blame the officer if he chose to shoot the guy?

The bad guy audibly asks to be shot — suicide by cop?

But the officer did not shoot. Instead he steadily advanced toward the man and multiple times told him to release the weapon and get down on the ground. And finally the man did.

The brave cop called his bluff.

I’m not sure that is always a good idea — seems awful risky.

I think in his shoes I would have sought cover from my patrol car while continually demanding the man to get down, called for backup. But I am not cut out to be a cop for sure.

I like the idea that the officer was not wired to shoot first and ask questions later.

Whatever, this policeman is one brave man. We need more like him in police work, and I don’t mean that as a put down to all police officers. Being a policeman can be a super demanding job and it needs to be recognized as such and proper training and really good wages need to be provided.

p.s.

What I thought was weird is how nonchalant some passersby were as they walked by the take down of the murderer.


War without clear purpose or end is pointless…

April 17, 2018

Once more, we are in Syria, because?

Are we there to fight ISIS (a catchall name I’m using for Islamic terrorists), to eliminate chemical weapons, or to project our power in the Middle East? Does anyone care?

We don’t have the military draft so that helps avoid a lot of public protest.

You are paying your taxes, though, and it costs plenty. Trillions of dollars that could go to things like health care, finding a cure for cancer, fighting the opioid epidemic, housing the homeless (including needy children you should feel sorry for) or just reducing your taxes so you can keep more of your hard-earned money.

Or if you are of a mind we have to fight them (terrorists) over there before they come over here, then why are we not doing that full bore? Wasn’t President Trump going to do that (even though he goes back and forth on instituting a new pre-world War II style isolationism)?

War in general seems to accomplish very little. World War I was billed as the “war to end all wars” and you see where that got everyone. Two decades or so later there was World War II.

Of course if you are attacked, you have to defend yourself if you are to survive and retain your own style of government and culture. The United States was attacked directly at Pearl Harbor in 1941 by the Japanese and at the same time fascism in Europe, most notably Hitler’s Germany, was overrunning other sovereign nations.

At a heavy cost the western allies were successful in their defense.

That was back in the day when war was war and you fought to win. The goal was rather clear, although the allies could have stopped short to cut their losses and make a deal with Hitler and Japan. But the wise decision was to go for total surrender of the enemy.

Since then our wars are not fought like that. The goals are not clear to begin with, they tend to be nebulous or confused or just plain vague, i.e. George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”. A war against evil. But who is this “evil”? We cannot identify it as a single entity or nation. That makes it handy for those who choose to use war as a tool for geopolitical gamesmanship.

Maybe you think that is good or practical in this day and age, especially since the United States is the world’s superpower (for now). From what I have read our founding fathers did not intend this but of course they could not have possibly envisioned the world in which we live now.

But again, war seems to accomplish very little or only forestalls problems for a time. And wars with less than specific goals really are problematic. Take Korea. It began as a “police action” to prevent North Korea from taking over South Korea. But name it something else, it was still a war and was eventually recorded in history as such. But instead of total victory over the enemy we chose a truce. Today North Korea not only threatens South Korea but the whole world.

Then Vietnam had nothing to do with defending America, it was a proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union (North Vietnam’s major backer), in a battle over world hegemony.

We still had a military draft and we killed off part of a generation of mostly young men in a losing geopolitical game in which we lost by default — when you quit you lose.

My question was always, why get into a war you do not have the will to win?

And I’ll skip over other skirmishes to Iraq — the war against evil under the pretext of going after those who attacked us on 911, except we went into the wrong nation.

And now Syria.

Actually president Donald Trump I think might have inadvertently come up with a more sensible approach in his presidential campaign, that is go after the actual terrorists, destroying their assets, no holes barred. But that fell by the wayside. He does not seem to know what he is doing.

I think that there is some suspicion though out there that he has some secret deal with the Russians who only pretended to be unhappy with the missile strike on the chemical weapons assets of their ally Syria. Some think he might have tipped them off to avoid hitting Russians or their own equipment. That is just a theory.

But whatever the case, the first attack last year did not stop the chemical weapons use and it seems this latest one will not likely either, but if there is a resolve to keep up the pressure it might, I would think, but then we are committing ourselves to the possibility of ground attack — and then all that is not fighting ISIS, the official reason we have for being in Syria.

I think we need to take a sober look at the best way to fight terrorism, which could be a combination of military operations and economic measures, and other methods. But we have to admit to ourselves what we are trying to do and then do it.

Actually we probably can work with the Russians (we already are to a limited extent). They have a stake in fighting terrorism themselves. They have had such threats within their own borders.

You know, things were a lot safer for us all when the United States and the Soviet Union shared equally world dominance and kept each other at bay, and the whole world in the process, with mutually assured destruction. But there are more players in the game today, what with nuclear proliferation and technology that allows terrorists to infiltrate our physical territory and the ether of the internet.

And back to war. Even though the nature of war has changed, it still consists of using weapons that kill or maim people and costs a lot in blood and treasure and is too often futile over the long run.

The United States needs to get back to its constitution and reserve the power for making war for the congress — allowing the president to only order military action in bona fide emergencies for the immediate defense of our nation. Otherwise we will be committed to endless and pointless war with no end, as each president tries his (or her) hand at the geopolitical contest.

p.s.

And I will contradict myself slightly because I see nothing wrong with projecting power. We have to keep those who would threaten us off balance. I mean sometimes it is a bluff, and sometimes we will be called on that bluff, but we have to be wise enough to know when to respond.


CLARIFICATION: in the original draft of my previous post by way of a typo I wrote that chemical weapons were outlawed after World War II and I meant WWI. I changed it later. I make typos and blunders and it haunts me, especially when I catch them months later. At least on the internet one can correct them — I used to write for newspapers. I have blunders that will last forever in print. And I may have them in this post — I try to be careful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Are investigations faced by Trump smoke or fire? Congress needs to take back control of war power

April 15, 2018

Note: Monday morning (4-16-18), and I still have not seen the whole ABC News Comey interview, just snippets, and have not read the total transcript, but from what new I have seen and read, no news, just depressing facts. And I think I already conveyed as much myself but a New York Times columnist said he did not care for either Comey or Trump. Personally I think the American people are being ill-served by Trump, who is the wrong person to be sitting in the White House, and the Republican Party, which still does not quite see that the emperor has no clothes, although they are getting closer to that realization possibly. Or maybe it is just too shameful for most of the GOP to own up to. Comey is a little too self-absorbed and is now doing what has become fashion, profiting by public service via a book (speaking engagements too perhaps?). I’ll read on to see what I missed, but my heart is not in it — it’s all so depressing and tragic. Oh, and no smoking gun — I mean if there were it would have been in the headlines. But we really don’t need a smoking gun — just public outrage and scared politicians running for political cover. And then no more Trump.


 

In reference to the question in my last post it does not look like Trump is moving up in favorability after the Syria strike.

Meantime, I don’t know what effect fired FBI director James Comey’s soon-to-be-released book is having yet (with its excerpts and hype), and I understand he is to be interviewed on an ABC news program late this evening (Sunday night as I write this), but for all the hype I have not heard much of  substance yet. It seems more like Comey has sunk to the level of Trump, but, again I have of course not read the book yet.

What bothers me about Comey is that he acted as if someone anointed him as special advisor to the American people deciding on whom to vote for president. First he comments on an ongoing investigation into Clinton emails in July of 2016 and then former Attorney General Loretta Lynch says there is no case against Clinton and then Comey drops an October surprise something like a week before the election that a closed investigation of Clinton has been re-opened and then a day before the election says nothing new has been found. His rationale for releasing the fact of the investigation just before the election was that (just like everyone else) he thought she was going to win, but thought if she did and then news came out about the email investigation her presidency would be “illegitimate”. Seems to me he was assuming a little too much responsibility. I think all these FBI investigators should work out of public view and earshot within the law, then turn over their material to prosecutors, who should stay mum while deciding if there is enough to call for an indictment, and then make a public announcement.

Comey’s TV appearance, tonight as I write this, is on too late for me to watch. I’ll have to catch it all later Monday if at all.


 

On Syria. What a mess. It is a civil war, an insurgency, and a Russia and Iran against the West proxy war, with the addition of the Syrian government (and who knows? maybe others) using chemical weapons outlawed internationally since after WWI.

I’m not sure air strikes alone are going to stop the use of these chemical weapons. Does not seem likely.

It is significant that the United States had the backing of the United Kingdom and France in the strikes on the targets of suspected chemical weapons facilities at the end of the past week. And it might be a righteous cause, but is it a practical one?

The United States has no clear goals in our involvement in Syria, in which we do have thousands of troops on the ground, supposedly with the mission of fighting against Islamic terrorism — not directly against the Assad regime or Iran, but truthfully they are our enemies.

And it seems to me that there is a clear case here that further involvement and even this past week’s strike should or should have had congressional authorization. But congress does not want to take responsibility for anything, even if it is its job according to our constitution.

Congress needs to take back its power to declare war. I mean in instances of an immediate threat certainly the president can order action for our defense. This was not the case here. But congress needs to decide on long-term engagements, and open-ended, non specific resolutions do not suffice.

Trump may or may not have taken the correct action in the strike (and despite the involvement of the UK and France, it was Trump’s call). But there is little doubt that it came at a little too convenient time to allow him to try to deflect attention from his legal woes. And they seem to be bearing down on him.

Is it all smoke and no fire? I think we are going to find out fairly soon. If it is all smoke, there goes the credibility and trust in our institutions, what is left of it, and if there is fire, Trump will go down in flames. Ding Dong the witch is dead.

 

 

 

 

 


Will Trump go from zero to hero in the strike on Syria?

April 13, 2018

UPDATE (Saturday, 4-14-18):

In what to me is a kind of unbelievable irony, even for President Trump, in a tweet this morning after the Syria strike, he actually used that infamous line from George W. Bush at the beginning of the long drawn out Iraq war: “mission accomplished”. Let’s hope there is no more resemblance to that fiasco. The investigations, which include searches of his personal lawyer’s files, are nipping at Trump’s heels and some, even some previous supporters, are claiming the Syria attack was to deflect attention. No matter the real motive it probably will deflect attention at least a tad. But if it is shown to be successful and if Russia’s threat of retaliation on their part is shown to be no more than bluster, credit goes to Trump (and that has nothing to do with my personal opinion of him, which is not good).


 

Well he did it. Ordered new missile strikes against Syria in response and punishment for continuing to use Geneva-Convention outlawed chemical weapons. President Trump made good (or bad) on his promise this evening West Coast time as I write this, drawing a counter threat from Russia of retaliation for hitting its ally.


The attack was reported to be a combined effort between the U.S. and Britain and France.


Don’t know the details and if there will be follow-up strikes, but if the operation is judged as a success possibly Trump will have managed to go from zero to hero and to have fended off ever stronger criticism of his actions and his demeanor in office that at least to me have seemed like a drum beat getting ever louder with his own party threatening to join in themselves.

Tell-all books and even ongoing justice department investigations might fall by the wayside if the operation is seen as having success or promise thereof or if we become involved in a full-fledged war with Syria and its protector Russia — except if Russia were to resort to a nuclear retaliation then, well who knows? calamity all the way around.

I just got the news this Friday evening (4-13-18) like most anyone reading this. I’ll have to read more.


As I understand it now, unlike last year’s strike, this time some of the missiles at least were launched from manned aircraft.


One thing that bothers me is whether we know for sure that Syria was really the culprit in the chemical attacks. I like you only know what our side tells us. I have no reason to disbelieve and of course there are videos (but who knows their authenticity?) and other reports. We are asked to put a lot of trust in government, which as an institution has a spotty record.

But still, I feel relatively sure it is the Assad regime that pulled off the dastardly gas attack on its own people just last weekend and so many times previous.

Are the missiles and risking World War III, which might be totally devastating and short in nature, worth it?

We’ll find out soon enough I suppose.


The drum beat for the end of the Trump presidency gets louder…

April 12, 2018

Note: I began writing this post early this morning but was interrupted by important personal business, so I did not post it but thought I might as well post it now this afternoon before it is completely out of date — things move so fast nowadays. Do I think President Trump will be removed from office or be forced out anytime or anytime soon? I have no idea really. Should he be? well, he should not have been elected, but according to our rules he was without the majority vote. And if he is to be forced out it has to be over super serious, verifiable evidence for all to see (not rumor or tabloid-style accounts, or even campaign violations the likes of which other politicians have slid by on with no more than a fine). And we don’t want to become like some of those South American countries who regularly throw past presidents into jail. Trump has brought us down enough already.


 

Even though the demise of the Donald Trump presidency has been predicted to be soon for just about each week of his presidency, now a little more than a year old, the drum beat seems to be getting a little louder.

The Republican Speaker of the House is resigning, ostensibly to have “more time with his family” (so all working people should quit their jobs to have more time with their families?), and more GOP senators are talking about what would cause Trump to be forced out, namely firing the special counsel on the Russia probe (which by the way seems to be way more than Russia) or other such moves — replacing officials in the Justice Department or within the FBI itself.

Famous Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein insists that Trump must be covering up something powerful no one, except possibly investigators, know about (but I’m always a little suspicious of that line because I recall that W. Bush supporters believed him on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because they thought the “president must know things we don’t”).

A New York Times columnist writes today that it is a dangerous time for the nation because if Trump goes down he is prepared to take the country down with him. Trump has no regard for the rule of law.

I sense that many in the GOP who have reluctantly or with mixed emotions supported him are finding ways to ever so gently back away if not completely fly the coop.

And remember if you can, it took some two years into Nixon’s second term of his presidency for the drum beats of the Watergate scandal to get loud enough to force him to resign (the Watergate scandal of course only began during the campaign for his second term).

Amid all of this, there is a strong ongoing effort by the administration to discredit the investigators. If proof can made public that they are acting in a partisan or biased manner against Trump that might engender sympathy for Trump beyond his loyal following or at least a feeling that the rule of law, an impartial rule of law, cannot be suspended for undesirable or unlikable people.

Events we don’t yet know about yet (because they have not happened) of course will decide how all this plays out, one of them being what is done if anything about the Syria situation. When will the missiles fly, if at all? and how would Russia respond?

(I just went back in time last night and re-watched a BBC documentary on the Suez Crisis of 1956. Nikita Khrushchev, the communist leader of the Soviet Union, which has now reverted back to Russia, threatened to strike at the West with nuclear missiles over Britain’s intervention, along with that of France and Israel, into fighting against Egyptian forces that had taken over the Suez Canal  — The U.S. stayed out of it. Almost like history ready to repeat itself. I’m relatively sure that Trump and a lot of others who should do not read history — not even history that is relatively recent.)

Ironically it is almost better for the Democrats that Trump remains, especially leading up to the mid-term elections for congress, but even beyond. It gives them something solid to run against.

(But if he plunges us into a nuclear confrontation with Russia then it would not be good for anyone.)

If it is true that Trump really has something so gawd-awful to hide and that his frame of mind is to take the country down with him, well that is a scary thought indeed.

I lived through Watergate and I recall that there were fears among sober-minded, level-headed people that Nixon might use the excuse that we were still at war in Vietnam to fend off his political enemies by declaring martial law and/or essentially ordering up a police state.

That seems way beyond comprehension here and I’m thinking even Trump’s die-hard supporters would reject that. I mean that would be the ultimate in that big government they hate so much.

But Trump if anything is capable of doing the outrageous, but then again I think he has a sense of self-preservation and if things got too hot might just walk away.

To which some might say: please do.

Should Mike Pence or Mrs. Pence be shopping for new White House furniture?