Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Care for a nice smallpox epidemic, anybody? Well then, how about a "refreshing" case of polio? The anti-vaxxers are counting on Trump.

A smallpox victim. Photograph from the website of
From Stat News, “Reporting form the frontiers of health and medicine.”
The discredited researcher [Andrew Wakefield] who launched the anti-vaccine movement met with Donald Trump this summer — and found him sympathetic to the cause. Now, with Trump preparing to move into the White House, leaders of the movement are newly energized, hopeful they can undermine decades of public policy promoting childhood vaccinations. 
At the most basic level, they’re hoping Trump will use his bully pulpit to advance his oft-stated concern — debunked by an extensive body of scientific evidence — that there’s a link between vaccines and autism. 
former doctor whose medical license was revoked, Wakefield launched the movement to question the safety of vaccines nearly two decades ago with a fraudulent study (which has since been retracted) suggesting that a widely administered vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella can cause autism. 
Wakefield and a small group of like-minded activists spent nearly an hour with Trump in the closing months of the presidential campaign. “I found him to be extremely interested, genuinely interested, and open-minded on this issue, so that was enormously refreshing,” Wakefield said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

David Brooks’ goes off the political deep end

David Brooks' idea of a
crazy, left-wing, wild-eyed,
radical modern leftist
Normally, I ignore my fellow progressives when they foam at the mouth about David Brooks, the New York Times columnist who is sort-of, not-quite-exactly, more-or-less-rightish-leaning,  semi-kinda-conservative.

Not that I’m likely to recruit an army to march behind him. As a general rule, Brooks makes bland but not really offensive comments that are well short of outrageous, and likely to have all the impact of a marshmallow colliding in outer space with a powder puff.

But today he made my head explode. 

Brooks first observed that the traditional political power centers are fracturing.  Then he speculated. “Instead of just R’s and D’s there will be a Trump-dominated populist nationalism, a more libertarian Freedom Caucus, a Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren progressive caucus, a Chuck Schumer/Nancy Pelosi Democratic old guard.”

Fine, so far. But then he pressed the detonator button that blew up my brain by declaring, “The most important caucus formation will be in the ideological center. There’s a lot of room between the alt-right and the alt-left, between Trumpian authoritarianism and Sanders socialism.”

What!  Huh? Bernie Sanders is “alt-left?” Brooks has the blind temerity to tell me that Sanders and Warren are the over-the-top equivalent in extremity of neo-fascist, race-baiting, torture-supporting, mass-arrest favoring,  gun-toting, Medicare and Social Security-busting, business-deregulating Trump supporters?

That’s beyond outrageous! That’s teetering on the edge of criminal libel.

What does Sanders favor? He favors income redistribution by creating well-paying jobs that would more closely resemble what we had in the 1950s and 1960s, before America ceased being “great again.”

He favors free public education, such as what we used to have at the City College of New York — once "the poor man's Harvard" and at  other public institutions.

He favors Medicare, including Medicare for all. And he favors regulating corporate power so that a handful of people cannot control — not to mention strangle — Democracy.

He favors conservation and the environment over private and corporate interests.

Know who first came up with that stuff in America? President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, at the dawn of the 20th Century. It’s about as far left radical as your great grandmother's rocking chair.

What has happened is, this country has lost its mind and moved so far to the right that we can’t even see any more where we used to be without a high powered telescope So shut up and listen, David Brooks.

There is no left wing in this country any more, assuming there ever was one with any serious power. Sanders is the center. Schumer and Pelosi are somewhere to the right of that. The  Conservatives, and the “Freedom” Caucusers, and the Neo-Conservatives and the Neo-Nazis around Trump are off the right  edge of the right wing, floating in crazy whack-o land.

And evidently, so these days, are you, David Brooks. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Memo to Mayor Bill DeBlasio: Here’s how to deal with Donald Trump’s threat to punish 8.4 million New Yorkers

So Bill, as one of your fellow New Yorkers, there are some things 
One of New York City's
best weapons against
Donald Trump is his New
York City real estate.
I like about you and others I don’t. Notwithstanding the negatives, I feel for you trying to deal with The Trumpster’s threat to whack the city on our collective butt if we continue providing sanctuary to undocumented aliens.
"Block funding for sanctuary cities ... no more funding. We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths," Trump said in Phoenix. "Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.”
Given that a significant chunk of New York’s budget comes from the Federal Government (although even that is a  mere fraction of what New York and its citizens give to the Washington) you might be tempted to cave in and start rounding up foreigners for transport to….wherever.

Don’t fall for it, Bill.

In the first place, if the Federal government under Trump wants to round up immigrants, let them do it on their own dime. The cops in New York have enough problems rounding up real crooks and keeping traffic moving. The last thing they need is to stop everything and deplete the city’s resources to bust some kid because his parents brought him here when he was six months old.

Every time a local cop has to arrest and then process an undocumented immigrant, he’s saving the Feds from the expense of doing it themselves. This is especially critical to Republicans and The Trumpster, who plan to drain the Federal treasury by slashing and hacking away at the taxes on the rich.

Besides, New York has powerful weapon. The Trumpster not only lives here, he evidently plans to spend a good deal of time here.

Now that he’s president, his presence means that Fifth Avenue gets blocked off by our cops as part of his security. Cops erect barriers in front of 725 Fifth Avenue, the address of Trump Tower. They move sand-filled dump trucks into position around Trump Tower, taking them out of service for the duration of The Trumpster’s stay. They have to deal, at great cost to New Yorkers, with traffic jams, delays, and police overtime.

“Well from now you,” you can tell Trump, “Fuhgedaboudid.” You can be very nice to him while you say it, Bill. You can gently say, 

“Aw shucks, Mister President, now that you’ve cut so deeply into our operating budget by slashing our funding, we just don’t have the money for your security any more.”

You won’t even be setting a precedent, Bill. Rudy Giuliani, who seemed to have his own personal foreign policy when he was mayor here, set the precent back in 1995. That’s when he not only refused to provide security for visiting PLO head Yasser Arafat, but also booted his butt out of a Lincoln Center concert.

I’m not suggesting grabbing the Trumpster by the collar and kneeing his backside until he’s back on Air Force One (or will it be Trumpster One?) I’m simply suggesting that he should get no special consideration that costs the city as much as two cents.

While we’re at it, you know all those buildings with the name Trump on them? Not only the Trump Tower where President Donald will be spending much of his time at 725 Fifth. Also the one that houses one of his hotels at Columbus Circle. And the other opaque black monstrosity on First Avenue over near the UN. And the Hotel at 59th Street. And office buildings like the one one Wall Street, and on and on.

Bill, it might just occur to you, if necessary, that the city’s tax assessment on those buildings need a bit of an upgrade. After all, they’re part of the private empire of the President of the United States. That ought to add a heck of a lot to the desirability of the space they occupy and the spaces they offer. Hence, increased value. 

Up his assessments. Cut his security. And if he doesn’t pay the assessments?

Well, let's not rule out foreclosure.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Next year, a White House turkey may pardon himself

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans. In honor of today's holiday, the President of the United States traditionally 
Which twin is the turkey?
pardons two turkeys. 

Presumably, instead of getting their heads sliced off and their chest cavities crammed full of stale bread and spices, they’ll go back to a farm somewhere and gobble happily ever after. Or at least until a big, ominous trailer truck arrives to load up on raw material for the frozen dinner company down the road.

At any rate, the subject of pardons for turkeys got me wondering: Does Donald Trump have a plan to circumvent the law concerning foreign emoluments — not to mention potentially uncountable conflicts of interest — without cooking his own goose?

If Trump goes down the road it seems he wants to travel — keeping his businesses, cutting foreign business deals in the Oval Office, making sure foreign diplomats stay in his hotels, hiding misdeeds behind the privacy of his tax returns, hiring his kids, son-in-law, and maybe even his dog if he can buy one that won’t bite him — how will he get away with his outrageously corrupt behavior?  

And then it occurred to me exactly how he can do it.

It’s simple. The turkey in the Oval Office will simply pardon himself. 

Not to mention that there eventually might be pardons in the offing for all the other foul fowl and free-range birdbrains who suck up to this cluck.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crooked Donald?

"Nice country you got here, Mister Taxpayer. It would be a shame if something
happened to it."

Remember when Donald Trump carried on about "Crooked Hillary" because she was paid six figure sums to give speeches to bankers? Or because a charitable foundation that her family runs received money from foreign contributors who might want a favor from the State Department?

Pal, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

The tangle of Donald Trump's business operations— and the ways he is currently awash in opportunities to rip off American taxpayers from his desk in the Oval Office — are stunning.

The possibilities range from cutting the rent he pays to the government on a Federal post office in Washington DC that he turned into a hotel, thus increasing his his business relationships, direct or otherwise, in foreign nations with which he will also conduct foreign having his kids and son-in-law simultaneously control  government policy and his business operations boggles the mind.

Conflict of interest? Hell, it's an invitation to rob America blind.

Here's a piece from the New York Times that details part of it. Some of it is as complicated and tangled as the wiring for an antique television set, so hold on tight while you read it. 

And while you're reading, try not to mumble too often, "Crooked Donald! Crooked Donald!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Days of Wine and Rubber Hoses: a sporadically cranky department featuring doom, gloom, disaster, disorganization, chaos, social disintegration, and sometimes Donald Trump

Yeah, sure
I found this damned cheery thought, posted on the outside bulletin board of a local Manhattan church. I beg to disagree.

Contrary to the sign, every child comes with the message that God is attempting to speed the process of destroying humanity that we humans launched by overpopulating the planet and wantonly wrecking the climate.

In 1950 the earth was crowded with 2.5 billion people. By 2010 it had grown to 6.8 billion people. By 2050, it’s projected to be 9.3 billion people. Meanwhile, where housing developments haven’t swallowed up arable farmland and oxygen-producing forests, encroaching deserts are getting close to swallowing up more than a third of the earth’s surface. Did I also mention high tides flooding low-lying land as a continent full of ice melts into the oceans?

The world, if we survive at all, will start resembling downtown Calcutta during a heat wave. But it may not go on that long. I suspect that just as rabies regulates bat and rat populations, nuclear weapons will regulate ours.

Giving Donald Trump's stubby fingers access to the nuclear football? It's all part of "God's Plan" to get rid of the divine mistake called humanity.

Old army joke: If you learn that a nuclear weapon is approaching you and about to explode, here’s what the Official Military Manual says to do:

  1. Stand with your feet 18-24 inches apart
  2. Do a deep knee bend as far down as you can go
  3. Stick your head between your legs as far as it can go
  4. Kiss your butt goodbye

Thursday, November 10, 2016

President Trump’s first week in The White House, according to Mme. Galzogorist

The Crank's favorite fortune teller
predicts exactly what President
Trump will do in the first seven days.
Hold on tight to your shorts.
I recently paid another visit to Mme. Galzogorist, the fortune teller whose predictions have graced this space from time to time. I asked what President Donald Trump is likely to do in the week following his inauguration. 

Mme. Galzogorist tensed up defensively.  

"First of all, I want it known that any predictions I may have made concerning Hillary Clinton becoming the next President were based on faulty inputs,” she said. 

“I can’t help it if all those pollsters called the same nineteen people who are still listed in the phone book, and disturbed them at dinner time, creating misleading replies. ‘Garbage in, garbage out,’ as we say in the fortune-telling profession.”

“But what will Trump do his first week in the office now that we have him?” I asked. 

“Grab a pad and a pen,” she said. And she began to dictate. Here are my notes:

Day One: As promised, President Trump (get used to that title) repeals Obamacare the first day after inauguration. Informed that he must have the approval of Congress and the Senate to do this, he sends armed troops to their homes. The lawmakers are rounded up in their pajamas and skivvies from their beds, where they’ve been sleeping it off following a mad whirl of inaugural balls. They are bussed to the Capitol Building. While standing under the bright floodlights they are permitted to affirm the repeal of Obamacare by blinking.

Things get just a trifle dicey when the elastic on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's boxers breaks under stress and he drops his shorts, but order is rapidly restored.

As promised, Obamacare is replaced with something better — a $42 dollar Starbucks gift card, which can now also be used to help pay medical bills for certain approved services such as open heart surgery, although patients will be responsible for  the balance of their doctor and hospital bills. This will make them “more careful healthcare consumers,” House Majority Leader Paul Ryan says in a joint statement with President Trump.

“This Starbucks Card is much better than Obamacare because even if you don’t get sick, you can still use it to buy a latte,” the President adds.

The gift cards are funded by withdrawals from the savings, checking or IRA accounts of the beneficiaries. As such they are revenue neutral “and don’t cost the taxpayers a red cent,” President Trump says. “Is this a yuuge improvement or what?”

Day two: After a “lengthy and exhausting” 17-minute treaty negotiation by telephone between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, the United States and Russia announce an accord for “peace in our time.” (“And by the way, that’s a phrase my beautiful wife Melania just wrote,” Trump adds. “This just goes to show that you can be a ten and still write a great tweet.”)

Under the terms of the phone-in treaty, the United States will withdraw its NATO troops from all of the former “satellite nations” and expel those nations from NATO. In return, Putin will be permitted to re-install the nuclear missiles in Cuba that were shipped back home during the Kennedy administration. “Nobody can negotiate like I can,” President Trump declares.

Day three: In an effort to “put America back to work again,” President Trump announces a series of “shovel-ready” projects and sends Congress a bill for funding them. These projects include repair work to the facades of ten “critical, key, major, beautiful” skyscrapers in New York, all of which by coincidence happen to have the name “Trump” on them in gold letters.

Further, Congress funds 175 new jobs for golf course groundskeepers, all of whom“initially will work on Trump golf courses until we find others that are as good.” 

Trump takes a tax-deduction under another new program that gives tax breaks to job creators who pay their workers with money from the United States Treasury.

Day four: Hillary Clinton is arrested under orders from Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani and sent to prison for “Life plus 100 years” on charges to come concerning her e-mail server. 

When Clinton’s lawyers go to the Supreme Court for an immediate stay, claiming that she cannot be imprisoned without specific charges on which a jury finds her guilty, newly appointed U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rudolph Giuliani sides with Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani. 

“Everybody knows she’s guilty, so why bother with a trial?” Giuliani chuckles. “It would only cost the taxpayers money we don’t want to waste.”

Day Five: President Trump defends his appointment of Giuliani to more than one Federal job at the same time (supported by voice vote of the Republican Congress and Senate) because, “appointing one person to multiple jobs will cut salary and overhead costs, and gives us more productive, more efficient government officials who have less time to be corrupt.”

Day Six: In a ceremony near Del Rio, Texas, President Trump and ICE Director Rudolph Giuliani wade knee-deep into the Rio Grande River and, with a pair of golden shovels, ceremonially “break water” for the new wall between the United States and Mexico. 

To quickly construct such a long barrier over water, the new Trump Administration has solved a difficult engineering problem by designing the wall to float on pontoons. 

When the Administration is alerted to concerns that desperate immigrants will then simply swim under the wall, teams of formerly-unemployed workers are hired to trap stinging jellyfish from the Gulf of Mexico, and transport them to the Rio Grande wall. Here  other newly-employed workers shovel the jellyfish off the wall into the water at regular intervals.

“That’s what I mean by shovel-ready jobs,” the President declares.

The appearance of a Hispanic-looking day-workers with blotchy sting marks on their arms, most of them carrying signs that say, “Will work for food,” outside 7-11 stores around the country gets brushed off by the White House as “a coincidence.”

Day Seven: President Trump publicly shreds the recently-signed treaty with Iran that limits their development of nuclear weapons. But Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says the treaty didn't concern him anyway because, following Trump's election, he  put in an order for 50 nuclear warheads from North Korea. North Korea  jests, “we just might drop off a few in the United States on the way over.” 

Meanwhile distraught and concerned Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany makes a surprise visit to the White House to plead for the restoration of NATO in Western Europe. Trump says the U.S. withdrawal is non-negotiable, but as a gesture of friendship, he invites Chancellor Merkel to the Oval Office for tea and a photo-op. When they stand for what photographers assume will be pictures of them shaking hands, Trump grabs Merkel’s crotch and kisses her on the lips.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Two Words On The Election Of Donald Trump

No comment.

Monday, November 07, 2016

FBI admits it has nothing to go on in its witch trial of Hillary — and the “wisdom of the market” literally jumps for joy

The "wisdom of the market: when
the FBI clears Hillary, the trend
reverses and heads upward. Is there
a moral here, or what?
Hey there, Conservatives. I’m talking to you, lovers of Trump-style authoritarianism.

Aren’t you the folks who said there’s nothing wiser than “the wisdom of the market?”

Well, the market has spoken, and what it has said is, “Dump Trump.”

With new so-called “evidence” from the FBI recently concerning Hillary’s e-mails roughly a fortnight ago, the market went into a long, slow, downward slide. With its loss of confidence would have come losses of jobs, incomes, growth, and tax revenues. The only growth would have been in the deficit.

But on Friday FBI Director James Comey fessed up that he had nothing but a bunch of duplicates of the e-mails he had previously looked at, and nothing else of any particular interest.

And this morning, the stock market soared.

Whether that's the wisdom of the market, or merely of savvy investors — real business people who can foresee what an unmitigated disaster Trump will be — the market has had its say, loudly and clearly about Donald Trump, the people around him, and the Congressional and Senate hacks who support him. 

Moral: Trump is a businessman, but not a smart one. The smart money has confidence that Hillary can turn the economy around, and Trump would just make it worse. If you want to make America greater, vote for Hillary Clinton and for Democratic Senators and Congressional Representatives.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

“The beatings will continue until morale improves”

Chelsea Manning, the transgendered soldier imprisoned for 35 years in the WikiLeaks affair, tried to commit suicide at Leavenworth prison and was sentenced to a week of solitary confinement as punishment.

On October 4th, as she was beginning that sentence, she attempted to commit suicide a second time.

The New York Times reports: “A support network member said Thursday that Ms. Manning had been informed by the Army that it would hold another disciplinary hearing on the second attempted suicide and that she possibly faced new punishment.”

Gee, how do you suppose that’s going to work out?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Will Donald Trump actually win the election? If so, get ready for the economy to crash. It’s already jittery.

Headline from today’s financial news from the Reuters wire service:  

"Wall Street dips on election jitters, weak oil."

Why the sudden election jitters? Hillary’s polling numbers have gone down a bit, while Trump’s are up a bit, opening the possibility that he could actually be President.

And even if it's only a slim chance, the thought of Trump in the White House has begun to freak out the market — the business people, investors,entrepreneurs, money-makers, job creators, and the “collective wisdom” of investors.

The people in the know seem to know one thing for sure: Donald Trump would be an economic disaster, crashing the market, closing companies, throwing people out of work.

As for “weak oil?” 

Remember when fracking was producing so much oil that oil prices were dropping? Well, they’ve dropped. And now the oil companies, and the people who work for them, are screwed. 

That’s what you get when you follow the Republican advice to drill baby, drill.

The truth of the matter is that Republicans are, and always have been, at least since 1929, bad for business and bad for the economy.

So if Trump somehow wins — see you on the bread line.