The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 28th, 2017: “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

Since so many people are referencing the Hans Christian Andersen tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, in regard to Trump’s first week in office, I thought I should post the classic for all to re-read.

Many years ago there was an Emperor so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on being well dressed. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in his carriage, except to show off his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The King’s in council,” here they always said. “The Emperor’s in his dressing room.”

In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two swindlers. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.

“Those would be just the clothes for me,” thought the Emperor. “If I wore them I would be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get some of the stuff woven for me right away.” He paid the two swindlers a large sum of money to start work at once.

They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. All the finest silk and the purest old thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night.

“I’d like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth,” the Emperor thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn’t have been that he doubted himself, yet he thought he’d rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth’s peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.

“I’ll send my honest old minister to the weavers,” the Emperor decided. “He’ll be the best one to tell me how the material looks, for he’s a sensible man and no one does his duty better.”

So the honest old minister went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away at their empty looms.

“Heaven help me,” he thought as his eyes flew wide open, “I can’t see anything at all”. But he did not say so.

Both the swindlers begged him to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful colors. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old minister stared as hard as he dared. He couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see. “Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the minister? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth.”

“Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of it,” said one of the weavers.

“Oh, it’s beautiful -it’s enchanting.” The old minister peered through his spectacles. “Such a pattern, what colors!” I’ll be sure to tell the Emperor how delighted I am with it.”

“We’re pleased to hear that,” the swindlers said. They proceeded to name all the colors and to explain the intricate pattern. The old minister paid the closest attention, so that he could tell it all to the Emperor. And so he did.

The swindlers at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving. But it all went into their pockets. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever.

The Emperor presently sent another trustworthy official to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the minister. He looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn’t see anything.

“Isn’t it a beautiful piece of goods?” the swindlers asked him, as they displayed and described their imaginary pattern.

“I know I’m not stupid,” the man thought, “so it must be that I’m unworthy of my good office. That’s strange. I mustn’t let anyone find it out, though.” So he praised the material he did not see. He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the Emperor he said, “It held me spellbound.”

All the town was talking of this splendid cloth, and the Emperor wanted to see it for himself while it was still in the looms. Attended by a band of chosen men, among whom were his two old trusted officials-the ones who had been to the weavers-he set out to see the two swindlers. He found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms.

“Magnificent,” said the two officials already duped. “Just look, Your Majesty, what colors! What a design!” They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.

“What’s this?” thought the Emperor. “I can’t see anything. This is terrible!

Am I a fool? Am I unfit to be the Emperor? What a thing to happen to me of all people! – Oh! It’s very pretty,” he said. “It has my highest approval.” And he nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say that he couldn’t see anything.

His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the Emperor in exclaiming, “Oh! It’s very pretty,” and they advised him to wear clothes made of this wonderful cloth especially for the great procession he was soon to lead. “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!” were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did his best to seem well pleased. The Emperor gave each of the swindlers a cross to wear in his buttonhole, and the title of “Sir Weaver.”

Before the procession the swindlers sat up all night and burned more than six candles, to show how busy they were finishing the Emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the cloth off the loom. They made cuts in the air with huge scissors. And at last they said, “Now the Emperor’s new clothes are ready for him.”

Then the Emperor himself came with his noblest noblemen, and the swindlers each raised an arm as if they were holding something. They said, “These are the trousers, here’s the coat, and this is the mantle,” naming each garment. “All of them are as light as a spider web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.”

“Exactly,” all the noblemen agreed, though they could see nothing, for there was nothing to see.

“If Your Imperial Majesty will condescend to take your clothes off,” said the swindlers, “we will help you on with your new ones here in front of the long mirror.”

The Emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on him, one garment after another. They took him around the waist and seemed to be fastening something – that was his train-as the Emperor turned round and round before the looking glass.

“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” He heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit.”

Then the minister of public processions announced: “Your Majesty’s canopy is waiting outside.”

“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” He seemed to regard his costume with the greatest interest.

The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

The last line, of course, doesn’t exactly compare to our Trumperor, who would NEVER suspect and certainly could never admit that any actual, tangible, verifiable fact “would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool.” Our Trumperor has been strutting around naked for a very long time. So, how many ‘little children’ will it take to convince the ‘the whole nation’ that the Trumperor “hasn’t got anything on!”

This is our Open Thread–what’s on your mind?

Randy Rainbow weighs in on Alternative Facts

This is how I’d like to see the White House Press Corps respond to this administration’s bullshit artists.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 23rd, 2017: Freedom of the Press

We’ve all ripped both network and cable news organizations for their role in aiding and abetting this abomination of a Presidential election. But since the Orange Shitgibbon has won, and he and his spokesgoblins are taking more active steps to label any accurate and unflattering reporting of their words and activities as “fake news” by the “dishonest press”, this should be considered a very serious attack on the First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press. After having previously, in a fit of pique, revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials during the campaign, now the new Trump administration has shut down access to and from CNN.

According to a MediaMatters article:

President Donald Trump and his team continued their unprecedented attempts to delegitimize and blacklist CNN by refusing to have a representative appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the other major political talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.
At the top of the January 22 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper said that his show “asked the Trump White House for a member of the new administration to join us this morning, but they declined.”

 

During Trump’s first press conference as president-elect on January 11, Trump refused to take a question from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, calling his network “fake news” and “terrible.” Following the event, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer admitted to threatening to remove Acosta from the press conference and later demanded an apology. Trump ally and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich responded to the incident by asserting that Trump should use the altercation to “shrink and isolate” CNN and eventually “close down the elite press.” Acosta and his colleagues from across the media condemned Trump’s treatment of CNN.

 

The Trump team’s refusal to appear on CNN came one day after it declined to air the live feed of Spicer’s first press conference after the inauguration, where Spicer blatantly lied about the size of inauguration crowds. According to Variety’s Brian Steinberg, “CNN’s refusal to take the live feed suggests executives there are reluctant to put false statements on air, and, what’s more, do not think the new White House press representative is entirely credible.” From the January 21 report:

 

“CNN’s decision to not air the press conference live illustrates a recognition that the role of the press must be different under Trump. When the White House holds press briefings to promote demonstrably false information and refuses to take questions, then press ‘access’ becomes meaningless at best and complicit at worst,” said Danna Young, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who studies politics and the media. “Democracy works best when journalists have access to the executive branch, of course. But that holds true if and only if that access leads to verifiable, accurate information. The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

 

To be certain, news outlets routinely make decisions about whether to air press events live, usually based on projections about news value. But this press conference, held just a day after the President’s inauguration, would have been a hot prospect for a cable-news outlet, and could have sparked hours of debate and follow-up on CNN’s schedule. In an unusual and aggressive maneuver, CNN aired its regular weekday lineup this Saturday, underscoring heavy interest in breaking news of a series of massive protests by women across the nation in response to Trump’s presidency as well as the new President’s first few days in office.

While I am still outraged by the fact that CNN had hired Corey Lewandowski fresh from the Trump team campaign, and paid the lying POS good money to NOT say anything bad about Trump, maybe, just maybe, CNN can redeem itself by employing real investigative journalism. There’s a lot to dig into in all aspects of Trump’s life/taxes/business practices/Russian connections/conflicts of interest, and a 24-hour news network is what’s needed to get to the bottom of Trump’s “alternate facts” swamp.

What do you say, CNN? Do the right thing, or cave to a tyrant?

This is our Open Thread–comments welcome.

The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Watering Hole; Jan. 5&6, 2017; “Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie . . .”

“Nature makes only dumb animals. We owe the fools to society.”
(Honore de Balzac)

******

The bifurcation of the United States is now complete. The AFM (American Fascist Movement, aka the GOP, the Far Right) has, finally, taken over the ‘defining’ substance of the country via its majority control of the House, Senate, White House, and presumably quite soon, the Supreme Court, all alongside the political control of some 32 states. When, on January 20th, the new Precedent (sorry, couldn’t help it) named Donald J. Trump is inaugurated and officially becomes POTUS, the final demise of America will begin in earnest. The goals of the AFM-GOP are fairly straight forward; they intend to address a number of cash and power redistribution projects. Here’s their shortlist:

  1. Repeal Obamacare;
  2. Cut Social Security;
  3. Privatize Medicare;
  4. Drastically reduce Medicaid;
  5. Repeal Roe v. Wade;
  6. Defund Planned Parenthood;
  7. Disallow female Reproductive Rights;
  8. Deport undocumented immigrants;
  9. Overturn Obama’s immigration Executive Orders, including DACA;
  10. Build a border wall;
  11. Dismantle the EPA;
  12. Halt all Carbon-reducing efforts;
  13. Increase coal, oil, and natural gas production;
  14. Pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement;
  15. Open all Public Lands to fossil fuel/mining exploration and production;
  16. Potentially work to hand over all Federal Lands to the respective States;
  17. Tax reform: reduce  rates for corporate and top individual brackets, screw all the common folk;
  18. Abolish Net Neutrality (so cable companies can finally make a buck or two);
  19. Increase “defense” spending;
  20. Restart the nuclear arms race;
  21. Stop worrying about budget deficits;
  22. Blame the entire of the National Debt on Democrats, Obama mostly;
  23. Find places to start new wars;
  24. Universalize voter suppression and “ihre papiere, bitte” laws;
  25. Dismantle Public Education, pay for privatization with tax dollars;
  26. Rid colleges and universities of all those commie professors;
  27. Diminish NATO and the EU;
  28. Explore national merger with Russia.*

*(Not sure if number 28 is on any docket outside the Trump admin., but felt it worth a mention).

In short, (thanks to voter suppression, along with our clearly obsolete Electoral College) it’s a minority of voters that has enabled “All Of The Above.” Stated another way, the death of what once was a nation “of the people” is on the verge of total revision, with the fresh goal of a Feudal-style Fascist Oligarchy lying in wait just over the next horizon. The process should not take all that long to complete, now that the Extreme Right has essentially garnered full control of the government.

The presumed overall consequence — the bottom line — is a simple one: IF the AFM-GOP succeeds in the imposition of its Fascist agenda, the odds are very good that any return to Rooseveltian-style government where the PEOPLE come first, not the money-power enclave, will be gone for at least a generation or two, possibly forever. Remember: when government devolves into Fascism, the sole purpose of the blended money-power government is to disable and destroy each and every program designed to support and enable The People’s pursuit of a comfortable and productive life, and hand it off, instead, to the bums in their imaginary gleaming castles on the hill (sotospeak).

The process will begin on the afternoon of January 20, 2017, immediately following the swearing in of this nation’s 45th POTUS, Donald J. Trump.

potus

Resistance must begin immediately. I, for one, will not attend, watch, or even acknowledge this particular inauguration. I will, instead, spend my time exploring and supporting alternatives, aka virtually any potentially viable project that has even the slightest chance of ridding the nation of its Fascist element, aka the Republican Party . . . and all its works and all its ways. Apparently I’m not alone in this ‘dream,’ at least according to the following link’s stated goal:

Does impeachment begin now? The case for building the end of Trump’s presidency before it even starts

Hoping intelligent people across the land will consider and act appropriately upon all viable options, and in the process never forget the ancient but still accurate admonition of Plato:

The punishment for those who are too intelligent to engage in
politics is that they shall be governed by idiots.

Touche.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 29/30, 2016; “Make America Great Hate Again”

Since November 8, 2016 and the “unpresidented” (s)election of Donald J. Trump as “precedent” of the United States, the probable consequences are rapidly clarifying, as evidenced in the following (tiny) handful of links:

‘We can march through town carrying high-powered rifles’: Neo-Nazi plans march against Montana Jews

Hate Groups Promise Revolt If Trump Abandons White Supremacy

Tracking the explosion of hate in Trump’s America

It appears that even though Trump’s inauguration is still 3 weeks away, he has already succeeded in enhancing amongst his followers the (irrational but traditional) Fascistic dreams of Power and Hate. And sadly, those same irrationalities are currently spreading through Europe — Brexit in England, Far Right Nationalism emerging in Poland, Hungary, France, Austria, Germany — altogether reminiscent of the Fascist tyrannies of just a few generations ago.

As England’s Prince Charles recently stated,

I’ve seen the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930’s.

“I was born in 1948 just after World War II in which my parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. That nearly 70 years later we are seeing such evil persecution is beyond belief. We owe it to the people who have suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.”

And today, as we set ourselves up “to repeat the horrors of the past,” we watch as anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, anti-Islam, and white Nationalism (neo-Nazism) rapidly reassert themselves both at home and abroad, thanks in no small part to the American election of November 8, 2016. It’s worth noting that said election was, curiously, influenced by Russian cyber interference — likely motivated by Putin’s desire to see the world abandon freedom and democracy and select, instead, Fascism as its ruling authority. And who better than Trump — a politically inept egomaniacal narcissist — to help that movement along?

Russian analyst Nina Khrushcheva (great grand-daughter of Nikita Khruschev) recently noted that Trump is playing “right into Putin’s hands.” She further stated,

“I was just in Moscow and the Russians are saying ‘Look at those fools, look at their their democracy. How could America lecture us on any development, institutions, human rights, democracy, rhetoric when they just elected Donald Trump. He’s such a fool. He’s such a bully. That’s what America deserves and we’re going to take advantage of it.’ And that’s how Russians feel about it, and now it’s taking shape with letters from Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump with their exchange on potential nuclear armament and whatnot.”

In short, with the election of Donald J. Trump, the United States has ceded any global advantage it might ever have had to the re-emergent right wing fervor aka Fascism. We fought and defeated it in the past, but now have finally succumbed, thanks to the devolution of the Republican Party from one of democratic principle to its embrace of neo-fascism, and to the election of a narcissistic egomaniac — Donald J. Trump — who knows virtually nothing of anything other than his own ego (and how to grab women by the p***y, of course).

In short, we are on the edge of a major dilemma. Our current situation brings to mind an essay written more than three years ago, one that was first posted on October 17, 2013, well before anyone had even the vaguest notion that Donald Trump would ever become a candidate for the presidency, much less win an Electoral College “victory.” But he did, and in so doing has magnified immensely the quandary America came face-to-face with, in 2012: the American Fascist Movement, aka the (Republican) Tea Party.

So here, in celebration of 2016’s final passing is, courtesy of said essay, both a three-year rear-view-mirror look back, coupled with what is now virtually guaranteed to be a look forward as well; reprinted in full.

****** Continue reading

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 10th/11th, 2016: Good-ish? News

To start this weekend off, here’s a few stories that I found a bit heartening. Or perhaps I should say ‘less disheartening than most news.’

First, a story by Jen Hayden from Thursday’s Daily Kos says that General Barry McCaffrey no longer supports Trump’s choice for national security advisor. Quite the opposite, in fact. An excerpt:

General Barry McCaffrey tells NBC News that he was initially supportive of Donald Trump’s decision to name Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. But, a closer look at Flynn’s social media use shows that he sent out at least 16 different fake (propaganda) news stories via social media and General McCaffrey pulled no punches, bluntly calling the tweets and stories “demented.”

The Trump transition team is also rightly getting criticism for allowing Lt. General Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, to not only take part in the transition team, but to seek out security clearance for him when his own social media has shown him to be prolifically disseminating utterly false and outrageous politically motivated news. (You can watch a smarmy Mike Pence evade Jake Tapper’s pointed questions about Flynn, Jr.’s security clearance six different times by clicking here.) One of those fake stories prompted a man to walk into a pizza place and fire his high-powered gun to personally “investigate” the child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton that Flynn was tweeting about to his followers. Which, of course, wasn’t happening.

General Barry McCaffrey went on to say that “we need to aggressively examine what was going on” with Lt. General Michael Flynn and his son.

Next, Trump’s “Ego Trip Tour” brings him to Maryland, and he’s attending today’s iconic Army-Navy football game in Annapolis,  He will also be visiting Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Council made it clear that they are not exactly laying out the “Welcome” mat for him.  According to the Baltimore Sun:

In its first official act Thursday, the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn statements made by Donald J. Trump, days before the president-elect is expected to visit the city.

The resolution formally opposed Trump’s “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice,” a measure political scientists say flies in the face of new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh‘s goal of persuading the next president to funnel federal investment to the cash-strapped city.

Some Baltimore officials think that the City Council’s resolution will work against efforts by Mayor Pugh to wheedle funds out of Trump, and believe it was a stupid – one said “boneheaded” – thing to do. I strongly disagree: I want to see more cities like this stand up for character values like ethics, integrity, civil rights, and compassion. (According to the article, San Francisco is the only other city to put out a message like this against ‘Trumpland.’) I agree with this last part of the Sun article:

Veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, of North Baltimore, said the action sets a tone for the new council and sends a signal to residents.
“I am very proud that we are one of the very first city councils in the United States of America to push back and say, ‘Time for respect, again, in America,'” Clarke said. The resolution is “a great way to start off this new term of office in that manner by pushing back, ‘Ain’t gonna do it that way. We’ll do it our way: respect, justice, fairness, balance.'”

And finally: FINALLY, President Obama is ordering an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Of course, while the Washington Post “Breaking News Alert” that I received said “Obama Orders Review of Russian Hacking During Presidential Campaign”, obviously various investigations and studies had been going on for several months.  Just one brief excerpt (but you really should read the entire article, there’s lots more):

“The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Although the Obama Administration and several Senators and Congressmen from both parties had some of these reports by “mid-September”, according to the Washington Post article, they had trepidations about announcing it publicly and/or officially ordering an investigation so close to the Election. IMHO, their concerns over the likelihood of being accused of using an investigation as a political ploy on behalf of the Clinton campaign should have been swept aside by the undeniable fact that ANY foreign country, and especially one with whom we have historically had a tenuous and cautious relationship, actively worked to influence the United States Presidential Election. In addition, if they thought that the Trumplanders would have been really pissed off if they brought this out BEFORE the election, didn’t any of them realize how much worse the “deplorables” would react AFTER their Fuhrer won the election? But at least now the Russian elephant in the room is getting official attention, and that’s a good thing, regardless of the timing. This Washington Post article discusses some of the GOP reaction, as well as reaction (more idiotic conspiracy-theory BS) from Trump and his ilk.  Trump can deny it all he wants, but all of the research so far shows that Russia put a ‘YUGE’ thumb on the election scale for Trump

I realize that these little “good news” tidbits are set in the context of the new, horror/sci-fi reality of an upcoming Trump presidency, at least they’re more positive than negative. And right now, that’s all that I find I can hope for.

This is our Open Thread – what’s on your minds?