Logic is Overrated

“It’s just, well as long as I’m an outlaw anyways… maybe I can do somethin’… maybe I can just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I ain’t thought it out all clear, Ma.”

Words matter. Someone gave the president a masterfully intricate, hand-crafted collection of the best words available, all intended to promote a fallacy of relevance: argumentum ad baculum, or the “might makes right” fallacy. And just like that, Donald’s words shouldn’t matter — but they still do, because he’s POTUS.

Yes, it’s ironic that Donald Trump chose a “fallacy of relevance” to defend his failing presidency, but the consequences could be catastrophic. If you go look, you’ll see that pretty much every knife in Donald’s drawer is a fallacy of relevance, including the genetic fallacy, ad hominem, ad populum, or ad misericordiam (literally an “argument from pity”). Poor Donald. This job is HARD.

There is nothing new or particularly surprising here — conservatives have always responded to the “strict father” (do as I say) model of governance. ‘I don’t care if you love me or not, there are rules in my house. I’m sorry your brothers just opened up a six inch laceration across your scalp — it was an accident — now say you love them. We’re a family. Say it.’

Wait, what? You didn’t hear that? Well, the transcript is available for the media, pundits and others to discuss ad nauseum; I’ve done many a deep-dive into the language deployed to destabilize our democracy. But yeah — this speech was designed to put Charlottesville in the rear view mirror. ‘Families squabble. Get over it and get past it, because the men and women sitting in front of me might just lose a limb or their lives if you don’t.’ Seriously — it’s all there if you just look. Continue reading

Whistle Blower

On Twitter I said, “Waiting to learn which dogwhistle #PresidentBannon will have @POTUS blow next is killing me. C’mon, @realDonaldTrump, fail #ResignInDisgrace

While it’s amusing to needle the president and your conservative pals about the bloated, sick white nationalist scumbag behind Trump’s throne — what’s happening to families and neighbors as a result is tragic. We’ve always known the “R” in Republican stands for regressive — and President Bannon has dragged us all the way back to the Civil War … and it’s tearing families apart, again.

What follows is a public letter written by the father of one of those alt right, neo-nazi terrorists who invaded Charlottesville.

“My name is Pearce Tefft, and I am writing to all, with regards to my youngest son, Peter Tefft, an avowed white nationalist who has been featured in a number of local news stories over the last several months.

“On Friday night, my son traveled to Charlottesville, Va., and was interviewed by a national news outlet while marching with reported white nationalists, who allegedly went on to kill a person.

“I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.

“I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.

“Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family’s heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now.

“Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast.

“His hateful opinions are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents. Why must we be guilty by association? Again, none of his beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, and never will, accept his twisted worldview.

“He once joked, “The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.”

“Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all.”

Remember, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts w/o wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.” — Dr. Martin Luther King

The father’s original letter posted here.

“Justice” for all …

There’s no shortage of opinion online. This is mine. I want to focus on the positive for just a moment: most of the planet agrees Nazis are evil. There really wasn’t all that much equivocation on the point, save from those who allow their personal politics to trump personal morality. From their perspective, all the so-called baby-killing, Marxist-loving, tree-hugging liberal hippies are the ones without a moral compass. There is no middle ground in America — the entire country has become a no-man’s land. Unfortunately, it is not demilitarized.

Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia noted with justifiable alarm that the militia members who invaded his commonwealth were better armed than the state’s police. Every other day comes a new threat of armed insurrection if, and only if we can believe Donald Trump when he said, “We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution.”

This president has major legal issues waiting on his newly refurbished “dump” of a doorstep. His supporters say they’ll quash this legal dilemma and Trump’s possible removal from office with bullets (or, if unavailable, an automobile). There wasn’t much ambiguity in the statement Trump’s staff insisted he read — but the subtext was chilling. While he’s in charge, anyone resisting hatred and bigotry is every bit as suspect as the Nazi preaching hate, anti-government militias clutching their phallic blankets, or your basic, everyday, garden-variety bigot. Trump will pull out all the stops to make sure that citizens on the streets remain orderly — and obey.

“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.” ‘Punch a Nazi in the face? Go to jail — I promise you — I’m going to give you the best justice … so much justice you wouldn’t believe.’ It’s a pretty carefully crafted bit of intimidation for any American still brave enough to take to the streets of their city and bar the gates against intolerance, isn’t it? “Anyone,” perhaps “from many sides,” is liable to be arrested.

On delivering justice: “We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear” sounds good. Seems clear he’s going to throw federal money and resources at local police departments (who needs another surplus tank?), further militarizing the force. Add to this toxic stew of “policy,” Trump telling cops “we’d like to get them out a lot faster, and when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, please don’t be too nice.”

Maybe it’s me. Maybe the president of the United States didn’t just say, ‘when the KKK comes KKKalling, you’d better be on your best behavior — or else!’ I believe he did. He read that statement as if he’d survived months of beatings inside the Hanoi Hilton and was dragged in front of the cameras. He couldn’t help himself, either — setting aside the small issue of standing up to Nazis and bigots — leading his remarks with an informercial starring Donald Trump’s imagined greatness at presidenting.

He buried the lede. He did it on purpose. And the official White House reaction to Charlottesville is clear: we will spare no expense to maintain order on the streets. When the Klan and the armed militia arrive in your city … don’t get your panties in a twist or Trump’s troops might have to deliver some good old-fashioned “justice” to your face — and it won’t “be too nice.” You’ve been warned.

You’re welcome.

Sound and Fury

There’s really not much to say about Trump’s saber rattling save this: I hate it when I’m right. A week or so ago I wrote that Kim Jong-un was a “more reliable actor” on the international stage — the problem would be Hair Hitler’s hair-trigger temper. Today’s bluster carries as much weight as his transgender ban for military personnel. None. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.

If you want to do something other than live today as though it might be your last (and shouldn’t we always?), remind your Senators and Representative to remind the president and the cabinet and the joint chiefs — that a nuclear strike as retaliation for taunting, might be just a tad aggressive.

Mephistopheles 3.0

What’s your religion? Christ — it’s hard to tell with Christians these days, isn’t it? I blame the media, because idiots misreading the Koran get ALL the headlines, while at the same time there are just as many idiots misrepresenting Scripture. Hell, we celebrate the religious morons in America. And Heaven forbid you criticize Republican policies, because these “christians” STILL approve of Donald J. Trump by an overwhelming majority. The J. doesn’t stand for Jesus, gentiles. Welcome to your Sunday Sermon™.

Onward Christian soldiers — heal thyselves. I respectfully remind you that Jesus “gave [his disciples] power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases … He sent them to heal the sick.” Tell everyone the Good News along the way, but fix that broken leg and set up a standing appointment for Judah’s dialysis treatments while you’re at it. The Bible makes a pretty strong argument here that you can all take all your #ThoughtsAndPrayersand go sho… sh …shake your ass and do something to heal the sick. Republicans in Washington believe everyone (no matter how we voted) is ruled by the law of the jungle — only the richest survive. And for the GOP disciples, the “fruit of thy womb” is only sacred as long as it didn’t come from a Muslim majority country. Y’know … like Jesus.

I confess: I’m guilty of religious profiling. It’s deceptively easy to pick out the bad guys in a line-up by examining the choices they’ve made. If you don’t believe me, ask Robert Mueller. “Christians” who support Trump are as every bit as delusional as any religious fanatic in the mideast. Fail to fully embrace their dogma and you are an enemy. Facts, logic and dissenting opinion bounce right off the thick skulls of the hapless christian soldier, and I blame Ephesians: “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” As far as Trump voters are concerned, especially the “christians,” everything I’m saying is blasphemy and further proof they’re being “persecuted” for their religious beliefs. No, I’m persecuting you because you’re st-st-stupid.

Trump’s “religion” is a diseased growth on this country’s soul. Any true Christian would recognize the GREED (“I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy – I’ve always been greedy”) LUST (“… if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps”) PRIDE (“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”), GLUTTONY (“most beautiful piece of chocolate cake”) and PRIDE again (“… part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich”). I’m worried about WRATH, frankly. But all the Trump acolytes don’t really care about adultery, as long as their club keeps its tax-exempt status. The point is, you don’t have to travel to South America or Asia to help your fellow man, followers of Republican Jesus. Let’s go ahead and call that “mission trip” what it really is: a tax-free family vacation to an exotic destination. Next time try Appalachia. I dare you.

Just past five o’clock yesterday morning, at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota, Trump’s “religion” delivered yet another improvised explosive device to our local Muslim community. Islamic institutions nationwide have been subjected to hate crimes at an alarming rate since Trump took office. The bombing in Bloomington doesn’t qualify — yet — because the local FBI have not been able to determine motive. It may seem obvious to you and I, but in the very black/white, right/wrong, binary view of the FBI agent, facts trump suspicion. I believe the motive mirrors the president’s message: Make America Hate Again. We’ve been force-fed a diet of division and mass delusion for years now. My silver lining in Donald Trump’s gathering legal storm clouds is clear: the FBI hasn’t determined motive in his case, either. Treason? Maybe. Extortion? Probably. High (financial) crimes and misdemeanors? Sure, why not? The facts will speak for themselves.

I’d be willing to wager staying within commuter jet distance of D.C. on this “not vacation” of his has less to do with his favorite pastime, and more to do with ferrying an army of lawyers back and forth from the nation’s capitol and New York to his golf club. He’s walled himself off in his little fiefdom, with the enemy (media) at the gates, tossing severed heads over the balustrades as though he were Lord Bolton. He’s currently at war with the press, a Republican Congress, U.S. Statute law, public opinion and a little thing called reality. So much winning.

What’s your religion? It shouldn’t matter is the point Trump christians refuse to understand. Faith is personal. Faith is private. How YOU choose to live and act, guided by whatever or whoever you place faith in, is something nobody on this earth can ever change, so stop pretending to care about Sharia Law. Right now 1/3 of this country believes ‘the damn thing (D.C.) isn’t working — might as well blow it up and start over.’ Those same people claim to believe in the Constitution. Worse — they’re echoed on the left. Sorry, kids — there is no reset button. Go look for a med kit and try and heal yourself — because if it all breaks down, you’re on your own. Feel free to pick up a rulebook and figure out how the game is played before whining about how you’re not winning. I get enough of that from POTUS.

Didn’t get your way on an important vote, Donald? Then it must be time for some presidential whining from the bully pulpit and a loud, raucous chorus of ’Change The Rules and Vote Again!’ from the Trump choir. Not so fast. ‘If I need to sit here (in Pro Forma session) to make sure you behave yourself, Donnie, I will!’ said Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans. Yes, I understand they’re just trying to protect Trump from himself and keep his 8.9 Richter wrist free to sign bills, but that fight happens after recess. For now, it’s the first time in recent memory that I fully support Senate Republicans.

Who believes in miracles? You do. You’re welcome.

Babysitter Needed, Inquire Within

The Russian government now openly refers to the “utter powerlessness” of Donald Trump, writing “hope that our relations with the new American administration would improve is finished.” That statement by Prime Minister Medvedev is flat wrong — and meant to confuse you. The Russians don’t have a problem with Trump’s administration — they have a problem with the U.S.A.

Meanwhile China commiserates, noting POTUS “likes to tweet,” adding “emotional venting cannot become a guiding policy for solving the nuclear issue” with North Korea. You know we have a potential crisis on our hands when Kim Jong Un is the more reliably predictable actor than the president.

It seems pretty clear to me that when Trump is challenged on his lack of diplomacy, or having a feeble grasp of world affairs, or someone laughs at his lumberjack competition handshake — full frontal attack is all he knows. That’s fine contained to 140 characters or fewer — but the idiot man-child has new toys these days and requires constant adult supervision. John Kelly is the new babysitter — let’s hope he doesn’t show him how to use them.

Scientia ipsa potentia est — knowledge itself is power.

Going Nuclear

Go ahead and laugh at the double entendre, Donald, and miss the point. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time (sorry about that, Serge).

About now “Tom Joad” would take you deep inside Orwell’s memory hole, where Donald dumps facts, science, reason and compassion. TJ would tell the story of Trumplethinskin and Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times (a former WaPo reporter Trump claims changed a story to make him look bad — he didn’t).

Tom Joad 2.0 isn’t as “philosophical” as some may yearn for — but it’s by necessity. I’m not the first to note that this angry man-child of a president is literally banking on us to get bogged down in debate, bamboozled by his bullshit, as he surrounds the White House with an army of lawyers. He’s Fielding Mellish absent the bumbling charm — and with a mean streak a mile-wide. This is not normal. Continue reading

GOP Failure Friday

So John McCain is the hero in our story again, right? Not so fast. If it took removing the tumor from his head to get him to say to his GOP colleagues, ‘gee fellas, the American people expect us to do our jobs here,’ then fine … tumors for everyone! YOU get a tumor — and YOU get a tumor! (Spare me … cancer has touched all our lives … I don’t need a lecture.)

I’m sure McConnell remains stumped. After staunching the Republican bloodletting at just 15 million newly uninsured Americans (their “skinny” option, because you can never be too rich or too thin), and getting that dramatic, last-minute phone call from the Drumpf Führer himself on the Senate floor — it was just another “very disappointing” FAILURE. Sad.

Meanwhile the new communications guy at the White House has been the source of his own leak, promised some kind of “night of the long knives” inside the West Wing, and swore a blue streak while talking to a reporter. His takeaway? ‘Don’t trust reporters.’ Really? Kiss my *, mooch.

Like that matters anyway. His boss doesn’t really hold anything back himself. I was reminded the other day of that scene from David Finch’s 1995 masterpiece “Se7en,” where Morgan Freeman describes finding a treasure trove of rambling, paranoid and often delusional ravings in John Doe’s notebooks, “placed on the shelves in no discernible order … just his mind poured out on paper [Twitter].” I’ll leave out the Mad King /Jaime Lannister reference until later in the season.

You’re welcome.

… also, Democrats don’t need “A Better Deal,” they need a better slogan. I humbly suggest “Impeach and Replace.”

President “So What if I Did?”

Donald Trump

Admitting guilt in past financial dealings with Russian partners just doesn’t matter to the Trump administration. Why? Glad you asked. As it turns out, any past financial deals with Russia “are well beyond any statute of limitation imposed by the United States Code.” ‘Let’s all just move on, shall we? Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now, Director Mueller, we’ll take it from here.’ Not so fast.

Is Trump guilty of shady deals with mobbed-up Russian oligarchs? ‘So what if he did’ is the legal defense strategy offered by Trump attorney John Dowd. It’s his “Turd Blossom” moment — Shrub’s nickname for Karl Rove — who famously said, “We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” He wasn’t wrong, either — I recall it seemed like the entire planet came together to tell the Bush White House that striking a match in Iraq was not only an international crime, but a really lousy idea to boot. It happened anyway.

Take heart. Trump’s nothing but a bully. See, it’s not that he’s “anti-science,” it’s that trying to understand sciencey-sounding-stuff gives him an ice-cream headache behind his right eye. It exposes his major weakness: he’s not a smart man. Trump’s just like every other jackass from high school who’d pick on the smart kids, because the nerd reveals the dullard’s inherent intellectual incuriosity. For Trump, ‘these aren’t crimes — they’re political hijinks — everyone does it.’ Actually, they don’t. At the end of each day I honestly think Trump must be truly bewildered. He’s enjoyed a lifetime of getting exactly what he wants, at the moment he wants it. Do what I say — or else — is all he understands. Once again — not so fast.

Trump doesn’t grasp one of our country’s most basic precepts: Congress doesn’t work for the president, Congress works for us. Take a moment, boss, to attend a town hall, state fair, shopping mall ribbon-cutting — WHEREVER your representatives might be while they’re home. All politics is local. These people are your neighbors, who give your ideas voice in D.C. — go introduce yourself. Do not, however, take a pie to share.

You’re welcome.