Der Führer visits middle earth

Just some Sauron impersonator and a handful of misogynist rich bullies laying their hands on some kind of glowing ball.

Probably nothing to worry about, right?

Melancholia, the stone-faced East European hooker with only one client who is now first-something-or-other, would seem to be genuinely transfixed however.

I have no fucking idea what’s going on here, or who all those people are, or where they are, or what the hell that orb thingy is all about, but it seems pretty clear The House of Saud took no time at all to figure out that if you give Der Führer something shiny, preferably made of gold, then hang it around his neck and tell him what a yuuuuge improvement he is over that nasty black guy who came before him and who definitely was not given a lovely necklace like that, well, he can be talked into all kinds of weird shit.

And if you ask nicely you’ll get a crapton of brand-new gee-whiz weapons at a reduced price as a bonus.

Oh, and a lovely speech which doesn’t call anyone any nasty names.

Meanwhile, back here in the US we’ll get a bunch of talking-heads on the Teevee (Bob Schieffer, today, on CBS just as one example) babbling once again about how “presidential” you sound.

I suppose, here and there, there just might be some cause for hope, but sometimes you gotta wonder, you really do.

Events, dear boy, events. . .

Obviously, everybody will be aware the British NHS has been crippled by a ransomware attack. The NHS being practically the British equivalent of the American Constitution (mess with it at your electoral peril) it’ll be interesting to see what impact this is going to have on the election.

As usual, we have had a pretty pathetic and pig-ignorant response from our Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who appeared to be congratulating herself on the fact that the hackers did not get access to any patient records. Unfortunately, of course, after about lunchtime on Friday, neither did NHS doctors, nurses or support staff. . .Her and Mrs May’s inevitable deflection—”It wasn’t our fault, it’s happened to lots of people”— might not go down too well either. OK, so Nissan, Telefonica, whoever, got clobbered too. But it happened to the NHS.

What we do know, is that while much of the NHS is relying on old Windows
OS and software*, it was this government that cancelled a deal with Microsoft to keep up support at a cost of a mere £5 million or so a year. . .and the Tories have wasted billions over the years paying certain software companies to develop systems for the NHS that didn’t work, and turned out to be a form of  ‘ransomware’ themselves. (We’ll get it fixed for another $20 million this year . . .and . . .again next year . . .)

Whatever, it means that for at least a week, the NHS could well be top of the political agenda again.  And, in politics speak, the Tories have ‘ownership’ of the disaster. And, unexpectedly, it’s not the Russians interfering with the election. . .though I bet Rudd and May are wishing it was.

* Funnily enough I’ve had the odd casual conversation about this in the hospital I go to, off and on over the last year or so, after I raised my eyebrows a bit at seeing what was on the screen. . .Most staff, I think, just despair. But of course, there are reasons. Much of the software might well start off-the-shelf, but it gets adapted and re-formulated.

I’ve been very annoyed with the usual fatuous ‘technical reporters’ who’ve kept saying for hours ‘If only they’d all installed Microsoft’s last patch  . . . or if they’d all upgraded their OS . . . it would never have happened. It’s all free, after all.”

We all know that’s not so easy, and it isn’t usually ‘free’. (£5 million a year to Microsoft for a start.) ‘Upgrade’ your OS, and ten to one you are going to have to buy in (again!) the latest version of a lot of the software you’ve been using; pay for umpteen licences, and ten-to-one it’s not going to behave quite the same way, or possibly not at all.

(My own hospital—I was there on Friday when this kicked off—didn’t get caught, but like most others, has effectively taken its systems off-line for the weekend. Interestingly, some departments there must use Macs as well: when I got a copy of my last [ever!] MRI scan, I was asked if I wanted it to run on Windows or Mac . . .It runs on a little stand-alone Mac program I’ve never seen before.)

there’s no hope

Or at least not much.

Seriously, this is what we’re up against.  I have many neighbors—serious Trump fans— who believe all kinds of astonishing things, and will bob and weave like this to reconcile impossible incongruities of precisely the kind on display here.

Their take is that Trump is totally on the ball and is playing some kind of deep game, so any incongruities are part of the plan.  It’s a religious vision in a way, no question. It’s an extension of the “god works in mysterious ways” narrative.

But there’s another aspect to this problem.

Almost all my neighbors, including almost all the bobbers and weavers, are precisely the kind of people who are likely to show up at your door with a pot roast or an apple pie whenever serious difficulties strike.

Complicated, isn’t it?

Brexit on Trial??

In this morning’s news. PM May has called a “snap general election” for June 8.

She is assuming that her party will receive a fresh vote of support, to set up the negotiations with the E.U. over the terms of Brexit.

BUT . . .
What if the voters deliver a verdict against Brexit?

What if the UK voters have re-considered last year’s vote and enough of them have changed positions, to make a real difference?

If the Scottish Nationalists run on June 8 on a platform of holding another devolution vote, within a year or so, and get a solid vote of support for that, how could Whitehall stop them?

Has she thought this through, any better than her predecessor did for Brexit?

Our UK peeps, please wade in.


dick waving, part 2

Our tax dollars hard at work. The USS Carl Vinson.

Reports are now coming out that the US Navy is moving a carrier battle group toward the Korean Peninsula.

BNO News is reporting that “a US official” told Reuters news agency that Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG-1) would leave Singapore and move towards the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula.

Carrier Strike Group 1, which is part of the U.S. Third Fleet, has the USS Carl Vinson as its flagship and is composed of approximately 6,500 sailors. No word as yet as to mission.

Now it really is starting to look like Der Führer is zeroing in on his strategy to keep all those pesky investigators distracted.  The news media, of course, have already decided that his completely telegraphed fireworks display in Syria which apparently demolished a few quickly emptied outbuildings—and which is now being variously described by the teevee talking heads as “decisive” and, godhelpusall, even “beautiful”—, means that he’s become, magically, a Real President.
(FAIR documents how the five major newspapers have published some 18 opinion columns on the Syrian strikes since Thursday and not a single one has been critical.)

Der Führer pays serious attention to things like that, this we know, so it’s not in the least irrational to suppose that he’ll keep the pressure on. Hell, why not? It’s working beautifully.

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who was hoping, albeit forlornly, that the footrace between Trump solidifying his grip on power and the advancing investigations into his utter unworthiness to hold that power would be won as soon as possible by the latter. Just days ago it looked as if that might even be possible.

Not so much now though.

His brand new SCOTUS justice is installed, Enviro regs governing power generation are being stripped, OSHA is being crippled, directives which made it tougher (but not tough enough) to harass women in the workplace have been revoked , the Endangered Species Act is in the crosshairs, and that’s by no means a complete list.

Der Führer is on a roll, and almost none of it is on the front page. Oh, and he holds a strong position in Raytheon stocks too, and ever since he burned up 60  of Raytheon’s Tomahawk missiles the stocks have been surging, so he’s not only running the political table he’s making a profit out of it.

Oh sure,  the ACA repeal was a fuckup as was his Muslim ban thingy,  and the Wall Building is running into all kinds of problems, not least of which is that a lot people who voted for him are now discovering that swathes of their land may be subject to eminent domain. And yeah, he was a clod with Angela Merkel, but she’s German and, you know, a woman, so we’ve forgotten about that already. What matters now is that he’s BLOWN SOME SHIT UP, so he’ll be cut all kinds of slack with all that wonky stuff.

Maybe those characters who were fulminating about the dangers of electing that dreadful liar, dangerous neocon warmonger and all-around swamp creature Hillary Clinton will have the courtesy to show up again and talk about how relieved they are that we were at least able to dodge that fucking bullet, eh?

Whaddaya say, kids?  Don’t be shy. How is that swamp-draining thing working out for you?

well, that didn’t take long…

Nothing like throwing some high-tech explosives around to  a) boost your poll numbers, and b) distract from damn near everything else.

Especially if one of those things you wish dearly to distract from is your ties to Russia and this escapade provides an opportunity to appear like you’re seriously confronting Russian interests.

Even more especially if you pull a stunt like this mere hours after Hillary fucking Clinton—who just needs to fuck off and tend her retirement veggie garden and shut the fuck up—announced that bombing that very airfield was definitely the way to go.

Would you buy a used car from this man?

The observable fact that small children have been gassed aplenty by Assad’s functionaries on several occasions over the last few years didn’t deter Trump in the least from leaving Assad alone ‘cos “he’s fighting ISIS”,  and never mind that Trump has now flipped 180 degrees away from where he was just hours ago because he saw the latest horrible photo evidence of dead children.

Children who, if he had his druthers, would be prohibited from obtaining refugee status here in the US.

Never mind that plenty of children have been killed and maimed as collateral casualties with some regularity by US forces in various locations.

Never mind that Trump himself was shrieking just a short while ago that if President Obama wished to bomb Syria he would absolutely need to get Congressional approval, and never mind that the very GOP voices which loudly agreed with him then, and actually withheld congressional approval, are now praising their new Führer’s “decisiveness” for lobbing 60 or so missiles into Syria without any congressional consultation at all.

It was inevitable that Trump would start waving his dick around like this, though I did think it might take a little longer. But now I think about it some more, this is exactly what he could be relied upon to do given that the Russian election chicanery noose is starting to tighten.

This man will not allow himself to be revealed for what he actually is.   There is no crisis he’d be unwilling to precipitate in order to prevent that.  If this doesn’t work, there’s always North Korea, just like he said the other day. There is not the slightest reason not to think he means it. This is the guy who wanted a Red Square style military parade at his inauguration, remember.

This prick has few limits when it comes to burnishing his self-image and none whatsoever when it comes to self-preservation.  None.

And now I see a report from ABC suggesting that the heads-up warning given to the Russians also enabled the Syrian forces to evacuate both themselves and most of their equipment prior to the strike. If that turns out to be true, and that the damage to vital equipment and supplies was minimal, that will be embarrassing.

And people like Trump are at their most unstable, reckless and dangerous when embarrassed.

Skinned by Flynn?

How many gigatons of speculation can the interwebs churn out before we know if there’s really a there, there, or whether Flynn tries to whitewash?  Is Mrs Pence thinking about re-upholstering the White House sofas yet? Can anyone except me remember those photos of Nixon slouching in ignominy down that beach with his metal detector, still wearing his suit trousers, white shirt and leather shoes. What are the chances that Trump could feel even a momentary shiver of shame? Are deals being made as I type, trading one vote for a SCOTUS confirmation in return for one vote for a POTUS disconfirmation?


Or is it all just more gas and air? As illusory as ‘Clean Coal’?

the question for today

I slung this up on the “quotes to be proud of ” sidebar first, then after thinking about it for a minute decided to wave it around more prominently.

Precocious boy genius Jared Kushner is reportedly to be placed in charge of whatever product we’re all going to be choking down as “customers” of the US government.

It’s about words, today. It’s about the ongoing sneaky normalization of words and ideas which, in any context of a democratic republic, are neither normal or even remotely acceptable.

There are reports (Reuters, WaPo) that Jared Kushner, our frisky Führer’s son-in-law, is to be installed as head honcho of a brand new entity called, evocatively, the White House Office of American Innovation.

This is, according to our Führer, a part of his ongoing project to keep his promises to the American people;

“I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

(speaking of words, I’m uncomfortable with the idea that an article can reasonably contain the words “Trump” and “mentality”, but I see no way to avoid it in this case)

Anyway, here’s Kushner making a statement about what he sees as his role in that development;

The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.

As we see, he’s basically dissolving any meaningful distinction between entities he’s calling “citizens” and entities he’s calling “customers”. They are now the same, plain as day. You are a customer. Government is the company and Jared’s function is to oversee things so that it’s run like a business.

(Implicit here is the project, dear to right wing hearts since forever, of stripping the public sector to the bare walls and distributing the spoils—after skimming the Trump® kickbacks, naturally— to deserving white people, almost all of them men, but let’s leave that discussion for another day.)

So here’s today’s question. Just how in the hell can we dissolve any meaningful distinction between citizens and customers,—and, since he’s saying this too, between business and government—without the word “fascism” popping up in the minds of at least one or two journalists and denizens of Punditstan?

Let’s throw in the word “nepotism” too, while we’re at it and just for grins.

Because I’m a’tellin’ ya, if both those words—fascism and nepotism— are not front and center by mid-week, then both the media and any trace of effective political opposition to this ongoing coup, and that’s exactly what it is, really have abandoned ship, and we’re sunk.


OK, I have no way to know how accurate this might be, but the Sunday Times is reporting that our frisky little Führer presented German chancellor Angela Merkel with a bill, an actual printed bill, for $300 billion which, he says, is owed to the US because Germany is in arrears with their NATO financial obligations.

A dunning notice production session in the oval office? People are saying so.

Stories of spectacular dimwittery like this fit so well with my personal judgements of what a dipshit Trump actually is (that he would assume NATO membership operates like his Mar-a-Lago club membership dues is not in the least surprising to me) so the temptation to just grab it and run with it is strong, but all reports I’ve found so far all lead back to that single Times story, and we’re not too damn far from April 1st, so hey, who knows.

So did our lovable little carnival barker actually deploy someone in his staff to print up an no-foolin’ invoice, basically a dunning notice, and really no-shit present it to Merkel at their meeting?

There’s plenty of contextual evidence to suggest it’s entirely plausible, not least Trump’s repeated public assertions, via Twitter;

“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

If he did, well, I’m no expert on international diplomacy but it seems to me the potential for such clownish and petulant acting-out to sour all kinds of future international relations is huge.

A German minister responded, according to reports, by saying “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.”  Which is exactly the kind of low-key non-confrontational response one might expect from any nation with a mature and experienced diplomatic corps.

But this stupid little fucker still thinks that the confrontational bullying style which has worked for him in his previous business life—his show-business life to be accurate—will serve him well now, a perspective apparently shared by Bannon and several other of his closest advisors.

These fucking people are nuts, and need adult supervision 24/7, otherwise the wrong tweet at the wrong time and aimed at the wrong person is gonna result in scrambled jets, somewhere, sooner or later.