Monday, March 13, 2017

SNL: Trump vs. Aliens

This weekend's edition of Saturday Night Live had some great moments, and Scarlett Johansson is awesome, as always. But I can't help being a little disappointed by this and last weeks' episodes. With so very much material to choose from, they just came up a little light, in my opinion. And by giving us Melissa McCarthy not once but twice as Press Secretary Sean Spicer, they set our hopes too high.

Still, there were choice bits. Such as this fairly spot-on critique of Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin), if he had to face a real crisis. It would go pretty much exactly like this.


Breaking: Trump White House Trolls for "Obamacare Disaster Stories"

I've gotten a lot of emails from The White House. The Obama White House, mostly. But apparently, Cheetolini must've inherited the mailing list. And just minutes ago, he used it to push out the most hyper-partisan, push-poll-feeling email I've ever gotten from that source.

"Share Your Obamacare Disaster Story"


That's the subject line. Isn't that nice? It assumes that you have such a story. Or, that if you have an Obamacare story, it must be a disaster. Or, more likely, that they only want stories from people who consider it a disaster. And here, ladies and germs, is a primo example of how the Trump White House differs from Obama's.

Firstly, the Obama version wouldn't have been so ham-handed and obvious about the desire to get only one sort of response. But secondly, the Obama team would have wanted examples of all types. They'd want to know if you have had good experiences or bad experiences. They did so. They helped people who were having difficulties and obstacles with that plan, and other issues. Not Trump! Tell me how awful it is!

In truth, clearly, this is about bolstering the need for (Please Don't Call It) TrumpCare. Trump's claims that it would cover everyone regardless of income, and that it would be cheaper and better are. Not. True. But in Trumpland, that's a minor detail. His followers have been remarkably willing to give him massive latitude on the exact wording of his promises. They will on this as well. And if you give them a few juicy stories to repeat ad nauseam for the next 8 years? Even better.

The letter:



https://click.mail.whitehouse.gov/?qs=b05db1f0b53272ca852fedc87ffdc49a688a37d66be6ba304b49a6ba3b3409761159d0baaef5cc94d82b60bdf2758f7853fd784debf8d2b9

Obamacare has been a complete failure since the beginning, and things are only getting worse.

Today, President Donald J. Trump held a listening session to hear directly from Americans who have experienced significant hardship as a result of Obamacare's poor coverage and rising prices.

President Trump wants to hear from hard-working Americans like you. How has Obamacare affected you? Share your Obamacare disaster story.

https://click.mail.whitehouse.gov/?qs=b05db1f0b53272ca852fedc87ffdc49a688a37d66be6ba304b49a6ba3b3409761159d0baaef5cc94d82b60bdf2758f7853fd784debf8d2b9

During the meeting, one woman revealed that she had her health insurance cancelled three times since Obamacare became law. Another attendee had her insurance jump from $17,000 a year to a devastating $52,500 a year for her struggling family, while yet another said her health insurance now costs more than her mortgage.

Obamacare came packaged as the healthcare solution for all Americans. Instead, the country was given hundreds of pages of broken promises.

Millions of hard-working Americans have been impaired by soaring costs, cancelled plans, and overbearing mandates. As one of those innocent Americans, President Trump wants to hear your story about how this disastrous law has affected you and your family.

Share Your Story



So, I propose we share all kinds of stories! Who's with me?


Monday, March 6, 2017

Rachel Maddow: Trump's Real Potential Scandal is Azerbaijan and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard

I don't care if you are a hard-right Republican who thinks Rachel Maddow is "our" version of Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity (tip: she's not), or if it's your knee-jerk reaction to a) call her MadCow, and/or b) make fun of her sexuality or gender, watch this clip. For one thing, it's fascinating as an instruction on how to tell a story, and make it interesting. It's also fascinating to see the connections between things you'd never considered (and I'm not even yet talking about the political stuff). But it's stunning to see where she's going with this one. [Story continues below]



The Rachel Maddow Show is currently experiencing an upsurge in popularity, vying for and sometimes surpassing actual network prime time television. Part of the reason is that she's elected not to focus on Trump's latest tweets, and the incendiary things 45 says. She's been reporting what they're up to; in some cases what they seem to be up to, sure, but that's part of investigative reporting. Connecting the dots. And not in the boring (and crazy) Beck chalkboard way, but by linking actual, real events.

This story does involve Donald Trump, in a rather grave way. and it's worth your full attention, if you are an American, I don't care what party you are.

And if you won't watch that, at least read the article from The New Yorker that inspired it.


Image from The New Yorker
[Excerpt]

Donald Trump's Worst Deal

Heydar Aliyev Prospekti, a broad avenue in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, connects the airport to the city. The road is meant to highlight Baku’s recent modernization, and it is lined with sleek new buildings. The Heydar Aliyev Center, an undulating wave of concrete and glass, was designed by Zaha Hadid. The state oil company is housed in a twisting glass tower, and the headquarters of the state water company looks like a giant water droplet. “It’s like Potemkin,” my translator told me. “It’s only the buildings right next to the road.” Behind the gleaming structures stand decaying Soviet-era apartment blocks, with clothes hanging out of windows and wallboards exposed by fallen brickwork. . .

Read more at: The New Yorker

EDITED TO NOTE: In an epic Freudian slip, my original headline said "Republican," rather than "Revolutionary" Guard. I do not regret the error.

President Crazypants Loses His Shit, Fans Stick With Him

This hasn't gotten any less surreal. And I'm still baffled at how
anyone can look up to this buffoon. Image from source.
What can even be said anymore, about what's actually going on in the country?

Traditional news outlets have been deemed "Fake News" by no less than the president himself, and the phrase is repeated by his cult of personality acolytes. Likewise, they refuse to believe anything that doesn't either conform to their already preconceived notions, or to the narrative the president wishes to be true.

Meanwhile, absolutely untrustworthy outlets like right wing talk radio and FOX "News" are now considered to be real news. This would be an awesome time to be a nutbag radio talker. They've got the president's ear! Anything they think might light his fire will be played up, and he's likely to believe it, hook, line and sinker, no evidence necessary.

Always bad at analogies and false equivalencies, conservatives are now apt to make wild comparisons that make apples and oranges seem like an inapt cliche. Maybe apples and Buicks? They're usually that far off. For instance, the comparison now being drawn between the Russia/Trump story--a story with many tangents, and lots of meat on the bone--to Trump's post-midnight Tweet-storm about President Obama having wire-tapped him illegally. There's literally nothing to the latter, and tons of info on the former. Yet, they're comparable as topics to conservatives.

People who were saying there should be no investigation into the Russia charges, because there "is no evidence" are now demanding an investigation into Trump's bizarre Twitter accusations! It's preposterously inconsistent. But, let's circle back to that lame argument, that you can't have an investigation if you don't have hard evidence. Really? Nearly the entire CBS prime time lineup is devoted to police procedurals on the eternal quest for evidence where none had existed. And I know these people watch TV!

[Excerpt]

Congress will investigate Trump's wiretap claims

Key members of Congress say they will honor President Donald Trump's request to investigate his unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama overstepped his authority as president and had Trump's telephones tapped during the election campaign. A US official said the FBI had asked the Justice Department to dispute Trump's allegation, though no such statement has been issued. . .

Read more at: Business Insider

Over Time with Bill Maher: March 3, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

So, The Whole Trump/Russia Thing is Raining Shoes

Image from source, Politico
There are quite a few times during the breakings of scandals when you just wonder when the other shoe will drop. Well, it sort of seems to be raining shoes right now. Every day, sometimes a couple of times a day, we have further parts of the puzzle that seem to be falling into place, more people are revealed to have connections, more officials have to resign, recuse, re-explain. There's something here all right, the question is, how far does it go, how deeply?

The only way to get to the bottom of that is investigations, both by journalists and by elected officials. Time and again, we hear, "no evidence has been presented." Well then, investigate. Find out. If this was a Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton administration with identical circumstances, there would be no question. It would be THE. ONLY. STORY. FOX "News" would be on fire. So would talk radio. Is there anyone who doubts this?

Yet, if you go dip a toe into Right Wing World, you'd barely know there was anything to look at in the first place. "Nothingburger" is a favorite phrase. You will find people who simultaneously will say that there was no collusion, and that it doesn't matter if there was. People who will, "yeah, but..." and throw a false analogy about something Clinton or Obama is alleged to have done. You get people like Trump himself, who will say it's all "fake news," but that "the leaks are real." What?

These are people who would still ask for more investigations of Benghazi, who would still say "lock her up," about Hillary Clinton, with no charges. And let's ponder her alleged "crime." Possibly--maybe--having shared classified documents unwittingly. Compared to possibly colluding with a hostile government to subvert an United States election, and who knows what else? Sorry, no. This isn't going away, this isn't a nothingburger, and it must be investigated.

[Excerpt] 

Sessions recuses himself from Trump-Russia probe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that he will recuse himself from any investigations related to campaigns for president, including any probe into contacts between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. “I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” Sessions told reporters Thursday at a news conference at the Justice Department. . .

Read more (with video) at: Politico
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