Sunday, February 25, 2018

Commentariat Central

As per reader request, I'm reprinting some of the recent comments I wrote on New York Times op-eds and articles that I haven't incorporated into regular posts.

Today, Maureen Dowd parodies Donald Trump's reading of "The Snake" at last week's CPAC orgy. In case you didn't know, CPAC is not the mask-gizmo worn by sufferers of sleep apnea. It's the modern version of a KKK rally with no masks needed to hide the bald-faced hate and lies.

So anyway, as a little background, Dowd ran in the same celebrity circles as Trump for decades. And it was only natural that when he started to pretend to run for president, she let him invade her column space to just let him rip. Now, like the rest of the media pack who gave him a limitless microphone for the pure shock and entertainment value of it all, she's falling all over herself to bring this lunatic down.

Since Dowd wrote her latest piece in the form of a poem, I wrote my response as a riff on The Spider and the Fly:
In memory of a Maureen Dowd column -- Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat -- published on August 15, 2015, when, theoretically, it might still have been possible to stop Donald Trump in his tracks.

(and with my sincerest apologies to Mary Howitt)
"Won't you come up to Trump Tower?" said the spider to the scribe.
"Misogyny's on offer, and you're welcome to imbibe."
 Since access, not affliction, was the famous pundit's wish
She said "of course" and then she let the slimy monster dish.

"Rosie is a bully, I could smack her in the nose!" --
What better banter could there be for Maureen's brilliant prose?

And Megyn Kelly bleeding from her "wherever?"
Nobody ever did decree that click-bait need be clever.

"I win, Maureen, I always win," and he pounded on the table.
And duly did our scribe transcribe, quick as she was able.

Then she dared to ask him if he was a bully
And made no comment when he boasted, "Fully"

Because if journos are nice to Trump, not nasty
Their access to his loathsome self will be so ever-lasty.

Now, FF to Trump in Twenty Eighteen
And Dowd has turned righteous, scathing, and mean.

Better late than never, I guess
To try and clean up this unholy mess.

 But oh what a tangled web we sew
When first we practice stenographic Journ-o.

I know I've been hard on the Times lately for all its hysterical Russophobic schlock, but they still do some pretty good investigation journalism as well, especially on local news.

The only surprising thing about the latest blockbuster which exposes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's corrupt pay-to-play administration is that it is virtually buried beneath all the Russophobic schlock on the homepage.

It seems that Andy has ignored ethics laws and has accepted millions of  campaign dollars from the wealthy donors he appoints to various state advisory boards - which have the power to make and break anything with a dollar sign attached to it. In other words, it's a permanent closed feedback loop of enrichment for the already obscenely rich, at the public's sole and involuntary expense.
Mr. Cuomo’s donor-appointees span the state’s vast network of boards and authorities. They have served as trustees of both the city and state university systems, on the panel overseeing economic development and on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subways and buses. Most positions are unpaid, but they hold great power and prestige: Board members can approve multibillion-dollar contracts and multimillion-dollar grants, oversee the distribution of tax breaks, and have broad influence over everything from the state’s highways to local arts projects.
Bribery and corruption have consequences. Another little-reported scandal in New York State involves the pollution of the drinking water supply of Newburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City. While the state has allowed this small city to temporarily tap into the Catskill Aqueduct, the pumping of "filtered" water from the tainted reservoir will resume next month, even before testing is completed.

My published comment, including a link with all the details:

While Cuomo is raking in the dough from his cronies, he is upset because Newburgh, NY has filed a notice of claim against the state for its lack of urgent response to its contaminated drinking water crisis. He doesn't think it very nice of officials who think that Cuomo's solution of tapping into the Catskill Aqueduct while the toxic Washington Lake reservoir water undergoes testing and more testing is a joke. The state plans to resume pumping "filtered" water from the lake next month. Anybody remember Flint, Michigan?

Cuomo actually said that officials are suing to make a bunch of lawyers rich. and not because people need safe water to drink and bathe in. The contamination, incidentally, comes not from lead, but from runoff of toxic chemicals used in firefighting drills by the military based at nearby Stewart Airport, which is run by the Port Authority, which is staffed by the Cuomo donor named in this excellent article.

Threatening to sue is "not hospitable or collegial or kind of them," Cuomo said last week.

 Maybe if the inhospitable Newburgh officials started giving big bucks to Cuomo's campaign war chest, he might come around and arrange for some clean water for the ingrates.

Better yet, voters can easily arrange for a one-way ticket right out of Albany - unless prosecutors can get to him first, of course.

I hadn't commented on Paul Krugman's schlock for quite awhile, mainly because he always writes the exact same column: "Donald Trump is an evil jerk and all the Republicans are vile." I mean, who knew, right?

But I broke my embargo for his Friday piece because I wanted to get in my two cents on the gun control renaissance sparked by the latest mass shooting.

As usual, Krugman artificially narrows the decline and fall of the American empire to just one faction: those nasty old Republicans. The Democrats, apparently, do not even exist, neither in his column nor in the reality-based world. So, he is at least honest by omission as he writes:
Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — security from crazed gunmen, security from drunken drivers, security from exorbitant medical bills (which every other advanced country treats as a right, and does in fact manage to provide).
In short, you might want to think of our madness over guns as just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Yep, that sounds like Trump’s America.
My published response:

 What gives me hope that the students will succeed where the adults have failed are recent polls showing that half of millennials would rather live under a socialist system than a capitalist one. Sen. Marco Rubio visibly blanching on live TV as a teenager confronted him over his financial ties to the weapons industry possibly signalled the beginning of the end of the stranglehold the predatory oligarchy has over us.

Even if we passed a law tomorrow banning the sales of military-grade weapons to anyone with a pulse, there'd still be at least one gun for every man, woman and child in the US. It would take whole generations for all these weapons to rust out. Granted, by then the entire planet may be on fire or flooded, and guns will be the least of our existential worries.

It will be up to our terrorized but very brave students to find solutions that give peace, sanity and the environment even a smidgen of a chance.

While Trump, an unnatural politician if there ever was one, literally requires crib notes instructing him how to feign humanity, Congress keeps giving him carte blanche to wage our endless wars. He's far from the only pathocrat in the toxic mix. The sickness runs far, far deeper than any one corrupt and inept president.

 It certainly comes as no shock that Trump, having completed his own secondary education at a military academy for troubled youth, believes that schools should dispense with terror-free learning and get on with the weaponized discipline.


Anna Imaradiclova said...

Congratulations, Karen! Lambert Strether cited you in his 2pm Watercooler section of Naked Capitalism today with your statement about Bernie Sanders:

“Sanders either didn’t know, or has chosen to ignore, the fact that Russiagate is not only about weakening and punishing Donald Trump, but also about weakening and punishing – and censoring – what still remains of the contemporary American Left. And that includes Bernie Sanders, still considered the dangerous front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.”

Karl Kolchak said...

The situation with Cuomo in New York reminds me of the "Fat Leonard" scandal down here in DC, which a friend of mine who worked on the investigation at its onset described to me as "probably the biggest scandal in Pentagon history," with dozens of Admirals and hundreds of senior naval officers under indictment or suspicion of taking bribes and/or covering up. That hugely important story gets buried under all the Russia nonsense, no doubt because nobody in Washington wants people to start questioning the utterly corrupt war procurement process.

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks. I always read NC faithfully, so when I saw the quote yesterday, I thought "jeeze, that sounds kinda familiar" and was very pleased to see Sardonicky had been linked.


Yeah, you'd think the rest of the ruling class was pure and righteous what with all the Russiagate nonsense on display. A lot of the corruption boils down to Trump as well as the Supreme Court and other courts lowering the bar. NJ Sen. Bob Menendez recently had all the charges against him dropped because the DOJ could not meet the newer burdens of proof enacted since his original indictment several years ago. Similar situation with Cuomo, and also NYC Mayor di Blasio and of course Chris Christie. Because legal loopholes! A great book on the topic is Zephyr Teachout's "Corruption in America," She ran on an anti-corruption platform against Cuomo and actually beat him handily in upstate voting districts, including mine. Then when she ran for Congress, some corrupt Wall Street lobbyist named John Faso beat her. Because redistricting!