North Korea

That Otto Warmbier autopsy report will be quite the news item when it finally comes out. Apparently there was no evidence of botulism, and if there was any evidence of beatings or abuse of any sort, it’s likely to show up in the autopsy report. I’m surprised the North Koreans released him when he was so close to death. They’d rendered him brain dead already, you think they could have buried him somewhere and then executed the grave diggers, like were done to the hundreds who built Genghis Khan’s tomb, and then the guy who designed it. (Risky business, Mongol tomb building). But a nation that executes its prisoners by anti aircraft guns, mortars, rocket grenades and flamethrower probably doesn’t think much about autopsies. Instead they let Trump (or was it Dennis Rodman?) bring the still breathing body home to his parents to die among friends, family, and world class pathologists. The bizarre botulism explanation isn’t holding up (where do the North Koreans get these ideas? Quincy?) and if the kid’s sad corpse reveals any signs of the abuse that killed him–and it almost surely will–then we suddenly have ourselves a big giant foreign policy catastrophe on our hands. Let loose the pups of war, the curs upon the land. Fortunately, Defense Secretary Mattis (the one member of the Administration who didn’t kiss Trump’s ass in that kowtowing excuse of a cabinet meeting last week) just laid out in some detail how awful a war with North Korea would be to members of Congress.  Among other things, he said, you can kiss Seoul goodbye. Did the president hear the same information? Or more importantly, are there Trump properties in Seoul within range of Kim Jong-un’s guns? (Actually, there are.) Meanwhile, friends and family of Otto Warmbier watch as his body is lowered into the earth. His part in all this is all over, even as the plot thickens. It’s an incredibly sad story with a finish right out of old time radio. How will it end? Only the Shadow knows.

North_Korea statue

Apparently the Donald Trump statue, where the Washington Monument is now, will be even bigger, the biggest ever.

The press has never been this famous

No TV, so I was listening to a bit of the coverage of the James Comey hearing on KPCC just now and it’s not exactly a murderers’ row of famous journalists and analysts. Competition must be fierce and KPCC is down to the D listers. Anybody who is nobody is on TV or the radio or online somewhere experting away. What an exciting time to be a reporter. The press has never been this famous. I mean, all these journalists are rock stars now. They tweet like mad and write long pieces we all read the first paragraph of. They show up on TV daily. They have unnamed sources to die for. They pal around with movie stars and directors. Imagine the perks and the swag and the people who want to meet them, to touch them, to take a selfie with them. Living the reporter’s dream. A Pulitzer. A bestseller. George Clooney playing you in the movie. I confess I always wanted to be a political reporter. Alas I was born too late for Watergate and too early for Trump. It’s all in the timing. People loathed the press only a year ago, mistrusted them, assumed everything it said was a lie. That was then. Now it’s Beatlemania for reporters. I watch these guys on those giant CNN panels and I think to myself man, I bet they’re getting laid like crazy. Maybe not a second time but still, they’re getting laid like crazy.

The ordeal of Kathy Griffin

The self-crucifixion of Kathy Griffin has nothing to do with political correctness. It has to do with a Hollywood egomaniac who went way over the line (when it was Obama in a sniper target you all flipped out), and then had the pathetic audacity to claim that she was some sort of victim, trying to make herself the martyr of the resistance, knowing how much money that might mean. She dominated the news for a day or three, burying whole news cycles of genuine tales of horrors that Trump is inflicting upon the Constitution, working people, women, children and the poor. Her publicist must have been thrilled to death. But real blood on London sidewalks popped that balloon real quick. Nothing makes stage blood look sillier than real blood. Her publicist must have despaired. Damn that ISIS anyway, stepping on Kathy’s big finish. It’s too bad reality isn’t happening on a Hollywood set. Too bad reality ain’t reality TV. But maybe Hollywood should stop trying to score ratings and higher ticket prices by loudly announcing themselves as our consciences. We don’t need celebrities to tell us how to think. We don’t need comics to feel our pain. You have to be goddamned fool to think that Jim Carrey proclaiming that comedians are the last line of resistance against Trump is anything more than celebrity ego inflated to the size of the Hindenburg. Oh the humanity.

Kathy Griffin And Her Attorney Lisa Bloom Hold Press Conference

Oh Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?

Seriously, Trump probably believes that.

His approval rating is down to 35%, while 43% want impeachment proceedings to begin. He responds by turning more and more to his base, that 35%. I suspect he believes that the reason the 43% is bigger than his 35% is because it’s composed in large part of Californians and illegal aliens, seriously, he probably thinks that, and that there are more voters and real Americans in his base than not. These polls are MSM lies, fake news, he says, or FAKE NEWS!!!! It’s obvious following his tweets that he gets nearly all of his news from Drudge and Breitbart and their ilk, and that is his reality, and these poll numbers mean nothing. His tweets and policies and appointments will get more and more strident and offensive, and he’ll do more of his Trump Country rallies before crowds of fanatical supporters who perceive things exactly as he does. One third of the country and our president live in an internet reality where facts are only what they care to believe, no one is there to counter them in their beliefs, and Trump is winning victory after resounding victory, the most successful president ever. Sad.

Only tweets will tell

Unless you actually wander through the bizarre social media world of Trump supporters, you will really have no idea just how out there and paranoid their perception of reality is. I was amazed to see that they are becoming increasingly convinced that the London mayor Sadiq Khan has ties to ISIS, the implication being that he was somehow behind the terror attacks. There’s no proof of this whatsoever, of course, but it was a story in Breitbart, which means it must be true. Furthermore, as Trump, like his core followers, gets most of his news from Breitbart, does he think that the mayor of London is affiliated with ISIS? Only tweets will tell.

Mad King Donald

Went offline for a few hours and come back and Twitter has gone berserk and Trump has fucked up more than anyone thought possible. Giving away classified information to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador, in front of Russian reporters no less. Imagine being that stupid AND being president. And imagine there were enough people that stupid to vote for him. It’s not like no one knew just how stupid he was. He proved it every single day of the campaign. Most people realized how stupid he was, too, and there were millions more people not stupid enough to vote for him than there were people stupid enough to vote for him.  But the dumbfuck gets elected anyway. That is some system we have. The brightest constitutional minds of their time somehow built a device that ensured that eventually the stupidest man ever to run for president would win even if most people didn’t vote for him precisely because they knew he was too stupid to be president. And to think they designed the system to avoid people as stupid as Donald Trump from ever being elected president. Because the brightest constitutional minds of their time knew damn well how disastrous a really stupid head of state could be. Europe was littered with the memories of countries ruined by unbelievably stupid kings. They were determined that would never happen to their new republic. It’s too bad they’ve been dead now for so many hundred years. I’d just love to see the look on their 18th century faces when they saw that the Enlightenment made possible the least enlightened president imaginable. To them it would be inconceivable that a free people could bring forth someone as loutish and thick and ill tempered as the most inbred simpleton ever to sit his fat decadent ass on a throne. Which is how bad a president Donald Trump is. We once rebelled against a king as obnoxiously incompetent as our president is now. Mad King George, they called him. We call ours Mr. President.

Ya know, the Roman Empire did not decline and fall. It did not rot away. It was not even close to rotting away. Indeed, in the fifth century it was doing pretty damn good, its economy thriving, and it was more stable socially and politically than it had been in quite a while. But then the people in charge of its western half made a whole series of really stupid impulsive decisions and suddenly, with little warning, the western Roman Empire was no more. The Eastern Roman Empire lived on another thousand years. They didn’t make the same stupid decisions. There’s a price to paid, sometimes, for putting incredibly stupid people in charge. They fuck shit up.

Mad King Donald is fucking shit up. Impeach him.

You can find fateful political implications even in something as dry as an actuarial table.

Black Americans living longer, but racial gap remains, CDC says. To quote the key line of the CNN piece:

 “Although blacks are living longer, a racial disparity remains: The life expectancy of blacks is still four years less than that of whites.”

So you can find fateful political implications even in something as dry as an actuarial table. Because Trump’s margin of victory in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania was so narrow–about 80,000 votes between the three states–that the disparity in life expectancies between white males and black males might have been enough all by itself to give Trump the edge. Basically a white male will statistically vote in one more presidential election than a black male over a lifetime, meaning that of all the 75 year old men who voted in 2012, there was a higher percentage of white 79 year olds voting in 2016 than there were black 79 year olds. When you factor in the fact that older voters have by far the highest voting rate (upwards of 70% among those over 60), losing those departed voters is like losing about two or even three times that number of the youngest voters. They represented a significant loss to Hillary, compounded by the higher turnout that Trump was generating among his own rural white supporters. I’d have to do the math, but I suspect the numbers would show a far more than 80,000 vote spread. More than enough to tip the three states’ electoral votes to Trump. And though I’d have to work the numbers, lots and lots of numbers, I think it’s a distinct possibility that the Trump campaign benefitted from something so dry and obscure as data off an actuarial table. Not the most exciting bit of political analysis, sure, but by such absurdly arcane little demographic blips the course of civilization is changed. Sad.