Master negotiator my (foot)

The subject is the START treaty which caps the number of nuclear weapons held by Russia and the United States. Trump is on the phone with President Putin of Russia.

“Hold on, Vlad, I gotta talk to this guy.”

(Puts hand over mouthpiece)

What’s this deal, now?”

(Putin hears muttered unintelligible conversation from Oval Office. Trump returns to phone)

“Vlad? Thanks for holding. That’s a terrible deal. Let’s tear it up.”

Trump has never seen a deal he didn’t think he could do better. In his mind he’s the best negotiator in the history of negotiations. The fact that he just made himself look extraordinarily weak in front of the other party to the deal won’t even occur to him.

Thank you, Trump voters. When the world blows up I trust you’ll go along with the rest of us.

The Republican Party doesn’t like strong women

I know, I know. What’s new, right? But tonight takes the cake. Senator Elizabeth Warren wanted to read a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife Coretta Scott King on the floor, because it advised the Senate Judiciary Committee of 1986 that in her opinion Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, at the time a US Attorney in Alabama and a nominee to the US District Court, wasn’t a fit person for the job. (Letter here.) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, silenced Senator Warren with something called Rule 19, which forbids “impugning” another Senator.

“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair,” Mr. McConnell began, alluding to Mrs. King’s letter, which accused Mr. Sessions of using “the awesome power of his office to chill the pre-exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

Mr. McConnell called the Senate to order under what is known as Rule XIX, which prohibits debating senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”

Any thought that the Republican Party cares about anything other than its own agenda should be thrown out. They are perfectly willing to trash long-standing rules (see last week’s suspension of quorum requirements in two committees in order to pass questionable nominees on to the full Senate) or find arcane ones in order to get their way.

All elected Democrats and all of us out here have to recognize that they are not going to try to rein in Trump, even when they know full well he’s harming the country. Witness Ryan and McConnell’s inability to denounce his lies about murder rates (lowest in decades, contrary to his claim that they’re just the opposite) or media coverage of terrorist acts. Any efforts made to keep him from destroying American values will have to be done with no help from the Republicans.

The Grifters

You have got to be kidding me.

Melania Trump is suing the British paper The Daily Mail for defamation. Part of her complaint is that the allegation that she once worked as an escort (since retracted) reduced her capacity to “launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.”

This family is the most dishonest unethical bunch to ever set foot in Washington as public servants (or in her case, quasi-public), much less move into the White House. It appears that his personal lawyers either interpret law and ethics differently than most of us or the Trump family ignores what the lawyers tell them.

Best Super Bowl Ever?

It’s hard to say otherwise about the first overtime game in the 51-year history of the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, as the first two games were called. The Patriots came back from a 25-point deficit to score 31 unanswered points and win the game 34-28. The greatest Super Bowl comeback had previously been 10 points.

There were a lot of wonderful plays in this game and some real bone-headed ones as well. Each team fumbled once and the Patriots’ Tom Brady threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Here’s what would probably have been called the play of the game if the Falcons had held on to win: Julio Jones made a spectacular catch of a Matt Ryan throw in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately the NFL has blocked the embedding feature, so you’ll have to click here to see the catch. That got the Falcons a first-and-10 at the New England 22. From there they went backwards:

1st and 10 at NE 22

(4:40 – 4th) D.Freeman left end to NE 23 for -1 yards (D.McCourty).
2nd and 11 at NE 23

(3:56 – 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan sacked at NE 35 for -12 yards (T.Flowers).

(3:56 – 4th) Timeout #1 by NE at 03:50.
3rd and 23 at NE 35

(3:50 – 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass short left to M.Sanu pushed ob at NE 26 for 9 yards (L.Ryan). PENALTY on ATL-J.Matthews, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at NE 35 – No Play.
3rd and 33 at NE 45

(3:44 – 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass incomplete short left to T.Gabriel.
4th and 33 at NE 45

(3:38 – 4th) M.Bosher punts 36 yards to NE 9, Center-J.Harris, fair catch by J.Edelman. (The Punt Hangtime was 4.31 seconds.)

Talk about futility. The Patriots then went 91 yards in 2:33, culminating in a two-point conversion and a tie game.

During that drive with the score 28-20 Falcons and 2:27 left in the fourth quarter Julian Edelman made an unbelievable catch of a ball that was deflected up in the air by the defender. It came down on the defender’s arm and Edelman scooped it off and cradled it. That kept the drive alive and the Patriots went on to tie with 0:57 seconds left.

The average point differential between the winners and the losers in the Super Bowl is now slightly over two touchdowns: 14.16

Super Bowl LI (51)

I don’t really have a special rooting interest in either team, but I think I’m going to pull for the Patriots for the simple reason that I want to see Commissioner Roger Goodell have to hand the trophy to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. Goodell did his best to penalize the Patriots for “Deflategate,” an infraction with no direct evidence that Brady was guilty.

I think the NFL Commissioner has too much discretion in how much punishment players receive for infractions even with a Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated between them and the owners. We’ve seen him initially suspend Ray Rice in 2014 for all of two games after video evidence emerged of the player punching his fiancée and then adjusting it to four games after the public outcry became too big to ignore. Then this season he gave a one-game suspension to kicker Josh Brown of the NY Giants despite the following:

…here are the facts the NFL officials were in possession of more than a year ago [2015]. They knew that Brown was arrested for assaulting his wife, Molly, in May 2015. They knew that Brown went after her again at the January 2016 Pro Bowl, drunkenly pounding on her door, until NFL security were called. They knew that Molly Brown and her children had to be moved to a different room for their safety.

[snip]

Brown confessed to the New York Giants. “He admitted to us that he’s abused his wife in the past,” team owner John Mara told WFAN on Thursday. Mara then added this stunning qualifier that explains the whole deal. “I think what’s a little unclear is the extent of that.”

So Goodell reduced Brown’s suspension to one game because, maybe, he only roughed her up a little?

That’s Sally Jenkins, longtime sports columnist for the Washington Post. She goes on:

Goodell will go down as a figure of historical ineptitude. Of this he is blissfully unaware. He failed to get all the facts on Brown and handed him a light one-game suspension for domestic violence, while pursuing Tom Brady for four games over the amount of air in a football. He seems to think anyone who questions these priorities lacks intelligence and fails to discern his subtle brilliance.

“I understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand, how we get to those positions,” Goodell told a BBC reporter while in London for the Giants game Sunday.

There you have it: The public is stupid.

I agree with her that he’s inept. He’s also arrogant as hell. In fact, he reminds me of our newly-inaugurated President that way, come to think of it.

Here are the results of the previous fifty Super Bowls.

Hey, Heartland America

I trust you noticed that the Congress has now agreed to allow coal companies to dump their waste into your streams again. And I trust that you noticed that just today the guy you voted for rescinded part of a law which regulates banks, because, he said,

“We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because frankly I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses and they can’t borrow money,” he continued. “They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank. So we’ll be talking about that in terms of the banking industry.”

I assume you’re not one of his banking friends because they all live in NYC and you don’t.

I imagine you don’t know a lot of people who got swept up in Trump’s anti-immigrant executive order last weekend, and particularly not any one of the 60,000 to 100,000 people whose visas were revoked by it. And I suppose you really don’t mind him bullying the President of Mexico, telling him maybe our Army should go down there to help get rid of Mexico’s “bad hombres.” But hey, how about him trying to back out of a deal the US had made with Australia? It’s no big thing to break your country’s word, right?

Thanks for nothing, you guys.

Enough with the advice already

I know the authors of these “Democrats, play nice” articles mean well, but none of them seem to recognize what the Republicans are doing. Republicans in this century have thrown the idea of comity to the winds; it’s absolute political power they want.

Here’s an example of one of these articles. It advises the Senate Democrats thus:

There is a better way to avenge the treatment of Garland and call attention to Republican hypocrisy. Democrats could demand, as a condition for not mounting a filibuster of the Gorsuch nomination, that the Senate pass a resolution declaring that no vote will be held on any Supreme Court nomination in the final year of President Trump’s current term. Republicans would be hard pressed to oppose such a resolution, given the Garland precedent they laid down, while Democrats would gain their pound of political flesh.

Republicans would be hard pressed? They would laugh all the way to the Judiciary Committee! What the hell do they care about resolutions? In the last two days they have suspended the quorum rules in the Senate to force Cabinet appointees out of committee despite Democrats’ objections to the candidates’ misstatements, lies, and dissembling, not to mention their conflicts of interest. They don’t care about good governance or about getting along with the Democrats. They care about legislating and judging which benefit their rich donors, their friends and themselves.

I have had it with these “advisors”. They really do epitomize the folks who take knives to gunfights.

Counting Coup?

When Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey III wrote “Seven Days in May” it was supposed to be a cautionary tale about the Joint Chiefs of Staff plotting to overthrow the elected government of the United States. It was a damned good book and an excellent movie. The plot was suggested by the behavior of Army General Edwin Walker, who was ferociously anti-Communist and was seeing them everywhere, including in the persons of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and former President Harry Truman. JFK accepted his resignation after he was formally admonished by the Joint Chiefs for that and for attempting to politically indoctrinate the soldiers under his command with his right-wing views.

After 11 days of President Trump the premise of the book looks a lot more appealing than it did back in 1962.

This is quite a sermon

I’m no connoisseur of homilies or sermons, but this one by Reverend Jan Nunley of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Peekskill, NY from Sunday January 29th is very very good. It’s just under 15 minutes long, but it’s worth every minute. She cites the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount and asks if the people in the White House have ever read them.