The BLAST is Back!
After a fun, extended birthday weekend in Philadelphia --- meeting my niece’s always-smiling baby Glenn, visiting the Reading Terminal Market and the UPenn campus, driving by the Lovely Carol Marie’s childhood home in Oreland, and being wowed by the new Museum of the American Revolution --- there’s a number of stories The Blast needs to catch up on.
#1: Roger Ailes
The passing of Roger Ailes last week is neither tragic nor historic. Ailes was a petty, crass political operative who gained control of a network and built it into a venomous, polarizing machine while lording over a behind-the-scenes boys’ club that was both vile and abusive. It is fitting that he started his political career working for Richard Nixon and ended it by helping engineer the election of a Nixon caricature in Trump. Using lessons learned from the insidious Lee Atwater, Ailes was like the cruel child with a magnifying glass, incinerating ants on the sidewalk, using the lens of Fox News to divide the nation through fear and innuendo. Making stars of second-rate thinkers like O’Reilly, Hanitty, and Beck (who has since renounced it all, of course), Ailes’s notion of “Fair and Balanced” was anything but. As I often told my students, the Fox News motto should have been, “We Make This Shit Up” --- which they did --- and continue to do. Preying on the “low information” voters across the land, Ailes made Fox the television arm of Breitbart and the alt-right and is as, or more, responsible for the current polarization as anyone. If I were a religious person I’d curse Roger Ailes to an eternity in the fires of Hell. Failing that, I’m glad he’s gone.
#2: The Trump Budget
Released while the Donald is informing the Israeli’s that he had just come from the “Middle East” to visit them, the President’s budget is not only a nightmare but also a document that fails at basic arithmetic! Continuing in the Paul Ryan/Republican tradition of draconian cuts on the most needy (the poor, the elderly, the infirm), it promotes the cockeyed notion that HUGE tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will magically spur economic growth --- though there is not one shred of evidence to prove that! Even Republicans in the House and Senate do not believe that such cuts will improve economic growth by 50% and raise it from 2% to 3% in the next year, as it purports to do. There is also, as Lawrence Summer (Clinton & Obama economic advisor) points out in Wednesday’s New York Times, “the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budged in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.” An example is that the Trump budget plans to eliminate the estate tax while claiming the government will still reap $300 billion in estate taxes over the next decade! Talk about “voodoo economics.” It also fails to note where income, lost to tax cuts, will be generated --- leaving it to their magic "economic growth” to compensate. While many are already saying this budget is “dead on arrival” watch the evil Mr. Ryan and his heartless colleagues attempt to slash and burn the most vulnerable.
#3: About the Clinton Foundation & that Saudi Money
Does anyone remember that constant drumbeat from the Trump campaign about how the Clinton Foundation had taken money from the Saudis and how despicable and unethical that was? Now that dear little Ivanka has proposed a World Bank Fund for Women entrepreneurs it seems to be more than okay to take money from the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates, who are pitching in a combined $100 million to the Fund. The double dealing, hypocritical bullshit from the Family Trump never ceases to amaze me --- and I would hope anyone else who is watching as the Trumps backtrack and reverse themselves on an almost daily basis.
#4. The Gift that keeps on Giving – Russia.
As much as the President and his staff want us to forget about it, that pesky Russia thing just keeps buzzing around. Former C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday (May 23rd) left another flaming bag of dogshit on the White House porch, noting that he had serious concerns about Russian interference with the 2016 election and specifically was aware of Trump campaign people talking to the Russians! The always bungling chair of the committee, alien lizard-man Trey Gowdy, tried to wrangle around the facts through his “clever” prosecutorial questioning --- as he did with Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi charade --- with the same results: Gowdy sitting with his deer in the headlights blank expression trying to figure out how his pants were once again sitting around his ankles.
#5. The Trump Crew’s detachment from Reality
Was I the only one who saw Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross marveling at the fact that there “was not one guy with a bad placard” protesting in Saudi Arabia? Is this man that far removed from reality that he does not know that he is in a country that will cut someone’s tongue out for criticizing the King? In fact, in 2011 (Arab Spring) “the kingdom” banned all protests and marching in the country. (CNN, May 22nd) It’s nice to know that our Cabinet members are clueless dolts, just like the man who appointed them.
If you missed Mick Mulvaney’s presentation of the aforementioned budget, the former Freedom Caucus (Tea Party) leader explained the basic Paul Ryan/Republican theory behind the massive cuts to the poor/old/infirm and the generous tax cuts for the wealthy. Simply put, the people who pay taxes should receive benefits, not those who are not working (or not working enough) and are receiving those crazy Federal handouts, like food stamps (75% of food stamp recipients are working – but some of it is part time or seasonal, etc.). Mick the Dick, like St. Paul the Ryan, is not the kind of Christian who believes in that Good Samaritan story --- rather, he subscribes to an Old Testament literal reading of the Holy Word that promotes patriarchal, anti-gay theology, rewarding the “good” and “hard working” with material benefits here on earth. Those poor, infirm, elderly people, like the slaves in former times, should rely on “pie in the sky” in the afterlife --- which is why their budget also promotes state control over many entitlement programs. And we remember how well “states rights” and state control worked for civil rights from 1876 to 1965, right?