May 13, 2023

Progressive Oregonian shocked and dismayed to see the main story on HUFFPOST

My morning ritual leading up to eventually deciding what, if anything, I can blog about is:

  1. I start my Keurig for my coffee
  2. I turn on MSNBC
  3. I fire up my laptop
  4. I check my email
  5. The first website I look at is HUFFPOST just to see what their editors decide to post as their lead story

Then I look at The New York Times, Washington Post, Raw Story, Salon, and other websites. I often find something I want to blog about in those stories.

Today I was surprised to see that the main HUFFPOST story was about something that very much impacted me as an Oregonian who is pleased to live in a very progressive state.

This is what I saw:

Click above to read article.

Oregon progressives and even middle-of-the road residents dodged a bullet named Christine Drazen, a far right Republican, in our most recent governor race, because an independent named Betsy Johnson became a third party candidate.

Click above to read article
(left to right Kotek, Johnson, Drazen)

Fortunately liberal Democrat Tina Kotek won.

Oregon, and Portland in particular, isn't a politically progressive Brigadoon. We have many problems including a lamentable rate of often deadly shootings, and rampant homelessness. In addition, we have our history of Black Live Matters protests which became violent and made national news. This was because far right groups came here because they were attracted to Portland's reputation as a being so progressive. We are known, among other things, for being so early in decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana, being LGBTQ+ friendly, and accepting immigrants. We also have  the first-of-its-kind psilocybin therapy program.

We also have the eastern rural portion of the state, which is mostly Republican and tends to be rampantly MAGA. They have been voting in non-binding country referendums to become part of Idaho in something called The Greater Idaho Movement. Read today's article about dueling protests.

My takeaway from this situation with our senate is that I should never get blasé about living in such a progressive area, and in the suburbs of a city which rightfully proudly celebrates itself for being weird. 

There is hope as far as this attempt to block hundreds of bills addressing, among other things, gender-affirming medical care, homelessness, gun control, mental health care, education, and abortion rights.  

There is a fly in the ointment that these Republican senators may have inadvertently swallowed. This is that a 2022 ballot measure is now part of the Oregon Constitution. It disqualifies a lawmaker with 10 or more unexcused absences from holding office in the next term.

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May 12, 2023

Some thoughts about Tucker Carlson, Joe and Hunter Biden, George Santos, and Kaitlan Collins


On Tucker Carlson trying to build an audience on Twitter

I just don't think this will make much of a splash, more of a ripple. Fox is the only venue that could give him the kind of audience he wants. Not only this, but he needs to be on television not on a computer screen. Even if Newsmax payed him more than Fox did, thus enabling him to get on a TV screen, I doubt people will break their Fox News habit to tune into another station. A lot depends on Fox's programming during whatever time Tucker is on Newsmax.  

Bottom line, Musk needs Tucker more than Tucker needs Musk. I think Tucker is toast, stale, burnt toast and Musk is a moldy melon. Both will end up in a compost heap.

On the GOP quest to implicate President Biden in some kind of criminal activity involving his supposed consiglieri master spy Hunter Biden:

Hmmm... who are you going to believe really bad things about? Donald Trump who lived all his adult, or I should put this is George Santos fashion as his "adultish" life, as a sadistic sociopath out only for himself, or Joe Biden who possibly once transgressed by wearing mismatched socks.

While on George Santos:

While as someone with actual expertise in making psychiatric diagnoses I've concluded at Donald Trump is a malignant (sociopathic) sadistic grandiose narcissist and Hershel Walker most likely still suffers from dissociative identity disorder. I can't come up with what, if any, psychiatric disorder George Santos suffers from. He has managed to put the word "fabulist" associated with his lying into discussions about him. Thus I do give him credit for improving the vocabulary of lots of people.

Fabulist: a liar, especially a person who invents elaborate, dishonest storiesa born fabulist, with an imagination unfettered by the laws of logic and probability.

On CNN's Kaitlan Collins, dice, and the Mafia

As someone who watches MSNBC and doesn't ever tune into CNN I wasn't familiar with this so-called rising CNN star. I was talking about her with my partner and said that she could have made her bones if she'd managed to hold Trump's feet to the fire when she interviewed him. I had to explain where the idiom "make your bones" came from. For those who aren't fans of The Godfather and the Sopranos where the phase is used to describe establishing one's reputation by killing someone. 

If Collins had killed it by nailing Trump she would have made her bones. There are so many gotcha follow-up questions she could have insisted he answer. I would have liked him to explain exactly what he meant when he said E. Jean Carroll was a wack job this this often means someone is mentally ill.

While the bones derivation might come from establishing one's bona fides, I think it comes from the game of craps.Dice were originally made from actual bones. Thus making your bones would mean winning at a game once played with bones.

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May 11, 2023

In our match between The Peanut Butter Falcon and the Trump Show, we're glad the Falcon won

 By Hal Brown

Click images to enlarge

My partner and I decided that we'd find a good alternative to watching Donald Trump's misnamed town hall on CNN and watch something uplifting on TV. "The Peanut Butter Falcon" turned out to be worthy of being a great escape not unlike the plot of the book and movie by the same name. The story involves a great escape not by a group of POWs but by a young man basically imprisoned in a nursing home.

Here's what some of the reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes write about the movie:

  • A tender and often funny heartwarmer with loads of charm, personality, and humanity.
  • The importance of the family you make, rather than the one you're given, is at the heart of this low-budget independent American feature that just happens to have two enormous Hollywood names on the marquee.
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon makes a strong case for the value of sentimentality.
  • It might be pretty optimistic in its wholesomeness, but whats the point of the movies if they cant be? Especially in a film that is committed to its faithful and hopeful representation for a community that is almost never shown on screen whatsoever.
  • Peanut Butter Falcon excels as a story of simple kindness.
  • Swept up in those bayou waters, we all root for Zack and happily accept whatever good fortune the writers provide for him.
The movie begins with the escape shown below. The character Zak,  has the same name as the actor playing him Zachary Gottsagen,  who has Down's syndrome like the actor does in real life.

Zak is living in a nursing home and due to two thwarted attempts to escape has been labeled a flight risk. His last attempt, enabled by this roommate Carl, played by Bruce Dern, helps him in his third and successful escape (below screen grabs from trailer).

The story involves Zak's quest to go to the wrestling school run by his idol, pro wrestler Salt Water Redneck. The name he adopts for himself is Peanut Butter Falcon for reasons that are made clear in the movie.

Since this is a feel good movie it shouldn't be a spoiler to reveal that he with his partner Tyler, played by Shia LaBeouf, Zak not only overcomes threats to life and limb to actually fight a match as the Peanut Butter Falcon in a local competition where he battles against a villainous cruel opponent twice his size. 
I won't reveal the outcome of the match.

This morning I watched "Morning Joe" and saw the most outrageous clips from Trump's CNN appearance. Seeing them was plenty to endure. It was better than enduring 70 minutes of Trump spewing his lies and venom.

“Morning Joe” co-host Scarborough ripped CNN and Trump for a “virus of lies” as Trump peddled falsehoods on live television about the 2020 election, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, which he called a “beautiful day.”

It was “a disgraceful performance” and “showed the corrosive effects of Trumpism over eight years,” said Scarborough.

The “most shocking part,” Scarborough said, was the audience “who cheered on a president who tried to overturn American democracy, an audience that mocked and ridiculed the woman who, a jury of her peers, Donald Trump’s peers, found had been sexually assaulted.”

Our own breaking point might have come when many in the audience applauded his saying he'd pardon most of the J6 prisoners, below:

The crowd also cheered and clapped when he insulted E. Jean Carroll.

It is also possible that Trump gave prosecutors new evidence for all three ongoing criminal cases (see article). This Salon article also describes how what he said about E. Jean Carroll makes a new case for her to sue him for defamation. If she saw him call her a "whack job" which prompted the audience to laugh I imagine this would have hurt.

I am pretty sure that had we decided to watch CNN instead of "The Peanut Butter Falcon" rather than rooting for the good guys and experiencing inspiration we would have been feeling frustrated and angry. 

CNN deserves all the excoriation they are now receiving for giving Trump the opportunity to spew his hateful lies. For example:

Click above to read article

We are happy we decided to spend our evening enjoying our home cooked delicious filet mignon dinner with the first baked potato we've had since we began a low carb diet the day after New Years, and watching "The Peanut Butter Falcon", rather than enduring the Trump debacle.
Our filet mignon, zucchini and yellow squash, crispy skinned baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives dinner.

Rather than feeling pleasantly sated after diner I think we'd have had cases of dyspepsia.

Addendum: Here's another feel good movie we watched a few days ago: A Man Called Otto.

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May 10, 2023

Maybe George Soros had his Jewish space laser scrambling the brains of the E. Jean Carroll jurors., Plus George Santos

 By Hal Brown, trying to think of something remotely original to write about the verdict of the E. Jean Carroll trial

Trump rants about the evil corrupt Democrat judge failing of course to address the fact that it was a jury of nine New Yorkers who found him liable and decided how much he had to pay.

Republicans with the rare exception of Mitt Romney either refuse to comment or give mealy mouth answers when asked their opinions about this.

Some are defining the phrase doubling down in expressing how their support of Donald Tump has increased since the verdict. Case in point, Sen. Tommy Tuberville who said it made him want to vote for him twice.

Pence wins the Academy of Lame Irrelevancy Award for his saying that in all his years of knowing Trump he never heard or witnessed behavior of that nature. Talk about a lame way to try to avoid giving his opinion about whether Trump was fit to be president. As if Trump would disabuse his holier than thou vice president of his belief that the most righteous one is actually a crude decidedly unchristian misogynist who has a history os sexual assaulting women. How lame is Pence's comment? This lame:

Across the country there are two basic group of Trump worshippers reacting to this verdict. One group is composed of those who agree with Trump's claim that it never happened and he didn't even know who E. Jean Carroll was (despite this photographic evidence to the contrary). They believe in one or another, or perhaps all, of the possible conspiracies which led to this outcome.

Then there's another group who may or may not think the charges are bullshit. In a way these people, mostly men but some women, think that Trump was entitled to sexually assault E. Jean Carroll because he's some sort of testosterone fueled god. I have no doubt that there are men who envy Trump for having gotten away with sexually assaulting so many women. The more the merrier could be their motto.

These sexual predator wannabes wish they were famous enough so they could roam the aisle of high end women's clothing stores and target women they found attractive and have their way with them in convenient dressing rooms.

As for the hopefully small group of Trump supporters who suffer from delusional psychiatric disorders I suppose it is possible a few believe in far-out, literally far far out explanations for the verdict. After all, George Soros supposedly has powers few if any other mortals possess and lasers are amazing. It wouldn't take a leap of their imagination for these pathetic people to be convinced he had his orbiting mythical machine zapping the brains of the E. Jean Carroll jurors into finding Trump guilty.

Among the GOP professional political prognosticators there are many who know that while Trump may cruise to victory in the primary he is likely to lose in the general election. A good example of this comes from the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal.

I expect that at some time an entrepreneur in New York City will start a MAGA bus tour where Trump cult members can hop on a bus and gawk at the various sites significant in Trump's life.

Lower right, Trump visited this German restaurant in 2007 because his head of security at the time was friends with the owners. He autographed a photo of himself. Later the owners took the photo off the wall when patrons complained.

Revealed on "Morning Joe" this morning: "He did it and you know it" is what E. Jean Carroll told Joe Tapocina when they saw each other and shook hands after the trial. She said she looked him right in the eyes.

I think it is fitting that she decided to go on "Morning Joe" today.  She appeared with one of her lawyers, Roberta Kaplan. This is a show that Trump is known to watch at least occasionally.

“Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski mocked former President Trump for sending a statement attacking the MSNBC show. 


‘Morning Joe’ hosts mock Trump

From Trump: Will ‘Morning Joe’ be canceled? He and Mika’s ratings are very low—they are having an extremely hard time finding an audience to listen to the Fake News they spurn,” Trump said in his statement. “Losing them would be very sad—hope it doesn’t happen!”

“A couple things here,” Scarborough said, grinning, as he sipped his iced coffee. “I’ve never heard him talk about spurn. Using that as a word. I don’t use the word.” 

“Secondly,” Scarborough said of Trump, “he can’t quit us.” 

“Even had to say, ‘It’d be a shame.’ I’m surprised, we’ve been talking football for two hours,” he added. 

The panel on the show laughed as they read a chyron displayed on the screen during the segment that read: “Morning Joe thanks faithful viewer: Florida retiree sends thoughts on show.” 

I am glad to have been able to see E. Jean Carroll on TV this morning. I found her to be both engaging and forthright. I can see how the jury ruled in her favor. Comparing someone testifying with sincerity and genuine feeling in person, and being cross-examined in an unempathic way, with the video deposition of Trump it had to be a simple task for the jury to decide who to believe. The short deliberation which came as a surprise to legal observers attests to this.

Just a bit of snark:

Trump posted this on Truth Social:


My take on this:

Trump with his mother, click image to enlarge

On another subject:

This is unrelated to the Carroll-Trump case but very much related to justice. We have the arrest of George Santos on federal charges which if convicted could land him in prison. There are several elements to the Santos case in addition to what will be his fate. One of course is that he has been a big time embarrassment to Republicans. The other, more significantly, is that Kevin McCarthy is hamstrung in being able to pressure him to resign since he needs his vote on the dept ceiling.

Note how this morning the Santos story was top of the website in The Washington Post, inflation number two, and the Trump verdict number three:

The verdict story was even lower down The New York Times website:

On another subject

Comer fails to link president in Biden family probe

The Oversight chair revealed Wednesday that Biden family members, business associates or related companies received more than $10 million from companies run by foreign nationals. He showed no connection to Joe Biden.

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May 9, 2023

Ticket to Hell: The moral turpitude of Clarence Thomas

 By Hal Brown


Clarence Thomas, and his wife Ginni, consider themselves to be good Christians. Presumably they believe in Heaven and Hell. No less an expert than the Billy Graham tells us the following:

Satan is not imaginary; he isn’t something people dreamed up just to try to explain the existence of evil. Satan is real, and the Bible makes it clear that he is a powerful (and evil) spiritual being who is absolutely opposed to God and His goodness.

The Bible doesn’t give us a detailed account of Satan’s origin but it does indicate that Satan originally was one of God’s angels, created by Him to carry out His will. But apparently Satan became filled with jealousy and pride, and he decided that he would lead a rebellion against God so he could take God’s place as the ruler of all creation. The Bible says, “You said in your heart… ‘I will make myself like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:13-14).

 By what standard of morality are they going to Heaven when they die? If living one's life mired in moral turpitude is a ticket to hellfire and damnation they will be welcomed as fitting for a dignitary with his resume with open arms to Hell by Satan himself.

Caricature by DonkeyHotey

I thought it was ironic that when I looked at this Washington Post article that the ad on the side was for the Netflix hit political thriller starring Keri Russell ("The Americans"),  "The Diplomat", because the show is about a highly moral and ethical woman newly assigned to be ambassador to the United Kingdom.

There are two related definitions of moral turpitude:

Click above to enlarge, malum in se means
 an offense that is evil or wrong from its
 own nature irrespective of statute

The first definition is "an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community" and the second is "a quality of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission of a criminal offense."

Note the following with my emphasis:

 Whether a criminal offense involves moral turpitude is an important determination in deportation, disbarment, and other disciplinary hearings. Past crimes involving moral turpitude usually may also be introduced as evidence to impeach testimony. Crimes such as theft, perjury, and vice crimes have been found to involve moral turpitude.
Moral turpitude can be a factor in disbarment hearings. Ordinary lawyers can be disbarred and thus no longer allowed to practice law. I am not sure whether judges can be disbarred but I do know that there is only one way to remove a Supreme Court justice and that is through impeachment. No Supreme Court justice has been removed from office and the only one to be impeached by the House of Representatives was Samuel Chase in 1804 who was accused of allowing his political bias to influence his decision on the high court.

This is despite that fact that the Constitution says the following in Article III, Section 1 (my emphasis):

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. 
Good behavior is not defined. It seems obvious that the Founders did not think it was necessary to define what this meant. 

What Clarence Thomas has done, from what I and many others believe he did to Anita Hill, to how he accepted gifts from a billionaire is to act in a manner which fits definition number one. It is a stretch to define his actions as a justice in the highest court in the land as good behavior.

Dictionary definition number two is a legal standard and, to quote Hamlet, ay, there's the rub.

Clarence Thomas sits on the one American court which has no ethical or moral code which judges, called... and I have to use the word ironically again... are referred to as justices, are held to. On the Supreme Court we have several justices whose idea of justice if you define the word as used in "equal justice for all" has little to do with justice. 

Lucky for Thomas, there's no justice Supreme Court justices are compelled to apply to themselves.


Here's another DonkeyHotey caricature and illustration. It was published in Who, What, Why.

Click above to enlarge. Clarence's malfeasance is entwined with and involves collusion with his wife Ginni to advance their shared agenda.  

Clarence's bad behavior doesn't merely involve his sugar daddy with the NAZI memorabilia collection and the dictator garden Harlan Crow. If you believe Crow never used his relationship with the Thomases to influence SCOTUS rulings I have a timeshare in a posh tropical resort to give you for free.

Afternoon bonus having nothing to do with Clarence Thomas but everything to do with justice, with Trump's Truth Social all caps reaction to being found liable in the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit:

Click image to enlarge

Also on the justice is a dish best served cold front:

Exclusive: Rep. George Santos charged by Justice Department in federal probe. CNN

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May 8, 2023

Boebert promoting anti-trans hate and assault rifles at same time is proof our country has made Satan smile and many are standing at the Gates of Hell

 By Hal Brown

All of these self-righteous Christians who believe they are the godly ones and progressives like us are satanic heathens would, if there really was an all loving all-powerful god inclined to mete out Old Testament justice, would be about to enter through the Gates of Hell where, if they were deemed really worthy of Satan's smile, might actually be greeted by the horned one himself grinning like all get out.

Above: Rodin's Gates of Hell (see enlarged image here) and illustration of the Devil on folio 290 recto of the Codex Gigas, dating to the early thirteenth century (enlarged image here), both public domain. 

I read and was inspired to make the comment (image of my comment here) and copied below:

Greg Abbott Says Focus Is ‘Mental Health Problems,’ Not Gun Reform, After Texas Shooting

How about doing two things? Address mental health problems by 1) increasing MH services and 2) stop politicians and right-wing media from using inflammatory rhetoric and demonizing minorities with hate speech, encouraging violence (this means you Donald Trump), and glorifying assault rifles. That's you Greene and Boebert...

After this is done of course it would be too much to ask Abbott and politicians pandering to the gun fanatics to pass firearm legislation which tiresome as it is to call it is common sense and which most of the county thinks is needed.

Click to enlarge image. HUFFPOST allows pictures in the comments. 
This is what I included in mine.

The most incendiary image above is Boebert holding the t-shirt. Here's a version in black with the direction of the gun reversed from Etsy. Not enough to have an assault rifle, this adds eight bullets. It is pictured with a pair of jeans and significantly with white Converse sneakers. I wonder what Converse thinks about this. 

This is supposedly as normal as American pie... right? No, make that far-right.

The t-shirt being available on Etsy and elsewhere is another matter since it is actually hate speech suggesting, perhaps obscurely, that shooting trans people is fair game.

This slogan has become popular enough for it to be sold by different companies. Click the images below to enlarge them.

Not all pro-gun merchandise targets the LGBTQ+ community... one exception below:
Click image to enlarge

I have no way of knowing how many of the people who buy the pronoun shirts know that the "redefining" part refers to the hate for the LGBTQ+ community and not just support of their view of the 2nd Amendment and it being a pro-gun statement.

There is no doubt that the slogan is anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ in general. It is part of what is called the war on pronouns. For example:
Click above to read article.

Click above to read article

Florida Republicans on Wednesday approved bills to ban diversity programs in colleges and prevent students and teachers from being required to use pronouns that don’t correspond to someone’s biological sex, building on top priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
If this was merely lunacy calculated to gin up support among the far-right base whose vote is needed for Republicans like DeSantis to win it would be bad enough. It is far worse. It is dangerous fear-mongering that can lead to violence, and not to mince words, to death.


Click above to read column

It was another bloody weekend in America's sick and twisted shooting gallery. This time, a man dressed in full tactical gear and carrying an assault rifle got out of his car at a shopping mall in Allen, Texas, and started randomly shooting people on the sidewalk. A police officer who was coincidentally on the scene for another call took down the shooter after he had shot 16 people, killing at least 8 and possibly more. (Several people are reportedly still in critical condition.) This is seen as a huge success story among gun fetishists because it shows that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun — with only a dozen and a half casualties. It's what we call "good news" these days.
From the column, listen to Rep. Keith Reid's idiotic and delusional solution:

Addendum: You have to subscribe to The Washington Post to read these articles but from the titles and illustrations you get the idea:

Click above to enlarge image

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