Olympians being robbed at gunpoint, knifepoint and even snatched off an airliner by the police as they try and get out of the country after being mugged. What? Feels like every day someone new has been accosted in Rio.
You may have read about the two Australian rowing coaches who were robbed at knifepoint near Ipanema Beach. This is in addition to a member of the British olympic team being robbed at gunpoint while “enjoying a night out on the town.” The Guardian, reports that British olympians are being advised to stay within the confines of the olympic village, and to wear nothing that identifies them as olympians if they do leave the safety of the olympic compound and to not risk riding in taxis.
The report of the British incident follows earlier reports of two American swimmers who were trying to get out of the country after being mugged while out on the town with teammate Brian Lochte. Or so they said. Lochte, got out of the country, and his two teammates were trying to do the same, when they were pulled off their plane and forced to turn over their passports to the Brazilian authorities. The Brazilians, apparently, are alleging that the mugging did not happen as the Americans say it did.
Regardless of what may have happened, even if they might have provided conflicting stories to the police (which isn’t uncommon when people are under pressure), if no one was injured is it really worth it for Brazil to turn even more bad PR into an ongoing international incident with the United States? Really? Are they kidding? Some are probably still having a diffcult time forgetting the man who was shot to death outside Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremonies.
Welcome to Rio, where athletes and coaches are mugged, robbed and then maybe even forced to stay in the country against their will. A city where raw sewage flows in the streets and out into the ocean and even the sand on those beautiful beaches may be infected. A really bad place it turns out, to hold the Olympic Games and a tesimonial to the idiocy of moving the games to a different country every four years simply to make more money for the IOC, which bleeds off millions from emerging nations like Brazil, which can’t even afford to set up a decent sewage system for its poverty-stricken citizens. Oh, did I mention the Zika Virus? There is of course, that too. So even if you do get the hell out of there without being robbed, shot or detained by the authorities, you still risk bringing home a bug.
A lot of people are wondering, I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true, right? A lot of people are wondering if Donald Trump’s mentor really was the vile genius Roy Cohn. You know, the lawyer who advised Senator Joe McCarthy, as he destroyed so many lives with his Communist witch hunts in the 50’s? That angry closeted gay man who pretended to be sraight while he lobbied against gay rights? Same guy? Must be. Saw it on the Web. And how about that Donald Trump? Collecting millions and millions in campaign donations but not spending much of it at all. Must be true. Saw it on the news. Not the gossip channels either. The real network news. What’s he gonna do with all that money? Keep it and build a new tower? Don’t know. Nobody’s talking about it. Except Trump who bragged in December, “I have spent almost nothing on my run for president…” Well, there are those millions in loans he made to his own campaign and jobs going out to Trump-owned companies and direct payments to family members . Will those loans be payed back to Trump, personally? With interest? How much interest will he charge? Have to wonder folks. What’s this Trump guy all about? He’s a smart, smart businessman. You can believe it folks, you can believe it. And you can be sure he will never apologize for anything. Not one thing. Right out of the Roy Cohn playbook. That’s what they’re saying. Many, many people are saying it. Many people. Cohn, worked for Joe McCarthy. Beautiful man. Never admitted a mistake. Just tore his enemies to pieces, folks. A real winner. Just like Trump. Gonna come out of the other end of this tunnel sitting on a pile of fabulous new money. Right? Has to. Where’s all that lovely, beautiful money going? He can keep it, can’t he? ABC News says he can. Seems like it, anyway. Kind of a gray area, if he just funnels some of it into a PAC. Senators and representatives can do it, so why not a candidate for president? Right into a PAC. All that beautiful money. All perfectly legal. It’s called a “loophole” folks. The kinda thing that makes America the beautiful country that it is. Anyway, it’s his money, right? Worked his ass off for it, didn’t he? Beautiful man, Donald Trump. Great American. Smart, smart businessman. A real winner. Wonderful human being. Gotta love the guy. And there’s so much money coming in. $80 million in July, alone. Have to wonder if he’ll be able to keep any of it, don’t you? Maybe not, I’m not sure. What do I know? But if he loses the election and keeps the money it’ll be beautiful, won’t it? What a winner. Just don’t expect an apology.
The daily dump of dumbeth commeth again as another intellectual cluster bomb explodes, fragmenting fear across the land with disinformation and half-truths annihilating reasonable thinking and rational behavior.
Don’t worry, it’s only politics, shattering the very last remnants of decency, which was, after all, never anything more than an idea someone once had.
Donald Trump needs to pivot and get out of his wheelhouse with a full-throated appeal reaching beyond his base. Pivot Donald, pivot! Are we supposed to take any of this seriously? Journalism by catchphrase? What the hell is a “wheelhouse,” and why, suddenly, is everybody talking about it here on the ground?
Should we continue ignoring this potential threat, the death of critical thinking, treating our condition as an aberration, even while it brings the potential for the same kind of jackbooted nationalist ferver that has carried nations headlong into fascism?
Can’t happen here, can it?
Just tell me what to do, who to hate, who to fear, but for God’s sake don’t ask me to think it through, drawing rational conclusions from a given set of facts enabling me to make the right choice. Above all, don’t ask me to read anything. Just give it to me in tasty snippets of video and phrases of text. It’s all I’ve been conditioned to have time for.
How far are we from the next beer hall putsch, our primitive love for bigotry and fear crowding out reason, striking terror into the hearts of reporters too filled with anxiety to tell the whole truth to those who have ears but refuse to hear? Another’s purple heart mistakenly presented to a phony patriot, a refusal to release tax records potentially taking us down as we willingly fall victim to another clever phrase masking demonic political blasphemy? The game becomes reality and reality the game. It’s only politics, after all. Somehow we’ll get through it. That other thing can’t happen here.
Who are these people who buy into this horror? Are we so dumbed down that we cannot separate out base authoritarianism sprinkled liberally with disinformation and lies from the better angels of who and what we are? Can this really be happening?
Don’t worry, it’s only politics. Anyway, that old guy who used to hand out smart pills to all the kids died years ago somewhere out on the rim of the world. Fell out of his wheelhouse, they said. Horrible way to go.
Beware the pronouncement that Donald Trump hasn’t a chance in November, and that his defeat will leave the Republican Party in ruins from which it might not be able to recover. Conservative mouthpiece David Frum made this assertion on Fareed Zakaria’s show this morning. For most on the left it probably sounds pretty good, but there’s inherent danger in what he’s saying. A danger that goes beyond the question of whether it would be good or bad for the Republican Party to suffer an irreversible loss.
The danger, is that so many will feel Trump cannot possibly win the election, that millions will feel it’s not necessary to vote. That initial problem, coupled with Sander’s supporters who feel angry and betrayed and who therefore also will not go to the polls, might provide Trump with the momentum he needs to win.
Sander’s supporters who feel betrayed by Bernie’s endorsement of HRC need to think about this as do those who are contemplating casting a vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party. They need to remember the race in 2000, when Ralph Nader’s candidacy on the Green Party ticket helped split the vote leading to the defeat Al Gore and giving the election to George W. Bush.
Young people who are thinking about staying home on election day because they believe Hillary is a shoe-in need to reconsider their positions. Bernie supporters who are saying they will not vote, or that they will switch their vote to the Green Party, really need to think this through, particularly those saddled with college loan debt.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, being ousted from her leadership position at the DNC would be a good move for the Democratic Party, particularly in light of HRC’s VP pick. Tim Kaine, who most of us never heard of, looks more like a moderate Republican than a Democrat. For many of us, he’s another bitter pill to swallow from a campaign that looked more Republican than Democrat before Bernie Sanders forced Hillary’s move to the left. Wasserman Schultz, should have been kicked to the curb months ago when it was revealed that the DNC was making campaign financing deals with the HRC campaign ostensibly to provide more “downstream” funding to Dem candidates, refusing to give the Sander’s campaign access to a DNC list of Dem voters and scheduling debates to keep Sanders away from the limelight. Only now, after WikiLeaks released emails indicating that the DNC was actively discussing ways to torpedo the Sander’s campaign, is the leadership of Wasserman Schultz being seriously threatened.
The email thing gets really interesting if you consider a report in June, in the Washington Post, to the effect that the Russians hacked into the DNC’s computer system. Some are speculating that the emails WikiLeaks released were provided by the Russians, who (again speculation) are doing all they can to support the candidacy of Donald Trump, who has been speaking out in favor of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, and against traditional U.S. support for NATO.
This goes beyond being nothing more than a conspiracy theory nutjob assertion when you consider past affiliations of Trump advisor Paul Manafort. According to Buzzfeed, “Manafort may be best known for managing the 2010 campaign of Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian politician whose ouster as president prompted a Russian invasion of the country. He has, according to court documents, managed tens of millions of dollars for Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch denied entry to the U.S. reportedly for ties to organized crime, but so close to Vladimir Putin that top Russian officials fought (unsuccessfully) to get him a visa. Gary Schmitt, a former Reagan Administration official now at the American Enterprise Institute, said he believed Manafort’s ties merit extra scrutiny.”
The fact that Wasserman Schultz has apparently been stripped of some of her duties at the convention (CNN is reporting that the “DNC Chair wil not preside daily over convention”), is an indicator of Sander’s impact on the party. It’s a hopeful sign for progressives. However, you can be sure that any chaos at the top of the DNC will be used by the Trump campaign. They will tout it as another sign that the system was rigged in Hillary’s favor and that Bernie didn’t have a chance as they again urge Bernie’s supporters to vote for Trump or possibly Jill Stein. Either way, Trump wins.
Voting for Clinton/Kaine won’t be easy for some of us, but it must be done. Not voting for Hillary Clinton or voting for Jill Stein, will, in a very real sense be the same as casting a vote for Donald Trump.
Donald Trump, is now saying the Republican Convention was “amazing.” Perhaps it was. Amazing for its self-centered, self-aggrandizing, arrogance, deception and conceit.
Stealing Michelle Obama’s words was minor in comparison to Mr. Trump’s promise of curing all the country’s ills while cutting taxes with no real plan for getting any of it done. His proposal is insane.
This is no longer the Republican Party, it is the Party of Trump, the party of bluster, braggadocio and fantasy. It is of, by and for Donald Trump. It is authoritarian and driven by fear and prejudice. It’s an act the world has witnessed before, with devastating consequences.
I, for one, am very afraid. Trump, may be deeply in debt and on the verge of his next bankruptcy. We don’t know because he won’t release his tax records. He has no history in public office, so we have no idea as to how he really feels about anything, except that he wants to be the most powerful man in the world and that he will apparently say anything to get what he wants. And what will he do once he gets there? We really have no idea at all.
Was there ever a demagogue who didn’t get started by stirring the very worst primitive emotions in a segment of the population while good people stood by doing nothing, thinking “this can’t be happening here?”
Well, it is.
When the shooting, the killing, the madness of religious carnage in some foreign land becomes just too damn much, we do still have baseball. The teamwork, fairness and simple predictable reality of the game can serve as a refuge for those of us running out of places to go.
Places to hide, where nobody can find you, and if they do, they will likely just leave you alone because….well, because it’s baseball, and it matters in a world gone mad, because baseball still offers what it has always offered – balance. When things threaten to go badlly out of balance, the umpire is there to restore sanity. This is a kind of holy thing. It is sanctified. It’s the holy church of the house that Ruth built and the garden of O’malley in Chavez Ravine. People instinctively know this, and they will leave you alone. It has to do with Hank Aaron, Roy Campanella, Kevin Costner and Sandy Kofax. It’s mystical. Like the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson looking for redemption or a fastball that makes the air scream in pain or a slider that’s gone before you know it’s even coming.
Baseball doesn’t give a damn about color or caliber or anything else. It cares only about your ability to buy into the game and deliver on what it demands. If you’re good enough for baseball, then baseball is waiting there for you. A thoroughly American game, representing so much of what is good about our country . Baseball, is egalitarian, and Americans, some of them anyway, instinctively know this from birth. It’s a feeling that creeps into your bones with the approach of summer in every small town in every state on the great plains and in every big city on both coasts, as the kids come out to play, all dreaming of blasting a homerun or pitching a no-hitter.
It’s okay to go back. Back to making a perfect pocket in your glove by drowning it in neatsfoot oil, and then wrapping it around a ball and tying it tight with string overnight to form a pocket. I still love the smell of neatsfoot oil in the morning, or imagine I would, if I still had some. I have never needed it for a single thing, since the “Mighty Mights” and “Pee Wees” of Little League, back in Minnesota, where I once nearly killed a batter with a wayard pitch. We had no batting helmets, and my fastball hit this poor kid bang in his head. I always regretted that. I really needed a pitching coach. All we had was the local EUB minister. He did the best he could.
There was also the technique of forming a pefect brim on your baseball cap by wrapping it around a Coke or Pepsi bottle and then tying it with string or rubber bands and leaving it overnight. This might have involved soaking the cap in water, but I can’t remember that part of it. I do remember that in the morning you could take off the string and the formerly flat and unsightly brim would have a wonderful curve to it. A little thing, but important in those younger years, when the kid with the coolest ducktail and the best cap got all the sharpest girls. Or we thought he did, which was pretty much the same thing, since none of us really knew what to do with girls anyway, irrespective of any wayward romantic advice scrawled on dugout walls obviously based upon a massive foundation of weeks or maybe months of hard-earned experience.
Older now, I’ve come full circle and find myself watching a lot more baseball. The Orioles are my team, and Buck Showalter is my manager. For a couple of hours Buck and the O’s take me away from all the insanity that’s currently going on politically and militarily. For a couple of hours, baseball, takes me back to order and sanity with occasional bursts of heroism and humor.
In a world gone mad, that isn’t half bad.
It’s interesting that the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a Sunni Muslim. Most of Turkey, is Sunni. ISIS was created by Sunni Muslims who were kicked out of their jobs and lost their power base when the Bush/Cheney regime invaded Iraq.
Fethullah Gullen, the cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania, who Erdogan blames for causing this most recent coup attempt by the Turkish military, is said to be a secular Muslim who promotes “a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam (with) staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue. He left Turkey in 1999 and had a massive falling out with his former ally Erdogan about three years ago.”
In much of the world, religion and politics are one and the same, something too many in our governement and media continue to ignore. The question of whether the West would be better off without Erdogan in power, is both valid and reasonable.
Update: On Sunday, 7-17 the Associated Press reported that the government had put down a second coup attempt. According to the AP, the government said that “6,000 people had been detained in the investigation, including three of the country’s top generals and hundreds of soldiers. In addition to those mentioned by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, dozens of arrest warrants have been issued for judges and prosecutors deemed to be government opponents. ” Earlier reports indicated that 3000 judges had already been removed by the government.
Getting good information on what’s happening in Turkey won’t be easy. The Erdogan regime is infamous for throwing reporters in jail. In 2013 Al Jazeera called it “The world’s biggest prison for media.”
In 2016, Nina Ognianova of The Committee to Protect Journalists testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that, “Turkey has intensified its repressive actions against the media in recent months, Ognianova said. In an attempt to stifle criticism, authorities have used broadly worded anti-terror laws; brought charges against journalists under an archaic law that carries jail terms for insulting the president; replaced the editorial management of opposition media outlets and fired their staff; routinely imposed bans on the reporting of sensitive stories; and has prosecuted and imprisoned journalists on anti-state charges in retaliation for their work.”
Accordin to the Committee to Protect, 25 journalists have been killed in Turkey since 1992. 22, have been murdered.
What can one’s reaction be, other than profound sadness, following the Bastille Day attack on so many innocent people in Nice? What sensible course of action can be taken, other than recognizing that the threat posed by ISIS, is an international criminal conspiracy combined with traditional conventional warfare in Iraq and Syria, and as such, an old-fashioned response of simply declaring war and sending in the troops will offer only a partial solution, or perhaps no solution at all?
For the United States and the West, this third attack on France in 19 months could lead to another perfect storm, another gross overreaction of the same kind that led to the US invasion of Iraq, which in turn led to the creation of ISIS, when the Bush Administration so foolishly let the Iraqi government fall into the hands of the Shia, alientating those of the Sunni faith who then, with nothing left to lose, went off into the desert and created their new power base which came to be known as ISIS.
With the Bush Administration loudly banging the drums of war, the United States marched into the quagmire of Iraq, creating an even bigger problem with ISIS. And now Donald Trump follows that same drumbeat, boldly proclaiming that he would ask the Congress for a formal declaration of war. Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s possibile picks for VP thinks all American Muslims should be forced to swear their rejection of Sharia Law or be deported. In other words, Gingrich would gut the First Amendment, while initiating faith-based witch-hunts in America. His other suggestion, that anyone who visits a website that smacks of Islamist extremism should be charged with a felony, is beyond ludicrous.
Donald Trump’s modus operandi, appears to be ratcheting up rhetoric that draws a response from his audience. If that means appealing to fear and race, then so be it, regardless of the implications for the war on terror. His approach is irresponsible, unpresidential and unacceptable. Simply put, it is an appeal to ignorance.
This same kind of fear-mongering and wrong-headed thinking that led to the invasion of Iraq, serves onlly to feed the fear and misinforation ISIS uses as recruiting tools. It also further alienates American Muslims and others of the Muslim faith around the world whose help we badly need in the ongoing fight against global terrorism.
Mr. Gingrich does not seem to understand that Muslims are also being killed in ISIS sponsored or inspired terrorist attacks. Mr. Trump is apparently blind to the reality that a conventional army can do nothing against an international criminal conspiracy while wealthy extremist Saudis, and others in the Middle East continue funding both conventional ISIS fighters and their unconventional offspring, lying in wait in places like Nice and Boston.
Perhaps the pressure currently being applied to Iran, should instead be turned on the Saudis and others who continue to fund the ongoing efforts of ISIS and its offspring?
This “new reality” so many are talking about, requires, it seems, a whole new way of thinking. A conventional attack on the identifiable battlefields in Syria and Iraq, and a more unconventional attack working alongside Muslims who can help identify ISIS hidden progeny while, at the same time, doing all they can to promote peace and tamp down the fires of hate as their religious past smashes into the present.
Shutting off the money would seem to be a logical place to start, followed by a methodical partnership with those who wish to promote a real solution as opposed to race-baiting and fear mongering by those whose principle interest is in personal political gain.
Watching the political antics of Mitt Romney in 2012, one was left with the impression that he had to be kidding. The about-face he pulled between posing as a hero for all things consevative during the runup to the primary and then suddenly changing personas to become more centrist for the general was horrific in its assumption that the American people would be so stupid as to fall for it. Well, a great many did. He got 47.2% of the vote, or nearly 61-million people. And now, Hillary Clinton, it appears, is doing that exact same thing.
The song “Sidestep” from the play “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas” keeps replaying in my mind. It’s about running for office. In part it goes-
“And, fellow Texans, I’m for progress and the flag – long may it fly.
I’m a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.
Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-
I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
cut a little swathe and lead the people on.”
A proposal, just out from the Clinton camp suggests that there should be student debt deferral, but not for all students, just for those who go out in the world and put together a “startup” tech business. So she wants to discriminate between those who form a tech startup and everybody else? Why not just forgive debt for grad-students and saddle all the underclassmen with repayment of all that government-sponsored debt?
And so the Clinton political dance begins, doing a little sidestep as she walks back what will probably the first of many concessions she had to make to appear more liberal than she really is. Making her look more like a liberal Democrat than a centrist Republican in Democrat’s clothing. The woman who went from being Secretary of State to being Wall Street’s favorite paid guest speaker. The boys on the Street must love Hillary. Why else would they shower her with all that lovely money?
Many of her top donors are the big banks. According to “opensecrets.org” during her career, Hillary Clinton has received-
$927,700 from Citigroup
$888,850 from JP Morgan/Chase
$867,828 from Goldman Sachs
$844,649 from Morgan Stanley
$413,436 from Bank of America
Keep in mind that those are donations. HRC received speaking fees as well after leaving office as Secretary of State. CNN reports that she was paid $675,000 from Goldman Sachs, alone. Even more startling, The Huffington Post reports that Mrs. Clinton raked in $9,680,000 in speaking fees in 2013. According to HP, Mrs. Clinton was demanding $225,000 minimum per speech. That was her fee, not “what they offered,” as she has stated.
The Republicans already hate HRC. Some progessives, too. More lefties will undoubtedly feel the sting of disappointment once she’s elected, as Mrs. Clinton does whatever is best for our new masters of war and the economy on Wall Street.
This new neo-liberal insanity representing the rich dictates that the “Market” backed by alleged free trade in what is actually a fixed and superficial economy controlled by wealthy elites is the greatest good, that it must be supported by the world’s strongest military, and that American citizens are no longer human beings but “human resources.” Just living widgets in the giant economic machine, to be used for that which is in the market’s best interest. If that means creeping privatization to replace the dependability of proven social services like Medicare and Social Security, then so be it. An agrument can be made for anything, regardless of the damage it does as Oligarchy trumps American Democracy and the song plays on-
“…ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
cut a little swathe and lead the people on.”
Hillary Clinton. She is not what she appears to be. She’s been paid off and she’s “gonna dance with the one that brung her.” A Trump presidency on the other hand, is too terrible to even consider.
There’s something more about Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Both are blonde and from New York. Both sport bizarre hairdos, oh so carefully quaffed. Almost like they are overly concerned with their hair. Like it’s a bicycle helmet for Trump and a system of tiny antennae for Johnson. His hair seems a mess, but a purposeful mess. Like it’s intentional. As though it’s what he was programmed to do.
But by who? Or what?
Trump, the rich, spolied, thin-skinned playboy who is liable to say anything about anybody, and Johnson, the rumpled rugby player type from the UK, a character-study straight out of a London pub. Except that he was born in New York?
It’s beyond belief, staggering really, that either of these stereotypically buffoonish characters could reach positions of international importance in our world. Is it because we are so small and incompetent, with a system that is so easily co-opted? Or is it something else? Something far more sinister?
The awful truth could be that both men are space alien imports, the result of some kind of terrible human clone spaceguy hybrid sent here as a cruel experiment. Beings from another planet having a good laugh by placing a couple of unpredictable bozos in leadership positions and then sitting back and watching all the fun as the Earth goes to pieces.
It’s no wonder Clinton, Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem so human. It’s because they actually are. And it explains John McCain, Sheriff Joe, Jan Brewer and the entire State of Arizona. Except for a few snowbirds and undocumented workers from the south, it’s loaded with spaceguys. They probably have a big landing pad and a clone factory hidden somewhere out in the mountains. They could be homing in on you at this very moment, scrambling your gray matter.
Before long you too could become Benghazi obsessed, hanging on every word from Paul Ryan while praising the accomplishments of Dick Cheney, Dubya Bush and Sarah Palin. Feeling an overwhelming urge to send out checks to Pat Robertson at the 700 Club to get more “News from a Christian perspective.” As opposed to the other thing. You know. Actual news.
This will probably be my last post. You can be sure the spaceguys will be coming for me once they learn that I’m onto their terrible scheme.