Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 4 in a series

Editor’s note: In case there is yet a reader out there unclear on the meaning of the term schlemiel, here is a description from an online dictionary:

noun, Slang.
1. an awkward and unlucky person for whom things never turn out right.

Yiddish, from German, after the hero of a novel by Chamisso (1781–1838)
Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source

politics-trumpwtfbaby-01

That didn’t take long. Donald Trump took office less than two weeks ago, and he has just about run the table. It’s an astounding score:

But the defining moment for Mr. Bannon came Saturday night in the form of an executive order giving the rumpled right-wing agitator a full seat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council — while downgrading the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, who will now attend only when the council is considering issues in their direct areas of responsibilities. It is a startling elevation of a political adviser, to a status alongside the secretaries of state and defense, and over the president’s top military and intelligence advisers.

Naive as I am, it was my tendency to consider the Joint Chiefs as critical to national  security and for inclusion in the NSC. Apparently I have been mistaken. With the chairman of the JCS out and right wing nut job Steve Bannon in, it may be worthwhile to review Mr. Bannon’s qualifications for the job:

Bannon was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, serving on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Pacific Fleet and stateside as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.

All right! Special assistant to the CNO would give Bannon a heads up regarding what is required for his new post. The Wikipedia entry for Steve Bannon provides additional insight:

Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness in early January 1996, after [second wife Mary Louise] Piccard accused Bannon of domestic abuse. The charges were later dropped when his now ex-wife did not appear in court. In an article in The New York Times, Piccard stated her absence was due to threats made to her by Bannon and Bannon’s lawyer:

Mr. Bannon, she said, told her that “if I went to court he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty”… Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, she said, “threatened me,” telling her that if Mr. Bannon went to jail, she “would have no money and no way to support the children.” … Mr. Bannon’s lawyer … denied pressuring her not to testify.

Piccard and Bannon divorced in 1997. During the divorce proceedings, Piccard also stated that Bannon had made antisemitic remarks about choice of schools, saying that he did not want to send his children to The Archer School for Girls because there were too many Jews at the school and Jews raise their children to be “whiny brats”. Bannon’s spokesperson denied the accusation, noting that he had chosen to send both his children to the Archer School.

OK. That’s some tough cookie. Bannon is not the kind of person to let Kim Jong-un push him around. Mr. Bannon has since been married and divorced for a third time. A look at Breitbart News provides a further look. Under Bannon’s leadership we saw such as this:

Breitbart News is a divisive right-wing opinion and news outlet, known for offensive headlines like “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” “Trannies 49 Xs Higher HIV Rate,” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the site promotes racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant ideas, and it has been accused of white nationalism, a movement that opposes multiculturalism and believes in the supremacy of the white race. Bannon, who is on leave from Breitbart, described his ideology to Mother Jones as “nationalist,” but not necessarily white nationalist. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke called Bannon’s selection “excellent,” and Peter Brimelow, who runs the white nationalist site VDARE, called it “amazing.”

Here is a typical Breitbart News headline: “BIRTH CONTROL MAKES WOMEN UNATTRACTIVE AND CRAZY” I think I got that. An additional item from the Cosmopolitan article is worth noting:

7. HE SAID PROGRESSIVES VILIFY CONSERVATIVE WOMEN BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT “A BUNCH OF DYKES.”

During a 2011 radio interview, Bannon said women like Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann, and Palin threaten the progressive narrative.

“That’s why there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England,” he said, referring to historic women’s colleges. “That drives the left insane and that’s why they hate these women.”

Obviously, Mr. Bannon has some issues, and his place at the table for the NSC is of concern to many, including this writer. Other than that, Donald Trump’s actions these first few days on the job have been  exemplary. Actually not:

The British Parliament on Monday hosted an extraordinary debate over whether to ban U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump from visiting the United Kingdom.

The debate, which was triggered by an online petition that described Trump’s comments about Muslims as “hate speech,” did not produce any binding decisions. Authority to ban someone from the country rests with the home secretary, not with Parliament. But the exchange gave British lawmakers an unusual chance to weigh in directly on U.S. politics.

Those are some headlines that are not soon  to go away. I am vague on my history, but it has been  maybe 212 years since we were last at war with Great Britain. Maybe it’s time to toss some more tea into Boston Harbor.

You know what? I haven’t gotten around to  the whoop-de-doo falling out of President Trump’s precipitous action to halt travel from certain countries with which he has no current business dealings. I will save that for another post. It’s almost time for my dinner.

Keep  reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

altmed-homeopathyairguitar

Another Tuesday and another death due to reliance on unwarranted belief. From Quack Watch comes a story of death by cancer:

My good friend Debbie Benson died July 15, 1997, at age fifty-five. I had known her for thirty years. Her official diagnosis was breast cancer, but she was really a victim of quackery. Conventional treatment might have saved her, but she rejected the advice of her oncologist and went to “natural healers.”

Debbie was a registered nurse at the Kaiser hospital in Portland, Oregon, but she had a deep distrust of standard medical practice. She didn’t have a mammogram for nine years, and when she did — in March 1996 — it showed a cancerous lump in her breast. She had the lump removed, but she refused the additional treatment her doctor recommended. Instead she went to a naturopath who gave her — among other things — some “Pesticide Removal Tinctures.”

Readers, when you’re dying Jesus will not come to save you, and it’s for certain medical quackery won’t either.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

math-angleproblem

This popped up on my Facebook time line, posted by somebody else. So I stole it, and here it is: What is the sum of all the blue angles? Post your answer as a comment below.

Update

A number of people have posted responses, so I am going to supply the answer. See the following diagram:

math-polygonangles

What is the sum of interior angles of a polygon? The example of a triangle explains. The triangle is ABC, defined by its three interior angles. But concentrate on the complementary angles a and b and c. What is the sum of those angles? Consider the line ab. Line bc branches off from ab with a change of direction equal to angle b. Follow the path around the triangle, and the total change of direction is 360 degrees. That’s going to be the total of a and b and c. The sum of a and A is 180° so the sum of all angles is 3 × 180 = 540. 540 – 360 = 180, the sum of interior angles of all triangles.

The method holds true for all polygons. The polygon in this puzzle is unusual in that the path makes two complete turns or 360 × 2 = 720. There are 6 sides and six interior angles, so the sum of the interior angles is 6 × 180 – 720 = 360.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

It turns out Amazon Prime Video has a trove of these treasures. They’re cheap-as-dirt crime stories that may or may not have kept people’s minds off the looming war. This is Double Cross, from  1941, out of Producers Releasing Corporation. It’s the first I’ve heard of this group, but there may be more from them in the pipeline. I’m getting details from Wikipedia.

Here is the Silver Slipper, and you can guess what kind of joint it is. You will be shocked, shocked! to learn that gambling is going on here. Pretty Ellen Bronson (Pauline Moore) works as the house photographer, walking around, looking good, and taking pictures of customers who want them. Some do, and some don’t.

doublecross-01

Meanwhile, in the back room, Ellen’s brother Steve Bronson (Richard Beach) is schmoozing with Fay Saunders (Wynne Gibson), part owner of the establishment. This is not good. Steve is a motorcycle cop, and he shouldn’t be in such a place. That soon becomes apparent.

doublecross-02

Police raid the joint, causing a considerable ruckus. Steve flings open the door, revealing police tussling with club co-owner Nick Taggart (John Miljan), head gangster in town, and also Fay’s main squeeze. Fay reacts appropriately, or not, by un-holstering Steve’s service revolver and letting fly, killing a cop. The cops return in kind, mortally wounding Steve. Fay lets slip it was Steve who did the shooting. Poor girl.

doublecross-03

Steve’s best friend is Jim Murray (Kane Richmond), also a motorcycle cop, and Ellen’s main squeeze. Jim tries to pry details of the shooting out of Steve before he dies, but Steve regrets there is not enough time left to tell the story. Jim comforts Ellen, who must now find a new job, since the Silver Slipper is being shuttered by the authorities (gambling).

doublecross-04

Ha! We should have guessed. The mayor (William Halligan) is in Taggart’s pocket. Here the mayor is telling Taggart to never come to the office again, but to wait for a signal so they can meet. High class.

doublecross-05

Jim’s father is Police Captain Murray (Robert Homans). The captain gets tough, some would even say physical, with Taggart, threating to run him out of town. Taggart responds by putting out a hit on the captain. Bullets fly, coming through the window behind Captain Murray’s window, killing another cop, in the office to  drop off some papers.

doublecross-06

Jim pretends to go rogue to get in with Taggart. Ellen resumes her job when the Silver  Slipper reopens. Ellen hears voices inside Taggart’s office and determines the mayor has come in the back way and is picking up a payoff from Taggart. Jim gives Ellen a boost up, and she captures the scene with her trusty flash camera.

doublecross-07

Ellen is found out. The crooks want the photo. Jim spirits the film out and to a shop to be printed. This was before Canon 5D digital SLR cameras. Fay becomes distraught that things are falling apart. There is name calling. Fay harangues Taggart viciously. Not the person you want to harangue viciously, he has a knife. That’s the end of Fay.

doublecross-08

Taggart has Ellen and Jim as prisoners. He devises a scheme to ambush Captain Murray, using Jim as bait. In the back of the Dollar Moving and Storage van Taggart and two gunnies proceed to the place they expect Captain Murray to be waiting. But Jim has pulled a fast one. He has pulled the police radio from his motorcycle and installed it in the truck. He is driving, and he cold-cocks the henchman guarding him. He radios the cops, and they ride up en masse. The gunfight is not even close. The police ventilate the back of the van and waste the mug who had been guarding Jim. The remaining thug, Miggs (Heinie Conklin), goes soft and releases Ellen without harm.

doublecross-09

And that’s the end of the movie.

The plot is lame, without much appeal to plausibility. Performances by the players would plank over somebody’s footbridge, they are that  stiff. This print is poor quality, but it likely sparkled when first minted. A lot of cinematic history has been lost due to indifferent storage. Computer  digitization is currently archiving what remains, but had it been available 70 years ago, this would have been among the last in the queue to be scanned.

1984

Updated

Besides additional and notable idiosyncrasies, current President Donald Trump’s tendentious, and typically casual, relationship with the truth gets a lot of attention. Prime are his recent recent claims of massive voter fraud and the unrealized popularity of his swearing in ceremony. Continuing a thread that ran throughout his campaign, Trump’s campaign of deceit is leaving an indelible mark on his tenure. Not by accident, George Orwell‘s classic novel from  1949, titled 1984, last week topped Amazon’s sales list.

It will be worthwhile to revisit this iconic tale, made most famous by a movie of that title, that burst on the large screen in 1956. My acquaintance was through a feature in Life magazine that summarized, with illustrations from the movie. A more recent release came out in the title year and featured John Hurt (recently deceased) and Richard Burton, who died before the film hit the screen. The tie in with the current president is inescapable.

It’s the year 1984 in a dystopian world. It’s Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels gone wild on a planet beset by global and eternal war. The setting is London, but the country is now Oceania, and Oceania is ruled by an enigmatic and oppressive leader known only as Big Brother and seen only on wall-size view screens and prolific wall posters. Truth has ceased to exist. The following images are screen shots from the 1984 production.

There is no news, only propaganda, fed in a 24/7 stream. It’s purpose is absolute control, keeping the teaming masses in perpetual passion for their masters and against foes, real or imaginary. A five-minute hate session opens viewers to this world.

Suzanna Hamilton is Julia. Her passion, we eventually learn, is crafted. She has by some means discerned  the truth, that it is all a big lie. You cannot tell it from watching her scream, along with the others, at the images on the big screen.

Winston Smith (John Hurt) works in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to kill the truth. He rewrites history. Literally. He reviews publications that no longer reflect the party message, and he rewrites them to conform to the truth of the day. For example:

Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 617-621). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Readers of the book, and present day observers who have previously read the book, will find the parallels with the current administration striking if not chilling.

Richard Burton is O’Brien, a party official who oversees Smith’s destruction. It is the job of the rulers to systematically eliminate subjects. The practice of entrapping visible personalities, exposing their offenses against the state, and rendering them unpersons, maintains the level of terror needed to preserve absolute control. Winston is being set up to take the fall for thoughtcrime. One word. Terms like this permeate 1984. It’s called newspeak.

And that hopefully concludes the parallel between 1984 and 2017. To round out the story, Julia contacts Winston and recruits him as her current lover. She has had many. Winston rents a room in a shadowy area in the proletarian section, where the proles live. Interestingly the proles are not subjected to the perpetual hazing inflicted on the bourgeois class.

Here Winston and Julia enjoy their bliss together, waiting for the day when their thoughtcrime will be discovered, and  they will  be rendered. Winston falsely projects that, when tortured—as tortured as he must eventually be—he will never betray Julia. He will always love her.

From a window in the rented room they observe a prole woman hanging out laundry on a clothes line and singing a tune that has been composed by a state factory. Here  is an example from the book:

It was only an ’opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred
They ’ave stolen my ’eart awye!

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 1985-1987). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Their downfall comes precipitously and without warning. As they watch the woman hanging he laundry:

The birds sang, the proles sang, the Party did not sing. All round the world, in London and New York, in Africa and Brazil and in the mysterious, forbidden lands beyond the frontiers, in the streets of Paris and Berlin, in the villages of the endless Russian plain, in the bazaars of China and Japan— everywhere stood the same solid unconquerable figure, made monstrous by work and childbearing, toiling from birth to death and still singing. Out of those mighty loins a race of conscious beings must one day come. You were the dead; theirs was the future. But you could share in that future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body, and passed on the secret doctrine that two plus two make four.

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We are the dead,’ echoed Julia dutifully.

‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.

They sprang apart. Winston’s entrails seemed to have turned into ice. He could see the white all round the irises of Julia’s eyes. Her face had turned a milky yellow. The smear of rouge that was still on each cheekbone stood out sharply, almost as though unconnected with the skin beneath.

‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.

‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.

‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 3156-3167). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

The hidden TV camera was behind the picture, which now comes crashing down to reveal the likeness of Big Brother, speaking to them.

Julia is struck down and carried nude from the room. Winston appears before O’Brien and undergoes his torture. Winston has claimed that two plus two must always be four. O’Brien disabuses him of that notion. He holds up four fingers. This was famously pictured in the Life magazine item 60 years ago. Under torture Winston wants so much for two plus two to equal five, as O’Brien insists, that he eventually comes to that belief.

Winston also betrays Julia. The government has obtained a copy of the journal he has been keeping, and they know his secret fear is rats. As a child he observed rats crawling of the body of his dead mother. When his torturers strap a cage containing hungry rats over his face and threaten to turn the loose on  him, to eat at his face, perhaps starting with his eyes:

‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 4077-4078). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Winston’s destruction is complete. He is freed from prison to walk the streets as an unperson. He no longer exists. The Ministry of Truth has expunged all references of his existence. His recorded self-denunciation appears prominently on screens about Oceania. Eventually he will physically cease to exist. He will simply disappear unnoticed by anybody.

But before that:

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished.

He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 4230-4233). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Of course, this is only a work of fiction. Forget that master Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels made a stab at molding truth over 70 years ago. Forget that the Soviet Union pulled dissenter off the streets and published their self-denunciations. Remember it started with a few lies.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Oh, yes. In Jesus’ name, please come back.

Things Not To Say During Sex

  • I have to poop.
  • Smile for the Camera!
  • Get off me, I’ll do it myself.
  • This is your first time… right?
  • You’re almost as good as my ex.
  • When is this supposed to feel good?
  • I thought you had the keys to the handcuffs.
  • I was so horny tonight, I would have taken a sheep home.
  • Keep it down, my mother is a light sleeper.
  • Hey! My friends are right. You are good.
  • On second thought, let’s turn the lights off.
  • I’m sobering up and you’re getting ugly.
  • But everybody looks funny naked.
  • Do I have to pay for this?
  • What’s your name again?
  • Hold on, let me change the channel.
  • It’s nice being in bed with someone I don’t have to inflate.
  • Uhhh… I think the condom broke 10 minutes ago.

Friday Funny

One of a series

religion-extremistspotusshield

I should have reserved this one for last Friday. Anyhow, it’s Friday again—time to see what’s funny today. It’s never very far to look:

What is POTUS Shield?

council of prelates assembling to raise up a spiritual shield in Washington, D.C. prior to President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. We are summoned to share and lead this anointed assembly in intercession, prayers, declarations, and decrees of The Word of the Lord over our nation.

Yes! You are not mistaken. You heard that correctly. “A spiritual shield in Washington,” prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump. Right now you are asking, “Just how is that supposed to work?”

People, you just elected a “Lord over our nation.” You don’t need a second one. What were you thinking?

And that is funny.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

guns-getguns

The Second Amendment is always in need of protection. People give their lives to protect this right. Some are only ten years old:

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Sa’nya LaTrinity Faith Hill has been identified as the 10-year-old victim of an apparent accidental shooting Friday afternoon in Carthage.

In a statement today, Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan said the firearm that is believed to have been used in the fatal shooting was from the home and is a handgun. Police have not identified the owner of the handgun. Two other juveniles present during the shooting will not be identified because they are juveniles.

Remember, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

The Golden Shower

Something interesting

politics-trumpgaveupsomuch

The age of embarrassment is upon us.

Correction: it just blew by at nearly the speed of light. We have entered the age of The Golden Shower. It’s an age where arrogance chases stupidity in the pursuit of deceit:

Trump calls for ‘major investigation’ into voter fraud

Oh, my God! Don’t tell me the Snowflake-in-Chief is going to give federal energy to this charade. There’s more:

(CNN) — President Donald Trump called on Wednesday for “a major investigation” into voter fraud, following through with baseless claims he has made since November’s election alleging millions of illegal votes during the general election without citing any evidence.

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump wrote in two consecutive tweets.

Readers should by now be acquainted with the Donald Trump’s whopper du jour:

Hot shit! Millions of people voting illegally. Millions of people voting who are not eligible to vote. Millions of people voting illegally for Hillary Clinton! What a massive assault on our democratic process. This calls for action.

Right now, even while you are reading these lines—right now thousands of dedicated federal cops, FBI and more, are fanning out across this great land. They are poring over voting records. They are knocking on doors in the middle of the night. They are dragging Mexicans and Muslims out of bed and booking them into the federal slam. Courts are clearing their dockets to handle the tidal wave of swarthy-faced miscreants facing United States justice.

If only it were true. Michael D. Shear and Emmarie Heutteman, writing for The New York Times, add some clarification:

It’s going to be fun to watch this play out. Readers, check back later to see what happens as the Schlemiel-in-Chief hangs it out even further.

Snowflake In Chief

New game in town

Something is terribly wrong in Washington. The new Snowflake-in-Chief is not getting a fair shake from the people he calls the biggest liars of all time:

Trump spokesman says negative coverage is ‘demoralizing’ to Trump

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, holding his first formal briefing with reporters, promised Monday not to lie to the press but complained about “demoralizing” news coverage. Spicer also said President Trump would soon unveil a Supreme Court nominee and a new plan for battling ISIS, but hedged on a controversial pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Then, Donald Trump’s press secretary lied to reporters, telling them, “Our intention is never to lie to you,” Sean Spicer then went on to complain, “The default [media] narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing.” Demoralizing? Yes. Negative, duh.

The world’s news outlets are left to ponder just how are they to treat an administration whose chief made a career of lying and followed that up with a lie-soaked campaign that shoveled in a running stream of personal insults to all who caught his disfavor, including the major news outlets, whom, in complete disregard for irony, he labeled liars:

Trump met today with CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Wolf Blitzer, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and David Muir, NBC’s Chuck Todd, CBS’ Charlie Rose, Fox News’ Bill Shine, and a few others for a conversation a few hours ago.

How did it go? Well, here’s how once source summed it up to The New York Post:

“It was like a f—ing firing squad,” said one source.

“Trump started with Jeff Zucker and said I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed….

Come a few days past the snowflake inauguration, and whose feelings are hurting now? It must be frightfully frosty in D.C. these days. Otherwise this Yuge snowflake would have wilted five seconds in.

Keep reading. We are not finished with the fun.