Buyer’s Remorse

Number 14 in a series

At every opportunity I put up one of these to remind supporters of Donald Trump. To sink the shiv in a bit deeper. To smirk. To gloat. That was before. This is now. The game has run its course. I’m flagged out. My well has run dry. I have nothing left to contribute on the matter. Readers, take the rest of the year off.

Donald Trump has fired Anthony Scaramucci.

Advertisements

Don’t cry for me, Venezuela

Previously

 

This classic drama is drawing to its logical outcome:

Relying on a populist base for support, while continuing to ignore some basic economic and human rights principles, the Maduro government has rudely extended the fantasy world of the late Hugo Chávez. In close parallel to the Castro regime in Cuba, the ideologically-based rule in Venezuela has sent the country’s economy into a downward spiral. Only Chávez, and now Maduro, haven’t had somebody like the former Soviet Union to prop them up. As with the failing Cuba, the staggering Venezuela has cast about for somebody to blame. A villain is needed. For such as Mr. Maduro there is always one close at hand.

Taking over from the deceased Hugo Chávez over four years ago, designated survivor Nicolás Maduro has extended the Chávez legacy, one might say with a vengeance. The election held on Sunday had the clear intent of settling power solidly in Maduro’s grasp. Prior to the vote Mr. Maduro’s opponents controlled the national assembly, and he is seeking to reverse that. But the outcome may not be to his liking. The New York Times reports:

But the powers of the new assembly members will be so vast that they could possibly remove Mr. Maduro from office, some analysts noted, ending a presidency that has been deeply unpopular, even among many leftists.

Chávez, rode a populist movement to power, opposing the oligarchical political structure then in place, an echo of Venezuela’s, and much of Latin America’s, colonial history. He embraced socialistic reforms, generally wrong-headed, which produced an inexorable inward folding of the country’s economy. As Maduro continued these policies the situation in the country reached unbearable, with necessities disappearing from store shelves and people digging into trash heaps for something to eat. A response has been street protests and many killed:

Headlines about ongoing violence in Venezuela are practically inescapable, with at least 123 people dead since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began in early April.

In addition to those killed, hundreds have been injured in the protests.

Other regional governments are becoming increasingly concerned. Chávezista sentiment is  prevalent among many:

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday slammed ongoing right-wing opposition protests in Venezuela, claiming they serve the interests of multinational elites looking to privatize the country’s oil resources.

Morales also said foreign and domestic attacks against President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution are intended to send a threatening message to anti-imperialist governments around the world.

“The plan of the empire is to overthrow the constitutional president elected by Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, as a warning to anti-imperialist governments,” Morales said.

“Any internal conspiracy or external intervention is intended to steal Venezuelan oil.”

Checking to see if there is any validity to the Evo conspiracy theory, I find this:

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez Friday “to address the dire situation in Venezuela,” as concern over U.S. interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs continues to grow.

In his phone conversation with Lopez, Pence praised “Mr. Lopez for his courage and outspoken defense of Venezuelan democracy,” according to the White House press statement.

A repressive government roiling an oil-rich country? The United States becomes suddenly aware? People at the top of our government weighing in and taking sides? Sanctions and what else under consideration? Where have we heard this before?

Disregarding Bolivia’s President Evo, there is a load of nonsupport for Maduro among countries south of the Rio Grande:

Eight Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, have collectively denounced Venezuela’s “excessive use of force” against civilian protesters after the death toll from anti-government unrest in the country rose to 36.

The group of nations, also including Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay, condemned the increase in violence in the oil-producing country and urged its government to respect the human rights of its citizens.

Can we pull back a moment and see if other countries in the region will step up and work to quell this local brush fire? The drama will continue to play out, and there will be more. Keep reading.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

This week’s Quiz Question is a mixture of nostalgia, history, and language. Answer as many as you can. Post your answers in the comments section below.

  1. SNAFU is an acronym. What does it stand for?
  2. FUBAR is an acronym. What does it stand for?
  3. Where was Killroy?

Update and answers

These date back to the Second World War.

SNAFU (in dinner table language) stands for Situation Normal, All Fowled Up.

FUBAR stands for Fowled Up Beyond All Reason.

Killroy was always “here.” The simple drawing with the slogan, “Killroy was here,” adorned many a fighting vehicle and bunker of American forces.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Amazon Prime Video. When desperate for a really bad movie to review, I can always count on Amazon to come through. Sometime in recent months a person at Amazon must have approached the keeper of the Motion Picture Historical Society (assuming there is such a society) celluloid vaults and said, “How would you like to unload a few tons of ancient stock?” Due to that, if you want it, Amazon’s got it. This one was originally incubated by E.I. Chadwick Productions, and the Amazon stream has an extra few seconds up front of the titles tipping to Weiss Global Enterprises as the distributor.

It’s Wayne Murder Case, without use of the definite article. Interestingly, Wikipedia, where I’m getting details, lists it as A Strange Adventure, with the alternative title The Wayne Murder Case, with the definite article. I’m going with what shows up when you play the movie, which you can for free on YouTube. This came out in 1932, about five years after they first added sound to movies.

And it shows. It shows an industry trying to find its footing and still trying to figure out how actors should speak their parts. Apparently sound pictures required more dialog than was fed to silent viewers, and industry writers were not up to the task of making the characters emote using their voices. The film comes off as a pantomime with words dubbed in.

Here’s a rundown of the plot.

The opening scene shows blatantly dishonest private secretary Claude Wayne (Eddie Phillips) opening a safe in somebody’s private study. He removes a copy of the owner’s will, peruses it in dismay, then places it back into the safe. Before closing the safe he substitutes a fake diamond for the very large real one that was there. Then his boss (and uncle), Silas Wayne (William V. Mong) comes in.

All right, this gets tricky. After Claude leaves Silas opens the safe and at one point notices a dried flower that had fallen from within the folds of the will onto the floor. Suspicious, Silas examines the diamond and figures it is fake. He summons Claude and accuses him of treachery. But Claude puts the real diamond back, and on a second examination Silas figures he was mistaken about his initial assessment. Then Claude makes the switch again and departs.

Silas, who is roundly disliked, has no children, but does have numerous heirs. All have been waiting in the large house to be summoned for the signing of the will. Silas, who “owns half the town,” summons two police to come to his house to witness what may be a crime (?). Here we see Harry Meyers as Officer Ryan and Eddie Chandler as Officer Kelly (I can’t tell which is which) getting out of their police car in front of the Wayne mansion. Watching this for the first time I wondered at the ability of the studio to incorporate this vintage piece of road iron. But then I realized this was likely a vehicle borrowed off the dealer’s lot back in 1932.

Anyhow, everybody, including the two police officers, attends the reading and signing of the will. They also witness Silas Wayne getting murdered right in front of their eyes, and nobody can figure out who did it.

First come’s police Detective-Sergeant Mitchell (Regis Toomey). Then arrives a gaggle of reporters, among which is one named “Nosey” Toodles (June Clyde). She sneaks into the house to scoop the other reporters, and Mitchell cannot find it in himself to get rid of her.

Amazingly, a credited actor is Snowflake playing the part of Jeff, the butler. Don’t you just love those movies from 80 years ago when a bowing and scraping subservient character needed to be played by a black man who comes off as illiterate, stupid, and superstitious?  I’m impressed he received credit right up front in the titles sequence. His real name was Fred Toones.

Because of the sheer number of movies in which he appeared, Toones is one of the most prolific character faces in B-Westerns and cliffhangers. He appeared in over 200 films between 1928 and 1951; and between 1936 and 1947, Toones worked under contract for Republic Pictures, appearing in about 40 of its films.

He died in 1962. I hope he enjoyed the money in the meantime.

To heighten suspense, it is found necessary to  introduce a nefarious character who lurks about the house terrorizing people.

Anyhow, Detective-Sergeant Mitchell solves the case, but not before one additional person is murdered. Watch it on YouTube or Amazon if you want to find out who done it.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Two women took a night off from their husbands and went clubbing. After a night of swigging at the bar, they realized neither was in any shape to drive, so they hoofed it home. Passing a grave yard they both realized they needed to pee really bad. The grave yard was an obvious choice.

They went there separate ways among the monuments and the first one used her panties to wipe, then threw them away. The second realized she was wearing her $100 set from Victoria’s Secret, so she fished around behind her for something else. Her hand found a scrap of paper, and she used that.

They both made it home all right, and both slept in, while their husbands got together for some golf.

“Did Martha make it back all right last night?” one asked.

“Fine, as far as I can tell,” replied the other, “but I’m thinking I’m going to have to rein in these ladies nights out.”

“Oh, yeah?” His friend asked. “What happened?”

“Nothing I can pin down,” said the other, “but stuck to her butt was a note that said, ‘We will never forget you,’ and it was signed by ‘The Men of Firehouse 29.'”

Friday Funny

Number 69 of a series

So what’s funny this Friday? You would be amazed. Then, maybe not. This one comes from the world of national politics:

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), the lawmaker appointed to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recently said that President Trump’s victory is “a biblical miracle.”

Lest you laugh, dear readers, there may be something to this. I was on-board last 8th of November, and there definitely was a parting of the waters, so to speak. There were those who said to themselves, “I think I’ll sign up for four years of boring to tears Hillary,” and there were those who said, “Hey, let’s roll the dice. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a schlemiel for President.”

And it gets funnier by the day.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 13 in a series

It’s six months in now, and some people have got to be feeling a little bit burned. After gallantly waving the flag of inclusiveness on the campaign trail—and supposedly garnering a half basket full of adherents—President Donald Trump has now dropped the other shoe:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

Yes, thank you, too, Mr. Trump. And watch that door on your way out.

This latest also gives us deeper insight into how the country’s leadership does business—very straight forward and to the point. No mincing words, no dancing around the issue. Just consult with generals and some experts, work through the details, and execute the plan.

All except the part about consulting with generals and experts, apparently:

Pentagon caught flat-footed on Trump’s transsexual ban

 July 27 at 7:33 AM

Trump wrote that he had consulted with “my generals and military experts,” but he did not mention Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired Marine general who less than one month ago told the military service chiefs to spend another six months weighing the costs and benefits of allowing transgender individuals to enlist. At the time, Mattis said this “does not presuppose the outcome of the review,” but Trump’s tweets appeared to have done just that.

I am not personally acquainted with any transsexuals, but at least one homosexual acquaintance has consistently come across as a strident Trump enthusiast—despising anything with a whiff of liberalism. A check this morning of David’s Facebook time line reveals he has yet to make a response regarding this latest. Of course, “transsexual” does not equal “homosexual,” but the two share a common movement. Note the ‘LGBT” on the flag our leader was holding at the Republican Party convention last year.

One high-profile transsexual is Olympic star Caitlyn Jenner, who famously endorsed Trump:

President Donald Trump struggled to court the vote in Hollywood mostly because entertainers and celebrities were turned off by his politics and his crusade against political correctness. But one megastar did offer a vote of confidence, and it came from an unlikely person. Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic star and, perhaps, the most globally recognized transgender woman, was candid in her show of support in the run up to the election.

On Tuesday, Jenner was a guest on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and she revealed that she has no regrets with her vote.

“I know. I am not stupid,” Jenner said after Seth Meyers brought up the fact that she had voted for Trump in the election. “The Republican Party does not do a good job when it comes to equality and the entire LGBTQ community. The Democrats are better there. But, for me, I have been around a long time. I am probably more conservative.”

I am guessing that anything resembling buyer’s remorse in this case has been smothered by Donald Trump’s famous wit and charm. I’m being sarcastic here.

My news feeds this morning are alive with the story, including the conservative push behind the ban. Is it possible the President misread the signal on this play?

(CNN) — Republicans on Capitol Hill are scrambling to respond to President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday to reinstitute a ban on transgender people serving in the military after conservatives who lobbied the White House say they were pushing only to prevent the Pentagon from paying for medical costs associated with gender confirmation — not an outright ban.

Trump’s decision, announced Wednesday on Twitter and sparking bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill, comes after the White House was lobbied by conservatives on the issue, including Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who proposed an amendment on the defense authorization bill to ban the Pentagon from paying what Hartzler called “transition surgeries,” as well as hormone therapy. The Missouri Republican lobbied the White House in recent weeks to do something on the issue, a GOP congressional aide familiar with the situation told CNN.

Additionally, some who are serving or who previously served have come out vocally. From Air Force Times:

After President Trump’s surprise announcement Wednesday barring transgender people from serving “in any capacity“ in the military, one prominent transgender airman said he’s more determined than ever to continue serving in the Air Force.

“I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military,” Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland said in an interview with Air Force Times. “You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life.”

Other transgender service members expressed the same determination to stay in uniform in interviews with Military Times.

These individuals did not mention whether they voted for Donald Trump, but I’m guessing there are many who did. Buyer’s remorse is going to be on the table for months to come.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

The Second Amendment guarantees American citizens the right to defend themselves with firearms. We should all be safer, unless we piss somebody off:

Feuding NJ Neighbors Die in Murder-Suicide: Prosecutor

Two men who lived in the same apartment building and had a long-standing feud died Sunday morning in a murder-suicide, officials said.

One of the men, who was 66-years-old, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the lobby of their building on Linden Street in Hackensack, said Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal.

Police officers found the shooter, a 63-year-old man, dead of a gunshot wound to the head behind the building, Grewal said.

Somebody getting under your skin? Well, you will know what to do when the time comes.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 25 in a series

It may appear that I’m just playing catch up. Until yesterday I hadn’t posted one of these since June, and now here’s another one. But that’s not it. It’s just that the Trump is coming at me fast and heavy this week, and I can’t afford to get behind the curve. So here’s what happened.

On Monday President Trump spoke before the Boy Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean, West Virginia. Full disclosure: I was a Boy Scout some 60 years ago, but I never attended the Jamboree, an every four years event. Anyhow, the President of the United States set the standard for contemporary public discourse and told the Scouts like it is. I don’t know whether this event was open to the public, but several sources reported on the President’s presentation, one of them being Margaret Hartmann for New York Magazine. In an item appearing in the magazine yesterday, Hartmann summed up some of  the President’s comments, a few of which I will share here. Let’s start with his opening:

Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?

All right! That takes me back to my boyhood days. Actually, it takes me back to my days as a recruit in Navy Reserve boot camp training. Drill instructors gave it to us loud and raw. Not as though our tender ears had never heard such talk before—like, out behind the gym during recess.

The President was just getting warmed up. It is admirable that he decided not to speak about politics.

And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier. Because New York, California, Illinois — you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania. [Applause.] We won and won. So when they said there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270, I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won — one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years — Michigan came in. And we worked hard there. My opponent didn’t work hard there because she was told —

Hartmann notes that at this point there were boos from the audience. These kids were 18 maximum and are primed to vote in the next election. A politician needs to get them early. There were additional non-political remarks:

[Clinton] was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move — she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move? And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening, how they’re coming back to Michigan? They’re coming back to Ohio. They’re starting to peel back in.

Hartmann notes applause from the audience. Trump continues:

“And we go to Wisconsin — now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, why are we going to lose this state? The polls — that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin. [Applause.]

“So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, this is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.”

At this point the kids shout a Trump campaign slogan, “USA! USA! USA!” Hartmann also notes that Donald Trump is thanking them for helping his victory, overlooking that none of them were voting age last November.

Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.

[Applause. Crowd chants “USA! USA! USA!”]

He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say ‘Tom, you’re fired!’ I’ll get somebody. [Applause.] He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they’ll do it.

By now these Scouts are firm in the knowledge that the Affordable Care Act is a horrible piece of legislation and needs to be repealed. We begin to wonder what the President would have said at this point if he had decided to not avoid politics. The President also gives the Scouts a lesson in real leadership by reminding them he will fire Secretary Tom Price if he can’t corral the votes to repeal the ACA.

Other of the President’s remarks veered into strange waters:

In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. [Applause.] And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. [Applause.] They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, folks.” [Applause.]

All right, again! That went over well with the Jews and the Muslims in the crowd, on two levels. First the President of the United States gives the false impression it was ever inappropriate to say “Merry Christmas” (I do it every season), and he additionally reminds the Scouts that this country has one favored religion, and that religion is Christianity. The Jewish and Muslim (Hindu and other) Scouts will be sure to take that home to their parents.

If I wanted to summarize the President’s presentation to the Jamboree I would say it was about the most brilliant piece of propagandizing I have come across since I studied the life and career of Nazi Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Others commenting on the President’s talk report a flashback to the Hitlerjugend of 80 years ago. I admit to having the same experience.

As expected, calmer heads moved to distance the BSA from Donald Trump’s propagandizing. From The New York Times:

The Scouts, plainly sensing a new threat that supporters feared could undermine a movement whose membership is already sagging, said in a statement that the group was “wholly nonpartisan and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy.” The group added that its traditional speaking invitation to the president was “in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies.”

The Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts was somewhat blunter, saying Scouting is an apolitical organization, and “it is inappropriate for any president to use the Jamboree as a backdrop for political statements.”

The BSA in recent years past went through a period during which they had to reconfigure themselves as an exemplar of inclusiveness, lest the organization become like the National Rifle Association, little more than an advocate for narrow political and sectarian ideals. Believably, others have applauded the propagandizing of the Jamboree. Again, from the Times article:

Although Scouting offices and social media accounts were besieged with messages condemning the president’s appearance, others celebrated Mr. Trump’s speech in West Virginia. “Trump gave a great speech to the Boy Scouts and they chanted back, “We love Trump!,” read a Twitter post in the name of Shaun Hough (“Philosopher, conservative, libertarian”). “I love it!!”

Comments posted by readers show variation. Examples:

Trump gave a great speech to the Boy Scouts and they chanted back “We love Trump!” – I love it!!

To be fair, parents are tweeting that there was some blowback by the scouts who were appalled. Scout leaders should speak up or be ashamed.

Others who reacted include former White House photographer Pete Souza:

The photo, which was posted to Souza’s Instragram account, is a picture of President Barack Obama shaking hands with a Cub Scout, with the caption: “I can assure you, POTUS was not telling this Cub Scout and the Boy Scouts who followed about his electoral college victory.”

I could wrap this up by reminding readers that we are experiencing a low point in leadership at our highest office. But I don’t need to.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

I’m not going to spend a lot of effort diagnosing this movie, because there is not much to diagnose. It’s an almost plot-free production, the main effort apparently being to impress viewers with the skill and determination of the stunt and special effects people at Jerry Bruckheimer Films. This came out 20 years ago (1997) and stars Nicolas Cage, whose presence generally signals something quirky. It’s Con Air, concerning escapades related to an attempted prisoner escape. The title derives from the nickname of the American government’s prisoner air transport system. This played on Hulu last month, and I’m getting details from Wikipedia. I will keep it simple.

Cage is ex Army Ranger Sergeant Cameron Poe, fresh off active duty and back home to make snuggle bunnies with his cute wife Tricia (Monica Potter). Trouble begins with the homecoming kiss in a Mobile, Alabama, bar, as a drunken jerk horns in, insulting sweet Tricia and challenging Sergeant Poe. The jerk continues his assault outside in the rain and ends up Hemingway-esque, dead, in the rain. Poe goes to the slam for ten years.

Paroled after eight, Poe is aboard a Con Air flight home to Alabama, along with some of the meanest creeps ever to draw time.

Of course, there is a plot to high-jack the flight, and some of the hardest of hard timers take over, killing some guards and diverting the flight to an airplane junk yard out in the desert (looks like Nevada or Arizona). A crash landing and an absconding getaway plane create some additional interest.

When the cops and the feds arrive there is a humongous battle with automatic weapons and explosive gas cannisters.

Unnecessary levity abounds when a new sports car, belonging to one of the feds, gets chained to the Con Air plane (appears to be a C-130). The plane takes off, towing the pricey set of wheels behind. We get to see the Corvette breaking free and falling  to earth after clipping the control tower.

The cons run out of options and are forced to land. Apparently the only available space left in the state of Nevada is the Las Vegas Strip. By now it’s dark, and the C-130 finally extinguishes itself plowing through cars and casinos.

And that’s the end. No, it is not. Surviving cons are still free, and they high-jack a fire truck, racing to escape through the crowded Strip. Poe and a fed give chase. Here Poe clings to the extended ladder of of the hard charging firetruck.

Of course, all the crooks are killed or captured, and Poe gets hugs and kisses from Tricia and his darling daughter. And that’s the movie.

As mentioned, this is about stunts and special effects, and they are amazing, while nothing in the plot is believable. Hey! This is Hollywood. I was impressed that with all this stuff going on the production budget was only $75 million. Box office was $224 million, and that  was before it got piped to Hulu, where I am paying dollars a month to  watch stuff commercial-free.

I never saw Leaving Las Vegas, and my favorite Nicolas Cage film is Next, which I have yet to review. His darkest work has to be 8mm, with a plot centering on the supposed snuff film industry. I previously reviewed Gone in 60 Seconds, another thrill shot. Rumors of Cage’s religious quirkiness are fueled by his appearance in a reboot of the Left Behind series. For somebody whose countenance gives definition to the term hangdog, Cage seems to get all the major babes in the movies. Makes them worth watching.

Poe is from Alabama. He’s going back to Alabama. And Lynyrd Skynyrd is performing Sweet Home Alabama. Makes the movie.