Report From Trump’s Alt-Reich Wednesday, Feb 1 2017 


Two weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, this much we know: If Trump were to issue an executive order suspending the first 10 amendments to the Constitution . . .

  1. Paul Ryan would issue a statement saying he was “deeply troubled” by the order but would withhold judgment until he had a chance to study it in full.
  2. Mitch McConnell would issue a statement expressing “concern” over the order’s effect on the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
  3. John McCain and Lindsay Graham would issue a statement expressing “outrage” over the order and their intention to hold hearings on it as soon as they finished hearings on three other executive orders they were outraged about.
  4. Reince Priebus would issue a statement blaming CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post for reporting news of the order.
  5. Kellyanne Conway would issue a statement saying the election is over, Trump won, and the President’s critics ought to “shut up” and “get with the program.”
  6. Charles Krauthammer would write a column deploring the order, blaming it on Barack Obama for having set a precedent by issuing executive orders.
  7. Marco Rubio would make a speech saying while Trump’s order suspending the first 10 amendments was OK, “He’d better not mess with the Bill of Rights.”


Sound bite to remember

Once to every man and nation

Comes the moment to decide

In the strife of truth with falsehood,

For the good or evil side.

–James Russell Lowell

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: The Wayward Lemming Is Closed for Repairs Thursday, May 5 2016 

Alexander Hamilton, the genius of the Federalist Papers, will remain on the face of the ten dollar bill only because of a Broadway musical in which he is portrayed as a hip-hop-singing Latino.

George Mason School of Law, named after the father of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, is being renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School as a matter of principal ($30 million, to be exact).

A transplanted 74-year-old Brooklyn Marxist who went to Moscow for his honeymoon has built a cult following of college-educated Democrats in search of an alternative to Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, who thinks Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii and Ted Cruz’s father had a hand in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, will be the presidential nominee of the party of Abraham Lincoln (who he thinks was a loser for not hiring a better bodyguard), Theodore Roosevelt (who he thinks should have made the Panamanians pay for the building of the Canal), Dwight Eisenhower (who he thinks should have finished off the Germans quicker), and Ronald Reagan (who he thinks was a fair president but a low-energy actor).

The Chicago Cubs now have the best record in baseball. Repeat: The Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series in 108 years.

Who am I to pretend to know what’s going on? I haven’t the slightest idea. Neither do George Will, David Brooks or any of the other cultural / political sages of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Like the polar bears in the upper Arctic swimming for their lives because the ice floes have melted, they don’t know what the hell is going on. But given the income they earn by pretending to, they can’t afford to admit it.

I can. Time to settle in for a while and try to separate the wheat of reality from the media-internet chaff. Maybe, as with those ice floes, the whole cycle can be chalked up to climate change. That at least makes sense. The Cubs being in first place doesn’t.

Sound bite to remember

“Whenever you see the crowd run one way, go the other.”

–My father’s sage advice (circa 1935)

Republican’s Call Draws Fire Thursday, Mar 31 2016 


–Headline, Washington Post – 3/26/16

Not to beat a dead horse, but when the horse turns out to be a jackass and it’s still braying . . .

When last heard from, I was leaving the Republican Party or what passes in transmogrified form these days for what was once the party of Lincoln. No news cycle passes that gives me reason to regret it. The story beneath the Post headline tells it all.

It appears that Senator Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican running for re-election, had uttered the following at a meeting of the west Kansas Rotary Club: “I think we have the responsibility to have a hearing, to have a conversation and to make a determination on the merit” of President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

On being informed of Moran’s open-minded thought, one Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the local Tea Party chapter, responded: “It’s this kind of outrageous behavior that leads Tea Party activists to think seriously of encouraging someone to run against Moran in the August GOP primary”; to which Moran, regaining his ideological lockstep, immediately backtracked, declaring he was unconditionally “opposed to President Obama’s . . . attempt to put another liberal judge on the Supreme Court.”

Liberal judge? Since being nominated Garland has drawn the support not only of conservative columnist George Will, but of his former colleague on the D.C. Court of Appeals (and Clinton impeachment prosecutor) Kenneth Starr.

Keep in mind, Senator Moran’s departure from the Tea Party line wasn’t that he took Will’s and Starr’s favorable view of Obama’s nominee; only that he thought the Senate had the responsibility to hold hearings on the nomination.

Charge the whole thing off as an isolated incident that doesn’t reflect, as Paul Ryan would say, “the values” of the Republican Party? Only if you ignore the fact that Tea Party “activists” are simply following the our-way-or-no-way line laid down by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after Antonin Scalia’s death left a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

A few weeks ago I had occasion to visit Alabama on the day Senator Richard Shelby was being challenged at the polls by a Tea Party opponent. The opponent claimed that Shelby wasn’t a true conservative – a sign of these Republican times in that the only way one could get more conservative than Richard Shelby is by coming out against the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments; which, given the current direction the GOP is headed, I expect will soon come about in a Tea Party-approved speech before the west Kansas Rotary Club.

Sound bite to remember

“A legal system which can’t convict Al Capone of anything but income tax fraud is apt to make the police rather cynical.”

–Raymond Chandler

Divided We Stand Saturday, Feb 13 2016 

Of all the charges leveled at Barack Obama by his Republican critics – that he was born in Kenya, that he foisted an unconstitutional health care program on an unsuspecting Congress – one stands up: He promised to unite the country and failed to do so.

It was a foolish promise, but Obama wasn’t the first presidential candidate to make it. That would be Richard Nixon, who in the tumultuous election year of 1968, promised – in addition to having a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War – that he would “bring us together.”

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. As a presidential pledge it was BS then, it’s BS now, and as long as this country remains a working democracy, it will always be BS. We have never, not even in the founding days of the republic, been a “united” country in the sense that political factionalism and societal disharmony didn’t exist.

George Washington was accused of having kingly ambitions, and though I wasn’t around at that time, I was when, during the heaviest fighting of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt’s Republican opponents denounced him as an incompetent commander-in-chief. (The slogan for the Republican ticket of Thomas Dewey and John Bricker in 1944 was WIN THE WAR QUICKER WITH DEWEY AND BRICKER.)

I also remember being at Vice President Agnew’s side during the presidential campaign of 1972 when a reporter asked him to respond to the charge that his speeches were “divisive.” Agnew’s answer: “Divisive means ‘to divide.’ I thought that’s what elections were all about.”

Unity? It’s a rhetorical fancy advanced by those who really mean, “Why don’t we settle our differences by your agreeing with my position?”

Which is to say I hope I don’t live to see the day when we have a “unified” country; the sort, that is, that Donald Trump and his cerebrally challenged followers would bring about.


Sound bite to remember

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.


“GOP hits Klain’s lack of medical credentials” Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 

GOP hits Klain’s lack of medical credentials
Republicans say Ebola czar should have been real doctor, not spin doctor
                             —- Headlines, Washington Times, Oct. 20, 2014

Ted Cruz Republicans see the Obama presidency as an overreaching socialist dictatorship; Elizabeth Warren Democrats see it as an underachieving progressive technocracy. Take your pick: Lenin in an Armani suit or Jimmy Carter without the peanuts.

My own view is more comedic than dramatic. As one who has worked in the political trenches for two White House administrations, it’s hard to take seriously a President who would appoint as Ebola czar a political button man whose main claim to fame is having been portrayed by Kevin Spacey in a TV docudrama about the 2000 election recount in Florida.

Why appoint an Ebola czar at all? The only reason is to reassure a fearful public, and for that a serious administration would name a renowned epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic. But no, explains the White House press spokesman in a statement worthy of a “Daily Show” parody, “What we’re looking for is not an Ebola expert but an implementation expert.”

Hmmm … on second thought, I have two other theories: First, that the Republican National Committee has planted a mole in the White House advisory circle; second, that busy as he is on the fundraising circuit, this President has turned the Ebola problem over to Ron Klain’s ex-boss, the comedic figure inhabiting the Vice President’s office.

Sound Bite to Remember

“I think reality is vastly overrated.”

Hollywood director Michael Caton-Jones, circa 1991

The Twitter-speak president Tuesday, May 27 2014 

Front page, The Washington Post, May 24, 2014, reporting on President Obama’s nomination of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as secretary of housing and urban development: “Castro has been focused on ‘revitalizing one of our most wonderful cities,’ Obama said in making the announcement, describing the nominee as someone who has ‘worked his tail off to achieve the American dream.’”

On being told that “one thing about Jerry Ford is he’s like the guy next door,” Richard Nixon agreed, but added, “Would you want the guy next door to be President of the United States?”

Thirty years later, the great thing about George W. Bush, we were told, was his filling the bill as “the guy you’d like to have a beer with.”

In the new age of Twitter-speak eloquence, we’re treated to a President of the United States who’s not only the guy next door you’d like to have a beer with, but brings things down to a level even an adolescent dropout can understand.

Memorial Day having passed, we can now look forward to his July Fourth announcement noting how Jefferson, Franklin, and all those Founding guys “worked their tails off to give us the American dream.”

Soundbite to remember

“Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.” 

— Samuel Johnson on the practical limits to the First Amendment 



–Headline, Washington Post editorial, 3/14/13

According to presidential aides, the decision to shut down visitor and student tours of the White House because of the sequester was made by the Secret Service. Along with “I did not have sex with that woman,” this stands as one of the most disingenuous statements coming out of a president’s office since Richard Nixon was in full cry.

To believe this line, we have to visualize the head of Barack Obama’s protective detail entering the Oval Office to announce, “We’re eliminating White House tours until further notice,” the President looking up to say, “Oh? Sorry to hear that.”

Somehow I don’t think that’s the way it came about. More likely, at a morning session of the Obama staff gathered to consider how best to embarrass Republicans for bringing on the sequester, one of Obama’s prime Spin Doctors, in balloon-floating mode….but let’s listen in on the colloquy:

SPIN DOCTOR: We could close down the Washington Monument.
CHIEF OF STAFF: It’s already closed down for repairs.
SPIN DOCTOR: What about cutting off Saturday mail?
CHIEF OF STAFF: So what? Who’ll miss it?

Long pause. Then….

SPIN DOCTOR: What say we cut off White House tours?
CHIEF OF STAFF: What’s that got to do with saving money? People come in, move out, no charge.
SPIN DOCTOR: But doesn’t the Secret Service have to –
CHIEF OF STAFF: Screen them. Right. Great idea.

So it was, by my way of thinking, that the Secret Service, once the most unpolitical agency of the government, was brought in to flack for the White House, its spokesman explaining that by eliminating White House tours, they’ll save up to $2 million between now and September, the remainder of the fiscal year.

Two million dollars. Let’s see. That’s about what the President’s new political PAC picks up with a five- – no, make that two-minute phone call. But that’s another issue for another day.

For now, let’s leave it at this: If you’ve lived in Washington as many years as I have, the White House is a familiar part of the landscape. But for millions of Americans, most especially young people who come to their nation’s capital to touch history, a visit to the home where Madison, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan lived is an unforgettable experience.

For the current resident, who once spoke of “empathy” as being a key part of leadership, to shut down White House tours as a political ploy isn’t, as some would say, disappointing. No. A more appropriate word is revealing.

Sound bite to remember

It’s not a lie. It’s a gift for fiction.

–David Mamet, dialogue from “State and Main”

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