Tag Archives: New York Times

Taking Down the Robert E. Lee…

Everything about this afternoon’s presser was insane: the stagecraft—coming off the elevator to a waiting podium, the Cabinet Secretaries standing uncomfortably beside him (that animatronic Steven Mnuchin they trotted out needs work, though; he did not seem very lifelike at all), his snarling interactions with the press, his insistence that Saturday’s statement about Charlottesville was “fine” (the way he said it, he sounded like someone trying to convince the pawnbroker that the ring they’re selling is 24-caret gold), to his putting statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and George Washington on the same pedestal (I tweeted a short history lesson to him) and calling some Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists “nice people”), to his walk-off through the lobby was nuts. But for a man who claims he likes to wait before making a state so he knows it’s true told quite a few whoppers. One of them was about something I took personally at the time.

While introducing his new, streamlined process for approving large infrastructure projects (they’ll still have to be reviewed by the EPA, he assures us, although given this NYTimes story about Scott Pruitt, that doesn’t really count for much), he remarked that, as a builder, he knows from over-regulation. Why, he had to deal with regulations to build Tr**p Tower. And that’s the issue.

Before that platinum-plated memorial to one man’s bad taste was erected, the corner of Fifth and 57th was the home of Bonwit Teller, a department store that catered to the carriage trade. The store was built in the late 1920s, and the facade included lovely Art Deco bas reliefs. While I was growing up, my mother’s mother, Sylvia Rothenberg worked there in what was then called the “foundations” department (if you were a woman of a certain class and age, it was a good bet you were fitted for your bra by my Nana). We used to visit her there, and I was always fascinated by those reliefs (it didn’t hurt that they depicted scantily clad ladies).

When Il Douché bought the property, to get the various tax abatements and, yes, regulatory approvals, he agreed to preserve the reliefs, and the gilded latticework over the main entrance. The Museum of Modern Art wanted them for their collection. As did the New York Historical Society. But when it came time to demolish the building, the wrecking ball destroyed them. Asked why, John Barron (one of the aliases he used to speak to the press) said his people told him they were “without artistic merit.” The longer the story remained in the news, the cost to remove them went up. First it was $32,000, then $500,000, and finally, he gave up on the cost, and blamed it on safety issues.

It’s now a (sadly) too familiar story: Tr**p makes a promise, breaks it, using the excuse that some people  told him something, lying about the cost, then making up another excuse entirely. Anyone who really believes he’s going to make a “pivot” is simply lying to themselves. Being a conniving liar who makes promises without any intent to keep them is who he is, and is not going to change.


Obscene Paragraphs—Soot Bull Jeepers Edition

Now it gets scary.

Il Douché is now engaged in a nuclear game of chicken with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un,  possibly the only leader who matches him for impulsive lunacy. Their foreign policies can both be reduced to “There’s only room on this planet for one egomaniacal man-toddler with nuclear arms, and it’s me!”

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Up until now, most of what Il Douché did (or tried to do) could be reversed. We could rejoin the Paris Climate Accords when a saner person occupies the Oval Office; Obamacare remains the law of the land, and even if he allows it die of of a thousand cuts, a competent administrator could revive it; and he has shown precious little ability to get bills passed. About the only action he’s taken with lasting impact has been the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and he only was given that chance by Mitch McConnell’s willingness to stamp his feet and hold his breath until a GOP president could make the nomination.

But with North Korea’s brazen tests, we’ve entered into a world where even the slightest misstep or misreading of the often subtle diplomatic signal could plunge the world into nuclear war.

And how does Il Douché react. Just as you’d expect: like a spoiled child, with bluster and threats. From the New York Times

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Let’s unpack this for a second—North Korea has been making the kind of threats that normal states don’t. His response: make the kind of threats not made by a normal state. Our only hope is that the adults on both sides of the table (and there appear to be precious few in the White House) can get these two undisciplined  toddlers into a “time out” and deal with this before either one of them decides to show he can wear his big boy pants and hits the button. Otherwise, we’ll be looking for those old fallout shelter signs.

Obscene Paragraphs: Forty Loesches Edition

This is the face of evil.

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This is Dana Loesch, the NRA’s Spokes-virago.

They’ve  released a new ad that is jaw-droppingly awful, even considering the source. This rancid, bile-spewing harpy claiming to be the voice of “we the people,” goes on an unhinged minute-long rampage against the New York Times, putting the paper on notice that she will not stand for their “narratives” (one wonders how she expects it tell stories without narratives. I doubt she has much use for the  experimental novels of Ronald Sukenik or Robbe-Grillet. Is this now a coded term on the right, like “cosmopolitan“?).

“Narrative” is not the only odd locution in the ad. She sneers out her contempt for what she claims is The Times “protection of [its] Democrat overlords” and the paper’s “pretentious” assertion that is it “truth or fact-based journalism.” She also engages in a bit of protection, claiming that the Times “refuses to accept any truth that upsets the fragile construct that [it] considers ‘real life’,” which is odd, since “refusing to accept any truth that upsets a fragile construct” is practically the slogan of Sean Hannity: Presidential Proctologist, and other pro-Tr**p media.

She’s not done, though. Things really gets strange about 30 seconds in, where she promises to “fist” the paper. Some believe she actually says “Fisk,” as in a detailed analysis, but that’s tough to square with the her promise to find “just what deep, rich means” to the paper she calls an “old gray hag,” who, if that’s not bad enough, is a “dishonest, untrustworthy rag,”  before falling into a Randian swoon, claiming that it has “subsisted on the welfare of mediocrity” for “one, two, three more decades.” (Notwithstanding the sudden change of tense, what does this mean?). She promises lasers (maybe she’ll find polyps?) and more unpleasantness before getting to what, you have to think, is the meat of her message: “we’re coming for you.”

Plus the video is accompanied on the NRA site by the hastag #ClenchedFistOfTruth. (Then again, just about everything about Loesch could be described as “clenched.”

Is this what we have become after a little more than half -a-year of Tr**p? Where an  organization representing an armed populace feels comfortable enough to make public threats against the Free Press. When a group that believes not just gun possession but open carry should be legal calls on its membership to go after a newspaper, how soon before they rustle up an armed posse to visit Times bureaus across the country, to say nothing of its headquarters. Does the NRA really believe that the Second Amendment trumps the first?

If they do, were probably in more trouble than we think.




Obscene Paragraphs: Tying One On Edition

Il Douché has joined forces with Ty Cobb. No, not that one, but a distant relation. Given the Georgia Peach’s love of sharp spikes and views on race, it’s amusing to entertain the thought that the connection appealed to Tr**p. But, if he was going to choose a new lawyer you’d think he might look to someone who doesn’t resemble a villainous Wilford Brimley.

But the facial hair of the Douché legal team (and if this Russia matter is a hoax, you have to ask why he needs real lawyers to manage it) is not the subject of today’s Obscene Paragraph, although it does come from today’s Times’ story on Cobb’s hiring. No, it’s the reason why  they need a new lawyer. The stress of being a Douché family consigliere has caused Marc Kasowitz to take on a hobby: threatening people who email him. That leaves him precious little time for actual legal work.

Not that if matters. If you believe Il Douché, being elected President has given him new, God-like, powers. As the Times puts it:

But Mr. Trump has flouted his own lawyer, bragging to people around him that no one can control his actions.

No one can control his actions. Let that sink in for a moment. This is a man who thought that simply being a “star ” gave him license to grope women— “they let you do it. You can do anything.” 

I’m beginning to think Il Douché is too kind. Maybe Kim Jong Il Douché is a better fit.



The Shadow of Grenfell Towers

Today’s New York Times long read on the Grenfell Towers tragedy is heartbreaking, maddening, and frightening.

Heartbreaking because those who lived and died there trusted government to have  their safety as the paramount objective; maddening because both Tory and Labour governments put the profits of business ahead of the safety of their citizens; frightening because Tr**p and his  rapacious Randian Cabinet are gleefully taking a machete to all manner of  regulations.

Nearly every time he opens his mouth—after reminding everyone of his glorious electoral victories and executive order signings—he crows about how many regulations he has manfully stricken from the books. Scott Pruitt has turned the EPA into the “Excessive Polluters Association,” the mentally ill have their inalienable right to buy firearms restored, and every federal agency has been directed to look at regulations with an eye on meeting his campaign promise of cutting 75%.  At the moment, United States housing codes are strict enough that a Grenfell-type tragedy is unlikely here.

But safety rules are already in Tr**p’s sights. He’s already rescinded The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rules put in under President Obama.  As Brian Martin, the top UK civil servant in change of drafting building safety guidelines said, requiring that builders make sure the exterior of a building non-combustible “limits your choice of materials.” And when Il Douché laughed at the size of the scroll charting the rules and regulations he says builders have to follow “just to build a road, “how many of those have to do with safety? I mean, building a highway that can withstand earthquakes, storms, droughts, and the wear and tear of gas guzzling SUVs riding over them also limits your choice of materials.

So it can’t happen here…yet. But in the world that Il Douché and other “free marketers” imagine, Howard Roark wouldn’t have to blow up a housing project to protect the purity of his design; he’d just have to make sure they use the cheapest, most flammable materials  possible, and wait.

More than a few bad columns…

Damn, but reading the TimesThomas L. Friedman can be frustrating. Today’s column has the germ of an interesting piece, but he buries it in the middle of an awful open letter to the so-called adults in the Tr**p administration, whom he insists on repeatedly calling “a few good men.” Because Tom wants to show he’s up to date; he’s sure 25-year-old movie reference will show the hipsters  his facial hair is just as “groovy” as theirs.

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Ancient Origins © 2013 – 2017

Here’s the germ:

“I’m now in Paris, after almost a week in the United Arab Emirates. I have to tell you, the world is watching.

“I had several young Arabs from around the region tell me that when America lets its own leader get away with lying, hiding information and smearing the press or a political opponent, it is taken as a license by all Middle Eastern leaders, or the leaders of Turkey or Russia, to do the exact same thing and say: ‘See, the American president does it, why shouldn’t we?’”

That’s a column I’d be interested in reading.  Il Douché  is not only diminishing American democracy, he’s making the world less great as well. But Friedman has other, less interesting, ideas. You have to plow through  a dozen of his somnambulant paragraphs, including this:

“…[T]hat is why I’m coming to you few good men.

“I’m not asking you to quit; I’m asking you to act — to collectively or individually sit the president down and make clear that you can’t effectively advance our national security unless he does the right thing…”

Will his next column ask Ivanka, Tiffany, and Kellyanne—he’ll refer to them as “The Golden Girls”—to sit down and explain things?

L’il Douché needs friends…

Has David Brooks started partaking of New York’s newly-medicinal marijuana? That’s about the only explanation I can come up with after reading his column in today’s Times. And as someone who has, at times, written under the influence, I’d like to proffer some small advice: wait until you’re sober before you hit “send.” Otherwise, you can end up publishing something as embarrassing as “A Gift For Donald Tr**p.

That title is not a joke. It’s not a parody of a Right Wing children’s book, like the execrable Rush Revere series, or Bill O’Reilly’s illustrated lectures on civility. (I would hope  parents would not give their kids a book by someone they wouldn’t allow to be alone in a room with them; I imagine their popularity stems from the books’ utility as a punishment threat: “You better clean your room, or I’ll make you read Kids Are American’s Too!“). No, David Brooks really wants to give Il Douché a “single trait to help his presidency.” After  taking some 453 words (of an 813-word column), where he considers—but rejects—prudence (he wants to help Trump, but not that much), and disinterring  the “Big Shaggy” a phrase that, sadly, had nothing to do with the musician  or Scooby-Doo, but instead refers to a phrase he coined in a 2010 column, which neither Brooks, or anyone else, has used until today, according to a search on the NYTimes.com, he finally comes to some kind of point.

What Brooks wants to confer on Tr**p is “fraternity.” He wants the the president to be able to make friends.

But instead of reaching the  conclusion that Il Douché acts like someone who had no one come to his 10th birthday party and is loaded for payback, Brooks just wants everyone to get along, even though he doubts that will happen. But he holds out hope. I think he shouldn’t bogart that joint.

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