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Luddites and Hell

Here are a few interesting tweets I found today:

Followed by…

Then there’s…

Didn’t see that coming.


How’re you going to keep’em down in the pews…?

And then there’s Trump’s new target, Amazon, and what it’s doing to his beloved Post Office…

Oh please.

I’m sure “real America” wants to pay more for their amazon packages, like it wants to pay more for healthcare, washing machines, anything made of steel, and gas. That’s what “real America” voted for him to do in office. 🙄

Finally, there’s this Best. Surprise. EVER.

If you refuse to pay your attorney, one will be appointed for you??

Yesterday, I was musing idly about Trump’s legal woes, you know, as one does, when it suddenly occurred to me that he might need a guardian ad litem who will act in the best interests of Trump since he is unable to do so himself. Silly, RD, those are appointed for minor children who are too young to make complicated decisions.

Ok, then how about a court appointed attorney? I mean, the court could give him one and then garnish his wages afterwards. At this point, even a public defender would do a better job than the lawyers who have been doing it so far.

Then Stephen Colbert quipped that Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, advised Trump to take this lawyer thing seriously. Then I read this in the Washington Post today:

Trump’s efforts to secure and retain good counsel have descended into farce, with a revolving door of lawyers coming and going. We see almost daily reports of prominent defense lawyers, including Republicans, acknowledging that Trump or his intermediaries approached them, only to turn the job down.

For some, this inspires glee. The instinctive reaction is to say that Trump does not “deserve” a first-rate lawyer to help him avoid what we may consider his just deserts. But that reaction is not faithful to the best traditions of the legal profession.

Lawyers are forbidden to undertake new clients if doing so would conflict with the legal interests of existing clients, but that does not seem to be the kind of “conflict” that most lawyers have given in turning down Trump. They use “business conflicts” — code for “the firm’s clients will not like it, and we may lose business.”

The piece ends by reviewing the reasons why lawyers have an obligation to defend the loathesome, like segregationists and murderers and Donald Trump. If their other clients don’t like Trump, that’s not an excuse as long as there is no conflict.

This morning, Preet Barhara said pretty much the same thing. Trump needs to get some good lawyers but he is crippling his own defense right now by being unable to secure some. Jared Kushner, his son in law, has some of the best lawyers money can buy. But Trump is alienating lawyers who might take his cases because they’re afraid he won’t listen to their advice or won’t pay them.

Preet says that having a better defense lawyer makes for better trials on all sides. Everyone knows what to expect. It’s not a learning experience. And in this case, with a subpoena to testify before Mueller a real possibility for Trump, getting a good lawyer is of the utmost urgency. He also said that Trump is getting out lawyered on the Stormy Daniels case.

And why is that? If I were to guess, Trump has hired fixers to make his problems go away. Fixers don’t so much litigate as intimidate. They’re not required to be professionals. They’re required to skirt the edges of legality to get the job done and not trouble their clients. This is what Michael Cohen has been doing for Trump. I imagine that at one point back in 2011, as Trump was considering public office, he decided to take care of business with some potentially embarrassing former connections. So he called Cohen and told him to do what had to be done. Trump may be no intellect but he’s not stupid when it comes to how organized crime fixers operates. Cohen did what he was asked, then followed up on it in 2016. What did either of them care about how it was done?

Then he won the election and now everybody is in his business and lawyers like Cohen are no match for the new environment. Ty Cobb seems like a decent lawyer but did Trump follow his advice? Don McGahn seems to know what’s what in Washington but he can’t adequately represent the White House with all this chaos.

Trump is over his head. He doesn’t know how to play this game if threats don’t work. He seems to think personal chemistry, ie that the lawyer is awestruck and deferential, is good legal qualification. He assumes that everyone is motivated by being a star and having fame.

I keep coming back to the idea that he needs a guardian. For all the loathesome, dirty, underhanded crap he’s accused of, he’s still an innocent in this environment. It’s not a fair fight at this point. Mueller and Avenatti are going to eat his lunch. If he tries to fire Mueller, it won’t necessarily lead to an impeachment. The Republican leadership may well look the other way. But there may be many other Republican congressmen who have to run this fall who will be alarmed that there is no one but a child running the White House– into the ground. Who is going to level with him and tell him his time is up and he needs to resign?

America would be very vulnerable. More vulnerable than it is now.

Mueller should appoint a lawyer for US, preferably someone Trump can’t fire – or appoint to his cabinet. Someone needs to start minding the store.


It’s dark, cloudy and damp again today. Yes, it’s warmer than last week but it’s not enough. I’m beginning to sound like one of those sad cat diaries with the pathos music in the background:

March 29, 2018

Dear Diary,

It is now my 7th year of captivity. My captors have kept me in an environment devoid of warmth, sunshine and recreation. I attempt to show my displeasure with flashes of irritation at the 24 year old prisoner in the cell next to mine. I suspect he is getting more privileges and possibly even conjugal visits.

People in other cell blocks are telling me they are up for parole and keep saying they have furloughs for something called “spring break” where they will be going to a mythical place called “Florida”. I laugh at how easily they are duped. There is nothing beyond this fortress but the rivers and the long, slow weeping of the sky.

I will stand in the rain and sing the song of my people.


Pittsburgh’s The Incline reports this morning that crime here is down. Way down:

A dramatic decline in Pittsburgh crime stats is being celebrated by officials who credit police efforts for the precipitous decline. According to the Post-Gazette, shootings in the city dropped to a 12-year low in 2017, with 147 fatal and non-fatal shootings in 2017 compared to 180 in 2016. The city also saw varying declines in the number of robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, vehicle thefts and arson in 2017 compared to 2016, according to police. “Instead of having patrols that saturate a neighborhood, where the neighborhood already feels victimized and then feels victimized twice, we look for the individual person, and we reach out and give them an opportunity to change their lives,” Mayor Bill Peduto said at a press conference on Tuesday.


Actually, I do. I’m just not terrified of the places that I go in the city like I’m supposed to be. Reports of random shootings and muggings and MS-13 here are GREATLY exaggerated.

The report says shootings and robberies are way down. The only thing that saw an uptick is rape. Not the best statistic but I’m not surprised considering how much effort the Republicans are exerting to turn women into second class citizens.

The way police are handling crime here is to their credit. We’ll have to see the numbers continue to drop in the next several years before we know for sure how well this is working.

Diverse suburb is not code for urban hellhole. The people who live here are people. Just people. And most of them haven’t got time to do crime. They have to go to work, help their kids with their homework and go to church. Respect may actually work.

Go Us.

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Franklin D. Roosevelt


Amy Siskind’s book The List will be released tomorrow. The list is a compendium of all of the lies and not normal actions the Trump administration has done since taking office.

And early reader says:

Get it here.


It’s dark and rainy in the burgh today but a little bit warmer than yesterday. Repeat silently “vacation, vacation, vacation”.

SOS: send warmth, sunshine and spring.

Right Wing Color Blindness

Take a look at this clip from an Anderson Cooper tweet:

I’ll be back a little later to discuss.

ok, I’m back.

Let’s start with that Sherry Massey woman. I’m pretty sure she’s been on other similar panels. If I recall correctly, she said one time that Trump says what everyone is thinking about immigrants (or was it African Americans?). A couple of the non-Trump voters got on her case immediately to point out that, no, we do not all think this way about immigrants. She seemed to be genuinely shocked to find this out. They straightened her ass out pretty well. In this venue, she’s with her herd. Who claim to be Christian conservatives. Yeah. Let that sink in.

I have a similar attitude about this Stormy Daniels thing as I did about Bill and Monica. If it’s between two consenting adults, it’s none of my business. I even disagree with #metoo about whether Bill abused his power over Monica and I am part of that movement. (For what it’s worth, we don’t have to agree on everything). There was no abuse happening here. But that’s not what this story is about. The story here is about threats and intimidation. That’s an abuse of power too and Donald Trump has been given a pass his entire life. He gets away with all kinds of bad behavior. At this very moment, he’s not thinking about what he can do to help these ladies feel like they aren’t losing control over their white bread McMansion enclaves. No, he’s thinking how can he get a decent, well respected lawyer who will work for free so he doesn’t have to be bothered by that meddlesome former FBI Director. Accountability is not in his vocabulary.

But this moment in American history is weirder than that. Because Donald Trump is magnificently unsuited to his job. What EXACTLY did these women expect from him when they voted for Trump? They never explicitly spell it out. Was it better healthcare, better jobs, better international relations? Any of the things that previous generations of Dallas ladies used to vote for? All he’s done so far is give evangelicals and white nationalists pretty much everything they wanted. Is THAT what they expected?

Tell me again why we shouldn’t be horrified at these women? I want to make it clear that I have no desire to persuade these women to change their minds about Trump. It would be a waste of time. We only need to motivate the other 60% of voters to make these women’s beliefs irrelevant.

They are obviously seeing something that 60% of the rest of us do not see.

Something else that’s been troubling me is this:

This is all over Fox News, the hot blonde in a not entirely work appropriate dress sitting between two manspreaders in business suits.

Here’s another one:

Oooo, cleavage.

(The answer to the question on the screen is “yes”. This has been another in a series simple answers to simple questions. To those of you struggling with that, you’re welcome.)

Let’s put aside for the moment that the men are always dressed like professionals and reinforce the idea that men are in charge, What is this image all about? Because, to me, it looks creepy. It’s like the woman is trying way too hard to attract attention and the guys are just waiting for the cameras to go away. It’s like a Sig Pi little sister sitting between two frat boys who are definitely NOT alpha males.

What do Fox News loving women see when they look at this tableau? Do they want to be like her? Are they imagining themselves as the only pretty thing in the room? Do they think that dressing this way and acting like a ultra feminine woman makes her more desirable? Do they think these guys respect her point of view? Appreciate her? Protect her? Worship her?

Come on, be serious. This is Roger Ailes’ Fox News. Roger “I’ve got pics of you giving me a blow job so if you want to keep your job get on your knees” Ailes.

Anyway, I’m just musing on this. It’s my own color blindness that I can’t see it. But if anyone wants to break it down for me, be my guest. There have got to be a few covert readers from the Fox News alternate reality who can clue me in. I’d prefer an anthropologist but I’ll take what I can get. Comment below.


The winter has dragged on way too long here in the burgh. I’m wearing too many layers. I haven’t had a vacay since 2011. Did I mention my tip jar in the upper left corner?

See those girls in bikinis running on the beach? I used to have hair like that.

A Pity Party for PA Republicans.

Ryan Costello, who currently serves as the Republican representative in PA 6, announced today that he will not be seeking re-election this fall and will spend more time with his family.

Yeah, you do that, Ryan. Whatever it takes to get your life back after 4 years in the swamp.

PA 6 was recently redrawn. It was one of those weirdly shaped districts in PA with two largish dangly bits connected by a thin corridor. It stretched into Dutch Country and gobbled some Democrats near Philadelphia.

Well, not anymore. The new map has Costello’s district going from a +1 Republican advantage to something a lot more competitive. And who wants to actually, you know, RUN for your voters? Especially the new ones you didn’t ask for who might not particularly like your anti-choice record or the fact that you got a 93% favorable rating from the NRA.

Costello might actually have a chance of winning his district if he’d make an effort to reflect the values of his new district, which will be less rural, more suburban in November. But I’m guessing that to do that THIS year, he’ll have to pass on taking money from the NRA. That might mean a shortfall in campaign contributions where previously gun manufacturers had a safe seat.

That’s not the only reason he’s not running. I’m sure. Maybe the prospect of a blue wave has him rattled. Or maybe he knows how destructive his party has been to the country as a whole and he doesn’t want to be around to take the blame when the sh*t comes down. Let the Democrats clean up. Like they always do.

Buh-Bye, Ryan.

Now, let’s focus on my new district. I used to be in Mike Doyle’s district. Starting in the primary season, I’ll be in PA 17, represented by Republican Keith Rothfus.

Rothfus has several bad things happening to him this year. He’s hit the trifecta. First, he got saddled with a couple of huge Pittsburgh suburbs that are bright blue, and he lost some of the rural parts of his hammerhead shark shaped district. Second, he’s going to be running against Conor Lamb in the General, provided Lamb wins his primary.

Third, he’s an NRA fanboy. He thinks we need semi-automatics or we’ll all get killed, presumably by the residents of those diverse Pittsburgh suburbs he just inherited. Right, Keith? We know what you think of the suburb I live in.

I hate to say it but if we take back Congress I think we should confiscate AR-15’s. If you’ve got an assault rifle, you should be required to give it up. It shouldn’t matter where you live, boonies, burbs or city. You don’t need an assault rifle for protection. Shotguns, revolvers and rifles will do just fine. And if everyone had to give them up, including the bad guys who currently have them, then we wouldn’t have to continue the domestic arms race. No one would have an advantage. Do I think criminals will give them up willingly? Probably no more willingly than your dedicated indoctrinated NRA member. Prying then from their cold, dead hands is the saying that comes to mind for both groups.

In any case, Keith better study up or make a plan B because his seat isn’t safe anymore and he’s going to have to get the money he loses from the NRA from somewhere. Good luck with that, Keith.

Does anybody need a cigarette?

I just saw the Stormy Daniels interview. I gotta say, she sounds very credible. As Avenatti says, it’s not the sex, it’s the coverup. Or comb over. Speaking of combovers, this exchange is what’s going to stick:

Anderson Cooper: You were 27, he was 60. Were you physically attracted to him?

Stormy Daniels: No.

Anderson Cooper: Not at all?

Stormy Daniels: No.

Anderson Cooper: Did you want to have sex with him?

Stormy Daniels: No. But I didn’t– I didn’t say no.

Ouch. Thats gonna leave marks.

Stormy refuses to say if she has destroyed all of the evidence. So there’s more to come.

But it really isn’t about the sex, it’s about the thuggish behavior. And THAT seems totally believable.

The thing about being in the White House and being president that is different than being a private citizen is there is a different expectation of privacy and accountability. For a guy who is used to paying people off, stiffing contractors, going bankrupt multiple times and having his staff sign NDA’s, all without consequence, that must be supremely irritating to him.

Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal could open the flood gates to all kinds of nasty things that The Donald has done in his lifetime. We already know there are more women lined up who say they were threatened. There must be servants and valets and limo drivers and contractors and secretaries and business partners and executive Vice Presidents and even wives who could just say, “what the hell, why not just get it all out there. He’ll spend the rest of his life playing whack-a-mole trying to shut everyone up again”.

You can only treat people badly for so long before it all starts to catch up with you.

You know, we liberals might as well just get it all out there too. We DON’T like Donald Trump and we DO want to get him out of office as quickly as possible. But when Republicans accuse us of that, they think it’s some kind of tribal thing. Or revenge for what the right did to Bill Clinton.

What the right did to Bill Clinton back in the 90s started out as a way to keep him completely consumed with lawsuits throughout his terms. Monica Lewinsky was discovered in 1998. But he’d already had 5 years of nuisance investigations over Whitewater, Vince Foster, and Hillary’s billing records before then. They all came do nothing but we know why the right did it. They pretty much spelled it out. They wanted to derail his presidency because people like Newt Gingrich were authoritarian assholes. It was petty and mean and cost everyone in the White House a fortune in legal fees. The right was delighted with jamming the works even if it meant shutting down government for a couple of weeks. It was all about spite and fury at losing the White House, not because Clinton was a bad president.

There’s quite a lot of projection here from the right. They’re assuming that we have the same motives. They think it’s spite and that Hillary deserved the White House. And while there is an element of the latter, the former is not true at all.

The reason we want him out is because he runs the Trump Crime Family. His business is rotten to the core, his family is enriching itself and they have a history of thuggish behavior and hiding behind payoffs and secret agreements. I even have a new view of Ivanka these days. She’s very good at image maintenance but it’s starting to slip. Now I understand her role as Trump’s right hand. She’s just as ruthless and unscrupulous as he is. She’s just got better taste in clothes.

It’s not that we hate them. It’s that they are fundamentally bad for the country. They’re a mistake, a fluke. We’re not trying to interfere with Trump’s agenda. It’s worse than that because he never had an agenda. He has no idea how to run a government like ours. It’s a HUGE responsibility. We are a superpower. We have an obligation due to our military strength and economy to not f#%* up. Trump doesn’t care about that. He’s running the country like the Corleones would.

I’m sorry, did any of us agree to that??

That’s what this Stormy Daniels thing is all about. She’s uncovering what it’s like to be a small, insignificant person under Trump’s thumb.

Imagine what it must be like for Qatar, Puerto Rico or Lithuania.

Have a smoke and ponder that post-coital thought, Trump voters. You guys wanted to have sex with him but the rest of us were forced.

Ok, we’re done here.

One of the things they teach you in the personal power dynamics courses in corporate land is that you need to know when there is no point continuing to argue with someone. You’re not getting anywhere. If that’s the case, disengage.

Andrew Cohen says that’s about where we are on the issue of gun control:

Did you catch the NRA “hot take” on Saturday? The trolling of the brave Parkland students? How “no one would know their names” if their classmates had not been gunned down by a mentally ill teenager who had easy access to a weapon of war? That’s how you know the conversation is over. One side finally is willing to trust what it sees with its own eyes. The other side mocks the teenage survivors of a gun massacre.

The conversation’s over because at some point there’s no use talking any longer. I know plenty of people who want reasonable gun reform, including many gun owners. I bet you do, too. They see, like most rational people see, that there is no good reason on God’s green earth to hand out assault rifles to children.

But I don’t know a single person who wants to take a shotgun or a rifle from the hands of a hunter or a handgun away from a sane homeowner who wants to feel protected in her own home. And I bet you don’t, either. Who’s coming for their guns? No one. How many more children have to die before they are convinced? None. Because the protesters no longer are interested in trying to convince them.

I gave up trying to convince people of evolution too. The root cause of the stubborn insistence on sticking with creationism in spite of the evidence is not rational. It’s faith based. And if it’s faith based, it’s not interested in reasons. It needs to believe in the absence of reason. And the reason it needs to believe is something known only to the believer but it comes from another place than the left hemisphere. Either people outgrow it over time or they never do. And if they go to fundamentalist churches where the Bible is taken factually, then that church reinforces that belief regardless of the facts. You can’t win. So you have to stop arguing.

It’s the same with the NRA. They’re motivated to reinforce their belief system in the face of all evidence. They’re determined to make their members and susceptible people on the right believe that there is danger out there and they need guns and that we’re trying to take all of them away.

It’s fundamentalism at its finest. So, stop arguing. Get your side organized, put on your determination face and vote. The other side doesn’t want to be reasonable.