C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Refugees Welcome

Activists today unfurled a welcome banner on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which was soon removed by park rangers.  Earlier in the day, the Department of Homeland Security had issued its new plan for rounding up and deporting illegal aliens found in this country.

Although the banner made a cheerful sight, today's deportation orders remind me of this cartoon from 1939 and the shameful story behind it: a cautionary tale for our time.

I also came across this poster, source not stated, which gives pause for thought:

More food for thought, if anyone is hungry:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today's Toon

While Trump is ramping up his deportation force . . .

By Andy Marlette, Pensacola News-Journal, pnj.com

. . . this is happening in Canada:

Sunday Drive: Whispering Hope

An exquisite performance of the beloved hymn by Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae, recorded in 1949:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Enemy of the People

My usual Friday post will be delayed a bit while I inform my truckbuddies of this appaling item: this afternoon, Trump declared the mainstream news media "the enemy of the people."  Breathtaking effrontery!

Oh yeah? Well, I have a much better, much clearer idea of who the real enemy of the people is. Nobody who shoots his mouth off like this has any right to be sitting in the Oval Office.

It would seem that Republican Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe feels the same way as your Head Trucker:

My God have mercy, I have lived to see this day - a sitting president denouncing the free press, which the Founding Fathers held was essential to our Constitution and our liberties - a view which the Supreme Court has consistently upheld ever since. This cannot continue. This attitude has no place in our republic, and no one who thinks this way and spews such fascist garbage has any place in our government.  Such a one is a traitor to all that America stands for.

He must go, and all his fascist minions with him - the sooner, the better. Will anyone second this motion?

Bonus: Scholars might debate the meaning of the word fascist, but here is a living, breathing example direct from the White House last Sunday - Trump advisor Stephen Miller announcing to "all of planet Earth" that the powers of the President "will not be questioned." The panel at Morning Joe take him to task for that dictatorial attitude:

Less than a month in office, Trump has shown his true colors, and they are just what we feared they would be. What more proof is needed?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Destruction of Honesty

Photo from the Slate article on today's press conference, which it called "a stunning display of Trump’s ability to lie, exaggerate, obfuscate, and mislead the public while insisting that it was actually the media who were doing all of those things."

An excerpt from "The National Nightmare Has Just Begun" by Gabriel Schoenfeld, a Republican political advisor, writing for USA Today:
It is not too soon to tally the damage wreaked so far by our 45th president.

Donald Trump's rampage through key institutions is an obvious place to begin. The executive branch of our federal government has never run like clockwork, but in peace or wartime it has rarely been this chaotic. In effect if not by title, the White House now has three competing chiefs of staff, each with walk-in privileges to the Oval Office and each playing our ignorant and impressionable president as if he were a piano. The disarray has radiated outward to the agencies to the nation and even to the world. The botched formulation and execution of Trump’s travel ban, and the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn via surprise trapdoor, are of course Exhibits A and B.

The judicial branch has suffered a blow of a different sort, with the president blasting Judge James Robart, appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate unopposed, as a “so-called judge.” Dismissal by the president of the judiciary’s role as a check and balance on his own power could derail our democracy. In a tweet, he has already, and pre-emptively, assigned blame for the next terror attack to Robart and our entire court system. We have been duly warned: Should such an attack come, it will be a moment of maximum danger not only for our safety but also foor our freedom.

Then we have the Republican Party, which, following Trump’s siren song, is committing moral-intellectual suicide. Defenders of religious liberty have turned into proponents of a backdoor Muslim ban. The banner of free trade has been dropped for protectionism. Budgetary thrift has given way to profligacy. So many things the GOP stood for a mere two years ago — good character and ethical conduct, a clear-eyed view of Russia — have been replaced by their opposite. To the party’s leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, political principles are nothing. Political power is all. In their apologetics for the billionaire blockhead at America’s helm, never has hypocrisy been more perfectly distilled.

Our free press remains intact; indeed, it has been rising to the occasion as it has come under assault from a president who, even as he relentlessly castigates it, stays glued to its coverage, obsessing over every criticism and slight. But though the news media are performing their critical function, they are losing — along with our entire society — a more fundamental battle.

Here we come to damage of a different sort: The destruction of honesty, one of democracy’s most fundamental norms.

Trump and his team lie as naturally as leaves grow on trees. America is being polarized along a new axis of division. On one side are dupes, possibly numbering in the millions, who accept the president’s preposterous fabrications as gospel. On the other side are those appalled by the dawn of post-modern America in which truth is supplanted by “alternative facts,” the euphemism employed by Kellyanne Conway, the president’s most brazen flack, for the projectile falsehoods that spurt from her mouth. As every aspiring authoritarian leader grasps — and Trump is no exception — a world without truth is a world without rules, without justice and without the possibility of democratic deliberation.

And in today's press conference at the White House, Trump was caught red-handed dispensing "fake news" himself - kudos to NBC's Peter Alexander for calling him out:

Just for your information fellas, here are the electoral college results for all elections since 1932. The three number columns show, respectively, the total electoral votes, the winner's share, and the runner-up's share.

From Wikipedia.  Click to enlarge.

Update, 7:55 pm: Shep Smith of Fox News, which for many years has been the propaganda mill of the Republican Party, incensed at the way Trump tried deflect attention from his staff's undercover dealings with Russian intelligence by branding all reporters as purveyors of fake news, lashed out at Trump on camera after today's press conference: “No sir. We are not fools for asking the question and we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lies, Damned Lies, and Kellyanne Conway

Defending Truth, Justice, and the American Way -
Kellyanne Conway in her fantasy outfit work uniform.

Or, how to be Minister of Propaganda in four easy lessons - see the Vox video below for directions.

The Flynn scandal is opening a big can of ugly worms, not the least of which is on-camera proof of the blatant dishonesty of Trump's head cheerleader.

(Though confidentially, fellas, your Head Trucker recognized decades ago that politicians of all stripes and all parties do exactly the same thing nearly every time they are on camera, and the public is used to it by now, sad to say. There must be a secret school for this stuff in Washington and in every state capital. Conway's greater sin is to make it so very, very obvious, used in a wicked cause.)

1. MSNBC's Morning Joe team calls Conway a flat-out liar this morning:

2. On NBC's Today show, Matt Lauer tells a haggard, somewhat disheveled Conway to her virtual face that she is making no sense:

3. Vox breaks it down for us:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Drive: If I Had a Hammer

As performed by Peter, Paul and Mary at their 25th anniversary concert in 1986:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Blind Tweeting the Blind

New Yorker cartoon by Liam Walsh

The unceasing and daily intensifying coverage by the news media of the Trump trainwreck is certainly fascinating and appalling in equal parts - but perhaps a bit too much so. It might, in fact, be salutary for us all to stick our heads out of the tweetstorm now and then, and remind ourselves that there is an entire world existing right below our feet that also is worthy of attention - really it is.

Here's an article from the Atlantic that may give pause for thought: "The Binge Breaker." Excerpt:
While some blame our collective tech addiction on personal failings, like weak willpower, Harris points a finger at the software itself. That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible. The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Harris calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.” “You could say that it’s my responsibility” to exert self-control when it comes to digital usage, he explains, “but that’s not acknowledging that there’s a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break down whatever responsibility I can maintain.” In short, we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology because technology has become better at controlling us. . . .

McDonald’s hooks us by appealing to our bodies’ craving for certain flavors; Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter hook us by delivering what psychologists call “variable rewards.” Messages, photos, and “likes” appear on no set schedule, so we check for them compulsively, never sure when we’ll receive that dopamine-activating prize. (Delivering rewards at random has been proved to quickly and strongly reinforce behavior.) Checking that Facebook friend request will take only a few seconds, we reason, though research shows that when interrupted, people take an average of 25 minutes to return to their original task.

Sites foster a sort of distracted lingering partly by lumping multiple services together. To answer the friend request, we’ll pass by the News Feed, where pictures and auto-play videos seduce us into scrolling through an infinite stream of posts—what Harris calls a “bottomless bowl,” referring to a study that found people eat 73 percent more soup out of self-refilling bowls than out of regular ones, without realizing they’ve consumed extra. The “friend request” tab will nudge us to add even more contacts by suggesting “people you may know,” and in a split second, our unconscious impulses cause the cycle to continue: Once we send the friend request, an alert appears on the recipient’s phone in bright red—a “trigger” color, Harris says, more likely than some other hues to make people click—and because seeing our name taps into a hardwired sense of social obligation, she will drop everything to answer. In the end, he says, companies “stand back watching as a billion people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, responding to each other and feeling indebted to each other.” . . .

“Our generation relies on our phones for our moment-to-moment choices about who we’re hanging out with, what we should be thinking about, who we owe a response to, and what’s important in our lives,” he said. “And if that’s the thing that you’ll outsource your thoughts to, forget the brain implant. That is the brain implant. You refer to it all the time.”

And here's a video interview with the subject of the article.

For clarity: Your Head Trucker has no smart phone or even dumb phone, and has no intention of having any.

(Ain't that a damn shame, boys?)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Vacation, all I ever wanted . . .

Necker Island, BVI, owned by Sir Richard Branson

A couple of weeks after leaving office, former President Obama is enjoying a well-deserved holiday from the woes of the world, kite-surfing in the beautiful waters of the British Virgin Islands.  Who can blame him?

Which reminds me of this song:

Two weeks without you, and I still haven't gotten over you yet.

*Sigh* Miss you, man.

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