That’s What the Headline Said

A philly.com headline, at least, of a Washington Post report:

The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

According to the article,

Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.

If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people.

Sheesh!

The Kathy Griffin Kerfuffle in Context

It amazes The Curmudgeon that anyone is surprised about Kathy Griffin’s recent step across what at least some people believe is the line between humor and bad taste.  Griffin has spent her entire career doing almost nothing but belittling people, so it was only a matter of time before she went too far.

On the other hand…

…if The Curmudgeon was a Kathy Griffin fan, which he is not, he wouldn’t be at all deterred from going to see her.

If he ran a television network or club at which comics appeared, he wouldn’t fire her based solely on what she said and did.  Instead, he’d wait and let the market tell him what to do.

Ratings down?  Advertisers fleeing?  Getting rid of her would be a sound business decision.

Can’t sell tickets?  Another business decision.

But what if the ratings stay solid, the advertisers stay put, and the tickets sell?  Then that’s a business decision, too.

We can’t continue this nonsense of attempting to cast aside forever anyone whose sole weapon is words every time such people say something that some of us find offensive or obnoxious.

Not Kathy Griffin.

Not Bill Maher, who lost his ABC television show over remarks about terrorists and is in trouble again.

Not Don Imus, who made racist remarks on his radio program.

Not Rick Sanchez, who said nasty things about Jon Stewart and Jews.

Not Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

Not Curt Schilling, who made ridiculous remarks about transgender people in bathrooms.

Not Scarlett Fakhar, a Houston television reporter who was fired when she expressed support for Donald Trump last year on her Facebook page.

Not CNN’s Reza Aslan, fired last week for a foolish comment about the president.

Not Paula Deen, fired by the Food Network for racist comments she made many years ago.

People make mistakes.  Hard though it may be to believe, even The Curmudgeon goes too far once in a while.  The idea that one strike and you’re out is becoming increasingly common and increasingly accepted and that’s not good.  We talk a lot about diversity these days and The Curmudgeon thinks that’s a good thing, but diversity of thought, including diversity of obnoxious thought, appears not to be part of that conversation.

It should be.

 

Shooting at Members of Congress

Republican members of Congress and their staff were on the receiving end of a hail of bullets yesterday morning while playing baseball in a park in Virginia.

The same Republican members of Congress who resist every even modest attempt to limit easy, unfettered access to guns.

In response to this shooting, members of Congress are receiving extra police protection both in and around Washington, D.C. and in their home districts.

That’s great for them, but…

What about the rest of us?  What additional protection from omnipresent guns do WE get?

The Apprentice

He doesn’t know.

He’s new at this.

He doesn’t understand.

That, incredibly, is the explanation some leading Republicans are now offering for why the president’s performance so far is incompetent in some respects and possibly criminal in others.

He doesn’t know.

He’s new at this.

He doesn’t understand.

Here’s how Chris Christie explained it to MSNBC.

What people don’t understand is that they elected an outsider president .  The idea of the way that the tradition of these agencies, it’s not something that he’s ever been steeped in. So I think over the course of time, what you’re seeing is a president who is now very  publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers to be normal New York City conversation.

In other words,

He doesn’t know.

He’s new at this.

He doesn’t understand.

Then there’s Paul Ryan’s perspective.

The president’s new at this.  He’s new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between [the Department of Justice], FBI, White Houses. He’s just new to this.

In other words,

He doesn’t know.

He’s new at this.

He doesn’t understand.

And the guy Trump derisively called “Little Marco Rubio” on the campaign trail last year.

Is that the act of someone who is just really angry and upset and because he’s not a politician, is kind of unconventional, doesn’t realize — or no one’s told him that he can’t do that, or was that an effort to in fact impede an investigation?

In other words,

He doesn’t know.

He’s new at this.

He doesn’t understand.

Donald Trump, though, doesn’t agree with his defenders at all.  To the contrary, on the campaign trail he insisted that

…nobody knows the system better than me. Which is why I alone can fix it.

Ironically, Republicans insisted that Trump’s predecessor was a rank amateur unqualified for the presidency.  What Barack Obama may have lacked in experience, though, he made up for with sound judgment and intelligence.  Love him or hate him, you didn’t see Obama engaging in actions of questionable propriety and possible illegality.  Trump, though, is strictly amateur hour:  unskilled, unschooled, impulsive, and incapable.  He doesn’t understand how laws are passed, doesn’t understand how policy is made, doesn’t understand how politics works, doesn’t have the kind of common sense that people gain when they interact with people outside their own little world, and either doesn’t understand, or, more likely, refuses to accept that presidents are no less subject to the laws of the land than anyone else.

You need more than a fancy 8-ball to be president

Donald Trump doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong, doesn’t seem capable of seeing the difference between good and bad, and doesn’t have the self-discipline to focus on the job for which he was elected without allowing himself to be distracted by irrelevant things like Kathy Griffin and Rosie O’Donnell, the ratings of the people who report on his every action, and how much money he’s made in the past and how he can capitalize on the new financial opportunities offered by his current job.

He’s also not bright enough to understand that the FBI investigation he so dearly wants to end isn’t only about him, that he could conceivably be totally innocent of any complicity with Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections – but that even if he is, this interference still needs to be investigated and we still need to learn, and Americans still deserve to know, whether any of Trump’s people were complicit with those Russian efforts or whether this was just the Russians acting entirely on their own.

Why is he not bright enough to understand this?  Because his deep-seated defect is that he thinks everything – everything – is about him.

When it comes to being president of the United States, this guy is strictly an apprentice.

 

Whose Bright Idea Was It…

…to breed YELLOW watermelon?

Watermelon is one of summer’s true delights.  Its bright red color only enhances its appeal.

So what group of geniuses sat around a conference table somewhere and decided that what the world needs now is YELLOW watermelon?

The Trump Watch – June

As Sonny and Cher once sang, the beat goes on…

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

In honor of one statistic – Agent Orange’s first 100 days in office – the online publication Politico detailed 100 of the biggest lies of his first 100 days.  A few that may have slipped below the radar:

He claimed credit for all of the jobs added to the economy in January – even though he only took the oath of office on January 20.

He said that claims that more than 20 million people gained health insurance under Obamacare were bogus because they didn’t account for all of the people who lost their insurance since Obamcare took effect.  Wrong:  20 million figure is the net increase, which means it absolutely does account for those who lost their insurance.

He said sanctuary cities “breed crime.”  Actually, research shows no discernible difference in violent crimes, rapes, and property claims between sanctuary and non-sanctuary cities.

He declared that a senator’s assertion that then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told him that Agent Orange’s treatment of the federal courts was “disheartening and demoralizing” was a lie.  Both Gorsuch and another member of the Senate – a Republican – confirmed that the Supreme Court nominee said exactly that.

He said that half of the state of Tennessee had no insurers offering Obamacare health plans.  Actually, the entire state does.

He announced that Charter Communications, thanks to his leadership, made a commitment to invest $25 billion and create 20,000 jobs.  Charter actually did make such a commitment – but it made it before Trump was elected.

And the same is true of the $1.3 billion Toyota is investing in new facilities in Kentucky.

He blamed the Obama administration for failing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants who came together to form the MS-13 gang in Los Angeles.  Actually, those gangs have been around since the 1980s.

He said that nothing was built with the nearly $1 trillion spent on the Obama infrastructure bill.  Surely, dear readers, you remember driving through road repair zone after road repair zone where signs boldly proclaimed that the funding for those repairs came courtesy of…the Obama infrastructure bill.

Unless by “built” he means new luxury hotels.  Come to think of it, maybe that’s his beef with Obama:  $800 billion in government spending on bricks and mortar and he didn’t get a dime of it.

And those are just a few that flew under the radar; many of the others you already know.

Man-Crushes

The president appears to have man-crushes on political strongmen.  How else to explain why he’s always singing the praises of people like Vladimir Putin.

And Egyptian president Abdel ­Fatah al-Sisi, right after he had his political opponents gunned down in cold blood, thereby proving that this al-Sisi is no al-Sissy.

And Thailand prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, whose takeover of that country’s government and imprisonment of dissidents earned him an invitation to the White House.

And Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose erosion of basic freedoms in his country earned him, too, an invitation to the White House – a visit during which Erdogan’s own police beat the snot out of anti-Erdogan protesters in Washington, D.C. while Secret Service officers looked on and did nothing.

When he dines with the president, the big question will be “Regular or extra crispy?”

And Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who’s running roughshod over basic civil and human rights in his country.  Agent Orange’s reaction:  he invited Duterte to visit Washington.

He called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “smart cookie” and said he could see himself meeting with him.

When the Going Gets Tough…

…the not-so-tough turn tail and flee.

When ABC News’s David Muir sat down to interview Agent Orange and asked a few questions about the president’s allegation that former President Obama tapped his phone, Trump declined to answer, so Muir rephrased the question.  Trump refused to answer, so Muir again rephrased the question.  This time the president just turned away and ended the interview, kicking Muir out of the Oval Office.

A real profile in courage he is.

Speaking of Tapping Telephones…

It turns out that Agent Orange knows whereof he speaks, so when he suggested that he had tapes of his conversations with former FBI director James Comey, people who have worked with Trump were not at all surprised.  As the Washington Post reported,

Trump’s fascination with recording his conversations reaches back to the early years of his real estate career, when he installed in his 26th-story office in Trump Tower a “system for surreptitiously tape recording business meetings,” according to an eyewitness account in Harry Hurt’s 1993 biography, “Lost Tycoon.” And BuzzFeed News reported last year that Trump listened in on calls made by staff at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

A Persecution Complex

When politicians and celebrities of all sorts speak to college graduating classes, they usually talk about the future:  about fulfilling potential, about living good lives, about being good parents and neighbors and citizens and thinking of people other than themselves.

But Donald Trump, we know, is no ordinary politician or celebrity, so when he spoke to the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy he spent a little time talking about duty and country but more time talking about his favorite subject.

Himself.

Among his observations:

Hey, what about me?

 No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.

The late Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty-seven years in jail because of his political beliefs, might have disagreed.

Off With Their Heads!

Well, maybe not “off with their heads” but send them to jail, send them directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Say what?

According to a news report, when Agent Orange asked FBI director James Comey to clamp down on White House leaks and Comey noted that getting information about who was doing the leaking from reporters might require threatening those reporters with jail, Trump said that putting reporters in jail was just fine with him.

Presidential Flash Cards

The education of a president

Remember flash cards?  They’re what your folks used to help you, or what you used to help your kids, to simplify learning and studying for children with short attention spans.

Now there’s a seventy-year-old with a short attention span in the White House and his aides have developed an adult version of flash cards to help Trump absorb his daily intelligence briefings.

As the Washington Post reports,

As they huddle around the desk, Trump likes to pore over visuals — maps, charts, pictures and videos, as well as “killer graphics,” as CIA Director Mike Pompeo phrased it.

According to Reuters, the National Security Agency employs another trick to keep the president’s attention:

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned”…

Ladies and gentlemen, our president.

Who Knew?

In this latest installment of “who knew” we learn that just because you’re president doesn’t mean you understand how laws are passed.

In congressional circles, the term “nuclear option” is used to suggest that the party in the majority in the Senate do away with the filibuster so the minority party can’t prevent it from passing laws.  Usually the majority party doesn’t want to do this because today’s majority party knows it will be tomorrow’s minority party.

But it took a lot of people by surprise when Agent Orange suggested that the Senate invoke the nuclear option to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Why was it a surprise?  Because the kind of legislation needed to do this only requires a simple majority of fifty-one votes and not a filibuster-resistant sixty votes.

The president, however, didn’t know this.  He doesn’t understand how laws are passed in this country.

And isn’t that EXACTLY what we need in a president?

He Does Comedy, Too

On June 6 Agent Orange tweeted that

The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.

Surely he jests:  the media, MSM or otherwise, fake or real, absolutely LOVES Trump using social media and would be devastated if he stopped.  He offers a rich vein of material to work with, he’s an easy story on a slow news day, and he’s nothing if not thoroughly entertaining even if it’s sometimes in an “I can’t believe we actually elected this doofus president” way.

The Trip Abroad

You have to wonder whether, when someone suggested to Trump a trip abroad, he responded, “Broads?  There’s gonna be broads?”  His behavior could not have been more boorish if he had expected another golden shower from a Russian prostitute.

Step aside, buddy: America first.

Presumably you saw the video of Agent Orange pushing aside the prime minister of Montenegro.  If you somehow managed to miss it, see it here.  And observe the under-noticed seconds after the push and the look on Trump’s face.

Priceless.

And then there were the two times Melania swatted him away when he tried to hold her hand.  Hmmm:  she lives a few hundred miles away from him and now she won’t even hold his hand in public.  Is theirs not a true love match?

Despicable

Treated badly by his boss

Sean Spicer, according to all accounts, is a decent guy with an impossible job that he doesn’t always handle as well as he might because he appears devoid of personal charm.  One thing we know about Spicer is that he’s a devout Catholic, and as a member of the president’s inner circle and traveling party, it was pretty widely assumed that he’d be part of the Trump delegation meeting the pope.

Didn’t happen.  The president who demands loyalty from his people apparently believes loyalty is a one-way street and left Spicer behind.  Meanwhile, Ivanka and Silent Jared, who are Jewish, met the pope.

What a horrible excuse for a human being this president is.

Observations From a Press Conference

Last Friday The Curmudgeon caught about ten minutes of a presidential press conference.  While Trump’s tone was subdued – his voice, that is, not that unnatural, practically glow-in-the-dark skin color – his words were as bombastic and nonsensical as ever.

He complained about all of the trouble he’s having getting his nominees confirmed for important jobs, ignoring his failure to actually, you know, nominate people for those jobs.  He fired, for example, 93 U.S. attorneys – and hasn’t yet nominated any replacements for them.  Not one.  Also, he has 442 sub-cabinet level and executive-branch positions he needs to fill, all subject to Senate confirmation, for which he has yet to nominate candidates.  (And let us not forget that Republicans famously and routinely refused even to consider many Obama nominees, including one for the Supreme Court.)  Amusingly – and disingenuously – Trump said that “We just got Jeff Sessions confirmed.”  Actually, Sessions was confirmed on February 8, more than four months ago and less than three weeks after Trump himself took office.  (It was Republicans, in fact, not Democrats, who slowed Sessions’ confirmation for about a week because they thought they needed his vote on a bill before the Senate.)

But our president is not one to let the facts get in the way of all the verities and balderdash.

Speaking of White House leaks, he expressed concern that while leaks about his conversations with the heads of Mexico and Australia right after he took office were disturbing they ultimately didn’t matter much because they weren’t about anything important.  Still, he wondered aloud what might happen if there was a leak of a future conversation involving something with serious national security implications.

A legitimate concern, no?

Actually, no, it’s not.  When legitimate reporters even mildly suspect that they may know something with national security implications that could jeopardize American lives, they always – always – take that information to the White House to discuss the matter before publishing it.  It’s called journalistic responsibility, and in fact, there’s never been, to The Curmudgeon’s knowledge, even a single instance of a traditional (mainstream, if you insist) publication or broadcast going public with information that compromised national security or jeopardized or cost American lives.  The people Trump considers “real” media?  The Curmudgeon doubts they’re even passingly familiar with the concept of “responsibility.”

When a reporter asked a question and said he wanted to ask a follow-up question Trump said he needed to move on because that reporter’s ratings weren’t that good and there were reporters who had better ratings who still hadn’t had an opportunity to ask any questions.

Welcome back to junior high school, where popularity is what matters most.

Speaking of popularity, isn’t it ironic that someone who believe that popularity equates to quality and who judges everything based on its ratings and popularity currently has a public approval rating that’s at epic, unprecedentedly low levels?

What gave The Curmudgeon his biggest giggle, though, was Trump’s assertion that if it had been him who had been given debate questions rather than Hillary Clinton, and if the media had discovered this, it would have been the biggest story in the history of newspapers and the history of publishing.

Have you ever encountered anyone who has such an inflated opinion of himself and such an enormous persecution complex?

 

 

 

 

 

An Absolute Model of Restraint

That was The Curmudgeon yesterday, sitting in a diner adjacent to a table of six or seven retirees who were complaining about how the “mainstream media” manipulates the news and misrepresents the president and how they’re looking forward to President Trump restoring some of the freedoms they’ve had taken from them in recent years.

It was all The Curmudgeon could do to stop himself from standing by their table and demanding “Tell me, what freedoms have you lost in recent years?  What freedoms do you think you once had that you no longer have?”

But The Curmudgeon knows the answer:  they have no answer.

And he was an absolute model of restraint.

In the Beginning…

…cars that were not new and were for sale were referred to as “used cars.”

And then somewhere along the line someone didn’t like the sound of that, thought it made such goods seem…unseemly, and decided to call them “previously owned cars.”

Maybe “extensively enjoyed for a prolonged period of time”?

Recently, though, The Curmudgeon heard a new one – or at least new to him:  a radio ad referred to such vehicles as “previously enjoyed cars.”

The Curmudgeon nearly drove his own car, three years old, purchased new and now used, and enjoyed, off the road.

Achtung, Baby!

The president’s continual insistence that America’s allies need to contribute more to their own defense is not without some merit.  After all, if this country is helping to defend its allies it’s not unreasonable to ask those allies to help pay for that defense.

But making such demands may have consequences, too – some of which could be pretty scary.

Consider this:  in light of Agent Orange’s demands, his repeated insistence on “America first,” and the specter of an angry, ambitious Russia that the U.S. is unlikely to confront under almost any circumstances, Germany decided earlier this year that it should increase its investment in its own national defense with a military build-up of its own.

“Ach! I can’t believe the Americans elected this dummkopf!”

Earlier this year Trump met in Washington with German chancellor Angela Merkel and spent several hours afterward insisting that the meeting went well even though all you had to do was look at the two of them after the meeting to see that it really, really did not.

Then, her plane was barely in the air when Trump told his Twitter followers that

Germany owes vast sums of money to Nato & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!

So much for things going well.

Last week was practically a rerun:  during the NATO conference, Trump abused pretty much every country participating – The Curmudgeon will take a closer look at this in his next “Trump Watch” – but succeeded in getting NATO members to agree to invest more in their own defense.  As the meeting closed, they said they would come back with a plan for doing so.  (Of course, these wheels were set in motion during the last year of the Obama administration, but as Agent Orange has learned, if he keeps giving himself credit for things he didn’t do then eventually his supporters will come to believe him and treat any suggestion to the contrary as “fake news.”)

So what did Trump do after the leaders of other countries said they’d do more to support NATO?  Practically as soon as the wheels on Air Force One hit the runway back in the U.S. he turned around and criticized Germany, the most important of those other countries.

We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO’s military.  Very bad for U.S.  This will change.

But put aside that the NATO meeting he characterized as a “home run” was widely viewed as a swing and a miss by pretty much everyone who doesn’t work in the west wing.

And put aside that the U.S., and most of the rest of Europe, created NATO in part because they wanted the U.S. to take primary responsibility for Germany’s defense because the last thing they wanted was for Germany to start ratcheting up its capability to make war again after the havoc it wreaked on the world not once but twice during the first half of the twentieth century.

And put aside that this country considers Germany an important ally and you don’t treat your friends like that.

When you think about it, why shouldn’t Germany pursue a course of militarization?  If we’re going to insist that Germany shoulder anywhere near the full cost of its defense and the U.S. is going to become the kind of ally that the Trump administration suggests it’s going to become, isn’t Germany justified in concluding it had better start taking its defense into its own hands because when the chips are down it may no longer have good reason to believe the U.S. will be there when it needs it?

Is it any wonder, then, that Merkel declared, after the disastrous NATO meeting, that Europe needs to start taking care of its own needs because the president of the United States has made it clear that Europe can’t count on the U.S. for military support anymore?  Specifically, she said that

Recent days have shown me that the times when we could rely completely on others are over to a certain extent.  Europe must take its fate into its own hands.

And this wasn’t Merkel-as-candidate-for-re-election saying things she thought voters wanted to hear, either:  her opponent in that contest expressed strong support for her and her response to Trump’s shenanigans.

But for The Curmudgeon, here’s the real issue:

Doesn’t a Germany with a greater ability to defend itself – and therefore considerable offensive military capabilities as well – make you, well, a little…uneasy?

A Quick Round of Republican Reproductive Rights Jeopardy

The answer is:  virginity and abstinence

The question:  Alex, how do Republicans envision preventing the birth of unwanted babies after banning abortion in as many places as possible, making it impossible to find a facility at which legal abortions can be performed in others, and now trying to make it more difficult for women to obtain birth control products?