Commentary Uncategorized

Don’t Count On Impeachments Before They’re Hatched.

The Interwebs are crackling with excitement over the possibility that finally, after an interminably frustrating 4 months in office (who thought he’d even last this long?) something might possibly stick to the, er, gold plated Teflon-coated skin of our embarrassment-in-chief. The word “impeachment,” along with “Russia,” and “Traitor” is trending, and Trump apologists are hunkered down and hiding, at least for the immediate future–Charlie Rose reports that no less than 20 Republican politicians have declined interview invitations. Twenty. This could be unprecedented, begging the question: have twenty politicians ever refused to talk on the same day before?

I remain unimpressed. I just watched a video on CNN of Paul Ryan, jabbering about how we know nothing yet, that he has to gather evidence, especially given the lengths that people have gone to in order to undermine The President. He wants to convey objectivity without breaking loyalty, and I suppose if I was a Trump supporter I’d appreciate his effort, but I’m well past the point where I give the President the benefit of a doubt. Trump has been managing his presidency like a performance art parody of a multi-cam comedy about a bungling President and his goofy staff. Think: dystopian photo-negative reimagining of that old Michael J. Fox television classic, Spin City. (Richard Kind character equated to Sean “Spicey” Spicer is perfection.) It would be hilarious, if only this was a real TV show, not the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of mankind.

Trump has lied on top of lies, generally refusing to recant on even the most obvious untruths. He lies for no great reason, with a conviction that suggests a pathological pattern of behavior, and he lies on grand stages about serious events. He lashes out at enemies, provokes allies, and slanders strangers, often as a calculated distraction from his own gaffes and outrages, but sometimes just for sport. Despite this behavior he is defended by those in his adopted party (most of his life, Trump voted Democrat, undoubtedly as a networking advantage in heavily Democratic New York City) not as dishonest and repugnant, but as a colorful maverick.

It is going to take a hell of a lot more than a little treason and a lot of bold lies to even consider articles of impeachment, must less dislodging this should-be Pariah from the White House. Fox News is pretty much calling fired FBI directed James Comey a liar, and the Teabaggers are circling the wagons, wrapped up in sticking it to “the man” in spite of the fact that few presidents have embodied the concept of “the man” more ably that pussy-grabbing, deal-breaking, bankruptcy-making Donald Trump.

The regressive core of the Republican party has refused to condemn Trump for childish and destructive conduct for plenty of reasons. Plenty of cowards fear him–not him exactly, although his impulsive vindictiveness certainly keeps some on edge. Rather, they fear the angry, desperate mob Trump whipped up with his phony promises and hollow nationalism, and which he still wields like a cudgel. Others are content to let him ride roughshod as long as he tears down and dismantles every component of government he can get his tiny little hands on. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Others sit back and watch Trump do it for them, like a wind-up monkey. They don’t care about international relations, or the welfare of the people, or anything outside of their ideological contempt for all things regulatory or administrative. And finally, you have the two types of opportunists. There is the Paul Ryan model, who believe in nothing beyond personal advancement. Remember how Ryan and his ilk loathed Trump until he won the primary, at which point they loved him? Beside them are the practical cowards, like Vice President Mike Pence, men and women who are smart and competent enough to see Trump for what he really is, but who are more than willing to ally with him if it means politically leveraging advantage for their own, narrow pet causes. For Pence, it is tearing down the boundary between Church and State, a particularly onerous trade shared by most evangelical theocratists, faith-healers, closeted hypocrites and snake-oil sellers of the Christian entertainment industry.,all of whom look blindly past Trumps gutter-crawl through marriage after marriage, his greed and idolatry, his coveting and his gluttony. I can’t say that Trump has murdered, but he seems to have the rest of the commandments and motal sins checked off like a movie serial killers “to do” list. And the christian activists couldn’t care less.

Of course, in order to actually impeach Trump, we would need to see enough Republicans willing to put the welfare of the nation and it’s people–including all the lazy poor and devious immigrants (or children of immigrants)–above whatever stake they have in the Trump administration, knowing that by convicting they will at the same time be admitting to their own culpability in enabling their President and his banana republic management of the nation. And even then, in the unlikely event that the house impeaches, and the senate does not acquit, we end up with Pence as President, with Ryan skulking in the shadows, at which point we’re forced to consider: what is preferable, an idiot child-king or a polished politician, when the overwhelming platform won’t change all that much. In many ways, Trump’s arrogant incompetence is a check and balance, revealing what might, under a more capable politician, have been hidden in shadows while at the same time stirring up a storm of angry resistance. I want Trump gone as much or more than the next guy, but I’m awfully wary of what comes next.


Quotes From The Dark Side: Paul Ryan

Because he cares….

”We’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people.”

—Rep. Paul Ryan, March 12, 2013


A Response to Ryan Kearney’s Camping Idiocy

In a recent article that appeared in The New Republic Ryan Kearney writes at some length about why camping is only for white people, making the point that for something that is the opposite of luxurious, it is prohibitively expensive.  He claims “A backpack, tent, and the necessary gear will run you at least $1,000.”  That’s ridiculous, of course, and even though it’s sort of off the subject for this blog I’ve decided to call him out on his bullshit.  So, without any research, I’ll going to jump over to my favorite outdoor supply website, Campmor, and see what I can find….

For this, I’m assuming a typical greenhorn, dayhiking and car camping in moderate weather conditions.

1. Tent: Coleman Sundome, 9’x7′ sleeps 4.  $64.96

2. Sleeping Bags: Too many good deals to choose for under $40

3. Ground Cloth (buy a tarp from WalMart) <$10.00

4. Coleman-Style Stove For Car Camping: Century 20K BTU $44.99

5. Hiking Boots Hi-Tec Ocala Waterproof Boots $69.96.  A non-waterproof version of this old-school, simple and reliable boot is actually available for under $50,  Just saying.

6. Backpack.  Jansport Catalyst $49.97  A real hikers daypack with lots of straps, pockets, loops and adjustments adaptable to a lot of activities and a significant upgrade from the kind of backpack most kids already have, although in most cases a simple daypack works fine to carry water, snacks, and a rain jacket.

7. Rain Jacket.  You can spend anywhere from $30 to $300 for a variety of technical rain gear, but for most of my life I’ve employed a simple, $7 rain poncho that I bought at a Penn State football game in 1984.  It’s impermeable, but breathable, has a hood, dries quickly, and folds down to about the size of a Pop Tart box.  And unlike a regular rain jacket, the water doesn’t cascade down the jacket and soak your pants. Campmor can fix you up with something similar for $4.  That’s right.

8. Cookware. We have a bunch of old Boy Scout mess kits picked up for a quarter here, a dime there, at yard sales over the year.  Here’s a fancy new version, still a steal at under $8.00, that you can use to prepare, serve, and consume all your meals.

And that’s all you need.  It’s more than you need, really.  For one person, you’re in the woods and on the trail for $275.00. Add $170 three more sleeping bags and a second backpack for a family of four and you’re still under $500.  Most campsites in developed campgrounds cost less than $20 for tents–backcountry is usually free. Pack groceries from home and a fantastic vacation can be had for well under that $1000 Ryan wants you to spend on gear–although, fair warning: Ryan is going to look whole lot cooler than you with his fancy name-brand gear and gee-whiz tech.  On the other hand, show a little initiative, look at yard sales, Craig’s List, and similar outlets and you’ll find excellent gear for next to nothing–if you even need gear at all.  When I was younger I’d hit the woods in canvas sneakers, an old canteen, and a brown bag lunch.