The Russian Doll

I think the most interesting story I’ve read recently is how our former directors of the CIA are referring to the Donald as a “Russian Doll”. It seems that the former directors, both of whom worked for Republican presidents, think that the Donald’s desperate need for flattery made him susceptible to being turned by Putin. Putin, who the directors point out never left the KGB, would be adept at exploiting the vanity of a megalomaniac.

The phrase has come up again when describing the unmasking of the Donald’s various business entanglements by the Attorney General of New York. Comparing the insidious business affairs of a gangster like hierarchy to those cute little egg shaped caricatures that hide one inside the other is some high irony. When unpacking Russian dolls one expects to find a similar benign character like the outer shell at the inner layer. It seems that the deeper the A.G. in New York goes the more sinister the next level is. Imagine getting to the last doll and worrying if Beelzebub is waiting there for you. I wish her Godspeed and good luck.

The Donald is not the only Russian asset that’s been unmasked over the past few years. The stalwart bastion of truth and decency, minority house leader Kevin McCarthy once called out two people for being on the Russian payroll. It was interesting that he didn’t call out the congressional contingent that went to Russia on America’s Independence day. I guess it was more important to line up campaign financing for their next run. Let’s not overlook the influence of the evangelicals attempting to bring religion to the Godless infidels at events sponsored by Russian oil companies. A little covert technical support could be hidden inside the next doll, if you please.

Some of the Russian influence is a bit more subtle. Take Mitch McConnell’s aluminum plant. If you remember the story there once was an aging, befuddled tortoise look alike running for re-election in Kentucky. The state was leaning more and more to the Democrat persuasion. Some of the population had grasped the idea that the website that gave them health care was actually a result of a Democrat president. Was the state ready to turn blue? Not if Moscow Mitch had anything to do with it.

Enter a Russian Oligarch promising to bring an aluminum plant to an impoverished part of Kentucky.(redundant) All Moscow Mitch had to do was to see that the sanctions imposed on Russia for assorted misdeeds could be lifted. Mitch did his part, but in a rare instance of Divine Intervention, he was replaced as speaker of the house. Surprising no one with half of a brain, the Russian money has backed out. The voters of Kentucky are still stuck with a hundred-year-old tortoise for Senator and no job producing aluminum plant.

Picking up the Russian standard, Kentucky’s other Senator, Rand Paul chose to spout support for Russia’s attempt to take Ukraine back to the stone age. In some sort of twisted empathy for bullies everywhere, the diminutive Senator rationalizes that since Russia once occupied Ukraine, they should be allowed to go back in and smash it to bits. Conceptualize the abusive husband kicked out of the house returning to kill its occupants and burn the house to the ground. In Rand Paul country, “them’s the rules.” You once owned it, you’re free to go back and smash it to bits if the notion strikes you. Holy Cow! What’s in the water in Kentucky? I guess now we’ve got watch to our flanks for a British invasion.

Fascinating stuff if the future of the world didn’t hang in the balance. I haven’t even started on the Russian TV stars on the Faux News. So many Russian dolls, so little time.

Fantasyland

Once upon a time there was a book entitled, “The Mouse That Roared”. The book was adapted to a hilarious movie starring Peter Sellers. The premise is that a small country has its livelihood destroyed by an American company. The little country sees no other way out but to declare war on the U.S. hoping that the U.S. will rebuild its economy like we did for Germany and Japan after WWII. I won’t spoil the plot any further but to say that “The Mouse” was far more successful than its leaders ever dreamed. It is a riotous case study for the law of unintended consequences.

A little closer to home we find another war being waged by a kingdom represented by a mouse. Vying the Donald for the most regressive low life pond scum elected official, Florida governor Ron DeSantis is working furiously to prove to the Republican party that it is he that is better equipped to bring America back to horse and buggy days. The Donald makes a racist, misogynistic, homophobic statement and DeSantis says, “Here, hold my beer.” Honest!

DeSantis just banned fifty-four math text books for the publisher’s attempt at “indoctrinating” children. Apparently one of the book burners read about the transitive property and decided that Florida’s school children would have none of that. In the words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Sadly, ignorance is self-perpetuating as well as its own reward.

In an attempt to protect the children of Florida from being exposed to any discussion about sexuality, DeSatan has signed into law Florida House Bill 1557. The bill, also now forever known as the “Don’t say gay bill”, attempts to keep any discussion out of the classroom about sexual orientation. If a teacher is asked, they can’t tell.

According to the Governor in a Faux News interview, “In the state of Florida, we are not going to allow them to inject transgenderism into kindergarten.” Not content to let one stupid statement die on its own, the future of the Republican party opined, “First graders should not have woke gender ideology imposed in their curriculum, and that is what we are standing for.” That kind of deep analysis puts “if x=y and y=z , then x=z” to shame, doesn’t it?

Enter the mouse that roared. Disney World is known throughout the world as the most plain vanilla wholesome environment that can be imagined. There are princes and princesses and animals that talk and sing. In addition to being one of the largest employers in the state, they also bring in BILLIONS of dollars into the Florida economy. Say “Florida” to anyone in the U.S., particularly the ones under eighteen, and they will say “Disney World.”

As a rule, Disney avoids controversy and attempts to stay in the lane of “Mom and apple pie.” All well and good until their employees decided that HB1557 was nothing more than a hate bill and protested. Back and forth, back and forth and then Disney and all of their family (ABC, ESPN, A&E, Lifetime, The History Channel, and more) decided to support their LGBTQ employees.

Verbal salvos have been launched on both sides and the tiny country that is Disney World has declared war on ignorance and intolerance in Florida. Not to be upstaged, righteous Ron says, “Hold my beer”, and has attempted to get lifted the special considerations given to Disney when they offered to take 25,000 acres of Florida swamp and palmetto palms and turn it into a wonderland.

At this point it is easy to say that Mickey Mouse is more responsive to the needs of his constituents than the Florida legislature. Of course, the Florida legislature and Governor are much more insulated from their customer base than Disney World. While workers at Disney are carrying signs and holding rallies to protect their basic rights, the Republican party in Florida are nudging each other in the ribs and saying, “Hold my beer.”

Makes you wonder which entity is actually living in Fantasyland doesn’t it?

Alligators in the Subways

The sad, sad truth is that I can pen a story like this every day. It’s not that I’m that creative; it’s that the values our society place on human life offer me the opportunity every day to write about another tragedy that could have been prevented. This particular tragedy happened in the subways of New York.

Alligators in the subways has been a folk tale, legend, irrational fear for almost a century in New York city. As scary as confronting a prehistoric animal that is mostly teeth and claws in an enclosed space is, there is something even scarier and more likely to occur to the average commuter. It occurred again this week. A man armed with a gun, smoke bombs and other implements chosen to harm and harass, opened fire on the unsuspecting crowds of peaceful citizens on their way to work.

Thirty-three bullets were fired in a matter of seconds. In an enclosed space with limited ingress and egress, ten passengers were wounded. More than a dozen other passengers were treated for smoke inhalation or injuries sustained in the melee. The fact that no one died is a miracle. Counting on luck and poor marksmanship is not something the average commuter should have to presume in their daily regimen.

In a small twist of coincidence, the shooter began his rampage one day after President Biden signed the ghost gun bill into law. Hoping to do something to stem the tide of violence in our country, the President gathered support for putting an end to the industry that’s business model is to put untraceable weapons in the hands of those who would want to have an untraceable weapon. Let that marinate for a second.

Ironically, the subway shooter did his deed with a weapon that he had purchased legally and was traceable back to him. Within hours law enforcement knew who they were looking for. “The system works” you might say. No, not really. A man that had multiple run-ins with the law, clearly has a mental health issue and by the accounts of his social media was primed to act out, was allowed to own a gun legally. What compelling interest did he have that he needed a gun to resolve? Were the voices in his head yelling too loud?

The Universal background check hopes to put an end to all of the loopholes that gun purchasers are happily skipping through now. The House passed the bill last year and it is currently languishing in the Senate. A Gallup poll in 2018 proved that 92% of us want stronger gun laws. I will ask the question somewhat rhetorically because we all know why. “Why won’t the Senate Republicans vote for stronger control laws when their constituency clearly wants them to?”

If only every American parent had the ability to buy a Senator instead of a bulletproof backpack. Unfortunately buying a Senator takes big money and that factor alone allows the carnage to continue year after year after year. Guns are the leading cause of death for children under 19 in America. Every year 2100 children are killed and 1300 commit suicide by gun. How can these numbers be acceptable? How can our elected leaders continue to ignore the facts of our loose gun laws and not at least vote to keep guns out of the hands of the crazies?

Sadly, we all know that finding a Republican that would vote in favor of gun control legislation would be like finding an alligator in the subway. Possible, but…..

Lyin’ Ted

On a morning when we’re already finding the list of “What’s Wrong With America” way too long, we get an update from Ted Cruz.

Seems the Cruz was feeling lonely and unloved after his week of trashing Ketanji Brown Jackson in the Senate hearings. Shy wallflower that he is, the Cruz steeled his nerve and went on Faux News to declare that President Biden started the war on Ukraine. Before we deep dive into the wrongheadedness of this supposition let’s look at a little Lyin’ Ted Cruz history.

The Donald gave Cruz the Lyin’ Ted moniker in the 2016 Republican debates and the Cruz has done absolutely nothing to distance himself from the label. Professional prevaricator pundits will long argue whether Lyin’ Ted was lying at the Republican convention, or lying on 01/07/2021. It seems to me that you can’t have it both ways. Does the pot call the kettle black? In the Cruz’s own words:

I’m going to do something I haven’t done the entire campaign. I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump. This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology text book, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.”

Doubling down, the Cruz added: “Donald Trump is a serial philanderer and he boasts about it. This is not a secret, he’s proud of being a serial philander. I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery. How proud he is, describes his battle with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam. That’s a quote from the Howard Stern show. Do you want to spend the next five years with your kids bragging about infidelity?”

This quote becomes more interesting when we learn that the National Enquirer had accused the Cruz of having at least five different affairs while married to current wife Heidi.

Anyway, I am not aghast that the Cruz would feel like his staff members were supposed to handle every job he handed them, no matter how odious. I am aghast that there were five members of the female sex willing to allow his advances, six if you count his wife. Honestly, if you put the Cruz on one pedestal and Jabba the Hut on another pedestal, I could see women flocking to Jabba as their first choice.

There is something so slimy and smarmy about the Cruz that I can’t imagine that the more sensitive sex doesn’t pick up on it at first sight. I can only imagine that the five alleged trysts had a high dollar amount attached to them. I’m not putting the women down for charging, it’s the right thing to do. After all, I don’t expect the fellow that cleans septic tanks to do it for free, and the Cruz is less charming than a septic tank.

Where the story has a bit of a twist is that the head honcho at the Enquirer is supposed to be an old buddy of the Donald. Would the Donald have a friend print a salacious story about an opponent to gain an advantage? Of course. What’s weird is that after someone trys to damage you in the most horrible way possible, the Cruz is not only able to turn the other cheek but has been tripping over himself to give aid and comfort to the Donald ever since.

To be honest, I worry less about the Cruz’s frailties as a human than I do his belief that he is the anointed one from God. I knew he was a big Bible thumper, but when I heard his speech after the Iowa caucus stating that the polls weren’t going to determine who the next President was going to be, that God was, I started taking notice of his words more.

It’s one thing for the Donald to say every mean, hateful xenophobic thing he can to gin up his base, it’s another to think that God is talking directly to you. The fact that Cruz’s dad was out on the Evangelical circuit preaching that his son was the “anointed one” and that the righteous are poised to take back the wealth of the country to give to the priests is past scary to me. It is almost a call to revolution……

Which brings us to the revelation that the Cruz was up to his armpits in the 01/06 attempted coup. How a man can go from defending his wife’s ugliness to becoming a fawning sycophant is a serious deep dive into pathological behavior. I don’t have the tools to plumb those depths, but I can deep dive on the allegations that Biden started the Ukraine war. He didn’t .

Lyin’ Ted Cruz.

Congressional Sit In

Many of us of a certain age remember the time in our history that brave people from all walks of life took it upon themselves to make a change, even if their action posed a great peril to their well-being. The sit-ins of the 1960’s are an example of where otherwise powerless people took on the establishment hoping to effect a change in the status quo. The status quo at the time was that people of color were unable to sit at a public lunch counter and be served. Sixty years later we can marvel at how far we’ve come in some respects and be stupefied that we have so far to go.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a huge step in the right direction. It didn’t go far enough, but President Johnson and the members of Congress voting for the legislation should be commended for their effort. Unfortunately, racism still existed and there were plenty of congress critters that were willing to represent their constituency by enabling their hood-wearing voters to enact policies on the state level that disenfranchised people that didn’t see the world through their pure white prism.

The Dixiecrats were a group of right wing Democrats that eventually found that the Republican party was more to their liking. Sad to say that the people who so warmly embraced the progressive changes of FDR, who benefited the most from the Democrat party’s policies, decided to switch parties if black people were going to benefit from the same policies. “Cutting off your nose to spite your face comes to mind”, but that’s how racism works. It’s illogical, it’s un-American and definitely not Christian. It becomes crucial for the people who take an oath to “support and defend” the Constitution and all of it’s amendments to do their jobs.

Somebody in Congress has to do something besides throw their hands up in the air and say they’re powerless to make a change. These people are salaried at $174,000 a year, and for some reason they can’t seem to get something done as simple as a voting rights bill. A bill whose main feature is that it ensures all eligible voters the right to vote. Imagine going to your boss, in this case the American public, and telling your boss you can’t do your job. Your boss would probably say, “Well then I just can’t pay you the $174,000 a year”. Seems fair right? Cut off the pay until they start passing some legislation.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act was passed by the House in August of 2021. For some reason two “Democrat” Senators can’t seem to get behind allowing all eligible voters to vote. Looks like not all of the Dixiecrats left the party. Apparently the Dixiecrats left behind a couple of stragglers to gum up the works. Sadly there is not one Republican that is willing to cross party lines and do the right thing. Like lemmings they follow the lead of their intrepid czar, the Donald, who actually told the truth about voting once.

My goodness, we overturned prohibition, which was a law close to the hearts and minds of all of the right wing religious nuts of the day. Can’t we rally behind a basic American principle, that we all get a say in how we’re governed, and ensure the passage of the voting rights bills? Can we change the paradigm of “Some people don’t want some people to vote”?

While Congress is performing their own version of a sit-in with regard to action on voting rights we can only pray that some of them will be reminded of the struggle that took place to get us to where we are today.

If he was still with us, John Lewis could show them his scars.