SoINeedAName

Aug 252017
 

Maybe a little old-hat by now, but if you think I’m going to pass up a literal once-in-a-lifetime chance to revisit last Monday’s total solar eclipse here in KCMO – well, you’d need another think.  But I will try to find a few outlier photos and experiences.

From here in the KCMO Metro, we were just barely in the “Totality” path – and it was totally awesome!

Of course we all prepared for the main event in our own unique ways.

 

 

Well, at least those of us with IQs above room temperature …

(If you’re going to make yourself go blind, folk wisdom would have us believe there’s a more enjoyable way of doing it …)

But it was well worth it!  So let’s enjoy some of those gorgeous composite photos that everyone “Ooohhhs”  and “Aaahhhs” over.

 

 

And this is the only one I know the location of – it’s from Nashville:

And leave it to NASA to “WOW!” our socks off.  This GIF is taken from the Solar Dynamics Observatory

And here’s a composite of the International Space Station crossing the sun during the eclipse – it’s the “little H”

I shouldn’t say “little” because the Space Station weighs 450 tons and is about as wide as a football field

And thanks to NASA we were actually able to track the shadow of the moon as it crossed over the continental United States

Of course you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy the solar eclipse – or even have those special glasses to protect your eyes.  All you needed was a pinhole projector and a screen.  And people were inventive with both.

Colander

Frying Pan with Water

Binoculars

 

A set of binoculars is used backwards to project the moon passing in front of the sun onto a piece of paper during a partial solar eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017 in Chelsea, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

 

Your Hand

Even a Slice of Bread

But one of my favorite effects were the thousands of pinholes provided by the leaves from the woods that abut my backyard creating thousands of crescents.  (This is not my video – it’s from the 2012 eclipse – but it’s a very good facsimile to what I saw on my patio.)

Some folks were either lucky in both timing and location – like capturing jet contrails right before (or after – I can’t tell) totality …

While others worked literally for days to position themselves exactly where they needed to be

That mountain climber is photographer Ted Hesser who said it took him and  his team four days of practice before they found the perfect location to get that shot.  And as he proudly proclaimed, “We nailed it!”

(The Link to his Welcome – Home Page opens with that photo)

Maybe I shouldn’t have said “once-in-a-lifetime”.  There’s another total solar eclipse coming our way on April 8, 2024!  And from this NASA interactive map of its path, you can see it’s not all that from KCMO.  Are any of you close by to its path?

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2024Apr08Tgoogle.html

 

Share
Aug 182017
 

I honestly believe that this week will mark the downfall – and removal – of Twitler from office.  The utter ugliness of the “Unite the Right” rallies this past  Friday night and Saturday ending in tragedy when a homegrown domestic terrorist murdered Heather Heyer, an innocent protestor, is something we’ve all witnessed.

Twitler’s abysmal response to it leads me to believe this is the beginning of his end-days.  But there are so many tangents involving this horrific week I decided that it’s too difficult to find a single, unifying thread for a relatively short post – so I’ve chosen to do a potpourri approach to capture some of the highlights (there were some), lowlights (there were many) and even a few that hopefully will make you smile if not chuckle out loud.

As we know, the ostensible “reason” the white supremacists, KKK and neo-Nazis united to put on their rallies was the removal of a statue honoring Robert E. Lee.  And yesterday Twitler announced he is foursquare against “the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments”.

This I find very odd because all those Confederate statues and monuments celebrate LOSERS!  I thought Twitler did not like LOSERS!

But I did enjoy the inventive approach of someone in Phoenix decorating a Confederate monument there (Phoenix?  That surprised me, too) with a “2nd Place – Participant” banner, adding “You Lost – Get Over It”

We’ve all seen the photos and films of the Friday night Tiki torch rally …

Now I will admit they’ve gotten rid of the sheets and updated their uniforms, but …

I think we all knew that Twitler’s reading of a ghostwriter’s measured remarks from a Teleprompter on Monday in response to the domestic terrorism could not last.  And sure enough, by Tuesday he was again revealing his true white supremacist self with that “Both Sides Do It” crap while claiming that some of the Nazis are “very fine people”.

So let’s take a closer look at what I thought we all believed were the “Good Guys”

Yep – turns out we WERE right … change that to CORRECT.  And again, the “Good Guys” had some inventive responses

And yet Trump still doesn’t seem to understand he’s backing LOSERS!

So to help him out I think it behooves us to provide him with a very, VERY simple algorithm flowchart that even he should be able to understand

On the bright side, it seems the media folks have finally realized they should have never engaged in all their false equivalency trying to normalize the evil that is Trump-incarnate during his campaign against Hillary …

Hopefully they – and at least some republicans – will read the tea leaves and recognize their failings …

And rid our country of this pestilence …

So reasonable voices, like those at the University of Virginia candlelight vigil honoring Heather Heyer,  may rise again …

Share
Aug 112017
 

Undoubtedly we all had a smile on our faces this past Wednesday when Taran Singh Brar inflated a 30-foot tall chicken that eerily looked like Trump on The Ellipse just south of the White House.  And of course it was no fluke that the bird, nicknamed “Don the Chicken”, sported a shiny gold bouffant, cartoonish angry bushy eyebrows, a bright red wattle and hand gestures that all perfectly mimicked The Donald.

Singh Brar, a documentary filmmaker, had spent weeks analyzing the angles of the numerous permanent cable cameras that are aimed at the White House so they include the Washington Monument in the background to decide on the perfect location that would keep the bird visible to the camera.

Then it took him months of negotiation with the National Park Service and the Secret Service to get the necessary permits to put up the giant chicken on The Ellipse.

And it took Brar days to transport the inflatable chicken from his home in Orange County, CA to DC in his U-Haul that he calls a “mobile hatching facility”.

He arrived at The Ellipse at 8:45 on Wednesday, and by 10:00 AM it had gained its own hashtag: #TrumpChicken

And people couldn’t resist the opportunity to weigh in at mocking The Donald via Don the Chicken – so let’s enjoy a few.

I think this Twitter person is feeling pretty cocky, don’t you?  Or maybe she has been cooped up too long and decided to just wing it.  I thought for sure she’d comment about the perpetrator running afowl of the law.

But now that I’ve tossed the Pun Gauntlet down, I’m sure she’ll be hatching up a few more to best me.  But I’m not going to get my feathers ruffled about it.

(You really didn’t think I was going to pass up an opportunity like that, did you?  Feel free to add a few more in Comments.)

This isn’t the first time the inflatable Trump Chicken has made an appearance.  The 30-foot one was at the Chicago Tax Protest Day back in April, while a smaller 10-foot version was at the Capitol.

In fact the original inspiration for the bird was to mock Trump for being a chicken to release his Tax Returns.  It was designed by a Seattle-based artist and originally used to commemorate this as the Chinese Year of the Rooster at a shopping mall in Taiyuan that I wrote about last December.

Here’s Singh Brar explaining what currently inspired him (At least that’s what an article said – there’s no Closed Caption):

Singh Brar setup a GoFundMe page to raise the $1,500 needed to purchase the bird ($1,300) and buy its insurance.  If you would like one of your very own, you can get the shorter 10-foot model (not counting shipping) on eBay for $500.

And of course you knew someone was not going to let this ready-made pun go by …

And another Tweet riffing on Trump’s “Fire and Fury” incendiary rhetoric …

And I did find what may be the ultimate inspiration from an appearance Trump made in SNL skit way back in 2004 – now try unseeing this!

But Taran Singh Brar is not going to rest on his laurels.  He’s already working on a bigger project involving multiple blow-up chickens reviewing Russian military weapons around the Washington Memorial to mock Trump’s fondness for both Putin, rallies and military parades.

As Singh Brar notes:

“Trump causes so much stress and chaos in people’s lives, something cute like this that resonates brings a lot of joy.”

AMEN to that, and a hearty “THANK YOU for MAKING OUR DAY BRIGHTER!”

 

 

 

Share
Aug 042017
 

Anthony Scaramucci enjoys the distinction of being the shortest-serving White House Communications director in the history of that position, which was first created during the Nixon administration.

Some contend that Jack Koehler actually had the shortest tenure, serving as Reagan’s director for only one week after being forced to resign when it was learned he had belonged to the Deutsches Jungvolk, a Nazi youth organization.  But although “The Mooch” announced his acceptance of post on 21st – his official start date wasn’t until the 25th.  So his six days of “service” makes his the shortest tenure.

Many folks were actually floored that Mooch would even take the position.  In fact it was so rare that it marked the …

@Regrann from @haroldpolitics – The Mooch!!!! #AnthonyScaramucci #TheMooch #TrumpTeam #MAGA – #regrann

A post shared by AGirlHasNoPresident (@agirlhasnopresident) on

One of the main reasons he got the Communications Director post is he has a huge fondness for Trump, as is plain to see in how he imitates his mentor’s mannerisms:

Based on his demeanor and past history, it’d be reasonable to conclude that The Mooch actually wanted to be Trump’s Mini-Me

Plus he himself is a braggart and very wealthy ex-hedge fund manager who made his fortune via shady deals (starting to sound like anyone else you know?) who not only had a way with … hmmm … colorful foul language like Trump, but also enjoyed a special bond with The Donald

So let’s do a brief review of how he got off on the wrong foot when HE called Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker and unloaded a expletive-laden rant, the likes of which will not be seen for a very long time – if ever.

For the record, he dropped the “F-Bomb” five times in his brief phone call, and used a vulgar reference to the male anatomy three times – one in reference to Bannon’s … hmmm … lack of yoga skills.  But only said “shit” once – and never made any references to female anatomy, unlike Trump.

And although Trump was initially very pleased with his vulgar phone call language, that waned when that story started to eclipse Trump, who must ALWAYS be the center of attention.  So when Gen. Kelly came on board as Chief of Staff this past Monday, Mooch was history before lunch, joining Sean “Spicey” Spicer and Reince Priebus on the street.

And it reaffirms what has been a hallmark at Trump’s White House: a revolving door policy when it comes to his staff.

At least Mooch will now be able to spend more “quality time” with his newborn baby boy and family.  Oh, wait … I forgot that not only did he miss the birth of his son a week ago, but his wife Deidre has filed for divorce.

Oh well, at least he’ll have time to buckle-down and work on that juicy tell-all book article paragraph of all the White House secrets he learned during his very, very brief stay.

But it did make Mooch the poster-boy of how FUBAR the Trump White House actually is when you realize that son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was put in charge of bringing peace to the Middle East (quit that laughing), encouraged Trump to bring Scaramucci on board because he thought Mooch would be a great hire.  (That kind of character assessment skill by Trump’s crew will make you sleep better at night.)

Obviously the Mooch fiasco was just too rich of a drama at the “NO CHAOS – Trust Me” White House for the Internet to ignore.  So let’s enjoy some of the better takes on the ongoing saga of serious self-inflicted snafus.

And to burnish Trump’s own renown for being a disloyal, self-centered SOB, just remember how he has “embellished” Mooch’s resume:

But at least Mooch won’t leave empty handed:

And there is some other good news for the rest of us:

It’s understandable, given how embarrassing this whole episode has been, if Mooch wants to go incognito for a while …

(•_•)

( •_•) <–  ⌐■-■

(⌐■_■)

Bottom line, I think we can all agree that since Trump is incapable to demonstrate a “pivot” and actually act ”Presidential” (or even like an adult), Scaramucci’s firing from the most dysfunctional White House EVAH amounts to Mooch ado about nothing.

 

Share
Jul 272017
 

It’s not so far-fetched to fear we are headed for a “Saturday Night Massacre Redux” only with a different cast of characters than Nixon brought us.

So how did we get to this sad, disturbing juncture in our history?  Clearly it all pivots around one Donald J. Trump, our minority-vote president and his desire to end Robert Mueller’s investigation as Special Counsel.

[BACKGROUND: Although the terms “special counsel”, “special prosecutor” and “independent counsel” tend to be used interchangeably, they actually are not.  Following the constitutional crisis caused by Nixon’s malfeasance, the Office of Independent Counsel was established by law in 1978 with the Ethics in Government Act.  That law directed a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, to appoint the counsel or special prosecutor.

[That special prosecutor was typically given plenary powers with no checks or balances to contain it which led to far-afield investigations best exemplified by Ken Starr’s obsessive persecution of the Clintons that began as an investigation of a real estate deal, but exponentially exploded and segued to a stain on a little blue dress.

[There was bipartisan agreement those powers were too broad, and so the Independent Counsel Act was not renewed, and it expired in 1999.  This led to the enactment of the Special Counsel Regulations, which empowers Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Those regulations are spelled out here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2001-title28-vol2/pdf/CFR-2001-title28-vol2-part600.pdf ]

 

HOW CAN TRUMP GET RID OF MUELLER – OR AT LEAST STYMIE HIS INVESTIGATION

There are three broad forces that can interfere with Mueller’s investigation resulting in it either being terminated outright, or having it stymied to the point of futility: [1] Trump; [2] a high-ranking Justice Department official (generally the Attorney General, but since Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has recused himself, it falls to the Deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein) or [3] Congress.

 

[1]

So, the main question is can Trump fire Mueller?  The short answer is “Yes”.  Under Article II of our Constitution, the president is given full plenary prosecution power, therefore all federal prosecutors work for the president.

But the special counsel regulations are very precise on how he or she can be removed:

The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General. The Attorney General [or acting Attorney General] may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies. The Attorney General shall inform the Special Counsel in writing of the specific reason for his or her removal.

Of note is that if Rosenstein were to invoke that authority, the regulations also require him to notify the House and Senate Judiciary Committees as well as the ranking minority member of those committees.  It’s prescient that that the authors of the Regulations included that proviso, which was specifically added to address the possibility that the majority party Chairpersons would be of the same party as the president, and either spineless enough or unwilling to act.  Sound familiar?

And Deputy AG Rosenstein testified he would do so only for “good cause”.  Based on his testimony, the possibility that Trump could convince him that Mueller had acted in such a manner to justify his removal was not only off the radar for Deputy AG Rosenstein, it wasn’t even conceivable to him.

Not only does Mueller enjoy an impeccable, bipartisan reputation and has not engaged in any inappropriate behavior that would justify his removal for “good cause” – but he was also granted a waiver by the Justice Department to lead the investigation despite a possible conflict of interest stemming from the fact that members of his law firm represent some of the people that are a focus of the investigation, including former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

And although the Trump team is actively digging to try to find dirt on Mueller and his team, it’s universally agreed that Trump’s whining about campaign donations given by investigators to Democrats does not constitute a “conflict of interest” – and there’s case law to support that.  Sorry, Donnie!

So, if Trump were to direct Rosenstein to fire Mueller, just as Nixon directed AG Elliot Richardson to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Rosenstein would most likely resign like Richardson did, or Trump would fire him, like Nixon did with William Ruckelshaus, the next in line at the DOJ – which he has the power to do.  And then just like Nixon, Trump could work his way down the chain of command to try to get to a toady like Nixon’s Robert Bork, who did fire Cox (and then that night was promised the next seat on SCOTUS by Nixon).

Or Trump, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, could appoint an interim attorney general – but it would have to be someone who was previously confirmed by the Senate for a Federal position.

(As noted, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) has made it clear that Democrats will not allow Trump to use a recess appointment to insert a lackey AG to his liking, as Democrats will use the pro forma session option to prevent the Senate from going into the 10-day recess required to permit recess appointments.)

Or Trump could be brazen enough to actually repeal the Special Counsel Regulations and then fire Mueller himself.  Back in 1999 when the regulations were put into place, that scenario was so unthinkable that is was not even addressed.  But today with Trump, who has no moral rudder, it’s a distinct possibility.

 

[2]

This is the actual “Appointment of Special Counsel” statement by Deputy AG Rosenstein addressing Mueller’s appointment: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/appointment-special-counsel

And the actual enumeration of Mueller’s mandate:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/967231/download

It is widely believed that Mueller will broadly interpret the phrase “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”  Sorry, Donnie!

But it must be remembered that under the Special Counsel Regulations, the AG (or Deputy AG) retains the power to not only limit the scope of the investigation, but the Justice Department alone retains the right to either pursue the findings from Mueller’s investigation and bring criminal charges – or not.  It’s hard to believe that Rosenstein would turn a blind eye if Mueller’s findings were compelling, but I no longer rule out any possibility.

 

[3]

Congress itself could seriously interfere – or prevent – the pursuit of criminal charges resulting from Mueller’s investigation by granting immunity to individuals in exchange for testimony.  As you know, former national security adviser Michael Flynn has actively sought such immunity, and that could well make Flynn’s prosecution impossible.

If you recall, Oliver North was criminally convicted by an independent counsel during Reagan’s Iran-contra scandal.  However, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out his conviction because Congress had granted him immunity.  And even though that immunity didn’t directly cover action by the independent counsel, the court found that the special prosecutor could have benefited from “the fruits” of his testimony before Congress.

 

 WHAT HAPPENS IF TRUMP SUCCEEDS IN GETTING RID OF MUELLER

The two most likely ways that Trump could get rid of Mueller is if he were able to find his “Bork” (now I know you’re thinking, given his anatomical … hmm, constraints related to his teeny, tiny hands, he already has problems finding his “Bork” – but let’s move on) in some form, and have him or her fire Mueller.  The other is that he actually revokes the Special Counsel Regulations (which he theoretically could do) and fire him outright by himself.

One would hope that Rep. Adam Schiff (D) is correct that Congress would immediately enact an Independent Commission to investigate the same area that Mueller was pursuing.  The problem is that it would not have the power to press criminal or civil charges – that still remains the domain of the Justice Department.

It’s also possible that Mueller could file a lawsuit seeking to vacate his firing, arguing that the Special Counsel Regulations are pointless if there’s no way to enforce them.  But clearly that, like so much of what Trump is churning up, is unchartered waters.

But assuming the worst-case scenario and Mueller is removed, then what?

We need to remember that the FBI has already launched a formal counterintelligence investigation of its own into the meddling by Russia in the 2016 elections, and it’s over a year old.  It will continue and there’s nothing Trump can do to stop it.

The FBI investigation is focused on “if any American citizen acted in concert with the Kremlin to commit acts of espionage, obstruction of justice, interference with the federal election process and other crimes.”

Clearly the aspect that has Trump the most worried is the money trail, and Mueller has the power to obtain his income tax returns.  Just as Deep Throat advised concerning Nixon and the Watergate investigation, “follow the money” that still holds true today.

Mueller’s firing would definitely impede the progress of the investigation, because as Special Counsel he has broad investigatory powers including access to the Treasury Department’s FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) that concentrates on money laundering, as well as the IRS and other executive departments.  So, Mueller’s team has focused on federal criminal acts, while FBI has focused more on espionage.

No doubt Mueller and his team have given some thought to contingency plans if he were to be terminated, as his position largely stems from a political rather than legal aegis.  It depends on how far Trump is willing to ignore not only the rule of law, but the traditions of his office.  If past is prologue, this is not an encouraging sign.

Mueller’s team has surely documented everything they’ve done, creating a large body of work product which Congress could demand in the event he was removed.  It’s highly doubtful that Trump, or even a bevy of his lackeys, would – or even could – destroy all that evidence.

And even then, Mueller and his team could be called to testify before Congress to share what they had found to date.  So there are mechanisms in place to protect and see that their findings are disseminated to people who could act on that information.

The main concern is that if somehow Mueller were removed, that Congress would continue in its current format of facilitating Trump’s endless outrages and make no effort to take proper action and impeach him.  The fact that it’s very possible that Republicans will continue to put party before country is the real risk our nation faces.

 

RESOURCES

 

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2001-title28-vol2/pdf/CFR-2001-title28-vol2-part600.pdf

http://www.businessinsider.com/can-trump-fire-special-counsel-robert-mueller-pardon-2017-7

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2017/live-updates/trump-white-house/sessions-to-testify-before-senate-intelligence-committee/how-trump-could-have-mueller-ousted-as-special-counsel/

http://theweek.com/articles/713648/what-happens-trump-fires-mueller

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-07-24/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fires-special-prosecutor-robert-mueller

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/343149-what-will-happen-if-trump-fires-mueller-or-pardons

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/impeach-donald-trump-if-he-fires-robert-mueller/534585/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/13/opinions/what-would-happen-if-trump-tried-to-fire-mueller-callan/index.html

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcmanus-mueller-fire-20170723-story.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-20/trump-move-to-fire-mueller-likely-would-trigger-purge-at-justice

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-sessions-scenarios-idUSKBN1AA2U9?il=0

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/07/what_happens_if_mueller_s_axed_an_interview_with_tim_weiner.html

 

Share
Jul 142017
 

Trump’s SOP on how he deals with his unending lies is Deny, Discredit then Dismiss.  And the sad thing is his 35% base buy into this “Nothingburger” approach.

Well, dear Trumpkins, Junior finally has provided a red-hot Smoking Gun with his forced release of his “chain of emails” proving he colluded with a “Russian government attorney”.  (Sorry Twitler – it’s right in the body of Junior’s email.)

Time magazine agrees that the emails’ “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” and Junior’s “I love it” response proves he’s been caught Red-Handed!

And it’s plainly a piss-poor defense for the Trump gangster clan to go with

“Well, we tried to collude, but we were so incompetent we got nothing from it”

So let’s enjoy some of the reactions to this remarkable revelation …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom line:

 

 

 

Share