614. Oppression

  1. the act of subjugating by cruelty, force, etc or the state of being subjugated in this way (by pressing against)

I was thinking of this word as the relative humidity level rose yesterday to 90% while the air temperature hovered in the 90’s, Fahrenheit, that is, not Prince’s purple era. Weather reporters use a variety of terms to describe the levels of humidity. Comfortable is a nice one. Then comes moist. Sticky. Maple syrup sticky. And finally wet concrete encapsulating with only a straw to breathe through, i.e., drowning. The dogs days of summer do feel cruel until one gets into air conditioned nirvana, and then, ahhhh, all that salty sweat chills you down. It’s oppressive, for sure, until the fall arrives.

Oppression is not just a relative humidity concept, though. It gets at hostility between people groups as well. Like too much water in the air can slow folks down, too much money, religion, politics, crime, noise, pollution, regulation, etc. can likewise become oppressive. Humans slow into a torpid state under the weight of oppressions. If one does not jump quickly like the frog thrust into boiling water, then that one will die incrementally, one degree at a time. 


During the horrors of Hitler’s Final Solution and his fantasy of a Third Reich, many people groups were oppressed, not just the Jews. Other undesirables included the Gypsies or Roma. Thought to have emigrated out of (E)gypt, gypsies were believed to be inferior people, non grata because they were non-Aryan. They had the wrong blood and were nomadic and mentally defective. The Nazis were all about ‘blood and soil’. Blacks and Poles were also considered like Gypsies to be “sub human”, deserving to be sterilized and/or murdered.

Jehovah’s Witnesses were another lesser known group of undesirables because their faith forbade saluting the flag or shouting “Heil Hitler”. No matter their blood lines, these folks weren’t good sheep and refused to worship the state, its megalomaniacal leader, or The Reich’s hypnotic symbols. Off to prison they went because they refused Hitler’s twisted delusions.

Homosexuals were undesirable as well. Not much has changed, so it seems to me. Because they did not fit the bogus Aryan mythology, they had to be herded into concentration camps and eventually exterminated. They had to wear pink triangles in concentration camps to mark them as homosexuals. Remember Jews had to wear yellow Stars of David. Strange isn’t it, that any extra markers were needed to identify these obviously undesirable people. If they were so obviously inferior, wouldn’t that have been self evident? Nope. The Nazis got confused when they met blonde haired, blue eyed non Aryans, like Poles. They would ship these kids back to Germany and have them raised by good Aryans. Shallow, yes? Ironic twist: their unbreakable code was broken by a homosexual, Alan Turing, father of the modern day computer.

Intellectuals were also undesirable in Germany and Austria. To think differently than the State was suspicious and finally a death sentence. Actually, their crime was simply thinking. The Nazi party line was unintellectual emotionalism, mostly fantasies. Ultimately the horrible treatment of intellectuals led to a brain drain in the Reich. The intellectuals oppressed out of Nazi held lands were some of the very folks who developed the atomic bomb and other weapons that ended the war. Einstein is the best known genius run out of the Reich lands.

Let’s not forget Communists. They were suspect because they were not easily incorporated into the one true faith of German National Socialism. Plus the Germans considered Russians to be sub humans, and most communists hailed from Russia back then.

Mentally and physically disabled, or as the Nazis like to say “defective”, folks were sterilized or euthanized. So tidy and scientifically unsound. Another measure of how shallow the Nazis were. If you were deaf, you’d be sterilized. “Hear me? No kids!!” Alcoholics, drug addicts, and criminals met the same fate in concentration camps.

And the first ones to get rounded up and oppressed? Why the free press, of course. The old saying goes “Truth is the first casualty of war”. The enemy of the state, hmmm, that sounds familiar. Judges and lawyers were also gathered up for arrest. Journalists and folks who knew the law had to be silenced in Hitler’s Reich. Why they might teach others to think and then write about their thoughts.

Then all non Aryans except the Chinese and Japanese were undesirable. Good old xenophobia by Adolf. He had some grudging respect for their ancient civilizations and made them “honorary Aryans”.  Megalomaniacs are nothing if not inconsistent.

I’m sure I have skipped over some other groups like Roman Catholics. They had a higher calling than the Third Reich, which was intolerable to Hitler and his henchmen, whose ultimate goal was a dechristianized Germany after the war. There was only room for one god, Hitler.

Why the history lesson, Burrito?  Let’s see. Today we have a virulent xenophobic streak running through many of our elected officials. Some of the targets are the same as they were for Hitler– Blacks, the free press, protectors of the law, intellectuals, and anything resembling socialism.  However we have some new player in the scapegoat pen. Muslims, of course. They need to be locked out of our country. Illegal aliens, especially Mexicans, also have to be terrorized. They are sub humans, after all. Lock them up. Generalize from the few and demonize them all. Transgendered folks took on unprovoked lightning bolts right from the jump of this new administration as a potential threat to military esprit de corps. No data needed here, just visceral gut check. The order came from the top down, not from the operational level. One more solution for which no problem existed.

Of course the old “tough on crime” battle cry continues, as it did for Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy. It’s easy to hammer at groups that have little support and no real constituency such as inmates, alcoholics, and addicts. Remember the great opioid crisis response promised on the campaign trail?  Yeah, the tax cut and deregulations and the end of universal insurance access needed to be tended to first, I guess.  Hell, for the price of a good ego massage parade in D.C. you could actually help many of the least of the citizenry.

Well, oppression is still with us. Probably like humidity it always will be. Still, a guy can run his dehumidifier and hope for better times. Fall is coming.



613. Stand Up

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“Stand up!” as a command implies a previous state of slacking or sitting when an erect posture is called for by the current situation. “Stand up!” means to get ready to go, man up, accept the consequences of one’s actions. [Long time readers are already sighing because they know where this post is likely to end up, but there could be a twist.]

 In the military, however, there is the order to “Stand down!” What a strange contortion of language. I suppose it only makes sense if you are on a ladder or up on a higher level, then you can maintain an erect posture while descending…stand downward.

1. to withdraw or resign from a position or office.
“he stood down as leader of the party”
2. to relax or cause to relax after a state of readiness.
“if something doesn’t happen soon, I guess they’ll stand us down”
3. to leave the witness stand after testifying in court.
And then we have the particular type of comedy called Stand Up, where a comic stands in front of his/her audience and delivers a monologue of jokes.Image result for robin williams doing stand up pictures
Many stand up comics, I believe, are very wounded folks who found humor to be a temporary healing balm for their mental health issues. No doubt many convert ADHD or mood disorders into this coping mechanism. Of course, we are all familiar with Robin Williams’ mania and drug use, and his suicide.
There were no horrific stories of abuse and deprivation in Robin Williams’s background. He grew up in an affluent household; his father was a senior executive with the Ford Motor Company. His education was conventional and he was a classically trained actor.
In his own words Williams shared,  “All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are.”  Reel Rundown.
He is missed for sure.  All the Aladdin voices. Mrs. Doubtfire. Mork. Dead Poet’s Society. And many other performances will keep his spirit relevant for many years.
There is also Richard Pryor’s story of a truly horrific upbringing.Image result for richard pryor pictures
Richard Pryor’s mother was a prostitute, his father was a pimp, and he was raised in a brothel in Peoria, Illinois. He was sexually abused as a child and regularly beaten by his violent grandmother.
Despite his enormous success, the seeds of the demons planted in his childhood were growing vigorously. He self-medicated with cocaine, massive amounts of it. During one drug-induced haze in 1980 he doused himself with rum and set himself on fire in what he later admitted was a suicide attempt. He survived but his health deteriorated and he died of a heart attack in December 2005 at the age of 65. Reel Rundown.
I saw Richard Pryor open up for Earth, Wind and Fire long ago. He was hysterical and rocked almost 20,000 fans at the Capital Center into contortions of laughter. What a guy! If his demons were the size of his talents, no wonder he struggled.
Other self destructive comics come to mind. I hate to mention Bill Cosby, but his story as a sex addict is compelling. Why does his household name, America’s Dad, seem so sickeningly wrong now? He had it all, and even chose to lecture others about morality until his accusers silenced his hypocrisy. I have no idea what psychic hole Cosby was attempting to fill with his unwanted sexual dominance of so many women. I can only surmise that it was deep and wide enough to turn America’s Dad into America’s Creep. I have to conclude that he was/is very sick in his secrets. Unlike Pryor and Williams, though, he hurt others instead of just himself. What a tragedy!Related imageMedia attention, money, and material success do not close the soul hole that shattered souls share. They are like fancy carpets stretched over holes in the floor. Eventually even the home owner forgets about the hidden hole and missteps. Kerplushrumble!! In one second he/she is in the cob webbed cellar that’s locked from the outside. 
Here’s the inevitable reveal:  the mash up of Stand Up comic and Stand Up, as in take responsibility for your actions, and Stand Down, as in resign from office, well they all congeal like chicken fat at the top of a soup named Chicken Rice Trumpling. We are all overly familiar with his demons by now. He can’t keep his zipper or his mouth shut. In his narcissistic fervor for universal admiration, he creates his undoing. He tries to be funny but can’t carry a joke to save his life. He thinks he’s funny, but comics don’t. He is the west’s answer to Kim Young Fool, and he bathes in the awe of his zombie nation. His mission is not to entertain an audience but to work his audience into a holy lather to worship him. Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam.
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Stand up, as in stand up guy, does not apply to the draft dodging, invoice denying, five deferments, five bankruptcies, countless affairs, three marriages, and endless knife slashing at his perceived enemies. He’s more of a kneel down guy when it comes to his adversaries like Putin. Big Donnie’s tough guy “You’re Fired!” routine is well known, but so is the fact that he cannot deliver real hard news to real opponents. He fires people on Twitter or has some underling confront others. Why? He’s a coward, a pampered, richly indulged coward.Related image
Like Cosby he will have to stand down and likely finish his time in prison or Nixonian exile, the fate of deposed dictators. Maybe Vlad will welcome him back to Moscow since they have such a close relationship. I suspect he will also be in a witness box soon enough as his house of cards tumbles in on him. Perhaps his moral bankruptcies and financial bankruptcies will finally catch up to him, rendering him politically and legally bankrupt for the season finale.Image result for nixon in exile pictures
In any event it was no surprise when I read today that a real hero has excluded the Pettiest Pretender in Chief Ever from his funeral while inviting Obama and Bush to speak over his flag draped casket. John McCain will have the last word after all, Donnie Boy. Perhaps DJT does not like his heroes or his criminals that didn’t get captured, but it looks like the Stones song he has repeatedly played after cease and desist orders have been lodged, “you can’t always get what you want” will actually ring true for Donnie.
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Real men don’t need sycophantic ticks attached to their butt cheeks to feel adequate. Petty dictators do. 

612. Monster vs. Monster

Off in a blur Rageb raced north toward Loch Ness. No Yankee infidel was going to insult Nessie on his Uber / fake Rolex watch. Plus, it would be around $300 American money for the one way trip. Perhaps this Dandy Yankee would pay him for the return trip too. He seemed like very silly putty in Rageb’s greasy hands.Map from Edinburgh, United Kingdom to Loch Ness, United Kingdom

Joel grew concerned at the speed of the minivan and the mood of Rageb. “Uh, Rageb, we don’t have to go all mano y mano, my good mano. I am willing to concede that I may have overstepped back in Edinburgh, but you must understand that the burritospecial is even referred to in the Book of Revelation as the final plague when the last tuba plays and what have you, etcetera.Image result for uber minivan pictures

Rageb, “Joel, I am Pakistani, remember that from last post. Ve don’t read your book of God. Ve have Allah, Mohammed and Nessie, so ve don’t need no burritospecial or Revelation or tubas. Pffft. Hock Man! I vood spit at you but it vood come back in the vindow and slime my vinyl seats.”

Joel, “Oh, right.”

Rageb, “Anyvay, I know vhat you are attempting to do now. I have vatched many thriller movies vhere the hostage tries to befriend the cab driver and persvade him to release him, the hostage that is. Let me tell you, Meester Joel, such vill not be the outcome of this movie.”Image result for cab driver in minivan pictures

“Vell, I mean well, we don’t have to be so hostile, Rageb. I’d like to be able to give you a good Uber rating when this is all over.”

Rageb, “That vood be so kind of you, Joel. My Uber rating is high 80 %, of vich I am very proud.”

“So tell me about these interesting signs we are racing by. What is that one with the bent figure and, is that a cane he’s holding?”

“Ve are near nursing home. Sign says bevare of slow humans.”Image result for scottish road signs for elderly people

“Nifty. I’ll have to mention that to the board of Menno Haven when I get home.”

“Oh, HOLY SHEEP!! Dees sheep gates drive me crazy!! On the road to Inverness there are more sheeps than peoples. This vill cost you more, you know. I charge for time and miles.”Related image

“But, Rageb, you kidnapped me. Under international law and the Geneva Convention, I do not have to  pay mileage and time charges. It’s one or the other. Trust me on this one, Rageb. I’ve been tested by bikers on ferries and found to be true to maritime law as well as hostage custody case law.  I was the inspiration for Maxwell Smart in the t.v. series, Get Smart. Perhaps you’ve seen it?”Image result for maxwell smart headshots

“Joel, I recognize no law vonce a man insults Nessie and Sonny Bono. I may have to engage in honor killing to avenge my people and their Scotch honor. So, maybe you vant to get smart.”

Minivan shifts into low gear. “Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm”

“Rageb, why are you slowing down? Have I offended you yet again my thin, brown skinned Scotch captor?”  Then thoughtfully to himself, “That sounds like the name of an interesting drink… scotch, Diet Coke, kahlua, a little seltzer, and a lime.”

“Vell, that is beside the point, Joel. Read the sign.”

“Caution: feral goats ahead. What in the world? What are feral goats, Rageb, and when will we be arriving at Loch Ness. My traveling companions would like to know.”Image result for feral goat signs in scotland

“Vart do you mean, Joel? Vhere are these companions of yours?”

“Well, they are in the taxi that has been following us for the last hour and a half. My good friends Al and Alice Marsupial, good Republicans from Orrstown. Big Trump supporters.”

“Vhat have you done, Joel? You are wiolating hostage protocol.”

“Actually I’ve been texting them on and off, Rageb. You have underestimated me. As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, ‘first you must defeat your enemy in his mind, then on the battlefield.'”Image result for sun tzu pictures

“This is vhere you are wrong, Joel.” Stopping the minivan and lowering Joel’s window.

“What are you doing, Rageb? Why are we stopped, and my window, what are you doing?”

“I am about to call the feral billy goats vith my mating call horn. Vhen they are done ravaging you, you will understand The Art of War, my hostage friend. Sun Tzu’s cousin Mohammed Cilinski wrote, “‘Never tell your enemy that you are vinning.’ Now, shall I call in the billies?”Image result for goats on car pictures

“No, no. I’ll do whatever you ask, Rageb. Please, the horror, the horror. What have I done. I fear I’ve booked passage on the Hindenburg.”

“Text your marsupial friends and tell them to remain three kilometers behind my van or else I vill call in the vildlife to wiolate their friend.”

“I’m texting, Rageb. Thank you. Is there anything else I can do? Super size that order?”

“You can keep your big American mouth shut until ve reach Loch Ness.”Image result for hindenburg photos

“Of course, Rageb. Thank you for sparing my life, I uh hope we can get back to an even keel…”

“Joel. Shut up!”

“Of course, Rageb.”

“Ahh, you spoke again. Now, final time:  Shut up!”


“Joel, you are speaking?”

“No, Rageb, I was praying.”

“Okay, you may pray for your infidel soul.”

[90 minutes later]The loch on a cloudy day, with ruins of a castle in the foreground

“Joel, vake up. Ve are here at Loch Ness. Now ve vill see vhat is more scarier: your burritospecial or my Nessie.”

“Rageb, I don’t understand. How can we prove which is more dastardly. Nessie hasn’t been seen in forty years and burrito is back in the States.”

Parking the van. “Call him on your tablet. Get him on Facetime and ve vill see who vins this face off.”

Breathlessly the Marsupials rush the van. “Joel, are you alright. We lost contact 90 minutes ago. Should we call in an airstrike. I’m sure Donald will approve it.”

“No, we can’t risk it. Besides, this day has been a long time coming. I have to face the inevitable.” Dials up burrito in the U.S.A. “beep, beep, beep.”

Marsupials, “What can we do?”

Joel, “Find Nessie and prepare for Armageddon!”Image result for armageddon images

Marsupials put on their MAGA ballcaps and begin chanting, “Drain the Loch, Drain the Loch. Ness her up. Ness her up. Gild the Hall. Gild the Hall.”

Suddenly and unscientifically the Loch began to empty out as if the earth had been cleft open by the very hand of God. Slurrrrrppppp. In less than a minute it was empty, leaving only a mud covered body about a hundred leagues beyond shore.

Rageb, “Now ve vill see who is most powerful villain in vorld– your Face time boy or my Nessie. “Image result for Austin powers images

Slowly the mud pile began to squirm and move about. It was clear a huge living creature lay beneath the slimy detritus.

Joel had made contact finally with burritospecial in Chambersburg. He would now come face to face with the legend of Loch Ness. As the mud pile thing thrashed in its slipperiness, the Inverness Volunteer Fire Department showed up with a super tanker.

Rageb ordered them to wash down the creature. “Now ve vill see, ve vill see now.”Image result for sonny bono images

As the fire hose washed away cubic yards of grey brown mud, a human figure emerged in a white leisure suit, singing I Got You Babe. “My God,” exclaimed all present as they fell on reverential knees, “it’s Saint Sonny Bono!! Someone call Cher.”






611. Loch Ness/ Hot Mess

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Coming through the gate at Edinburgh Airport, many of the employees began to turn around to inspect Joel ever so closely. One whispered to the next, and gasping nods began to erupt as he approached customs. He couldn’t help but notice all the attention, so he inquired with the attendant named Angus at gate six. “My good man, what is all the attention about. I can’t help but notice that your countrymen are staring at me and whispering something to one another. Have I done something wrong?”

“Aye, no, Bonnie Joel, not a wee thing, ne’er ye mind. It’s yur unkanny resemblance to Harry Potter, so it is. Word has it yur his granpy or better yet, Sean Connery himself.”

Hearing this pleasantly confusing information, Joel puffed up a bit and replied, “Oh, I see. I understand completely now. Uh, my good man, could you take my picture when the crowd gathers in awe?”

“Surely, mate. Aye, it’s a fine day when Harry Potter’s granpy shows up in me frisky line. Wait till I tell me little woman over a pint at the pub tonight. Hoot man! This tops the time I met Sonny Bono himself, God rest him.”

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Joel, “Ah, yes. Just a couple more to show my mates back at Coffee Nation. They think I make up my many adventures, that I actually hide out in Needmore for weeks at a time,  so I will need visual proof.”

Angus,” A man’s a celebrity everywhere but he’s hometown, eh Joel?”

“Truth, Angus. You can call me Jay Zee. I am internationally acclaimed everywhere, so it seems, except at the coffee shop where I start each work day.”

“Such a shame, Joel, I mean J. Z. And what’s the causation of all yur frustrations?”

“I can’t say the name without getting steamed up, my new friend. It is a creature so vile, sneaky and feared that even your Loch Ness monster shivers at the mere mention of its name!!”Image result for horrified faces

Angus, “Can you just write it on this slip of paper, mate? I’d like to see what makes our Nessie a hot scrambled mess of tremblin’ fear.”

Complying with his ostrich bone and ebony fountain pen, Joel handed Angus the paper. “Now, as a lawyer, uh, barrister on your side of the pond, I am not responsible for any harm that may come from you possessing this knowledge. It is public domain information and therefore inactionable for legal purposes. Do you understand, Angus?”

“Of course, mate. But, but what is a burr ito special? Is that it, mate?”

“Yes!! The most heinous fiend ever to tread on God’s green earth. One third sphinx, one third griffin, one third lunch meat, and one third partly man.”

“But surely, Joel Zee, you don’t believe our Nessie would fear a Mexican entree chupacabra?”

“Mark my words, Angus: you will do so at your own peril.”

“Do what, Jay Zee? Mark your words or not mark them at my own peril, mate?”

“Fail to fear this monster. Many a man has been devoured by his awful jaws, beaten to death on his merciless keyboard.”

“Well, alrighty then. But I won’t be sharing this with the missus, mind you. Welcome to Scotland, laddy buck. Do be careful.”

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Joel wandered out of the terminal and hailed an Uber. He was in a hurry to hook up with his traveling partners at St. Andrews Golf Course, where he was to caddy for them. “I’m not much of a golfer, but fifty bucks is fifty bucks”, he said to no one as he pondered his assignment. “If I can’t find a Motel 6, then I may have to bunk in a youth hostel for the elderly. I hope it’s coed”, realizing the contradiction as the words left his mouth.

Suddenly a Pakistani man in a minivan appeared before him and said, “Hadyip, get in. I am Uber. I vill carry you verever you vish.”

“Well”, thought Joel,”these Scots really know how to treat a fellow.”Image result for street photos of edinburgh

“Vere to, good Sahib?”

“St. Andrews, the home of golf, Cabbie. ”

“Oh my God! Has anyone told you you look like Harry Potter’s granpy?”

“Why yes. You are the second Scotsman to notice in the past 20 minutes.”

“Vy dis is my luckiest day since I carried Sonny Bono to Inverness, may he rest in peace. I love Cher too. Vood that I cood carry her anyvere in the vorld.”

“Yes, I never knew of Sonny’s importance in Scotland till now.”

“Oh, he vas an honorary Scotsman before his untimely death, vich is national day of mourning in Scotland.”

“How did that happen? Not to pry, Rageb is it?”

“Yes, very good sir. Rageb from Islamabad. Uh, Mr. Sonny Bono was loved for his singing and good taste in vomen. The beat goes on and on. ”

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“Of course, but how did he come to be a Scottish national treasure?”

“Vell, really, it happened after U2 became famous. You know, the Irish band?”

“Of course, my good man. I am a musician, a sousaphonist to be precise.”

“Oh, I am so sorry, sir. I vill pray for your cure in this lifetime ven I do haj.”

“Thank you, Rageb. Now, the Sonny connection?”Image result for street photos of edinburgh

“Vell, ve in Scotland knew ve needed our own Bono, so ve inveigled Mr. Sonny to come over to be knighted in a kilt in 1996, two years before his unfortunate skiing accident, God rest his soul.”

“Really? That is remarkable. You know in Pennsylvania, where I come from, there was a godforsaken town that bought the body of a famous athlete, Jim Thorpe, and named their forgotten town after him. It was a great coup for tourism. Really put the place on the map.”

“Verry creepy, if you ask me, vich I know you did not do. But ve Scotsmen of all nations vood never buy a dead body and knight him. It vood not be right. It is necromancy.”

“Very well, but it sounds like you are copy cats, not to mention fraidy cats, I mean you talk a big game with your Loch Ness monster and what have you, but you’ve never faced the truly evil burritospecial.”

“Stop right there, Yankee Doodle Dandy. Ve vill drive directly to Loch Ness and see who is fraidy cat.”

The automatic locks snapped shut, and Joel realized too late that he had no currency to pay off the huge check his mouth had just issued.  A tourist's photo of Nessie taken from Fort Augustus in 1934





610. Oh Donnie Boy

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Oh, Donnie boy, the pipes, the pipes you’re smoking
From swamp to swamp, and down the fairway side.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses choking,
It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.
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Don’t come ye back after midterms in the meadow,
Or when the White House is hushed and white with snow,
It’s Mueller here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Donnie boy, oh Donnie boy, you lie so low!
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But if ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If law is dead, as dead as it may be,
Don’t bother with another rally’s lying
You’ll come and find your shame in history,
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And I shall hear, while soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall drag your fat ass to infamy.
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609. Blind Justice

Image result for man with seeing eye dog photoMaybe it was a tardy omen that I saw a blind man walking across the town square with his old yellow lab in harness leading him carefully into the mustard colored office building. They had a manually tethered connection, and I could tell the man was speaking quiet directions to the guide dog. Another man opened the door for them to enter without any awkward pauses or fiddling around for the handle. I’ve seen adolescents from church youth groups do blind folded trust walks through these same streets with two or three other kids talking the “blind one” through the intentional handicap exercise. Typically they are all talking at once and laughing at the blind folded walker. I’d prefer a dog, thanks. Quiet and loyal. They are the ‘dog in the fight’ and not the ‘canary in the coal mine’. “Oh, look out! A dump truck! Run! Ooooh, sorry Ronnie.”Image result for dump truck running wild gif

The irony came from the juxtaposition of this inspiring image of trust with the one I’d just left at the District court. My mind was still spinning at the huge waste of resources being expended there over a domestic dispute that turned criminal… or maybe not. I rolled in about an hour after things were scheduled to start. They still had not begun when I crept through the back doors. There was the judge instructing the jury who had been selected two days ago, after enduring eight hours of a juris prudence beauty contest. The defendant and his attorney appraised the 100 prospective jurors and tried to guess how each one might judge or fudge the facts, the defendant, or the entire process of law enforcement, etc. They were entitled to exclude a few of those, as was the district attorney. Here is an obvious problem, though– if you are picking for the last of six trial juries, the first 84 jurors have been picked; so you are left with the shrunken gene pool, so to speak…16 persons who had been passed over or rejected by the previous attorneys. It’s like shopping at the end of  bargain season, on the clearance sale rack at the Salvation Army Thrift Store.Image result for thrift store clearance rack pictures

I noticed only one juror was wearing a tie, and he was an alternate juror, # 13. The rest resembled fish on ice at the Butcher Shoppe, fast frozen by ennui. I immediately began to yawn at the judge’s droning monologue too, despite my second cup of coffee an hour ago at Coffee Nation. I was overdressed for coffee group but appropriate for court, even if I was not testifying today. Behind me was a sleepy tip staffer. Below the judge’s bench was the swearing in clerk and the stenographer. To the right of the judge was the IT assistant bailiff guy who helped with sound and projection issues. Against the wall opposite the jury were two sleepy security dudes engrossed in their own fingernail care.Image result for courtroom guards asleep pictures

The defendant sat in front of me with his current attorney. His previous attorney, Ursula Useless, sat next to me with her I Pad open, reviewing the court exhibits. She didn’t want to go to court because she claimed she didn’t have the time, but here she was anyway. What?  At the D.A.’s table sat the bald headed D.A. and the arresting state trooper, and another woman whose role I could not figure out. Maybe an intern. Few spectators were present beyond the Women in Need lady whom I’ve seen around. All the witnesses were sequestered outside in the waiting area.

Image result for charles manson picturesPrior to the jury’s arrival, the D.A. had compared the defendant to Charles Manson. That’s a lovely incendiary frame for alleged domestic abuse? But now that he was in front of the jury with his opening argument, he laid out the case and three less serious charges. He promised to present compelling evidence to more than prove his case, ” a case that started with a text for help and ended with a verdict. Even if the victim no longer wants your help, the law must be fulfilled.” He was giving the jury advance notice that the plaintiff/victim wanted to drop charges and claimed they were all lies she told in the heat of the moment to gain custody. Wow!  The defendant’s attorney made the case that there had been marital discord and poor behaviors by both parties, but no crime had been committed. That’s all folks.Image result for female attorney addressing jury pictures

So we had a thriller on display:  was this a case of a scared woman recanting due to intimidation by her abusive husband; or was it a carefully staged drama to guarantee full custody of her children? Here’s where Dateline would take a commercial break to sell pick up trucks and home security systems.Image result for keith morrison dateline headshots

It was painful to listen to the D.A. turn the plaintiff into the defendant as she refused to play ball with him. She had recanted the parts of her story that led to criminal charges and claimed she had lied and lied and lied as a ruse to gain full custody of her children. In fact, she claimed there had never been any fights in the entire marriage. As the old  expression goes, ‘No matter how thin the pancake may be, there’s always two sides.’ However, the longer the inept D.A. continued to stumble and fumble his interrogation of the plaintiff/victim, and the more contemptuous she became, it began to look like she was pulling him into legal quicksand. Every time he tried to chisel away at her story and get to the guilt of her husband, she broke off his chisel. “I told that already. That’s all there is to tell.” Any hope he had of presenting her as a timid little victim was being blown away with a lioness’s sneers.Image result for sneering blond woman

As I write these words, the trial continues, if you want to call it a trial. It’s more a trial of the jurors’ patience. With every turn I expected the judge to leap up and shout, “That’s it!! What the hell are we doing here if she denies the charges and implicates herself in the false reporting of a crime?” Before the defense began I’m sure the attorney would ask for an acquittal, invoking the mercy rule for the petrified wood jury. I had to go for lunch, fortunately. Image result for bored jury faces pictures

Which brings me back to the image of a blind man and his dog. Together they made their way toward truth. However, back in the courthouse a bald headed clown was busy turning juris prudence into prune juice. “Trust me folks, I am a trained legal seeing eye guide. I’d never lead you blind folded into the path of an oncoming train.” Boom!

Not guilty on all counts.




608. Kermit

Image result for black and tan hound with trimmed ears and tail imagesShe is on loan to us like a precious painting of love leaping for another week, Kermit the dog, that is. What a nice feeling it is to have a dog in our home again. The excitement in her bounding up the stairs and exuberant sniffing of her food bowl. She belongs to my daughter’s family who have been traveling lately, so rather than a kennel, she’s been bunking with us. Now, mind you, a year ago the entire family lived with us in a wonderful clutterful jamboree that I will never regret or forget. All together we had seven people and one dog under our four bedroom raised rancher roof. I had nightmares of the septic tank exploding with the excessive strain, but we all lived through it unscathed. Grace, Stu, Leah, Max and Kermit left last September in a U Haul truck and a dust cloud. My bride and I have been downsizing the empty nest ever since. Here a Barbie high heel, there a child’s game piece.

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Last summer Kermit slew three groundhogs in our backyard. (I only got two with a rifle and scope!) They didn’t have a chance. She is all hound and part deer, quick as a cobra with ninja stealth. The only time she barks is when an animal is present. Unlike most yappy dogs, she ignores people and other dogs. We walk the neighborhood and yappy mutts go nuts as she quietly saunters forward. Though she can easily leap over our 40 inch picket fence, she does not… then again, she might as a ninja dog and I’d never know it.

Image result for black and tan hound with trimmed ears and tail imagesSo now she is on sentry duty again, which she takes very seriously. After making her rounds, she will post herself on the upper deck where she can survey her realm. Squirrels, rabbits, and groundhogs know to avoid this quarter acre plot or risk their lives foolishly. Yeah, she is a canine powered vermin vacuum cleaner.

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Kermit predates the grandkids and hails from Georgia about six years ago, as I recall. She remembers us as her family from extended visits.  Especially the time I gave her the lower leg of a deer I’d harvested that December. I nearly killed her on a 100 degree day in Tucson many years back. I have a post on that awful, nearly tragic jog. 57. AsKermitdently to be exact. It is family history now, but at the time it was family drama. “What were you thinking?”  “I can’t believe you!”  “If you want to have your own heat stroke, go ahead. Don’t take poor Kermit!” Yeah, it was a bad day. I was saved by a midget football team car wash. They hosed us both down and saved my life. Later on we drove through their line and I gave them $20 for a two minute car wash to show my appreciation. Like everything else in my rear view mirror, those kids are five years older and in high school now, I guess. I don’t jog any longer.Image result for dog in a car wash pictures

Somehow Kermit figures out pack hierarchy. Though she was not our dog last year, she slept at the foot of our bed on a little Persian rug just big enough for her to curl up on. She seemed to know intuitively that my wife was the food boss and lady in charge of domestic operations. Kermit would go to her in the mornings and stare at her or lick her hand or whimper ever so slightly to tell my wife what she needed– food, water, potty break, a walk. She also knows that she can play hard with the adults but only tenderly with the grand kids, which allows them to get away with lovely murder. Pretty amazing, I think, that she has three speeds of affection– kill for vermin, rough for adults, gentle for little ones. Image result for black and tan hound with bone pictures

Talking with a young man who raises hunting dogs recently, I mentioned wanting to clone Kermit because she is so precious. “You’ll get the same physical attributes but not the same temperament.”

“Really? Huh, I never thought of that.”

“Yeah, you can reproduce the genetic package but not the nurture side. She would not have a mother to suckle from, and litter mates to wrestle with, and all the other unique experiences that can’t be duplicated.”

“Yeah, true. Just like humans. We are not widgets made in a factory by the batch.”

“Thank goodness. Would you want a thousand of you or me?”

“Nope. Nor would I want a thousand Kermits come to think about it. She is one of a kind and I have to be satisfied with that gift.”

“More is not always the answer, is it?”

“Nope. Real is the deal: one and done.”

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607. Bonnie Wee Joel

Related imageHe’s been hard to keep track of, that Joel. Back from his ancestral home of Switzerland only for a wee spell and now offen he dauners to Scotland. Before we explore his Highland adventures, however, let’s review his many nicknames acquired in the land of Alpine majesty. First he was tagged as the Diva of Geneva when he came off the plane with nine suitcases, three filled with bottled water from Sam’s Club, just in case the Swiss water didn’t sit well with his fiber supplements. Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon and Joel transported 10 gallons across six time zones, which makes, uh, 8 x 10 x 6 = 480 units of something… yes, divaness. Two bags were for shoes. And three bags contained designer man cosmetics and exercise equipment. The last suitcase was shipped empty for clothes and souvenirs he intended to collect.

Image result for geneva photosAfter a couple of days in Geneva and several trips around the lake, he departed for Lucerne, where he complained about the substandard accommodations, earning him his second moniker, Mr. Heartburn of Lucerne. The spa in the hotel was closed for remodeling, and the bar lacked his favorite top shelf gin. The lemon peel served in his martini was off color, possibly recycled from another customer’s drink, with a faint pink shimmer that may have been lipstick residue. And then the vermouth was an unfamiliar brand from Romania called “Embalme Fluide”. Stirred not shaken. Very sad.

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No matter, on to Interlaken his intrepid crew mushed forward, up and up some more, until Joel hit the jackpot– a nude sauna! at the Happy Yodeler Inn. He discovered it quite accidentally after a long day’s hike with Indian cardiologists who loved Alpine jaunts. Joel thought it would be nice to take a sauna before changing for dinner. He did not know that Swiss saunas were nude affairs. There were no signs, so he claims. He sauntered into the spa area with his swim suit, socks, sandals, white tipped ski pole, bottled water, fit bit, towel and sunglasses. He made himself comfortable. Before long two voluptuous women entered the sauna in towels, which they promptly unraveled, revealing a naked landscape of Swiss flesh, leaving Joel open mouthed, agape, drooling and wishing he was 50 years younger. His popping eyeballs nearly knocked his sunglasses off his face, but being a career attorney, he used them as part of his voyeuristic plan.Image result for interlaken switzerland photos

“Well, hello? I, I, Is someone there?”, he uttered as if he could not see.

“Oh, you must be American”, giggled the closer Nordic blonde Dreamsicle.

“Yes, Ray…uh, Ray Charles from a small Pennsylvania town; and you?” He offered his hand in a frail manner, as if typing in midair on an invisible I-pad.

The other beautiful nude offered, “Oh, sir, are you unsighted?”

Joel, “Tragically, yes. I lost my sight while rescuing quintuplet puppies in a fire at a home for widows and orphans in Philadelphia… a long time ago. I’ve only been able to feel what I once saw in all its glory. Life, pulsing before me in full fullness of color.”

“Oh you poor man”, said the first bombshell who identified herself as Olga. She picked up Joel’s fluttering hand and pulled it to her left breast. “Feel the pulse of life in my breaking heart. It flutters like a butterfly on your soft hand, my dear Ray. Why, your hands are softer than mine. Feel them, Heidi.”

Heidi took both of Joel’s hands and drew them to her heart’s cleavage. “Oh, so soft. Like a rabbit’s foot. Vat sort of verk did you do, Ray, in Pennsylvania? Vere you a fire fighter?”

Joel paused and wanted this moment to last forever. He started to reveal that he had in fact been an avaricious attorney since his early twenties, but he thought better of it. “No, ladies, Olga, Heidi, I am a professional sousaphonist. You might call me a tuba man. The biggest horn man in the orchestra.”

Heidi, “No vonder you hands are so soft, you horny man, and you leeps too?”

Joel, “Uh, uh, why yes. My leeps too.”

Olga, “Meester Ray, may ve touch you leeps to see vat is softer?”

“By all means. Help yourself, girls.”FINNISH SAUNA iStock_000001372760Small

In the steamy mists Olga and Heidi caressed Joel’s blow hard lips. As the Cialis moment drew closer, his fit bit blood pressure alarm went off, frightening the ladies and causing a sauna room ruckus. “Oooh, Meester Ray, you are getting overheated. Let me give you my ice water bath.” Olga poured two liters of frigid water onto Joel/Ray which brought him sputtering to his feet, fumbling with his own ski pole cane, and losing his sunglasses in the process. He was caught red eyed guilty of voyeurism.

Heidi, “Meester Ray, you move with great ageelity for blind man, eh Olga?”

Olga, “Yessss, and what big ogling eyes you have, Meester Ray.”

The mood in the sauna went from saucy to steely suspicion in a Swiss second.Image result for suspicious woman face

“I can explain, girls. You see I have a form of glaucoma that is episodic, and I really can’t see all that well. Please don’t call security.”

“Under condition one– you leave now and never speak of this moment ever again to anyone.”

“But, Olga, Heidi, this has been a peek into lecher heaven. And you touched my hands to your breasts, your fingers to my leeps. I will burn up in lustful desire for the rest of my natural days. I can’t leave now. I could have a stroke.”

“Yes, you vill. You must forever desire and never achieve, Ray. Ve could have had made beautiful blind passionate sauna relationship, but you ruined everysing with your lying fake canoodling and stoopid fit bit alarum.”Image result for mr magoo surprised face

“But, but, girls, can’t we start over? I don’t want to leave you here this way.”

Heidi, “Ve vill be fine, big boy, horn man indeed! I suspect you vere a lawyer.”

“No, no. I am a sousaphonist. Listen, ‘bump bump bump bump; bump bump bump bump'”.

“Ven saints come marching in, yes, Ray?”

“Yes, I can play lots of tunes and I will happily serenade you in the sauna until the mountain goats come home.”

“Silly man, Meester Ray. You are only goat on mountain. Heidi, vat ve call him, eh?”

Heidi, “I got it: the big Shitz of St. Moritz.”Image result for st moritz

Joel, ” I, I, I… no. No. Nooooooooooooooo.”




606. All Toads Lead to Moscow

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It’s truly amazing to me that so many of the players in the Trump Sychophantic Orchestra have somehow found a stream back to Mother Russia, Moscow to be precise, as if they were salmon returning to spawn where they were hatched– up the Volga; hard left into the Oka; and finally into Moscow via the Moskva River. It’s a marvel of nature. Apparently these human fish are guided only by the smell of dirty rubles and the sight of onion domes.Yep, a pile of Mother Rushers.

What are the odds that in a small campaign such as Trump’s so many of the players would somehow be connected to one of our nation’s primary adversaries? It’s reminiscent of the old days in the 1950’s when college students tried to set records of how many bodies they could squeeze into a phone booth. Or some perverse retread of the old ethnic jokes, “How many Russians does it take to change a light bulb in Trump Tower?”Image result for college students packed into a phone booth pictures

“Four– one to hold the bulb and the others to screw America in circles.”

Let’s review the long road to Moscow. Just recently we learned of the red headed spy Maria Butina.Related image Turns out she was magically in the audience three years ago to ask Trumpy a question regarding U.S./Russian relations at a press conference in Vegas, I believe. Uncanny that she was so lucky to get a big answer from the Donald without any press credentials. Magic that Donald picked her out of dozens of questioners. Some girls have all the luck. And there she is with Mad Wayne Lapierre of NRAdom and Rick Santorum, a one term senator from PA who, like a hybridized cockroach, refuses to go away. Squeeze her tight, Rick. 

And Holy Crap! There she is flanked by Don, Jr. himself and another NRA flunkie. Gosh, I wonder if she had worn a burka if she’d have received the same reception.  Git around, girl!

Trumpublicans insist this is all a big hoax, a conspiracy dreamed up by bitter, disenfranchised, unpatriotic, snowflake liberals who harbor secret masochistic desires to be dominated by illegal aliens and Deep State crisis actors. And I can see where they are coming from– unlocked psych wards. Still, it is mind boggling to review all the known Russian connections to Trumpy.

Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were both named foreign policy advisers, though neither was known for much to that point. The Donald offered their names when it was suggested that no real foreign policy folks wanted anything to do with his Raunchy Rabidness. Since their unexpected announcements,  slime trails that lead to Moscow have come into sight. Page’s connections are brightly lit; Papadopoulos’s a bit less so. Still, there is the infamous photo of George “the coffee boy” Papadopoulos between Jeff Sessions and Trump at a foreign policy meeting.  I guess Page was the Pizza delivery guy. Another great American success story, from coffee boy to national foreign policy adviser. Only in Trumpmerica can such miracles occur. Thank you, Jesus.Image result for papadopoulos and sessions photo

Ah, but while we have Jeff Sessions in sight, let’s look at his polka dotted worm holes opening up to Moscow. He also had contacts with Russian ambassador Kislyak but played it off as unremarkable and easily forgotten. Sure, you meet with the ambassador of a major adversary of this country and you can’t remember?  Why is this? A. You’re lying B. You’re demented. C. Both  Of course it matters because he is the chief law enforcement agent in the U.S.A. as head of the Justice Department. Had it not been for journalists’ inquiries and dogged questions, he would be in charge of the Mueller investigation and able to unplug it at any time. Note: The Donald has expressed unending anger with Sessions for recusing himself and not being Donald’s prison bitch once again. Ahhh, but there are enough Russians to go around, like the old Jan and Dean song goes, “two (Russian) girls for every (Trumpublican) boy”.

Image result for jared kushner photosYes, let’s go to Jared. He wanted a private back channel line of communication to the Russians while the Trump team transitioned into the White House? Where? At the freakin’ Russian Embassy!!!  What??? Oh my, when he remembered that he forgot to tell investigators about what he forgot to say the first time, [notice any pattern in these lying sobs?], he came up with righteous concern for Syrian conflict and humanitarian interests.

I believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his (Kislyak’s) embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn. The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration.

Image result for sergey kislyak photosHow very thoughtful of the Russian ambassador to deny the Wonder Boy access to private Putin connections that our intelligence agencies would never learn about. Sergey Kislyak, American patriot.

Image result for spiders on webs photosThe web of spiders and their wildly spun lies is endless. Flynn was also in the phone booth with a pile of Russians. Here he is with Vlad on Dec. 15, 2016. I guess Jared didn’t need that back channel phone line at the embassy after all. Michael Flynn, Russian patriot, went on to lie to the FBI about his Russian contacts before he was National Security Adviser. 

Let me just cut to a Wikipedia paragraph here…

Several Trump advisers, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, have been connected to Russian officials, or to Viktor Yanukovich and other pro-Russian Ukrainian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump. Members of Trump’s campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn and Jared Kushner, were in contact with Russian government officials both before and after the November election, including some contacts which they initially did not disclose. As of May 2017, the FBI is investigating several alleged links between Trump associates and representatives of the Russian government. British and Dutch intelligence services have given information to their United States counterparts about meetings in European cities between Russian officials, associates of Putin, and associates of then-President-elect Trump. American intelligence agencies also intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates.

Image result for manafort and gates photosAnd where there’s a Manafort, there’s a Gates. And you might be grabbing your temporal lobes and crying out, “Why? Why?” Because all toads lead to Moscow. Oh, my, we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

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605. August Recess

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In between the hours on the beach it’s so nice to scuttle back to the condo and chill for a while without sweat, sand, sunscreen or dried sea salt on my skin. Some beach folks feel an almost religious fervor to post themselves on the sand and roast all day long to get the maximum value from their beach time. Back home in laundromats you find these same folks over drying their delicates in order to get the full value of their last invested quarter. You can see them walking tightly down the street in shrunken underwear that chafes their sun crisped nether regions. Even later they have suspicious moles and marks surgically removed in dermatology clinics. Great value indeed. Remember the tanning lady? Image result for the tan lady

What is it that pushes folks past enough and into excess? Skipping on by satisfaction into deep gluttony? One of the oldest human frailties– greed. Sun hogs, fun hogs, money hogs, power hogs, status hogs, all swine. Some people eat themselves to death over time and it’s not always with food.

Image result for paul manafort mafia jacket picturesBack in the news cycle, as the Paul Manafort trial proceeds in Washington, we are getting a glimpse of a chimp of a pimp of a guy. His wardrobe choices seem to come out of the Eastern European Mafia Mens Collection, with an ostrich leather jacket and a (Monty) python skin jacket at ridiculous, made to impress prices. When someone feels compelled to spend a million dollars on clothes and as much on luxury cars, what is he hiding? In Manafort’s case it’s clear– undeclared, un-taxed, ill-gotten gains from Ukraine and other unsavory sources. Not sure if the Mueller team is going to charge him with criminal fashion choices as well as money laundering. He is most certainly guilty of both.Picture: Department of Justice via AP

Guys like Manafort, and there seem to be more like him than you can count, live parasitically. His junior partner Gates has apparently turned against him, so now it’s a case of parasite vs. parasite. The Human Tick vs. The Huge Tapeworm. Louie the Louse vs. Billy the Bed Bug. Oh, and there are more parasites to catalog, as Mr. Mueller is proving. General Flynn, for instance, lobbying in Russia for God only knows what at Putin’s elbow. How does one get to be a general in the United States Army without learning that Russia is and always has been an adversary of the country you have sworn to protect? I suppose it’s the same greed parasite that has attacked his moral judgment, if such a thing existed in General Flynn. “Oh, he’s a patriot! A good man. I hope you can see your way to go easy on him”, some have said. And I suppose Benedict Arnold had his supporters also. “Ben, good man. Loyal. He’d take a bullet for me.” But both men sold out their country to her enemies. Arnold was planning to surrender West  Point to the British until he was found out. We call it treason, betrayal, or broken trust. In Flynn’s and Arnold’s cases the offense is worse than Manafort’s because they swore an oath to serve and protect our constitution not simply themselves. They wore the uniform of the country they betrayed.Image result for MICHAEL FLYNN BENEDICT ARNOLD PICTURE PAIRS

The whole Russia thing apparently began with Carter Page, a mysterious nobody who claimed to be a Russian expert, and who was named as a Trump foreign policy adviser by the Donald Dumpster himself. What a long, strange trip it has been since then. Page was so fishy that our intelligence agencies surveilled him. George “the coffee boy” Papadopoulous got so drunk in London one night that he spilled the big secret to an Australian diplomat: the Russians had political dirt on Hillary. George later admitted to lying to the FBI when questioned about his contacts with Russians. Hmmmm, why lie about something that was so innocent? Papadopoulous and Page were both named foreign policy advisers to the Trump campaign, and lo and behold, both were trying to manipulate improved Russian/ American relationships in the form of a Putin/ Trump bromance while Russia upped its cyber attacks on the United States via false Facebook stories and fake news in general while leaking stolen Hillary emails to Wikileaks . All along the Donald refused to acknowledge any interference and deflected scrutiny whenever possible that “it could have been a 400 pound guy on his bed”.

Could it be Sam Clovis? If you squint without glasses on, the resemblance is uncanny. Sam, in case you didn’t already know, gave Donald the list with Papadopoulous and Page on it. Maybe he’s the guy after all the intrigue… another patriot gone to the dark side.Image result for sam clovis pictures

And now the Great Donaldo wants the Russia investigation to be shut down because it has been a rigged witch hunt hoax all along. Hmmmm. Before any report is issued, scuttle the entire multi million dollar investigation. Yeah. How convenient. I’m sure Richard Nixon would have liked to quash the Watergate investigation before it released its report. Fortunately he resigned before he further damaged the country, escaping like a Third World dictator with a get out of jail free pardon by poor Gerry Ford. Speaking of Third World dictators, remember Noriega, from Panama? He was impetuous and stupidly vain enough to think he could defy the United States, until he was taken out. But like the Great Donaldo he swaggered his way round the tough guy circuit for a while.

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Too bad Noriega is dead now. He would surely have been invited to the Annual White House Thug Party next Halloween. Putin, Kim, Duterte, Erdogan, Xi, and Assad have all been invited to meet up with Joe Arpaio, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and David Duke for champagne and heavy hor dourves. There will be the usual hot dog eating contest and champagne chugging competition. As well as best torture, rape and pillage story telling. Just can’t get enough rough and tumble when the big dogs get together. Per custom the evening will feature a conga line dance with Donaldo at the end, sniffing ten thug butts. Why stop at enough when excess is just a shot away?