Is Mueller an enigma or just a Republican?

I got back from the vet — one of the swamp cats needed hyperthyroid medicine — and found Swamp Rabbit at my shack, complaining about how badly the mainstream media had handled news of the Mueller report even before the report was released. He read aloud from a critique by the media columnist at an influential newspaper:

Many news organizations, including some of the most prominent, took what [Attorney General William] Barr said at face value or mischaracterized the report’s findings. They essentially transmitted to the public — especially in all-important headlines and cable-news bulletins — what President Trump desperately wanted as the takeaway: No collusion; no obstruction…

“I don’t care about the media today,” I said. “I care about Mueller — about whether he’ll cooperate tomorrow at those hearings when he’s asked about the questions his report raised but never answered. Does he have a soul, or does he just follow orders, even when following orders is bad for the country?”

“Don’t ask me, I ain’t no psychic,” Swamp Rabbit replied. “Mueller’s a Republican, so I don’t expect he’ll rock the boat too hard. He already said he ain’t gonna say nothing.”

Don’t lose hope, I told him. Mueller has heard Trump falsely claim, again and again, that the report exonerates him. He’s watched Trump and Barr turn the Justice Department into a private law firm for Trump’s defense. He’s put up with two years of insults from Trump and his cronies, and from the corrupt Republican officeholders whose fates are linked with Trump’s. He could reveal whether he would have charged Trump with obstruction of justice if he wasn’t a sitting president. He could help prevent the second act of a would-be dictator and be the hero of the century.

The rabbit chuckled. “Dream on, Odd Man. Mueller don’t wanna be no hero, he just wants to go home.”

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Al Green’s impeachment song is a flop

I was in the little shack behind my main shack, rooting around for a rusty old window fan. Swamp Rabbit was in the main shack, watching the rerun of a cable news story from last night.

“It’s Al Green, check him out,” the rabbit shouted. “He telling Congress to impeach Trump for being a racist. He should sing about it instead of making a speech.”

It turned out to be Al Green the Texas congressman, not Al Green the Memphis soul and gospel singer, but I couldn’t convince the rabbit that the two Als weren’t one and the same.

“Trump will just keep denying he’s a racist,” I said, plugging in the fan. “They should impeach him for obstructing the Mueller investigation. That’s where the criminal evidence is.”

“They might not impeach him at all,” the rabbit replied. “They’re too busy fighting each other. Old versus young, white versus black, Nancy Pelosi versus the Squad.”

As we were arguing, a talking head on cable news announced that the House had voted down Al Green’s impeachment resolution. Democrats can’t even agree on whether to impeach a guy who is arguably the first gangster president in American history. What does that say about their ability to settle on a candidate who will appeal to the majority of voters in the 2020 election?

“But you ain’t all wrong,” Swamp Rabbit said to cheer me up. “Better to wait till Robert Mueller testifies next week and then decide where to go on impeachment.”

Better to concede the hardcore bigot vote to Trump, he added. To go after so-called independents and lapsed Democratic voters — the Democrats who voted for Obama twice but sat out the 2016 election because Hillary was such a drag. To remind them about Trump’s wall fantasy, his attempts to kill Obamacare, his tax cuts for the rich and contempt for the poor, his ill-advised tariffs, his submissive relationship with Putin, his corrupt Cabinet, his ignorance and unbridled sleaziness.

“You’re right, the racism charge won’t work,” I admitted. “Trump fans like his racist talk, it stirs them up. Al Green should have put a lid on his anger instead of making a scene.”

“He should have sung ‘Let’s Stay Together,'” the rabbit said.

Posted in health care, history, humor, immigration, mainstream media, Nativism, Obama, taxes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dems have one job. Will they screw it up?

We were on the porch at my shack in the Tinicum swamp. “Swine was all I could swipe at the SuperFridge,” Swamp Rabbit said as he placed a few hot dogs on my hibachi. “Couldn’t even steal no sardines.”

I’m no swine fan, but I wasn’t complaining. It was 9 p.m., almost dark, and my cupboard was bare except for some stale wheat bread. We wrapped the wieners in the wheat bread and ate them while we jawed about the presidential race.

The first round of debates is over. Eric Swalwell (who?) has dropped out but billionaire hedge fund manager (ugh) Tom Steyer has jumped in. The herd hasn’t yet thinned, though most of the two dozen-or-so candidates are and will remain almost unknown except in their home states.

“They know they got zero chances but they want to brag to their grandkids that they ran for president,” Swamp Rabbit said after complaining there was no ketchup in my shack.

You’re right, I told him. If Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper and Steve Bullock weren’t delusional egotists they would recognize that a Democratic president won’t be able to undo many of Trump’s dirty deeds unless she or he has a Democratic Senate and House to work with. They would run for Senate seats in their respective states, not for president.

And Kirsten Gillibrand would admit she’s a shallow opportunist who is likely to be remembered only for her leading role in chasing the progressive Al Franken out of the Senate for minor sexual misconduct. And Bill De Blasio would quit making a fool of himself. And anti-vaxxer Marianne Williamson would just go away. And…

“I don’t need to hear you run through the whole list,” Swamp Rabbit said. “The only ones got a real chance are Biden, Sanders, Warren, maybe Harris and maybe that little guy with the goofy name — Bootyjuggs, I think.”

I reminded the rabbit that only Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have crafted boldly progressive plans for changing the rigged system that gave us the enormous gulf between rich and poor, the student-loan racket, the health insurance racket and all those other symptoms of a failing democracy.

And that Biden and Harris, although they differ on some social issues, are both corporate candidates, meaning they’re being funded mostly by the powerful entities that have been dismantling New Deal-style democracy for more than 40 years.

“Blah blah,” the rabbit said. “Save all that jive for later. The Dems got one job this year — to get behind the candidate who will win enough states to get rid of that spray-tanned Mussolini in the White House. Ain’t nothing else matters if that don’t happen.”

Posted in Great Recession, health care, history, humor, mainstream media, plutocracy, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fourth of July as a campaign event

“Did you see this story?” I asked Swamp Rabbit before reading aloud from the online Washington Post:

Unlike [Barack Obama’s] Clean Power Plan, which never took effect because of a Supreme Court decision, the Trump administration is not setting specific emissions cuts state by state in a way that would force utilities to switch from coal to lower-carbon sources of energy. Instead, the EPA is leaving it up to state regulators to improve the efficiency of coal-fired power — that is, to get more electricity for every pound of coal burned rather than closing coal plants entirely.

It’s not really news, I told him. Just more evidence that the grabber-in-chief remains determined to sabotage all Obama-era efforts to get the U.S. on the same page with other countries devising strategies to cope with climate change.

“It ain’t only about climate change,” Swamp Rabbit said. “It’s about Trump wanting to erase Obama from the history books. He can’t do that, so he’s trying to undo the good stuff Obama did when he was president.”

I quibbled with the rabbit. Obama wasn’t a disaster, but his record includes a lot of stuff that wasn’t good at all. He cozied up to the bankers who should have gone to jail for wrecking the economy. He wasn’t supportive of labor unions (remember those strikers in Wisconsin?) or of working people in general. He had grand ideas but was too much of a neoliberal to fight for policies that were truly progressive.

But all in all, I had to agree. Trump’s primary objective in making policy is to scuttle all policies Obama put in place, or tried to put in place. Exhibit A is that he fought tooth and nail to kill Obamacare without having a health care plan to replace it. Exhibit B is his perverse decision to scrap Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. There are many other exhibits.

“It goes back to that event where Obama made a fool of Trump in front of them reporters,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Trump got all stony-faced and looked like he wanted to kill him.”

I told the rabbit he was over-simplifying. He said, “Trump hates Obama because he’s everything Trump ain’t.”

True enough. Obama is smart, disciplined, thoughtful, eloquent, relatively honest, stylish, witty, popular with the elites and, most of all, rational. Maybe too rational — to the point where he didn’t understand how effectively a primitive like Trump, with help from the news media, could tap into the primitive forces that make him so popular with uneducated whites.

“Most Dems is like that,” the rabbit said. “They don’t get Trump, not even now. They were surprised when he turned the Fourth of July into a reality TV show about himself.”

“If they don’t wise up he’s gonna do the same thing with the election,” I replied.

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Talking head disses AOC for telling the truth

I’d just got back to the swamp after a shopping trip to Philly. Swamp Rabbit was in my shack watching MSNBC’s Chuck Todd badmouth U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocacio-Cortez for using the phrase “concentration camps” to describe ICE detention centers that house migrants from Mexico and Central America.

Todd said, among other things, “If you want to criticize the shameful treatment of people at our southern border, fine. You’ll have plenty of company. But be careful comparing them to Nazi concentration camps, because they are not at all comparable. In the slightest.”

Swamp Rabbit looked at me and said, “What’s this talking head been smoking? She didn’t say nothing about Nazis.”

I told him that Todd the talking head couldn’t really challenge the logic of AOC’s accusation, not if he consulted a dictionary. The detention centers in Texas obviously are concentration camps, in that the government is using them to confine large groups of ethnically similar civilians, including many children, to a small area with inadequate facilities and no legal rights.

But Todd wanted to let viewers know he is a reliably middle-of-the-road talking head who wouldn’t dare take sides with wild-eyed progressives like AOC, or with writers who have pointed out that concentration camps have been around for more than a hundred years and have existed for a while in certain “democracies” as well as in monster states like Nazi Germany.

So he implied it’s anti-Semitic to say “concentration camp” in reference to anything but extermination camps like Auschwitz. (I think that’s what he was implying) As if the real story isn’t the Trump administration committing crimes against humanity along the border with Mexico.

“You ain’t telling me nothing new,” Swamp Rabbit replied. “If I got jailed in a joint where I don’t have no bed or toothbrush or even a bar of soap, I’d know what to call it.”

Footnote: It’s an old story. Journalistic insiders like Chuck Todd would rather distract viewers from painful truths than raise the suspicion that they harbor left-wing bias.

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Bomb Iran! Oops, my bad, never mind

Swamp Rabbit fed the last of his sardines to the swamp cats as I ended my rant about the state of the nation with a quotation that’s been in the news:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

“H.L. Mencken wrote that in 1920,” I said. “Only a total cynic like him could have predicted the Trump presidency all those years ago.”

Swamp Rabbit tossed the sardine can into my recycling bin. “Maybe he was predicting the George W. Bush presidency,” he said. “Trump ain’t the first moron in the White House and he won’t be the last.”

The rabbit’s comment set me off again. Of course Mencken was predicting Trump. Who could be more moronic than the grabber-in-chief? What better proof that democracy, so-called, is a risky business, subject to the whims of voters who might get into a huff and, just for spite, install a president who would wreck the system of checks and balances that prevents presidents from becoming dictators?

“Don’t flip out,” the rabbit said. “Mencken was a crabby old dude who didn’t like no one or nothing except Beethoven, beer and cigars. I bet he wanted democracy to fail just to prove he was right about the plain folks.”

I told him Mencken was a complicated guy, and his personal deficiencies are beside the point. He was right to mock the sort of people who believe two plus two equals five if Big Brother says so.

“He liked oysters, I think,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Baltimore was his hometown.”

“Enough,” I replied. “Worry about Trump, not Mencken.”

But the rabbit, without knowing it, had raised a good point: The worst thing about Trump is that his success makes thoughtful people today feel as cynical as Mencken was. His presidency is a reminder that it really can happen here — dictatorship, that is — as it did in Weimar Germany and other countries that functioned as democracies until fear took hold and ruthless con men took over.

“Blah blah,” the rabbit said. “I don’t need no history lessons.”

I reminded him that Trump had reneged on Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran then tried to provoke the Iranians into some action that would be his excuse for bombing them. He apparently allowed John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to plan a military strike on Iran then apparently called it off — for now.

Swamp Rabbit shrugged. “He gives his peeps what they want. They don’t want plans, they want fear and hate. They want a leader who’s as dumb and nasty as they are.”

“I should buy you a cigar,” I said. “You sound just like Mencken.”

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Plastic bags in the Mariana Trench

Swamp Rabbit and I were working a “food truck festival,” an event where humans gather in a big outdoor space for the sole purpose of pigging out. A news story from a few weeks back came to mind as I watched them:

An American man completed the deepest-ever solo underwater dive May 1. But when he reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, he found that another representative of the human world had gotten there first: plastic.

Victor Vescovo said he found a plastic bag and candy wrappers on the sea floor, some 35,853 feet below the surface…

Vescovo isn’t the first to find plastic at the bottom of the ocean’s deepest trench. A 2018 paper documented at least 3,000 pieces of litter in the trench, including a plastic bag at 36,000 feet below sea level. At least eight million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, and, if this continues, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Food festival attendees eventually become satiated and waddle away, but not before leaving in their wake a ton of plastic containers and other garbage, most of which ends up in landfills or in the oceans.

“Why are we here?” I asked the rabbit as we watched a human hippo gobble greasy fries topped with radioactive-looking cheese melt.

The question probably didn’t sound as philosophical as I’d intended. “We’re here to tell the peeps to use clean energy and save the planet,” Swamp Rabbit said. “It’s a mission, remember?”

But the hippo had freaked me out. I remembered an obscure Ed Sanders record from the 1970s with a title for the ages : Beer Cans On the Moon.

“It’s too late, rabbit. Everywhere we go, our trash is already there. The next frontier is outer space.”

I told him humans are hopeless, they don’t change. They fret about climate change but denude the forests. They clog the highways with cars and foul the water with plastic. They leave plastic everywhere, even on the North Pole.

“You got no room to talk,” Swamp Rabbit said. “You don’t drink nothing but that water from the Alps in them big plastic bottles.”

I told him I drink bottled water to protect myself, tap water is full of toxins. When they come up with a biodegradable substitute for plastic, I’ll switch to it right away.

“That’s lame, Odd Man,” he said. “You’re screwing up the planet with your plastic empties.”

He was getting under my skin. “What do you care about the planet?” I said. “You stumble around drinking whiskey most days.”

“At least whiskey don’t come in plastic bottles,” he replied.

He grinned at me, waiting for a comeback, but I didn’t have one.

Posted in climate change, environmentalism, humor, mainstream media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments