March 15, 2017… Day 55

DUTCH ELECTIONS — The “far right” candidate got far fewer votes than expected, and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Looking anxiously toward France now.

“The Senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin”

—–John McCain, referring to Rand Paul.

Rachel Maddow getting dragged for doing a 20-minute A-block that provided context. The truth is, her tweet from about one hour before her show did make it sound like she might have more than 2 pages from 2005. But anyone who really CARED that much would have a) seen a clarification from other sources minutes later on Twitter, tempering expectations, and b) could have cut to other sources before her first segment was over, because it was in several places. So nobody was deprived of anything, deceived or made to suffer. People are just the worst, basically.

Senator Chuck Grassley says no vote on the Deputy Attorney General until the Department of Justice coughs up some kind of evidence on what Trump’s wiretapping claims were all about. Later in the day, Lindsay Graham said the FBI contacted his Senate committee to say they would be sending over information in the near future, and they would deal with things in a classified manner.

“Do you talk to anyone before you tweet? Is there anyone in the White House who can say to you, Mr. President, please don’t tweet that, who you would listen to?”

—-Tucker Carlson, interviewing Donald Trump

A federal judge in Hawaii freezes Trump’s second travel ban, the day before it was supposed to go into effect.

Trump has a campaign rally in Nashville. They chant “lock her up” after he makes a barb at Hillary Clinton. He says a bunch of legally unwise stuff about the travel ban and his intent.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 5.55.34 PM

Rex Tillerson went to Asia with one (1) reporter only.

Republican Devin Nunes and Democrat Adam Schiff, both on the House Intelligence Committee, hold a joint press briefing. They both say there’s no evidence of wire-tapping, but they say it very differently. I’m going to re-watch it on C-span. Schiff basically implies at one point that Nunes is a Trump apologist.

James Mattis gets denied on his pick for a top appointee at the Department of Defense, because the White House signaled they would not fight for her confirmation. She was an ambassador to Egypt during two years of the Obama administration. Multiple other DoD hopefuls have fallen away, declining to go forward with the process.

Trump cuts funding to Meals on Wheels. The optimistic view on our situation is that we hobble out greatly diminished with a lot of dearly beloveds.

The consequence-challenged carry on:


The former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, testified before a Senate subcommittee today, on Russian interference and hacking. He speaks impeccable, unaccented English, is completely fluent in technological terms and issues, and seems way smarter than most of our lawmakers (and definitely Trump). Especially in light of the election in the Netherlands today–is the U.S. just an especially stupid country?

Continue reading for a bite-sized personal essay about John Phillips Souza and small-town politics:

I listened to a slew of political and news podcasts today, including NPR Politics. They play a circus music march, Teeter Board: Folies Bergere as their intro and outro music. It’s disturbingly jaunty, retro, nostalgic, and wholesome. I suppose it’s sinister too, if you consider clowns. Still, to me it always comes across as NPR trying to pretend that shit’s not on fire.

An iconic old guy in our town had a radio program on Sunday mornings, on which he would read the weekly newspaper aloud from cover to cover, add a layer of ad lib editorializing, and play pop songs of the 1940s. His theme music was The Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa. He and the editor of the newspaper were both cronies of the cartoonishly deep-voiced and perturbing doctor/mayor in town, who my dad was so often at odds with. So this reading of the newspaper on air on Sunday mornings was not always a peaceful aural presence in our home. Sometimes the radio host or the newspaper would refer to my dad as the mayor’s “arch rival” or “nemesis” and my dad would bristle at the framing. Once he shouted at the radio, “You’re a WHORE!” Such was my early training in politics and media.

Anyway, the theme music of NPR’s jaunty politics podcast takes me back to that other show. I should mention that we kids loved that show. We loved the songs: Charlie My Boy, Don’t Bring Lulu, Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. We ate them up like only children starved for pop culture in tiny Alaskan towns will do. And we found the harrumphing and paper rustling amusing. We liked it when this old guy said inappropriate things about townspeople we knew. A LOT of the time, it had nothing to do with us. Although once he did mention my sister and me, and said we were lovelier by the day. My mom got this look on her face like “Keep Their Name Out Your Mouth.”

Once in grade school, I happened across this old man in the street. I smiled and said hello. Just as I passed, he whacked the backs of my knees hard with a long umbrella. I was gangly and clumsy and my knees buckled. In his oldest, wobbliest years–I was away at school–he had an accident at the bookstore and my mother helped him to clean himself up, and called for someone to bring fresh clothes. A strong sense of decline and mortality is another thing small towns are good for.




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