Thursday, April 27, 2017

No, It was not "For Show"

I think commentators are kind of funny with Trump. If you want to know Trump, you should have lived with my dad for 20 years, because that is the key. My father was also a sociopath and a narcissist - I get it.

Trump invited the Senate for 2 reasons. First, like any narcissist, he loves making powerful people do what he wants. Making 100 of the most powerful people in the country get on a bus (not even limos!) and drive in traffic to the White House is fun. Next time he'll make them were funny hats and wave.

But more importantly, second, he is freaked out by North Korea. He knew it would be an easy fix. And he knows he is a really really smart guy. So, if HE thought it was easy, then those putzes over at the Senate thought the same thing.  So now he will clear this up for them, and explain how difficult it is.

Ingrates.

PS - Next time, to prevent leaks, he is using the Cone of Silence. The staff just can't find it yet.  He knows it's there somewhere.

Trump's Tax "Plan"

To those of you from not the United States, you might have heard that the President would tell us more about his tax plan.  Actually the quote was...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/.../trump-promises-to-release-more-details-of-his-tax-p...
6 days ago - President Trump said he would release new details about his plan to overhaul the tax code on April 26, a sign that he is accelerating one of his ..
His Secretary of Goldman Sachs did that yesterday - sort of. He gave a one page list of Billionare Wet Dreams and dropped the mike.

In the same spirit, I want to fly. Given the same level of details that the Tax "Plan" Sec. Mnuchin gave, I am now officially an astronaut. Or a Bird.

99 down

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trip Out to a State Park in Connecticutt

pre-hike.
This last week-end Eddie and I took a drive and a little hike to a small state park in Connecticutt. Actually it is a state park in a section, a Greenwich City Park in a section and a Stamford City Park in a section.  But I like  the place (Mianus Park).  It has a very chill vibe.

Father and Son fishing on the stream

Well this would never work in California. They laid out old Christmas trees to naturally turn into mulch. 
 The idea of "mulching" trees is fine, but if you just laid them out like this in California, you'd have a giant fire ASAP.

Upstream


Downstream


Republican Are Enabling This White House to Turn Government Into Shit

Republicans are enabling this White House to an embarrassing degree. Remember when they had shit-storms about the possibility that AFTER leaving the White House the Clintons were making money on their names.

AFTER...

This White House uses the State Department to send out Press Release's on our Current President's CURRENT holdings for his monetary benefit.  That is, LITERALLY, un-Constitutional. Literally as in, it is defined as illegal in the Constitution (Article I, Emoluments clause).

WTF (Which means What The Fuck are Republicans doing? I thought they were the conservative party.)

The State Department -AFTER BEING CAUGHT - took the feed and article down and said, whoops. You know how many years of hearings there would be if this was Hillary?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"The Angry People" Give the "New" Huffington Post a Woody


I wonder if the "New" Huffington Post welcome editorial was written to singularly annoy me? It is like they said, "What will piss off Scott?"

I get that a new editor wants to put her new stamp on things.  Rah rah.

But her sweeping generalizations annoy me.

For example:


For me, the biggest divide in America, indeed across the globe, is between those who have power and those who don’t, and that doesn’t easily line up with our red and blue, left or right politics. The media has come up short in telling the story of one side of that divide ― of the people experiencing anger, voicelessness and powerlessness.
Facts and truth are basic elements of the news. But they alone are not enough. Emotion, humor and empathy are also essential ingredients of journalism that helps you know what’s real. It’s no wonder so many people these days get their news from comedy shows.

Bullshit. Since the election the media has done nothing but tell the story of THAT divide. All I have heard is tales of woe from angry white people who voted for Trump and now are upset that people think they are racists. And commentators (and Bernie Sanders) constant tell me that I need to stop even thinking ill of those voters.

Hey, here is an idea... tell the story of us that voted for Hillary but still supported (and continue to support) the policies that help people that voted for Trump. I haven't worked in a few years full time, but for over a two decades I made well over twice the "median family income" and I was happy to work for public Health Care, increased Veteran's Benefits, school funds via taxes and effort. I worked in non-profits like Habitat for Humanity and paid a shit load in taxes. And I was okay with that. It was the price of citizenship and helping my fellow Americans.

But now I am suppose to feel guilty because the Trump voters don't feel valued. Even though 93% of them would vote for him again. Bite me!

or

A simple but powerful question drove me to join HuffPost three months ago after nearly 15 years at The New York Times: What would it mean to create a news organization that saw itself not as writing about people who feel left out of the political, economic and social power arrangements, but for them?

Wow, that kind of trashes the New York Times. Apparently they are writing only for people who feel they have power in the political, economic and social power arrangements.  I wonder if you have to be powerful in all to subscribe?  Maybe it is just a few. Clearly, I have to cancel my subscription.

Idiot.

The Problem with "Corporate Tax Rates" and Lowering Them - You have to raise somewhere else

This came out in the "leaked news" today.
President Donald Trump’s zeal to unveil a tax plan before his 100th day in office is raising questions about just how thorough his “tax reform” plans will be, amid signals that his focus for now is on slashing tax rates.
Trump has directed aides to move quickly on a plan to cut the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, a Trump administration official said on Monday.

And I have to say, that is is a common refrain from corporations. They say the US is noncompetitive because our tax rate is 35% and most of the world's is much lower. I don't want to argue the effective tax rate that companies like GE and Apple get, because that misses the point.

See the Red - we are also one of the few countries that tries to do a Worldwide Taxation.

US Corporations are correct, US Corporate taxes are very high compared to most countries rates.

HOWEVER, most countries tax their people at a much higher rate than the US does. We have decided, as a country, to tax our corporations. Greatly reducing these taxes may be fine. But to have a government that does what we demand of it, that means that those taxes will have to come from people - from higher individual taxes.

You can't exclude that from the discussion. Only we have excluded that idea - which is why it all goes in the shitter when you put you try to do it.


I have become a social media / web Luddite

It is hard for me to believe, but I have become a web Luddite.

I think the changes that have occurred in the last 6 years to now to sites like Salon.com, HuffingtonPost.com, msnbc.com have been crappy. I don't need automatically playing videos... I don't need dumbed down content.... I don't need to be bombarded by HEADLINES AND PICTURES IN MASSIVE TYPE AND SIZE....

I realize I must be very nearly alone in this.  As I flee these spots, they must generate more content, because sites continue to switch and use them.

More and more, I find myself reading articles from web sites I like via "Flipboard", which was cool when Ashton delivered it 5 years ago, and hasn't changed much.  I like that the ap simply brings me the stories with a headline and reasonable sized picture. I can still read the web sites I like without being assaulted.

And it isn't the ads. I get that ads have to occur - and I actually will use them as a call to duty if they are interesting to me.  That is how one pays for free content.

No, the annoyance for me is the assumption of stupidity and lack of attention. The entire web is now designed for 12 year old illiterates with A.D.D.

Witness the "new" HuffingtonPost, which seems to have used The National Enquirer as its template.
Seriously, look at this crap.

There is a full width picture of the "top" story. And a headline. And the headline is ALL IN CAPS. Why? And the HUGE ASS, ALL IN CAPS HEADLINE IS ALSO UNDERLINED and BOLDED. Why?Did they assume that we might not understand the story was related to the picture otherwise.

Spring in Morningside Park


This is our building in the background (art in midframe).
So Spring is occasionally pretty with seasons. Don't get me wrong, I still hate "seasons". Sunny and a consistent 70 - 80 beats "seasons" hands down, but if I have to shiver my ass in snow at least I should enjoy seasons.

It has been nice in Morningside Park now for a couple of days. Till today. Now it is raining and windy, and the flowers will come off everything. Yay seasons.

But I got some great pictures.



I love this tree because the color in person is very "Jacaranda Purple"



New Top

The new top is from a picture I took in Cuba. We were there in January for Ed's birthday.  Here is the wide picture pre-cropping.

Monday, April 24, 2017

This Isn't Funny...

The thing is, President Donald Trump isn't funny. You can't ignore it, or laugh about it. And a recent interview said that 93% of the people that voted for him would do it again.  I can't be funny in that world.

For example, I listened to the New York Times interview with President Trump and hoped it was an anomaly.  You know, that he was having a bad day.  But the recent AP interview was worse. go on, read the transcript it you dare (link).

It wasn't as bad as the New York Times, only because I listened to the Times and tried to read this.

Go on read this gem about cable news and ratings....

And then there was this massive exchange with the AP over cable television:
AP: Do you feel that one of the things with cable is there’s such real-time reaction with everything you say?
Trump: Yeah.
AP: Can you separate that sometimes from that actual decision?
Trump: The one thing —
AP: That you have to do —
Trump: OK. The one thing I’ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do. I don’t watch CNN anymore.
AP: You just said you did.
Trump: No. No, I, if I’m passing it, what did I just say [inaudible]?
AP: You just said —
Trump: Where? Where?
AP: Two minutes ago.
Trump: No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch it. Now I heard yesterday that MSNBC, you know, they tell me what’s going on.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My Review of Hello Dolly

Bette Pulls Off Hello Dolly in Top Form

Hello Dolly is an old school musical. You can either try to update it somehow, or hire a star and revel in the revival. Director Jeffery Zaks decided to go full on traditional, using Gower Champion’s staging and turning the full wattage of Bette Midler on to a willing audience. And it works marvelously.
Bette Midler charms as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly
Hello Dolly is a star vehicle, a Bette Midler is a star that carries it with ease. The audience loves every minute she is onstage, and she loves it as well. As times when her smile is turned up to 12, you see the happiness under the character, this is a showman that loves to connect with the audience.
For those few that don’t know the story, Bette Midler plays Dolly Levi, a matchmaker and more. She has set her eyes on Horace Vandergelder, the famous Yonkers’ half a millionaire. Horace is played by an always fun David Hyde Pierce, who is too pleasurable in the role to complain about his in and out accent. Dolly has been hired to find him a wife and has procured one Irene Molloy, haberdasher and widow from New York City.
Horace sets out to New York, without realizing he has a house full of trouble. He has a niece that wants to marry an artist. Two store clerks that want an adventure and Dolly Levi who wants Horace for her own. Songs, laughs and mayhem ensue.
The clerks (the always excellent Gavin Creel* and the perfectly cast Taylor Trensch) meet Mrs. Molloy and her assistant, Minnie Fay at the hat shop. Dolly and Horace enter at the same time and tales are spun as to Cornelius’ wealth. Horace leaves, determined to find a more suitable new wife, and Cornelius and Barnaby find their New York adventure by escorting Irene and Minnie to dinner. Kate Burton plays the lovely Irene and Beanie Feldstein is great fun as the bubbly and charming Minnie Fay. The couples have a nice and light chemistry.
The show really revs up in the second half, where all parties converge on the Harmonia Gardens, a swank restaurant that Dolly hasn’t entered in 10 years, since her husband passed. The most famous dance numbers and songs play out here. Personally, I am not a fan of the song as a rule, but the raucous and wonderful delivery and energy sold it to me. It is a showstopper in the true sense of the word.
The show wraps up tidily – and you except nothing else.   
Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
Hello Dolly delivers exactly what you expect, but delivers it so perfectly you end up getting swept away. Bette Midler’s performance is excellent, and on the rare moments when she falters she easily moves back into her persona that also fits the play. Her years in Las Vegas playing The Showgirl Must Go On have taught her well.
The show has a large cast and many moving parts, both figuratively and literally in terms of staging. Director Jerry Zaks and Choreographer Warren Carlyle have done great work. I never saw the Gower Champion version, so I don’t know how much was changed, but did I love this show.
* I also attended one performance where Mr. Creel's understudy, Christian Dante White, performed fantastically in the role.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pretty Damn Funny

Happy 420.

(In the US "420" is kind of the code for marijuana and 4/20 or April 20th - hence the funny police trap below.)

Wyoming MN Police Department is pretty damn funny.


Just Imagine if some hick-ass Democrats did this to Barbara Bush's picture

Sarah Palin and her hick-ass friends. Because Republican weasels have no respect for anything (and if you have respect, then you're not a weasel).
Kid Rock, Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent showing their "Respect for the First Lady / Secretary of State" portrait pose.
If any Democratic did that to a portrait of Barbara Bush or Laura Bush there would be hell to pay by the media. The MSM is SO NOT "unfair".  Also, what kind of yokel doesn't take off their hat in the house?

Wait, Which is it? Fulfill or Not?

The Administration (the anti-I Cannot Tell A Lie team) is sending mixed signals regarding Iran.

Congress requires a periodic report from the administration on how the Iran Government is doing with regards to the nuclear agreement. The Trump Administration was therefore forced a few days ago to say Iran is complying with the agreement.

But Trump hates this agreement (cancelling it was going to be is "Top Priority" in many speeches*).

So yesterday the President and the Secretary of State took time out (...from greeting the New England Patriots and asking for exemptions for Exxon to the Russian sanctions...) to issue a vague warning to Iran. Iran is being "provocative". And not in that sexy grab-a-pussy kind of way that our President likes. And not in a breaking agreement kind of way. More in a change the subject on TV kind of way.

So Iran hasn't really done anything wrong, but Trump has found the military hardware and is all agog over it. So any chance to blow things up.

This is not a great time to be all "look how big my junk is", since the Iranians have a Presidential Election coming right up and this bluster just empowers the hard-liners, but this administration cannot get the timing right on their own elections, much less some Iranian one...

* Of course in other speeches his "Top Priority" was building a wall at the Mexican Border, in other ones pulling out of the Paris Accord, in other ones Repealing Obamacare

Here they are just incompetent, in South Korea the Administration is Insulting and Scary

Turns out that what we attribute to general incompetence looks different from an ally.

President Trump noted a couple of things recently regarding our ally, South Korea. That the aircraft carrier Vincent was on its way there. And, that we were looking to China to help rein in North Korea, since they have the leverage and Korea used to be part of China.

Both were incorrect and stupid.  And we Americans treated them as the incompetence at play which they were.  But it looked different from the point of our allies.


In the first case, the wayward aircraft carrier... For the administration (and most Americans) having the ship go there as promised or a few weeks later is no big deal. For South Korea, it was a major point of contention. To THEM, we were lying and bluffing. Something they see form North Korea all the time.  It's never good to be compared to North Korea.  And when it turns out that the aircraft carrier was, in fact, heading towards Australia, their media made a big fact of the fact that Russia, China and North Korea were laughing at them because their ally (the US) couldn't be bothered to tell the truth.

As for the China / Korea history, Trump got it  way wrong. Now to you and I, this probably doesn't mean much. But (for my cheesehead) it is like the President of China saying that Wisconsin used to bre part of Michigan, and to put pressure on Harley Davidson to lower tariffs, they would talk to the Governor of Michigan.

Korea has been attacked and occupied (rarely) by China, it the two people are very different from their perspectives. It is akin to saying the Italians and Norweigians are the same because they are both from Europe.

Why do we care?  Good question class, glad you asked it.

We care because the President of the United States must be seen to be an honest international actor, or his words will be ignored, and that doesn't leave a lot of options. Now, we know the North Korea doesn't like us, but if neither Korea BELIEVES us, then our 40,000+ servicemen on the Korean Peninsula are in danger. As well as the millions of people we have sworn to protect in South Korea.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Reivew of Indecent

Indecent Spins a Tale of Hope


Indecent surprised me in the best possible way. As you walk into the Cort Theater, the actors are sitting onstage under a sign explains this is the story of a little Jewish play. The colors, the actor’s outfits and the set are all various shades of drab. Waiting for the play to begin you don’t feel excitement as much as resignation that what will follow will be more a history lesson as drama.
And the start of the play seems to reiterate that understanding, the players stand, dust draining from their outfits in a move that seems less solemn than portentous as they introduce themselves as types not characters. We are they shown the beginning of a playwright’s first drama, God of Vengeance. This is the play within the play that the story refers to. It is 1907 Yiddish play that tells the story of a Jewish family where the father runs a brothel and the wife and daughter live about it with him. The daughter and one of the prostitutes fall in love and openly kiss and embrace on stage. The father is furious and angry and crushed, condemning his daughter to prostitution for her sin.
Richard Topol (photo: Carol Rosegg)
The playwright shares his draft with members of the artistic community in Poland, who are dumbfounded by the show. They cannot believe that Sholem Asch would expose this part of the community and hold it up to ridicule. They withdraw support, trying to explain that stories of Jews written by Jews should be uplifting, not examples of horrid behavior. The one person who finds the beauty of the play and the love of the women, is a simple farmer, the cousin of one of the men, Lemmel (a fantastic Richard Topol).
Sholem and his wife venture to Berlin and, with a troupe of players, find great success with God of Vengeance on the Berlin stage. Success follows as they tour with the play throughout Europe and ultimately into America.  When success off Broadway translates to a Broadway run, the play is altered. The gentle love between the girls is twisted to be a seduction and exploitation of the daughter, in order to placate the censors. It doesn’t work. On opening night the show is shut down and the players arrested.
At this point, playwright Paula Vogel’s Indecent takes a wondrous and unexpected turn. The focus moves from the troupe and the actions of the police to the reactions of the community and playwright Sholem Asch. The “established” Jewish community of New York is aghast at the drama, echoing the original Polish Yiddish complaints that it shows the community in a negative light.  Sholem, who was so passionate in Poland in defense of his play, is dismissive of it now, some 16 years later. He is tired of being know only for this one play; he’s moved on to writing novels and embarrassed by his lack of English. He abandons the troupe, the play and his friend Lemmel who has faithfully shepherded God of Vengeance for years.
The cast of Indecent (photo: Carol Rosegg)
Indecent raises the question, who owns outrage and story? Is it youth; is it the creator who is allowed to withdraw it at will? These questions grow organically out of the material and force you to think. And it isn’t a Jewish question. African Americans have asked it when they hear Rap that will offend others. Gay Americans ask it as they watch a parade that they are sure would shock their mothers. Christians Americans ask it when they see a car with Jesus bumper sticker cut off someone else on the road and then flip them off.
Indecent answers the question as well, by showing a single scene from God of Vengeance. The moment in time owns it, the actors own it and the viewer owns it. It is a singular moment that deserves to be judged as performed.
Director Rebecca Taichman has created magic at the Cort Theater, helped by Production Designer Tal Yarden - who’s simple and evocative set keeps everything clean and clear. At the end of Indecent I stood, a bit in wonder, that my preliminary expectations were so wrong. Indecent pulls magic out of the air every night. And the players give it to the audience.