Browsed by
Author: Brad

I am a lifelong resident of the Puget Sound and have lived in Seattle for the past 31 years. I am married and have two kids and I have a demanding job. All of those things take up a great deal of my time, otherwise you'd see more content on this blog. What I'm reading: Silence, by Shusaku Endo; All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr; and Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Favorite Films: Apocalypse Now, Brazil, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, The 400 Blows. What I'm listening to: Angel Olsen, Drive By Truckers, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave (always).
Robert Mueller’s Road Map for Impeachment of Trump

Robert Mueller’s Road Map for Impeachment of Trump

I hope all of you took the time to watch Mueller read his statement about the findings of the special investigation and what he could and could not do according to law. The law matters to him – a lot. Not so much to the person at the center of the investigation.

I was working so I could not watch it, but I did read accounts of the reading on a few different news websites.

David Frum’s column gets to the heart of the Muller report and distills it in just a few short paragraphs:

Obstruction of justice, though, need not be clandestine to count as a crime. What matters is intent—and that must be judged by Congress, not a special counsel subordinate to the Department of Justice and bound by its rule that a president cannot be indicted.

The full report is rich with details. But that’s the essence. A foreign power interfered in the U.S. election to help the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign welcomed the help and repeatedly lied about it. The lying successfully obscured some questions the investigation sought to answer; in the end, it found insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. President Trump, in public and in private, worked to stop the investigation.

Those are the facts. What are the remedies? Mueller underscored at his press statement: He did not exonerate the president. Under the Department of Justice rules he was subject to, he lacked the power to act.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration refuses to take steps to secure the next presidential election against the interference that swayed the last.

I have two questions:

Congress – Will you carry out your duty to oversee the Executive Branch or will you let the president get away with obvious crimes for which only your branch of government can hold him accountable?

Trump – will you do anything about interference in American elections by hostile foreign governments, or will you shrug it off hoping you can benefit from the interference again in 2020?

It’s Alive!

It’s Alive!

Were it not for Robert Mueller reading a summary of his report last Wednesday, this blog would most likely be dead. As you can tell, all of us content providers haven’t been writing anything for quite a while. And, our domain master forgot to renew the domain name. Had I not tried to go to this site on Wednesday, I would not have seen the notice that that the domain name was for sale. I asked Cory about it and said that at least it ought to be worth something – even if it is bastardized English for the Japanese “harakiri“. Well I guess there is some grace period, because Tony was able to get it up and running again. He said it would have been gone for good within three days.

Providence. Thank you Mr. Mueller

So I guess I’ll try and put some stuff up once and a while. Like now.

Obama Fake News PSA by Jordan Peele

Obama Fake News PSA by Jordan Peele

Video technology has progressed to the “Well that’s pretty alarming” level.

I have no doubt that President Trump will soon use this example of believable, but fake video editing to tweet something like “See folks? I told you that wasn’t my voice on the Access Hollywood tape. Totally FAKE! Believe Me!!!” if he hasn’t already.

Of course we all know it was his voice on the tape, because Billy Bush confirmed it.

Anna von Hausswolff gives me chills

Anna von Hausswolff gives me chills

I’ve read reviews of Anna von Hausswolff’s previous albums in print magazines and online, but I had never bought any of her music. Then I read a four-star review of her new album, Dead Magic, in the April issue of MOJO Magazine where James McNair described her vocal performance for the song “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” as “…astonishing. With its whoops, shudders and sandpaper-throated expulsions, her singing sounds like an exorcism”. Okay then, tell me more! McNair describes where and how the album was created:

Recorded in nine days, largely using the hulking 20th century pipe-organ at Copenhagen’s Marmorkirken, or Marble Church, …With it’s spidery strings, drones, suspensions and drama-rich support from Hausswolff’s five-piece backing band, Dead Magic comes on like a horror soundtrack-in-waiting, its 47-minute journey bridged by just five songs. Thematically, it’s big on myths, legends and oblivion, and the darker more esoteric kind of magic you wouldn’t likely associate with Ali Bongo.

( I didn’t know who Ali Bongo was either.)

After reading the MOJO review, I searched around and found this article by Laura Snapes in The Guardian.

Never mind other people’s perceptions; she’s more perplexed by her reaction to her own music. “When I start becoming ugly, or raw or unfiltered, that’s also when the most interesting things happen,” she says. “But I feel shame because that’s not how you’re supposed to present yourself as a female. I’m quite a modern girl – and luckily in Sweden we have a very open mind towards women in arts – but I still get that feeling that I’m in a place I shouldn’t be, doing things you really shouldn’t do, like I’m fighting the ideals projected down from our ancestors.”

The paucity of women in extreme music means these stereotypes are even tougher to break: “They have to defend what they’re doing so hard because they’re in a male-dominated genre, so there’s more focus on them being female than on their work. It’s still weird for people to see someone screaming her nuts out, playing loud music. I think, how can it be shocking any more? We still haven’t broken down our idea of how the genders should be.” Old, male pipe organ custodians just about manage to avoid patting her on the head when they show her around their instruments. “Usually I just smile and let the music speak for itself, and then afterwards they’re always shocked and don’t know what to say any more.”

And then I watched this video, and you should too, like right now.

And then I bought the album.

It’s right in my wheelhouse. It’s like P.J. Harvey circa To Bring You My Love melded with Nick Cave’s Let Love In, Richard Wagner’s organ music, and the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. It gave me chills and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Buy it now and play it LOUD!

There is something very wrong with President Donald J. Trump

There is something very wrong with President Donald J. Trump

From NPR:

President Trump said on Tuesday “there’s blame on both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Va. The statement comes a day after Trump specifically called out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists — and three days after his initial statement on the protests, for which he was criticized for not condemning those groups and instead cited violence “on many sides.”

Tuesday’s apparent backtrack came during a televised event about infrastructure attended by some members of his Cabinet. Trump took questions from reporters, who asked about his earlier statements and their timing. When pressed, the president pushed back and began placing blame on counterprotesters and the “alt left.”

Instead, he returned to equating the demonstrators — who came to the college town to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, donning Confederate flags and swastikas, some carrying guns and shields, chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” — with counterprotesters.

… and in the transcript section at the bottom of the NPR piece is a very revealing Trump quote:

You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides [emphasis added].

Right… those racist bigots on the alt-right side are very fine people – model citizens!

This was part of a press conference that was supposed to be about infrastructure. Reporters were more interested in his response to the chaos in Charlottesville – and respond he did in ways that stunned pretty much everybody except leaders of the alt-right like Richard Spencer, who said he was “Really proud of him”.

Trump’s erratic, volatile statements elicit such strong responses from the public, the media, elected representatives and other government officials that his agenda gets buried in the dust. He is without a doubt the worst leader to ever reside in the White House. He lacks any sense of right and wrong, and is ignorant of how government works. He is overtly vainglorious and responds to those who criticize him with impulsive, petulant tweets.

How much longer can such a morally bankrupt, incompetent person hold the office of President of the United States of America?

One month? Six months? a year? a full term?

Wagers anyone?

Chuck Berry died today

Chuck Berry died today

Back in my radio days at KUGS at WWU in Bellingham, Chuck Berry was a staple of the Saturday afternoon “Roots Rock” show. He was perhaps the first rock n’ roll guitar god, he was a talented songwriter, and a master showman. His disciples include first and foremost The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Animals, and many more.

“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” – John Lennon

Karim Sulayman’s “I Trust You” Artful Protest vs. Anarchic Protest

Karim Sulayman’s “I Trust You” Artful Protest vs. Anarchic Protest

Karim Sulayman – I trust you from Meredith Kaufman Younger on Vimeo.

Who is Karim Sulayman? He is an Arab-American who has mastered the art of singing tenor. He has also mastered the art of protest. (And he performed it right in front of Trump Tower).

Sulayman’s protest touched people in a good way that made them stop and consider how they feel about Muslims. People watching him had to be asking themselves if they feared him and, if the answer was Yes, then why?

We need much more of this type of peaceful protest and much less of the anarchic type of protest that we saw in response to Milo Yiannopoulos’s scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley.

Did the Berkeley protest change the minds of any bigots who support Milo Yiannopoulos? I doubt it. The best way to protest a provocateur is to not show up at his event. People like Yiannopoulos relish conflict and chaos. It inflates their egos. So if you really want to marginalize him, make plans for a big protest and make sure he knows about it – and then make sure nobody shows up to protest.

Washington State fights Washington D.C. over Immoral Trump Immigration Order

Washington State fights Washington D.C. over Immoral Trump Immigration Order

We Washingtonians are blessed with a moral citizenry willing to speak out against the bigoted actions and orders of President Trump.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested a temporary restraining order against Trump’s travel ban; U.S. District Court Judge James Robart granted his request, John M. Koenig, former U.S. Foreign Services Ambassador to Cyprus, answers the moral question.

Front page story of today’s Seattle Times, “U.S. suspends enforcement of travel ban; Trump bashes judge”.

WASHINGTON — The government on Saturday suspended enforcement of President Trump’s refugee and immigration ban and scurried to appeal a judge’s order, plunging the new administration into a crisis that has challenged Trump’s authority — and ability to fulfill campaign promises.

The stand-down, a day after a federal judge in Washington state temporarily blocked the ban, marked an extraordinary setback for the White House. Only a week ago, the president had acted to suspend America’s refugee program and halt immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries that the government said raise terrorism concerns.

As the White House worked to reinstate the ban, Trump mocked U.S. District Judge James Robart, appointed by President George W. Bush, as a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” ruling “will be overturned.”

You can always count on Trump to insult the messenger who tells him anything that counters what’g going on in his self-declared “very good brain”. James Robart, the “so-called judge” is widely respected and was nominated for the federal bench by Republican President George W. Bush. At least Bush acted presidential. Donald Trump, on the other hand, continues to act in the same very un-presidential manner he did as a candidate. SAD!

On the opinion page of today’s paper, we get “America quickly losing moral high ground under Trump”, by John M. Koenig, who retired from U.S. Foreign Services and now lives in Bellingham.

After the first week of the Trump administration, however, I feel compelled to say this: I have never been so ashamed of American foreign policy as I have been in the past few days.

Today, America steps forth not as a sometimes misguided champion of values or proponent of enlightened self-interest. Trump’s America proclaims itself an unabashedly immoral actor, its policy openly selfish, subordinating principle to fear and greed, and destroying the foundation on which international cooperation rests. We strut as a bully in the world but cower timorously at home. This is a deeply inhumane and brutish foreign policy posture, likely to cause untold human suffering and disaster.

Some say we need to give the president and his team more time, but the new administration’s rush to cause harm counsels against much patience. Others argue for fighting the Trump administration’s destructive impulses from the inside, but that approach is rife with problems.

…How does one ethically hold a post of responsibility in an administration whose destructive and immoral program one fundamentally rejects? My children are grown, and I retired in 2015 after 31 years as an American diplomat. I do not face the dilemma that many of my former colleagues now confront. But I like to believe that, were I in their position, I would have the moral courage to go — and join the resistance on the outside.

Bravo! Washington is fighting the good fight, and winning.

Approval Rating: Donald Trump Breaks Record for Fastest Majority Disapproval Ratings

Approval Rating: Donald Trump Breaks Record for Fastest Majority Disapproval Ratings

Donald Trump’s favorite topic

President Donald Trump spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast meeting this morning, and guess what he talked about? Himself! As in the Celebrity Apprentice reality television show’s approval rating with him as the host compared to the show’s ratings with Arnold Schwarzenegger as host.

“We know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster, and I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings”.

Donald Trump likes to make jokes about other people’s failures, and he cares way too much about his own success or lack thereof. That’s why he whined like a baby when he found out that more people attended and watched President Obama’s inauguration than his. He just couldn’t believe it and spoke forcefully about how more people attended and watched his inauguration even though the event photos, television ratings, and transportation data clearly show otherwise. He cried about it for over a week, and will probably continue to do so until he dies.

So you have to wonder what a man who is so concerned about ratings thinks about this:

Donald Trump’s 8 day approval-rating honeymoon

Eight days into his term and he hit a majority disapproval rating. Donald Trump won that race. Fastest ever!

In contrast, President Obama left office with a 37% disapproval rating and 59% approval rating.

Given the way Trump has governed during his first two weeks, he may never reach a majority approval rating. Seriously, he’s never appealed to more than 50% of voters and if he continues to cater to the hard right wackos in the party instead of reaching out to people on the other side, he never will.