Truly pathetic

Today photographers captured the notes in Donald Trump’s hand as he spoke to reporters. There is nothing scandalous in them. All it says is:


What is extraordinary is that he needs notes to say such ordinary things and even to repeat banalities like “I want nothing”.

On the one hand, we can be reassured that he knows how to read. On the other, it looks like he never learned to write in cursive script.

Bernie calls it as he sees it: What happened in Bolivia was a coup

Bolivia is in turmoill following the coup that ousted President Evo Morales who resigned and is now in Mexico. At least 20 people have been killed in clashes between the security forces and protestors. Morales’ political party the Movement for Socialism (Mas) has the majority in parliament and could vote to reject Morales’s resignation but have chosen not to, for fear of exacerbating the tensions.

Bernie Sanders was questioned about events in Bolivia and was unequivocal about calling it a coup.

So far, we have had two successful right wing takeovers of Latin American countries in Brazil and Bolivia and an as-yet unsuccessful ongoing attempt in Venezuela, with the US backing all three.

Catching up on the impeachment inquiry

Seth Meyers tries to bring us up to date on the fast-moving impeachment investigation into Donald Trump’s attempts at bribery and extortion with the Ukrainian president. This sets the stage for this week’s public testimony by many more witnesses, including Trump’s Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland who has a whole lot of explaining to do to reconcile his earlier testimony with that of career officials in the state department who have contradicted him.

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Ads that avoid explicit use of sexual terms

It is odd how the mainstream media, awash in violence and sexual innuendo, is so squeamish about using accurate terms such as penis and vagina for bodily features. There has been an effort to remove the hesitancy about vaginas by means such as The Vagina Monologues but there seems to still be some hesitancy with regard to penises.

This hesitancy can produce strange results. I was watching an ad on TV that was discussing how to deal with Peyronie’s Disease that affects the shape of penises. Instead of using the word at all or describing the problem in a matter-of-fact way, they used vegetables of different shapes and sizes to make the point

It reminded me of the comic strip The Boondocks some years ago where the grandfather was watching an ad on TV for erectile dysfunction. But instead of saying so, the ad was coy and resorted to circumlocutions such as urging men to use their product so that they could ‘get in the game’. This caused much frustration for the oblivious grandfather who kept asking his world-wise grandson Huey (who knew exactly what was being promoted and why) what the game being played was and being mystified about why the advertisers were not telling him.

How even lousy political books can become best sellers

I think it is safe to say that Donald Trump Jr., the grifter son in a grifter family, would not be considered a deep thinker or a literary genius. So how did it come to be that the book he purportedly wrote rose to #1 on the New York Times non-fiction best-seller list? In fact, it is surprising how so many political books by hack politicians are advertised as ‘best sellers’ according to this or that publication.
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Slumlord billionaires

In yesterday’s post about the book Moneyland that exposes how the ultra-wealthy who want to find a safe haven for the money they laundered frequently choose the option of buying mansions in the most pricey cities, not to live in but as investments. This article looks at Bishops Avenue, an exclusive street in London known as ‘Billionaires’ Row’, that now features multi-million dollar homes that have been bought and remain unoccupied so that they are falling apart, creating what is effectively one of the world’s priciest slums.

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How unethical do you have to be to resign from the Trump administration?

We now have an answer. Remember Mina Chang, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, who was found to have several whoppers in her resume? It looked like she was going to grit it out, in typical Trump style, and stay on in her job. But it appears that there were even more dubious things that she had done and when she was confronted with them today, she finally resigned.
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Book review: Moneyland (2019)

The subtitle of this book by investigative journalist Oliver Bullough pretty much says it all: The inside story of the crooks and kleptocrats who rule the world. If you recall, my review of the film The Laundromat (2019) dealt with how the firm Mossack Fonseca specialized in creating shell companies for people to hide their ill-gotten gains from their victims and governments. This book lays bare how the corrupt system works, providing multiple detailed examples from all over the world.
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