Wednesday, February 28, 2018

For the tRump Administration, there is no Hope!

Or very soon, there won't be! I'm running a Hump Day Special here for you on this Wacky Wednesday. In this case, tRump's camel does indeed have two humps!

The first Hope Hicks hump on tRump's camel today: Ms Hicks admitted that she lies for our fearless leader! Gee, lady! Tell us something we didn't already know!

And no sooner did the masses digest that very significant story, the second Hope Hicks hump on tRump's camel stole baby sister's thunder with this gonzo headline: Hopey is resigning! Quitting! Throwing in the towel!

Who can blame her? Even ardent tRumpanzees were beginning to opine that there was very little hope for our glorious tRumpenfuhrer. But now... but now, there is no Hope!

Well, effective from whenever she officially takes the Cult 45 Walk of Shame and heads out of the White House for the last time...

Sad! Truly sad.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

PS: And her (somewhat) unexpected resignation has nothing to do with how she needs to focus lots and lots and lots of time (and money) on the epic legal battle to stay the hell out of prison, right?

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

A note about the Dem Memo

The release of the Democrats' memo was a bit anti-climatic. The Republican Memo was released in its entirety and without redactions, of course.

But Devin Nunes and #BenedictDonald made sure that the playing field would not be level; they delayed the release of the Democrats' follow up and redacted the shit out of it in a vain effort to blunt its impact.

Even so, the memo makes it crystal-clear that the Nunes Memo was a crock of deceptive and deeply partisan shit.

So much has been written about it that I'm not going to add much. I merely want to say that the back and forth about the memos is just one more thing that perfectly illustrates how deceitful and treacherous Rethuglicans have become. Their lies, deceit, and scorched earth tactics were completely out of control before tRump was installed and have since become mind-numbingly bad.

Repugs can practice this bizarro smoke-and-mirrors stuff all they want. It's not going to convince the American public that tRump is fit to hold the highest office in the land or that he got to the White House in a legit way.

A majority of Americans saw these things clearly on the day that orange shit-gibbon assumed power; that majority grows larger with each passing day. People are jumping off the tRump train faster than fleas jumping off a dead dog.

The time when all but the most die-hard trumpists see him for the thuggish and incompetent con man that he is is fast approaching. The ones who've quaffed gallons and gallons of his vile-tasting Kool Aid will hang on to the bitterest of ends. But it's all good.

We will get rid of this moronic and mendacious buffoon. Reversing the damage he's done to the Republic will take a while, but America's up to the task.

The noose around this pretender's neck is tightening. The Mueller investigation is proceeding apace. And tRump will be impeached, removed via the 25th Amendment or will resign of his own volition before the mid-term elections are here on November 6th.

If you'd like a good break down of what's in the Democratic Memo, click on this.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The GOP and its NRA masters are in full panic mode

It was exactly one week ago that gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you no doubt know that seventeen students and teachers were killed and 14 more were taken to hospitals.

There are thousands of stories on the subject, of course. I don't really have anything to add. I do, however, want to make an observation or two about some of the political fallout.

Students from M.S.D. High have been on a highly-visible crusade since the shooting stopped to get our elected officials to do something about our non-existent gun laws. And in the last three or four days, students from many other places have begun to join in.

That's been very inconvenient for our Rethuglican legislators and Governors. And for their NRA masters who fund all those reelection campaigns.

High school students know that  politicians literally don't care whether they live or die. They can see--it's been crystal-clear for a very long time--that every last GOP elected official, whether in State houses or in Washington, will toe the NRA line to the last detail even if their own kids were cut down in the hallways at Hometown High.

And they don't like it.

It should surprise no one that a tipping point has come, and the kids who have dodged bullets and watched friends bleed out are ready to do something about the whole sick situation. Even if the corrupt, uncaring people who are elected to represent them are not.

Poor Rethuglicans. They don't know what to do. 

They're just trying to mouth the right sentiments, vomit up the talking points handed to them by their PR consultants and hope it's going to stop.

No, not the shootings. The protests.

They don't get it. They don't get it now. They're not going to see the light after the next massacre, either.

They won't get after they're turned out of office by voters of all ages, backgrounds and party affiliations. But that's how this chapter in the never-ending saga of gun violence in America will end.

This chapter. There will be many others, of course.

I had occasion to refer to Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a Changin' in a recent post. More specifically about Jimmy Fallon's uncannily good cover of this '60s gem.

Some of the lyrics to that great song can be very instructive while this is happening. The third and fourth verses in particular:

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside is ragin'
Will soon shake your windows
and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
Don't criticize what
you can't understand
Your sons and daughters 
are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get off the new one
If you can't lend a hand
For the times they are a-changin'

Kids know that their lives matter less to our decision makers than NRA dollars. Less than gun industry profits. Less than holding fast to this recent interpretation of the Second Amendment that any citizen can own and parade around with any weapon of their choosing. Even military-grade weapons that are designed for the express purpose of killing a lot of people in a short period of time.

It's sympomatic of a deep, deep sickness in American life that politicians have steadfastly resisted doing anything about gun violence in this country. About the problem in general, and especially about mass killings in our schools.

I don't expect them to do anything about it as a result of students' protests.

I expect that we're going to get a lot of new legislators. Soon.

Right after the mid-term elections coming up on the 6th of November.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Yes, it is National Drink Wine Day!

Who says ol' Bulldog here only posts when he wants to poke #BenedictDonald in the eye! Not so!

Today is National Drink Wine Day and that's a wonderful, happy thing!

I know, you're all saying "I'll drink to that!" Yeah, that what my social media friends said.

But it truly is a reason to celebrate. And I did need one of those.

I decided to go with a Pinot Grigio. A cheap one, but a Pinot non-the-less. And it's really putting me in a celebratory mood.

I wouldn't lie.

I hope your Sunday and your weekend went well. And if it didn't, a glass of wine or three right now surely wouldn't make it any worse! Go for it!

Loving life and this mellow glass of vino, I am,

Besotted Bulldog Ben Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My reply to a Trumpkin's social media comment today

Note: there is an amazing video of Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon performing his own updated cover of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changing" with fresh lyrics that are plainly pro-democracy and anti-tRump. It's uncanny how well he channels a young Dylan in the performance.

And Freddy (not his real name) said it was just more anti-tRump propaganda.

Yeah, that hit a nerve.

Here's my reply to his comment:

Freddy, thanks for showing your unabashed support of Benedict Donald. It's good for Americans who have actually taken the time to follow tRump's many traitorous acts to know who the brain-washed, Kool Aid-chugging turncoats are.

You have no clue.

He's been laundering money for his Russian masters for at least 15 years. There are reasons why eight different members of his transition team or inside his administration met with Russian officials--all of whom our intelligence services know were spies--and then failed to disclose the contacts as required by law and then lied about the meetings!

They all--ALL of them--claimed no meetings took place until they learned--from media accounts or leaked info from people in our intel services--that we had photos of the meetings and tapes of the conversations.

Eight different tRumpkins whose salaries we pay. Eight of them and at least 18 different meetings or phone conversations. They didn't disclose one of them. Not one. The FBI and other intel services learned of those contacts because we monitor and record every call and every contact by known Russian spies.

The tRump traitors were caught not because we were wire tapping or surveilling them. They were caught because we were already monitoring and surveilling the Russian spies they called or met with.

You're so clueless.

There are reasons why he won't put into place the sanctions against Russia that are mandated by congress. The law requiring the sanctions passed 98-2 in the Rethuglican-controlled Senate! They know the game he's playing but they're too cowardly to do anything about it.

And they think they need trump to stay in office for them to enact the rest of their extreme legislative agenda. And GOP Senators and Reps know their campaign contributions from people like the Koch brothers and the Mercer family will be cut off if they don't produce on that agenda.

And they know they cannot get reelected if that money dries up.

Bringing the focus back to the treachery committed by trump: How is it even possible that he has had eight different meetings or conversations with Putin or others in Putin's administration since he was sworn in that were concealed from the American people and we only know that those meetings or conversations took place because Reuters has Russian-speaking journalists on staff who monitor the Russian official news services?

How can that even be?

So, that's a non-issue with you? That we learn of things our president is doing only by getting news from Russian media. Are you kidding me!?

And when journalists or celebs like Fallon or people like me tell the truth about things he's done, that's propaganda? 

You're out of your mind!

Believe whatever you like but know this: trump is a straight-up traitor and we're going to stop him before he can burn our democracy to the ground!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A shocker: tRump is blocking the publishing of the Dem Memo

Back on February 3rd, I published a blog posting about the release of the Nunes Memo. As is widely known, the memo is the work of the Republican chair of the house Intelligence Committee, Rep Devin Nunes of California. Well, they say his staff put it all together, as Nunes has been recused from anything relating to tRump-Russia, but we all know what bullshit that is.

The memo purports to show that when the FBI went to a FISA court for permission to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page, that it essentially hoodwinked the judge and received permission to keep tabs on Mr Page based on flimsy and basically false evidence.

It paints a picture of an FBI and a DOJ hell-bent on crucifying Donald tRump.

It's all bullshit.

This, as you might imagine, led to the Democrats on the intel committee getting ready to release a memo of their own to show the context and make it clear that the Nunes memo is incomplete, misleading and basically a partisan hack job designed to distract Americans from the tRump-Russia investigation.

Well, after people like Donald tRump and Paul Ryan went on and on for two weeks about transparency and getting all the facts out and so on, you'd expect that the #PoserPrez would sign off on the Dem Memo getting out there.

Well, I hope you're sitting down. He wouldn't allow it to be released! Oh, no!

Actually, you and I both know that tRump is the GOP's Thug-in-Chief and he'd never do anything that would actually allow the American people to get the facts about Russiagate and all the crooked things he and his party have done in the last two years. The party would never let that go on, and neither will the venial, incompetent moron at the top.

So the Democrats' memo will not see the light of day anytime soon. If and when it does, it will be so heavily redacted that its significance and importance will be obscured.

For an interesting piece about tRump's obstruction and what's happening with the memos and the Russia investigation in general, follow this link.

Hey, #BenedictDonald! We see you. This is not going to end well for you. Nor for Mr Nunes. Nor for all the other turncoats in the GOP who traded loyalty to their country for some short-term political victories.

A day of reckoning is coming.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile
    All Rights Reserved

Revisiting post: Could Benedict Donald wag the dog in Syria?

The Bulldog Barks

Four days ago (Feb 9th), I posted about the possibility that our #PoserPrez would use a military conflict to distract the country from his many outrages and crimes. I went into the situations in Iran and North Korea with a modicum of deal, but wrote that I believed the most serious situation was the still-intensifying situation with American military advisers facing off against their Russian counterparts--who are very closely allied with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's military--in that country's intractable civil war.

The military clash that I talked about in that post was very serious. And it turns out that it was much more serious than anyone knew at the time. The news that there were dozens of Russians killed when we fought off the attack by the pro-government, Kremlin-backed forces puts the whole matter in a very different light.

This--as you might image--has raised in stakes in Syria. A lot. Folks can opine about whether it being a bigger deal than we realized makes it more likely or less likely for it to blow up. I would not say that I know for certain either way.

But the bottom line is that the U.S. is in the monumentally-shitty position of having a petty, grudge-holding, power-hungry madman with zero military experience or expertise as the Commander-in-Chief as this dangerous situation intensifies.

And the craziest thing of all is that it's quite possible that this potential catastrophe is not even the most grave situation we face because this madman was elevated to the most powerful position on the planet.

Just one more thing to keep your eye on, citizen. Welcome to life in tRump's Amerikkka.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Friday, February 9, 2018

Of course, it's National Pizza Day!

It is, indeed, thee day we celebrate this glorious food and I'm going to chow down on some monster chunk of pizza tonight or my name's not Benjamin Basile!

I know you love pizza too. If you don't, there's just no hope for you.

Being Sicilian, I come by my love of pizza honestly. As you many know, pizza in any part of Italy is not at all like the pizza we've come to love here in the States.

Many would describe it as primitive. Overly simple. Lacking in character, deficient in taste....

What you'd most likely find in any restaurant serving pizza in "the old country" would be a simple but tasty dough, stretched out on a real wooden peel, topped with a modest amount of good, hearty tomato sauce... here's the part that's hard to swallow, so to speak: it may or may not be topped with cheese!

And if it is, a bit of fresh basil--fresh, meaning not chopped to pieces--may well be the only topping other than sauce and (maybe) cheese. An excellent quality cheese and basil, but you can see what I meant about authentic Italian pizza and American pizza being quite different.

Well, regardless of what your idea of what pizza should be like may be, I hope you get to observe National Pizza Day properly... That is, by getting some in yer belly!

Getting mighty hungry in O'do, I am,

Benjamin Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Our government is shutting down in exactly 10 minutes

Well, it's happening again.

The Federal Government is shutting down. Last week's shutdown is so passé now.

By the time you read this, it will be a done deal. And in case you're wondering, it was Sen. Rand Paul's intransigence that put the last nail in the coffin.

I think that the American people have grown used to this.

But it shouldn't happen.

No, I'm not doing the "both sides" thing here. Not at all.

This is one more chapter in a long story that began in 1980 but was kicked up a notch or three in October of 2013 when Republicans took advantage of the annual budget resolution to try to force drastic cuts to essential programs, especially anything that benefited working Americans. (That, by the way, is how the term sequestration worked its way into the American lexicon.)

So back in 2013 when that evil, free-spending Barack Obama was giving away everything, that was a good shutdown, right? Thank God there were principled men like Ted Cruz watching out for us back then! Ted Cruz--what a fucking joke!

What was true about budgets, spending, tax revenue and deficits while Obama was President is still true today. It's not the dollars and deficits, it's where the money goes. Spending and the red ink that can ensue is A-OK if the people and the corporations who write the big checks to reelection campaigns are benefiting; if it's those lazy welfare cheats and people on SSI and retirees who're benefiting, we don't have a dime for that kind of spending!

Now that Repugs control the executive branch and both houses of congress, they can do anything they damn well please. Because--just like in the days of King Ronnie--deficits don't matter anymore. Not at all.

Well, they don't matter if the fat cats and Koch heads get their cut!

This could get ugly. Stay tuned for more developments.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Could Benedict Donald wag the dog in Syria?

The Bulldog Barks

There are multiple signs that Donald tRump is getting frantic as Robert Mueller's noose is tightening around his neck. He is behaving--as so many people have pointed out--like someone who's got something to hide.

Our Poser Prez is really into posturing and talking tough. Many of us are leery of all his saber-rattling and are convinced that he's capable--more than capable--of starting a war just to deflect attention from his many mistakes, outrages and crimes and to thwart the Independent Counsel's investigation. I know he would do that in a heartbeat.

Journos and pundits have written volumes about this disastrous possibility. The two situations about which we've been most concerned are, of course, Iran and North Korea.

I'm not at all discounting the possibility that the madman occupying the White House at the moment would go back on the agreement under which the Iranian regime has stopped their nuclear program, and eventually start a war or conflict in the aftermath. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

And the potential flash point on the Korean peninsula is an even bigger threat to our safety and security. The possible results there are just too horrible to contemplate. Anybody and everybody with even a shred of expertise in military, security or international affairs is predicting a bare minimum of two million casualties if the shit hits the fan in Korea.

Our losses could run as high as 70-80% of our 20,000 troops serving in that theater. I have no doubt that several thousand of the civilians from just about every country on earth who live and work in Seoul--a very modern mega-city and South Korea's capital--would become casualties. To say nothing of the loss of life among Korean non-combatants on both sides of the border--in very-vulnerable Seoul in particular.

So the American public is appropriately freaked out about any possible conflict in Iran or, especially, on the Korean peninsula.

But I'm saying that a conflict--right up to and including an actual, no-shit war-- with the Russians in Syria is quite possible and growing more likely by the minute.

The very serious engagement between our proxies and those in the employ of the Russians this week have barely drawn notice in the national media.

I'm not a pollster, but I'd wager that fewer than 10% of Americans have the slightest idea that the conflict blew up in the last 72 hours, let alone how serious it was. And it's not the first time that militias or forces supported by our side and the Russians have clashed. Not by a long shot.

A wag-the-dog scenario playing out with the Russians might be very appealing to Cadet Bone Spurs as it could give him a somewhat plausible-sounding cover in the matter of his collusion with Putin & Co. Something like "how could I be Vladimir's puppet if I'm willing to attack his peeps in Syria?" I don't think that gambit would work very well, but I absolutely believe it could seem like a good way to go in his head.

Having a president who's capable of blowing stuff up and inflicting possibly millions of casualties for short-term political gain or to stroke his fragile ego is mind-blowing. And very, very distressing.

And the fact that the other party in this possible shit-scenario could be the Russians takes a terrible situation and kicks it into the realm of terrifying. The realm of literally too-bleak-to-contemplate.

Yeah, it really sucks. The part that sucks the worst: it should never, never have come to this.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Monday, February 5, 2018

How cool is a Lifetime pass to America's National Parks?

Back in late August, I realized that it was time--way past time, actually--to get my Lifetime Senior Pass to our National Parks. The fee had been $20 for quite a few years, but someone made the decision to jack up the cost to $80!

This situation and the urgency of the moment came to my attention exactly five days before the change was to go into effect, and I wanted to make sure I threw down my twenty bucks and got hooked up before the cost skyrocketed.

It did. I did! And about three weeks ago, I finally had my hands on my Lifetime Pass to the coolest parks on the planet. (Yeah, processing it took a very, very long time!)

If you didn't beat the deadline, let me encourage you to do it anyway. I think our parks are well worth the new and higher fee, but when I was given an opp to take advantage of that much lower rate, I jumped all over it!

If you want to get to the site where you can still get your pass, follow this link.

Hope you're all doing well and that you're taking advantage of your opportunities to bust out of that little box where you spend most of your time, and get out into the wild! Just do it!

Planning a trip to Canaveral National Seashore soon, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

The Eagles finally bring home the Lombardi Trophy!

Tonight's 41-33 win by the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII came as a bit of a shock to many fans. No, not just fans in New England.

The Patriots were favored to win this one, but Tom Brady fell just a wee bit short with that 4th quarter comeback this time. He threw three TD's and cracked the 500 yard mark, all to no avail.

Brady's Hail Mary with no time on the clock took one high bounce off a defender's hands while Gronk tried in vain to get high enough to pull off a miraculous catch. The pigskin then thudded to the ground two feet into the end zone.

Just wasn't gonna happen. I think it was just Philly's year. I'm a long-time Pats fan, but the Eagles truly deserved it. This was, as you may know, their first-ever win in the BIG one!

Philadelphia QB Nick Foles was the MVP and that was also well-deserved; Nick played well when it counted this season and was smoking hot all through the play offs.

Eagles fans are in the process of celebrating as I write this. Celebrating BIG time!

I think the future for the Philly franchise is quite good, it's a fairly young team.

The future for whatever cars may be parked outside the bars and sports pubs in downtown Philly... not so great! We'll see how that works out; I'll be watching the morning news shows! Yeah!

Just a bit too full of chips, pizza and beer, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Nunes Memo and Rethuglican Treachery

The Bulldog Barks

So yesterday was the day that our #PoserPrez and his Merry Band of Rethuglicans decided that turning the American people against the Nation's premier law enforcement agency was a good way to go. The memo is just one piece of strategy in tRump's campaign to keep Independent Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller from taking him down.

Yeah, that Nunes Memo. Well, it was a cynical move. It smacks of desperation. And it won't work.

But--as many others have pointed out--it's likely to have lasting ill effects. Unintended consequences, as that old expression goes.

But #BenedictDonald and #LyinRyan don't care about any of that. Neither do the folks who make up tRump's base. They're sticking with him. It's insane.

Even though it's mind-blowing that we're in the middle of our biggest crisis since the British burned the original White House to the ground, this is indeed where we are.

My own prediction is that #MangoMussolini will resign or be removed from office before the end of his first--and only--term. That term wraps up in the third week of January, 2021.

Notice I did not say that he would be impeached. I can't imagine a scenario where 28 Repug reps would ever turn on tRump in the House; and I'm absolutely positive that he would never be tried and removed by the Senate.

An actual conviction and removal would require 67 Senators, total, to get on-board. It's just not going to happen. There are only a handful of congress folk on the Repug side in either chamber who have dared even to speak ill of him, much less to actually oppose anything the wanna-be tyrant wants to do.

And the ones who showed some spine in the first few months of his administration started some serious ass-kissing as soon as it looked as though he might be of some use in getting their extreme agenda passed. So impeachment and removal is NOT going to happen.

The sad truth is that the American people--with a little help from Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange and their cronies--put a turncoat, a Russian stooge in the White House. And now he's shown that there's nothing--literally nothing--he won't do to keep from giving up his ill-gotten power.

And with that tragic reality in mind, all I can think of to say is: America, you were warned!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile


© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Bulldog plays Solitaire. A Lot.

It's a truism that if you know how an individual spends his or her time, you'd know a lot about that person. Yeah, I'll buy that.

Here's a confession: Ol' Bulldog here spends quite a bit of time playing Solitaire.

There. The truth is out.

I think I played my first hand around the age of fourteen or so. I can't even remember who taught me how to play. Obviously, this was way before folks played games on a PC or mobile device. There I was with a deck of real frickin' playin' cards, hijacking the dining room table, playin' that game for hours. Not that I didn't do "outside stuff", too. All boomer kids played lots of tag, hot-pot and sandlot baseball. And dodge ball, kick ball and tether ball. We did all of it. But I loved Solitaire then and I still do.

I would sometimes play on my bed with the desk chair pulled right up to. Another confession: I'd rarely make my bed unless I was going to play. The cards don't lay flat on a bed unless it's pretty damn tidy, you know.

That got me into collecting playing cards, too. Still have about a dozen decks in a storage place; my faves are the Pepsi cards and the zebra-backed ones. It doesn't get any better than that! I'd had up to twenty or so decks, not sure how many of those I could lay my hands on if I made the trek to storage and started lookin' around... Hoping the Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles deck is still there...

We played a lot of poker in college. A couple of card sharks on my floor. But I'd play that classic game of 52 now and then. With headphones--the kind we had in the '70s that weighed about ten lbs--wrapped around my head. Led Zep, Muddy Waters or The Allman Bros cranked up to 10.

These days, of course, it's so convenient to play on a tablet. One of my fave time-wasters. Oh, no! Make that my absolute fave!  Nothing comes close! I don't play any other games; downloaded Missile Command and some other classic Atari Games, but I don't put down the Solitaire long enough to play the others. Yeah, it's an addiction. I don't deny it.

Hey, I broke 5000 for the first time yesterday. It was a rush, but not that big of a deal--pun intended--as I don't really chase points. It's a bit like wine drinking; it's better and more fun if you pace yourself and go for max enjoyment and not for shear speed.

Really, it's not too different from the way I travel; I like to get off the interstate sometimes and check out the local stuff, rather than just jetting around at 80 mph for the sake of making time. You know, the journey, not the destination.

Solitaire. Not a bad past time for a dinosaur like me. But I'm not entirely old-school here; while my fave decks of 52 are languishing in storage, I'm in the recliner with my Kindle Fire, playing an ancient game on a 21st Century tech toy. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2016 Ben Lawrence Basile

Friday, February 2, 2018

Look Out! It's The Nunes Memo!

Yeah, the big buzz tonight is all about the Nunes Memo! You know, that four page monstrosity full of cherry-picked things and Rethuglican talking points put out by Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Well, look out! This 5000 lb, laser-guided missile-memo is gonna have a YUGE impact! A truly YUGE impact, I tell ya!

An impact on Devin Nunes and his baleful, treasonous Repug colleagues who cooked up this nauseating, purely-partisan shitburger!

They thought they were gonna keep their #PoserPrez from being gobbled up by Independent Council, Robert Mueller, but it's too late!

This ridiculous gambit smells of desperation and it's not going to work. When all the smoke clears, Devin, Paul, Mitch and #BenedictDonald will all see clearly that's is just another #GOPeeFail!

Heading back to the pantry for more popcorn, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

Posts are all in real time now. Let the fun begin!

I've imported all the posts from my other blog that I wanted to have here for background. So now it's all stuff in "real time". And it's a really good time to be blogging about what's happening on the political scene right now in the U.S. and on the world scene, too.

If you didn't read the first couple of posts, the ones I put up here before I started the "mass importation" of content from my Wordpress blog, here's the story: I had about 30 or so hardcore political posts--rants, some might say--over on a blog which I prefer to use mostly to blog about outdoor activities and nature photography.

After two years of serious blogging, it seemed clear that a lot of my fellow outdoor enthusiasts weren't hardcore political animals like me, but there was no way I was going to muzzle myself while the United States is undergoing all the crazy shit you see filling the headlines right now! No way!

Well, that little light went on for me a couple of weeks ago; I remembered this long-dormant cyber-spot and realized that I can stick my finger in tRump's filthy eye all I want over here, and keep on blogging about camping, hiking and outdoor photography over there!

So that's why you see 20 or so posts just before this one all bearing today's date. (The date of the original posting is included for each one.) It took a while, but I'm good now.

So from here on, it's mostly about politics with a healthy dose of sports. And occasional forays into topics around nature and the environment. Those are topics of tremendous importance now as we get deeper into the 21st Century.

And I'll delve into spirituality and religion from time to time as well. My first career goal was the ministry, and I went about half-way through seminary as a much younger man. And even though I'm not terribly religious now, I'm in agreement with a huge chunk of the American populace who have little desire to sit in a pew again, but nevertheless think spirituality is a really big deal!

I'm glad you've cast your eyes over some of my blog-stuff! Hope you like what you've read so far. Don't stop now! A *Like* now and then wouldn't be a bad thing; a comment or two would be even better!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

Note: If you do like outdoor activities, here's your last chance to have a look at my "other blog!"

© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

From the Archive, Jan 16, 2017: Dreamers, the Federal Budget and the Goals of the GOP

originally published here on Jan 16, 2017

A dear friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about how unfortunate it is that DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has not been renewed yet and how sad it is that families are continuing to be broken up as the result.

It got me to thinking about how the stalemate over renewing DACA relates to other larger issues and I wrote quite a tome about that. That is, about the larger issues and what's really going on in Washington right now over DACA and passing a budget to keep the government operating. The budget part comes to a head on Friday. Yes, the day after tomorrow.

My piece is long. It's strident. And it's dead-on accurate. Bulldog is barking this afternoon. Here goes:

In response to my friend's post about deportations of Dreamers, I wrote:

Sad to say, there is no resolution to be found. The #PoserPrez demands funding of his accursed and very expensive boarder wall before he'll get on-board with a renewal of DACA. I'm proud to say that the leadership of the Democratic Party will not agree to this.

What you may not have known is that tRump and the Republicans are in perfect lock step that Democrats must agree to fund the border wall in order for them to negotiate about DACA but ALSO for them to talk about passing a budget.

So the government WILL shutdown on Friday because tRump demands everyone get on board with the border wall and authorize immediate funding to the tune of many billions of dollars before anything else can get done in Washington.

All of this is being done against the backdrop of our treasury being perpetually short of funds moving forward because of the just-passed tax cuts. (Well, it wasn't actually just a matter of cutting taxes; the bill is a complete restructuring of America's tax code. But I digress.)

Rethuglicans say we can't renew CHIP and have health insurance for kids who otherwise would be going to America's Emergency Rooms. We can't afford Medicare and Medicaid as they exist now, because of the same tax cuts, so now they "have to" start cutting these vital programs but... wait for it... WE CAN AFFORD THIS ACCURSED WALL!

This is how the fight about renewing DACA fits into the larger picture. It's NOT about any individual program, or passing a spending bill or any of that; it's about conservatives finally having a chance to kill the Federal Government we've known since the New Deal was put in place after the Great Depression. They want to have a Federal government that can fund the military and pay the light bill for Federal buildings, a few salaries and other bare essentials and then let the rest of it, literally, just go away.

GOP thinker and shaker and mover Grover Norquist summed up this concept of how a government should function with his infamous remark that conservatives needed to cut the Federal government down to the size "where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub". Maybe you guys missed that remark from many years ago or have forgotten it; I remember it very well. Republicans repeat it often.

This is NOT about fifty or sixty different issues or tasks that congress needs to get done in this session. It's about Republicans and tRump enacting this extreme agenda and remaking the government in a way that makes Mr. Norquist and Steve Bannon smile. In a way that would make Ayn Rand proud.

This explains why tRump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan already have in place proposed legislation to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid even though all three of them said during the election that they'd NEVER TOUCH THOSE PROGRAMS! They were lying. They lie all the time. Drastic cuts to those programs have been a part of the conservative agenda for over 30 years and they've said so hundreds of times!

People who don't understand the larger issues involved here can "both sides" this all day and all night, but this is really about the extreme tRump/Repug agenda to gut all programs that help individual Americans so rich people and corps can pay little or no taxes.

Trump and his trumper minions get an expanded military that was already way bigger and badder than what we actually need to defend us and our NATO allies, their fucking wall that's mostly about symbolism, constant "incentives" and tax breaks (i.e. giveaways) for major corps that are already showing record profits, uber-low taxes for people in the upper brackets and NO FUNDING AT ALL for things that benefit ordinary Americans or people who are actually struggling.

So it's about renewing DACA, funding the government and much, much more. If this wasn't clear to you, you've bought all the Repug talking points and you have no idea what's actually going on.

It's urgent that Americans who care about the direction of our country see that each fight in Washington is not a separate "thing" but that there are big-picture reasons why these battles are going on right now in the age of tRump.

If you'd like to know more about DACA and why the Dreamers and so many other Americans want so urgently to have The Dream Act reauthorized, click here.

If Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are going to be there for folks who'll be needing them in the next 20 to 30 years, we've got to raise holy hell over Republican attempts to gut them. For more on how to safeguard these vital programs while the current regime is trying to drastically curtail or privatize them, follow this link.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

Note: as you probably know, the government did indeed shut down three days after I wrote this and posted it here. And we'll be right back at the edge of the abyss in a few short days.

NBC Pundit Andrea Mitchell Points Out That tRump Lies a Lot and I Think That…

The Bulldog Barks

Back in April of last year, NBC pundit Andrea Mitchell said: "I have never seen anything like this, where people just flat-out lie." She was referring to our #PoserPrez and others in his administration. (I'm blogging about this now, because I only saw the article about two weeks ago.)

What Mitchell had to say in the article about Trumpers lying constantly is certainly true. But it's also true that her frequent and careless criticism of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while SoS contributed in no small way to tRump's victory.

She was in that elite group of talking heads who screamed long and loud about the emails and implied repeatedly--and in some cases, said explicitly--that Hillary was not worthy of the trust of the American people.

Just for background, here's a link to a story from 2015 about how Mitchell aggressively hounded Hillary while on the campaign trail and made no apologies for it.

And for anyone who won't buy my contention that Mitchell's coverage in the 2016 election went too far, here's a link to a story where Mitchell herself acknowledges that it did.

So how did all that turn out?

Well, you know as well as I do that we were saddled with this vicious, thuggish con man who spends all his time doing three things:

The first is formulating a new executive order to undo everything Barack Obama ever did, no matter who it hurts. Or how many Americans are harmed by it.

The second is watching cable news to see who's dissing him, then tweeting about it. The tweeting part usually comes between 3 and 6 in the frickin' morning.

And the third thing this accursed #PoserPrez does is fly to Mar-a-Lago *on our dime* and play golf with America's true elites, the uber-rich who are so tickled that tRump--their boi--is handing them every last thing on their wish list even though most of those things are 180° opposed to the interests of ordinary Americans who work for a living.

#MangoMussolini has viciously criticized just about every one who doesn't share his extreme right-wing, alt-right views and everyone and anything associated with Barack Obama, but has never criticized--and NEVER WILL criticize--three people or things: Neo-Nazis/white supremacists, the NRA and his big man-crush, Vladimir Putin.

That's who became president after the 2016 election because people like Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and Andrea Mitchell mouthed right-wing talking points about how bad and untrustworthy Hillary Clinton was over and over and over again until her unfavorability rating was almost as low as tRump's. That's a travesty! A travesty and a joke!

Using a private email server should be a crime? It's a scandal? It makes a former SoS unfit to be President? Well Repug Secs of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice used private, not-government email servers too! Yeah, no "scandals" and no investigations there! Hmmm...

But a petty, vengeful, serial-lying con man and reality show host who's been through three marriages and four bankruptcies, and been sued over his debts and dirty deals over three thousand times--literally, over three thousand times--is somehow more fit to be Commander-in-Chief! Really!?

It's impossible to say if the election would have ended differently if Andrea Mitchell and the other Hill Haters in the MSM would not have gone "all email, all the time" in the run-up to the election, but their constant beating of that busted drum carried a LOT of weight. And Mitchell's frequent snide and disparaging remarks and reports about HRC may well have swayed more people than any other pundit in the two years leading up to that disaster on Nov 9th of 2016.

Here's a link to an article where Mitchell actually said that she and others in the MSM were "harassing" Hillary about her emails in the summer of 2015. That came in a podcast by the folks at Politico.

It's really frustrating now after a year of #BenedictDonald to see Mitchell pointing out the obvious as far as his constant lying--even though it's 100% true--when her mean-spirited, slanted coverage of the Hillary email story is one of the reasons that this treasonous, duplicitous con man got into the position where he could do all this outrageous stuff in the first place!

Oh, isn't irony ironic?!

Bulldog Ben Basile

One other thought: I hasten to add that I'm NOT saying that Mitchell or other pundits should remain silent about tRump's treachery and lies now if they weren't singing that hymn throughout the election. That would serve no purpose. But all of this is so frustrating for those of us who were jumping up and down and screaming at the tops of our voices that tRump was a dangerous con man whose venality, pettiness and incompetence could literally tear America to pieces!

And while all this was going on in the last few months before election day, Mitchell and others in the media couldn't escape their contrived narratives of false equivalences. It sucked BIG time and it still sticks in my craw!

© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

From the Archive, Dec 7, 2017: Is It Mandatory for Democrats with Money to be Selfish Pricks?

originally published here on Dec 7, 2017

It often amuses me at how conservatives talk out of both sides of their mouths on the issue of wealthy people, lawmakers particularly, who aren't on-board with the usual drastic Republican economic policies of slashing taxes to the bone, demonizing working and poor people, and generally acting as though accumulating money is the real purpose of life.

If an elected official is progressive, quite possibly a democrat, and he/she is not wealthy, many conservative folk will say that they have no place in the discussion as they haven't demonstrated that they know how to succeed, don't know how America works, how free enterprise works, blah, blah, blah...

Donald tRump has spouted this crap repeatedly.

If a progressive elected official does have wealth, conservatives will still attack him or her, it's just a different strategy. Many Democratic or progressive public servants are well-off. So the line of attack in that case is that he/she is a hypocrite, as though people with money somehow have to be selfish assholes and hate working people or anyone who doesn't have enough dinero to get into the club!

So it's the usual Rethuglican approach of attack everyone with whom you disagree, but the strategy and the talking points are different depending on who or what they're attacking.

Meanwhile, there is no inconsistency when people with wealth say our economic policies need to take into account all Americans, not just large corporations and the 1% who have the means to hire lobbyists and buy off elected officials with YUGE campaign contributions.

There are plenty of people who have gobs and gobs of wealth but know American economic policy needs to take into account all Americans and the common good: Warren Buffett, Lady Gaga, Bill Gates, and many, many others.

It's insane to believe that having wealth automatically makes you selfish and fills your head with hatred and contempt for working people, the chronically poor, disabled people, etc. There's nothing hypocritical in the least about having shitloads of money and believing that that everyone's situation and everyone's needs matter.

There's nothing hypocritical about being wealthy and thinking that really wealthy people, including yourself, need to pay substantial taxes, that revenue can get too low and that something's very wrong when the secretary pays a higher effective tax rate than the CEO for whom she works. (Something which, by the way, actually happened with Mitt Romney and his secretary when the subject of effective tax rates for different income brackets came up for discussion in the 2012 Presidential debates.)

Conservatives are not going to get progressive people and Democrats to give in to their extreme, Ayn Rand-type of economic selfishness by suggesting that Democratic lawmakers--who very often are wealthy--are somehow disqualified from caring about ordinary people or advocating for policies that are designed to benefit the 98% of Americans who work for a living.

Working guy "Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2017 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

From the Archive: The Logan Act and tRump Transition Team Treachery

originally published here on Dec 4, 2017

In the aftermath of the Michael Flynn plea deal, there's a lot of confusion out there about whether Flynn and other members of the tRump transition team violated any laws, the Logan Act specifically, if all their misdeeds with the Russians happened after the election.

I've contended that it was criminal whether done before or after the election and Seth Abramson's excellent explanation of the Logan Act I'm including at the end of this post really speaks to that issue. tRumpists and Rethuglicans in general are misrepresenting what the Logan Act actually says in order to make all that tRump treachery seem harmless.

Abramson's thorough treatment of the Logan Act shows that tRump apologists are dead wrong when they say none of the tRump team's actions actually violated any laws; it was clearly criminal and treasonous whether done before or after the election!

By the way, I came across this very informative thread because I follow Abramson on twitter. I recommend it highly for anyone wanting to get a better grip on the matter of tRump transition team members doing treasonous stuff with Russians to undercut the Obama sanctions.

The sanctions imposed by the United States after the Russian assault on our election and our democracy.

Click here to read Seth Abramson's excellent thread on The Logan Act and the criminal acts of the tRump transition team, Mike Flynn, especially.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

From the Archive, Dec 1, 2017: Former National Security Adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn, Goes Down for His Treachery and Deceit

originally published here on Dec 1, 2017

If you haven't been following the saga of Mike Flynn's treachery and deceit and you're surprised that he's pleading guilty today, this article will help you get up to speed.

Flynn stabbed America in the back when he assured Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that when tRump was sworn in, he'd make sure to reverse the sanctions imposed by President Obama for their interference in our election.

Yeah, that's a crime. Which is, of course, why he tried to cover up his treachery.

Flynn's opening strategy was to deny everything. Denied at first that there was even a conversation. Then admitted they spoke but denied that sanctions were discussed.

Oops! His conversation with the ambassador was recorded because our intelligence services, including the FBI, record every call by every Russian spy every time.

Checkmate, Michael. You're going down.

Bulldog Ben Basile

From the Archive, Sept 6, 2017: Very Good Article from David T.S. Jonas Here About Political Moderation

originally published here on Sept 6, 2017

Trying to find some kind of middle ground between what are so often extreme positions is a very noble cause. It that sense, I've considered myself to be a moderate for many years.

On today's political scene, however, the discussion has been moved so far to the right that staking out some kind of middle ground is all but impossible. You can't compromise with politicians and pundits whose true goal is to dismantle the Federal government or who openly embrace White Supremacy, for instance.

Nevertheless, for most of our Nation's 241 year existence, finding middle ground with others is far more likely to bring about a good result than employing the kind of scorched-earth tactics that have blown up political discourse in the few years. Yes, I know how very overly-idealistic this sounds, especially after witnessing eight years of Tea bagger hate and obstruction of President Obama and now having our #PoserPOTUS trying to enact a very extreme White Nationalist agenda. I certainly get that.

But there is still hope to be found in looking for a moderate path. In this piece from today, writer and political operative David T.S. Jonas lays out plainly and succinctly yet with great skill how political moderates have seceded a host of issues and elections to extremists on the right wing by withdrawing from public life. By failing to show up on election day, especially.

It's a great article; I recommend it highly. If you're wondering if there's any cause for hope at all once we are successful at getting Mango Mussolini out of office, you should take the time to read this.

As I type this, Hurricane Irma is hurtling towards this peninsula where I and 21 million of my closest friends are hunkered down, hoping to not be blown away by what are the most powerful storm winds threatening Americans in many, many years.

But to me, the menace posed by the vicious, clueless and thoroughly incompetent wind bag currently living (part time) in the White House is far more serious. I hope you stay safe from the menace bearing down on us right now. And from that damn hurricane, too.

Hunkering down in O-town, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

From the Archive, Mar 20, 2017: Comey Does Plainly Say There’s No Evidence to Back Trump’s Delusional Claim of Wiretapping

originally posted here on March 20, 2017

Here's the follow-up from my previous posting regarding today's events in the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings: Director Comey did confirm that the F.B.I. has zero evidence to support our Trumpenfuhrer's vicious and absurd claim -- which came out in one of his ridiculous tweets -- that President Obama had him wiretapped.

The Daily Mail from the UK is on this story. Their piece covers this angle of the larger story pretty well, even though Comey's testimony was just completed. It's definitely worth a look. Beware, The Daily Mail's site has lots of ads.

Poor Donald. Nobody believes his shit. Except a few folks who get their news from Breibart, World News Daily, Rush Limpbag and Fox Noise. We're just marking time until we're delivered from the hell of Trump's Amerikkka by impeachment, the invoking of the 25th Amendment or Herr Drumpf's resignation.

Please, sir, accept from my heart the great load of hate, derision and contempt you so justly deserve.

We're just marking time.

From the Archive: FBI Director James Comey Confirms the Bureau is Investigating Russian Interference and Possible Trump Campaign Collusion

This post was originally published here on March 20, 2016

That the Bureau is conducting the investigation is not a surprise. This is breaking news as Director Comey is still giving his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee at the time I'm typing this but anyone who has even the slightest awareness of what's been going on in this country for the last six months or so knew the FBI was looking into Russian interference in the just-concluded Presidential election. And into whether #DonTheCon or any staffers jumped on board with Putin and his underlings.

Our Trumpenfuhrer can call the story fake news all he likes, this story and this investigation are NOT going to go away.

The FBI will get to the bottom of it. Someone's going to be indicted. Our #PoserPrez will be impeached or removed from office by other means and the results of this inquiry -- the existence of which was just explicitly confirmed by Director Comey -- will most likely be a big part of why.

I still do not know whether the Director's testimony will address Herr Drumpf's ridiculous accusation about being wired tapped by President Obama; I'll pass that along here in the very unlikely event that you have not by then heard/read about it from 16 other sources.

I hope your Monday is off to a good start. I'll be checking in a little later.

Still spreading contempt for our scum-bag unPOTUS, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

From the Archive, Dec 8, 2016: Bulldog Had Nothing to Say About Our Election

The Bulldog Barks!

originally published here on Dec 8, 2016

I've placed a high priority on covering important events here on da bulldog blog. So it may seem just a bit strange that I had nothing to say about the result of the recent Presidential election. Yeah, that was exactly one month ago today.

I did have quite a bit to say about this train wreck of an election in the social media universe. A lot.

But for whatever reason or reasons, I was loathe to write about it here. I'm aware of what some of the reasons were. I'm not sure I fully understand all the reasons why I chose not to blog about what is, without a doubt, the biggest event in our public life in this country in a very, very long time.

But as I end my silence on the subject of this year's Presidential election, let me just make two or three points which effectively lay out my bottom line on this subject.

The first is that the election of Donald Trump to the nation's highest office is a tragedy for America. If you're rolling your eyes at that statement, just know that early on in this con man's presidency, you'll understand -- as will all of us who didn't drink the Kool Aide -- that his elevation to POTUS will usher in dark days for us all.

The second point is that the things conservatives have been saying about our corporate life in the aftermath of the election are really comical. What I mean specifically are the appeals to those of us who cannot accept and will never accept this scum bag as our President to just close ranks behind "Fearless Leader" so we can heal our divisions and move on from here. You know, leave behind that politics-as-usual stuff, unite for the good of the country and make America great again! After all, that would be the patriotic thing to do, right?

Not happening. There are plenty of reasons why that's so. One being that Herr Drumpf is so thoroughly unfit to hold the office that opposing him is not only NOT a bad thing, it should be seen as a sacred duty for Americans who love their country.

But speaking for me, the main reason is that I remember well the events of the last eight years. Yes, I remember the way Republicans, Tea Baggers and folks who proudly wear the conservative label behaved after the country elected Barack Obama as President. And, of course, he won in 2008 with a much larger margin than tRump.

I remember the demonstrations where effigies of President Obama were hanging by a noose. Or were burned.

I well remember the Tea Party rallies where people who hated our President carried photo shopped posters depicting him as a Witch Doctor with a bone through his nose. Yeah, remember when Obama orchestrated that complete government takeover of healthcare?

I remember elected officials who have called the President and the First Lady apes or monkeys or have forwarded cartoons depicting them and their children as primates, as something less-than-human. Then there's that Moochelle Obama thing. Yeah, that kind of shit is hard to forget.

I could go on and on, but I won't. Recalling this kind of mindless hatred is taxing on me spiritually; when I descend into that putrid cesspool of right wing, racist malevolence, it drains me of all serenity and good will toward my fellows.

So how do we who see this hateful, deceitful and thoroughly unqualified cretin for who he is move forward after this election? Well, as strange as it may seem, I'm going to model my behavior after my dear right-wing brothers. That's appropriate. Especially since many of them have this annoying habit of holding themselves out as true patriots and fabulous role models, while suggesting that naive lefties like me are stupid--and that we hate our country, to boot!

Yes, I'm going to model my behavior after patriots like Ted Cruz, Joe Wilson, Mitch McConnell and birther-in-chief Donald J. Trump. Even though this goes completely against my laid-back nature, I'm going to do what these guys taught me to do. I make a solemn pledge today to show our new President exactly -- and I mean exactly -- the respect the Republicans and Tea Folk showed Barack Obama after his election.

Don the Con is not worthy to even set foot in the White House, much less to be sitting in the Oval Office.

Buckle up, America. It's going to be a wild ride.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2016 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

From the Archive, July 12, 2016: A Dark Tale of 49 Murdered By Hate, Revisited

A Dark Tale of 49 Murdered By Hate, Revisited

originally published here on July 12, 2016

The story of the slaughter of 49 partiers at Pulse has been told many times. By a thousand journos and bloggers. Orlando and her people are still coming to grips with what happened there in the early morning hours of June 12th; all the more so today as we're exactly one month from this sad and shocking spectacle. The memorials still attract many people--from around Central Florida and all over the planet--on a daily basis.

Like so many of us with deep roots in this marvelous city, I've read a lot of the coverage. Every media outlet in the country has been all over this story, and they should. Because I worked part time in radio news way back in the day, I've always enjoyed critiquing the media and I must say that I think so many around here have done great work on this heart breakingly-awful story. WKMG, our local CBS affiliate is among them. I've been a loyal viewer for many years and think they're showing the rest of us how it's done.

The Orlando Sentinel has never shone more brightly. I say that as one who's been reading their work for half a century; we go back to when The Sentinel landed in the driveway every morning and The Evening Sentinel-Star was tossed into the same spot mid-afternoon each week day. It was a welcome thing, back in the '60s and '70s, to have a paper to peruse after dinner.

Today's article in The Sentinel about how our city and its people are doing a month after the tragedy is first-rate. To catch that, follow this link.

When I think about Pulse, I eschew thoughts of hate, trauma and death and instead focus the good times had with musical colleagues back in the '90s when the club that would later become Pulse under the new owners was a well-known Italian eatery. Dante's served up good Italian fare and liberal helpings of local music. Good times. If any of us could have had just a moment's premonition of about what would one day happen in that place, it would have been world-altering.

In a previous blog posting here I said that if the shooter's goal was to make our city cower in terror or turn on one another, he failed miserably. This community has never been more united. The messengers of hate who tried to kick Orlando when she was down have learned that this community thinks they're really sick. Yeah, I'm speaking to you, Prosecutor Ken Lewis. Sorry, make that former-prosecutor Ken Lewis. Fits my concept of justice precisely.

We're remembering and celebrating our brothers, sisters, children and friends who didn't make it out alive. Praying for the survivors and doing what a community can do, in a material way, to help them move forward with their recoveries and their lives.

Watching that unfold is greatly consoling. Chronicling it for this community and the world is exemplary. As I take in the many stories carried by our local TV stations and The Sentinel 30 days down the road, I'm reminded of one more reason that Central Florida is an excellent place to live, thrive and survive, filled with many caring and generous people. The slogan #OrlandoStrong is not merely a feel-good phrase, it's a statement that sums up well the true character of this community.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

From the Archive, June 30, 2016: The Pulse Massacre and Its Aftermath

The original title for this post was: June 12th: The Pulse Massacre and Its Aftermath and it was published here on June 30, 2016.

When Islamic extremist and first-class hater, Omar Mateen, walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando's Sodo district he was carrying a variant of the AR-15 assault rifle and a 9mm semiautomatic handgun. And a smart phone. With the two weapons he murdered 49 club patrons and with the smart phone he repeatedly checked to see if news of his hateful slaughter was trending on the internet. Truly a massacre for the digital age.

This was, as you surely know, the worst mass shooting in American history and so much has already been written about it. And will be written about it. By media in Central Florida, all over the U.S. and, quite literally, all over the world. Even without delving into that nauseating social media aspect of this, it was a singular event in America's history; it was our only mass shooting that was both an obvious act of terror and a clear-cut hate crime.

A side note here: to those who think it was only the latter but not the former, I say:  you're blinded by your hate and homophobia. Try dropping your leather-bound, King James assault Bibles and begin your slow trek away from slavish obedience to the Levitical cult and toward the 21st Century. Do it. You'll thank me later.

Many of us who live in Orlando followed the events in real time and were shocked to see it all unfold. Shocked, but not surprised, as that saying goes. I've lived in Orlando for all but a few years since 1961 and I've made my living directly or indirectly from the visitors who come here from every corner of the globe since my first waiter's gig in 1977. Tourism is our lifeblood. And many of us have always dreaded the possibility that some day some murderous punk--or punks--would visit our tropical paradise and shoot, stab or blow up people and things, shocking and horrifying the world and making even the idea of coming back to this formerly-blissful place too awful to contemplate.

I'm not at all minimizing the human cost of Mr. Mateen's savage and obscene act; the 102 people who were cut down at Pulse--49 of whom died--should never be thought of as bit players in a larger story about theme parks and tourist dollars. But because so many journalists and reporters have done excellent work covering that primary aspect of the attack, I feel it's not inappropriate to make some brief observations about some of the ramifications for our part of Florida. We're a bit more than two weeks from this sad, shocking spasm of hate and I want to focus on some takeaways about the events of June 12th for those of us who call Orlando home but were, mercifully, not caught in a madman's sights that morning.

Because the scum-of-the-earth perp had his ticket punched by OPD's SWAT Team, we'll never know exactly what motivated him, or whether he chose the world's premier vacation spot with some kind of specific intent. Meaning choosing Orlando to purposefully spoil this idyllic getaway spot for vacationers  in the way that Bin Laden wanted to shock the world by thrusting a dagger deep into America's financial heart and its seat of government. He did choose the September 11th targets in a purposeful and effective way. A plan that was purposeful, effective and evil. Very evil.

I don't know if that was actually a part his sick terror plan in the lead-up to this attack. What I do know is that if he was hoping to strike a death-blow to our city and our region, he failed miserably.

The way Orlando has come together in the aftermath of this carnage is truly amazing. I love Central Florida and have known for more than half a century that it's filled with some real first-rate examples of humanity. But even so, I've been surprised and taken aback--in a good way--with the ways in which our community, the nation and, yes, the world have responded to the tragedy of that morning's events and rallied around our part of the Sunshine State.

The lives of Mr. Mateen's victims have been thoroughly celebrated in the days which have followed the attack. Some of our local news outlets have really emphasized that aspect of the event and greatly humanized some people who did not get out of Pulse alive for those of us who did not know them.

Many local media outlets have done fine work in that regard. Stations WKMG and WFTV led the way and the Orlando Sentinel produced truly excellent coverage all throughout this incredible and gut-wrenching saga. And they still are.

Those of us who are directly involved in the hospitality industry--as were many of the Pulse victims--have seen absolutely no sign that any of the thousands and thousands of folks, both in the U.S. and beyond who enjoy coming here are being cowed into staying away. I have seen, read and viewed many features and articles from so many sources which lead me to believe just the opposite.

We grieve for the victims of the Pulse rampage. And we honor them by moving forward with our lives and with our corporate life in this community. We honor them by refusing to be bullied, intimidated and terrorized.

It's been said--not a few times--that Orlando will never be the same in the aftermath of this sad chapter in our history. That's true. But around that intensely sad and shocking story, a greater story of community-building and transcendent love is being written. It's a wonderful thing and one more bit of evidence that Orlando is an extraordinary place and her people care about one another in an extraordinary way. To see this so clearly only a few days down the road is nearly-miraculous and an invitation to move forward. To move forward together, carrying in our grieving yet hopeful hearts the memories of those lost and the determination that their deaths will not have been in vain. #OrlandoStrong

Proud fifty-five year resident of Orlando, I am,

Benjamin Lawrence Basile

© 2016 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

From the Archive, Nov 7, 2016: Yes, the Astronauts Do Get to Vote

originally published here on Nov 7, 2016

On the list of really important stuff that you may not have been wondering about: do astronauts get to vote?

They most certainly do.

Of course, this intrepid crew member did have to take the time to request a ballot, but request it she did. And she made sure her vote got counted.

To view this very cool video about celestial balloting, just follow this link.

With both feet firmly on Terra Firma, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

From the Archive, Sept 2, 2016: Taco Trucks on Twitter!

Originally published here on Sept 2, 2016

The Twitterverse is all abuzz today! And it's all about tacos! Taco trucks to be more precise!

While being interviewed by Joy-Ann Reid yesterday on MSNBC, Donald Trump supporter Marco Gutierrez said this:

"My culture is a very dominant culture and it's imposing and it's causing problems. If you don't do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks on every corner."

Joy-Ann, who was sitting in for host Chris Hayes, was not quite sure what she had just heard. But honestly, the remark stands on its own.

Mr. Gutierrez was born in Mexico and is the founder of Latinos for Trump. The interview pretty much stalled at that point; it's pretty hard to go on from there.

Ol' Bulldog here is not going to make any additional attempt to comment on this memorable exchange except to note that Napoleon once said "never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake!"

I'm all good!

One final note: I truly do love food trucks, taco trucks in particular. My absolute fave is Cameltow Tacos, a truck you'll see at different events all around Central Florida. The photo featured here is from when I caught Cameltow at the 3rd annual Metro West Jazz Fest here in Orlando back on May 1st.

It was my second time to have their yummy offerings and I can recommend them without reservation. I especially love their fish tacos.

To see a more complete story from the New York Times about this unbelievable turn of events in the 2016 election campaign, follow this link.

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

From the Archive: Strict Voter ID Law in NC Overturned by Appeals Court

Note from Ben: for a site where you can get a much more recent story (Jan 2018) about court decisions making it illegal to gerrymander--in North Carolina specifically--follow this handy link.

This post originally published here on July 29, 2016

A decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found that North Carolina's 2012 law requiring a picture ID at the polls is unconstitutional. The law took away a week of early voting as well.

Seventeen states in all have enacted laws restricting voting since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Right Act in 2013. And, in every case, the Republican legislators who pushed through the changes said it was all about preventing voter fraud and most certainly was not about suppressing voter turnout among minorities. They were lying. And it didn't take long for the Appeals Court for the 4th Circuit to figure that out.

The NAACP--which brought the suit--and the U.S. Justice Dept were pleased with the ruling. Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, was not.

Those who actually want Americans to be able vote are hopeful that the ruling may bode well for lawsuits pending in other circuits against similar state laws. Suits are underway now in Virginia and Texas among others. Of course, it may never be known whether today's ruling will have any effect; one can only hope.

It certainly will have an effect on voters who wish to vote on November 8th but do not have a Driver's License. It will be an unabashedly good thing for people who were hoping to vote early.

Voting is a precious right in American and one upon which the health of our democracy depends. And it's a very good thing that appeals courts are making it tougher for state legislatures to deny or limit that right.

To read an in-depth article about today's Appeals Court decision, follow this link.

From the Archive, July 4th, 2016: The Citizens United Case and Political Speech

Note: Because the Citizens United decision was only one subject out of many in an earlier post, I'm going to examine it again in more detail here.

original date July 4, 2016

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that a lot of money gets thrown around each time we have an election, often in completely unrestricted amounts and often with ordinary citizens having no idea what the source of the money is.

The Citizens United case is the main reason this has become the new normal American elections. The full name of this game-changing decision from the Supreme Court is Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and I can say with absolute confidence that our elections have not been the same since that decision came down. It was issued on January 21, 2010; the vote was 5-4.

If you'd like to get up to speed on this infamous decision, this article on the site for the Center for Public Integrity is quite helpful; it was published two years after Citizens  forever changed the electoral landscape and is clear and concise and still very relevant.

I ran across an excellent feature which ran in the New York Time magazine back in 2012 which is very useful at seeing how this nightmare--sprung from the mind of Antonin Scalia--has affected our elections on a practical level. It was written in the run-up to the last Presidential election but is still very good at helping the non attorneys or casual observers among us get up to speed on the ramifications of Citizens United.

There is a well-organized effort to get Citizens United reversed. Amending the Constitution is one possible route; it's also possible that the decision could be re-visited in the future by anyone bringing legal action on a case which touches on the issue of money in American politics, money from Corporations in particular. That would not be hard to do. It's one more reason why the up-coming Presidential election is a really big deal.

Because the issue of unlimited campaign contibutions--dark money, especially--gets me so riled up, I'm going to wrap up this post and have my second cup of coffee. The bottom line is that this case was a disaster for our democracy and that nothing will change unless ordinary citizens compel our elected leaders and the oligarchs who now have their collective boot on our collective throat to let us up.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2017 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Note: originally posted on July 4th, 2016 on this page.

From the Archive, July 26, 2016: The Democratic Party Makes History

July 26, 2016

There I was, in my living room, TV tray and all, watching Hillary make history. My bachelor's feast of hot dogs--all beef, of course--and chips was well-suited for the occasion. My party--the Democratic Party of the United States--had just nominated Hillary Clinton to face Donald Drumpf in November. And although it's true that Hill and Bill are actually one-percenters, they well understand that we cannot move forward with corporations and their buddies in the upper brackets always getting the lion's share of everything.

There's so much to like about Hillary and about the Democratic platform in this election. One of the planks of the platform that I am 100% behind is the move to do something about the Citizens United SCOTUS decision. That's got to happen. Getting the money--dark money, in particular--out of American politics should be priority one. So there I was, parked in front of the tube with my working man's dinner, watching my fellow Dems officially nominate Hillary to run.

It was a watershed moment; it's not about the first woman President as much as it is about ordinary Americans having a leader who will have their back. Yes, I know Mrs. Clinton has had a cozy relationship with Wall Street. But what was true about Barack Obama is true of her as well; they're not leaving for work each day with their brown bag lunch, but they "get" working people and will fight to make sure they're not left behind.

Of course, getting anything accomplished that actually benefits working people will not be easy. It's that Mission Impossible kind of stuff, particularly when you consider how hard Republican pols work to thwart any move that would benefit the 99%. It's not hard to see how thoroughly-committed they are to tilting the proverbial playing field. Their steadfast opposition to raising the Federal minimum wage is a case in point. That certainly could be the subject of another post. But not tonight...

Continuing on this path of funneling all the good stuff to those who need it least is not a good strategy. That trickle-down bullshit has been discredited again and again. Didn't work in the eighties when David Stockman and King Ronnie first foisted it on the American people, didn't work when George W. Bush was President and will not work now. But I'm certain that Hillary is going to give it her best shot. It's quite possible that, if elected, she will face the same level of obstruction that has plagued President Obama from day one; I'm not hopeful about ultimate success, but I'm sure she's ready for that fight.

There is so much one could say as we reflect upon this historic moment; journos and pundits are laboring mightily at that task now as the Convention winds down and we hurtle headlong into the really gritty part of this election. For my part, I just want to remember that as I watch events unfold in this, my twelfth Presidential election, we could be taking in a singular event in our shared history. I fervently hope that Hillary will be our first woman President; I think we're going to make it happen. It may well be that others will follow in her footsteps. But whether that's how it unfolds or not, I'm certain that the election of 2016 will have moments--many moments--the like of which we'll never see again.

No more convention-watching and blogging for me tonight. For a more in-depth look at the story of Hillary's ground-breaking nomination, follow this link.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

Link to page where this was originally published on July 26, 2016 is here.