Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Tribute: John McCain was that kind of man

Lt Cmdr John S. McCain III was a hero to me. I idolized him and wanted to be like him when I reported to Navy AOCS in Pensacola. That was in May of 1975, two years after McCain had been released from a North Vietnamese prison, and just weeks after the fall of Saigon.

I received my commission in November of 1976. One of the traditions in a commissioning ceremony is that the Navy Hymn is sung after the new Ensigns have have taken that oath to "defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" but before the benediction.

It was a proud moment in my life. Receiving that commission and pinning on those gold bars was quite an experience.

The very inauspicious chapter of my Navy career when, four months later, I dropped flight training and was then told by a disposition board that the Navy didn't need me in the surface fleet was a huge disappointment.

I was as deflated and numb going through that experience as I had been pleased and proud four months before when our band of brand-new Ensigns sang the Navy Hymn together.

For some reason, I still remember the words. But that has nothing to do with my admiration for Senator McCain.

This is hard to explain, but even though the career I had dreamed about for years fell apart when I got into the hard part of Naval flight training, the eight months I was in Uncle Sam's Navy marked me for life.

I've never lost sight of how vitally important it is to be a part of something greater than myself. Working as a team doesn't come naturally for me, I'm too much of a lone wolf.

But I learned how to do that in those 16 weeks of Aviation Officer Candidate School.

I learned that the rigors of military life and the necessity of putting the needs of your unit, your mates and the folks back home ahead of your own could impose a very high cost on the individual.

I never had to pay any cost for my shipmates. Or my country. I never knew the perils of an angry sea or a determined enemy.

John McCain did. That's the kind of man he was. That's the kind of life he lived.

Lt Cmdr McCain completed 22 very perilous missions over North Vietnam before his A-4 Skyhawk was shot out of the sky in October of 1967.

The story of how he spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton--as well as other North Vietnamese prisons--is well-known. What some may have forgotten is that his North Vietnamese captors offered to release him shortly after they learned that his father, Adm John McCain Jr., was the Commander of American forces in Vietnam.

But John refused to be released under those conditions and finally made it home with his comrades-in-arms in 1973, under the terms of the Paris Peace Accord.

The never-ending maltreatment and torture that McCain endured in his years of imprisonment left him with a lifetime of debilitating injuries. You may have noticed that he was never able to raise his arms above his shoulders when waving to crowds at political events.

That can happen when your wrists are lashed together behind your back, you're hanging from the ceiling and the sadists who are trying to break you have the ropes so taut that you can't get both feet flat on the dirt floor beneath you.

These are the kinds of sacrifices that John McCain made. Cmdr McCain and our other POW's endured hardships and made sacrifices for their country and their loved ones that you and I can't even imagine.

They did it in fulfillment of the oath they all took. They did it without "reservation or purpose of evasion" just as they had sworn to do.

That's the kind of man, the kind of hero John McCain was.

The many years of service he gave to his country after he retired from the Navy have been chronicled over and over. One can read reams of information about that part of his service to our country now that he's passed.

I admire him greatly for his time in the US Senate. He always comported himself with great dignity. He always acted with the courage of his convictions.

I admire him no less as a politician and public servant as I did when his service to country put him in constant peril of life and limb. His fearlessness and his integrity inspire me as much today as they did when I wanted to follow in his footsteps as a 21 year old Officer Candidate.

All told, he rendered more than 60 years of faithful service to the United States. He never shirked his duty, even under conditions that would have broken ordinary men.

I'm not sure why, exactly, but the first thing that happened for me when I heard the news of his passing a few hours ago, is that the strains of the Navy Hymn began to "play" in my head.

I aspired to greatness as a young man so many years ago while singing those words with my mates. Alas, there was to be no greatness in my brief, inglorious military career.

But I, like you, recognize greatness instantly when I see it or hear of it.

I recognized greatness in John McCain more than 43 ago. His selflessness, his devotion to his family, his fellows and his country stand out like that lighthouse at Fort Barrancas on a squally night.

God rest your warrior's soul, Cmdr McCain. Thank you for your lifetime of selfless service to the country you loved so well.

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile
All Rights Reserved

The words of the Navy Hymn:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked'st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Oh, Watchful Father who dost keep
Eternal vigil while we sleep
Guide those who navigate on high
Who through grave unknown perils fly,
Receive our oft-repeated prayer
For those in peril in the air.

The United States Navy Chorus singing
"Eternal Father Strong to Save"

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Manafort and Cohen go down on Twofer Tuesday!

By now you've quite likely heard that former tRump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight of the 18 original counts he was facing. The jury was deadlocked on the other counts, we'll see how that part of the story unfolds later.

Meanwhile, tRump's long-time personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight charges in a Federal Court in Manhattan today and said very plainly that he made the two illegal payouts--one to Stormy Daniels and one to Karen McDougal--because tRump directed him to. And that he did it in order to influence the 2016 Presidential Election.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12th.

Donald is toast. The dam is most definitely breaking!

Because his delusional supporters are dug in so deeply, it will take more than today's proceedings to dislodge him from the office he stole back on 11/9 but we can all see the handwriting on the wall now.

Not only does he have cult-like thrall over his Kool Aid chugging followers, but the Federal Government is run by his sycophants, enablers and co-conspirators, so we're not going to see the curtain go down quite yet.

But we can all see now that it's just a matter of time.

Hey, #LyingLoserPrez! Are you feelin' Bob Mueller's hot breath on your neck yet?

Yeah. I knew you were.

Breathin' just a bit easier on this Twofer Tuesday, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Alligator Season begins today

Here in the Sunshine State, there's a Gator Season each summer that lasts for 30 days. The season opens today.

If you'd like to know more about gator hunting in these parts,  here's a bulletin from our Fish And Wildlife Commission where you can get up to date on Gator Season if you wish.

I do hold a Hunting and Fishing license but won't be out looking for gator hide this year. Don't have the boat; don't have the gear!

And you do need to pull tags for gators specifically, as you do in Florida for most game.

Haven't done it, not likely I ever will but I'm thinking it's about as intense as hunting gets.

For those of us who aren't likely to ever join the hunt for real, there's always Swamp People on the History Channel!

Bulldog Ben Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Devin Nunes on tape admitting email collusion would be a crime

Donald tRump's wingman, Representative Devin Nunes, has done all kinds of stuff to protect his hateful, thuggish boss over the last 19 months.

Who can forget the time he jumped out of one car and into another to get himself over to the White House on the down-low to tip off Dirty Donnie that our intelligence community was looking at some of the "unusual" contacts members of his campaign team and his administration had been having with known Russian intelligence operatives?

That was in April of 2017, a mere three months after the Trumpenfuhrer had been elevated to the Presidency.

When Nunes and the rest of tRump's enablers and sycophants in the GOP shield their Poser Prez from the consequences of his constant unethical and/or illegal actions, they try as hard as they can to rationalize whatever he's doing. Some of the media appearances where they do this are downright comical.

Sometimes the talking point is that tRump and others in his criminal regime are doing their duties unrestrained from the old, outmoded notions of political correctness. Even when what they're doing is spectacularly unethical or even illegal.

So it was a really big deal when Nunes was caught talking about the secret GOP strategy to follow through on the plan to impeach Rod Rosenstein, but to wait until they could get Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh confirmed in the Senate.

The setting was a fundraiser last week for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Nunes, nor anyone else in attendance realized at the time realized that one of the attendees was a Democratic party operative who had come to surreptitiously tape the event, hoping to catch for posterity some nugget that might prove useful politically.

Nunes discussed a hypothetical situation where a politician, acting like a (Republican) politician releases emails which had been obtained through a hacking operation.

Here's what he actually said:

"But ultimately let's say the Portuguese came and brought her (Rep. McMorris Rodgers) some stolen emails. And she decided to release those. Okay, now we have a problem, right?"

Nunes continued: "Because somebody stole the emails, gave them to Cathy, and Cathy released them. Well, if that's the case, then that's criminal."

This explosive recording ended up in the hands of MSNBC Correspondent Rachel Maddow who made it the centerpiece of her show tonight.

Now, there's a lot to unpack in the recording. There are three or four different aspects of the story around this recording which could certainly make headlines.

But the remarks contained in the excerpt above are huge. Nunes says very plainly that releasing illegally obtained--meaning hacked--emails in a political dirty op would be a criminal act. It's absolutely crystal-clear!

This story illustrates like few others can that GOP pols routinely says things they know are flagrant lies. For more than a year and a half their pundits and talking heads have been saying that Fearless Leader and their political operatives didn't do anything questionable--much less illegal--throughout the 2016 Presidential Election or in the 19 months that tRump has been in power.

And watching how their cover story about colluding with the Russians has evolved has been truly comical: at first, no one on the campaign met with any Russians to do bad things because there never was a meeting!

When that was blown up, the talking point became that there was a meeting, but that, first of all, it was all about the adoption of poor lil' Russian orphans, and secondly, tRump wasn't there!

The next version of the no collusion! story was that yes, we went into the meeting to get dirt on Hillary but, anyone would have done it and, most importantly, that's not illegal!

Well, it all stinks! All of it! 

The fact that they took the meeting stinks! 

Jumping on-board with Russia's efforts to help their campaign stinks!

 The massive and prolonged effort to deny, distract and cover up the truth about the whole affair stinks!

So let's fast forward to last week's secret fundraiser for McMorris-Rodgers in Spokane. To hear that Devin Nunes himself understands that receiving and disseminating information from hacked emails constitutes a crime is stunning! Absolutely stunning!

Rethuglican spinmeisters can (and will) go on twisting the sad truths around their party's treasonous cooperation with Putin and his campaign to sway the 2016 election until Judgement Day.

Kellyanne Conway and tRump's lying sack of Sarah can go on with the disinformation campaign until they're eventually silenced with more indictments, resignations and convictions.

But after we heard the admission of the truth from the lips of Devin Nunes about the criminality of using stolen emails, the American people know, and history will attest, that the cooperation of tRump, his underlings and the GOP with Putin and Co. was unprecedented in our history, was criminal from start to finish and was a stone-cold act of treason against the USA!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Have a nickname for Benedict Donald?

Do you have a nickname for our #LyingLoserPrez?

Well, I've got a few of those awesome alt-names!

There are thousands, but here's the short list:

#HairHitler #PoserPrez #Cheetolini
#DarthHater #CheetoBenito #AdolphShitler
#AdolphTwitler #OrangeFoolius #LyingLoserPrez*

#DonaldDrumpf #BenedictDonald #TangerineTyrant
#MangoMussolini #DonTheConNaziSpawn* #GloriousTrumpenfuhrer*
#FuckFaceVonClownStick #DonTheConRussianPawn* #BenedictDonald

Couple of noteworthy things.

The first is that four of those are mine. Those four* are starred. (In case you're wondering about the hashtag format, it's just because I'm a heavy twitter user.) Still, they're not clickable. They were in an early draft, but that created other formatting problems I'm not savvy enough to fix. #Sorry!

The next is that #DonaldDrumpf comes from the fact that "Drumpf" is the actual family name. The grandfather of the "tRump" we know used Trump in the early 20th Century here in America, though the family may have ditched Drumpf for Trump while the Drumpfs were all still in the Fatherland. The historical record is not conclusive.

The last thing is that the daddy of the #BenedictDonald hashtag is known; it's Terrorism Expert, author and MSNBC Contributor Malcolm Nance. You can visit his twitter page by following this link.

Hope you had fun checking out the list. Satirists, pundits, on and off the net, and people who simply don't like our #LyingLoserPrez love using all these and more! Feel free to post a reply with a few of your own!

Bulldog Ben

©2018 Ben Lawrence Basile
All Rights Reserved

Bulldog Ben™

The Audience for Cable News Shows is...

Something I've learned in the last few days came as quite a surprise. I pay a lot of attention to what happens on cable news shows. The "big three" being Fox, MSNBC and CNN, of course.

But those shows attract far fewer viewers than the major broadcast networks do in the evening news slots. In fact, network news attracts around 3 to 4 times as many viewers as the best-performing cable news show do, on average.

Some quick-and-dirty stats to help you wrap your mind around this: ABC Network's prime time evening news show led the three major networks in total viewers last week (week of July 23rd) with slightly less than 8 million viewers.

When a cable news show does really well, it will bring in somewhere between 2.5 and 4 million viewers.

For example, the best night MSNBC's Rachel Maddow ever had was back in July of 2017 and she attracted 4.1 million viewers. This year, she'll do around 2 to 2.5 million on a decent night. So a cable news show does very well when it pulls in a audience about a quarter of the size of a typical network news evening broadcast.

 I did not know!

Having acknowledged that, I think it's also true that people do pay a lot of attention to cable news, even though the audiences are small-ish!

One example being how Donald tRump spends hours each day watching Fox Noise and responds regularly to things said by Don Lemon or Anderson Cooper on CNN.

I guess you could say that even if the audiences are small, folks do pay quite a bit of attention to what comes from Fox, CNN and MSNBC.  I certainly keep an eye on them and I know I've got plenty of company on that.

By the way, what got me looking at this issue was a recent post on Teagan Goddard's first-rate site, If you're not familiar with it, I recommend it highly. That feature may be a bit confusing if you've read my post today, as it focuses on monthly numbers and zeros in on the morning cable news shows specifically. But it was my entry point to the subject of how cable news audiences are pretty small, in relative terms.

Another good thing about that post on Politicalwire is that it also gives you a way to compare cable news to internet-based news, and those numbers are quite instructive, too.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile