Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Special Counsel's Trick-or-Treat -OR- Halloween Comes One Day Early to TrumpWorld

Happy Halloween. 2017. From the outskirts of TrumpWorld.

Well, here it is 1:30AM as I start this entry -- and, needless to say, there is simply no way I can post anything tonight.

I will briefly note that Halloween came a day early, so to speak, with some real trick-or-treating news day as the first of the Robert Mueller indictments dropping -- a dozen against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to include "conspiracy against the United States" and massive laundering of Russian oligarch money -- but the really spooky (and wonderful) surprise was the revelation that a former foreign policy advisor to Trump named George Papadopoulos has been secretly cooperating with the special counsel investigation after he was arrested for lying to the FBI.

Boo, indeed.

The commentary from the regulars I read has been good with Charlie Pierce his usual laugh-out-loud hilarious self while Jonathan Chait had an excellent insight into how the GOP leadership is likely to handle this mess -- namely, with an all-out attack on the rule of law as it goes full authoritarian, as indicated in Wall Street Journal editorial page eruptions.

Here is the first of two Charlie Pierce pieces (link embedded): Manafort Is Mueller's Opening Salvo.


What is most important, of course, is that the snowball has started to roll downhill. For a while on Monday, whomever in the White House is charged with the task of hiding the presidential* telephone had done a fairly good job. The president*'s Twitter account was rigged for silent running. Republican congresscritters also were maintaining a discreet distance in the immediate aftermath of the news. (Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin popped up on Three Dolts On A Divan to say "dossier," "Hillary," and "uranium" a few times, but his heart didn't seem to be in it.)


Excerpt cont'd:

At the very least, it would seem to me, Republican congressional leaders ought to be forced to take a position as to what they would do if the president* fired Robert Mueller now that the first shoe has dropped. This should be an easy one, of course, but there is that tax bill to pass, and all that money to shove upwards to the donors, so obligations to the Constitution can wait.

Excerpt cont'd (and, yes click on the Star Trek-related "plak tow" hyperlink):

Anyway, they're apparently suiting up again. Over the weekend, the WSJ ran an editorial demanding that Mueller resign. It also published an op-ed by a couple of Bush 2 lawyers advising the president* to pardon everyone -- a move that likely would set off cranial detonations at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and the birthing of bovines generally throughout the country.

Nevertheless, when the WSJ editorial page last drifted into the plak tow, the vast conservative media apparatus was still in its larval stages. God alone knows what will happen now that it's fully gestated and howling across the landscape. With the Republican congressional leadership so far hiding behind the curtains, there’s nothing to restrain the beast and, sooner or later, the president* is going to find his phone.


And then there was Pierce piece about George Papadopoulos (link embedded):

Pro Tip: Lying to the FBI Is Never a Good Idea.

It included this line:

That sound you heard was another shoe dropping from the human centipede that is Camp Runamuck.


Then there is the matter of Trump himself and not if but when he's going to go ape-shit and fire Mueller (setting off a genuine Constitutional crisis). Oh, and Fox News has been in some alt-reality that only those steeped for many years in its Ministry of Truth-like levels of blistering lies, horseshit, and telegenic fembot moral and ethical depravity could fathom.

I should also mention that it was also one of the rare times when CNN (and I'm referring to Anderson Cooper's show) had an expert panel of former prosecutors giving their insights into the strategy that Mueller is following (as opposed to the usual frickin' nihilistic but commercially vendible battle between Corey Lewandowski and Paul Begala). Even Ken Cuccinelli wasn't a totally useless Trump apologist.

For its part, the MSNBC lineup was on fire with the story. ( I caught these shows while on the treadmill at the gym.)

But, again, it's too late to delve into all of that right now. My intention is to post an entry tomorrow (that is, later this Tuesday).

OK, that's all for now. Happy Halloween. (And, no, I'm not dressing up for the occasion. I don't "do" Halloween like that.)


Sunday, October 29, 2017

I, Trumpbot & the GOP Alt-Reality Outer Limits (UPDATED: Mid-Alantic Nor'easter Materializes -OR- TRUMP PAYS CONTRACTOR INVOICE!)

**UPDATED 7:35PM 10/29/2017: See bottom of entry. **

Culler's Overlook, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia, Oct. 28, 2017; Photo by Flickr user By the Bay Photos and featured in this CWG entry.


Well, I was going to post another entry last night, but I just got too tired even as I was watching an enjoyable MeTV Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night and Sunday Red Eye Sci-Fi line up of shows that included the Svengoolie-hosted monster movie Brides of Dracula and ended with two episodes of The Outer Limits ("I, Robot" and "Keeper of the Purple Twilight"). (I went to bed around 3AM and skipped Lost in Space.)

"I, Robot" - The Outer Limits (1964)

Leonard Nimoy as newspaper reporter Judson Ellis and "Adam" the robot.


To clarify about the "I, Robot" episode The Outer Limits -- which was very good -- is unrelated to the I, Robot franchise started by the late, great Isaac Asimov. Rather, it is based on the short story by brothers Earl and Otto Binder under their joint penname "Eando Binder" that first appeared in Amazing Stories in 1939 through 1942 and then in other publications.

It features a young Leonard Nimoy as a reporter. The episode focuses on a robot -- Adam Link -- that is (wrongly) on trial for killing his creator. Of note, 31 years later -- in 1995 -- Leonard Nimoy would appear in the remake of this episode in the updated series The Outer Limits (1995 - 2002), except this time in the role of Adam's legal defender, lawyer Thurman Cutler.

"I, Robot" - The Outer Limits (1995)

"Adam" the robot and Leonard Nimoy as defense lawyer Thurman Cutler.


"Keeper of the Purple Twilight" was also good. And, of course, weird. I quite like The Outer Limits series. However, I must admit that I completely missed -- for SEVEN years -- the 1995 - 2002 remake of this terrific anthology series.

OK, turning to the weather ...

NE CONUS composite radar mosaic looped 1248 - 1358UTC October 29, 2017.


As part of my planned entry last night, I had intended to talk about the weather, specifically, the advertised all-day windy rainfall in association with a cold frontal passage and "bombing out" coastal low forecasted to pivot back into Long Island or southeastern New England even as the whole system had a strong connection to a tropical disturbance (the low that never quite became Tropical Storm Philippe) passing off the Florida coastline.

NWS high-resolution surface weather map for a portion of the eastern United States, valid 12Z October 29, 2017.


However, as of the 11AM hour this morning, the whole thing looks like a big bust -- at least for the immediate Metro D.C. and Baltimore areas, a.k.a., the Baltimore/Washington Corridor. The 1 to 2 inches of rain so far has been closer to one-tenth (see precipitation total list below).

And while the low that was supposed to rapidly deepen ("explosive cyclogenesis") off the Delmarva coastline could still do that and bring us stormy weather, the odds of that are falling into the range of the odds of Donald Trump's check payment to a contractor actually being in the mail.

GFS 12Z Oct. 29, 2017 showing 6-hour precipitation (in mm/hr.), mean sea level pressure (MSLP), and 500-mb thicknesses (in dekameters) for the United States valid hour 12 / 0Z October 30, 3017.


Oh, and the chilly part is anything but -- the front is stalled as a stationary boundary to the west (see weather map directly above). Temperatures this late morning are around 65F and dew points almost that high, so if anything, it's borderline warm and humid.

NWS/WPC surface weather map forecast for the Lower 48 United States valid 0Z October 30, 2017.


Coastal New England -- and probably the New York City area -- will get a big nor'easter later tonight and tomorrow, but around here just the usual nothing. There is a wind advisory in effect for our area for later tonight into tomorrow (see map farther below). While I understand a gale warning for the Chesapeake Bay, having a land wind advisory for winds in the 30 - 40 MPH range seems sort of pointless and dumb.

Through 11AM, amounts have been as follows:

KBWI: 0.29"
KDMH: 0.25"
KDCA: 0.19"
KIAD: 0.01"

A lot more rain is falling on the Delmarva into New Jersey, but as usual, nothing here. This area sucks.

Below are the county warning area (CWA) weather advisories between D.C. and Boston this morning. As ever, the weather becomes much more interesting as you get out of the D.C. area. Interspersed is some topically-unrelated political commentary I've been intending to post.

Sterling (LWX) CWA weather advisories updated 11:34AM October 29, 2017.

Oooh, a wind advisory.


So tomorrow, the shit hits the fan for Crazy Emperor Donald, the Vulgar Talking Yam, as Robert Mueller's first indictments in the Trump-Russia election theft scandal are "unsealed." However, the Trump / GOP Fox News propaganda apparatus have been in a frenzy flinging mountains of shit the past few days that would do Orwell's Ministry of Truth proud -- claiming that the scandal really involves Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and Russia.

Of course, it doesn't matter in the slightest that it's all a Mount Everest of lies and bullshit. What really matters -- in addition to the reflexive "Both Siderism" of the mainstream media that will readily confuse all the low-information voters -- is that the Fox News-and-hate-radio-addled rubes are whipped up into an alt-reality frenzy.

In fact, the Bizarro-World aspect of Fox News continues to hit new heights as Trump's "surrogates" pretend that there is something called the "Hillary Clinton administration."

Mt. Holly / Philadelphia CWA weather advisories updated 11:30AM October 29, 2017.


One bit of good news: Sociopathic Trump Uber Troll Roger Stone got himself banned from Twitter for an obscenity-laced tirade that was vaguely threatening against CNN on-air personalities including Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, and Ana Navarro. However, as Josh Marshall pointed out, those threats are potentially prescient, as CNN's parent company Time Warner is in one of the mega-billion dollar merger / acquisition deals (with AT&T the buyer) that is contingent upon Justice Department approval -- and Trump has made it clear he wants a CNN purge in order to get more favorable treatment.

New York CWA weather advisories updated 11:32AM October 29, 2017.


As we near the one-year mark of the election that gave us this dystopian state of affairs, it is worth noting that yesterday was one-year-to-the-day of the reckless decision by puritanically "Oh Lordy" James "Reinhold Niebuhr" Comey's to "reopen" the bullshit email "scandal" -- only to close it a few days later -- in what cost HRC the election. Well, that and (as Charlie Pierce would say), "Russia ratfcking" by Vladimir Putin and his social media bot factory.

Boston / Taunton CWA weather advisories updated 11:29AM October 29, 2017.


Speaking of purges, I would like to call attention to this Andrew Prokop article in Vox.com on Steve Bannon's plans for purging / destroying the current GOP establishment and rebuilding a new one -- even if it means aligning with certain Republican Party elements such as the teabaggers who are inherently opposed to some of Bannon's own policy goals (link embedded):

The Republican purge has only just begun

I didn't fully appreciate -- until I read that piece -- just how extreme is the current political situation. In a very real way, it's as though we've had a coup in this country and now a narcissistic sociopath is in power and surrounded by some sinister sons of bitches -- and buttressed by an entire political party that controls all the levers of political power even as the institutions that ostensibly act as a check are failing to include the corporate media, er, free press.

Here is Andrew Sullivan's extended very dark take on the matter (link embedded): This Is What the Trump Abyss Looks Like.

OK, I think I'm going to end this entry now. I'm not sure what to do today. I take the Metro to Old Town Alexandria and get a mid-afternoon lunch at John Strongbow's Tavern. It seems an appropriate day to do that. Later, I'll stop at Trade and then head home.

Oh, yes, and speaking of politics and Trade, I unexpectedly met Josh Barro at Trade on Friday night (well, Saturday morning by that point), but I'll recount that brief meeting at another time.

My next planned entry will be late Monday or Tuesday.

UPDATED 7:35PM 7/29/2017:

NE CONUS sector composite radar mosaic looped 2118 to 2228UTC October 29, 2017.


OK, then, I was wrong: This nor'easter storm IS getting serious even here in D.C. proper.

As the models have been advertising, the low is now undergoing explosive cyclogenesis off the Delmarva with an extensive rain shield (with snow above about 2,800 feet in the Blue Ridge) and intensifying winds -- including across the entire Baltimore/Washington region.

Some imagery and excerpts of the 2:54 Sterling (LWX) area forecast discussion (with some spelling errors corrected):

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in standard base mode reflectivity looped 6:02PM - 6:43PM EDT October 29, 2017.


The front should clear the CWA over the next couple hours, with the surface low continuing to strengthen as it rapidly moves northward. It is expected to be due east of Washington DC over the extreme western Atlantic by 8PM this evening, then rocket north into the Catskill Mountains of New York by 2AM Monday, finally entering Quebec by around 8AM Monday.

ECWMF ("European") model 0Z Oct. 29, 2017 run showing mean sea level pressure valid 0Z Oct. 30, 2017 (8PM EDT Oct. 29th, 2017) for the eastern United States as prettied up by the Washington Post CWG.


Its rapid movement combined with the fact we haven`t had a lot of rain just yet should preclude flooding, but a period of heavier rain still looks likely as we head through the evening. The elevated instability remains as well, so an isolated rumble of thunder can't be ruled out. Winds will begin to increase as well, especially after sunset, but the strongest winds will likely end up occurring as the rain is ending overnight. Winds of 50 mph still look reasonable later tonight, so have left Wind Advisory as-is.

HRRR model 13Z Oct. 29, 2017 run showing radar simulation looped from 12PM EDT Oct. 29th to 3AM EDT Oct. 30, 2017 for the eastern United States as animated / prettied up by the Washington Post CWG.


Not to be forgotten, the colder air wrapping into this system will allow some snow to fall at the higher elevations of eastern West Virginia and western Virginia, primarily along the Allegheny Front. Accumulations generally look to be in the 2-5 inch range still, so have also left the Winter Weather Advisory as-is.

3-km NAM 12Z Oct. 29, 2017 run showing wind gusts (in mph) for the period 5PM EDT Oct. 29th to 11AM EDT Oct. 30th, 2017 in 3-hour time steps for the eastern United States as animated / prettied up by Washington Post CWG.


On Monday, the system continues rapidly moving north away from the region. Winds will gradually diminish, though there may be a brief second surge after sunrise due to increased mixing thanks to solar insolation. Otherwise temps should actually rise decently, with highs back into the 50s and low 60s looking likely. Downslope flow no doubt will help them rise.

Well, whaddaya know. I guess Trump every once in a while pays a contractor invoice.

End of Update and of Entry.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jukebox Saturday Night for October 28th, 2017: Mercy, Mercy Me -OR- The Marvin, Natalie, and Brothers Gibb Edition

First up, one of the greats by one of the greats ...

"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" by Marvin Gaye from his album What's Going On (1971)

During this Trump/GOP rightwing lunatic junta (and let's face it, that's what it is) with the War on the Biosphere (among its many wars), this song takes on extra significance.

I've said it before and I'll say it again here: We lost Marvin much too soon. 


Next, a nice upbeat piece by another terrific singer ...

"Mr. Melody" by Natalie Cole from her self-titled album Natalie (1976)


Finally, and completing our visit to the 1970s, let's end with something Old School and High Disco wonderful ...

"Night Fever" by the Bee Gees from their runaway hit soundtrack album Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track (1977)

I love the night video's scenes of driving on a wet night along -- according to the Keeper of All Knowledge -- the old "Motel Row" stretch of Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach in Miami-Dade. According to the same source, the video was made in 1978 (when the single was released) but not shown to the public until 2004. Needless few, if any, of those old motels survive.

I was a bit surprised when I realized that I've never previously featured this Bee Gees hit song. To be clear, I have featured Bee Gees songs in multiple Jukebox Saturday Night editions -- here, here, and here, not to mention songs by the Bee Gees performed by other artists, such as here and here. Just not this song.


OK, that's all for now. In lieu of trying to hurriedly complete a Saturday Evening Post entry before midnight and then immediately posting this JBSN entry, I've decided to post the SEP entry after midnight (probably about 2AM). Yes, I know that means it will be Sunday.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

"Nothing Fancy, Just Solid Journeyman Work": My Thursday Night All-Purpose Update

The nighttime view of K and 16th Streets from the Ellipse Rooftop Bar atop the Hyatt Place hotel, Washington, D.C., 8:54PM October 24, 2017.

I had seen this rooftop bar from street level a few times and wanted to give it a try. It was quite pleasant (in part because it was not crowded and the night air refreshingly cool).


Once again, apologies for lack of an entry last night after work and the gym.

My excuse for last night is that I get through my August 2017 South Carolina solar eclipse trip pictures in preparation for finally posting them.

Yours truly at the Ellipse Rooftop Bar, Washington, D.C., 8:04PM October 24, 2017.

I headed over to Trade thereafter -- the place was initially lightly crowded but then a crush of people came in from the stupid annual high heel race on 17th Street. I had some idiot Millennial try to get a joke at my expense with his friends about my flip open phone (which I do intend to replace with a Smartphone by next year) dovetailing into some joke about it being part of my "Halloween costume." I told him to fuck off and all he'll ever achieve in life is tweeting.

Younger gay men are as vicious as they are useless.


I went to bed last night around 2AM -- after the usual late night MeTV line-up that ended with an Alfred Hitchcock presents episode "You Can't Trust a Man."

The episode starred the late Joe Maross -- whose 30-year career of work on numerous TV series and movies is aptly described by the film and TV trivia blogger Scott Rollins as "Nothing Fancy, Just Solid Journeyman Work" . His credits include that great episode from The Twilight Zone called "Third from the Sun."

Maross died at age 86 in Nov. 2009. Twice married, he has a son, but I couldn't find anything about him. 


Dreamtime ...

Swans Reflecting Elephants by Salvador Dali (1937)

I went to bed and had a roiled night sleep of strange dreams involving a vast, multi-level shopping mall and a chaotic situation of a comet that had a 30 percent chance of hitting the Earth (in Indonesia) -- and which I saw it as a smudge near the Moon) and my frenetic desire to get to my mom.

Three Sphinxes of Bikini by Salvador Dali (1947)

Of note, everyone seemed to have vanished or were in hiding. I also recall talking about the expected EMP blast that would knock out the power. In the same dream, I was talking to BOTH my late stepfather Ray and my late paternal grandmother. Then in another "segment" of the dream, and as I am often in my dreams, I was at the old Tradewinds Beach Club in Sea Bright, N.J.

Paranoiac Visage by Salvador Dali (1935)

Perhaps the strangest part of the dream sequence was -- while running through that opulent, multi-level mall -- trying to find eggs to purchase in D.C., only to discover they had entirely vanished and finding out it was because of a free-range hen legal requirement gone wrong. (In the dream, I remember yelling about Mayor Bowser and the city being poorly run.)

Apartment view overlooking the intersection of 16th and U Streets and New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 10:11AM October 25, 2017.


I woke up with a terrible, crushing headache that continued periodically through today, but that seems to have gone away for now. I think it is one of my non-aural migraines. These headaches that I sometimes get concern me, but I don't think I'm going the way of Laura Branigan just yet.

Yours truly at the 17th (Corcoran) Street Safeway, Washington, D.C., 10:57PM October 24, 2017.

No, I didn't realize when I took this selfie that there was a box of Brillo pads above me -- and, yes, I see the irony in that given my buzz cut haircut.


As for the gym last night, it was sort of a crappy workout if only because I wanted to do a treadmill jog but just couldn't muster anything beyond 3.33 miles (and part of that was walking). The weightlifting part was alright -- nothing great -- and then a short core workout and a concluding swim.

Tonight is a non-gym night after work. I would like to stop by No. 9 to watch Will & Grace at 9PM and then head home.

Evening, 1600 block New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 13, 2017.


Weather Update

The weather today was breezy, variably cloudy, and seasonably (late October) cool with local / regional highs (preliminary) as follows:


Sterling (LWX) weather advisories updated 5:20PM October 26, 2017 with legend.


Dew points are low (around 35F) and there is actually a widespread frost advisory in effect for the Metro D.C. and Baltimore areas and freeze warning in parts of the Potomac highlands and areas that have not already had a frost to end the growing season (see image directly above).

The GFS 12Z Oct. 26, 2017 showing precipitation type and intensity (in inches/hour), mean sea level pressure, and 500-mb heights for the eastern United States looped from hours 54 to 78 (2PM Oct. 29th to 2PM Oct. 30th) in 6-hour time steps, as animated and prettied up by the CWG / Washington Post.


There is actually the chance of a decent weekend rain event for parts of the East Coast as a powerful coastal low forms right off the Delmarva in association with a strong cold frontal passage even as tropical moisture from a disturbance (that may or may not make tropical storm status as "Philippe" beforehand) gets drawn into it.

The ECMWF ("European") 12Z Oct. 26, 2017 showing the precipitable column water for eastern North American (converted to inches) valid at hour 78 / 18Z (2PM EDT) October 29, 2017.


Coastal New England, of course, is likely to get the strongest winds and heaviest rains, but even here in D.C., there is the promise of 1 to 2 inches of rainfall and wind gusts to 40 mph.

Unless it all craps out, which is always a non-trivial possibility around here.

The GFS 12Z Oct. 26, 2017 showing forecasted peak wind gusts (in mph) for the NE CONUS valid at 2AM October 30, 2017 as prettied up by the CWG/Washington Post.


Here is the CWG entry on it (link embedded): Intense coastal storm to maul New England on Sunday, swipe Mid-Atlantic. All the weather images (except the LWX weather advisories) in this blog posting are taken from that CWG entry.

It will certainly blow a lot of the fall leaves off the trees.

NCEP/WPC's quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF) (in inches) through hour 108 / 0Z October 31, 2017 initialized 12Z October 26, 2017.


Just a Smidge of Political Commentary ...

OK, I think that's all for now. I had intended to post some political commentary, but I just got too mentally bogged down with all the commentary I was reading and how things are going in this ugly Trump/GOP Era Error. In lieu of that, I will just post the following quote from Daily Intelligencer's Eric Levitz during a three-way discussion with him, Jonathan Chait, and Ed Kilgore.

I'm also including three pictures (one directly above and two below) from my South Carolina eclipse trip just because I think they're very pretty. Both were taken in Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 20th. I'll repost them with captions in the full eclipse trip entry.


"The concern for me in celebrating anti-Trump Republicans is this: The threat that Trump poses to our republic, democratic norms, and security is garish -- and for the nearly 60 percent of the unconverted, unmistakable.

The threat to our nation that the modern Republican Party poses is more subtle. But no less real -- and not just because it gave us Trump. A party that comes within one turn in John McCain's mood of passing a trillion-dollar cut to federal health-care spending -- without holding a single hearing, shielding bills' from public scrutiny until hours before the vote -- all to appease libertarian billionaires who subscribe to an ideology that is, in many respects, anti-democratic ... this is a crisis on par with Trump."

OK, that really is all for now. I'm unsure if I'll be able to post an entry tomorrow evening or not. It might not be until Saturday night with my dual Saturday Evening Post and Jukebox Saturday Night entries.