Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Springtime for Mushrooms: Charlie Pierce on the Spreading Blight on the U.S. Body Politic of the Trumpian Fungal Parasite of Corruption; Plus, MeTV's Fortnight of Perry MAYson Perry Mason

A spring day view in the 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 12:26PM May 8, 2018.

This is between the Northumberland and my building, the Hampton Courts.


Wednesday evening posting.

Among other images, this entry contains several pleasant-May-day pictures that I took this week near by apartment building. The weather has been lovely with temps in the 75F to 80F range for highs and dew points in the 50F to 55F range. The only issue is the persistently dry (low-grade drought) weather (plus very high tree pollen levels).

The plot of ground between the Northumberland and the Hampton Courts, Washington, D.C., 12:26PM May 8, 2018.


As for my landlord -- William C. Smith & Co. -- I haven't heard anything else after the initial response to this mess, but I know the company would love for me to move out on the grounds that I'm too old and too ugly and paying too low a monthly rent for that dust-trap broom closet of a unit. The company wants all neo-hippie Millennials with unusually high incomes for their age (a not-uncommon phenomenon in the District of Columbia).

Outside the Northumberland -- the lovely building next to my apartment building -- the following spring day, 1:17PM May 9, 2018.


For this entry, I'd like to repost the following piece by the inestimable Charlie Pierce (link embedded): Trump and His Administration Are a Parasite on American Government

The blight of corruption is festering beneath the surface.

A few years back, in a national forest in Oregon, researchers found the largest single living organism ever discovered on earth. It was a fungus of the genus Armillaria. It covered 1000 hectares of land and it was nearly 9,000 years old.

Through a vast system of thick tendrils called rhizomorphs, Armillaria can spread over a huge area and survive by latching onto the root systems of trees, from which it slowly and parasitically dines on the nutrients of the trees until the trees finally fall over, dead. Most of the damage is done underground, and one Armillaria can kill an entire conifer forest.

I'm beginning to think that the corruption of this administration* is the political equivalent of one of these super-fungi. It is so vast, and so much of it is hidden from view, that we may never see it entirely until it’s too late, and a whole lot of important things about this country go dead and topple down.

Armillaria mushrooms sprout in wild profusion on the trunk of a doomed tree.

The revelations on Tuesday that Michael Cohen, the president*’s personal lawyer, was one of the most ambitious bagmen in American political history all emerged from an improbable source: a lawsuit lodged against the president* by an adult-film actress with whom he allegedly had an affair.

We discovered that Cohen reportedly got a half-million dollars from a Russian oligarch with “links” to Vladimir Putin, as though you could even be a Russian oligarch and stay alive without some kind of “links” to the newly re-elected goon-in-chief.

We also learned that a shell company set up by Cohen took in $200,000 in "consulting payments" from AT&T for, as the leaked documents put it, "insights into understanding the new administration." They could've paid me half that and I would have told them all they needed to know: that these people are all a bunch of crooks and that the companies should adjust their payment schedules accordingly.

I mean, really. Trump. Nixon. AT&T. ITT. Where have you gone, Dita Beard? A president* turns his greedy eyes to you.

Robert Mueller’s team already has interviewed Victor Vekselberg, Cohen's buddy from Moscow, so we can probably assume there's more there than we already know. (More women who were paid off? Checks with "kompromat" written in Cyrillic on the memo line? Who knows at this point?) The criminal rhizomorphs of this parasitic blight on government extend god knows where. That members of the administration -- hi there, Scott Pruitt -- see public service as an All-U-Can-Eat buffet on our dime is no secret any more. We’ve had Pruitt’s $43,000 phone booth, Ben Carson’s dinette set, and a great love for taxpayer-funded air travel by almost everyone.

Coniferous forest dying from Armillaria root rot in Siberia; photo by Igor Pavlov.

Nor is the fact that the president* has brought the principles he employed in private business into his public duties—to wit, keeping all the really rotten stuff underground by any means necessary, and reneging on debts you don't have the money to pay anyway. And still, dammit, they can surprise you. As one of the scientists studying the massive Armillaria lamented to The Atlantic:

"I wish all of the substrate would be transparent for five minutes, so I could see where it is and what it's doing. We would learn so much from a five-minute glimpse."

Whether we'd all have the guts to look at what this spreading parasitic growth is doing to our country, however, is a whole different matter. If we saw it whole, we might have to do something about it, and then where would we be?

Spring day view at V St and New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 1:17PM May 9, 2018.

Now that two new buildings have been constructed, I can walk unimpeded on V Street instead of U Street to 13th Street and the Metro station. Though maybe a minute longer, it is a far nicer walk.


Charlie Pierce also had this piece about last night's primary election results -- with Don "Cocaine Mitch" Blankenship -- the convicted and formerly imprisoned coal baron -- losing in West Virginia in a crowded primary field -- that focused on an important result from Ohio: Passage of the Ohio Issue 1 referendum that would, in theory, severely limit the gerrymandering capabilities of Ohio lawmakers following the 2020 Census by whatever party controls the state levers of power and is inclined to do, or rather, that has done so to self-parodying extent:

Map of Ohio's ludicrously post-2010 Census gerrymandered 16 Congressional districts -- courtesy the GOP's Project REDMAP and sound asleep Dems -- with Red/Blue election results for 2012, 2014, and 2016 (they were the same for each year).


OK, I'm going to wrap up this entry. For tonight, I'm not going to the gym. (I went the last two nights.) I'm just going to get dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill. I want to be home by 1130PM in order to watch Perry Mason on MeTV.

The network is doing a "Perry MAYson" theme for the first two weeks of May that is intended to showcase notable Perry Mason episodes. The idea is to commemorate the late Raymond Burr's iconic television program ahead of his 101st birthday on May 21st.

The theme for this week (May 7th -11st) is "Celebrity Guest Star Week" in which famous guest stars filled in as a defense attorney -- with Raymond Burr typically having just a bit role on the pretext that he was recovering from surgery or on a vacation.

Bette Davis had a great episode with "The Case of Constant Doyle" (see images directly above and below). Last night's episode ("The Case of the Bullied Bowler") featured Mike Connors -- of later Mannix fame.

Next week's theme is "Iconic Episodes Week" and includes the three cases Mason lost including the one not overturned ("The Case of the Witless Witness"). There is also the only color episode ("The Case of the Twice Told Twist").

May 17th marks Raymond Burr's 101st birthday.

OK, that's all for now. I cannot post an entry after work/gym tomorrow (Thursday) as I really need to finish up my notes from last week's peer review workshop I attended, and I suspect I'm going to have work into the wee hours of Friday.

I will try to post a Friday Night entry, but realistically, my next entry (or pair of entries) might not be until Saturday night.


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