Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Scaramucci Files (Part 1 of 4)

New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has made it very clear that one of his first priorities is to stop leaks to the press that he believes are coming from members of his own White House communications staff.

But last week Scaramucci himself leaked information, telling the online publication Politico that he intended to fire assistant press secretary Michael Short because he believed Short to be one of the leakers.

Handed such a great tip, Politico naturally published a story about Scaramucci’s intention to fire Short because he is a leaker.

But Scaramucci hesitated and didn’t fire Short that morning, as he told Politico he would, and as a result, Politico’s report on Short’s firing was published before Scaramucci actually fired Short.

And then…

Hold onto your hats, folks…

Scaramucci complained about reporters writing stories based on leaked information!

A lot of people are referring to him as “Mooch” or “The Mooch,” but Mrs. Curmudgeon, as an homage to the SNL characterization of Sean Spicer as “Spicy,” calls him “Smoochie.”  Her husband approves.

That HE leaked!

In his own words:

Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic. I should have the opportunity if I have to let somebody go to let the person go in a very humane, dignified way, and then the next thing… is help the person get a job somewhere, OK, because he probably has a family, right? So now you guys are talking about it, it’s not fair. … Here’s the problem with the leaking, why I have to figure out a way to get the leaking to stop, because it hurts people.

But the only reason Politico knew about it before Short is because Scaramucci gave Politico the story.

And then had the audacity to complain about Politico publishing stories based on leaked information.

There are two ways Scaramucci can address that problem:

He can practice what he preaches and not be such a colossal hypocrite.






From our growing zeal to cast bad guys out of our lives and out of our society with impunity and without hesitation has come a tendency to act on information that someone is a bad guy with great haste – and sometimes, with too much haste.  We especially see this now in the world of sports:  if a player is accused of something, whether it’s getting involved in a bar fight or hitting his wife, he’s released – a world of sports euphemism for “fired” – by his team almost immediately.

Unless, of course, he’s a really good player, in which case the team launches a tortured and wholly disingenuous effort to fabricate some absurd rationale to justify not firing the player.

And sometimes, allowing due process to run its course informs us that the guy we thought was a bad guy isn’t really a bad guy after all.

An example of this ready-shoot-aim approach unfolded this past week.

And backfired.

A football player for the Dallas Cowboys with the unlikely name of Lucky Whitehead was linked to a shoplifting episode:  a man carrying no identification was nabbed for shoplifting and gave police Whitehead’s name, date of birth, and social security number.

Whereupon the Dallas Cowboys, who don’t consider Whitehead an important part of their team, made Whitehead a former part of their team, immediately releasing – that is, firing – him.

But when the police dug a little deeper they realized that the guy they arrested wasn’t Lucky Whitehead after all but an imposter.

And the Cowboys?  Did they undo their firing of Whitehead?

Nope.  They fired him for something he didn’t do and then refused to make amends for their mistake.

Which means that Lucky turned out to be seriously unLucky.

Leaving one to wonder how many other people this has already happened to, and how many people it will eventually happen to, before we all learn to settle down and let the facts come out before making such snap and inappropriate judgments.

(And also leaving one to wonder how the people who run the Dallas Cowboys can look at themselves in the mirror and not feel deep, deep shame.)


We’ve Heard This Explanation Before

They said that having black people in the military would be a distraction and would erode unit discipline and cohesion.

Well, they let black people in the military and the units got over it, survived, and thrived.

They said having gay people in the military would be a distraction and would erode unit discipline and cohesion.

Well, they let gay people in the military and the units got over it, survived, and thrived.

And now they want to keep transgender people out of the military, saying they would be a distraction and would erode unit discipline and cohesion.

Agent Orange said permitting transgender people in the military would result in “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

And the New York Times reported on his spokesperson’s explanation:

The president, Ms. Sanders said, had concluded that allowing transgender people to serve openly “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion, and made the decision based on that.”

The president said he consulted his generals on this decision.  He didn’t.  They were as surprised as anyone by the edict and have indicated that they disagree and are not terribly interested in enforcing it.

Even the extreme conservatives who lobbied Agent Orange on this issue weren’t asking for a complete transgender ban.  All they wanted was for the U.S. government not to foot the bill for gender reassignment surgery.

If not now then certainly eventually, transgender people will be permitted to serve in the armed forces.  When they do, the units will get over it, survive, and thrive.

They always do.

(See an excellent West Wing clip about this issue here.)



Yes, That Was Her Name

The door opened and a woman dressed all in blue called The Curmudgeon’s name.  He closed his book, rose from his seat, and walked to the door, where they exchanged greetings.  He stepped inside the door and she had him step on a scale (not bad).  She led him back to an examination room, had him take a seat, took his blood pressure (excellent!), reviewed the medicines he takes (59 years old and no pills!), inquired about the purpose of his visit, typed a few quick notes into the computer, and spoke.

“The doctor will be with you shortly.  If you need anything before then, I’ll be just outside the door.”

She rose to leave and smiled, adding “My name is Ikea.”


And The Curmudgeon admits to taking a quick peek at the jewelry hanging around her neck, thinking it might be an itty-bitty Allen wrench.

Amazon Math

For someone who is fairly curmudgeonly – although probably not as curmudgeonly as he probably sometimes seems – The Curmudgeon is surprisingly and uncharacteristically enthusiastic about doing business with Amazon.  He likes its selection, he likes its prices, he likes how it deals with customers who are unhappy with their purchase.  His only beef, and it’s a minor one, is that he thinks Amazon has turned fast delivery into a fetish, creating an artificial urgency – The Curmudgeon has this thing about artificial urgency in many aspects of life and work – about speedy delivery that is in many cases totally unnecessary.

The other day The Curmudgeon visited the Amazon web site to purchase a brand of fiber powder he recently began using after he had finally used the last of the two cases of another, better product he had purchased, about four years ago, when he learned it was being discontinued; as he has written in the past, he does this kind of thing now and then.  The Curmudgeon started by consulting his past orders to see how much it cost the last time around and found that he had spent $10.34 for an eight-ounce container.  Next, he searched for the same product and found it for less.

$8.16, which is a better price than $10.34.

But there was more, because Amazon was offering a deal:  two containers for $18.34.

Smarter than this kid!

Wait a second.

Two for $18.34?  That would be – The Curmudgeon is proud, he didn’t even need his fingers for this one  – $9.17 a container.

Which, even though he attended public school in Philadelphia, The Curmudgeon immediately recognized is more than $8.16.

So Amazon swung and missed on this one.

The Curmudgeon will hope – really hope – that it was an innocent error on Amazon’s part and not an attempt to mislead customers into thinking they had been offered a bargain.

He ordered two of the $8.16 containers instead of the special two-fer deal, spent $16.32, and saved himself a neat $2.02.

And reminded himself to pay more attention when ordering from Amazon in the future.






Renaming the Senate

In honor of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell leading his gang of 100 onto the Senate floor yesterday to vote on a health care proposal he hadn’t even shared with them, keeping his colleagues in blindfolds and his bill under wraps like a gift until Christmas morning, The Curmudgeon respectfully – well, actually, disrespectfully – suggests that we rename the U.S. Senate.

Of course The Curmudgeon doesn’t have the authority to do this, nor does he suspect the idea would be received with much enthusiasm, but as of now, and until such time as Mitch McConnell is no longer running it, The Curmudgeon hereby renames the U.S. Senate.

On this site, from now on, the Senate shall heretofore and forthwith be referred to as…

…the Politburo.

The Politburo majority leader, Comrade Mitch McConnell

Because nothing captures the manner in which this once-respected body is now being treated by puppet master McConnell like the name of the puppet legislative body that once pretended to have a role in governing the Soviet Union.

Of course we all know what eventually happened to the Soviet Union.

Ladies and gentlemen (and others):  introducing the Politburo.

Hot and Bothered

Title sure caught your eye, didn’t it?

Alas, that’s not where The Curmudgeon is going.

He never does, does he?

Actually, what he’s trying to say is that before Republicans get all hot and bothered about how special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is starting to look into the president’s business dealings in Russia, it would serve them well to remember their absolute glee when 1990s special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s investigation of the Clintons’ investment in an Arkansas land development deal veered into then-President Clinton’s extra-marital sex life and gave them the gift of Monica Lewinsky.

So when it suited their needs Republicans wanted the special prosecutor to go wherever the trail of potential misdeeds led but now that a fellow Republican is on the receiving end of a special counsel’s attention they want today’s special counsel to follow straight and narrow.

You can’t have it both ways, Republicans.

No, He Didn’t Say Really Say That

But oh, yes, he did.

Senate Republicans are having a hard time figuring out what to do about health care.  They prematurely insisted that they’re going to vote on it tomorrow but at the time they made that announcement they didn’t even know exactly what they’d be voting on.

And as The Curmudgeon writes this piece (last night) they STILL haven’t announced what they’ll be voting on.

But that’s not stopping them from plowing ahead.

As reported by the New York Times, one senator acknowledged the problem this poses:

“You can’t debate something that you don’t initiate the debate on,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican. “And everybody can offer endless amendments, so if anybody’s got a better idea, they can offer that and get a vote on it. And in the end, 50 people are going to decide whether we’re going to have an outcome or not.”

And then he added (again as reported by the Times):

Asked whether senators want to know the plan before they vote, Mr. Cornyn said that was “a luxury we don’t have.”

Yes he said it:  that it’s just fine with him that senators don’t know the plan they’re going to be asked to vote on – a plan that could, if adopted, introduce fundamental changes in the American health care system.

That knowing what they would be voting on is “a luxury we don’t have.”

A luxury they don’t have.

John Cornyn: he embodies everything that’s wrong with Congress today.

All of this illustrates that John Cornyn is one of those people who represents everything that’s wrong with our government today.  He’s the number two guy in the Senate, he’s part of the group that decided that health care needs to be addressed TOMORROW (for no particular reason), and he clearly thinks there’s nothing wrong with pressuring his fellow Republicans in the Senate into voting on a bill with virtually no opportunity to read it, figure out what it really means, and consult with experts, their colleagues, and their constituents about what they should do.

It took more than a year for Democrats to pass Obamacare.  Republicans, with a seven-year head start on something they knew they wanted to do, still haven’t figured out how to do what they want to do even though, controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, they can do pretty much anything they damn well choose.  Despite this, despite the luxury of time to do some thinking and do some planning and make sure they get it right, they’ve created this ridiculous, artificial urgency that they must address health care right away, right now, and more than a quest to do something important the right way, it’s become about winning.

But you have to wonder:  winning what?

How Did Trump Go From…

…“I alone can fix it” to “We’re not gonna own it, I’m not gonna own it, I can tell you the Republicans are not gonna own it, we’ll let Obamacare fail…”?

Where is the leadership?  Where is the honesty?  Where is living up to his word?

A Quick Thought About Mixed Martial Arts

Boxing?  Perhaps – but only reluctantly.

But mixed martial arts?

Why do we allow this?  How can a civilized society permit such a thing?