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Tuesday Bag o’ Expectations

expectations bagI expected last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would make me squirm, and boy did it. I worried Trump would bluster and talk over Clinton with little or no effort on the part of Lester Holt to restrain him, and that’s what happened. But after the first few instances of Trump’s bullying his lack of preparation became clear, and as the debate went on more and more of what he said was nonsensical. And defensive? Good lord. Hillary, with plenty of help from Donald, made him look the fool … not that that will change many votes.

Honestly, if the next two debates are going to be like last night’s, I can live without. Maybe there won’t be any more debates … some of Trump’s allies are already suggesting he bail, and it won’t surprise me if he does.

If anyone deserved to moderate a Trump-Clinton debate, it would have been Megyn Kelly. That was never going to happen, but Hillary made sure Megyn was there in spirit when she brought up Donald’s history of saying horrible things about women, specifically mentioning the Hispanic Miss Universe winner Trump later called “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” I can picture Megyn grinning from ear to ear over that. This morning, by the way, Trump is attacking Miss Universe all over again … he just can’t help himself. As for Trump’s debate-night sniffles, which some are saying is evidence he did a line or two beforehand, Megyn’s revenge must be even sweeter: the man literally had snot coming out of his whatever.

I purposely skipped my Anytime Fitness workout this morning because I knew the wall monitors would be tuned to Fox News, and I couldn’t endure watching them try to twist what was plain for everyone to see into a Trump win.

Still, will Trump’s fans care? Here’s a disturbing take I saw this morning on Twitter:

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Monday morning I listened to an NPR interview with a Lawrenceville, Georgia man who plans to vote for Trump. The NPR correspondent credulously passed on the man’s story about a burka-clad Muslim woman, a total stranger, emerging from the woods next to his house, ripping down his American flag, then attacking his wife and daughter with it. The hell? Red flags were popping up all over the place, but the correspondent reported the attack as fact, saying the story had made the local news. So I turned to Google to look into those news stories.

Strangely, it appears a woman was arrested, but when you look for details all the stories merely say she was accused of attacking the wife and daughter, and the only witnesses were the family members making the accusation. The story is hearsay, and the sites carrying it are, to be polite, partisan ones: Fox News, World Net Daily, Jihad Watch, The Smoking Gun, sites that often indulge in anti-Muslim hysteria.

The reveal, to me, is the family’s insistence on saying the woman was wearing a full burka:

“A lady walked out of our woods in a full Burka, full attire, stares at us for a minute, then grabs my American flag off of my mailbox and charges towards us with it, just swinging it with all her might,“ the wife and mother said.

What is it with that word, full? You see it over and over in false anti-Muslim stories: the bit about “full attire.” It’s a signature, like alt-right types adding “hook-nosed” to “Jew.” I’m shocked NPR would report bullshit like this without fact-checking it. Took me five minutes, tops, so what the hell is NPR’s excuse for not doing due diligence?

Man, they’re out of the closet these days, the racists. Some combination of AM talk radio, Fox News, sensationalist media coverage of anything to do with race, and GOP candidates like Trump has led them to think of themselves as normal Americans, just ones with slightly different views, views they shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about in public.

I don’t know. Is racism a view? Or is it something worse? I defer to victims of racism, who’ll tell you it’s definitely something worse. I’m with this graffiti artist in Portland, Oregon:


Word, brothers and sisters.

And now all the way back to Friday, when I first heard of Omarosa Manigault. The TV news show Frontline interviewed some people close to Trump who said he decided to run for president the night Obama roasted him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner (the same night Obama oversaw the operation to kill bin Laden). One of those people was Omarosa Manigault, who said:

It just kept going and going and he just kept hammering him, and I thought, Ohhhh, Barack Obama is starting something that I don’t know if he’ll be able to finish.

And then she said:

Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.

Well, I thought, that sounds like Trump, all right. Thanks, lady, for giving us additional insight into the third-grade mentality of someone who dreams of getting even. And then I started seeing Tweets ridiculing Omarosa. As I said, I didn’t know anything about her, and to me it seemed her words were a warning. Apparently not. She’s a Trump sycophant, his former sidekick on The Apprentice, and she was bragging!

Funny thing is, if I wanted to scare people about Trump, I wouldn’t have said it any differently than Omarosa Manigault did.

Some less-threatening topics:

We finally heard from our daughter Polly, but she didn’t tell us much. All we know for sure is that she’s living with her boyfriend. That and she isn’t working, contrary to what she said before. She also said she’d be by this morning to pick up more of her stuff, but it’s noon now and no Polly. Ace Hardware, where she worked before she moved out three weeks ago, has been calling: they have her final paycheck and they’d like their work shirts back.

You never stop worrying about your children, even when they’re all grown up.

Meanwhile, down at the air museum solar covers are going up in the visitor parking lot. I know I mentioned this before, but now the work is almost done and here’s a photo from yesterday:


I bet they’re going to tell us volunteers not to come in early and take the covered parking spaces. Heh. Good luck with that!



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This week, a blogger named Ken Robert wrote about Mr. Trump and those who share his values:

My disdain for Donald Trump has little to do with Republican vs Democrat. It has much more to do with what I was taught growing up about being a decent human being.

Much of that was taught to me by my father, a man who wasn’t perfect but always tried his best to be decent toward and honest with everyone he met. Trump is just about everything I was taught not to be, and it’s become almost all but impossible to hold onto whatever respect I once held for people I know who support him.

Men like Trump, he says, are:

… bullies, liars, blowhards, braggarts, and cheats. To me, championing a man who displays those behaviors on an almost daily basis demonstrates a fundamental flaw of character.

I said something similar last December after an acquaintance, a former military officer, posted this to Facebook:

megyn crushed copy

This was right after the first GOP presidential candidate debate, when moderator Megyn Kelly brought up Trump’s long record of denigrating women and asked him why women voters should trust him now. After the debate Trump attacked Kelly on Twitter, then asked Roger Ailes of Fox News to punish her. Ailes did his friend’s bidding, sending Kelly on an unscheduled 11-day “vacation.”

I was dismayed but not a bit surprised by Trump’s nasty and underhanded attack on Kelly. It was totally Trump. What shocked me, though, was that a military officer, a fellow fighter pilot and a man I had until that moment respected, would celebrate Trump’s lack of character.

This is from my own blog post, written a day or two later:

What Megyn Kelly had the balls to do fits my definition of “professional journalism,” and we need more of it. Trump’s underhanded, no-balls response to Kelly basically proved her point.

There has to be something drastically wrong, intellectually and morally, with anyone who could think Trump won a victory in that first debate or that he “crushed” anyone. Whatever that wrong thing is, it’s beyond my understanding. Are right-wingers really so far gone and lacking in American ideals that they think bullying and cowardice is something to celebrate?

What I do understand is that anyone who would post stuff like this has upside-down values and is unfit to sit at the table with decent people. Woe be it unto us if we stay home on election day and let this rabble take over.

Like Ken Robert, I can’t respect anyone who supports Trump. I couldn’t have made a blanket statement like that about Goldwater, Nixon, Bush, McCain, or Romney supporters. In Trump and his supporters I see not merely a lack of decency but its Bizarro World opposite … racism, lies, cheating, two-timing, back-stabbing, cowardice, bullying, broken promises, aggrieved self-pity … greed and personal aggrandizement the only “positives” on display.

Let’s say 40% of those who will actually vote are for Trump. Half of those … Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” … not only share but celebrate Trump’s racism and upside-down “values.” The other half will tell you they’re not like that. They’re decent people, they’ll say, supporting Trump only because they think defeating Hillary Clinton is more important.

You know what, other half of Trump supporters? I don’t know about that. Is decency something you can selectively or temporarily put aside? Can you embrace a racist without getting racist stink on you? Can you celebrate a cowardly bully without being judged one yourself?

Conservatives constantly throw Robert Byrd, the senator and former Ku Klux Klansman, at progressives, claiming his membership in the Democratic Party proves Democrats are the real racists. They never mention the fact that Byrd repudiated the Klan in the early 1950s and as a senator supported the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and many other advances to civil rights and liberties.

Dear other half of Trump supporters, what do you think decent people are going to say about you ten or twenty years from now? Are they going to say, “Well, at least they were decent people once”? Or are they going to say, “They were in bed with Trump, and that’s all you need to know about them”?


Mission of Mercy

As I was leaving the air museum yesterday afternoon, my friend Ed called. He needed my help. Gosh knows Ed’s helped me out many a time, so I said sure, what do you need? Turns out he and a mutual friend, Paul, were stranded in Willcox, 80 miles east of Tucson. They were homeward bound from a long motorcycle ride and Paul had gotten a flat tire. We all carry tubeless tire plug kits and cans of compressed air in our saddlebags, so no problem … except the cut in Paul’s rear tire was too big and the plug didn’t hold. They were at a gas station in Willcox, a town bereft of Honda dealerships, and the closest replacement tire was at Ed’s house in Tucson.


How to get at the rear wheel when you have a roadside emergency

Would I be willing to drive to Ed’s house, grab a spare from Ed’s garage, and bring it to them in Willcox? Talk about good luck and timing: I was one of two people Ed could have called who 1) knows where he lives, 2) knows where he keeps the spare tires, and 3) am retired and able to help in the middle of a workday. Also lucky: my volunteer shift at the museum was over and I was in my truck. Normally I’m on the motorcycle on museum days, but since I had the truck I was able to head straight from the museum to Ed’s house, grab a tire … Ed always has one or two on hand, already mounted on extra rims … and hit the road to Willcox. Traffic was light on I-10, so I set the cruise control to 80 and settled in. I’ve been wanting to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, and this long trip finally gave me the opportunity to hear the whole thing from beginning to end. Not only that, there were interesting things to see along the way, including this truck:


Thanks for spelling it out, but believe me, I already knew what you were hauling

Less than two hours after Ed called, I pulled into the gas station in Willcox with the new tire, and Paul got to work mounting it.


Paul mounting the replacement wheel & tire

Before I got there they had managed to get the bad tire off the original rear wheel and Ed had the wheel strapped to his back seat. It looked big and bulky back there, so I offered to take it back to Tucson in the truck and drop it off at Ed’s on my way home (we live within two miles of each other).


Ed & Paul, ready to ride again

The drive home was as easy and uneventful as the drive out. I dropped the wheel off at Ed’s and was home by seven. A good day’s work.

A lot of this biker credo/brotherhood of the road stuff is self-serving bullshit, but this much is true: when a biker’s stranded by the side of the road, fellow bikers will stop and offer help. Ed and Paul told me about all the bikers who stopped to offer help yesterday. Some of them, seeing Paul’s Goldwing lying on its side, thought he’d crashed. As I mentioned, Ed’s bailed me out before, and I was happy I was in a position to help. It’ll all come around.

Before you ask: laying a Goldwing on its side to remove the rear wheel doesn’t hurt the bike. The crash bars keep the bike off the ground so it doesn’t get all scratched up. It’s better if you don’t have a full fuel tank, though.

One thing I took to heart yesterday: although I carry a tool kit in addition to tire plugs and compressed air, I don’t carry a breaker bar or a socket that’ll fit the rear wheel lug nuts. Ed does, and his foresight paid off yesterday. Looks like I need to make a run to Harbor Freight!


Musical Dog Chairs

UntitledHere are the doggies in their doggie seats, now mounted in the new truck. We’ve taken them on three short in-town excursions and so far they’re happy to ride in the back. As soon as we take a longer trip, I know they’ll want to sit up front again. For now though, it’s a new adventure for them.

I washed the motorcycle and Donna’s car yesterday, and this morning put a new filter on the water line to the fridge. Donna was cleaning the fridge anyway and took the opportunity to scrub down the wall and floor behind it while I had it pulled forward. Spring cleaning at our usual glacial pace.

The motorcycle registration came due and one of the things I did this morning was put the 2017 tag on the license plate. An hour later Donna realized one of our dogs, Schatzi, was missing. She must have wandered into the garage when I was putting the license plate back on the Honda. No big deal: Schatzi was only locked in there for an hour and the temperature was still reasonable, but that garage gets damn hot in the summertime.

A friend encouraged me to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, now widely available online. I’m about halfway through, digesting two to three songs per session, sometimes at home and sometimes in the car. It’s quite good, and I’ve encouraged a few other friends to give it a listen. Why wasn’t American History like this when we were in school?

My friend and I are not the only ones pushing the soundtrack on others, as you can see from this sampling on Facebook. It was probably inevitable that anti-Hamilton memes would begin to pop up on social media. Why, I wrote one myself this morning. Would you like to see it?

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Back to what’s so good about the Hamilton soundtrack: the characters, namely our founding fathers—and King George, whose numbers have a strong Beatles flavour (see what I did there?)—are depicted as contemporaries, and they come to life. They sing about their ambitions, fears, and indiscretions; the experience is akin to reading Sarah Vowell’s historical books and essays. The musical is based on Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton, which from its description sounds like something Sarah Vowell might have written, and on the strength of that I’ve put it on my Amazon wish list.

I was going to give you an update on Polly, but we don’t know much. She’s living with a man whom we have never met. We think he’s a DEA agent (her previous boyfriend was Border Patrol). The day after she moved out of our house I drove by the Ace Hardware store where she was working and didn’t see her car. She texted Donna a couple of days later to say she’d quit and was now working as an office manager. Which is good, and closer to what she had been doing in her earlier HR career. We haven’t heard from her since.

The closet in our guest bedroom is still full of her stuff. I expect she’ll come get it sooner or later. Her furniture and kitchen stuff is still in the Border Patrol guy’s house in Ajo … she left him a year and a half ago, so maybe later? I’m not sure why she’s decided to go incommunicado; we were tired of her living here and she was anxious to get back out on her own, but we weren’t fighting or anything. In any case, we have a guest bedroom again, and just in time for an October onslaught of visitors.

That’s the news; do with it what you will.


Doxie Tikki Masala

856661_10151436737222346_1483880795_oI love getting things done first thing in the morning. Gym, car wash, root around in the garage looking for a pair of dog carriers I stowed away two years ago, pay the annual registration on the motorcycle. Hey, when you’re retired, you either learn to savor everyday tasks or you die of boredom, and I’m not ready to die.

Donna went out to play bridge last night so I drove to the nearest Vietnamese restaurant for takeout. When I asked the dogs if they wanted to come along, they both scampered out to the garage. Schatzi’s always ready to go, but Maxie’s kind of meh about it. Sometimes she’s eager to come along, sometimes she hides under the couch. Last night she was up for a ride. Normally both dogs call shotgun, but this time I made them sit on the back seat. They stayed put like good’uns, all the way to the restaurant and back.

We had a pair of dog seats in the back of our old Trailblazer. I took them out one day to make room for human passengers and never reinstalled them. I went looking for them when I got home this morning and strapped them to the back seat of the truck. I think the pups will be happy to see their old seats again. The thing about dog seats is they’re high enough to see out the windows, and the girls do love to know what’s going on. I’m planning a lunch run later today, just so I can take them with me. Even though I just had the car washed and for once there aren’t any dog nose slug trails on the inside of the windows.

Tonight I’m making chicken tikki masala for the first time. Not doing anything fancy or creative, just following the recipe printed on the back of a jar of Patak’s tikki masala paste, and cooking a cup of rice to go along with it. Oh, and yesterday I stopped by the Babylon Market and bought a bag of frozen garlic naan. Let’s hope this adventure ends well.

By the way, I have a British friend who knows Indian cooking. I’m hoping he’ll read this post and send me some tips. Tony, you there?

I couldn’t bear to watch the news last night or to check it this morning, so no current events or political commentary today. Aren’t you glad? You should be.

Now it’s time to take the puppies for a ride.


You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.

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Banned Books Week: September 25- October 1, 2016

YCRT! Campus Thoughtcrime Report

Have the University of Wisconsin campus thought police never read “1984”? ‘Bias Incident Team’: Students’ Three Blind Mice Halloween Costume ‘Makes Fun of a Disability.’

Meanwhile, at another University of Wisconsin campus, the chancellor reversed his Bias Incident Team’s recent order to take down two paintings depicting native Americans, and instead had the paintings moved to a location where they can be displayed in “controlled circumstances.”

At the University of Northern Colorado, thoughtcrime is monitored by a “Bias Response Team.” The team recently told a professor he could no longer discuss subjects like gay marriage or global warming in class because students were uncomfortable with the topics. This article says UNC’s president is bowing to public and political outrage by “reshuffling” the BRT … but it’s not going away.

Elsewhere, a backlash against campus censorship of free speech is growing, notably at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and now, apparently coming from students rather than administrators, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other YCRT! News

This “banned book” story from Ashland, Oregon is disturbing. The owner of Shakespeare Books & Antiques has long maintained a display of banned books in her shop window. This year, for the first time, organizers of the town’s annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival objected to some of the books on display and demanded they be removed. The owner refused and the festival director instructed staff not to patronize the store for festival-related goods or services. Sales declined and now the bookstore’s going out of business. Central to the dispute: was displaying a copy of “Little Black Sambo” next to a copy of “The Wizard of Oz” an intentional provocation to black actors appearing in an Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of “The Wiz”? If some of the reader comments below the linked articles are to be believed, Ashland waters run deep.

Another story from Oregon: challenges to books in the state’s public libraries.

We see Facebook censorship every day … or rather, we don’t, unless it makes the news and creates a stir.

The New York Times gives the old “he said/she said” treatment to a story about the review and selection of history textbooks by the notoriously-conservative Texas State Board of Education. When it comes to school textbook selection, decisions made in Texas can affect school districts across the nation.

Here’s a nice story about the student editor of her high school newspaper fighting back against the school’s prior restraint policy, frequently invoked to spike stories.

Parents in Virginia objected to books on a school summer reading list, labeling them “vile,” “nasty,” and “pornographic.” The books included “Eleanor and Park,” “Tyrell,” and “Dope Sick,” young adult novels about misfit teens in love, an African-American teen living in a homeless shelter, and a young man shot during a drug deal and on the run from the police. Objections to the books appear to come from the Christian conservative organization Focus on the Family and its book & movie review website Plugged In. Even though the school district caved on some books, parents continued to object, complaining its revised list linked to other lists that included other objectionable books. Sounds to me like Christian conservatives are better organized then ever and spoiling for a fight, and I do not envy the lot of teachers today.

“’We typically get a rash of (complaints) when school starts,’ says James LaRue, director of the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, noting that trans teen novels published this year have not been challenged so far.” Uh huh. If previous challenges to young adult books with LGBT themes are an indication, these new books will soon be under the gun.

GI newspapers like the Air Force Times, Army Times, Navy Times, and Marine Corps Times, while technically not answerable to the military, are highly dependent on base exchange newsstand sales. In my Air Force days, I saw things like this happen again and again, and here’s the latest iteration: Marine Corps Commandant Got So Mad at Newspaper, He Tried to Ban It.

In a previous YCRT! column I linked to the story of a creationist homeschooling mom’s campaign against the Orland Park, Illinois public library. Looks like she’s still at it. The article at the link is so hilariously partisan I can’t resist quoting from it (bold/italic text and errors theirs):

The book in question is SHUT UP!: The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment by investigative reporters Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan; SHUT UP! meticulously documents their investigation into years’ of wrongdoing and law-breaking at the OPPL, including library staff looking the other way and deliberately not calling the police when an Orland Park resident admitted that he was viewing child pornography on the OPPL’s computers in a public building full of children. Fox & DuJan used FOIA requests to uncover the Library’s own internal documents that proved not only did OPPL staffers regularly decide not to alert authorities when sex crimes occurred in the Library, but that in at least one case the OPPL board of trustees took themselves out for a $500 steak dinner to apparently celebrate getting away with no one at the time finding out about the child pornography being accessed at the Orland Park Public Library.



The first thing I do after getting out of bed in the morning is turn on the small radio sitting on top of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Donna and I like to listen to NPR news while we get ourselves ready for the day. Fifteen years ago this morning, we turned the radio on in the middle of a live report from New York City: a small plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers and there was a fire on the upper levels. As they described the extent of the damage and the black smoke billowing from the top of the tower, I began to wonder if a small plane could have created such havoc. Taking our toothbrushes with us, we moved to the family room to see if the TV networks were covering it yet. They were, and three minutes later, right before our eyes, a large airliner flew into the second tower.

Well, yeah … and? Who doesn’t remember where they were and what they were doing that morning? I’ll just say this: to this day, every time I reach up to turn on the radio I dread what I may hear.

Back to The Morning Of: my boss called to tell me the base was locked down, essential personnel only. He called again 30 minutes later: the company had decided we were essential personnel. When I got there everyone was clustered around a portable TV someone had brought in, and that’s how we spent the rest of the day.

Later, as we were closing the office, my boss told me in secrecy that the fourth plane, the one that had gone down in Pennsylvania, had been shot down by an F-16. We were both former fighter pilots, defense contractors training new A-10 pilots, still plugged into the USAF fighter community rumor mill. We believed the story to be true.

Of course it turned out to be untrue, based on a rumor started by a refueling truck driver at Andrews AFB who saw a lone F-16 taxiing back in after scrambling that day. There weren’t any missiles on the wings, so it must have fired them, right? What he didn’t know was that the jet had taken off unarmed. The pilot had been prepared to ram the hijacked airliner, but it was already a smoking hole in the ground by the time she got there.


I went home that day feeling bad that my USAF was so unprepared for a coordinated attack by hijacked airliners. We failed to get there in time. Sure, a lot of the blame can be laid at the feet of the FAA and political leadership, but if some general or colonel at an air defense sector had taken aggressive action we might have shot one or two of the airliners down. Not the ones that hit the WTC, but the second two: the one that hit the Pentagon and the one headed for DC that went down in Pennsylvania.

But what if we had? We’d have killed hundreds of innocent passengers and potentially dozens more on the ground, and the second-guessing would never stop. Was the airliner you shot down in cold blood really headed for the Pentagon or the White House? How do you know?

Even so, I was and still am embarrassed by the Air Force’s confused, too-little-too-late response on 9/11, and I wonder how we’ll do if anything like that happens again.


Saturday Basket o’ Deplorables

Yesterday Hillary Clinton said this:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.

The media will jump on this, bothsidesing it into the Hillary version of Donald calling Mexicans rapists. They’re already comparing it to Romney’s 47% remark last time around.

Was Hillary Clinton right to say what she said about some of Donald Trump’s supporters?


A few other deplorable observations to top off the old basket:

  • The North Carolina “creepy clown” sightings are spreading to other states. Meanwhile, at least one such sighting has now been revealed as a hoax. So are all the others, I’ll wager.
  • Wells Fargo employees were using customer data to create phony accounts in order to generate money through transfer and late fees, but really to keep their jobs and get promotions. When employee job security and compensation is based on achieving numerical goals, employees will achieve them. Every time. Witness cops and speeding tickets, VA senior managers and patient wait time reports, generals and body counts.
  • Trump yesterday did an interview with Larry King. In it, he defended Putin and complained about the dishonesty of American media. No one on Trump’s staff seemed to realize the interview would air on Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded propaganda outlet, King’s current employer. Trump’s staff spent most of Friday trying to deflect blame, finally settling on “Nobody said it would be on Russian TV.” Rachel Maddow compared their flailing an episode of Hee Haw, probably because MSNBC wouldn’t let her say “cluster fuck” on the air.
  • Speaking of Trump’s crush on Putin, the world is full of countries with strong-man leaders & dictators. Why does Trump and the right prefer Putin to Mugabe, Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, Duterte, Assad? Gee, that’s a poser, ain’t it?