Living Large In Carson City: Tijuana: Living In The Slow Lane Edition



As usual, today is no different than any other day in Trumpland. So much is going on that it is hard to decide what outlandish topic to focus on given the plethora of screw ups that the administration is embroiled in this week. And it’s only Wednesday. Certainly, the tear gassing of migrants at the Tijuana border stands out as one of the more inhumane and unnecessary events to happen in the last couple of days. Leave it to Trump’s minions to make the worst possible call when it would have been so much easier to let well enough alone and have done the more sensible thing; but no, the border patrol officers on the ground had to decide tear gassing would be a wise and prudent choice. Never mind that there were mothers with children in diapers spread throughout the crowd who would invariably become the focus of the media.  Optics people. Think optics.

What I found surprising and not a little disturbing is that the use of tear gas and pepper spray is a policy that dates back to the Obama administration.

In a statement sent to Newsweek on Tuesday, the CBP said its personnel have been using tear gas, or 2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS), since 2010, deploying the substance a total of 126 times since fiscal year 2012.

Under President Donald Trump, CBP’s use of the substance has hit a seven-year record high, with the agency deploying the substance a total of 29 times in fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018, according to the agency’s data. Newsweek

So, why the brouhaha surrounding Sunday’s tear gassing? Typically, the Orange One in his skewed logic, even when he didn’t have to, lied.  When asked directly about the incident, he couldn’t help himself.

“Is it OK to use tear gas on children?” one reporter asked, according to CNN.

“We didn’t,” Trump replied. “We don’t use it on children.” Salon

Photographs and video images tell another story. Women with children in diapers can be seen running from clouds of tear gas and pepper spray as their children cry in horror of the events going on around them. Trump even went so far (without a hint of irony in his choice of words) as to say some of the women who had children with them were “grabbers”. People, he claimed without evidence, who kidnapped children and pretended to be their mothers to better enhance their case when confronting border patrol agents and asylum judges. Homeland Security secretary Kristjen Nielsen had doubled down earlier on Trump’s claim, again without evidence, when she said,

“It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as ‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement,” she said in a statement. “They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harms way.” WaPo

Granted, something went terribly wrong at the Tijuana border Sunday afternoon, and a mob of angry migrants did rush the border in the hope of getting into the United States illegally. However, these were unarmed men, women and children rushing headlong into concertina wire, barricades and armed border agents in riot gear. Border agents closed down the border at that time. Was their attempt foolhardy? Of course, but at this point the anger and frustration is palpable among those there legitimately seeking asylum from the horrors they fled in their homelands.

The problem is complicated by the fact that only 40 to 100 asylum seekers are able to appear before immigration judges per day. Considering estimates of the number of caravan migrants is somewhere around 7,000, plus many others who were already in Tijuana before they arrived, the average asylum seeker is looking at months of waiting before they even get the chance to plead their cases. They then face months and possibly years before their case is adjudicated when they are either given asylum or rejected.

It is important to understand that the number of asylum seekers is a problem worldwide and getting worse in the United States. A recent report by the UN Refugee Agency states,

. . . there were fewer new claims for asylum worldwide in 2017 — 1.9 million, down from 2.2 million in 2016.

However, the number of people waiting for their asylum claims to be processed is going in the opposite direction.

There were 3.1 million people with pending asylum claims in 2017, up from 2.8 million the year before.

A lot of that backlog is in the United States. In January, the U.S. had about 300,000 pending asylum cases. That’s now doubled to more than 600,000 cases. UN Refugee Agency

Many of the caravan’s members come from Honduras. This is a country that the United States has been involved with over the years, not always in a wholesome way. The Honduran democracy took severe hits to its credibility after the 2009 coup staged by the military that ousted the sitting president, Manuel Zelaya.

For many, what is at stake is the credibility of Honduran democracy itself, which is still reeling from the effects of the 2009 coup. The United States did not oppose the coup that led to corruption with the ranks of the Honduran government bureaucracy and an increase in gang related drug activity which is a prime source of drugs that reach American soil. The increase in gang related murders and control of villages is often cited by mothers and young people who flee the country rather than face death or a life in crime. The opening paragraph of a National Geographic article titled, In Gang-Ridden Honduras, Growing Old is a Privilege, Not a Right, paints a dire image of what Hondurans face on a daily basis,

THE EDGE of San Pedro Sula, a city in northern Honduras surrounded by swamps and sugar cane fields, lies the densely populated district of Planeta. Here, church steeples dot the corners of unpaved streets amid a patchwork of gang turfs—one block may be governed by one gang and the next three by their rivals. Masked police officers patrol the streets in dust-covered body armor, their fingers on the trigger of their weapon. There are no schools and few businesses so residents have no choice but to navigate these territories on their long commutes to more affluent parts of the city, risking being caught in the crossfire.

It’s in places like this where generations of young people have realized that in Honduras the self-perpetuating cycles of violence, corruption, and poverty have robbed them of their right to grow old.

Trump’s reaction to the caravan has been to threaten to cut off aid to the country, which would exacerbate the problem rather than alleviate the problem on the ground. The Atlantic’s, What Trump Doesn’t Understand About the Central American Caravan quotes one source who speaks of why deterrents like detention and separation haven’t worked stated,

“We’ve certainly seen more than enough evidence of what conditions are like in places like Honduras and El Salvador that are pushing people experiencing high levels of gender-based violence or gang violence out of the countries,” said Philip Wolgin, the managing director for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress. “The analogy I’ve heard most often is: If the choice is sudden death or imminent certain death in your country, or going somewhere else with the possibility you might be detained or separated, you take the lesser of the two evils.”

When mothers and fathers and young people feel so oppressed in their home country that they are willing to sacrifice their freedom or being separated as a family,  as Americans, we have to understand what drives these people to such extremes. Contrary to the Trump administration’s contention that these people are “rough customers” or “bad hombres”, the problem lies beyond our borders. True, some maybe are bad elements, but not all of them. If track record is a source for future actions, Trump will pander to his base and leave innocent people stranded at the border with no hope of rescue by the U. S. government or its president. How long before an even greater atrocity occurs at Tijuana is anyone’s guess.


Living Large In Carson City: In The Kingdom Of The Blind, The One-eyed Man Is King Edition


The problem with writing about Donald Trump is that once an idea pops into my head, and I think about it for a half a day or overnight, four or five other horrific acts come to light that are as equally worthy of ridicule. As one of the pundits of The Intercept noted recently, by the time I finish writing this piece, Trump will have told 27 more lies that defy credulity. The man wallows in his falsehoods. It would be funny if it were not so dangerous and maddening.

On Tuesday,  Trump entered a new phase of his truth challenged tenure as the most powerful man in the world. He lied once again to support an unpopular opinion that he wants to put over on the United States and the world. In a press release (aptly named), Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia, he sold out Jamal Khashoggi and America’s good name on the world stage by putting profit over a man’s life.

While Trump’s association with the truth has been an issue from day one of his administration, this new phase tears the mask off of his illusion by putting himself at odds with his own security and intelligence agencies – again – and for what? Ostensibly, his rationale is that the United States would lose $450 billion dollars in arms sales in the future and countless jobs. He stated,

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.

This sounds great on paper, and his statements of “facts” will no doubt pass muster for his walking zombie base, but there is a catch. There is no hard and fast “deal” that will hold the Saudi government to the pledge of investing or spending $450 billion for American goods or services. His “hundreds of thousands of jobs” is down from October 20 when he stated the deal would produce 100 million jobs for American workers. The Pulitzer Prize winning website, Politifact, gave the 100 million job estimate a Pants on Fire rating and came to these conclusions,

Key takeaways
  • Saudi Arabia has not ordered $110 billion worth of military goods and services.
  • Saudi Arabia has not ordered $450 billion worth of goods and services across the board.
  • Over one million jobs are not at stake. Politifact

While the $450 billion figure is bogus, Trump’s intentions, however, are rooted in monetary gain . . . his. Trump and his family have had ongoing financial ties with the Saudis for years. Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal claims to have bailed Trump out of bankruptcy twice by purchasing goods or providing backing for Trump’s failing hotel empire. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law, has had extensive dealings with  Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MSB), the supposed mastermind of the Khashoggi killing. Kushner’s dealiings go beyond his  quest for peace in the Middle East to rather mysterious meetings and providing secret information to MSB that targeted supposed enemies of the young Saudi prince.

It does not take a rocket scientist to envision Trump and his family’s motives for making nice with the Saudis. Once America can rid itself of the pest that has become Trump, he will certainly use his connections and call in the “favors” (like siding with Saudi Arabia over the CIA that MsB is innocent) for personal advancement of his goals. In effect, Trump placed a foreign power over the United States simply for monetary gain. In one fatal strike at our democratic process, he has set himself up as the final arbiter of American foreign policy that just so happens to be personally beneficial for himself and his family.

In a very real sense, this is an aspect of Trump that has always been just under the surface, but with his siding with the Saudis, American can see a deeper, more brazen set of actions that reveal a side of Trump not openly seen before. He is either deeply afraid of what is coming in the form of Robert Mueller’s probe, or like a junk yard dog facing overwhelming odds, in his case, an up an coming recalcitrant Democratic majority in the House of Representative in January. It is entirely possible he thinks he has little to lose by going down the road he has taken in recent days. So, why not grab for the gusto before the party winds down, and he has to face the consequences?

Regardless, now until the time the new Congress is seated in January is a time of great peril for our democracy. Already, some state officials who were turned out during the midterms are rushing legislation through their state governments to curtail the power of the incoming public officials. Take Wisconsin for instance,

In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers who gave Gov. Scott Walker wide-reaching executive powers are trying to roll back those powers before Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Walker in this month’s election, is sworn in next year. Salon

One has to wonder how the Republican Party shifted from a party of ideas to a party of ideologues whose slash and burn rule book is the antithesis of democratic ideals that made this country great. On a local and state level, much can be done to stymie these obvious acts of sour grapes, but nationally, the stakes are even greater.

Christopher Hedges’ column on the website TruthdigAre We About to Face Our Gravest Constitutional Crisis?, brings up some interesting scenarios that he sees could be grounds for concern.

Before this lame-duck Congress adjourns in December we could face the most serious constitutional crisis in the history of the republic if Donald Trump attempts to shut down the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

A supine and pliant Republican Party, still in control of the House and the Senate, would probably not challenge Trump. The Supreme Court, which would be the final arbiter in any legal challenge to the president, would probably not rule against him. And his cultish followers, perhaps 40 million Americans, would respond enthusiastically to his trashing of democratic institutions and incitements of violence against the press, the Democratic Party leadership, his critics and all who take to the streets in protest. The United States by Christmas, if Trump plays this card, could become a full-blown authoritarian state where the rule of law no longer exists and the president is a despot. Truthdig (go here to see the photo accompanying the article if nothing else)

I am not a fan of Hedges normally, and certainly not one for unfounded conspiracy theories, but the argument he makes through his interview with Ralph Nader and his own prognostications, unfortunately, makes too much sense. Before the midterms, I was worried that if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House that Trump might claim the voting results invalid and negate them if he could and declare martial law. Sounds a little nutty, no? Yet, as Hedges points out concerning his theory, Trump has flouted his disregard for the constitutionality of his acts before by firing James Comey and Jeff Session. Nader’s vision of what might be coming is entirely too chilling,

“Trump knows once the Democrats control the House, they can subpoena the records of his administration,” Ralph Nader said when I reached him by phone in Connecticut. “He’s going to want to get this over with, even if it sparks a constitutional crisis, while the Republicans still control the Congress. There’s little doubt this will all come to a head before the Christmas holidays. Truthdig

Again, I am not one to acknowledge unfounded conspiracy theories, yet, given the Trump’s track record over the past two years and his increasingly erratic behavior of the past week, I have to wonder. Of course, much of the glue that holds a theory like this one together is placed squarely on the shoulders of his radicalized base. Hedges notes in his article,

. . . Trump, with Fox News acting as a megaphone for his hate speech and conspiracy theories, has been holding Nuremberg-like rallies across the country to prepare the roughly 40 percent of the public who remain loyal to him to become shock troops. His followers are filled with hate and resentment for the elites who betrayed them. They are hungry for revenge. They do not live in a fact-based universe. And they are awash in weapons.

While this is a disturbing hypothesis, we have to remember that many of Trump’s supporters are angry old white men. It is doubtful that those over 65 years old would be willing to take to the streets to physically support a Trump based coup. The younger supporters include alt-right members, poorly educated white men (and women), and many who see Washington as severely broken and has to be fixed. Do they have enough moxie to back the Orange One up if push came to shove? Who knows?

It occurs to me that the best hope of controlling Trump and limiting the damage he can and is doing to our democracy is found in the ranks of moderate Republicans. The people who got more than they bargained for when they threw their lot in with him two years ago. Reasonable speculation would seem to indicate that as Trump slides deeper into his own demonic dreams of grandeur that the middle of the road Republicans will have to take a stand against him. Unfortunately, as the past two years has taught Americans, we shouldn’t hold our breath on that possibility either.

FYI: This came to light this morning CIA has tapes













Living Large In Carson City: V. Hugo: The Wicked Envy And Hate; It’s Their Way Of Admiring Edition


Most people in our  hyper-political polarized arena identify with either the Democratic or Republican parties, or they are at the least claim to be conservative or progressive if not outright liberal. Sure, there are the Independents, Bull Moosers and the like, but most stick to the two major groups.  I Think Therefore I Am Not A Democrat Or A Republican in the best of all worlds would mean our elected officials are bipartisan. Meaning that while they identify with one of the two major parties, they are willing to work with the other side of the aisle to get things accomplished.

Bipartisan is a funny word, especially when it comes out of the mouth of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This is not unlike Israel saying the Palestinians aren’t so bad and should be given more respect. It just doesn’t jibe with reality. Earlier this week, McConnell gave an interview to Fox News which appears on their website under the title, Sen. Mitch McConnell: Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country? Despite the fact that on the face of the comment, he is skewing the playing field implying the Democrats don’t have the same regard for the country as he and the Republicans have, which is totally false. He brings up the fact that Congress will now be a divided body with the Republicans holding the Senate and Democrats holding the House. He seems to saying, “What could possibly happen?”

Then he says something weird, stating,

Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.

Huh? Sure, as he points out, the two parties have worked together to do the bare minimum of governing by taking care of the nuts and bolts of running the government, but what have the Republicans accomplished toward their or the president’s goals. Health Care and the repeal of Obama Care didn’t happen. Immigration reform is in shambles or would be had a plan been put forward. There wasn’t.

The overhaul of the tax plan and the passage of the grossly unfair humongous tax bill turned out to favor the very wealthy with little or nothing given to the middle and lower classes.

A Congressional Budget Office estimate for the conference agreement announced mid-December said the bill would add $1.455 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The Tax Policy Center mapped out how different groups would benefit — or not — over time under the plan, and it projected that people with the highest incomes would see the biggest cuts, while lower earners would see smaller changes to their tax bills, or even have less money after taxes than they would without the bill.

The fact that McConnell can say something like,

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?

with a straight face is laughable if it were not so hypocritical. This is the man who said before Obama’s first midterms that the Republicans goal should be to make Obama a one term president. Not, how can we work together with the president but how to boot him out of office as soon as possible? Granted, this is probably the goal of every party that is out of power. It just seems so creepy the way he delivered the statement.

McConnell’s faux concern over the Democrats newly found power makes it difficult to believe he cares even a twit about working with the opposite party.

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle. (my emphasis)

Years of rhetoric? This is the man who let Merrick Garland’s confirmation for the Supreme Court sit stagnant for 293 days. Something tells me that McConnell has little interest in bipartisanship. His modus operandi has always been grab everything he can for the Republicans and screw the Democrats. So, let’s not pretend that he is holding out an olive branch to his political opponents. If he is doing that, there is surely a dagger concealed in the foliage that he will gladly pull out and thrust it into the heart of any Dem foolish enough to take him seriously.

What the Republican held Congress did do was run rough shod over the American people in their quest to show favor to big business, Wall Street, and the super rich. It is hard for me to believe anyone would think the Republican Party has the good of the nation behind any of their plans. They have allowed Trump’s horde of marauders to gut environmental controls ranging from clear skies to clean drinking water and place our national forests and parks in jeopardy of being destroyed by commercial greed.

The one galvanizing lesson to be learned from two years of Trump rule going forward is that when Trump needs backing the Republican held Senate will be there to do his bidding. Yet, when McConnell stated above, “After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle. (my emphasis) The unintended meaning of his words is something like, “Holy shit, the Democrats won the House and are going to kick our butts.” Well, something like that.

But yeah, it is payback time and McConnell knows better than anyone that the jig is up. The Republicans have controlled Congress since those midterms mentioned above in Obama’s first term or nearly eight years and look at the mess America finds itself in today. We are a laughing stock on the world stage. Our allies are so frightened of our president and the Congress that backs him that they are thinking of arming themselves, not just against Russia and China, but the United States as well.  Let that sink in. Our most reliable allies are scared witless of us.

Of course, the Democrats are going to target Trump and his erratic behavior and criminal activities. Who knows what Mueller will reveal in coming days. Who knows whose name is on the many indictments he reportedly has ready to serve. Bipartisanship? Sure, I am all for bipartisanship when both sides play by the same rules. By definition, those are not McConnell’s rules.

Living Large In Carson City: Pop Goes The Weasel Edition

Angry man.png

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism . . .  Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.” Emmanuel Macron

Let’s face it, it is not getting better. Trump is slipping, and with his demise, any chance for normalcy is going with him. The sheer rash of angry  incidents of acting out since the midterm election has eclipsed even his most erratic days since he has been in office. The day after the election he fired Jeff Session and installed Matthew “The Hulk” Whitaker as acting Attorney General despite questions of constitutionality and the customary line of ascension. He was just getting warmed up.

The now infamous post election press conference was the thing  journalist’s wet dreams are made of – even if it was a little pathetic to see unfold. His attack on Jim Acosta was breath-taking. Trump came off as a quintessential demented, arm waving proxy for your worst nightmare over Thanksgiving dinner when Uncle Walter comes in wearing a red MAGA hat spouting Alex Jones conspiracy theories. Again, Trump was only getting started. Over the week since, he has attacked journalist at will, and oddly, often Black female journalists calling them stupid and racist. No irony there.

Then there came the European trip to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended WWI. To say the trip was screwed up from beginning to end would give too much credit to Trump. It was a holy hell and damnation tour for the Orange One. Whether it was French President Macron calling out Trump for his divisive rhetoric proclaiming himself a nationalist or Trump ditching a ceremony at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial near Paris to honor American soldiers who died there (conflating a light drizzle to zero visibility and driving rain that falsely grounded his helicopter) or his general dismissive and flippant air that he displayed the entire ceremony filled weekend, Trump was the butt of criticism and satire.

For Trump, the only bright thing that occurred was when Vlad the Impaler Putin showed up – late – and gave Trump a pat on the arm. Trump’s grin was either one of servile servitude or the desire to take his and Putin’s bromance to the next level. I won’t go there. The rest of the time was pretty much an occasion for Trump to sulk and act like the crazy person he is rapidly becoming. Who wanders around in a cemetery in misting rain by themselves when all the fun people are gathering and paying homage to heroes of bygone days?

The list of Trump’s shooting himself in the foot just keeps getting more bizarre and longer. Attacking California as being responsible for the out of control wild fires, trying to bitch slap Macron because he had the audacity to suggest Europe needs an army to protect themselves from Russia, China, and yes under Trump’s watch, America in the future, and calling for banning our troops’ votes sent from overseas are just a few of the highlights of the past few days. And, of course, he skipped the Arlington memorial service on Veteran’s Day. Call me crazy, but his actions display a disregard of common sense, respect, and a shameful lack of understanding and empathy. Remember, this is the man his base supports and thinks can do no wrong.

Which brings me to the topic of civility. In an article by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing titled Gen. Michael Hayden: ‘We are off the scale dishonoring the office’, Pennyfarthing made a statement that took me back. He wrote,

I’ve long since realized there’s no point in fighting Trump supporters online. It’s sort of like playing tetherball with your dog. You’ll win every round, but your dog will think he’s winning and will never, ever, ever give up.

This statement led to an epiphany on my part. Since the beginning of summer, I have been going to several hardcore conservative sites to engage readers there in an ongoing, fruitless exchange of barbed messages none of which have changed none of our beliefs. I think I have said before that I felt like I needed to know the people I criticized and engaging the Trump base seemed the best way to do that on a one to one basis.

Predictably, Trump’s base parrots his administration’s talking points and those of Fox News. Their hatred for Obama is frightening in its intensity and misinformation. These are people who believe Obama is not a United States citizen, and he almost single-handedly destroyed the military. When you confront them with hard numbers about the growth of the military across the last four administrations, they can in their minds make it not so. This is one of many, many examples.

And yes, they still think Hillary should be locked up and believe that the day will come when she and Obama will be brought before the court system and face the music. It is weird beyond belief what these people can convince themselves to accept. Considering Trump’s actions over the past week, it is understandable why they accept the unacceptable with a leader who lives in a fantasy world of lies, deceit, and overt hatred for anyone who will not bow down at his feet and grovel.

It is not a stretch to say that civility, or lack thereof, originates at the top and flows down to the people on the ground. While Trump’s actions are an anathema to his detractors, his base sees his actions as indicative of what has to be done to make America great again. In Trump, however, they have a diseased mind for a leader for reasons not even they understand. Trump has no, nor ever will, respect his base. They are a means to an end and little more than canon fodder for the political warfare Trump needs to hold onto his tenuous grip on the Republican Party.

Yet, there is something afoot in Washington that is disturbing as it is interesting. Trump’s actions over the past week clearly point to underlying pressure and concern that has got the Orange One acting out like a 12 year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The Daily Kos reports in an article, Something’s up: Fox, Wikileaks, Enquirer, Drudge, Stein & Guiliani not tweeting, that the silence in the tweet universe bodes badly for the administration. Trump supporters Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi appear to be facing imminent indictments from the Mueller team. Don, Jr. is also rumored to be facing indictment if the rumor mill is anywhere near correct. This was expected by Washington elites and politicians who saw Mueller waiting until after the midterms before roiling the political waters by moving forward and risking condemnation from the Republican Party.

Ultimately, the center is not holding, and Trump’s actions take on new meaning in light of his incivility and sulking demeanor. Where will it end? If there are political gods and goddesses, Trump and his minions will face much deserved retribution as the walls of justice come crashing down around them. It can not happen too soon.


Living Large In Carson City: There Will Be Hell To Pay Edition


“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

If there was any doubt after the election Tuesday that butterflies, dancing unicorns, and waltzing teddy bears were going to be the order of the day, think again. The midterms are over. Democrats did about as good as expected and proved pundits right as they captured the House and made inroads into statewide races across the nation. The Republicans retained their majority in the Senate, as was expected, setting up a evened playing field that will surely run red with blood as the last two years of Trump’s tenure begins anew with fresh rancor and sizzling hatred smoldering in the two party’s collective souls.

Of course, in Trump’s mind, it was all about him. If you haven’t, take the time to watch his press conference held only hours after the polls closed, please do. Winners and losers alike turned their collective eyes to the White House not knowing what to expect, and I wager, they did not see coming what transpired. Banish the thought that Trump’s losses on Tuesday would have mellowed him somewhat and presented the unique opportunity for him to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Democrats. No, instead, he lost his mind and delivered a hate filled diatribe against the Republican’s who spurned his help in their races and, literally, called them out by name as the losers they chose to be. The rest of his opening statement was dedicated to singing his own praises and taking credit for everything that came about Tuesday.

Then things got ugly fairly quickly. The one overriding impression of the press conference was if you thought things were divisive before the midterms, put on your seat belt, they are about to get a lot worse. The world is about to see Trump unleashed like never before. Take for instance his tete a tete with Jim Acosta of CNN beginning at 27:00 and continuing with Peter Alexander of NBC. At one point it appears that Trump might actually leave the podium to wrest the microphone from Acosta’s hands 29:09. The performance was enough to make any red-blooded American to hang their head in shame. Trump was truculent, abrasive, dismissive, and generally conducted himself like an ass. Remember this is the most powerful man in the world. Acting like a third grade bully only diminishes the stature of the presidency and makes America a laughing stock on the world stage.

He was, however, egalitarian in his wacko accusations. His response to Yamiche Alcindor of NPR at 1:06:55 was not just offensive and misogynistic but incomprehensible as well.  Someone should tell the president when he proclaims to be a “nationalist” on the campaign trail, reporters are going to call him on it. Typically, however, Trump had to take it one step farther when he called Alcindor’s question “racist”.  Predictably, calling a young Black woman racist is not ever going to go over well. The debacle du jour went on for a mind numbing one and a half hours. It was classic Trump taken to 11 on the weird dial and was a sight to behold.

What happens next now that the House is in control of the Democrats with all the subpoena powers and investigatory oversight that comes along with chairing powerful committees. Time Magazine‘s Alana Abramson wrote in an article today that,

. . . the incoming chairs of 21 House committees will be looking for ways to hold the Trump Administration officials’ feet to the fire, mainly by pressing forward on investigations they feel were ignored under the Republican majority.

This effort will largely be led by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will likely be chaired by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. This work, however, will almost inevitably broaden to include all committees that have a section solely devoted to oversight. The intelligence and judiciary committees will also probably find their work in the spotlight, as will Ways and Means, which has the authority to request President Donald Trump’s tax returns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Time

If the Democrats are smart, they will focus less on impeachment, which although  enticing, would also only increase the divisive atmosphere circling Washington, and focus more on uncovering the underbelly of the Trump organization, Trump himself, the children, including Ivanka and Jared, and his deeply hidden dealings with Russia and other partners the Trumps have had throughout the years. In this case impeachment is the cheap thrill of the equation while uncovering years of financial malfeasance, possibly money laundering and other crimes, would go a long way in bringing down this corrupt administration. Once the shit hits the fan, expect moderate Republicans to fall in lock step behind the Democrats. Rats are like that when the ship starts sinking.

It is a little encouraging knowing that the Democrats are no longer politically neutered. This does not mean they have the time or luxury to sit around licking their private parts. Strike while the striking is good seems to be the best path forward for the newly endowed Democratic Party. There is, however, one elephant in the room that should be dealt with immediately next January. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer (to a lesser degree) have to go.

Do not get me wrong. I have always liked Pelosi. She is a patriot and skilled deal maker like few others that Americans have seen over the past two decades. Unfortunately, both she and Shumer have become polarizing figures on the scale of Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. Distractions are not what the Democrats need right now. They need people who can work behind the scenes and get results, not bad press. Back in June of this year, Pelosi pulled in a paltry 29% approval rate – a nine year low for the California lawmaker – and that was among Democrats. Don’t ask what the Republicans think of her.

In their defense, both Pelosi and Schumer have been battling some of the meanest and corrupt SOBs to walk the face of the planet and call Congress their home. It is simply a case of a clean start would be best all the way around. Neither of the two embody the youthful exuberance that helped people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, and a number of up and coming women to tap into the party faithful’s needs and concerns and get things done. Our youth is our future.

So, in the end, the Democrat blue wave delivered about what was expected. There were some misfires and some unexpected wins. Regardless, January will be the moment of truth. Will the Democrats have the wherewithal to stand up to Trump and hold his feet to the fire? Will they cave and allow him to bully them for another two years? America will have to wait and see. One bright spot on the horizon is Special Counsel Robert Mueller and what he plans to do over the coming months. Something tells me that once he gets underway after yesterday’s midterms there will literally be hell to be paid. Bring it on Mr. Mueller.

Living Large In Carson City: Every American’s Vote Counts . . . Hopefully Edition


Over the past three days, I received probably 40 or 50 emails urging me not to forget to vote. Others, like the Sierra Club and the odd statewide political organizations, go so far as to “text” me their exhortations of not to forget to visit my polling place. When I reply that I voted two weeks ago, they text back and ask me to contact all my friends and urge them not to forget to vote. As if . . .

It is probably not an understatement to say this is one of the most important elections of most of our lifetimes. This doesn’t mean that people will not stop posting in “hair on fire/the sky is falling” texts and posts that the End Times looms large come Wednesday if the vote doesn’t go our way. Of course, “our way” depends on what part of the political arena you find yourself in these dark days of Trump’s presidency. Leo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt made this video to express their concern, which are basically that of the Democratic Party. There thoughts and expression of concern are welcome and should give everyone something to think about as Tuesday looms large in all of our lives.

The Evangelicals view the midterm elections as damn near the approach of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if you listen to their over-the-top assessments of what will happen if the vote goes south leaving them knee deep in liberal bullshit. Matt Shea, an über conservative Washington state legislator,  has been caught floating the idea of a biblical war if opponents win the day and snatch control out of Trump’s tiny hands. His thoughts verge on the bizarre,

” . . . Shea has gone on the offensive, posting a video last week in which he charged that his critics are using a “Maoist insurgency model” and “political warfare” to discredit him and others like him “that love the Constitution, that love America, that love God and Jesus Christ, as somehow being racist hatemongers.” He said he expected “more of these attacks to ramp up as the counter-state realizes it’s beginning to lose this upcoming election.” Right Wing Watch

Calls for a biblical war are not uncommon in these times of barking dogs and faux wanna’ be Christian politicians cloaked in the word of God. Take Dutch Sheets, a self-proclaimed prophet of God who holds “pray ins” to help bolster the nefarious goals and proclamations of the Orange One. Sheets has a proclivity of outlandish statements about the church and the people who make up its followers. Here is a summation of his egotistical view of just who Christians are in America today,

Sheets is a dominionist who has long taught that the church—the ekklesia—is meant to be a governing body legislating God’s will on earth. He teaches that God doesn’t need “namby-pamby” Christians but warriors who are willing to seize the country for God. A major theme of this week’s prayer session was that America has a national destiny to promote Christianity—and that Christians need to wage spiritual and political war against the forces of darkness that have corrupted the nation’s soul:

“It requires the heart of a warrior. It requires an understanding of ekklesia—that we are more than the body of Christ. We’re more than the family. We’re more than the bride. We’re His government. We’re His army. We’re His soldiers. We’re His ambassadors.”   Right Wing Watch

Separation of Church and State aside, these wackos have the ear of the president of the United States whose amoral lifestyle begs the question how can “men of God” stand by and support such a clear example of a tainted reprobate.

A more honest, yet unlikely, proponent of the classic dog whistle – Democrats Bad-Trump Good = Democrats Evil God-Haters is that classic example of modern day folk wisdom Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame (yeah, I know. Try not to laugh). Why anyone  would give this guy a second thought as to his insight on anything is beyond me, but that does not stop him. Here is his view on the election and those awful Democrats,

“This particular election, this cycle, this is the most important one I’ve seen since I’ve been on the earth,” Robertson said. “Say what you will about Mr. Donald J. Trump, but I have no argument or no negative things to say about his policies. I think he’s been a wonderful president, so far.”

“I just think we ought to look at both groups,” Robertson recommended, citing a passage from the book of Romans. “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gives them over to a reprobate mind. They’re full of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They’re God-haters, slanders, gossips. They’re insolent, arrogant, boastful, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Right Wing Watch

It is worth the time to listen to the entire short video to see Robertson in is prophet of God imitation, long beard and self-righteous demeanor to see just how morally bankrupt he comes across attacking the opposition. Suffice it to say, Evangelicals have an ulterior motive beyond winning the House and Senate this time around.

Of course, what the rest of America thinks about the election tomorrow pales in comparison when put up against the president’s view of the results to come. Trump seems to have lost his mind over the immigration issue, or at least what few political skills he may have. His lunatic ravings about the invasion of the caravan people, threats to illegally send up to 15,000 troops to the border to shoot at will if rocks are thrown, the idiotic threat to end birthright citizenship, and the release of a Willie Horton style campaign ad suggesting immigrants are cop killers are nightmarish obstacles of moderate Republicans seeking reelection in tight Congressional races.

Yet, he can not shut up. As in all things Trump, the election in his mind is about . . . wait for it . . . him. It is not about holding on to the House, or possibly losing the Senate, but about his stature and accomplishments. This is a funny thing. He could tout as Paul Ryan begged him to do of a pretty good job report recently, low unemployment, his  tax cut for the rich, two Supreme Court appointments,  or any number of things that would not cause problems for the Party, and those actually running for office in very tight races. It is about denying responsibility for his actions, lies, and malfeasance since he has been in office.

I for one will be glad when Tuesday has come and gone. Mueller waits in the wings, and possibly, a new Democratic majority in the House and even in the Senate if the Gods don’t listen to the Evangelicals. Regardless, Trump will stop the god awful endless rallies (hopefully) and get back to simply lying about everything that crosses his mind. The big “hope” is if the Democrats can take back at least the House, they will get serious about looking into Trump’s financial ties, the Russian probe, and the stunning lack of transparency that permeates the White House, and all who reside therein. But then again, I thought Hillary had it in the bag two years ago.




Living Large In Carson City: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ Edition


Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in East Texas, there was no lack of racism, bigotry, or hatred of select groups that stood out from the lily white, mostly Protestant population base in which we lived. As children, we were not so much taught hatred and bigotry as we assimilated it from our parents, ministers, school teachers, coaches, and just about everyone in a position of authority we encountered. We went to all white schools, churches, and social functions from the county fair to Friday night football games.

As hard as it is believe in our small East Texas hick town at that time, Hispanics and Jewish people were not present in our lives. I can not remember a single Hispanic family living in any neighborhood in the area. One Jewish family lived in town, but in our naive vision of the world, they seemed like ordinary people who were embraced by the majority of the population as one of our own. I say “majority”, not because I know there were those who may have felt animosity toward them, but back then,  because I never saw or knew of them does not mean they were not present.

Five miles to the east of town was a even smaller community where the vast majority of Black families lived. In the 2001 census, Blacks made up 90 percent of the population, and I suspect that ratio would apply back when I was growing up. There was little commercial infrastructure in town other than a small gasoline/grocery store that sat at the main intersection of town. For all practical purposes, they were a part of our world in a commercial, if not cultural, sense. Their school was located within our borders. The one movie theater in town segregated them to the upper balcony. They were segregated at the doctor’s offices, the hospitals, and few, if any, commercial venues like restaurants or bars allowed them on the premises.

These are my roots, and I want to say I am not proud of the fact that my family was part and parcel of this dynamic. As a child, I had no choice. My parents were so steeped in the Southern tradition of racism and bigotry, and their lives were defined by it. The notion of raising their children any other way other than the way they were raised was simply unthinkable. We were living in a toxic bubble that allowed no room for enlightened change or ideas that went counter to the zeitgeist of the times. In a very real sense, we were no different from any other small town across the deep South.

The first chink in the racism armor came in 1964-65 when my hometown was forced to integrate the public schools. In their skewed wisdom, the city fathers decided to take a end around approach to desegregation. While whites had separate elementary, middle and high schools, the Black community had only one school housing all students until the early 1960s when a Black elementary school opened. A few black students opted to attend the various white schools in town, but it was not until 1969 when the last Black class graduated and the school was closed.

Of the Blacks who chose to attend the white high school the first year, three athletes were among them. These three young men became the first Black people I (and my football teammates) got to know personally. They worked hard to gain our acceptance, which could not have been easy for them. Yet, they became our friends and taught us that skin color was not a barometer of a person’s worth, or something to judge others on because they were different from the majority. We were after all young men with a world of experience ahead of us. For the first time in our short lives, I began to question the negative stereotypes our parents and environment had foisted on us without our permission.

That was 50 years ago. For a good part of my adult life, I had to fight back the powerful pull of racist thinking from my past. It was not easy in the beginning, but I was lucky and left home as soon as I could and moved on, leaving behind the ever-present pall of racism my hometown and family still lived under. It was difficult, but eventually, thorough education and a series of enlightened friends and acquaintances, I grew past the teachings of my youth and learned to accept people for who they are, not who they are based on fear and negativity. Honestly, I had hoped America had, on the whole, done the same.

Then, along came Donald.

In the run up to the midterm elections, Trump has, and continues pulling out all the stops to fire up his band of deplorables. His sidling up to white supremacist and the dark racists side of his base through his embracing of “nationalism” is both disheartening and a little frightening. The thing about racism is that it is insidious, and at the same time, it debases, not just the target of the racist act, but the perpetrators as well. While I believe as a child I had no choice about the racial undertones under which I was raised, once grown and old enough to think on my own, it became evident that racism is not genetic, but a choice that a person has to make by disregarding common sense and the humanity of both themselves and those it is directed at in the end.

The one overriding component of a racist’s mentality is fear. Fear of the other. Fear of those people not like themselves. In the case of many of Trump’s older, white base, the fear of being displaced by brown or black people, especially brown people, and losing their time honored position at the top of the racial food chain is paramount. Of course, fear fuels hatred, which ultimately, is expressed by anger, and eventually with enough goading and baiting as Trump is wont to do, acting out on that anger.

Americans saw the end result of Trump’s irresponsible rhetoric last week when the FBI took bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. into custody for mailing 13 packages containing pipe bombs to Democratic politicians, donors and CNN. While none of the intended recipients were hurt, later in the week things turned ugly and deadly when Robert D. Bowers entered a Pittsburgh Jewish synagogue, The Tree of Life Congregation, with an AR-15 and three handguns and opened fire. Eleven people were killed and six others were wounded including four police officers.

The link between Sayoc and Trump is easily traceable. He attended Trump rallies in the past and had plastered his van with images of Trump and related hot button topics. Bowers’ relationship was more muted. A neo-Nazi, Bowers spent time on the website, Gab which, as you would expect, is a place for people like him to go and vent with like minded people. Supposedly, Bowers hated Trump, but not for obvious reasons. He felt Trump was not anti-Semitic enough for his tastes. Regardless, Trump’s rhetoric and constant blowing dog whistles certainly a deadly climate for both men to become emboldened enough to act out theirs evil deeds.

Trump’s modus opernadi is to play on the weaknesses of his followers. Racism, hatred, nationalistic tendencies are all fair game when it comes to Trump getting his way. The coming midterm election has caused him to ramp up his rhetoric, and his actions are becoming increasingly draconian. The caravan of ragtag men, women, and children traversing Mexico from Honduras headed for the United States’ southern border are suddenly an invasion. His attacks on the media as enemy of the people continue and will surely end in someone getting hurt or killed.

Yet, this is the America that we live in today. The gap between Trump’s deplorables and the rest of us is huge and will not be spanned easily or soon. As long as there is inequality in wealth, social mores, ideological differences, and of course, racism, fear, and hate, this is our fate. We can not afford to give in to these forces, but we can not afford not to confront them either. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.  Trump’s deplorables are not our enemy. They are our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to remember that and find a way to span the gulf separating us as a nation. If we do not, no one is going to come out of this a winner.