Living Large In Carson City: And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (Yeats) Edition


“If you’re in the RNC right now and you don’t support the president, you ought to go out the door,” Shawn Steel told NPR. “The body is a political organization designed to support the president in power.” NPR

The above statement sums up the what many members of the Republican National Committee and some die hard Republicans believe about the status of Donald Trump going into the 2020 campaign season. Think about that a minute. Despite his missteps, boondoggles, lies, inept ability to govern, lack of a coherent foreign policy, and an investigation into whether or not he conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election, there are still people who still believe he is the best choice to lead the American government. There are even those who want a rule change to the 2020 platform that will not allow primary challenges, although this prospect of that happening is questionable. Still, it is mind boggling.

The Democratic side of things is shaping up to be as bizarre as the bloated Republican field in the last election. Ballotpedia lists these candidates as declared:

The following elected officials and notable public figures have filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees.

  • Pete Buttigieg (D), the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced that he was running for president on January 23, 2019.[2]
  • Julian Castro (D), a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.[6]
  • John Delaney (D), a former U.S. representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D), a U.S. representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.[7]
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D), a U.S. senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.[8]
  • Kamala Harris (D), a U.S. senator from California, announced that she was running for president on January 21, 2019.[4]
  • Elizabeth Warren (D), U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.[9]
  • Andrew Yang (D), an entrepreneur from New York, filed to run for president on November 6, 2017.


This isn’t even a short list, but a minuscule one, of possible candidates who have yet to throw their hat into the ring. There is a host of active or retired politicians yet to decide whether to run or not including Beto O’Rouke, Stacy Abrams, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and of course, Hillary Clinton who makes up only a fraction of possible contenders. Then there are the business and public figures like Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates – again a very abbreviated list of possibles. Go to Ballotpedia to see the complete lists. Warning: Bring a lunch. There are that many.

Yesterday, America woke up to the news the King of Coffee former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, is running as a independent for the throne at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. Proclaiming himself to be a “lifelong Democrat”, Schultz said he will run as a centrist Independent. Decrying “revenge politics” practiced by both sides of the aisle, Schultz fears that the Democratic Party will elect a radically liberal candidate. He stated,

“It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left,” Mr Schultz told CNBC last June. The Independent

Hmmm . . . wasn’t that the reason the Democrats did so well in November 2018? Far from seeing this trend as a negative development, many Americans appear to have been heartened by the shift. Tell me Beto didn’t have a following that rivaled both Obama and Bernie Sanders’ hyper loyalists. Across the board, especially women candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, played on the need for a leftward shift to beat good ole’ boys both in the primaries and in the general election. The problem with the establishment Democrats is they are incapable of defining themselves as anything but RHINO light. The newcomers obviously are on to something.

So, what does a centrist independent believe about core issues and obstacles facing the American public. Take one of the most polarizing issues that “radical” liberals are pushing – Medicare for all. Schultz is worth $3.4 billion and like many billionaires he opposes anything that would cut into his standing in the billionaire club. In an article in the Intelligencer, Schultz gave an inkling as to his beliefs stating,

In recent interviews, Schultz has argued that progressive Democrats have grown so rigidly ideological, they can no longer recognize basic political and policy realities.

He has also contended that the wealthiest nation in human history can’t afford to provide public health insurance to all of its citizens; that the national debt is a bigger threat to the United States than climate change; and that Democrats would be wise to demonstrate “leadership” to the electorate — by calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Intelligencer

Sounds like something Mitch McConnell would say, not a presidential candidate who claims to be a lifelong Democrat. Condemnation of his possible third party run as an independent has gotten nearly universal condemnation from just about everyone other than Trump and his minions. The obvious fear is that as a third-party candidate would siphon off vitally needed votes from the Democrat nominee, but not enough to actually carry the election for Schultz, thereby, handing a second term to Trump.

Americans have seen this before. Ross Perot in 1996 ran as an third party candidate for the Reform Party against Bob Dole and Bill Clinton (2nd term). Though he only pulled in 8 % of the vote, he was probably the reason that Clinton won and Dole lost out with on  41 % of the popular vote. Clinton got 49 %. More recently, there was the George W. Bush, Al Gore and Ralph Nader debacle with Nader running as the Green Party candidate.

Disclaimer: In 2000, I was one of three founding members of the Napa Valley Green Party along with my friends Lowell Downey and Glynn Baker. I was fed up with the Democratic machine and wanted to strike out and take a stand. We all know how that worked out. I left the Greens shortly after Bush stole the election from Gore, partly out of shame for not voting for Gore and partly out of sheer frustration stemming from the ongoing sniping between the Northern California Greens and the Los Angeles faction. Seems the Greens were just as susceptible to inter party fighting as the other two major parties. The point is I understand the damage a third party candidate, especially one who has little support other than a disgruntled following that can cause serious damage to a qualified candidate in a close race.

Trump has to be gone by 2020. If not by the hand of Mueller then by the hand of the electorate. It’s inconceivable that Trump could muster enough votes to win, but there again, I was surprised as everyone when he pulled out the 2016 election. I am sure Schultz in his benevolent billionaire mind thinks he is on the right track and that his running would be something that would clarify, if not help, the struggling Democratic Party’s identity crisis. It won’t.

With a year and ten months before the election, all the cards will be on the table. I for one embrace the drift to the left by the new Democrats. They are the ones who will make or break our democracy in the coming years. Trump is swiftly heading to a footnote in history, but his defeat in 2020 can’t be assumed as a given. Third party dilettantes jeopardize taking back the White House, even if it is only a tiny risk. Does Schultz threaten the Democratic nominee? Not yet, let’s hope it stays that way.

Living Large In Carson City: Racism Is The Greatest Cancer Of My Lifetime (Charles Barkley) Edition


“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”  U.S. Rep. Steve King

Pardon my above icon, but I wanted to say something about Iowa Representative Steve King to not allow his shameful ideas to get lost in the shadows. While his recent transparency about his alt-right beliefs are not surprising, his latest soiree into his deeply held beliefs were too egregious not to point out. The man is beyond despising verging on loathsome. Yet, he feels emboldened enough to make the above statement as if it is a perfectly natural thing to ask even in polite company. What is surprising is that the Republicans finally did something to reel him in by stripping him of his committee memberships. Here a Washington Post clip that lays out his behavior in clear, unequivocal detail; also, here is a timeline of his more damning statements. .

King is a nine term U. S. representative from Iowa and has a history of publicly making claims dating back to 2002 about the supremacy of white culture over others including those who happen to want to come to this country simply to have the chance for a better life for themselves and their families. In the above Post  video you will hear House Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) opining about how King does not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party and that he will be stripped of his committee assignments which is all well and good . . . except for one thing. It’s a lie.

The Republican Party has become the party of white supremacy and has done little to nothing to dissuade the American public otherwise. Now, Americans are finding out that  House of Representative member, Crazy Louie Gohmert, crawled out from under his East Texas rock to support King and his racists beliefs. Gohmert who has a long list of racist and bigoted remarks of his own had this to say about King’s caustic statement,

“We have the only country that I’m aware of that would shed its most valuable treasure —American blood — for freedom, not for hegemony, just for freedom,” Gohmert said. “There’s never been a group that’s been more philanthropic than American citizens. That was a fair question — when did Western civilization become a negative?” Louie G

Crazy Louie doesn’t seem to have the capacity, or chooses not to understand, that the way Western Civilization is used by King is referring to the “white” Western Civilization, not all Americans. In his defense, Crazy Louie is only doing what he normally does by replying without regard to the substance of the issue. As a dyed-in-the-wool Tea Party member, his only avenue of expression is the lowest common denominator of any issue. In his case and King’s, there go to stance is to support aging white voters who make up the majority of their base.

Of course, this view is shared by the leader of their party, Donald Trump. Trump’s lies, innuendos, and bigoted statements are legend in the New York world of real estate and the national Republican Party. Trump has single handed put racism and bigotry at the forefront of his party and base like no one before him. From calling white supremacists “fine people” to denigrating third-world countries as “shit holes” to treating immigrant children at the Texas border like animals, Trump has lowered the bar on race like no one before him. He is the face of both the white supremacists of America and the intolerant Republican Party all in one tidy package for the world to see.

Anyone who grew up in the South during the 1950s and 1960s knows that racists and bigots are as hard to stamp out as cockroaches on a meth/bad acid high. They lack the insensate ability to see the plight of others as an extension of their own actions. When all is said and done, race is a creation of culture, not a natural human reaction to the differences of skin color or place of origin. Simply put, racists are racists by choice not by a plan of some wacked out god or inter species rivalries. People have to make a conscious choice to treat others with disdain and rancor because they are different from one’s own neighbors.

The real threat that people like King, Crazy Louie, and Trump pose is legitimizing racism and bigotry for others. We already see the results of these sown seeds of discord in the way young people are reacting to others not like themselves. This weekend’s spectacle of a group of young white men sporting Make America Great Again gimme’ hats from Covington Catholic School in Kentucky, and the way they dealt with Omaha Nation elder and Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips was heartbreaking to watch and see unfold. Phillips was part of the American Indian Indigenous March that was finishing up their part of the festivities.

The parents and chaperones are making excuses for the way the young boys acted, and granted, maybe there were extenuating circumstances involving a third group of hecklers, but the smirk and laughter directed by the young boys toward Phillips told a different story. No one can excuse the disrespect and uncouth actions of the group as a whole. Father Edward Beck, a CNN Religion Commentator, stated,

“It wasn’t a time to thrust both cheeks, smirking, into the face of that elder. So, yes, where were the chaperones? This situation was escalating. you had the group that you mentioned with racial slurs. You then had kids behind them seemingly mocking this elder and smirking and laughing at him,” he said. “I don’t understand how the chaperones don’t step in and say, first of all, boys, get to the bus, to defuse the situation. that’s why a chaperone is there,” he said. CNN

To be honest, this incident was an anomaly that was a product of several different circumstances revolving into a perfect storm of hate speech and actions of a few bad apples. It was an act of young boys so full of themselves they saw taunting someone different as sport and a chance to have a good time at the expense of someone no like them. The fact that there was a separate group apart from the young boys and the American Indian marchers is irrelevant in light of the multiple videos that show the encounter and how the incident unfolded. Trump’s response? Here is a tweet from late yesterday,

Donald J. Trump


Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements (sic) proving out to be false – smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American” @TuckerCarlson

Not surprisingly, he gets it wrong and tries to make it into a “win” for himself and his team. No, Trump, the media didn’t get it wrong. The videos were taken by people on site that tells the story of what happened. Sandman has been representing himself as the victim of the event and calling foul that his actions were taken for what they were, race baiting. It is doubtful that anything will come of this event other than negative exposure on all sides. The real lesson that intolerance and hatred should not be condoned or allowed to stand will be swept away by Trump and his minions who see what they want to see and nothing more.

Does it make America Great Again? I don’t think so.

Living Large In Carson City: Chaos Is The Food Of Dictators Edition

ErisDiscordiaclr.pngEris Greek Goddess of Chaos

Now the Indians are dressing up like cowboys
And the cowboys are putting feathers and turquoise on
And the music is sold by lawyers
And the fools who fiddled                                                                                                     in the middle of the station have gone                                          Johnny Lee Cherokee Fiddle

For those of you who saw Urban Cowboy, you will remember Johnny Lee’s incredible tune, Cherokee Fiddle. The song’s lyrics talk about an American Indian fiddle player who journeys each year from his home to a distant city to play his fiddle in the train station and make a few dollars for his troubles. The deceptively catchy tune is admirable for its roots in country music. However, like the characters in the movie, Lee’s protagonist is caught up in the changing times. The old ways give in to the pressure of more modern conventions that leave the Indian fiddle player wondering what  happened and lamenting the fact that he is no longer relevant. Chaos ensues and the world moves on.

The passage from the song above describes exactly how I view the world in the shit storm that is the Donald Trump pseudo-presidency. Up is down; down is up. What once passed for truth and enlightenment are now false flags of a bygone period of naivety. Evangelicals embrace a man who is as wicked in his worldview as he is in his sexual peccadilloes. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, is maybe the best example of false prophets being hailed by the chosen. The Dallas Observer came up with 10 examples of how Jeffress excuses the excess and sins of the Orange one in an article titled, A Guide to Robert Jeffress’ Excuses for President Trump. Take number three for instance when Jeffress justifies Trump’s directive to separate children from their parents at the border,

“Any American who commits a crime is going to be separated from his or her child,” Jeffress went on. “You don’t send children to jail with their parents in America, so I’m not sure why the only criminals who would get a pass on that policy would be illegal immigrants.” Dallas Observer

Huh? Equating hardened criminals to poorly educated, impoverished, and often asylum seeking immigrants fleeing murderous conditions in their home countries is the thinking of a chaotic mind who has lost plumb. I won’t go into the other nine, but they are equally reprehensible. Yet, this is where we find ourselves at the beginning of the New Year. Men of God aligning themselves with a known philanderer, liar, and a cheat. Parse it however you want, but be sure to mark one down for the chaotic zeitgeist facing America today.

In a few hours, Herr Trump will take over the airwaves to lay out his  reasoning for wanting to build an ineffective Medieval wall across the southern border of the United States. Supposedly, he will also address why he thinks shutting down the government is such a good idea as well. In the past few days, he and his minions have been spreading lies and untruths about the number of terrorists entering the United States, not bothering to make clear that the southern border is one of the locations with the fewest number of terrorists stopped from entering the country. Sarah Huckabee Sanders put the number at 4,000 before Chris Wallace corrected her and exposed her lack of facts. Vice President Mike Pence made this ridiculous claim recently,

“In the last fiscal year, we apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border from countries that are referred to in the lexicon as other than Mexico. That means from the Middle East region.” — remarks at a Washington Post event.  AP Fact Check

In truth, only six people were stopped at the U. S. southern border in the first six months of 2018 (the most up to date numbers) who had ties to government watch lists . This doesn’t mean they were actual terrorists but were in some way related to terrorists or had suspicious background check information that automatically placed them on the list. Pence’s claim that those suspects were from the “Middle East region” is simply a stretch of his overly active imagination. Taken in toto, if you count Trump’s base and his sycophantic supporters in Congress, the end result is a chaotic mishmash of false and misleading statements that have only one purpose: To scare uninformed Americans that their lives are in danger and a state of emergency exists on the level of Russian paratroopers falling for the sky like rain drops.

I am not one to draw comparisons to the rise of Nazis in Germany before WWII and anyone, but the social conditions and the rise of Hitler are eerily similar to what we see going on in America today. An exhaustive six page layout on gives a bullet point list of the Rise of Nazis and how Hitler used his oratorical powers to create bogey men beyond just the Jews including homosexuals, gypsies, Communists and others to justify his rise to power and create chaos that only he could combat. Trump is no Hitler. He’s not nearly smart as Hitler. He is, however, a excellent purveyor of fear and malice toward any group he sees as worthy of using as a distraction.

And let’s face it. Trump needs a lot of distraction right now. He knows his border wall will not work. Indeed, the border wall meme is now revealed as a gimmick dreamed up by his handlers to remind him to push his views on immigration. It appears Trump’s distaste for reading off teleprompters would lead him astray of his intended message, so his aides came up with the wall trope to keep him going in the right direction. It worked. I will never be able to get the sound of his deplorables chanting “Build the Wall, Build the Wall” out of my brain. Talk about creating chaos. It begs the question was “Lock her up”  a misguided glimpse into the future where he becomes the target of a similar chant like “Impeach the motherfucker”?

While we progressives take pains to point out Trump’s inconsistencies and amoral view of politics in America, I must say there is a little fear in me as to just how far Trump will go. Declaring a State of Emergency is no laughing matter. Like Hitler, it would give him power beyond that of a normal leader. The next off ramp on the chaotic highway to madness is Dictatorship. It is a place where fear is the norm, persecution is the law of the land, and the chaotic is ever present. Can’t wait to hear what he has to say in a couple of hours. More to come.

Living Large In Carson City: Padraig Deignan: Democracy is the counting of heads, not what’s in them! Edition


Bread and circuses” (or bread and games; from Latinpanem et circenses) is a figure of speech, specifically referring to a superficial means of appeasement. As a metonymic, the phrase is attributed to Juvenal, a Roman poet active in the late first and early second century AD — and is used commonly in cultural, particularly political, contexts.

In a political context, the phrase means to generate public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy, but by diversion, distraction or by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace[1] — by offering a palliative: for example food (bread) or entertainment (circuses).

Juvenal, who originated the phrase, used it to decry the selfishness of common people and their neglect of wider concerns.[2][3][4] The phrase implies a population’s erosion or ignorance of civic duty as a priority. Source

Here we are at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. It’s been a whirlwind ride with few highs and ever increasing lows. This is the year that future generations will mark as the beginning of the cracking of our democracy by the Donald Trump and his merry, but rabid, ban of deplorabbles. When Hillary first made the “basket of deplorables” comment, I literally and figuratively cringed. I feared she was exacerbating an already undeniable truth – people just didn’t like her and alienating Trump’s base was not the wisest political path she could have chosen.

I was wrong. Trump’s base has proven themselves time after time to be a pack of scoundrels, misfits, and emotionally and intellectually dead individuals, and it is only getting worse. The quote about bread and circuses above has come to fit this administration’s modus operandi to a tee. Today, however, our bread and circus are the world wide web coupled with Twittter as the arena and sensationalism and dishonesty  (fake news) the bread that people feed on daily.  In these opening days of the new year, America needs to come to grips with the reality that our democracy is broken and fixing it is going to take a lot of harsh decisions and more than a little gumption to get us through to the other side.

On the bright side, the Democrats take control of the House on January 3 bringing with them a ray of hope that the Orange One will finally find a modicum of supervision, but with Trump in the mix, who knows how that will work out. Frankly, I have serious doubts about both major political parties doing anything but line the pockets of their donors and the large corporations that control our political system. Still, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to take an optimistic view in these blogs, rather than the doomsday approach I’ve taken often in the past. In my defense . . . they made me do it.

Having said that, as bad as the Democrats have the potential of being, they are far more positive and rational than what is now the Republican Party, which has for all practical purposes, abdicated control of the party to the House Freedom Caucus led by former Tea Party members and ultra conservative House newcomers. While few in number, some estimates list its membership in the mid-thirties, as a block, they have tremendous sway on the outcome of legislation and the actions of the president. It was the Freedom Caucus along with Anne Couture and Rush Limbaugh who put the screws to Trump when he capitulated to the Democrats and a portion of his own party in December that passed a bill to avoid the current government shutdown. Trump’s reversal of course was meant to appease his base, of which, the Freedom Caucus can be counted.

American linguist, philosopher, historian, political activist, and social critic, Noam Chomsky (Video Transcript), makes an even bolder claim about the current condition of the political system and those who are involved in determining the life of Americans when he stated,

I’ve said sometimes, what’s considered an utterly outrageous comment, that today’s Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in human history. Sounds outrageous, but think about it for a moment. I mean, Hitler didn’t intend to destroy the prospects for human existence; Attila the Hun didn’t intend that – nobody has. But that’s what these guys intend, and it’s not ignorant, uneducated you know, religious fundamentalists [or] whatever you want to blame people. These are the most educated, sort of best supported people in the world, and they’re doing this eyes opened because you make more profit tomorrow. It’s hard to imagine anything like it. Source

In the fog of our current cultural war, I think it is easy to single out Trump and place the majority of blame for the current democratic crisis we find ourselves in today. Yet, reread the “bread and circus” quote at the top of the page. Then consider this from Chomsky’s video above,

Trump’s role is to ensure that the media and the public attention are always concentrated on him. So every time you turn on a television set: Trump; open the front page of the newspaper: Trump. And in order to maintain, he’s a conman, basically a showman, and in order to maintain public attention, you have to do something crazy, otherwise nobody’s gonna pay attention to you. . .  In the background, the wrecking crew is working Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, [and] the guys in the Cabinet who write his executive orders.

What they are doing is systematically dismantling every aspect of government that works for the benefit of the population. . . I mean, anything you can think of
is being dismantled and all efforts are being devoted, kind of almost with fanaticism
to enrich and empower their actual constituency which is super wealth, and corporate power; who are delighted. Source

A simple Google search will turn up a litany of real accomplishments the Republicans have achieved while the rest of us have been watching Trump scream “Squirrel” including both his base and those who oppose his actions. Read any number of outlets that have tracked Trump’s nefarious behind-the-scenes machinations. Anthony Zurcher’s, Ten Ways Trump Has Changed America, he wrote for BBC News is a typical compilation. While most of America has been sitting quietly around the nation, either wallowing in Trump’s craziness or grumbling about his ineptitude, the bread and circus continues.

Complicating the situation even more are the misconceptions that all American have about what it is to live, work, and die in America.  Basically, America is run on myths. Myths about our freedom, our rights, our national consciousness. Keeping us believing these myths is the job of the elites, social media, and the corporate ruling structure. Read American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 MythsThe author, Lee Camp, systematically dismantles our foolish beliefs that all Americans hold dear including our democracy, voting/electoral system, consumerism, truth about the media, and on an on. It isn’t pretty how we have been led to this point in our nation’s history. This has been an ongoing train wreck that survives only because it is so much better here in the United States than in other less fortunate parts of the world. But every train wreck has its end, and America is perilously close to that point.

Chomsky uses the Doomsday Clock put out by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to measure just how badly America has slumped though the ages up until December 2017. He wrote,

They (scientists) just moved it to 2 minutes to midnight. That’s where it was in 1953 when the U.S., and later the USSR, exploded thermonuclear weapons which were, could totally destroy the world. It went to 2 minutes, now it’s back to 2 minutes, and that’s the Republican Party. [They’re] the ones who are running the country and dominating the world. There’s never been a situation like this. Bulletin

So much for my morphing into an optimistic man full of joy and wonder. As long as Trump is in the White House and long after he is gone, we will face this existential crisis until Americans wake up and take their destinies seriously in light of rising greed, lack of empathy, and give up on political correctness to reshape America into something different. A nation of laws and governance that takes both the environment and individual liberties into consideration would be a far cry from our situation in the opening days of 2019. Happy fucking New Year.