Living Large In Carson City: Stupid People Got No Reason To Live

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in larger groups. George Carlin

Since well before the 2016 election, like most thinking Americans, I was a little confused by Donald Trump. To be sure, all Americans can be forgiven simply on the face of what the man had to say. And of course, his penchant for telling lies. Who in their right mind would speak out loud what most four year olds know should only be expressed in their private thoughts. Who says, “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue, and nobody would do anything?” Or the old standby he pulls out to make polite conversation, “I grab ’em by the pussy.”  I mean honestly who says things like that in the real world.

Fast forward to April 2020 where Mad King Donald has morphed into a clinical lab for conspiracy theories, ego infused proclamations that can sear one’s eyebrows clean off one’s face, and delusions of grandeur that would shame Kim Jong Un (if he is still alive). Americans have officially moved beyond the realm on reality to something not even the Twilight Zone would air. Yet, whereas two weeks ago, America was holding its collective breath in hopes that the Coronavirus would quietly go away and spare the nation more senseless deaths, Trump has gone full metal jacket and life as Americans use to know it is gone.

It’s near the end of April and the virus continues to rage on with no end in sight. Trump is pushing for an end to  social distancing in some areas of the nation, and still not admitting that it is the healthcare experts who should be running this shit show as to when it would be safe to open the country back up. His logic is that the economy has to restart to get businesses back up and running before the economy falls apart. Oil has tanked buy slowly reviving. The Stock Market is limping along like a homeless person wandering the streets of LA. And good people are clamoring to be set free from governmental regulations. More on these people later.

This is where it gets weirder. Last week, he claimed some pretty extraordinary stuff, not the least of which is that he has absolute power over the states, and basically, he is above, or maybe, is the law. Constitutional scholars were quick to point out that he has no such power. Backtracking the next day, he backed off of that claim only to reassert it in the following few days. Most Americans have heard his proclamation, yet, where is the hue and cry to have the bastard committed to the nearest jail or loony bin? The silence from the masses is deafening and surprising. Three years ago, only his basest base would have stood by and let such an outrageous statement stand. Now, it seems like all of America is his base. Possibly, Americans have heard so much crap come out of his mouth that numbness has set in or maybe the country has gone a little insane along with him.

The question is what will Trump’s assertion that “When somebody is president of the United States, your authority is total” as he said in a press conference recently mean in the long run. Most Americans will shake their head and say there goes Mad King Donald playing Napoleon again. But there are those like the ones mentioned above who will take a totally different stance.

On opening up the economy, there will be more protests like those that happened last weekend where seemingly intelligent, non-basket of deplorables types, will petition state governments to open up the economy to gets paychecks flowing back into the pockets of the working class. If that were the sole concern, it would be understandable. People have to eat. Theys have to pay their bills and on and on. Americans are frightened right now and will grasp at any hope if it promises them a safe haven.

Of course, the issue here is America is only at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and it is going to be some time before infections peak and level off. Reopening the economy could have the exact opposite effect if a month from now infection rates increase and the economy has to be shut down again. It is a dilemma only the health professionals can speak intelligently on, certainly not Trump.

Yet, Trump is pushing for phase 1 to begin as soon as possible. Why now? Why take the risk? An answer can be found in the fitness industry.

Their inclusion follows a last-minute lobbying push by an industry not known for flexing its muscles in Washington. While not every major company was part of the effort, conversations with 10 leaders in the fitness-club business reveal an influential network of relationships that kicked into gear over the past few weeks and helped move gyms to the front of the line — even to the surprise of many in the industry.

Noteworthy figures in the effort include a Trump-loving fitness-center owner in Pennsylvania, Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew, billionaire real-estate mogul Steve Ross and the US Surgeon General. CNN

Gyms are like the worst possible establishments to reopen. As the article notes they are places where people sweat, breathe on each other, and share unsanitized equipment as a natural course of action. Yet, there they are on the frontlines calling for relaxation of the social distancing mandates. If, as the story notes, “an industry not known for flexing its muscles in Washington” can have an effect on the president’s decision making process, what power would industries like oil and gas, the restaurant associations, airlines, or worse yet, the National Football League be able exert on Trump to open the country  -safeguards be damned.

Trump is too much of a capitalist screw up and fearful of his reelection prospects not to take some action to open things up on some level. The group that should strike fear in the hearts of Americans are his whacko base. The question should be asked why is it that some right wing protestors show up armed to the teeth simply to stand around on governmental building steps and look awkward and a bit unhinged. Still, these people are a growing concern to most thinking Americans.

While many Americans have been concerned that Trump’s base might turn ugly if he isn’t reelected, now with the onset of the virus and his reelection prospects in doubt, some in the psychiatric field are taking a more serious look at what his base might be capable of in times of crisis.

In an article by Igor Derysh for Salon titled “Trump’s lockdown protesters resemble ‘child soldiers’ and ‘urban gangs’”, he interviewed Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, about her findings. Derysh also notes,

Lee is also “a project group leader at the World Health Organization Violence Prevention Alliance. She told Salon that Trump’s recent call to “liberate” Democratic-led states was a dog whistle to his core supporters.”

“Subconsciously, it is a loyalty test for the people,” Lee said. “In Africa, where I did some ethnographic work, child soldiers would be recruited and made to kill a family member to demonstrate their allegiance to the government and not to the family. Similarly, in urban gangs in America, one may be challenged to kill a police officer to prove one’s willingness to uphold gang rules over societal rules.

“When Donald Trump suggests that the virus be taken as a ‘hoax’, that people gather in churches or that people protest for their own sacrifice, he is actually testing people’s loyalty to the ‘laws’ of his mind over the laws of nature, or even impulse for survival. The more he abuses them, the greater their devotion grows, since the psychological cost of admitting their mistake is ever higher — and so it becomes easier to dig a well of unreality than to see the obvious truth. Salon

In recent days Trump has spoken from the podium at his daily press conferences about gibberish that makes him look totally deranged. Yesterday, he suggested his medical team look into injecting disinfectants or light into people’s bodies to eradicate the virus to the horror of medical staff looking on. As President Andrew Shepherd noted in the final scene from American President,

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”

In the error of Trump, those words could not be more true.

Whacko Doodle of the Week

Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, in her interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Living Large In Carson City: “When I woke up this morning, things were lookin’ bad” Edition

Now he’s Gone
Lord he’s gone
Like a steam locomotive
rolling down the track
He’s gone
He’s gone
and nothing’s gonna bring him back
He’s gone

Grateful Dead Europe ‘72

Some days just don’t pan out the way you hoped. In these days of sadness and foreboding of what is going to happen in the future, the last thing Americans wanted to hear was more bad news. When you consider the omnipresent and omniboring hogwash coming out of Washington daily in the form of Mad King Donald’s “press conferences”, one would think that the Fates would have mercy on mortals and let things slide for just a little while. But no.

Avoiding politics for a moment, it was with heavy heart that Fiona Prine announced earlier today that John Prine was dead. For the past three weeks or so, America has waited with bated breath in the hope that John would somehow beat the virus as he had cancer twice before. Those bouts with the big C took part of one of his lungs and a portion of his throat. Still, he was able to produce, write, and release a new album last year. The man was as one pundit called him “the Mark Twain of his era.” There are few compliments better than that a human could hope to be remembered by.

I last saw John at Red Rocks about ten years ago. I’ve always known that John was a giant among musicians, but even I was surprised by his opening act, Emmy Lou Harris. Most musicians probably never have the chance to meet a star on the level of Emmy Lou. To have her as your opening act, well, it speaks to the magnitude of the man and his influence on the music world. He was one of the great ones. One of his last high profile appearances was on Austin City Limits last year. Worn and battered, buffed up like a bull frog, he didn’t just play his new and old tunes, he attacked them, and I am sure, added millions to his already considerable fan base.

I first heard John when he put out his first album title simply John Prine. Some of his most memorable songs came from that first offering. “Sam Stone”, “Paradise”, and “Hello in There”, “Illegal Smile”, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”, “Donald and Lydia”, and of course, “Angel from Montgomery” would pave the way for a career that forged a path of fame and reverence for an army of dedicated fans.

I was 21 in 1971 when the album came out and about to graduate from college. My draft number was 40 with a bullet. Something about the songs on that album spoke to me like few songs ever had. As a budding hippie, “Illegal Smile” struck a chord in me on the lighter side, but “Sam Stone” spoke to me of the reality of the Vietnam War and the future that I faced. But it was “Paradise” that sealed the deal for me. I had never heard of a singer/song writer that could speak through his lyrics with such raw emotion and sorrow.

Fiona Prine sent out a message to his followers on Facebook. In part it read,

From Fiona Whelan Prine…

Our beloved John died yesterday evening at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville TN. We have no words to describe the grief our family is experiencing at this time. John was the love of my life and adored by our sons Jody, Jack and Tommy, daughter in law Fanny, and by our grandchildren.

John contracted Covid-19  and in spite of the incredible skill and care of his medical team at Vanderbilt he could not overcome the damage this virus inflicted on his body.

I sat with John – who was deeply sedated- in the hours before he passed and will be forever grateful for that opportunity.

Unlike the lyrics to Same Stone which state, “Sam Stone was alone/When he popped his last balloon, /Climbing walls while sitting in a chair.” John Prine was never going to die alone. Millions of fans woke up today having lost a psychic connection to an old friend and sadder for the knowledge “he’s gone”.

Peace and Happy Trails John

Living Large In Carson City: Helter Skelter/Look Out, ‘Cause Here She Comes Beatles Edition

Turning and turning in the widening gyre. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. William Butler Yeats

The time is now. Helter skelter. Charles Manson

Maybe it is a sign of the times when one of the world’s greatest poets and one of history’s most vile madmen can be quoted together and the outcome makes perfect sense. As Americans face a long, lonely haul before the end of the coronavirus outbreak can even be accurately predicted, all patriotic citizens should take a moment to reflect. Working through the haze of self quranteening, furtive early morning runs to Costco in search of the elusive toilet paper roll, and late night cocktails and snacking, most of America is too stupefied to take note of the state of the U. S. government, much less make sense of it. Such are the times.

Ground zero at my house is relatively calm, if not, with a fine pall of worry and concern hanging over our humble estate about how this is all going to play out.  Nevada is ranked number 23rd in the nation with just over a 1,000 cases diagnosed and 17 deaths. Of course, most people don’t understand just how lopsided the population concentration is across the state. Consider at this time, the megapolis of Las Vegas accounts for 753 of the diagnosed cases and 15 of the 17 deaths. The numbers are growing, of course, with yesterday accounting for 48 of the diagnosed cases since Monday, March 30. I digress.

Underneath all of the folderol and wacky miscommunication coming out of Washington and Trump’s mouth, serious shit is happening. Serious shit that the president and his minions would be happy for the rest of the country to ignore. In case America has forgotten, there is a presidential election coming up in November, and ready or not, the federal government and the states need to be prepared for it. This is where it gets complicated and nasty.

For all my life, there has been one truism that has held true through every election, presidential or otherwise: Republicans will do everything in their power to suppress the vote, which skews the election in their favor. Of course, over history there have been times when the issue swung to the other side like during the Jim Crow era, but in our modern world, Republicans have been the culprits. It doesn’t matter if was the Poll Tax, tricked out gerrymandering, throwing people off the voter rolls for no apparent reason, or simply, as we see today, closing down polling places at the last minute leaving voters to fend for themselves. The poor are disproportionately affected by this in a negative way, well hell, all Americans are to some degree.

Considering Trump’s manic thirst for power, the states need to take the lead on this pronto. Since there is no way to predict when the coronavirus will abate, or that it might go away during the warm summer months only to rekindle in the fall, the November 3 election date is iffy at best. Conventional wisdom holds that given Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, it isn’t a stretch to see him executing an executive order cancelling the election in light of the virus’s toll on the economy and the country.

The only way to possibly avoid such an action is for mail-in voting to be in place when November rolls around. The problem is that state’s are going to be cash strapped for the conceivable future due to outpouring of funds to prop up the medical profession as the virus takes its toll. Normally, the states could turn to the federal government to subsidize a project like this, but not in Trump world. Hell, he’s reluctant to send funds and equipment to state’s whose governors he sees as as not being appreciative enough of his actions.

For Trump, the virus is a wet dream that not even he could have imagined. In it he will see the perfect excuse to cancel the election and declare himself the grand poobah for four more years. Does anyone think that a court challenge wouldn’t go all the way to the Supreme Court? Does anyone have faith in the justices coming to  a fair and impartial verdict that puts the country first ahead of Trump’s wishes? I don’t think so.

In an article titled “How the coronavirus pandemic could soon explode into a constitutional crisis” by Cody Fenwick writing for Alternet, Fenwick quotes Davie Daley author of the new book UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling to Save Democracy who is sounding the alarm about just what could happen if conservative Republican governors follow Trump’s lead to suppress the vote later this year. Here he talks about recent events in the Democratic primary in mid-March,

. . . it gets harder and harder to imagine how a normal election might take place. As the crisis was ramping up, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he was canceling the March 17 election, in which Democratic primary voters were primed to go to the polls. He made this announcement the day before in-person voting was to take place, citing the danger posed by the outbreak, only to be ordered by a judge to proceed with the vote. He defied that order and kept the polls closed anyway. RawStory

Speaking of the polls, the article goes on to point out some obvious and serious concerns. Fenwick notes that the virus is especially hard hitting when it comes to seniors. Seniors are the primary source of people power that run most elections. What if there just aren’t enough poll workers to open the polls, or they are too frightened to show up at an event where hundreds if not thousands of people file in off the street to stand three feet away from them as they get their ballots. Fenwick also points out, how will voters exercise safe distancing when standing in line while queueing up to vote. Daly says it best,

“There are solutions, which all revolve around early voting, expanding vote by mail, expanding drop off centers and no-excuse absentee balloting,” said Daley. “All of this needs to be done in an effective way, and all of it costs money.” RawStory

Why are Republicans so afraid of mail in voting. Well, first of all, they can’t control the turnout. Second, if they can’t control the turnout, they can’t inhibit onsite polling places from dismissing voters as they show up to vote. This would mean they would have to turn to more nefarious means of suppressing the vote, further exposing their underhanded actions to skew the will of the American people. Old folks, minorities, and disabled voters would suddenly become a force to be reckoned with. In their own words, the issue comes down to this,

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston became the latest GOP official to warn about the perils that vote-by-mail initiatives would have on his party.

“This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” he said. “Every registered voter is going to get one of these. … This will certainly drive up turnout.” RawStory

And now famously, Mad King Donald,

Trump earlier this week similarly told “Fox & Friends” that Democrats were pushing for initiatives that would generate “levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”RawStory

And so it goes.

Wacko of the Week Award

On Tuesday afternoon, a train engineer named Eduardo Moreno, apparently with great deliberation, derailed the freight train he was manning in Southern California, nearly killing occupants of three nearby cars. His target? The USNS Mercy, a Navy medical ship that’s been assisting nearby hospitals with COVID-19 patients.

“I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here,” Moreno reportedly told the officer who arrested him. Apparently, Moreno believes in a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus crisis is a hoax being deployed to cover for a shadowy takeover of the government. RawStory

Living Large In Carson City: Not the Same As It Ever Was, Not the Same As It Ever Was Edition

“Life in the Time of the Coronavirus”

The chickens have come home to roost. I’ve always loved that saying. It carries with it both a sense of comfort and foreboding. Kinda of like sheltering at home and social distancing. Certainly, life in America, well hell, the world is not like it was at the turn of the New Year. Some things haven’t changed though. Trump continues to lie, but his lies now have an almost melancholy ring to them. In recent days he has been admonished for exaggerating his response to the Coronavirus to almost Herculean heights. I mean he is lying about shit that doesn’t exist, and get this, the media continues to allow him to get away with it.

Now, he has decided in his superior brain that he is smarter than the scientist and medical profession, and that he understands the Coronavirus better than they do. Currying favor to the “I believe in a fairy tales” crowd (most of his base), he wants to end social distancing, so the churches can be full on Easter Sunday. WTF? I won’t degrade my intelligence by asking if this guy is being honest on this one. How can someone who claims to to be a “stable genius” form those words and let them slip out of his pie hole? Of course, America gave up trying to make sense out of what our president says sometime around the “Grab them by the pussy” video back in 2015 or 2016.

Let’s be honest with each other, the shit has hit the fan, and there isn’t much America can do but grab the sides of the roller coaster car and scream like wild banshees. The coaster is heading for the apex of the track, and all of America is about to go over the big hill headed for the bottom. Who knows at this point if it will be Armageddon at the end or will the nation bottom out and continue on down the track to better days. The people at Odds Watch (yes, there is a handicapper for everything) predicts there is a 94 percent chance of a recession in 2020. If you ask Trump, however, everything is fine. Rearrange those deck chairs over there, please.

Speaking of people lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut, some of America’s finest (not) Congressmen and women got that little extra in their paychecks that you and I weren’t offered. Ahead of the coming pandemic a couple of weeks ago, the Trump administration briefed a select few of our legislators who then went out and sold off stock that appeared to be vulnerable if things went south, and we all know they did at this point. That paragon of virtue,

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who as the Intelligence committee chair was sitting in on regular confidential briefings about the novel coronavirus, sold his stocks even as he publicly downplayed the risk of the outbreak to voters. Burr sold as much as $1.72 million worth, records show, with large amounts in companies that later would be slammed in the market sell-off.

. . . . . .

Among the stocks Burr sold was $150,000 worth of shares in Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, which has since shed two-thirds of its value. Burr also unloaded $100,000 worth of shares in Extended Stay America, whose stock price has been cut in half since then.  LATimes

It appears, however, that Burr was a bit hasty and left money on the table.

Similar stock sales were also disclosed in the public records by Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, whose husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler, who also sold shares in companies that took a big hit, has denied any wrongdoing.

Loeffler and her husband began selling stock Jan. 24, the day she joined a private briefing for lawmakers by the Senate Health Committee that included administration officials leading the response to the outbreak. Her stock sales, totaling $1.2 million to $3.1 million, were first reported by the Daily Beast. In addition to the sales, Loeffler and her husband also bought between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a firm that makes teleworking software and has seen its value go up as Americans are directed to work from home. (my italics) LATimes

Americans have to admit that Trump has done one thing right. He has given the nation the best oligarchy that money can buy. I am over asking rhetorically or otherwise, “Do these people have no shame?” Okay, so I do still ask, but I don’t expect an answer. It’s pretty obvious at this point.

So, my wife and I are social distancing and pretty much sheltering at home. This morning I went out for the first time this week to be at Trader Joe’s when they opened. As I stood outside for five minutes waiting for the doors to open while a crowd of twenty or so fellow citizens milled around keeping our safe six foot distance from one another. As the countdown drew near to the doors flying open, the tension and anticipation was nearly palpable. Shoppers ahead of me and directly behind literally started leaning toward the doors. It occured to me that I should step aside and watch how things played out.

Sure enough, as an employee inside the store approached the door, bodies started vibrating all around me. It reminded me of those zombie movies where the undead are so drawn to human flesh they are literally pulled forward by some unseen force. When the doors opened, and these are grown people mind you, all pretense of social distancing went out the window as the group surged forward into a wad of teeming flesh jockeying for baskets and hand sanitizer provided by the store. In that one action, all plans of escaping contamination went out the window. I stood and waited for, literally, two minutes as the indoor crowd grabbed their baskets and flooded into the aisles. I strolled in alone and grabbed a cart and beelined towards the egg and dairy section first then on to the vodka aisle. A senior has to have his priorities after all.

One final note, I am an avowed news junkie. I get up every morning and read the AP Wire and RawStory. com. Interspersed during the day, I check in with CNN and various email posting from news outlets around the world. Granted, it’s a sickness, but one that gives me purpose.

The Coronavirus has upended my solemn routine. How much sadness and pain and suffering do the media outlets think America needs? Obviously, a lot if the cable news shows are any indication. Granted, Americans need to stay abreast of the changing environment as the virus progresses. However, I’ve found myself sitting down with my evening cocktail to watch the news only to change the channel to American Pickers or some other bland cable show within ten minutes. I know the virus is killing people. I know it is only going to get worse. I know Trump is a lying son of a bitch who will exploit this tragedy for his own benefit. It is just hard for me to watch it unfold hour after hour with no end in sight.

Living Large In Carson City: Fear The Party That Has No Conscience Edition

Do not go gentle into that good night.
                                          Rage, rage against the dying of the light.                                                                                                                      Dylan Thomas

It brings me no pleasure railing against Donald Trump week after week. Often, I find myself sounding like a tweaked out conspiracy theorist which brings little joy to me or my friends. Yet, how can anyone watch the events of the day play out on the television screen and not feel something is wrong and pushing America off the rails into unknown territory. Of course, our Forefathers hoped desperately to help us avoid such a fate but not even they in their wisdom could have envisioned Donald J. Trump.

I could talk about the latest political faux pas pertaining to the Roger Stone case, Bill Barr’s meddling, and Trump’s complicity. Or the latest round of pardons for criminals of the past that Trump seems to delight in granting. Or the appointment of a man who has been characterized as divisive, unintelligent, abrasive, and contentious who has no history in the United States intelligence service being named to head all seventeen spy agencies. Or Mike Pompeo’s abrasive demeanor requiring the swearing in of a new deputy secretary of state to calm the waters at State due to a near “toxic situation” created by Pompeo’s less than camaraderie inducing style. But honestly, most people don’t care or can even be bothered with the shenanigans being pulled off by Trump and his merry band of  anarchists.

On a different note, for years I’ve heard and subscribed to the “idea” that there is no difference between the two major parties. Basically, the goals are the same with different means of achieving the same ends, none of which, favor the little guy. Honestly, I always held back a little hope that the Democrats weren’t as bad as the Republicans in promoting a message that was less than just. Bernie Sanders has changed all of my thinking on this topic.

It is a surprise to see people who are normally sane and centered suddenly getting on the bandwagon with the sole goal of tearing the Vermont Senator down. Sure, he is the front runner, but party unity should trump overzealous condemnation of fellow Democrats. Young people see through this and have spoken with their vote. However, after the last debate, MSNBC seemingly lost its mind when it allowed James Carville, Chris Matthews, and regrettably, Joy Reid, to openly trash Sanders as if he was Putin incarnate come to our shores to spread lies and deceit across the land. Carville and Matthews’ reaction is understandable. Both are longtime party hacks with little in their quivers other than hyperbole and angst. Reid, however, was especially disappointing. She stated,

“He is presenting what he is doing as a hostile takeover, not a merger with the party that he caucuses with in the Senate,” Reid said during a discussion with DNC chair Tom Perez.

She added, “He is … essentially sort of kicking to the curb 65 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton, Obama Democrats, people who consider themselves lifelong Democrats.” Politicusa

How can a candidate win nearly 50 percent of the vote in Nevada be involved in a “hostile takeover” unless she meant that the voters in Nevada were somehow trying to undermine the democratic process. More importantly, what does the 65 million voters that voted for Clinton (Obama Democrats) have to with anything. Reid, who is relatively new on the national news scene, will learn quickly that a person or party is only as relevant as the last election they won. In this case the 2018 midterms were the last “win” the Democrats enjoyed, not Hillary’s loss to Donald Trump. In fact, a case could be made that because of her loss to Trump Democrats saw the need for a realignment to ensure they stood up to the Republicans and not waste time on looking back at a failed election.

The reality is that MSNBC is only part of a much larger problem, and that is of course, corporate media. Corporate media doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that a free and unbiased press is the best thing for democracy. The problem is in the term “corporate” which feeds on wealth and power. For corporate media to survive, it needs a lot of money; money on a massive scale. When unvarnished coverage of the news runs headlong into the will of corporate executives, it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out who wins.

In the case of Sanders, the Democratic Party, corporate media, and all corporate powers fear the idea of him even coming close to getting the nomination. Not the office, mind you, but the nomination at all. Sanders internet pages on how he stands on issues are impressive. One particular issue is enough to highlight here:

Get Corporate Money Out of Politics

  • Ban all corporate contributions to the Democratic Party Convention and all related committees, and as President he would ban all corporate donations for inaugural events and cap individual donations at $500.
  • Abolish the now-worthless FEC and replace it with the Federal Election Administration, a true law enforcement agency originally proposed by former Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold.
  • Enacting mandatory public financing laws for all federal elections.
  • Updating and strengthen the Federal Election Campaign Act to return to a system of mandatory public funding for National Party Conventions.
  • Passing a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that money is not speech and corporations are not people. Bernie Issues

It is little wonder corporate media is so harshly against Sanders as the frontrunner in the ongoing nomination process. The issue isn’t whether you support Sanders, Biden, Bloomberg, Warren, or whoever. The issue is a fair and democratic process that allows all nominees the right to run their campaign without being strapped with undue criticism that effectively hamstrings someone like Sanders. Someone who is fighting against the very critics who are linked to the Democratic National Committee and corporate powers across the political spectrum.

The issue really is whether or not we continue down the same road we’ve be going down for at least the past 50 years. More swamp, more failed promises, more debt and on and on is what the establishment of both parties promise. It is time that America faces up to the fact that our government as it is run today does not take the common people’s needs into consideration any longer.

While Sanders certainly has issues, at least he is standing up and saying a correction is in order. One that requires the wealthy one percent to pay their fair share of taxes. One that thinks healthcare is a right and not a privilege. One that believes party elites need to stop doing the same thing over and over even in light of the fact that America is dying. Something has to be done to right the ship as it were. Whether it is Sanders now, or someone in the near future. America needs its people to stand up and say enough is enough while there is still time.

Living Large In Carson City: This Ain’t No Disco/This Ain’t No Fooling Around David Byrne Edition

 “If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it. ” Mark Twain

Less than 24 hours after the Senate Republicans voted to exeronate Donald J. Trump of obvious high crimes and misdemeanors, the president showed all the signs of a mad man run amok. The following morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, he came bearing a copy of the USA Today newspaper that proclaimed in bold block letters ” Trump Acquitted” at the top of the page. From there, things went predictably downhill.  In his speech to the historically non-partisan meeting he stated,

“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” Trump said. “They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.” NBC News

It is becoming increasingly apparent that to criticize Trump’s aberrant behavior beyond noting that he is a seriously disturbed individual is simply playing into his bully mindset which is self-affirming regardless of who criticizes or praises him. At the annual prayer breakfast, he wasted no time  attacking Nancy Pelosi (who sat a few seats away) and Mitt Romney for using, in his words, their faith to publically attack him. Besides being incredibly offensive and laughingly unchristian, his actions, then and later in the day at the White House, verged on outright slander. It raises the question just how far Trump will go in punishing anyone who stood for impeachment or is a perceived enemy in his warped mind.

Over the course of the day, he attacked everyone from the past and present including Robert Mueller, Andrew McCabe, Hillary, Romney, Pelosi, former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, former FBI Director James Comey, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and others too numerous to mention here. Conversely, he lauded praise on his sycophantic Republican enablers calling out one after the other to praise and charm while he told jokes and laughed his way through both meetings. To a man and woman, they ate it up chuckling and laughing continuously as Trump ranted on and on. To say his actions both brought shame on the office of the presidency and highlighted in stark illumination his mental demise is an understatement. A common definition among psychologists seems eerily apt for what Americans saw on stage this morning after,

Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes identified interchangeably as sociopathy or psychopathy, is defined by the Mayo Clinic as: “A mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.” Psychology Today

Honestly, is there anyone who didn’t see something of this nature coming if not outright expected it. What is most disturbing is the way conservatives, and Republicans in particular, have abandoned all sense of decency and the moral high ground to allow Trump free reign in doing whatever he chooses. It is as if the rest of us are witnessing some alternative universe. One where conservatives are living in a totally bogus reality where up is down, wrong is right, and Trump is an angelic savior who is not to be questioned let alone be held responsible for his behavior.

The overarching question is what has gone wrong with the Republican Party, collectively and as individuals. It is hard to believe in the world of Trump that once upon a time there were actually people who called themselves patriots and Republican in the same breath.  They believed in the rule of law, the Constitution, and the all important separation of powers where the Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary worked in tandem as checks on the power of the other individual branches to achieve balance. The system worked well until 2016 when Trump was elected, and the entire conservative cabal lost its mind.

Charles Mackay  was an early social scientist who was fascinated with the psychology of crowds and the masses. His seminal book published in 1841 titled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is still studied, and for the most part, highly regarded. He is quoted as saying, 

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

For many scholars familiar with Mackay’s work, he has taken on an almost visionary personae. He was concerned with economic bubbles, not unlike the ones Americans have dealt with over recent years. His work, arguably, suffered from lack of experience and foresight developed over the years, but his foundational tenets were solid nonetheless. He also explored the motivation behind the witch mania that became popular in both Europe and America related to overzealous religiosity. Mackay also believed the crusades and popular prophecies were a type of mania that motivated, on one hand, vast numbers of people across the globe to engage in battles to support their particular belief systems, and on the other, to believe projections of the future without sufficient warrant. In every case, the people involved molded their beliefs to fit the prevailing zeitgeist without questioning or acknowledging the impact of their reasoning.

Watching the Republican crowd at Trump’s victory laps immediately after the vote for acquittal when Republicans Senators blindly ignored a mountain of evidence proving the president’s guilt was breathtaking in it audacity. There and since, the actions of conservative lawmakers has been nothing if not embarrassing. This sycophantic, servile kowtowing to Trump is chilling as is his monarchical acceptance of their praise and glorification.

While there seem to be obvious similarities between the Trump army and Mackay’s research into the madness of crowds, Trump’s minions seem far more sinister and evil (although it  is a stretch to think marauding crusaders, either Christian or Muslim, could be any less forbidding). No, this is a new kind disease infecting the Grand Old Party today. It is a cancer eating away at the heart of our democracy, decimating the Constitution, rendering low the rule of  law, and hoodwinking the masses into seeing Trump as the savior of the American Dream. He is not. Sane people see him for what he is and recoil in horror at what has been going on the past three years in the United States.

The sooner the rest of America comes to grip with the fact that all the lies, cruelty, ad hominem attacks, border wall boondoggles, assaults on the environment, and cuts to healthcare, education, Social Security, and on and on are simply diversions in a grander scheme, the better off  America will be. No one likes to think their fellow Americans are capable or deluded by the promise of power to the point of staging a coup against our great country, but collectively, Americans had better come to that conclusion . . . and quickly.

This is reality. Get used to it, and above all else, get mad. Hate is not an enemy that one fights with clean hands under the The Marquess of Queensberry Rules. The election will be a street fight up until November 3. Then things will get real. If Trump wins, all bets are off, and America will cease to be a democracy. If the Democrats win, the fight will shift to retain power until the country heals and our way of life is returned to a semblance of law and order.

These are the only two paths to choose from as America goes forward. Get used to it.

Living Large In Carson City: Putting Lipstick On A Pig: Volume XXX Edition

He (she) could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.

Hunter S. Thompson

The first day of the impeachment trial began, and I had been putting off sitting down in front of the television to tune it in. It just seemed so futile and unseemly to sit and listen to grown men of supposed stature lie blatantly about a man who is so undeniably guilty. Not just of minor human fragility, but a man of deeply depraved and wicked moral tendency. A man who is gladly wrecking our democracy, our way of life, and all of the the truths that make America the greatest nation on the planet. Or well, it used to be. Trump has sullied our good name on the world stage by acting out like a two year old who has lost his binky. He is literally that pathetic and obtuse. Now, the trial is goes into the final weekend with a vote on not allowing witnesses and a scheduled acquittal on all counts next Wednesday. Thanks Mitch . . . for nothing.

Okay, I succumbed and started watching snippets of the speeches daily from both sides. The takeaway from the Republican’s side was to simply lie, lie, and lie some more. It repulsed me to hear Trump’s White House lawyer, Pat A. Cipollone, rebut the Democrats claims and accusations without even a hint of irony or regard for the truth. It boggles the mind and tests the realms of reality to envision, let alone understand, what Trump’s crew of vipers posing as lawyers did to come up with such hogwash then spout it out on the Senate floor without breaking down laughing.

The very real fact that should disturb anyone who loves and cherishes this country’s freedoms and place in the world is the rise of the ubër conservative. Not the down and dirty ragtag Trump basket of deplorables, they have always been around. It’s the sleek, sauve and creepy guys in expensive suits who seem to have sprung  fully mature out of Trump’s forehead (apologies to Athena and Zeus). They are rich and  powerful and becoming even more so under the Trump regime. Some, like the White House’s Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, crazy Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Gordon Sondland, and others come off more as clowns than actual players. Their obvious greed and lack of a moral compass designates them as slimy hanger ons – nothing more.  Granted, they can do enough harm simply by existing in Trump’s swamp world, but because of their buffoonery they are seen as not exactly to sharpest knives in the drawer or the most diabolical.

No, the dangerous types are of the likes of Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin,  Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that prophet of doom Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller. These people not only manufacture the Kool Aid they have found a way to survive and thrive on it. To be honest, this only a short list and space will not allow me to delve into the numerous questionable conservative judicial appointments, wacked out evangelicals who hang on Trump’s coattails like a scrum of lice, or the irresponsible department heads who exist only to do Trump’s wishes.

The depths of depravity that the likes of Mnuchin will slip into came evident at the annual Davos Economic Forum circle jerk on climate change last week. In an article by international climate activist Payal Parekh titled “We can’t trust the billionaires of Davos to solve a climate crisis they created”, Parekh makes an insightful comment,

While Australia is burning and frontline communities all over the world are threatened by the very real consequences of the climate crisis, Davos-style meetings will never give us the answers we need. In truth, it would be foolish for anyone to expect a private club whose 1000 member companies have paid between 60,000 to 600,000 swiss francs to be a member (the more you pay the more access you have) should be trusted to solve an issue they created. The Guardian

There were those there that spoke truth to power. Both Prince Charles of Great Britain and Sweden’s Greta Thunberg gave impassioned speeches telling the world the truth about the crisis the world faces. Thunberg was especially pointed in her criticism and demands on behalf of the world’s youth. She stated,

In Chapter Two, on page 108 in the SR 1.5 IPCC report that came out in 2018, it says that if we are to have a 67 percent chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we had on January 1st, 2018, about 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit in that budget.

And, of course, that number is much lower today, as we emit, about 42 gigatons of CO2 every year, including in land use. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining budget is gone within less than eight years. These numbers aren’t anyone’s opinions or political views. This is the current best available science. Though many scientists suggest these figures are too moderate, these are the ones that have been accepted through the IPCC. WeForum

Yet, leave it to Mnuchin in his creepy, elitist frat-boy demeanor to strike exactly the wrong tone when he shot back at Thunberg’s statements.

Asked by a reporter at the World Economic Forum in Davos whether the climate policies Thunberg advocates would hinder US economic growth, Mnuchin answered, “Is she the chief economist, or who is she? I’m confused.”

“It’s a joke,” he went on. “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.” Vox

These are the people running our government. Their lack of self-awareness, willful neglect and immature understanding of what is at stake to our environment and future of the planet is stunning in its obtuseness and sheer audacity of their head in the sand approach. No, Thunberg does not have a degree in economics, but  the question is not why is she commenting on the peril facing our world, but why are people like Mnuchin not asking the same hard questions. It doesn’t take a genius in economics to understand the issue as Mnuchin’s comments so vividly illustrate

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is another case in point. How these people get elected to public office is unfathomable. Pompeo’s only qualification for holding the Secretary of State position is the fact that he is a Trump sycophant without little of anything that might be called a “soul”. His demeanor is that of a thuggish husband without the cheek stubble and  a dirty stained wife beater t-shirt. His recent outrageous treatment of a NPR reporter of the venerable All Things Considered public radio show was unconscionable as it was indicative of his fear of not being treated like a great pasha of Trump world.  It seems beyond low ball, easy-to-answer questions that allow him free reign to bash Iran he is unable to hold his water when dealing with important issues like Ukraine and the conspiracy Trump created.

These two are only the tip of a very unctuous swamp pool that has swallowed up Washington, D.C. and the White House. The “players” of Trump world’s attitude reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s lead character in his book Bonfire of the Vanities. Not unlike the characters in Donald Trump: The Presidency, Wolfe’s leading man is  Sherman McCoy. McCoy is a Wall Street investment banker who is riding high on both the unbridled opportunism of a bull market and his on inflated ego. McCoy sees himself and his cohorts as “masters of the universe”, not unlike Trump and his avariousious cadre of suits who claim both allegiance to him and the spoils of governing.

Getting back to the impeachment trial, week two saw the Trump lawyers present their side in defense of Trump and his actions. Has there ever been a more audacious collection of liars and dissimulators to ever walk the face of the earth? Alan Dershowitz, a once respected professor and lawyer, can be seen as the worst. His argument on why Trump should not be removed from office ultimately comes down to this statement by Dershowitz,

“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Dershowitz’s argument during a Senate question-and-answer session reverberated across Capitol Hill and social media, sparking warnings that—if accepted—Trump or any other president would be free to do whatever they please as long as they can claim they were acting to advance their chances of reelection.

“This of course would mean that a president could not be impeached for doing literally anything in the service of his own reelection,” tweeted Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz. Raw Story via Common

Dershowitz’s statement is the description of a Third world monarchy, and that dear reader (as many across Washington noted) is the template for authoritarianism.

 

Living Large In Carson City: Life Is Full Of Disappointment – Cue Trump

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Honestly, is there anyone in America who is sentient and moderately aware of the Trump administration that hasn’t seen the current state of affairs as inevitable. Let’s not even go into the “justification” of “imminent” threats to American and foreign targets that Trump and his minions can’t agree on or feel obligated to divulge. So much of Trump’s decisions over the past week about Iran’s response and his bizarre snorted address to the nation was so predictable as to be both pathetic and laughable. Only the Orange One could create, deny, and wallow in his own self delusion like he can. The problem is that the Iran confrontation is far from over for a variety of reasons.

It is a given that Ossem Soleimani has been a bad actor on the world stage for sometime now. He is credited for thousands of deaths, both civilian and military. It might be progressive pessimism to think that Trump’s assassination of  Soleimani was little more than a crude attempt by Trump to change the political narrative away from his upcoming impeachment trial in the United States Senate. But when you consider his ham-handed approach to just about everything from foreign policy to immigration to taxation for the rich and prosperous, it surely isn’t out of the realm of possibility. It has become obvious that his political acumen leans toward the maladroit, rather than refinement and finesse in statesmanship.

Then again, why? With the entire Republican Party tap dancing to his every whim, no matter how unconstitutional or illegal, the outcome of a any sham trial in the Senate will certainly exonerate him. Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he will follow the lead of the administration and deliver whatever they demand. Witnesses? No, way. Fair and unbiased presentation of the facts? Nope. The sniveling little skank, Lindsey Graham, has even refused to read transcripts or other material presented to the House committees, and according to Axios,

“I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with. I have clearly made up my mind. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process. So I don’t need any witnesses. … I am ready to vote on the underlying articles. I don’t really need to hear a lot of witnesses.”

— Lindsey Graham

Why it matters: Before beginning an impeachment trial, Senate rules dictate that senators must swear an oath to do “impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.”

  • Graham said in an interview with CNN Saturday that he is “not trying to pretend to be a fair juror.”   Axios

Trump’s antics on the world stage coupled with his denial denials and the ever-shifting impeachment narrative are almost enough to inspire schizophrenic behavior in all of us. The battles between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, wavering Republicans beginning to demand witnesses be called, and the growing 2020 hoopla of presidential candidates is, quite literally, almost too much to take in and absorb.

Of course, the current chaos du jour is exactly what the Republicans and Trump long for in the end. By keeping the American public in turmoil, especially the Democrats, they control the narrative through lies, outright misdirection, and control of their own party base. “See”, they contend, “the world is going to hell in a handbasket. You need strong, law and order government to control the radical left.” All of the chaos only throws another log on the authoritarian fire that is smoldering among the far right and its enablers.

There are signs for hope on the horizon. Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls giving credibility to the idea that the status quo is feeling the Bern in Iowa and New Hampshire. Certainly, Sanders has his detractors. How could he not? He supports ideas that are radical beyond what Wall Street, Big Pharma, the Republican, and yes, the Democratic Party can phantom. Conversely, Joe Biden is slipping in the polls, even as old-school political prognosticators and much of the mainstream media and Washington old guard claim that Trump’s shortsighted military faux pas in killing Soleimani will play into Biden’s strength on foreign policy. I am not a Biden basher, but realistically, do we need yet another Washington establishment politician feeding us the same garbage we’ve fed on for the last one hundred years?

In recent days the Iran/United States brouhaha has settled down to a mild roar as Iran deals with the international outcries that have resulted from the downing of a Ukraine Airliner that killed all 176 passengers and crew. Iran showed its own inept chops by first denying the incident and then fessing up to the tragic outcome of their retaliatory attack on the American base in Iraq. It’s almost a given that Iran would want a “take back” if one were possible.

Not so for Trump, who has waffled through his own tweets and the words of his cabinet members trying mightily to defend the decision to assassinate Soleimani. Finally, Trump has come to the unusual defense that shows just how morally bankrupt he is and how little he holds the rule of law in high regard. Trump’s newest defense goes like this,

“The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was ‘imminent’ or not, & was my team in agreement,” Trump tweeted.

“The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!” Aljazeera 

We all know people with horrible pasts, maybe not as checkered as Soleimani’s, but still judged by normal ethical standards horrible nonetheless. If one of us took a pistol and ended anyone of these people, it would be called murder. We would be tried convicted and sent to prison for the rest of our lives or left to rot in a cell waiting for the inevitable needle. Granted, the comparison is a little skewed, but really, not by much. Trump abused his power and ended Soleimani and the people accompanying him. Did they deserve to die as well?

The issue that makes writing about Trump in a weekly blog is that the newscycle changes daily, often two or three times in a 24 hour cycle. Iran, Soleimani, Trump’s justifications, and the downed Ukraine airliner have all held the lead at various times this week. Now, the letters of impeachment have been delivered to the Senate. One would think that is more than enough for any seven day news cycle, but no.

Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed Lev Parnas, the point man for Giuliani and Trump in the Ukraine debacle. And what an interview it was. This morning the news airwaves have been alit with scorching assessments of what Parnas revealed about everyone from Trump to Giuliani to Barr to Pence to most of the Republican elite and not so elite like Devin Nunes. And there is more tonight. Part II of the Maddow/Parnas interview will be aired with undoubtedly more damning revelations as they are surprising. 

The implications for the impeachment are astounding. Most pundits believe now that witnesses will surely be called like Parnas, Bolton, and god knows who else. McConnell has painted himself into a tight little crack where if he isn’t careful he will be able to see any Republican with a shred of democratic principles and a conscience turning on him and aligning with the Democrats who want to get to the bottom of this stinky swamp that Trump built. The opening Eisenhower quote:

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Seemed appropriate in light of the Iran/United States dustup earlier this week. Now, not so much. A better phrasing might be,

I hate politics as only a true American who has lived it can, only as one who has seen the brutality, the futility, the stupidity of Trump and his administration.

Remember to breathe.

Living Large In Carson City: The Temperature is Rising But Not From Climate Change Edition

Fear: The Commodity of Authoritarianism

“And I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! . . .  He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. ”                                                                                           Andrew Shepherd addressing his opponent Bob Rumson in the closing speech of American President.

Donald J. Trump’s off-the-chart wacko letter to Nancy Pelosi the night before his impeachment vote is a thing of sheer lunacy.  Trump is the typical bully standing on the playground shouting at anyone who will listen “Am not! Am not! Everything that you say bounces off me and sticks on you!” That kind of lunacy. His screed to Pelosi (partially authored by Stephen Miller of “lock the kids in cages” fame) is shredded with lies, innuendos, third grade taunts, and an obvious ignorance of the world that is spinning out of control around him. He is in a word – unhinged.

The above quote by frictional president Andrew Shepherd eerily mirrors the president and his mindset. He seems to lean toward the school of thought that (as many have said) accuses everyone else of the exact things that he is doing in real time. Of course, daily, he hits all the oldies but goodies bashing in no particular order Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, James Comey, Hillary Clinton,  impeachment, liberal Democrats (in his mind the only kind there is in this world), the DNC, and as in the Pelosi letter, ends up with an outlandish reference to the Salem Witch Trials and a “oh poor me” whine that the witches had more due process than he has gotten from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. The fact, notwithstanding,  that the witches were falsely accused, tried, and murdered seems to escape his tunnel  vision thinking.

Trump does exhibit Bob Munson’s predilection for making people afraid of issues and coming up with whom to blame. The Democrats get most of the homeland blame, but the president is known to be the Blamer in Chief on the world stage as well. Most Americans understand the blame game and have become inured to the onslaught of lies and half truths and totally fictional statements that are Trump’s stock and trade. What many Americans do not understand is his mastery of fear and how to use it to get just about anything he wants from the Republican Party, world leaders, and his all important base is the real threat to our democracy. And this is undoubtedly his most dangerous trait.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress aren’t exempt from Trump’s fear tactics. The main tool the president uses against his party is the threat of running a Trump anointed candidate against a Republican up for reelection although he has many other avenues including Tweets, a shoutout/shoutdowns in rallies, and even face to face encounters. With a base as rabid as an amoral pit bull on meth, Republicans who find the courage to face up to their bully in chief will undoubtedly find themselves in trouble at home in their districts and on Capitol Hill. In an article written by Tom Boggioni for Raw Story, he comments on an interview that appeared in the New York Times writing about one congressman who made the ultimate mistake of crossing the Orange One. He wrote,

By the summer of 2017, Dave Trott, a two-term Republican congressman, was worried enough about President Trump’s erratic behavior and his flailing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that he criticized the president in a closed-door meeting with fellow G.O.P. lawmakers,” the Times reports.” The response was instantaneous — but had nothing to do with the substance of Mr. Trott’s concerns. ‘Dave, you need to know somebody has already told the White House what you said,’ he recalled a colleague telling him. ‘Be ready for a barrage of tweets. Raw Story

While Republican congressmen/women fear the president himself, his base fears what Trump tells them in real time. Fake news, hopped up marauding immigrants, loss of social status within the population for themselves are just click bait for Trump to use to put the fear of god into his followers. Democrats become scum, socialists, haters of democracy, crazy lunatics hellbent on destroying the government and turning the country into a cesspool of  ideas that mean only harm to his adoring base. His rallies are little more than one long dog whistle to build his stature up while eroding the fundamentals of our Constitution and the ideals on which it was built and depends.

Trump has in three short years sketched out the foundation of an authoritarian government with him at its head, and conceivably,  his children to take over after he leaves the stage. By attacking the media, he turns truth into propaganda that his base feeds upon daily. Set aside the tweets, scandals, the Russia probe, and a countless other number of diversions and behind the scenes end around actions, he is reshaping the government by destroying the infrastructure on which it runs. Policies on energy, trade, judicial appointments, the Clean Water Act, and on and on are an integral part of Trump’s play book. He has gutted departments and policies that were meant to enhance the quality of life for all Americans by turning over the reins of governments to lobbyists, shills like Rick Perry and Rudy Giuliani, white supremacists like Stephen Miller, and other billionaires like the Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland. They have one primary goal: to enrich themselves and others within the authoritarian hierarchy. For Trump, this is the ultimate meaning of the “fix is in”. 

One of the most remarkable strokes of political shrewdness, however, has thrown a monkey wrench into the rigged Senate impeachment trial. While Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham have publicly claimed that they will follow the direction of the president and his lawyers during the trail, Trump’s dream of an acquittal and exoneration from wrongdoing has stalled.  Pelosi, again, has stood up to the president and his minions and has thus far refused to send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she gets assurances from Republicans that a fair and unbiased trail will be held.

Predictably, and understandably considering his toxic ego, Trump has gone ballistic. After leaving Washington for his vulture’s nest in Mar a Lago, he has bombarded the tweet waves with countless tweets attacking “Crazy Nancy”, the Do Nothing Dems and all of the other usual suspects. He seems to think by the sheer volume of outlandish catcalls he can some how change the conversation and swing the tide of public opinion in his favor. Preliminary results seem to tell a different story.

Paulo Coelho in his book The Winner Stands Alone makes a particularly insightful statement when he writes, “. . .  but despair can deceive the desperate”.  Every day Trump remains in Florida tweeting, Coelho’s words seem to apply more and more to the president. Let’s face it; the man is up to his eyebrows in deep shit. The slam to his ego and shame that now embraces his presidency through the impeachment process is taking a great toll on the Orange One’s thin skin. As he reels further and further into self pity and rage, something has to give. With the crack in the Evangelical base demonstrated by the editorial penned by the editor of “Christianity Today” to the memories of being laughed off the world stage at the Nato summit in early December to Pelosi’s bitch slap of withholding articles of impeachment, all hang like a stagnant fog over Trump’s tiny universe. No one deserves it more.

Living Large In Carson City: What Will It Take? Edition

“In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

And the hits just keep on coming . . . Week two of the public impeachment inquiry and things just keep getting more bizarre. Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan are playing tag team inquisitors, a role neither man seems qualified to fulfill, let alone intelligent enough to pull it off. Late last week,  Roger Stone was found guilty on all seven counts brought against him stemming from the Mueller probe. As the evidence mounts, there just doesn’t seem to be much that can go right for the Republican Party and the merry band of idiots who lead them.

Then there is Donald Trump who took to Twitter to malign former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during her live questions calling her a failure wherever she was posted and coming perilously close to committing witness tampering, or at the least, intimidation. This is nothing new for the president, nor is it surprising. Considering how the Republicans have thus far controlled the national political narrative through lies and avoidance of the truth, which has allowed them to create a chaotic atmosphere across the nation, witness tampering is just one more egregious act from a corrupt presidency.

The real question is just how long the Republicans can continue playing ball in what is blatantly obvious a sham administration bent only on stroking the Orange One’s massive, if not pathetic, ego. Certainly, there is a plethora of Always Trumpers like his rabid base and useful idiots like Nunez and Jordan. Mitch McConnell has made it clear that impeachment proceedings will be dead on arrival, or at best, a truncated event meant only to give lip service to an already determined favorable outcome for the president.

One has to wonder, however, if there aren’t some within the Republican fold who want to see Trump gone as badly as the Democrats. Obviously, up until now, Trump’s real power lies not in his cherry personality or suave ability to lead and command, but in the fear he strikes into the heart of vulnerable Republicans up for reelection. The “primary” threat he tosses about as easily as he spews venom from his mouth carries real world weight when the rabid base is factored into the equation. That was then, however, this is now.

With the live impeachment hearings daily causing the Republicans headaches and bad cases of acid reflux, the tide of power may already be shifting. Suppose that a group of Senators read the mounds of evidence against Trump and decide to ban together to vote for impeachment. This would kill two birds with one stone. First, the fear of Trump’s power to influence primaries against recalcitrant Republicans would evaporate, but it would also bump the president from office where he would slither back under whatever rock he came from back in 2016. It defies logic that every member of the Republican Party is willing to knuckle under Trump’s power at the expense of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Americans, however, have seen even more outlandish occurrences. Who among sentient Democrats were not caught flat footed when the election results came in favorably for Trump back in 2016? Then it seemed like a bad acid trip gone horribly wrong even for a bad acid trip. Yet, four years later, the country has polarized even further than it was when Trump got elected. Yet, the facts bear out that much of that polarization is based, not on Trump solidifying and expanding his position, but rather, a growing exodus of disenchanted Independents and moderate Republican coming to their senses and forsaking the president. Recent electoral gains by the Democrats in state elections tell a story of awakening in the American heartland that will hopefully last through the 2020 election.

While the impeachment sideshow continues to gain the lion’s share of headlines, Trump and his band of pranksters continue dismantling the American democracy. He has to date confirmed 150 right wing radically, opinionated judges. His most recent, Steven  Menashi, is a former White House council who served under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. He had a hand in denying students remittance from for profit colleges that landed his boss DeVos in hot water for ignoring orders to move forward to negate the student’s loan debts. Susan Collins crossed party lines to vote against the nominee stating,

“Mr. Menashi was so poorly qualified, he lacked the basic temperament for this position that I voted not even to proceed with debate on his nomination,” she said. “His past writings, particularly about LGBTQ individuals and advocates, about women, about diversity raise questions whether he would rule fairly.” USNews 

And this from Chuck Schumer,

Democrats’ concerns extended beyond Menashi’s work with Devos. In particular, they lamented that he’s helped guide the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda alongside Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president.

“His record on race, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights and the rights of immigrants should be disqualifying,” Schumer said. “At the Department of Education, he helped cook up an illegal scheme to use the Social Security data of students swindled by for-profit colleges in order to deny them debt relief.”

“A candidate for a judgeship should show respect for the law,” he said. “That’s the lowest possible bar.” USNews

And most of theses judges are appointed for life. Yet, judges are only a small part of a larger equation of subversion and annulment of basic American rights. The aftermath of the impeachment inquiry and possible articles of impeachment will have a far reaching effect on the American psyche for decades to come. The Republican Party faces a very real prospect of sliding into ignominy across the country. If the Democrats can pull their shit together and actually mount a real and viable campaign to drive the Trump administration out of office, still, it will take a huge win in the popular vote.

A win of  that magnitude would surely further divide Always Trumpers and the rest of the country to the point of straining our country’s ability to survive.  America would survive, but at what cost. The prospect of living again in a Trumpless world is tantalizing beyond belief for most Americans. Yet, America can’t expect there not to be repercussions from radicalized white people afraid for their continued relevance in a multiculturally changing United States. Evangelicals, contrary to their god’s teachings, are spreading rumors of civil war and the doom of god’s wrath being rained down on everyone’s heads who refuse to back Trump and his mission of failure.

If the stakes weren’t so high and important, the situation America finds itself in on the cusp of 2020 is comically ridiculous beyond belief. Who would believe that the America Barack Obama left us has been pissed into the wind so quickly and with unbridled enthusiasm under the Republicans’ reign of mediocrity? Granted, Obama wasn’t everything the country needed or wanted, but at least, he took responsibility for his actions. Trump seems incapable of owning his mistakes, or admitting that they are even mistakes.

As the live impeachment hearings continue to roll out official after official implicating Donald Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors, America waits. There seems little anyone can do but weather the storm and hope for sunlight on the other side. If not sunshine, at least some form of cleansing from the past four years that will make the phrase “Proud to be an American” a true statement again. Is there anyone who doesn’t think that will be a heavy lift? Where is Arnold when you need him?