Living Large In Carson City: Tis The Season To Be Jolly . . . Not Edition

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams

This week the House of Representatives voted to go forward with the impeachment inquiry laying down the groundwork of how the public hearing will be conducted. Conventional wisdom would have one to believe the Republicans would be somewhat mollified with the vote. Think again. Weeks of complaining about lack of transparency in the behind closed doors disposition hearings, lack of ability to cross exam witnesses by the Republican lawmakers, no official full House vote for an impeachment inquiry, and the old standby, the proceeding were unconstitutional, all fell by the wayside. In one contested vote of 232/196 , the Democrats answered and addressed those spurious claims by granting nearly all of the Republicans’ previous demands.

Tom Boggioni of Raw Story reported,

Prior to the vote, Republicans were already calling the impeachment hearing and vote a “sham.” They argued against it vociferously.

As for what happens next, the New York Times reports that the proposed resolution, “would authorize the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.”

Additionally, “The measure would also give the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents.” Raw Story

Rep. Loopy Louie Gohmert went so far as to accuse the Democrats of staging a coup, confirming in the minds of many that Loopy Louie doesn’t understand the difference between a coup and upholding the constitution. He continued with his derogatory comments by claiming his fear that the country will be thrown into a civil war if the Democrats get their way, and armed conflict won’t be out of the question. Besides verging on sedition, his comments on the floor of the House tell a distressing tale of just how far some in the Republican Party will go to drive the country into an outright oligarchy more than it has become under the reign of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

It defies common sense how the Republicans seem to have forfeited their patriotism and love of the country to acquiesce to the demands of the president. The question of a quid quo pro between Trump flunkies and the Ukraine is proven day in day out as officials go before committee after committee and affirm that many in the mix of career professionals diplomats all found the president’s actions with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky little more than a strong arm tacit to illicit dirt on Joe Biden. Trump continues to cry “perfect telephone call” in the face of mounting evidence that perfect is not an appropriate adjective for what went down.

Yet another symptom of the rot that Trump brought to the table can be seen in the number of officials who have been served subpoenas, yet ignored them and refused to give depositions to relevant committees on the Ukrainian debacle. Imagine if a normal middle or lower class individual decided to ignore a subpoena from a grand jury. The ink wouldn’t have time to dry on the arrest warrant before the person would be picked up and placed in custody. Criminal defense attorneys, Broden and Mickelsen from Dallas, lay out the consequences for ignoring either a state or federal grand jury subpoena in their company’s blog stating,

Whether you’ve received a subpoena to appear as a witness or a subpoena duces tecum, it’s never a good idea to simply ignore the subpoena. If you ignore a subpoena, a judge could hold you in criminal contempt and punish you accordingly.

Under Texas law, the judge has the authority to impose a fine on individuals who refuse to cooperate with a subpoena. For misdemeanor cases, the fine is $100. In felony cases, the fine can be as high as $500. Judges in Texas also have the authority to issue an arrest warrant for individuals who fail to comply with a subpoena.

Likewise, under federal law, judges have the power to hold a person who refuses to comply with a subpoena in criminal contempt. The judge can impose fines or order the person jailed for up to six months. If the person is convicted for criminal contempt, the person could serve even more time in jail. Broden and Mickelsen

The fact that Trump’s minions under his direction decided to ignore the subpoenas is not a surprise. The lawlessness of this administration is a given at this point considering his lies and flaunting of the Constitution and the rule of law. A biting dog is going to bite. It’s in their nature, and they are unable to act any differently. No, the blame in this case lies squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats in the House. Police personnel are taught when they draw their weapon they must be committed to using it if the situation warrants violent response. The Democrats don’t seem to get that when it comes to subpoenas. If Trump and his underlyings choose to act criminally, they should be treated as criminals.

The Democrats are not without enforcement powers. One of the more effective powers is the process of “inherent contempt” of Congress. Roll Call , a Washington based political publication on all things to do with Congress, describes the “inherent contempt” process like this,

Inherent contempt is Congress’ power — as implied but not directly stated in the Constitution — to enforce congressional subpoenas or respond to actions seen as obstructing their oversight and legislative processes.

Each chamber has the authority to unilaterally exercise that power by adopting a resolution authorizing its sergeant-at-arms to execute an arrest warrant against an official who refuses to comply with Congress. Roll Call

Why the Democrats are reluctant to exercise their right to penalize subpoena scofflaws is puzzling to say the least. Conventional wisdom would expect Trump to immediately pardon anyone scooped up and processed for breaking the law, but that might trigger even graver consequences for the president. Obstruction of Justice charges could be filed against him for further eroding the legislative process and the check and balance powers belonging to Congress. Possibly, the Democrat leadership wants to make as few waves as possible on the political front in fear of being blamed for staging a real “witch hunt” and alienating Independents and moderate Republicans who are in agreement that the subpoenas should not be ignored.

The one thing for certain is that America is deeply divided and getting more so every day. With the Trump media constantly repeating his lies to a rabid base and people like Gohmert making outlandish predictions, it is little wonder that the country is being torn apart due to Trump’s criminal activities. One wonders if there are any Republicans in Congress that see what is happening and will turn back to protecting the Constitution and the three branches of our Democratic republic. Or is it already too late with too many lies backed, too many scandals brewing, and a defiant tyrant seated in the Oval Office.

In the quote at the top of the page, Adams posits, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” This is the position that Americans find themselves in today. Is Democratic suicide inevitable? Can Congress pull the country back from the brink? Will cooler heads prevail and redirect the country’s debilitating demise away from ending this country’s glorious run on the world stage? The next few weeks should tell. 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: This Time It Feels Different Edition

  The rule of law is the basis for any democracy. And without the rule of law in democracy, you have chaos. 

The above quote is attributed to Meles Zenawi who took over as head of the provisional government in Ethiopia in 1991 and later became the country’s 13th Prime Minister in 1995. He was instrumental in leading his country out of the chaotic and devastating 17 year civil war and turned it into one of the fastest growing economies on the African continent. His belief in the rule of law as the foundation of democracy is still true today as when he spoke of them all those years ago.

While Zenawi turned chaos into democratic stability, Donald Trump is taking his playbook and starting at the back of the book and working backward. The United States is one blackbird away from a pie of destruction, and he, his cronies, and the Republican Party don’t seem to give a hoot about that they are wrecking all the good things about America. They care little about what the nation stands for in the light of our freedom and past. The country is in trouble, and there doesn’t seem an end in sight.

It has gotten so bad I have stopped trying to sit down and write a blog on any single subject in the current era of Trump and company. By the time I finish one post, ten other equally galling and mind numbing incidents have occurred and mushroomed into an appalling scenario no one could have imagined in saner times. Yet, I cannot help but feel hope that the Ukraine debacle will spell the end of this reprehensible administration. Hopefully, the fall will come before the president completely destroys the government infrastructure or nukes some unsuspecting nation like Iran to garner points with his rabid base.

Yet, Americans of good conscious have been here before, were appalled, and knew in their hearts that America would rise up and kick Trump out of office. It did not happen. Take your scandal du jour; none of them from the vile pussy grabbing schizoid television spot to the caging of young children to kowtowing to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un have had no effect in bringing down the worst president in the nation’s history. It’s as if his orange pallor is the equivalent of a duck’s oily feathers that allows controversy to roll off his back with ease. This time feels different.

As of today, Rudy is in hot water in regard to his exposure and links with the two Russian political operatives who appear to have funneled foreign monies into the American political system in the form of donations to Trump supportive political action committees. The extent of the corruption is not known, but all indications seem to point to Rudy’s involvement which may have been illegal. If one or both of the Russian donors flips on Rudy, the pressure will be on Rudy to consider flipping on the president to save what little life outside of prison that he has left. This time it feels different.

Trump, of course, on his own plate has the brewing impeachment inquiry over his dealings with the Ukraine, the whistleblower, and obstruction of justice that he is committing by not allowing any member of his administration to testify or turn over documents detailing the president’s interaction with the Ukraine. Rumors are flying of other whistleblowers in the wings, and the reality of five court case losses over the past week that has to have Trump groveling in his empty fried chicken buckets like any number of sycophantic Senators who try to cover for him everyday to keep their seats. This time it feels different.

The thing about Trump is his inability to do the right thing. Or maybe, more apropos to his character, his peculiar penchant for doing the exactly wrong thing – take Syria for insance. Beyond the obvious fact that he is literally abandoning allies on the battlefield, he has set in motion a deadly conflict that today, a week into the fiasco, has already expanded with Turkish forces spreading out into a larger swath of destruction than was first projected. The Kurds, with their backs to the wall and no American support to help resist the attack, have turned to the Russians and the Assad regime for help fighting off the Turks as they push ever further south into Kurdish territory. Of course in hindsight, this is exactly what his advisers predicted and voiced to the president when he first discussed pulling out troops from the Syrian battlefield.

Trump’s reaction was predictable, if not constructive, when he commented on  the Turkey/Kurdish relationship in the past with a particularly idiotic slam on the two nations and not just a bit ironic.

Trump added that the Kurds and Turks have been fighting for years, a reference to the decades-long Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

“Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other,” he said. “Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!” Washington Post

The bit about “We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!” is particularly galling considering he is responsible for the situation in the first place,  and second, he created the “Endless War” scenario by pulling American troops out. It is as if Trump is playing army in a private sandbox on the back White House lawn positioning his little rubber GIs around the “battlefield” until he gets tired and cranky then he walks roughshod over the entire scene and quits in a fit of presidential pique. This time it feels different.

Resistance to Trump’s pull out has been swift and across the board. Even evangelicals seem to have grown a conscience (but not much of one) and are decrying the president’s Syria abandonment.

But after last Sunday night’s announcement from the White House that Trump was unilaterally pulling U.S. troops out of northern Syria, a potential crack appeared in Trump’s evangelical foundation. Christian media mogul Pat Robertson announced that he was “appalled” by Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies by exiting Syria. If Trump does not reverse course, Robertson declared, he is “in danger of losing the mandate of Heaven.” Think

The military is far from happy to see Turkey’s incursion into the Syrian homeland which goes against past recommendations to the president on how to handle the situation. Diplomatic circles stepped up warnings that nothing good would come from Trump’s folly. A folly that was the only thing that was holding back Turkish forces from entering the country. Former national security team member, Brett McGurk, who resigned last December, called Trump’s actions “haphazard” and “almost unprecedented in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition last Tuesday. This time it feels different.

While it is doubtful that American political harmony will ever regain a semblance of equanimity anytime soon, the warning signs that Trump is skating on thin ice are there for the near future. Will those rifts metastasize into an across the board rising up against the Orange One is anyone’s guess. The facts remain, however, that Trump, Rudy, Pompeo, Barr, and the other henchmen and women’s luster is growing a little dull in light of recent events. The fact that the Republicans in Congress cannot bring themselves to step up and condemn Trump’s more egregious faults and actions is still worrisome. However, until Trump’s power is diminished through impeachment, public opinion, or some other equally odious revelation, right now, this time it feels different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Chaos As A Governing Policy Edition

A good chaos theory means you have a disciplined strategy behind the scenes of how you’re going to roll out policy. And then you do it in a way that inflicts chaos on the press and your opponents.

Jennifer Palmieri

I never really understood the Chaos Theory until Donald Trump became president. Even then, it’s taken three and a half years for its meaning to really sink in and the implications that it holds. The past month’s news cycle has, however, opened my eyes to just how effective it is when wielded by a master of bullshit like Trump.

For me, it all began with Mike Pence’s European junket that found him in Ireland staying Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg over a hundred miles from Dublin where he had meeting scheduled. Sounded suspicious, but then, it was Mike Pence. Then there was Trump’s trial balloon about having the next G7 meeting at his Trump International Doral Golf Club in Miami. This was followed by the revelation that an unknown number of military flights were routinely routed to the Shannon Airport and personnel were forced to stay at the same golf course property in Doonbeg were Pence stayed. All of which lined Trump’s bank account.

Then there was Corey Lewandowski. His appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was nothing less than surreal. The fireworks started shortly after the top ranking Republican on the committee, Doug Collins of Georgia, gave an opening statement that ranged from firebrand accuser to snarling mad dog insanity which ultimately ended an unhinged chaotic screed and shameful defense of the president.

Lewandowski took it from there. The fact that he unselfconsciously admitted that he lied to the press when it suited his purpose, and that the president asked him to ask then Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take over the investigation away from Mueller were only two startling admissions that bled from Lewandowski mouth couched in bile and abject disdain for what used to pass as the rule of law. It was tiresome to watch and disheartening to endure.

Now, America is mired in yet another scandal based on a whistleblower’s claim that Trump acted inappropriately when he asked the president of Ukraine to uncover dirt on Joe Biden’s son. The issue stems from Biden pressing the president to fire a corrupt prosecutor who had come under criticism from American allies across Europe for is lack of moral rectitude. More on this later.

 America has to wake up to the fact that our democracy is under siege. It is hard to write that sentence, but the time for self-delusion and standing on the sidelines is over. Long over. Also, not to be a liberal bashing the conservative party, it is increasingly obvious that the Republican Party as it is today is not part of the solution. Americans witness daily the lack of concern and complicity that has become the norm between the Republican Party and the Trump administration. Support for meaningful gun control hovers around 55 % consistently for all Americans. Climate change is real whether the deniers would rather suck up to big oil than face the stark reality the planet is in trouble. Mitch McConnell’s iron grip on the Senate keeps any meaningful legislation from even coming to a vote. And the Republican Party demures and looks the other way. 

Of course, the real problem lies with Trump himself and his slash and burn approach to governance. The problem begins with the people he has chosen to run the heads of the departments (or left vacant) that are the lifeblood of the government. In January Shannon Vavra writing for Axios noted in a article,

Former oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt became acting secretary of the Interior on Wednesday following the departure of Ryan Zinke.

Why it matters: President Trump campaigned on the promise of “draining the swamp.” But Bernhardt is just the latest in a revolving door of special interests to take over key positions in the president’s Cabinet. The New York Times’ Eric Lipton notes that as of Thursday, the Defense Department will be run by a former Boeing executive, the Department of Health and Human Services will be run by a former pharmaceutical lobbyist and the Environmental Protection Agency will be run by a former coal lobbyist. Axios

For a more in depth look at other swamp creatures heading influential department posts see The Economist’s article here.

Of course, there are the outright ideologues and political appointees that are rampant throughout the government. Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Wilbur Ross at the Commerce Department, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, and on and on. Appointed more for their past support of Trump or as useful idiots who should never be placed in a position of power over people’s lives, the ragtag team of sycophants are dismantling hard fought gains by past presidents of both parties  that will take years to correct if they can be corrected. The result is our democracy is being attacked and taken over by plutocrats and hucksters whose only goal is blatant self aggrandisement nothing more. 

Even more disturbing is Trump’s choices for his inner circle – those who do the work of henchmen (and women) to keep his small hands for being sullied. Starting with the low-hanging fruit in no particular order, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway. Conway has never heard a truth or fact that she didn’t try to twist into a compliment that praised the president and trashed the “liberal media” or others who stray into her gunsights. White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, comes off as little more than a yes man without a spine and a obsequious hit man for Trump. It is safe to say that no lie or distortion is too big, too egregious, or blatantly false that Mulvaney will not repeat in an effort to pander to the president.

Two of Trump’s appointments defy both logic and good sense to say nothing about the flaunting of our democracy by putting power into these two men’s hands. Attorney General Bill Barr is a case in point. Now known as Trump’s “fixer”, there is little doubt that Barr is the “wall” that Trump constructed to keep his transgressions from seeing the light of day. From Mueller’s report to declaring the aforementioned whistleblower’s report from prosecution, Barr is the proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to justice and the rule of law concerning Trump’s shenanigans.

Then there is Stephen Miller; Trump’s immigration guru. Filled with hate, self-importance, vile beliefs, and a lack of empathy and humanity, he is the Trump poster boy who represents the most base of Trump’s despicable administration. Miller alone is proof enough that the president is a soulless person who should never have become president.

Yesterday, the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi decided to begin a formal impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower scandal proved to be one bridge too far for some of the most staid Democrats in the House. The real issue is will the Republicans step up and abandon Trump and call him out as the amoral, reckless wretch that he is or let him skate once more? Will the Senate under Mitch McConnell moved forward on Articles of Impeachment if the House follows through and deliver the coup de gras to the floundering excuse for a public official?

This has always been the real issue. Trump on his own is a blumping clown who deserves nothing less than abject ridicule. From the “pussy grabber” tape to sucking up to Putin to kowtowing to Saudi Arabia, the Republicans have turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to all of Trump’s lies and what would be comical faux pas’ were they not so serious in their implications. Chances are they will not. They will adopt the line that the impeachment will harm the Democrats at the polls as the “faithful” come out in numbers to reelect the Great Orange One. Shame on them.

Living Large In Carson City: Same As It Ever Was . . . not! Edition

“I am brainy, too brainy. I am so brainy, it’s almost unbelievable.” Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s proclamations about his intelligence aside, the Orange one is doing little these days to burnish his mental chops. Dorian, the hurricane that would not go away, provided the world with evidence of just how loose the president plays with the truth and reality – again. As Dorian finally got off its rump and moved away from the beleaguered Bahamas headed toward the East Coast of the United States, Trump in his meteorological wisdom decided to include Alabama in his weather prognostications warning the good people of Alabama to feel the fear. Contrary to those who should know, the weather scientists, Trump believed The Heart of Dixie State was in for a scouring. As the  days following his announcement have made clear, only proclamations of nothing less than death and destruction (even where none exist) would assuage the president’s tiny ego.

Okay, the guy made a mistake. The right and sane thing to do would be to fess up, make an apology, and move on. Simple, right? Not for Trump. According to a a report by The New York Times, even his Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, threaten to fire officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) if they did not disavow a Tweet sent out by the Alabama regional office personnel an hour after Trump’s Tweet contradicting Trump’s claim that Alabama was in Dorian’s path. The Commerce Department called the statement false adding more fuel to an all ready out of control conflagration.

What is so odd about the Alabama/Dorian story is the fact that it was easily proven that the president was wrong. Factually wrong to boot. The media, politicians, business leaders, hell, even my three poodles knew he was wrong. Yet, Trump dug in and even altered the now infamous NOAA weather map by extending the impact zone that Dorian was projected to make by using a Sharpie to show the storm’s path jutting into southern Alabama. The question is “For what purpose?” The prevailing opinion of most is Trump’s penchant for never saying he is wrong. This Dorian Gate, however, blew up in his face and severely called into question the ability of the president to look at facts and make the proper assumptions. Will it affect the way his die-hard supporters view his credibility? Probably not, but the incident does make sane voters pause and wonder.

Then there was the Taliban, Afghanistan, and Trump secret meeting to be held at Camp David this week. Besides going against all norms of how foreign policy works, the idea of bringing a known terrorist group to Camp David shocked more than a few Americans including Republican supporters of the president. In retrospect, it appears that not only was it a bad idea, but Trump was basically willing to give away the farm to come to a peace agreement at all costs. The Taliban being the Taliban, who are sworn enemies of America, could be counted on to do what they do without regard to the consequences. The night before the meeting Taliban forces blew up a car bomb and killed an American soldier.

Trump seemed surprised that known killers of American soldiers would have the audacity to kill an American soldier. Americans and most of the world found out the next morning when Trump Tweeted,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to.…an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?

Uh, a terrorist organization like, I don’t know, the Taliban.

The secret modus operandi Trump is so fond of employing is getting old. Add to the confusion over cancelling the “secret” meeting, Trump seems to not realize the entire fiasco makes him look like a bush leaguer on the world stage. Yet, in his his skewed wisdom, he cannot stop himself from surrounding his actions with a secret aura that (if and when it ever works)  he believes it will make him look like a genius negotiator. The fact that he gave no thought to the horrible optics of asking known terrorist to Camp David only puts a even more clownish spin on the meeting.

One good thing that came out of the scrapped meeting was John Bolton was either fired or resigned depending on who is telling the story. It seems neocon John was getting on the president’s nerves by disagreeing with his almightyness over policy procedures, and well, inviting terrorists to Camp David. I have long been a verbal opponent of Bolton since the mid-nineties when he and a bunch of other old white men like Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others teamed up to create the Project for the New American Century. The guiding light behind the endeavor was an us-against- them mentality which held the interesting concept of attacking countries across the world to reshape them in our image while democracy spread like wildfire in the wake of destroyed infrastructures in the aforementioned countries. These guys even had a manifesto like all true terrorists and would have loved to put it into action. One could argue that the Iraq war was the beginning of their dream world. That didn’t work out so well.

Trump is now mired in so many outlandish dealings it is a wonder he even has time to actually do anything remotely resembling foreign policy. It appears that those who do delve in the foreign policy negotiations are often shunted away at the very end so Trump can jump into the fray to claim victory of his own. Meanwhile, North Korea is firing off multiple missiles capable of carrying sophisticated warheads that threaten both our overseas assets as well as the continental United States. An Associated Press article notes Iran is upping their capacity to enrich uranium beyond where they promised not to venture. The article states,

Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels to weapons-grade material, taking a third step away from the accord while warning Europe has little time to offer it new terms.

. . .

The move threatened to push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy. APNews

Back in the clown car, yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is ready to meet with Iranian officials to discuss the two countries differences with “no conditions” attached. Uh, what about Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon? This turn of events makes Barack Obama’s dealings with the rogue nation look like he is the Statesman of the Century. Wasn’t it Trump who once said of the deal supported by our major allies, “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never ever been made”? Now, America and the world are supposed to believe Trump and his ilk can come up with something better when they are going in without preconditions? Good luck with that scenario.

So it goes in the Trump presidency. Shatter the norm, criticize real negotiations others made in the past, and send in the clowns. What could go wrong?

 

Living Large In Carson City: The Truth Is Out There But Not From Trump Edition

liar's pants don't actually catch on fire quote

 “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Mark Twain Quoting Benjamin Disraeli

The fiasco that was the G7 meeting in France this past weekend just keeps on giving. Quoting that paragon of wisdom duo, Brewer and Shipley, Trump might be said to be “One toke over the line”. How else can Americans square the outlandish behavior of Donald Trump anytime he comes into the proximity of world leaders. Leaders that are actually leaders and not political hacks of Trump’s ilk. Actually, Americans can only hope that Trump is sucking on the pipe behind closed doors, but judging by his Twitter behavior, it must be meth, not pot, that he his is imbing in on a regular basis.

There was one shining moment in the wrap up press conference that the president gave at the end of the summit among a flurry of lies, innuendos, and outright incomprehensible moments. Trump in his batshit crazy modus operandi continually called for the members of the G7 to allow Russia back into the fold. You will remember Russia was kicked out for attacking and annexing part of the Crimea, and you know, shooting down a civilian airliner.  Trump, however, fueled by what god awful substance he puts into his system claimed that Obama was somehow responsible for the Russian expulsion and that Putin had embarrassed the former president. In Trump’s third grade mental construct, this prompted Obama to call for his and Russia’s ousting from the G8.  This is a claim he repeated over and over.

At the height of the press conference, Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, stepped up to the mike and said this,

“Why do you [keep repeating] the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama when other countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea. Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?” Source

Ouch! What makes Alcindor’s question so relevant and poignant is a trend in broadcasting that has some, not a lot, but some, journalists no longer willing to allow Trump to simply say shit without being called the liar that he is on a daily basis. According to the Washington Post, as of June 2019, Trump told 10,796 lies to everyone from farmers, coal miners, businesses, everyday Americans, world leaders, and on and on. Think about that number: 10,796 lies told by an American president. It even defies Trump supporters’ credulity.

Yet, when journalist like Alcindor call Trump out his go to action is to, well, lie some more. His entire trip was one false statement after the other. We now know that his push for Russia’s acceptance back into the G7 was a bone that he could not stop gnawing on to the chagrin of other G7 members except for Italy who sided with the president’s demand for Russia’s readmittance. Still, Trump in his egomaniacal way would not let go of support for his old friend, even at the risk of alienating the G7, Americans, and even members of his own party. Sometime in the near future America will learn what is the impetus behind his selling out his own country and cozying up to one of the most brutal dictators in modern history. That time cannot come soon enough which brings up another new topic.

Deutsche Bank hints that it has copies of Trump’s tax returns raising the question if they might be available through the subpoena process for the House Judiciary Committee to get their hands on them. A minor kerfuffle came Tuesday night when Lawrence O’Donnell on his MSNBC talk show claimed that Russian oligarchs had co-signed bank loans that Trump took out several years ago which would have given plausible impetus to begin impeachment proceedings. On Wednesday, O’Donnell capitulated saying he should not have aired the oligarch angle when only one source actually claimed the statement was true. Regardless, the Deutsche Bank factor will surely play an ever increasing role in the Trump investigation as more information comes clear and open to public scrutiny.

Back to the lies. In an article by Calvin Woodward for the Associated Press titled “In 7 days of tweets, Trump lets the bedbugs bite” chronicles the seven days the president spent in France at the G7 and afterwards amid lies, Tweets, and countering claims that his Doral Golf Course did not, repeat, did not have bed bugs. Here is a sample of just one day, 

SUNDAY, AUG. 25

On the sidelines of the G-7 summit of world leaders, French diplomacy produces an unexpected meeting with Iran’s foreign minister, a potentially groundbreaking development with an adversary of the West.

As this unfolds in the halls, Trump tweets in honor of talk-show veteran Regis Philbin: “Happy Birthday Regis, a truly special man!” Trump plays up an opinion poll he likes and makes the improbable claim that the other world leaders mainly want to know from him “why does the American media hate your Country so much?” AP

No matter what one’s political leanings might be, it is obvious that Trump is slipping further into the dark depths of conspiracy theorists and the land of boogeymen. He really believes there are dark forces that want only to spread lies and falsehoods about his “legacy”.

The one thing Americans can be certain about is the president has no clue about how irony works. In a Tweet earlier this week, he attacked all things Puerto Rican in this Tweet,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is
broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved
Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to
Crooked Pols.
No good!….      Aug 28, 2019  CNN
His statement “Their political system is broken  and their politicians are either
Incompetent or Corrupt. . . . Crooked Pols” is beyond self delusional. The fact is
America’s political system under Trump could easily be described in the same words. 
As CNN noted in the same article, he followed the above Tweet with this little nugget of
wisdom,
“And by the way,” he added, “I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!”
It defies logic that this man is allowed to walk around in public much less be allowed to
comment on anything of substance and be heard. When I think of Trump and Puerto
Rico, I will always go back to the image of  Melanie and Trump standing behind a table
stacked with rolls of paper towels surrounded by a room full of desperate Puerto Ricans.
His idea of help at that meeting was to mimic shooting free throws into the crowd using
the paper towels as balls. Some legacy . . .
The week ended on a bright note, however, when Trump turned on his favorite fake
news outlet, the disreputable Fox News Network. In a statement aimed at his shrinking
basket of deplorables, the president lashed out at the network stating, “Fox isn’t working
for us anymore” in reaction to a discussion about recent polls showing all of the current
Democratic presidential front runners handily beating him in the race if the vote were
taken that day. Fox commentators like Shepard Smith, Bret Hume and Neil Cavuto took
umbrage with Trump’s implication that the network owed allegiance to the president
and said so in blunt, no nonsense terms.

No one knows what will become of this latest brouhaha, but it’s a safe guess that Trump will find a way to lie about the dust up regardless of what happens going forward. If things go as they have over the past week, the president is already teeing up his next Tweet denying he ever said anything about Fox News or that the fake media cooked up the lie to make him look bad. Regardless, the crazy house remains open for business with the head clown running around with his head stuck up his behind with no attachment to reality. Happy September, winter is coming.

 

Living Large In Carson City: Life In The Muddled Lane Edition

Angry politician

“Every newspaper on earth has called me a liar.” John McAfee

Remember back pre-2016 when the world was a happier place. There were no international faux pas’ wedged in our collective memories. Twitter was still a place to actually communicate with one another rather than a place of idiocy and shared shame and that the man sitting in the president’s chair wasn’t seen as a fucking nut job by people around the world? Those were heady days unlike today when the current administration has sullied America’s good name and place of respect in the international community. And it is getting worse, much worse.

Remember when we all laughed about the assumption that Trump’s current view on any topic was the one expressed by the last person he talked to? Laugh we did, but the reality is that on most topics of importance that is exactly how he presents himself and his stance on any topic. Now, with the White House gone dark where little or no information on policy or current topics of national and international interest can escape the black hole of Trump’s West Wing lair, he continues to act like all things are normal.

But things are not normal. Press conferences have given way to impromptu pre or post flight “chats” with journalists on the grounds of the White House or some tarmack across the globe. This agenda is good and bad for many reasons. Good because it allows Americans a peek into the mind of a very disturbed individual who just so happens to be the most powerful man in the world. It’s scary but necessary if the electorate will rise up and kick his ass out of the office in the coming election. Bad because it allows Americans a peek into the mind of a very disturbed individual who long ago lost any sane or definable guardrails between sanity and insanity of the most powerful man in the world.

Eric Boehlert’s article in the Daily Kos titled, D.C. media’s dirty little secret: It has no idea what’s happening inside Trump’s White House, lays out just how bad it is for journalists covering the president and the White House,

“Reminder: There is no White House, not in the sense journalists have always used the term,” New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen recently tweeted, hitting on a media critique he has amplified for more than a year. “It’s just Trump—and people who work in the building. The term is still in use because what else are ‘White House’ reporters going to do? But there’s no referent for it. The metonymy broke.”

Rosen’s accurate appraisal pulls back the curtain and reveals that the “White House” that reporters are so busy reporting on and referring to is, at this point, basically a media concoction. It’s a prop that’s being held up because “the White House” is how journalists have always referred to the sprawling West Wing enterprise that powers and supports each American president. Source

This past week has been a particularly bad week for team Trump. As the country weathers his tariff war with China and an ungodly fractured economy that is showing signs of slipping into a possible recession, Trump continues rearranging the Titanic deck chairs and refusing to see that good times are not guaranteed. He knows that the economy is his Achilles heel, yet refuses to take measures to curb the slide. This past week anyone who was ambulatory and able to string three sentences together coherently was out parroting the Republican talking points that the economy was strong, and there is nothing to worry about.

Which brings us to the sycophantic compulsion that has become the Republican’s modus operandi as it continues to support Trump and his administration’s whacked out policies. Trump’s base and the Republican Party are all he has left to fall back on when circumstances head south leaving him exposed to ridicule and derision. One has to wonder about the Republican’s skewed devotion to a man who is literally running the country into the ground. Consider this from a 2017 poll,

A poll found that 52% of people who identify as or lean Republican said they would support postponing the 2020 election to ensure that only eligible citizens could vote if it was proposed by President Trump.

The poll also found that 56% said they would support such action — which would be taken to stop alleged voter fraud — if it was supported by both Trump and Republican members of Congress. USAToday

No one should be surprised by the fact that Trump has turned his attention back onto election fraud (which doesn’t exist to a great degree) as he continues to harp on the fact that he “won” the popular vote in 2016 regardless that statistics show otherwise. This is a sly little trick that he has hit upon, basically laying the groundwork for an election challenge if he loses both the popular vote and the electoral college in the upcoming election. As his numbers continue to tank and his support dwindles, a challenge may be the only way he sees as a means of holding onto the presidency. Seems far fetched with a normal president in the office, but if the past three years have taught us anything, expect the unexpected with Trump and his followers. He and his basket of deplorables are seriously misguided in their belief that they know what is best for this country.

Salon’s Bob Cesca put it this way,

So once again, Trump’s paranoia turns out to be gobbledygook. Yet it doesn’t have to be on-the-level. As long as it feels to his followers like it could be true, and as long as he continuously screams it at his throngs of brainwashed disciples during his rallies, that will be enough to convince millions of voters and more than a few Republican members of Congress to question the results of the 2020 election if Trump loses. Trump is absolutely capable of pulling a stunt like this. In fact, we should prepare ourselves for the very real possibility that he’ll do it.

Don’t forget: If Trump loses, he could face multiple indictments as soon as the new president is inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. No one is more aware of that possibility than Trump himself. Salon

Cesca goes on to point out that voter fraud in all of its shapes and form from Voter Id, Gerrymandering, and denial of voting rights to minorities has long been the bailiwick of the Republicans, not the Democrats. Trump is vulnerable and his flank is exposed with the continuous screw ups he and his minions commit almost on a daily basis. He is literally like a wounded animal looking for any out that will save his hide. Expect him to continue down the path of an authoritarian dictator hell bent on keeping power at all costs.

Then, the smoke screen of the week popped out of the Golden One’s mouth. He wants to buy Greenland. Despite Denmark’s vehement and resounding negative reaction that Greenland was not for sale, Trump continued to parlay the scenario that it would be simply another large retail buy, something that he assured his base he was well versed in accomplishing. In reality, Trump is as good a salesman and manipulator of real estate as someone wanting to sell ocean front property in Arizona. It just can’t happen, but the ploy takes heat off of his problems, delights his base who would believe anything he says, and distracts from the real issues at hand.

Oh the places we’ll go.

Living Large In Carson City: The Bitch Edition

Soft skills in the crisis management environment | Steelhenge

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” George Carlin

Last week, I inadvertently missed posting due to a sudden illness. While certainly not life threatening, pneumonia is a bitch of an illness that pretty much takes over one’s personal reality. Consequently, I missed, or rather, ignored from my hospital bed much of what was going on around me in the world of politics and the national government . Things impacted while I was gone. There were three mass shootings, memorials, and Trump grandstanding on an epic scale as he and the First Lady insinuated themselves on Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas in what has come to be seen as one extended trumped up photo op. The optics say it all, as does, the reluctance of victims to be seen associating with the president and the First Lady.  

Rather than try to bridge the chasm of a week’s worth of rehashed Trump fuck ups, I want to address one of my pet peeves as it applies to the American psyche and its effect on life as we know it.

Lunch Shaming Kids

This is a topic that most empathic, sane people would realize has a zero sum gain in the world American education or politics as a whole. In an article by the online newspaper Civil Eats, which explores the American food system on a daily basis, author Nadra Nittle begins her text with this statement,

 Alabama elementary school stamps a child’s arm with the message: “I need lunch money.” A Minnesota school district warns graduating seniors that they will not receive caps and gowns unless their meal debt is paid. A New Hampshire cafeteria worker is fired for serving students with outstanding lunch bills.

Assuming for the moment that these students are not gaming the system, but genuinely do not have the wherewithal to pay for their meals, what profit is gained by shaming the children for their parents inability to pay the nominal charge for a school breakfast or lunch. As Nittle points out, school meals are often the only nourishment many of the children receive during the day. These are not hardened welfare individuals who have lived their entire lives on the public dole, but evolving young beings whose self worth and vision of themselves is fragile at best and exacerbated by a flood of peer pressure and fear of looking dumb or stupid. Who are these people who believe food shaming children is the most positive course of action?

Those of us who live in America away from major urban developments, especially in the eastern United States, have little idea of the circumstances that surround the thorny issue of eating, especially if you are a child. New York City’s Brooklyn/Bed-Stuy neighborhood is a case in point. Most Americans have a passing understanding of the concept of an inner city food desert which succinctly describes the area. Bed-Stuy is neither unique or unprecedented in the way food is presented to the masses. If you are a child, especially a latchkey child, who leaves school and returns home to an unsupervised environment, you have few options for a healthy meal if left to your own devices and the money to afford a purchase.

Fulton Street is the main street that runs east and west through Bed-Stuy. Along a six block section of the street, there are two chicken franchises, two McDonalds, a couple of pizza joints (or more), various Asian themed restaurants, a Burger King, an Applebee’s, and a large grown up food mart that serves the majority of households throughout the area. For most children, fast food is the most logical choice. There are no “7-11s” per se, only bodegas which are the ethnically oriented mom and pop stores that can be found on nearly every corner of the neighborhood. These establishments offer a variety of food options but tend to rotate around cold sandwiches and chips with the occasional hot soup offering in some places.

These circumstances are moot if mom and/or dad (mostly mom) don’t remember or don’t have the money to supply their children extra cash for dinner while they are still away at work. The lucky ones with a few pennies to spend, as they are wont to do, often do not make the wise choices when it comes to food and will spend their money on often less than nourishing options. The most popular hookup sites on Fulton Street anytime after 3pm are the fast food franchises’ parking lots. Fast food chains in inner city environments should be seen as predators who feed on these young people who are victims of their environment and little else.

Consequently, if you are a child lucky enough to receive a school meal, whether you can pay for it or not, the day just got a lot better. The idea that adults would want to shame anyone for eating a meal is simply unacceptable.  As Nittle’s article reveals, many of the free or reduced priced lunch plans are federally subsidized and bypass state funding woes by supplying federal dollars. Still, the system is only as good as those who use it. Parents often don’t get involved in the programs or forget to reauthorize their children’s participation from one semester to the next. Illegal immigrants are often reluctant to fill out forms for programs like the free food initiative due to fear of being exposed, arrested, and deported.

But to shame the children for being hungry is unconscionable.

The acts of shaming that accompany lunch debt may be hard for children to shake, according to Bettina Elias Siegel, a Civil Eats contributor and author of the forthcoming book, “Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World.”

“Children are so aware of differences between kids — whether it’s socioeconomic, popularity, or whatever — that when you engage in any practice expressly meant to set them apart, kids feel that keenly,” Siegel said. “The stigma is real; it’s a really unfortunate tactic.”

She added that lunch shaming also exacerbates existing socioeconomic differences in school cafeterias in which more privileged students can buy a la carte items while their less privileged peers eat standard lunches. Civil Eats

Were it not for a small but concerned subset of the population, lunch shaming would be an epidemic right now. There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that cannot, or refuses to see, the problem here. The physic scars that shaming of any kind produce are indelible and debilitating. Demanding that school lunch programs act as stand alone business entities with no regard for the clientele (children) and their emotional and physical well-being reflects the worst that America has to offer the world. Under the age of Trump, this phenomenon can be understood all to well. Considering the cost of a single trip to Mar-a-Lago runs into the millions of dollars, that money might be better spent in shoring up a child’s daily nourishment, not spent on golf, glitz, and unholy glamour.

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: It’s An Unusual World We Live In Edition

Free Clip Art Picture of a Cross Hair

“He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.” Hunter S. Thompson

HST understood politicians like few others, especially Richard Nixon to whom this quote targeted. It could just as easily have been directed at Donald Trump, but given Thompson’s colorful grasp of the English language, I suspect his comments would be much more pointed and caustic. On a daily basis, Americans are witnessing the systematic dismantling of democracy like few times in our nation’s history, and yes, Trump is the architect of the dismantling. The past two weeks he has stooped far below the conventions of decency and normalcy. His latest foray into the bizarre is rooted in classical hatred and racism as he paints his political adversaries of color enemies of the state. 

All Americans know the depths of depravity that Trump is more than willing to plumb depending on what his latest bitch du jour is on any given day. It’s currently racism. In the past it’s been immigrants and immigration laws, birtherism, kowtowing to political hardliners like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jon Un, Mohammad bin Salman, and Bebe Netanyahu to name a few, siding with and encouraging white nationalism, his denial of his colorful history of sexual misconduct while trafficking with accused sexual predators like Jeffrey Epstein and Alan Dershowitz, and the list goes on. Trump has done the seemingly impossible since taking office in 2017: He has nimbly browbeat the Republican Party into his bitch, subverted the rule of law, lied incessantly, and done more to destroy the foundation of our democracy than anyone in the history of the nation. And he’s not done.

As in the case with the Republican Party, he has had plenty of help to accomplish his goals. Most notably, his core constituency, the Hillary dubbed basket of deplorables, who are really the biggest mystery to come out of Trump’s presidency. It may be counter intuitive, even naive, not to acknowledge that 32 to 38 percent of Americans, depending on the poll numbers on any given day, harbor fear to the degree that they are willing to allow a con artist of Trump’s caliber to hijack our duly elected representative government and destroy America’s international goodwill. And for what purpose? To  simply stroke his outsized ego for his own benefit however nefarious that might be.

Yesterday, Trump signed the extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. During the ceremony, he made several claims that many who know him find outright dubious. 

Trump told the crowd of 9/11 first responders and their families that he was also at Ground Zero in the wake of the terror attacks, though he said he doesn’t consider himself a first responder.

“I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder,” Trump said. “But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.” CNN

He has also stated other similar claims that either put him on the scene in a heroic setting or skewing his statements in his favor like falsely claiming after the Towers fell he would have the tallest building in Manhattan or that he predicted 911 or that he personally saw Arabs dancing in the streets in New Jersey celebrating the event. And nobody in his administration, party, or base calls him out for being a bald faced liar. I thought his base would take umbrage with statements like these, but not. These are supposedly iron clad Americans of the first degree who “love it or leave it” is a mantra that they are quick to chant on any given night at a Trump rally. The fact they would embrace such easily debunked lies is problematic and truly frightening. It smacks of willful stupidity, and a “us versus them” mentality that is willing to ignore facts and truth simply to hold on the little political power they have left.

Also, Dan Coats the highly respected Director of National Intelligence who’s job is to oversee the 17 departments and organizations that make up the American intelligence community finally decided he had had enough of the Trump circus. Trump announced his leaving via, how else, on Twitter. Coats, a longtime Indiana senator, ambassador to Germany, and one of the longest serving members of the Trump cabinet, was known for stating truth to power, often angered the president by not toeing the Trump party line. His departure effectively creates a vacuum within the administration which has a majority of Trump yes men in important positions of power without anyone with the cajones to stand up to him.

His replacement, Rep. John Ratcliffe, was elected to Congress in 2014 and was a former U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Texas. Before that, he held four terms as mayor of Heath, Texas population 7,000. Often proclaimed as the most conservative member of Congress, he came to power with the aid of the Tea Party and has become one of Trump’s most vocal lackeys.

When Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week, his grilling of Mueller drew immediate attention simply for the partisan nature of his rant which was obviously meant to suck up to Trump who named him Coat’s replacement three days later. Storm clouds already hang over the Congressman’s confirmation hearings for misrepresenting his bona fides over his claims to have convicted several terrorists while on the job in East Texas. Court records show otherwise. Woefully unqualified, it will be interesting to see if the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will vote to put his confirmation before the Senate in coming weeks. More troublesome than his resume is the question on everyone’s mind will he simply be yet another parrot of Trump’s psychotic foreign policy or will he stand up to the man who nominated him. Time will tell.

Congress is set to go on summer vacation for the month of August offering a small respite from the shenanigans that have become part and parcel of life as America knows it in Washington. It’s a heavy load for Trump to bear, but he will surely not disappoint. Things to watch for might be an attack on Iran. Last Friday, the House passed an amendment that Trump cannot attack Iran without the House signing off on the act. Without the Congress in session, August would be a perfect time for an end around run by the president. Or maybe Trump will take the time off to visit one of his golf courses. Regardless, expect September to be filled with fireworks from impeachment inquiries to revelations about just who is in the Jeffrey Epstein sex tapes to god only knows what.

Tonight is the beginning of the second round of the Democratic debates. Thursday, Trump has a rally planned in Cincinnati where he will assuredly have plenty to say. Will racist chants headline the rally? Will he continue his attacks on Elijah Cummings? Stay tuned.

Living Large In Carson City: Destroying Democracy Edition

Newshound.jpg

“All I know is what I read in the papers.”
Will Rogers

All of America knows at this point that fake news has a twofold message to deliver to readers. First, of course, is the fake news itself. By definition fake news is usually meant to deliver a blow to one’s opponents. The message comes in the form of an outright lie or one more nuanced so it actually looks and sounds like it is real. The other function is to obfuscate and muddy the minds of readers to ensure they don’t have the time or brain functions to digest real news as it occurs. After nearly three years of Trump’s lies, no one paying attention is immune to the brain fog that fake news can create in a person.  As all America knows, Trump and his minions are classic masters of the con game and have no shame in employing its techniques whenever they feel the public waking up to the fact they are being scammed.

Nothing, however, prepared Americans for the shit storm of fake news surrounding Trump’s attacks on the now famous four members of Congress known as the Squad. The four women, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayana Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan were all targeted by Trump over last week, and all hell broke loose as Trump continued to revile and slander them into the current one. Yet, the Orange One is, if nothing else, persistent in his onslaught of negative and false statements. This one has me face planting into my computer’s keyboard,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The “Squad” is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border…And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!

Trump is not only suffering from a debilitating case of megamania and rottenness to his core, but also, thinks he has some hyper sense of clairvoyance that allows him to look into the soul and lives of those who oppose him and redefine them to fit his world view. Reality check: Trump is simply a corrupt liar, thief, and someone who disregards the value of others to support his insecurities.

This point is sometimes lost in the trenches when he says something so outlandish or offensive that Americans are hard pressed not to take exception to his vile, slanderous comments about anyone, foe or supporter. And, of course, this is his basic modus operandi. Keep the liberals and progressives so off balance with his surreal comments that it obscures his real agenda which is to give his base the red meat they want and allow his minions the opportunity to solidify his position behind the scenes. All this bluster and braying is little more than a smoke screen that he and the GOP are complicit in by negating the power of his opponents simply by driving them bonkers.

This simple ploy is how he drives public opinion and controls the narrative on any given day. The above Tweet is a case in point. First of all, the Squad is not made up of young, inexperienced racists. They are grown women with a purpose. They are no less inexperienced than Trump was when he ran for president. And by definition, they are not racists in the way he means the slur. They are proactive women who see the lie, the big lie, that Trump is selling. Trump history of racism and underhanded dealings with people has been documented throughout his life and doesn’t need to be rehashed here. This is a variation of the old elementary schoolyard slam of “Everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. It worked then, and surprisingly, seems to be working today in the grownup world of hardball politics.

Most of all, and this is what is most galling, he has the temerity to comment on the workings of the Democratic Party. The Party is still mostly moderate, and these women are only a fraction of the whole. To borrow a term from the GOP, the Party is a big tent where all voices are able to be heard, rejected or accepted, on the merit of their claims. They did not oppose, nor are they against, humanitarian aid at the Border, as he claims. This is a red herring since Trump created the crisis in the first place, and it is only morally and ethically appropriate for all Americans to protest and oppose the Draconian measures of Stephen Miller and his boss.

He is right about one thing though. They oppose the power of the Office of Homeland Security and ICE as should all thinking, humane, democracy loving Americans. Homeland Security was an overreach from the beginning supported by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush as a power grab for the presidency. It should be abolished or severely restructured to keep it from being abused. ICE is literally America’s version of WWII Germany’s Gestapo. Whoever came up with the idea of creating a secret police able to roam the countryside unimpeded and harassing people must have been channeling Trump’s most enticing wet dream. As Trump ramps up his rhetoric of massive ICE raids to deport illegal aliens, ICE will trample human rights and place everyone, aliens and citizens, at risk. It should be shut down and investigated.

Part of the problem is how the news media portrays the crisis that has been brewing since Trump came down the elevator and announced his plan to run for president. Corporate media in the form of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and others have one goal in everything they do: Ratings. Fox News is a little different in that they are controlled by right wing nutjobs who not only care about ratings but push the president’s agenda at the cost of truth and honesty. CNN and the other “liberal” news outlets (which is oxymoronic in the first place) take a different path.

Their “fair and balanced” approach works to give a passing nod to both sides. A typical “panel” discussion will usually have one or two “liberal” guests with the obligatory Trump supporter as the foil. A good example of this is Stephen Moore, Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. A woman hater, elitist, and uber patriarch, Moore was never a good choice for the position evidenced by his past comments. Yet, before his nomination, he was a regular contributor on cable news shows. The effect of choosing the most rabid (Rick Santorum is another example), mind numbing shills goes a long way in negating anything liberal guests have to say. It makes for great theater, but honestly, in the end no real truths of consequence come from these verbal fisticuffs. Well, there was one. After the Fed debacle, Moore hasn’t shown up on any cable        panels . . . yet.

Trump continues beating up the Squad with lies and skewed half truths as Americans look on and either accept his point of view or ignore him completely. Since Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the worst White House Press Secretary ever, stopped having daily press briefings, Trump now holds his own ad hoc pressers where he gets a bigger bang for his buck since they are mostly one-sided declarations of whatever is on the front burner of his truly twisted mind. But one thing is clear from all of this. Trump is going to make race front and center of his 2020 presidential run. It is hard to believe that a president would choose to play the race card for all of America to witness. Will it work?

Ask me again on Wednesday, November 4. 2020.

Living Large In Carson City: America Is A Shining City Upon A Hill – Not Edition

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“It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization conducted immense amounts of research, and came to the understanding that all human beings belong to the same species, and “race” is nothing but a myth. In the research that they have gathered, they found that biological “races” do not exist among our species.” Jaclyne Zetter 

It would completely lame and dishonest of me to not mention the story of the weekend which has both sides of the American political spectrum buzzing into the beginning of a new week. Yes, Trump’s unbelievable attack on four sitting first-term congresswomen, and his belief that they should shut up and go back to the countries where they came from is the talk of the nation. His disgusting and abusive Tweeter rant is the epitome of rampant racism that this administration seems dedicated to injecting into the nation’s conversation.

The “four” congresswomen, affectionately named “the Squad, are Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashia Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Of course, as all of America knows at this point, only Omar is not a native born American. She became a naturalized citizen after she and her father fled war-torn Somalia. Ocasio Cortez was born in the New York City’s the Bronx, Tlaib, a native from Detroit, and Pressley was born in Cincinnati. So of the four, three are red-blooded Americans and the fourth an achiever of the American Dream. Yet, dopey Donald chose to overlook the facts and spread, once again, fake news that suits his skewed legislative agenda of stroking his base and not letting facts get in the way of his goals.

There is little upside in rehashing Trump’s flirting with the white supremacists of his base. Ample footage and Tweets can be pulled up to support the accusation that our president is a racist fool as are the majority of his followers. As Nancy Pelosi said in her reaction to Trump’s attack on the Squad this weekend, Trump’s goal is not to make America Great Again but to make America White Again. A statement that the president responded was a racist statement itself although as The Hill pointed out,

It was unclear if Trump, currently taking criticism for telling multiple congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from, understood the context in which Pelosi had made the comment.

Trump’s goal is obviously two-fold. Americans have seen time and again when circumstances go wrong for the president his modus operandi is to create controversy to draw attention away from his failed endeavors. At the end of last week, Trump suffered two major setbacks which he certainly wasn’t happy about. His failure to get the citizenship question added to the 2020 census and the god awful optics of Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham touring stinking, over-crowded immigrant holding facilities at the Texas border had to be a ego slap down that even his most rabid supporters couldn’t ignore. One has to wonder who sets up these preordained “fails” on the part of the Republicans. It defies logic and common sense.

So, Trump Tweets some nasty remarks about four congresswomen to help convince the base that the Orange One is still in their corner taking the fight to the enemy, even though they are all American citizens who are well respected by their constituents. For Trump though, this line of attack has become part and parcel of how he deals with both his base and the opposition. The bad news is that it worked in the past and will more than likely work in the future. Frightened people have to be fed frightening scenarios by their manipulative leaders, and conversely, those leaders have to supply an “out” that mollifies the sensibilities of their followers.  

Oddly enough, Trump’s original slurs have morphed into something more than just falsely slamming four congresswomen. Lindsey Graham, one time patriot and friend of John McCain, who has turned into Trump’s little bitch of late, advanced the narrative to another level,

“We all know that [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and this crowd are a bunch of communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country, they’re calling the guards along our border—the Border Patrol agents—concentration camp guards,” Graham exclaimed. “They accuse people who support Israel as doing it for the benjamins, they are anti-Semitic, they are anti-America. Don’t get them—aim higher.” The Daily Beast

Graham in one statement elevated the Squad from progressive Social Democrats status to outright communist sympathizers. The Israel hatred possibly refers to Congresswoman Tlaib’s heritage. She is the daughter of Palestinian immigrant parents who left Palestine to settle in America to offer their children their version of the American Dream. “For the Benjamins” obviously refers to Congresswoman Omar’s Tweet earlier this year that called out the corrupt organization, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), for the thuggish behavior they display year around, but especially during their annual convention which is little more than a fleecing of attendees to donate to AIPAC coffers. See The Nation article for more on AIPAC and the way they operate. As far as calling border guards – concentration camp guards –  the facts speak for themselves. Graham should watch the video of himself, Pence, and others as they squeamishly tour the above mentioned immigrant camp.

Today is Tuesday and the vitriol oozing from the White House has not abated. He has singled out Congresswoman Ilhan Omar claiming without evidence that she and her Squad members hate America, and she in particular, according to a Vox article (see below), claimed “how wonderful al-Qaeda is” Vox.  Yesterday, Trump set the tenor of the debate while answering questions from the reporter pool after giving a speech on the White Grounds.

While Trump was taking questions from reporters during an event that was ostensibly supposed to be a “Made in America Product Showcase,” Fox News reporter John Roberts asked him if it concerns him that “many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?”

Trump said that he is not, in fact, worried about it.

“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” he said. “And all I’m saying — they want to leave, they can leave. Now, it doesn’t say, ‘Leave forever.’ It says, ‘Leave if you want.’” Vox

One has to wonder who exactly are the “many people” who agree with him? Are they the supporters of the racist demonstrations that permeated the Charlottesville, Virginia’s “Unite the Right” debacle that occurred in 2017? Is it the GOP’s congressmen and women who refuse to take a stand against his racist comments and by their silence condone his beliefs?  Or is it simply his base of deplorables who want Trump to make America white again? Sadly, it is a combination of them all.

Even more disturbing to contemplate is the theory put forth by many Washington insiders that this is Trump rolling out his 2020 campaign strategy. His divide and frighten approach worked all too well in 2016, so why wouldn’t he want to go for an encore in 2020? One thing is for certain; Democrats need to heal their divisions and present a united front against Trump, or America will face another four years of debacle after debacle played out on the world stage.

This isn’t to say the Squad need buckle under to Nancy Pelosi. No, Pelosi needs to step up her game as well and listen to what progressives are saying to her and the party. This is the time the Democrats have the opportunity to stand up and wade out of the swamp to create a new political dynamic that is more inclusive and understanding of the ills that face the country. If they don’t, even if Joe Biden is nominated and wins, a Biden presidency will be more of the same dog and pony show. Not as bad as Trump, mind you, but still a government split by factions that want only what they can grab for their side; the average American be damned.