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

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“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: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, along came Donald.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living Large In Carson City: When Lies and Deceit Supplant Common Sense Edition

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“Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads?”

Hunter S. Thompson

I watched as the Trump clown show drove over yet another cliff when Trump invited Kayne West to the Oval Office for a sit-down chat with himself, Jim Brown and a gaggle of reporters. West confirmed what I had always believed; he is mentally ill. West confessed he suffers from bipolar disease, a heartbreaking condition that leaves many diagnosed with the condition forever plagued by the effects it has on one’s interaction with the world and the people they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Regardless of his admission, what transpired was a jaw dropping experiment in kissing up to the “man” and an orgy of senseless proclamations of love and loyalty to the Orange One.

What has many people upset is West’s use of the term motherfucker in the Oval Office. His exact statement was,

“You might not have expected a crazy motherfucker like Kanye running up to support.”

Still, it begs the question, “What did they expect?” The guy is a longtime, very successful rapper, a subset of American society that is not known for their eloquence in speech or gestures. There has been much ado about nothing surrounding West’s use of the term, but again, what did they expect? The thing I took away from the interview was the wild ranting monologue West subjected the room to really seemed like something that would offend the straight-laced Trump supporters who make up his base, obviously not.

Who are these people? How do they justify overlooking some fool making a mockery of the presidency and upending the decorum that goes along with the office. I decided to watch the now notorious Iowa rally Trump held earlier this week to see what goes on at these events. What makes these normally sane people find Trump so alluring? Trust me, there are no answers there, only more head scratching servility from the Trump minions that is shocking and not a little disturbing.

The YouTube video begins with a camera shot from behind a portion of the crowd looking into a darken doorway stage right. Inexplicably, the mournful dirge of Elton John’s Funeral for a friend/Love Lies Bleeding in My Hand begins and plays for the next eight minutes or so. At the end the music segues  into what has become a Trump rally theme song, Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. Am I the only one in this country that thinks this is one of the most sappy and piss your pants hard to listen to quasi-country melodies ever written. Don’t get me wrong: I am as patriotic as the next guy, but Greenwood’s syrupy delivery makes me want to gag. It’s a wonder millions of people don’t contract diabetes from listening to it more than once. I digress.

At 8:20 into the video, a booming voice comes out over the speaker system reminiscent of a World Wrestling Federation announcer introducing Trump who wanders out onto the walkway where he stops and does that infuriating thing he does where he points at individuals in the crowd, waves and claps. He then holds his hands, palms up, and swiveling his hips right and left to bask in the warmth of the near rabid crowd’s response. What mystifies me is he does this at every opportunity and gets the same response to the sound of the crowd chanting USA, USA, USA.

All this is accompanied by the backdrop of Trump supporters waving signs that say “Finish the Wall” (fat chance) or “Women for Trump” ( a notably small group) or “Veterans for Trump” (a patriotic but misguided group). After the obligatory comments on the great success of confirming Brett Kavanaugh, praise of the octogenarian Senator Chuck Grassley, and trashing the protesters at the Supreme Court (some of who were whining because they didn’t get paid (???)), Trump lights into the Democrats with a vengeance, rather less than a healing moment,

And in their lust for power, the Democrats have become totally unhinged. They’ve gone — they’ve gone crazy.

No, they’ve gone crazy. Now the Democrats — or as some people would says, the Dims — the Dims — who says that? Lou Dobbs, the great Lou Dobbs. He says that, right? Sean Hannity says that. The Dims. Sean Hannity. Judge Jeanine says that, doesn’t she? Laura — Laura, how good has Laura been, right? We got a lot of good people. . .

But the Democrats have become too extreme. And they’ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They’ve gone wacko. They’ve gone so far left that they consider Pocahontas to be a rational person. No, it’s crazy. Elizabeth Warren. Oh, I hope she runs. I hope she runs. Then we can finally get down to the fact as to whether or not she has Indian blood. YouTube

This was when I realized that there was no reason to watch anymore of this fright fest. It has literally been repeated over and over again since Trump came on the scene and began having his ego stroked by the deplorables he calls his base. The only change is the scenery or mid-western township where his followers gather to be, I am sure, thrilled to the very cockles of their beings. Who are these people?

In an peer-reviewed article that appeared the Journal of Social and Political Psychology titled Social Psychological Perspectives on Trump Supporters written by Thomas F. Pettigrew, he identifies five distinct personality traits of the average Trump supporter. On the one hand, what he discovered is what most of us suspected all along. Trump supporters are actually “mini-mes” of the Orange One’s outsize ego. Still, it is interesting and a bit frightening to see it spelled out and printed in black and white. Briefly, here are the categories:

  • Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Disorder (SDO) Authoritarianism is an intensely studied syndrome the effects of which are surprisingly consistent across the globe . Several traits characterize the syndrome: deference to authority, aggression toward out groups, a rigidly hierarchical view of the world, and resistance to new experience. Authoritarianism is typically triggered by threat and fear, and authoritarians tend to view the world as a very dangerous and threatening place.

These traits seem to be consistent with the mindset of older white people, especially people who were directly affected by the Great Depression or suffered under parents who’s lives were horribly altered by the poverty and depressive effects that that era produced. My own parents were stereotypical examples of this disorder. Racism and bigotry go hand in hand with these traits.

  • Prejudice Many outgroup prejudices characterize dedicated Trump’s followers, not just anti-immigrants, but anti-outgroups in general. Since Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the Republican Party has employed strategies that appeal to bigotry with “dog whistles” – somewhat subtle codewords for race and other minorities designed to be heard by racists but not by non-racists.

Again, this trait is breathtakingly obvious in the vast majority of Trump supporters. Civility is one of the first positive ideals that fall by the wayside in the face of unbridled prejudice and bigotry. The hatred that Trump supporters have for Hillary Clinton, Christine Blasey Ford, Democrats and others who oppose them is symptomatically over the top mainly because Trump latched on to the prejudice factor and fanned the flames until we find ourselves in the quagmire we are now.

  • Intergroup Contact A major means of reducing intergroup prejudice is through optimal intergroup contact. So it is noteworthy that there is growing evidence that Trump’s White supporters have experienced far less contact with minorities than other  Americans. .   .                                                                                                                  Consistent with this finding, these researchers also found that Trump support increased as an area’s distance from the Mexican border increased. Throughout the world, intergroup contact has been shown typically to diminish prejudice by reducing intergroup fear and inducing empathy.

It should come as no surprise that this trait is exacerbated by the prior two categories. In Shakespeare’s Othello, the concept of “the other” plays an important role in Iago’s plan to discredit and smear Othello’s good name. Hatred of “the other” comes from an deep seated belief that outsiders are incapable of intermixing with the dominant social classes of a society and are held at bay through prejudice and authoritarianism and SDO. The old saying “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes” will help people understand better the forces at play in acceptance of outsiders in society. Something Trump supporters are loathe to do.

  • Relative Deprivation Trump adherents feel deprived relative to what they expected to possess at this point in their lives and relative to what they erroneously perceive other “less deserving” groups have acquired. Rapidly rising costs of housing and prescription drugs have aggravated their financial concerns. Their savings may not allow the type of ideal retirements they had long envisioned. And hopes for their children advancing beyond their status and going to college are being dashed by rising tuitions.

Relative Deprivation is a huge topic, and one that crosses a plethora of social strata. Combine this trait with the idea that older white men are being pushed out of the mainstream into a lesser social strata that devalues their long-held beliefs in white privilege and things deteriorate quickly into finger pointing, blame and anger, if not outright hatred. Immigrants are especially juicy targets for angry, white men facing what they see as irrelevancy in a time when they should be at the height of their plans for retirement.

This brief look does not do Pettigrew’s research justice, however, it is a thumbnail look at the motives behind, not only Trump supporters, but the manipulative genius that Trump brings to the table to demonize opponents and assuage the emotions his audiences bring to the rallies he and they thrive on. Pettigrew sums things up by saying,

All five of these tightly interconnected phenomena – authoritarianism, social dominance, prejudice, lack of intergroup contact and relative deprivation – make people vulnerable to an intense sense of threat. Authoritarian leaders have long understood that they can attract followers by enhancing the perception of dangerous threats to the society and offering simple solutions (Mols & Jetten, 2016). Sometimes the threats are real (Hitler with massive Weimar inflation), but often they are imagined (Trump with patently false claims of a declining economy, massive voter fraud, enormously increased crime, and unvetted immigration).

The sad and frightening reality is that Trump’s use of these traits is working and working very well. Democrats are now being characterized as acting under “mob rule.” This is yet another attempt to create the idea of “the other” in the mind’s of his supporters. The real question unanswered is how will those supporters react if even this bottom feeder approach is taken away from them and Trump goes down for whatever reason. The prospect isn’t pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Of Libturds, demented Democrats and Go Butt A Stump Radicals Edition

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Okay, I confess. Sometimes when I get tired of picking fuzz out of my navel, I go on conservative websites and spar with the jolly good people who inhabit that darkly, sinister, conspiracy world. Don’t get me wrong, I usually have a reason for doing such a hollow and unsatisfying endeavor, but normally my actions are prompted by an article or image that I run across that gets my hackles up, and I can’t stop myself.

Today, it was on the conservative website American Update. By chance, a couple of weeks ago, I came across this site and on a whim signed up for their newsletter. I know; I’m a glutton for punishment, but really, I felt like I was living in a liberal bubble where everyone agreed with me. I decided in the spirit of expanding my understanding of the issues I should hear what some of the opposition has to say. Honestly, I didn’t understand Trump supporters, and what they professed. It ain’t pretty.

The story that caught my attention came from American Update with the headline Meghan McCain Slams Roseanne and Trump Fans in One Swift Blow. Now, you would think that the discussion would take into consideration Barr’s ugly racist tweet she made a few weeks ago, and the discussion would center around the fact that in a polite society one takes a civil approach to debate on the merits of the topic. Think again.

One post stated that Meghan and John were not really Republicans and neither should claim they are part of the Republican Party. The post went on to say that John was irrelevant and did not speak for the righteous of the Republican Party and hoped that John would soon be six feet under.

Not quite the civil discourse I expected, but hey, this is America and everybody has their First Amendment rights, yes? This post came at the beginning of the queue and marked the spot were things went south . . . way south. Soon, the tenor of the debate went full metal jacket with most of the respondents calling the McCains RHINOs and painting them, especially John, as a traitor and a “songbird”, a term I assumes comes from the fact McCain confessed to high crimes while being tortured by his Vietnamese jailers.

To be clear, I have never had much love or affinity for McCain, but the spewing of hatred and derision for him as he faces an agonizing  death shocked me. I never served in the military, but my dad, my father-in-law, and even my brother did, and I have a naive belief if someone gave up time in their life to protect our national interests their service qualifies them as heroes in my book. Okay, so Vietnam was not exactly our country’s high water mark ethically, but it still qualifies. I think for me McCain became a hero when he gave a thumbs down on the floor of the Senate in a bitch slap to Trump and his harebrained scheme of the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare.

As you might expect, I was the only liberal posting today, and I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know. One woman wanted to know if I had been smoking “that stuff” and ended by calling me “the blind one”.  Later in the thread, she called me “backward” and that I should “go butt a stump”. For all of its incomprehensibility, I kind of liked the idea although I am still not sure if she knows I am not a goat. Maybe goats and liberals are the same in the world of the Tea Party. Another post accused me of spewing liberal propaganda which demonstrated my lack of intelligence. Irony is wasted on these people.

My favorite beyond being called a libturd, anti-American and a demented Democrat was this jewel, “Go smoke your blunt you hype. Or a pole if you’d like.” I would have loved to have had that one explained to me, but by this time, the gig was up and most of the respondents simply questioned my sanity or equated my existence to the spawn of Satan. One poster said he served in the Navy and met many Navy pilots who he deeply respected, “. . . more so than another disgusting whiny pontificating liberal that “claims” to know about members of the Republican Party.”

True, but I have to say, I know a lot more about the Republican Party now than I did this morning. The vitriol and hatred that permeates the responses was frankly quite shocking. The tenor of most posts was vile and ruthless in their condemnation of McCain and his daughter. To her credit, I think Meghan was referring to the “basket of deplorables” that Clinton pointed to in the run up to the election. It’s alive.

This is the real issue about American politics today. We are so polarized that parts of the Republican Party are so disassociated with reality that they actually believe that Trump is good for America, and he is making America great again. In a fit of false “patriotism” , they are willing to overlook the Orange One’s kowtowing to Putin and the Russians and think it is a good thing. I wonder what they will say if and when Mueller reveals Trump colluded with the Russians to tweak the election results. Or that his financial statements link him to the Mafia, Russian oligarchs and/or money laundering or any number of other counts of larceny, deceit, philandering, or collusion. I worry about this. From the vile statements posted on conservative websites, I do not think these people will go quietly into the night.

The idea that the Republican Party is representative of all America is hard for me to believe. If there are respectable Republicans out there, they have their work cut out for them. The Tea Party movement and the Freedom Caucus seem hell bent on destroying this nation, or maybe, remaking it in their own image to assuage their angst and fear of losing their white privilege. They tend to cherry pick the Constitution to fit their current bitch about what they think is wrong for America. I fear that if Mueller does come back with illegal acts and/or condemnation of Trump in some form these people aren’t going to take it lying down. That would certainly be the constitutional crisis so many believe is coming.

Living Large In Carson City: Pardon Me Roy Is That The Cad Who Ate Our Constitution? Edition

The Chronicles of the Man Child Who Would Be King

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Quotation of the Day:

We overthrew control by monarchy, and the Constitution signals in multiple places that the president is subject to law.

Peter Shane, a law professor at Ohio State University and the co-author of a casebook on the separation of powers. NYT

Dear Trump Supporters,

This letter is more of a cleansing of my own consciousness than an attempt to change anyone’s mind, so feel free to take my words with a grain of salt. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for Trump to block Hillary; voted for Trump as longtime Republican who felt obligated not to buck the party nominee (regardless of your reservations); or a die-hard deplorable who was simply “mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore,”; I repeat it doesn’t matter. You made an egregious mistake, and now, we are seeing the folly of your misguided allegiance to a candidate who makes Hillary look like a saint.

I really believe that many of you in the first two categories listed above have seen the error of your ways and sincerely wish you could dial back the clock to November of 2017 and take back your vote. Sane, rational people, after 500 days of reflection, have only one option in the matter. Admit your error and work with the rest of the nation to throttle back this man child who would be king and throw the bum out, or at least cripple his agenda come November of this year.

This blog is aimed at the die-hard Trumpers and their inability to see their support of Trump as a strike against our democracy like we have not seen before, and hopefully, never see again. There are several areas that, as Americans, you have to take into consideration.

The first is obviously racism. Many of you developed a racist ideology during the Obama years, or were racist all along, but felt expressing it was too outrageous to display in polite company (or not). Of course, up until the Obama years, no black man had had the temerity to run for the highest office in the land (Jessie Jackson to the contrary). To your shock and horror, however, he won, leaving you in a smoldering funk where you found that that seed of racism within you began to grow and take over your better self. Trump set you free, or as we used to say in the 1960s, you let your freak flag fly.

How you can’t see that racism is eating both you and the country alive, and the results are destructive both personally and too the fabric of our free society. Trump did, and continues, to play you like a cheap fiddle for his own agenda. Do you really think he gives a damn about black men taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem to a protest police brutality against people of color? If you do, put down the glass of Kool-Aid. You have been duped.

Then there are the Evangelicals. Explain to me how a person of faith can sit idly by when the president you helped elect is a proven pussy grabber, liar, fornicator, philanderer, a cheat, and very likely an obstructionist and colluder with our greatest enemy since WWII? Show me in the Bible where your Jesus would condone anything Trump has done in the last year and a half. His half-baked policies are meant to divide this nation, not make it better. What did you expect from a man whose history is painted in moral depravity with what anyone who confesses to be a Christian should find abhorrent and diametrically opposed to what being a Christian is supposed to mean.

I’ve heard many of the holier than thou church leaders claim that it was, and is expedient, to support Trump to help bring America to God. You are fooling yourselves. Americans are not sheep willing to accept your half-baked ideology that Christianity should be the nation’s religion of choice. The Constitution is clear that everyone has the right to worship however they choose, or not. Religion lives in the world apart from our government and it’s intuitions. Be happy with that; it’s more than you deserve considering the low road you have taken by supporting Trump. He’s using you, not the other way around.

I have also heard people proudly claim they are members of the basket of deplorables. Really? What exactly does it mean to willingly align yourself with this group? It means that you are informed by Fox News, or worse, ideologues like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones, rather than think for yourselves. These people are not visionaries. They are entertainers at best or con men at worst who push an ideology of separatism because it sells. They see the fear and anger that people like you embrace and use it against you for profit or ratings or whatever else they can use it for to bilk the unsuspecting masses by fanning your fear and anger for profit. By falling for the hype, you’ve reduced yourself to caricature of what a true American should be. One who questions the acts of our leaders and stands up to them when they go off the rails. If there was ever a president that needed to be stood up to, Trump is the prime example.

The upshot of the support that Trump die-hards have given him we see on the news daily. Now, he and his minions claim that he is above the law. How in the name of all things right and holy can you denigrate your rights as an American to support someone who claims to be above you socially and legally to the detriment of the Constitution and the rule of law? Can’t you see this is the logistical extension of Trump’s agenda? This isn’t a new concept, however, F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best when he wrote,

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

As I said in the beginning, I write this not to condemn Trump supporters, but rather, to understand. Granted, liberals have their issues as well, but let me be frank, “This shit just got real.” Trump is on the verge of doing something really stupid, really vile and evil in regard to the rule of law and our Constitutional democracy. You have two choices. You can continue to support a man who thumbs his nose at the best of what it means to be an American or see him for what he is: A grifter who considers only himself and his tribe. A tribe, I fear, that his supporters in the ranks will never be a part of in the end.

 

Living Large In Carson City: The World According to Donald Trump Edition

Opinions

The constitutional crisis is here

Eugene Robinson

Stop waiting for the constitutional crisis that President Trump is sure to provoke. It’s here.

A constitutional crisis is brought about in a number of ways. It can happen when the federal and local governments come to an impasse on a topic with no constitutional solution that addresses the issue can be found. Additionally, it can happen when different people or groups within the society hold unresolvable stances not covered explicitly by the constitution, or most commonly, when two branches of the government are at odds over the power one branch holds over another.

In this case, of course, the current constitutional crisis is pretty clear cut. Does Trump have the power to use the Attorney General’s office as his personal tool to circumvent history, law, and of course, the constitution? The secession of the southern states that precipitated the Civil War is a classic example.

Yesterday, American’s found out that Donald Trump made good on his demand that he would force Assistant Attorney Rob Rosenstein and Christopher Wray to turn over sensitive documents, normally held in private to protect national interests and the people who would be vulnerable if said documents saw the light of day.

When American’s think about the presidency of Donald Trump, it is hard not to note the lies, graft, greed, ineptitude and total disregard for the laws and mores that are the basis for American society. Sure, Trump is beset by a growing probe that has the potential for bringing him down along with a cast of misfits, his family and close advisors, but no one should be fooled in thinking there is any substance to his claims about a “witch hunt” or the “deep state” or “the swamp” being at fault. Donald Trump is between a rock and a hard place of his own making. This is a fact he may never be able to comprehend and certainly not accept.

Robinson noted,

Trump’s power play is a gross misuse of his presidential authority and a dangerous departure from long-standing norms. Strongmen such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin use their justice systems to punish enemies and deflect attention from their own crimes. Presidents of the United States do not — or did not, until Sunday’s tweet:

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Trump’s demand is the equivalent of an angry child stomping their foot and demanding that their parents do their will or else. The one thing that a sane human being can take away from this is that something has the Orange One frightened and running scared. There seems to be little doubt Mueller is closing in, and a reckoning is coming regardless of what Trump and his cronies do or think. Never has there been a time in recent history for the American people to grow a backbone and stand up to Trump the bully and demand that truth and justice be served.

As of yesterday, this is no longer a partisan issue. This constitutional crisis affects everyone from the Republican Party (who have been shamefully reluctant to confront the president), the Democrats, liberals, conservatives, evangelicals, and yes, even the infamous “basket of deplorables” that have done so much to enable the president to bring America to the untenable situation we find ourselves in today. Speaking of the “basket of deplorables”, how can his base, in good conscience, support a man whose life, career and worldview is so antithetical to the American way of life and governance – to say nothing about the damage he is doing to the constitution and the office of the presidency?

Fear is a funny thing. It affects us all in different ways. Yet, here we see a third of the country so frightened of losing their privileged status that they are willing to support and defend someone who has not only lied to the other two-thirds of the country, but in the end, to them as well. The real question is how they will react if and when Trump is brought down on criminal charges and forced out of office. If that occurs, the current constitutional crisis will look tame compared to the confrontation that will come about if that comes to fruition.

Thomas Jefferson was if nothing else prescient and no fool when it comes to the folly of his fellow human beings. He saw firsthand the corrupt nature of those who would wrest control of government from the masses to concentrate their efforts to the benefit of the few. He once said,

(I)n questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.

The American people should not kid themselves. The hounds are literally at the gate and little good can come from allowing Trump to make a mockery of the constitution and the American way of life with little regard for the consequences of his actions. It is time to face reality. Trump and his ilk are not like the vast majority of Americans. They are a self-centered, opportunistic and a threatening force that must be confronted and defeated. Without action, far worse is on the horizon. Forgive me for this, but as the popular television series, Game of Thrones, would say:

Winter is coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living Large in Carson City: The Center Is not Holding Edition

Image result for images of debate cartoon

Videohive.net

This past week (running through the weekend) I did something I swore not to do ever do again. It happened so suddenly I was knee deep into it before I knew it. Having sworn off more times than I care to admit, I engaged two deeply loyal Trump supporters on Facebook as to why I thought they were wrong in their beliefs. It was a tag team, wink and a nod offensive on their part, and honestly, I blame no one but myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew better from past skirmishes with other equally loyal fans of Trump, and it turned out no better.  From the beginning of Trump’s presidential campaign, I have been baffled how seemingly, normally intelligent people could fall for the charade that is Donald Trump. All one has to do is stay awake and marginally focused on what is going on in the country to see the dire straits America has fallen into at the hands of the Orange One.

Actually, I learned early on that engaging people who deny climate change, accommodate serial lying, cheating on their wives, and are literally clueless about governance at the federal level was a waste of everyone’s time. After all, if a person refuses to follow minimal standards of decorum in public office, there is not much of a chance that anything I say will change loyalists’ minds.

To my credit, my issue with the two gentlemen this past week was not to “change” their minds, but something much more specific. Both of them began their posts by dredging up the past sins of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama did this. Hillary did that. They were never punished. Why? The simple answer to this is the rule of law. Had they overstepped too far and broken the law then there would have been consequences. Of course, one would have thought I poured gasoline on my two adversaries and set them on fire judging from their responses.

To me, it is maddening when Trump supporters constantly blame Obama and Hillary for the turmoil gripping America today. The very fabric of our nation is under siege from incompetence, greed, assumed privilege and the total disregard for how a nation should be run. I tried to make these point to my two fellow Facebook posters. They would have none of it. In their minds America is on the highway to greatness with a Trump firmly in the driver’s seat. The swamp is draining and people should be happy.

So, the question remains: Why? What would make a fairly large bloc of voters to disregard the lessons of their parents and history and simply embrace a man who is shaping up to be the worst American presidents on record. The answers are legion; none of which satisfy this black hole of a dilemma.

Here is one explanation,

As the social psychologist David Dunning wrote during the campaign, “Some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes.” In other words, it’s not that they forgave Trump for being wrong, but rather that they failed “to recognize those gaffes as missteps” in the first place. USAToday

I heard a speaker put it this way recently, “They are just too dumb to know what they know (or don’t know).” This statement makes me think of Hillary’s “basket of deplorables”. The assumption was  that die-hard Trump supporters were under educated, mostly white, and often as not, religious and highly pissed off for circumstances beyond their control. While that description might be true for some of Trump’s base, I don’t think it is a true representation of the vast majority of Trump’s most rabid troops. The two Trump supporters I engaged at the end of last week were intelligent, well-spoken (or written) and knew their talking points backwards and forwards.

The problem, however, is they were wrong on just about every topic. Like Trump, they are climate change deniers. Like Trump, they think Washington is a smoldering swamp that Trump has been preordained to drain. They seemed to fall lockstep into all of the bad things that Trump supporters hold true and dear to someone like me. On the big issues like guns, global safety concerns, diplomatic integrity and a what it really means to put America first, there is no denying that these are issues that divide the vast majority of Americans. Yet, there is more there.

Empathy towards others does not seem to have much meaning for many of Trump’s base. They have become so attached to their monetary and material possessions (or lack thereof) that human life and dignity mean nothing to them. Or maybe it is because they have lost so much over the years as factories closed or moved overseas leaving them jobless and without the promised retirement fund they worked toward only to have it snatched away by giant corporations or Wall Street firms.

With a lack of empathy comes a sense of us versus them, Black versus white, gay versus straight, anti-choice versus choice when dealing with women’s bodies and on and on. These are serious divides that Donald Trump has no inclination of solving if he understands they exist at all. Sure unending war, climate change, the scourge of drugs, the exploding Republican deficit, poverty, and  a whole host of other issues are simmering on the back and front burners. But if America can not regain its empathetic foundation when dealing with our own, we will become more and more fractured as a society until our democracy becomes the ultimate victim.

One thing is clear: Trump over the past two years has become the emblem of exclusion and divisiveness. No president has played the race card and vilified those who he sees as less than patriotic, often based on the color of their skin, than Donald Trump. Additionally, the idea that Trump following is a working class phenomenon has been debunked since those heady days of the campaign when “Lock her up” and the attacks on the wicked media were his stock and trade supposedly aimed at the angry, white working class voters.

Then there is this.

It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class.

When journalists wrote that Trump was appealing to working-class voters, they didn’t really know whether Trump voters were construction workers or CEOs.

Moreover, according to what is arguably the next-best measure of class, household income, Trump supporters didn’t look overwhelmingly “working class” during the primaries. To the contrary, many polls showed that Trump supporters were mostly affluent Republicans. For example, a March 2016 NBC survey that we analyzed showed that only a third of Trump supporters had household incomes at or below the national median of about $50,000. Another third made $50,000 to $100,000, and another third made $100,000 or more and that was true even when we limited the analysis to only non-Hispanic whites. If being working class means being in the bottom half of the income distribution, the vast majority of Trump supporters during the primaries were not working class.

The article goes on to say the same can be said about education. While a significant number of Trump followers didn’t have college degrees, the numbers show . . .

Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.

So, what is the motivation behind the solid 33 percent Trump base that seem enthralled with the Orange One in such a tunnel vision manner?  If economic uncertainty is not the motivation or lack of education, what drives these people into a rabid, frothing at the mouth hysterical devotion to a man who obviously cares little for anything that does not underscore his “greatness”?
Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds

Living Large in Carson City: The “Everything You Say Bounces Off Me and Sticks to You Edition

The White House has a favorite excuse to explain away some of Trump’s most controversial statements

Donald TrumpDonald Trump. Jonathan Ernst/Reuter

“When the White House is asked about some of President Donald Trump’s more controversial comments, they’ve frequently returned to one favorite excuse:

He’s just joking.

Both White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president made the remark in jest. Sanders said the president was “clearly joking,” while Gidley said the comment was “tongue-in-cheek.”

At first it was funny then a little pathetic. Trump apologists were everywhere. Now, it’s become a dangerous obsession. It boggles the mind how Republicans can go on national television and make obscene claims that are meant to justify Trump’s daily outbursts. Of course, the Republican primary and presidential race should have been warning enough that a storm of half-baked, utterly insane Trump justification by his army of sycophants was on the horizon. Remember this?

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”

He was talking about his supporters, both hired and from his 33 percent basket of deplorables. America laughed at him then and thought surely this will sink any chance he has of taking the top post in our American democracy.  It didn’t. Still, there was the hope that his base and hirelings would some day come around and see him for the blowhard that he is in a gesture of American solidarity. They haven’t.

This week, Trump accused Democrats who didn’t clap for him in the State of the Union address as treasonous. Just so it is crystal clear, treasonous means betraying one’s country or being guilty in an attempt thereof. Besides being ludicrous, self-serving and just down right wrong, it sets a dangerous precedent for the days ahead.

A true statesman’s job is not to point out the differences between the people, but their job is to find a way to unite disparate beliefs in spite of their differences. Trump’s take no prisoners who disagree with him attitude and his often-incomprehensible antics and snide statements are divisive and beneath the office he seems bent on destroying.

One could argue this is just the ugly side of political infighting. Shit happens, but not to the degree or the regularity that Trump seems to think is acceptable. Paid advisers and talking heads of the media earn their living doing this day in and day out. It is what American politics is about, whether we like it or not.

What is most disturbing is how Trump supporters are beginning to react. Get involved in any online debate on Facebook or other social media outlets. The level of vitriol has ratcheted up to a degree that is both disturbing and a bit darkly comical. There is no reasoning with these supporters. Facts mean zip. They have swallowed the lies and innuendos as the truth. And it is spreading to the absurd.

The Trump administration’s attack on American free press is especially disturbing. Every totalitarian regime begins by attacking and trying to control the press. Trump has been at this task since the presidential campaign. Next, they begin attacking the opposition party like he did his week by labeling Democrats treasonous for having the courage to show their displeasure with his actions. What comes next? Obviously firing Mueller and/or Rosenstein in an attempt to shut down the Russia investigation seems logical.

Logic, however, has never been a synonym applied to Trump’s thought process. What he does next is anyone’s guess.

 

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