Living Large In Carson City: There Is Nothing To See Here Folks – Keep Moving Edition


 “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwindHosea

I know this is going to seem callous and crass, but oh for the days when all America had to worry about was the Iraq and Afghani wars, Michelle’s vegetable garden on the White House lawn, or even a silly Korean rapper called Psy and his blockbuster hit ‘Gangnam Style’. Those were the days of clear cut messaging (Psy is the exception) that appeared in the news cycles and moved on after a day or two. It was a time (anytime before November of 2016) when news stories were more or less one dimensional and could be covered with alacrity that allowed one’s mind to focus and then shut off if so desired.

No longer. Trump redefined the news in such a way that scandals breeds mini scandals that breed major scandals that breed tangential scandals. It’s taxing and wearing the American electorate down. Now, Trump doesn’t even bother creating his own scandals but gloms onto scandals created by others and makes them his own. The scandal du jour concerns Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and a tweet she shared in response to a segement of the American Israeli community’s influence on Congressional members,

First of all, a caveat, I am married to a non-practicing Jew who is the singular most beautiful thing to occur in my life. I will always be grateful to her lineage. It’s a bloodline thing. However, the Jewish people have been snake bit from the beginning of their existence. If the Old Testament is to be believed, they suffered under their Abrahamic god’s capricious, often cruel, whims but preserved to emerge as a cohesive positive force in the world. Then there is their treatment by the Germans in WWII such that the Holocaust has become the definition of reprehensible and evil. Still, again, they preserved

The problem I have with Israeli government, not the Jewish people, is the fact that on the international stage the nation is essentially seen as a terrorist state. Since they refused to return land occupied during the 1967 war against the Palestinians, their refusal to withdraw to the original Israeli borderlines has made them a criminal nation. Compounding the issue is the hard right shift politically over the years within Israel’s ruling parties that has led to expansion of the illegal settlements and genocidal acts against the Palestinians that can not be ignored.

True, the Palestinians committed atrocities during those hectic years after the war.  True, they are the sworn enemies of Israel, but with legitimate claims on the land that Israel now occupies. With forced evacuations, unwarranted raids and attacks on their people, the Palestinians are a shadow of the threat they once represented to their aggressive neighbor. The Israeli government is quick to point out that the Palestinian’s Muslim religion puts them at diametrical odds with the well-being of what Israel stands for in the end. Yet, the ruling Israeli government is ruled by hardliners, no less rabid than American evangelicals, who want nothing less than the eradication of the Palestinian people and state.

I read somewhere that anti-Israel does not equate to antisemitism. You can hate or decry the policies of the government, but not hate the vast majority of everyday Jews; many of whom are also at odds with the government’s choices in dealing with the far less powerful Palestinians. Yet, this is what is at the base of the Omar controversy that Trump has done everything he can to exacerbate.

Omar’s tweet has been blown out of proportion and smacks of bigotry, hypocrisy, and elitism on the part of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Omar apologized but has been the brunt of ridicule and derision for having the temerity to speak truth to the powers behind the throne. Here she attempted to clarify her stance,

So, for me, I want to talk about — I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask: Why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy? Right? Truthout 

Trump jumped into the fray earlier on calling for Omar to resign from the Foreign Affairs Committee and Congress for what he thinks was her disrespect for Israel. The entire affair has devolved into a bullshit, political claptrap of monumental proportions. The fact is American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the strongest pro-Israel lobbying firm in Washington, targeting all Congressmen, not just Republicans and/or Democrats. And yes, as Ady Barkan wrote in an article for The Nation, What Ilhan Omar Said About AIPAC Was Right, it is about the Benjamins,

By Monday morning, AIPAC had mobilized its allies to condemn Omar’s comment for playing into centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes that wealthy Jews control the world. Even the Democratic leadership put out a statement condemning her. All because she dared to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

As a Jew, an Israeli citizen, and a professional lobbyist (ahem, activist), I speak from personal experience when I say that AIPAC is tremendously effective, and the lubricant that makes its operation hum is dollar, dollar bills. The Nation

Officially, AIPAC is prohibited by law from raising money for candidates because they represent a foreign government. However, the group has evolved with a modus operandi that subverts the rule of law while not actually breaking the law. Writing for The Nation in an article titled This Is How AIPAC Really Works, M. J. Rosenberg stated,

In short, AIPAC’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested.

Again, I know this because I witnessed it over and over again. I sat in AIPAC staff meetings at which the political director discussed whom “we” would be supporting in this campaign and whom “we” were going to “destroy” in that one. I also sat in on meetings at AIPAC’s huge annual policy conference, attended by as many as 20,000 AIPAC members and virtually the entire Congress, at which fundraising pitches were made.

AIPAC, of course, denies that anyone raises money at its policy conference. And it’s true. No one does… in the official AIPAC rooms. However, there are also the side rooms, nominally independent of the main event but just down the hall, where candidates and invited donors (only the really wealthy donors get the invites) meet and decide which candidate will get what. This arrangement is almost a metaphor for the whole AIPAC fundraising operation. The side rooms are nominally not AIPAC, so AIPAC can deny that any fundraising takes place at their conference. But in fact, they are the most exclusive venues in the country for candidates to raise money in the name of advancing the AIPAC cause.  The Nation

AIPAC uses a variety of “coercive” tools to bend recalcitrant members of Congress to get behind the AIPAC agenda. Nearly everyone in Congress is contacted by members of AIPAC and asked if they will support the AIPAC agenda. Those who say no or waffle can expect a mobilized attempt to change their minds including ensuring, for instance, the Congressperson is confronted back home in public discussions by someone sympathetic to the AIPAC agenda. It’s an insidious organization that puts Israel first and American issues on the back burner until they get their way.

So, the Omar brouhaha is just that a brouhaha seeded with bigotry, politics, fear, and questionable allegiances. While most people won’t recognize it, this is politics at its dirtiest and the epitome of the swamp that is Washington governance. The question really comes down to “What do we get for our lopsided support of Israel?” Politicians get the backing they need at the expense of their integrity. Evangelicals get the warm and woolly feeling deep in their guts that by supporting Israel they are helping usher in the last days before Christ returns. The president gets a distraction that pulls our attention away from his inept, corrupt, and illegitimate presidency.

Only the truth goes wanting.


Living Large In Carson City: On Soul, Rancid Tweets, Irony And “My Wonderful Son, Donald” Edition.

“Has there ever been anything as simultaneously dangerous and yet pathetic as the Trump-led Republican Party?”  from the Daily Kos’ Swamps and perjury traps and Trumps, oh my! by Ian Reifowitz

Reifowitz states the obvious, but as so many things these days in the world that Trump made, this past week represents a watershed of problematic claims that will surely follow the Trump White House for weeks to come. Honestly, however, to be fair, I thought the “pussy grabber” tape, or when he said, “I Could Stand In the Middle Of Fifth Avenue And Shoot Somebody And I Wouldn’t Lose Any Voters”, would be enough to sink the Trump Titanic, but no; his base ate it up.

The base is one of the main problems that plagues America today, and they are getting weirder.  News of the QAnon conspiracy captivated Americans last week once some of his supporters started showing up at his rallies sporting signs and casual wear (think a Sharpie and a t shirt) attributing them to an  online mystery man/woman who supposedly works undercover in the Trump White House. Q posts enigmatic messages the base interprets pretty much any way they damn well please. The whole phenomenon is a batshit crazy, patchwork quilt of innuendos, lies and half truths. Is it any wonder Trumpites fell so hard for this one? To me, it appears that the base is becoming just as disenchanted with the Orange One as the rest of us. By grabbing at straws represented by an invisible savior, they indicate that all is not well in the House of Trump. Far from it.

Then there were the tweets. For all of is claims like “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”, Trump’s statements belie his grip on reality. One of his more controversial missives came last week when he posted:


Much was made of this tweet by the media and pundits. Some called it the smoking gun of tweets. Others simply fixated on the “wonderful son, Donald” statement which begs the question is Trump finally comprehending his actions and those close to him might be illegal and that there will be hell to pay? His halfhearted explanation, “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics” simply does not wash. Reifowitz explains the import of this issue by quoting Vice-President Al Gore in his article,

In 2000, Al Gore’s campaign was sent George W. Bush’s debate prep materials—stolen materials. Gore didn’t seek them out, and he didn’t take a meeting or send his top guys to a meeting in order to receive it. What did he do? I’ll let Al tell you: “We immediately turned it over to the FBI.” And no, he doesn’t deserve special credit for following the law: that’s what anyone seeking the highest office in our democracy must do. It is, however, the opposite of what the corrupt Donalds did. Kos

When teaching irony in college English classes, we deal with three types of irony. Verbal irony is your garden variety of irony where words mean  or appear to say something different than what they say on paper. Situational irony is the difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. Finally, Dramatic Irony rears its ugly head when the audience is more aware of what is happening than a character or characters do. Othello is a great example of this. Played like a fiddle by Iago, Othello is wooed into destruction by the lies and hatred of his one-time foot soldier and comrade. He never sees the end coming until it is too late.

Trump’s tweet has them all. What is really interesting as pointed out by several authorities and legal minds, Trump’s tweet accomplishes nothing but muddy the waters and further implicate Trump, not as colluding, but rather, involved in a full-blown conspiracy that taints everyone involved with a veneer of dirt by plotting with a foreign enemy to subjugate American democracy.

His final line, “I did not know about it!”, would be laughable if it was not so pathetic. The entire tweet is an attempt to contort the facts to fit a narrative that is part schlock, part deception and part fairy tale. These are the ravings of a man on the brink of losing everything he worked for no matter how nefarious and over the top his goals might have been.

Never has there been a president that has been more obtuse and corrupt as the man who now occupies the White House. His lies are not even that interesting or effective anymore. Fake News has become little more than whatever comes out of Trump’s mouth at any given moment during any given day. He is unable to discern between truth and madness. This is why he and his ineffective advocate, Rudy Guiliani, are so afraid of allowing Trump to sit down and talk candidly with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Mueller’s bullshit barometer would take Trump down in an afternoon of open questioning. This truth is shared by just about everyone in any position of power within the administration.

Whether or not anything comes of Trump’s revealing tweet is still up for grabs. Already he has ginned up the obfuscation engine that blows smoke across the nation. Possibly, that won’t be such a bad ending to this episode. The damage, however, has been done. Trump is grasping at straws and is getting sloppy as the content of this messages show. The pressure is mounting and the end seems near, or at least, nearer than it was last week.