Living Large In Carson City: Democracy on the Line Edition

“My life before him was so simple and decided, now after him…It’s just…After.” ― Anna Todd

I ran across the quote above and got to thinking: What was it like not having Donald Trump plastered across the media world when life was simpler and more rational and sane. The first time I really paid attention to Trump was when he made that long escalator ride down with Melania in Trump Tower to announce his presidential candidacy. They were still holding hands back then, and Americans had never heard her utter, “Give me a fucking break.” Five years later, things have changed.

I can barely remember the feeling of knowing Barrack Obama was sitting in the White House, and all was relatively well in the country. Where did those times go? Now, all I have are memories of those days. After five years of scandals, pandemic, lies, distortions, Bill Barr, and the corrupt Republican Party even those memories seem surreal. Merle Haggard sang a song with this line, “Let’s stop rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell” which seems fitting in the age of Trump and his wild grifting philosophy.

Frankly, I am frightened. Frightened because Trump might win. Frightened Trump might lose but disavow the election results. Frightened because there is an element of American society that is so butt fuck stupid that they support this monster, even unto taking up arms against the Constitution, our American way of life, and all that entails. Frightened of the prospect of innocent people being killed in the streets because of their belief that we do in deed live in a free and democratic society. Frightened that if the election is contested in the courts and it winds up in the Supreme Court, conservatives will once again steal the election regardless of the impact it has on our society.

I want to believe that I’m just being foolish and believe it couldn’t happen in our country. I thought something like that when Bush vs Gore went to the Court. I remember the night of November 3, 2016 when the results came in and Trump was declared the winner early on in the evening. It never occurred to me that as bad as we knew Trump was in the beginning that he would progressively become worse and worse until our country no longer resembles the country we lived in under Barrack Obama.

I am ashamed, dishearten, and sickened by the fact that America, once the mightiest and most revered country on the planet, is now little more than a laughingstock on the world stage. It breaks my heart that because of Trump’s mismanagement of the Covid-19 virus that 226,500 Americans are dead with just under nine million cases confirmed in the United States. I am depressed that an equal number of deaths are on the horizon.

Most of all, I feel helpless. Helpless that there isn’t anything tangible that I can do about it other than vote. I despair that my vote and the vote of those who feel and believe the way I do might not be enough to stop the madness before the nation is consumed. I feel helpless I like so many others have lost hope in this time when hope is so badly needed. I want to believe that the evening of November 3 will return a favorable decision for the freedom and sustainability of our Republic. Yet, the abyss of shame I feel for not believing in the good of the American people and the centuries old process might not be enough.

I know that many of you will tell me to buck up, think positively, and keep the faith. I wish I could tell you I do. Yet, looking back over the past four years, it hard to lift my thoughts up to combat the constant stream of lies, abuse, and general disregard of basic decency that this administration seems to embrace as normal. Maybe, we should have seen this coming. Maybe, but honestly, if someone had told me that we would be in this position two nights before and election that could be the end of the America we’ve known all of our lives, I would have laughed in their face. Such is the nature of evil.

The type of world we live in on November 4 (or when ever we find out the outcome of the election) depends so much on the whims of fate. What we will have to live with regardless of who wins is going to be a new day for America. If it’s Trump, well, I will let you fill in your own vision of the future. If it is Joe Biden, we will have to come to grips that there is so much wrong with our America. Things we’ve too long swept under the rug. The fact that I am writing this, and I know you know the feeling, means that our democracy is in peril. How to heal the rift between Republicans, conservatives in general, Evangelicals, and a laundry list of repressive factions who thought it wise to align themselves with a fascist dictator wanna’ be will be daunting.

The clock is ticking. Today is Monday, November 2, less than twenty hours before the vote begins. So many questions are on the table with so many answers on the horizon. It’s hard to put on my happy face and look the future in the eye. Yet, deep down inside me, I want to believe the madness is coming to an end that Biden and Harris will overcome the flood of lies and adversities to prevail. Yet, something in me knows that Donald Trump is still playing his long game, still grifting, still looking for the big score. A score, I fear, America can’t afford.

Living Large In Carson City: The Politics Of Fear Edition

I believe the Republicans have never thought that democracy was anything but a tribal myth.       Hunter S. Thompson

As far as weeks go, this has been a doozy even for Donald Trump. He has at different times during the week led the country down a dark, twisted path to a near all-out confrontation with Iran that would have thrown the Middle East into even greater chaos. The downing of an unmanned drone by the Iranian army was the flash point that set the plan in motion aided by two of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Mike Pompeo and that neocon madman, John Bolton. While Trump maintains that he called off the attack to avoid killing civilians on the ground, his rationale for the last minute decision seemed dubious to some and an outright lie to others. For whatever reason, his decision was a good thing, however, the entire debacle smacked of the president, yet again, creating a problem then miraculously stepping in to save the day by backtracking on everything he said earlier. The result was he made America look weak and confirmed in the minds of many (allies included) that he is bat shit crazy, and the world should be afraid . . . very afraid.

His threat to begin mass deportations of undocumented immigrants (read millions) caught most of the nation off guard, including his own enforcement arm of Homeland Security – ICE. Once the scope of the mass deportations planned came to light, reality stepped in with  hard, cruel facts that there was no chance that a plan of this scale could be pulled off in a matter of a few days regardless of his highness’s mind farts. The line this morning is that he delayed the deportations at the request of the Democrats for two weeks. During this time, what? Congress is going to come up with a viable Immigration policy that will make everything better? Of course as USA Today and others noted, the announcement of the deportation program came just hours before Trump’s reelection party in Orlando which was surely not lost on the Republican base who live for red meat like this tossed at them. Coincidence?

Rounding out the top three debacles of the weekend, Trump is again a passenger on the sexual deviant roller coaster after prominent advice columnist, E. Jean Carroll, accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a dressing room at the Bregdorf Goodman department store over 20 years ago. The allegation comes from a forthcoming book by Carroll in which she chronicles the abuse by prominent men she suffered over the years. Trump denies knowing Carroll, yet New York Magazine posted a picture of Carroll and Trump taken at a party which contradicts his denial. The one outstanding difference that separates most of the other 15 women who have already accused Trump of sexual misconduct is that Carroll claims Trump actually penetrated her, thereby, constituting rape, not just the pawing, kissing, or other sundry attacks he is noted for in the past.

So, over the course of several days, the president had two major policy snafus and a credible accusation of sexual assault. A lesser man wouldn’t be able to overcome the public humiliation or bureaucratic backlash of any one of these three events. Yet, Trump abides as his base and other Republicans stand ready to defend him regardless of how egregious the events or accusations levied against him. Which brings me to the topic of this post.

For far too long, the Democrats have huddled on the sidelines keeping their heads down waiting for Trump to self destruct with little hope of eclipsing his out sized personality and numerous blunders on the national and international stage. Now, the Democrats have found a voice and are speaking out . . . not against Trump . . . but Joe Biden.

For the record, I think Biden is probably a good man. Barack Obama thought enough of him to make him vice-president after all. He comes off as a quintessential avuncular type who everyone would love as a grandfather or trusted adviser. He seems relatively intelligent, well-spoken, and possesses a long track record of public service and loyalty to the party. And that is the problem.

A vote for Joe Biden would be a vote for and a regression to old line party politics and all that entails. Think Hillary Clinton but more likable. His record is not without controversy either. Let’s just say Joe has a lot of baggage and not all of it good. In an article by Paste Magazine, writer Walker Bagman writes in an article “The Case Against Joe Biden”, detailing the non-progressive stances Biden took on many major issues of the day. As a Senator from Delaware, he spent 36 years in Congress, served two terms as vice-president, and toed the party line as would be expected from a loyal “company man”. He was, and probably still is, on the wrong side of just about every issue progressives are pushing for in 2020. And that is not good.

Oddly enough, his past service is also what is fueling his rise in the polls. People are so worn out by the spectacle that Trump has made of the presidency, older, more entrenched Democrats, see in Biden a respite from the wild shenanigans that Trump revels in on a weekly basis. He’s safe in that way that others like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren are not. Judging from how his mainstream supporters have jumped on the bandwagon, he may be hard to beat. A good example is the morning talk show, Morning Joe, and how Biden has taken on an almost mythical persona who Joe and Mika literally fawn over while gloating at Bernie’s slip in the polls. It’s a little disgusting.

The issue I have with Biden is his inability to grasp the fact that Donald Trump has changed American politics forever. Republicans have sold their integrity down the river to bask in the power that Trump brings to his presidency, and his lack of shame over what he will do or say to get his way. Biden rightfully takes offense at this but seems to miss the point that it’s not just Trump who has changed. It’s the entire party.

Americans saw Biden’s blind spot chronicled in an article in Daily Kos earlier this month titled “Delusional Joe Biden thinks Republicans will totally work with him if he’s elected president”. In a Tweet supplied by Sam Stein, Biden said,

“With Trump gone you’re going to begin to see things change. Because these folks know better. They know this isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Or worded differently, when Trump is gone, common sense will return to the Republican Party and government will return to normal (whatever that is). Biden is being naive here if not downright boneheaded. Where does he think all of Trump’s supporters come from in the first place? They are the constituents of the very same people Biden is referring to who are now serving in government. Not only do the Republicans owe allegiance to their base and the radical ideas that they hold, but the Republicans are themselves indoctrinated with the same undemocratic beliefs that they find every time they return home.

In another much ballyhooed misstep, Biden referred to his ability in the “old days” of being able to work with hardcore segregationists (racists) to get things done like major civil rights reform. On this point, I understand why Biden said this. He was trying to show his experience dealing with difficult factions to overcome differences to achieve meaningful legislation that led to change. That was then. This is now. Trump’s supporters are no longer principled dissidents, but frightened people who fear marginalization and loss of the privilege they have known all their lives. It is a frightening prospect for them to contemplate not being in charge or losing the power they have relished throughout most of the nation’s history.

Strangely enough, it is fear that is fueling Biden’s rise in both the polls and the hopes of many older Americans that he will be able to “fix” the chaos Trump will surely leave behind. It is the fear of change that the country so desperately needs that will push Biden through the campaign season and possibly into the White House. Fear will lead many voters to see Sanders as a socialist, Warren as too strident, Harris as an angry prosecutor, and all the rest as threats to the change they do not want and will not support. They want safe, not revolution.

For many Americans, safe is better than even one day of a Trump second term, which is hard to argue against. The question remains, however, is Biden the candidate of “safe” when America needs a candidate of change? Trump and his minions have worked to systematically dismantle a plethora of hard won social and governmental accomplishments dating back well before Obama came to power. On the environment alone, America needs a leader who will face up to the challenges Trump will create over the four years he is in office.

Biden hearkens back to a time that older Americans relate to in their own lives. They understandably want a return to civility and a positive course forward. The problem remains will Biden be up to first winning the primary and then the General Election? Will he ever get the chance to demonstrate his “ability” to work with a disgruntled and weaponized Republican Party across the aisle? Right now at this early date, the verdict is still out.





Living Large In Carson City: Yeats: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world Edition


Fear is what kills us (Anonymous)

This presidency is going to be the death of me. It has me goggle eyed and brain dead seven days out of the week. With the release of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s findings last Friday, Trump’s life and political future just got a lot more complicated. Mueller’s release exposes former Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s role in paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Cohen’s confession implicates the president in his role in two plausible cases of campaign finance violations.  Cohen also admitted to lying to Congress about his contacts with Russian operatives in the now infamous Moscow Project well into the 2016 campaign season (with Trump’s knowledge). If Trump is not afraid, he should be.

Add to that, the fact that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, lied to Mueller on several occasions. Primarily, Manfort said he was not in contact with the Trump administration in 2018 when he actually was.  He also lied about his connections with Russian friend and longtime business associate, Konstantin Kimlimnik, who supposedly has ties to Russian intelligence. Kimlimnik is also a part of the Moscow Project and Cohen’s involvement with negotiations on Trump’s proposed building.

With these latest revelations, Trump and his minions have the stench of fear all around them. With Chief of Staff John Kelly’s imminent departure and Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff, Nick Ayers, the supposed heir apparent to Kelly turning down Trump at the last moment, an image of rats abandoning a sinking ship seems appropriate. Further complicating Trump’s situation, like Ayers, their doesn’t seem to be a lot of qualified people who want the job. Who in their right mind would accept the position as Trump’s hand maiden when it is obvious he doesn’t want to be handled, and as the New Year dawns, Mueller will certainly ramp up his filings causing the White House’s new Chief of Staff even more headaches.

Add to that, the Democrats takeover of the House and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff’s, promise to use the committee’s subpoena powers to delve further into the Russian investigation and Trump’s own checkered past. Trump has to be feeling the heat and not a little fear of what is to come. The possibilities have to frightening in light of Cohen’s confession of guilt, especially in terms of Project Moscow which could very well lay subpoena’s at the doorsteps of John, Jr and Ivanka. Ivanka’s husband, Jared, has problems of his own concerning his pre-inauguration cloak and daggers machinations trying to set up secret back channel communications with Russia. The entire scenario unfolding is reminiscent of the early 70s satirical comedy The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight, except the movie is more believable.

Even more concerning is the fact that Trump’s base and some of his go-to supporters at Fox News are waffling in their support of his less than stellar track record. In an article for Raw Story, Tana Ganeva quotes opinion writer Paul Waldman of the Washington Post when he wrote about the Chief of Staff debacle and why so few people are queuing up for the post,

“Why is that? It isn’t only that anyone tasked with running this White House and managing this president is destined to fail,” he notes.

“It’s also that if you care about your future in politics, it’s never too early to start distancing yourself from Trump. Because once he’s no longer president — perhaps in 2021, or perhaps even sooner — everyone who worked for him, supported him, or stood by him is going to be in an extremely uncomfortable position.”

“In Washington, where “former administration official” can be a ticket to lifelong employment and status, “former Trump administration official” or even “former Trump supporter” could well wind up being a scarlet letter,” Waldman says. “It might not ruin your career, but it could come to be seen as an indicator of poor judgment and questionable integrity.”

Claiming to be one of Trump’s deplorables always seemed shortsighted to me. Now, we see the chickens coming home to roost. To be a deplorable, one has to disavow allegiance to the  foundation of our democracy, common sense, and personal self worth. Seeing people chant “lock her up” and “CNN sucks” was probably thrilling in the heat of some Podunk meeting hall with the Orange One lifted high above the rabble. Yet, having done so, millions of Americans marked themselves as intolerant, gullible, base, and unemphatic. With the knowledge of what is coming, I wonder if they have regrets or at least an understanding of the harm they were doing to their public personae.

Recent polls show Mueller is having and effect on Trump’s popularity. The most recent polls place his disapproval rating at somewhere around 52%. Even more worrisome than the number of supporters abandoning him as his legal problems mount, Trump now has to worry about his bulwark of support from Fox News. Tucker Carlson is the cherub- faced darling of the red meat crowd that watch his show on Fox News. Over the years he became renown in hard-right-wing conservative circles as a staunch supporter of the president. Carlson, however, in recent days has changed his tune dramatically. The Conservative Free Press quotes Urs Gehriger of the German-language opinion magazine Die Welwoche and his recent interview with Carlson. Gehriger quoted Carlson saying,

“His chief promises were that he would build the wall, defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things,” Carlson said.

He went on to note that he didn’t have much hope in those promises coming to fruition over the next two years.

“He knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do, so it’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things,” Carlson said. . . .

“I don’t think he’s capable,” he said. “I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him. He’s not going to do that.” CFP

On their face, Carlson’s comments should scare the hell out of Trump. When the die-hard support from one of the most conservative outlets in the country becomes suspect, most politicians pay attention. Will Trump? Probably not. He has shown a disdain for any counsel other than his own and has used Fox News as his own personal sounding board and propaganda machine. He may very well not be capable of hearing derogatory comments about his perceived greatness.  Time will tell.

Conventional wisdom would point to serious problems for any politician when conservatives begin eating their own and start turning their backs on someone they idolized until only recently. For Trump, who has run primarily on his own egotistical belief in himself, it should provoke tremors of fear and point to even more troubles looming in the near future. Yet, this isn’t the Trump we know. I am reminded of a quote from Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson. He wrote,

A man who has blown all his options can’t afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can’t afford to admit — no matter how often he’s reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley. HST

Trump appears to be three-quarters of the way along on his journey.

Living Large In Carson City: Delbert “Standing On Shaky Ground” McClinton Was Right Edition


Fascist Symbol

I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone’s imagination. Hunter S. Thompson

What are we to do as Americans when we see everything this great country stands for being upended and torn asunder by a madman whose sole goal is to stroke his out sized ego, enrich himself and his family to the detriment of the rest of us, and generally breakdown the foundations of what makes America great? As pretentious as that sounds, it has become the reality for more than half of the population of this country. As bad as our fears might have been after the 2016 election, I honestly do not think any of us could have envisioned the level of tumult and dissension that is running through the very fabric of this great nation today.

Remember back in those early days of 2016 when we were all appalled by Donald Trump’s loose and easy association with the truth? He lied at times when lying did him no good. He lied because it is his nature to lie. Truth to Trump we learned was whatever Trump said it was. Do you remember being appalled when a cottage industry emerged whose sole purpose was to track the number of lies the president told. Were you concerned when his total lies topped a thousand? Two thousand? Three thousand? It is a frightening prospect, but I suspect the nation has become so punch drunk from the onslaught of falsehoods and misdirection that comes from the White House on a daily basis we simply look the other way and go about our business.

What is particularly disturbing is once his lies find the light of day his minions have no qualms about parroting the same lies as the party line and shouldn’t be questioned. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a prime example of just how far of plumb the Republican Party has drifted. Sanders has taken Trump’s lying to heart and has started her own litany of untruths to support her boss. Across the board from the Senate, the House, his cabinet, and a bevy of political operatives, all have cashed in their moral integrity to worship at the throne of the Orange One with the hope of remaking America in their image.

It has become so problematic and relentless that Maggie Haberman of the New York Times told “CNN that that staffers are so ‘numb’ to Trump’s lies they don’t even bother correcting him”. This begs the question, “Why?” Haberman thinks it more practical than insidious although it is that as well. Haberman said,

. . . President Donald Trump is relentlessly lying ahead of the 2018 midterm elections because he’s found that it works for him. CNN

It works for him? Think about that a minute. The most powerful man in the world with the ability to change the course of history at his fingertips lies incessantly because it works for him. Considering the state of bankruptcy of the Republican Party when it comes to veracity, empathy, and dedication to a fair and free democracy, Haberman makes a good point. What Trump has been doing all of his adult life is trying to create an reality of America that embraces white males like himself who really believe they are masters of the universe and everything in it.

But at what cost? A New York Times video aired on details the research by Yale philosopher, Jason Stanley, which takes a long, hard look at fascism and how it develops, grows, and ultimately, takes control. In a short five minute video titled, ‘If You’re Not Scared About Fascism in the U.S., You Should Be’, should be required viewing by all Americans who already think America is great and fear the direction the country is taking today. His formula for how fascism takes root is fairly simple:

  •  The creation of a mythical “racially pure” and patriarchal past to instill feelings of nostalgia in the masses; the assertion that as long as “he,” the “strongman” remains in power, all will be well, and that without “him” the whole system will collapse;

Watch any Trump rally for five minutes and you will find this is a recurring theme that runs throughout his basic message. Make America Great Again was not chosen because it has a jaunty ring to it. The slogan hits home to older white Americans, alt right groups, and the working class who have suffered at the hand of what they see as the evil Democrats who want to give the country away to immigrants, sexual deviants, and a host of other people who are not like them. In my October 16, 2018 post, I explored what kind of people fall into lockstep with Trump and his vision for America. The point above dovetails a little too nicely into the mindset of the typical Trump supporter and reinforces Stanley’s argument.

  • Turning groups against each other: Germans and Jews, Hindus and Muslims; citizens and foreigners;  whites and blacks, etc.: “when you divide, it’s easier to control.”

In Trump’s world, there is no end to the possibilities that accompany this point. The group du jour to vilify in recent days are transgender folk who find themselves living in a body that does not fit into their sexual orientation. Republicans and the “transgender bathroom” debacle made  transgender Americans an anathema to all right thinking, sexually “normal” people (Trump’s base) who fear people who view their sexual orientation differently for their own.

A healthy nod needs to be given to right-wing, evangelical wackos who in the name of their god fomented the groundless charge that giving transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their sexual preference was merely a ruse for guys to dress up like girls to gain access to the women’s bathroom to do god only knows what to the poor unsuspecting young ladies. As a reality check, do a google search titled “sexual assault on campuses in bathrooms.” The result reveals transgender people aren’t the ones going into bathrooms and sexually assaulting females.

The list, however, has grown over the past two years of Trump’s presidency. Democrats are getting the brunt of his vilification currently. Canadians, Mexicans, NATO, reporters, and on and on have all been targets of Trump’s separation policy from his faithful base. Regrettably, it works.

  • Anti-intellectualism, and attacking the truth, because truth is essential to a free democracy, and therefore anathema to the fascist. This in turn creates a “petri dish” for conspiracy theories, with the ultimate goal of devaluing the truth altogether.

This point brings us full circle in the charade that is the Trump presidency. Facts to a fascist are the  kryptonite that undermines their message and the ultimate control that they have over their followers. Fake news is the perfect mantra for Trump and his followers whether they are Fox News watchers, alt right hoodlums, or even the run of the mill seniors, both male and female. These people want to believe everything Trump has promised them, so his word has become sacrosanct. They honestly believe that CNN, MSNBC, and others are literally making up news to tear down their leader, thereby, destroying the promises he made to them from day one.

While the truth suffers, and suffers badly, possibly even more damaging are the conspiracy theories that arise to support the ideas that the only truth is Trump’s truth. MS13 gangs rolling across the southern border of the United States by the thousands, Mexicans are rapists and hell bent on taking our women folk (or guys depending on their sexual orientation), or the lost Hillary emails and on and on.

Right now,  a caravan of immigrants is marching north from Central America approximately 400 miles south of the Texas border. Half of the group are women and children legitimately seeking political asylum due to the violence and mayhem they face in their home countries. In recent days, Trump, in an effort to get his base out to vote in the upcoming election, claimed the caravan includes terrorists and people of middle-eastern descent supposedly hell bent on destroying the American way of life. He offers no proof, but his echo chamber latched on to the idea and the drum beat of caustic rhetoric has grown to a fevered pitch. The thing about conspiracy theories is they do not feed off of the truth, but fear; something Trump uses as a cudgel to beat his base into a lather to do his bidding.

This morning Americans awoke to the news that bombs were mailed to George Soros, the Clintons, the Obamas, and the CNN headquarters in Manhattan. This afternoon, a total of eight bombs have been discovered mailed to prominent Democrats. However, Trump and his minions are never too ashamed to kick in the conspiracy theory to turn the table and the nation’s collective esprit de corps into something usable for the party.

Many in the right-wing media, including prominent voices like Rush Limbaugh, the popular talk-radio host, and Candace Owens, a frequent Fox News guest, have begun to promote a conspiracy theory that Democrats were behind several packages containing explosive devices sent by mail to top Democrats this week. Business Insider

If I am not mistaken, this quote hits all three points that make up a fascist agenda – a trifecta of sorts. Welcome to the brave new world of Trumpism.