Living Large In Carson City: Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave Edition

“Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.” Trump’s Basket of Deplorables chant

How can anyone forget Trump’s campaign slogan “Lock her up” in response to his charges that Hillary Clinton, despite no evidence, should be locked up for any number of sundry charges. It’s a theme he returns to daily. He either wants to lock people up or believes they are guilty of illegal acts against the nation, or more importantly, himself. Over the past few years, Trump has called for incarceration or claimed people were criminals  including President Obama, Attorney Generals under Obama, Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, James Clapper, retired Air Force general and Director of National Intelligence, FBI Director and Assistant Director, Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe, former president Bill Clinton,  former White House Chief of Staff, John Podesta, mild mannered cable news talking head, Steve Rattner, flag burners, former FBI agent, Peter Strzok, former Secretary of State, John Kerry, and my personal favorite Snoop Dogg. And this is just a partial list.

Really, the only person in America Trump doesn’t want to put in the slammer is himself or his personal family. Everyone else seems to be fair game or at least suspect in the Orange One’s mind. So, it’s evident to anyone paying attention that our president is a real law and order kind of guy. It’s just that he defines law and order in a rather peculiar manner. Amid the constant parroting of “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction”, the House, under the control of the Democrats, started subpoenaing all manner of information from the White House from financial records to direct subpoenas to individuals in the Trump orbit. For instance, the House Oversight Committee led by Elijah Cummings would like to know how Ivanka and Jared and 25 others who failed their security background checks still received top secret clearances. Cummings said,

“The Committee respects the President’s authority to grant security clearances,” Cummings writes in the letter. “However, the White House must respect Congress’ co-equal and independent authority to investigate who has been given access to our nation’s secrets, how they obtained that access, the extent to which national security has been compromised, and whether Congress should amend current laws to improve national security and enhance transparency over these decisions.” Vox

Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is a ground zero of the subpoena drive controversy and has pledged to pursue any ignored or dismissed subpoena that interferes with the House’s oversight of the Executive Branch. His committee will interview Attorney General Bob Barr twice this week. Today, he was grilled by the committee but has balked at Thursday’s hearing if he has to be subjected to questions from committee staff members. Huh? A question is a question regardless of where it comes from in the hearing room. And it is not unprecedented for staff to question people brought before the committee. Remember when Republicans in the Senate refused to question Dr. Christine Ford over her allegations that “I LIKE BEER” Brett Kavanaugh had sexually molested her in high school? They brought in an unbiased lawyer (staff) to do the questioning for them. Nadler has vowed to subpoena Barr if he refuses to appear.

The real problem, of course, is Trump. The Financial Services Committee led by Maxine Waters issued subpoenas to Capital One and Deutsche Bank seeking to get access to Trump’s financial records. Trump, in turn, filed suit in court to keep the records out of the hands of Congress citing privacy matters. Today, in the first court hearing, the presiding judge threw the case out of the court and said Congress has the right to pursue oversight in these matters. Waters and Adam Schiff weren’t fooled,

In a joint statement, Chairwoman Maxine Waters of the Financial Services Committee and Chairman Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee said the suit was “only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.” NPR

Now, Trump is actively campaigning to keep anyone on his staff or family members from appearing before any of the House committees and has instructed them to ignore any call from Congress to appear before the committees, even if subpoenaed. Congress is having none of it. Fines, censure, and even arrest are all on the table and committee chairs have finally grown a pair and vow to use any means necessary to carry out their sworn duties to the American people.

Of course, this begs the question, “What does Trump fear? What does he have to hide?” Well, obviously, a lot if his conduct after becoming president is any indication. Yet, Trump continues to thumb his nose at the country, law makers, Congress, the court system, and the rule of law. Joshua Holland wrote in The Nation magazine that,

Even the redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report is effectively an impeachment referral. His team found that eight of the 10 acts of apparent obstruction of justice they looked at satisfied the Justice Department’s three criteria for charging someone with a crime. The special counsel didn’t do so because he was bound by a Department of Justice legal opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and Mueller made it clear that it is properly the role of Congress, not the executive branch, to rein in a corrupt and lawless president. The Nation

This all boils down to business as usual in Trump world. The House leaders are reluctant to throw down the impeachment accusations and for good reasons. In some ways they are right. Without the will of the American people and the Senate willing to give impeachment a fair shot, the process would end in a stalemate with the shameless Republicans selling out what’s left of their puny, cancerous souls to protect their seats and not rile up the bogeyman Trump. Up until today, I agreed with them.

Now, I am wondering if it’s not time to hold these scoff laws responsible for their actions which are literally ripping apart the American Constitution to give sway to an incompetent man child who is dirty as just about any politician who has ever walked the face of the earth, well, America for sure. If things continue on the course they are on, impeachment might be just the ticket to wake up Americans who live in a fantasy world that everything is hunk dory. It’s not, and if it takes putting the Trump White House on trial, so be it. The upshot would be that more Americans would know the truth, because lets face it, Trump is a dirty motherfucker and has to be held responsible like everyone else in the country. The Republicans would also be  shown to be the corrupt disingenuous hacks that they are. It’s a given that the Republicans have lost their moral compass and can no longer be depended upon to do what’s ethical or right.

In the end Trump is signaling with his actions that there is a lot he wants kept under seal. The fate of his children, his fantasy lifestyle, and his freedom hangs in the sway. Would America be able to withstand the backlash? Who knows. The real question is can America continue on this path with a corrupt clown at the helm and survive. It’s getting close to the time we may have to find out.


Living Large In Carson City: V. Hugo: The Wicked Envy And Hate; It’s Their Way Of Admiring Edition


Most people in our  hyper-political polarized arena identify with either the Democratic or Republican parties, or they are at the least claim to be conservative or progressive if not outright liberal. Sure, there are the Independents, Bull Moosers and the like, but most stick to the two major groups.  I Think Therefore I Am Not A Democrat Or A Republican in the best of all worlds would mean our elected officials are bipartisan. Meaning that while they identify with one of the two major parties, they are willing to work with the other side of the aisle to get things accomplished.

Bipartisan is a funny word, especially when it comes out of the mouth of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This is not unlike Israel saying the Palestinians aren’t so bad and should be given more respect. It just doesn’t jibe with reality. Earlier this week, McConnell gave an interview to Fox News which appears on their website under the title, Sen. Mitch McConnell: Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country? Despite the fact that on the face of the comment, he is skewing the playing field implying the Democrats don’t have the same regard for the country as he and the Republicans have, which is totally false. He brings up the fact that Congress will now be a divided body with the Republicans holding the Senate and Democrats holding the House. He seems to saying, “What could possibly happen?”

Then he says something weird, stating,

Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.

Huh? Sure, as he points out, the two parties have worked together to do the bare minimum of governing by taking care of the nuts and bolts of running the government, but what have the Republicans accomplished toward their or the president’s goals. Health Care and the repeal of Obama Care didn’t happen. Immigration reform is in shambles or would be had a plan been put forward. There wasn’t.

The overhaul of the tax plan and the passage of the grossly unfair humongous tax bill turned out to favor the very wealthy with little or nothing given to the middle and lower classes.

A Congressional Budget Office estimate for the conference agreement announced mid-December said the bill would add $1.455 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The Tax Policy Center mapped out how different groups would benefit — or not — over time under the plan, and it projected that people with the highest incomes would see the biggest cuts, while lower earners would see smaller changes to their tax bills, or even have less money after taxes than they would without the bill.

The fact that McConnell can say something like,

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?

with a straight face is laughable if it were not so hypocritical. This is the man who said before Obama’s first midterms that the Republicans goal should be to make Obama a one term president. Not, how can we work together with the president but how to boot him out of office as soon as possible? Granted, this is probably the goal of every party that is out of power. It just seems so creepy the way he delivered the statement.

McConnell’s faux concern over the Democrats newly found power makes it difficult to believe he cares even a twit about working with the opposite party.

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle. (my emphasis)

Years of rhetoric? This is the man who let Merrick Garland’s confirmation for the Supreme Court sit stagnant for 293 days. Something tells me that McConnell has little interest in bipartisanship. His modus operandi has always been grab everything he can for the Republicans and screw the Democrats. So, let’s not pretend that he is holding out an olive branch to his political opponents. If he is doing that, there is surely a dagger concealed in the foliage that he will gladly pull out and thrust it into the heart of any Dem foolish enough to take him seriously.

What the Republican held Congress did do was run rough shod over the American people in their quest to show favor to big business, Wall Street, and the super rich. It is hard for me to believe anyone would think the Republican Party has the good of the nation behind any of their plans. They have allowed Trump’s horde of marauders to gut environmental controls ranging from clear skies to clean drinking water and place our national forests and parks in jeopardy of being destroyed by commercial greed.

The one galvanizing lesson to be learned from two years of Trump rule going forward is that when Trump needs backing the Republican held Senate will be there to do his bidding. Yet, when McConnell stated above, “After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle. (my emphasis) The unintended meaning of his words is something like, “Holy shit, the Democrats won the House and are going to kick our butts.” Well, something like that.

But yeah, it is payback time and McConnell knows better than anyone that the jig is up. The Republicans have controlled Congress since those midterms mentioned above in Obama’s first term or nearly eight years and look at the mess America finds itself in today. We are a laughing stock on the world stage. Our allies are so frightened of our president and the Congress that backs him that they are thinking of arming themselves, not just against Russia and China, but the United States as well.  Let that sink in. Our most reliable allies are scared witless of us.

Of course, the Democrats are going to target Trump and his erratic behavior and criminal activities. Who knows what Mueller will reveal in coming days. Who knows whose name is on the many indictments he reportedly has ready to serve. Bipartisanship? Sure, I am all for bipartisanship when both sides play by the same rules. By definition, those are not McConnell’s rules.

Living Large In Carson City: There Will Be Hell To Pay Edition


“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

If there was any doubt after the election Tuesday that butterflies, dancing unicorns, and waltzing teddy bears were going to be the order of the day, think again. The midterms are over. Democrats did about as good as expected and proved pundits right as they captured the House and made inroads into statewide races across the nation. The Republicans retained their majority in the Senate, as was expected, setting up a evened playing field that will surely run red with blood as the last two years of Trump’s tenure begins anew with fresh rancor and sizzling hatred smoldering in the two party’s collective souls.

Of course, in Trump’s mind, it was all about him. If you haven’t, take the time to watch his press conference held only hours after the polls closed, please do. Winners and losers alike turned their collective eyes to the White House not knowing what to expect, and I wager, they did not see coming what transpired. Banish the thought that Trump’s losses on Tuesday would have mellowed him somewhat and presented the unique opportunity for him to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Democrats. No, instead, he lost his mind and delivered a hate filled diatribe against the Republican’s who spurned his help in their races and, literally, called them out by name as the losers they chose to be. The rest of his opening statement was dedicated to singing his own praises and taking credit for everything that came about Tuesday.

Then things got ugly fairly quickly. The one overriding impression of the press conference was if you thought things were divisive before the midterms, put on your seat belt, they are about to get a lot worse. The world is about to see Trump unleashed like never before. Take for instance his tete a tete with Jim Acosta of CNN beginning at 27:00 and continuing with Peter Alexander of NBC. At one point it appears that Trump might actually leave the podium to wrest the microphone from Acosta’s hands 29:09. The performance was enough to make any red-blooded American to hang their head in shame. Trump was truculent, abrasive, dismissive, and generally conducted himself like an ass. Remember this is the most powerful man in the world. Acting like a third grade bully only diminishes the stature of the presidency and makes America a laughing stock on the world stage.

He was, however, egalitarian in his wacko accusations. His response to Yamiche Alcindor of NPR at 1:06:55 was not just offensive and misogynistic but incomprehensible as well.  Someone should tell the president when he proclaims to be a “nationalist” on the campaign trail, reporters are going to call him on it. Typically, however, Trump had to take it one step farther when he called Alcindor’s question “racist”.  Predictably, calling a young Black woman racist is not ever going to go over well. The debacle du jour went on for a mind numbing one and a half hours. It was classic Trump taken to 11 on the weird dial and was a sight to behold.

What happens next now that the House is in control of the Democrats with all the subpoena powers and investigatory oversight that comes along with chairing powerful committees. Time Magazine‘s Alana Abramson wrote in an article today that,

. . . the incoming chairs of 21 House committees will be looking for ways to hold the Trump Administration officials’ feet to the fire, mainly by pressing forward on investigations they feel were ignored under the Republican majority.

This effort will largely be led by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will likely be chaired by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. This work, however, will almost inevitably broaden to include all committees that have a section solely devoted to oversight. The intelligence and judiciary committees will also probably find their work in the spotlight, as will Ways and Means, which has the authority to request President Donald Trump’s tax returns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Time

If the Democrats are smart, they will focus less on impeachment, which although  enticing, would also only increase the divisive atmosphere circling Washington, and focus more on uncovering the underbelly of the Trump organization, Trump himself, the children, including Ivanka and Jared, and his deeply hidden dealings with Russia and other partners the Trumps have had throughout the years. In this case impeachment is the cheap thrill of the equation while uncovering years of financial malfeasance, possibly money laundering and other crimes, would go a long way in bringing down this corrupt administration. Once the shit hits the fan, expect moderate Republicans to fall in lock step behind the Democrats. Rats are like that when the ship starts sinking.

It is a little encouraging knowing that the Democrats are no longer politically neutered. This does not mean they have the time or luxury to sit around licking their private parts. Strike while the striking is good seems to be the best path forward for the newly endowed Democratic Party. There is, however, one elephant in the room that should be dealt with immediately next January. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer (to a lesser degree) have to go.

Do not get me wrong. I have always liked Pelosi. She is a patriot and skilled deal maker like few others that Americans have seen over the past two decades. Unfortunately, both she and Shumer have become polarizing figures on the scale of Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. Distractions are not what the Democrats need right now. They need people who can work behind the scenes and get results, not bad press. Back in June of this year, Pelosi pulled in a paltry 29% approval rate – a nine year low for the California lawmaker – and that was among Democrats. Don’t ask what the Republicans think of her.

In their defense, both Pelosi and Schumer have been battling some of the meanest and corrupt SOBs to walk the face of the planet and call Congress their home. It is simply a case of a clean start would be best all the way around. Neither of the two embody the youthful exuberance that helped people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, and a number of up and coming women to tap into the party faithful’s needs and concerns and get things done. Our youth is our future.

So, in the end, the Democrat blue wave delivered about what was expected. There were some misfires and some unexpected wins. Regardless, January will be the moment of truth. Will the Democrats have the wherewithal to stand up to Trump and hold his feet to the fire? Will they cave and allow him to bully them for another two years? America will have to wait and see. One bright spot on the horizon is Special Counsel Robert Mueller and what he plans to do over the coming months. Something tells me that once he gets underway after yesterday’s midterms there will literally be hell to be paid. Bring it on Mr. Mueller.