Living Large in Carson City: What’s a Liberal to do?

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. Cicero

Okay, okay, okay . . . let me see if I have this straight. After six years of lies, grift, outright fraud, politically embarrassing moments at home and abroad, Donald Trump left the White House with a butt load of classified documents that have now been seized, and the man is still walking around freely? It is a telling sign that no one on either side of the political spectrum hasn’t come forth to say, “Hey, wait a minute. This guy should be in jail.” Alas, no one has the moral fortitude, it seems, to do that in today’s American clown car of a shit storm that passes for a normal day in the nation.  

Okay, granted, Trump’s past transgressions were over the top, but he is not being held responsible for many of his crimes, if not thrown into a deep dark hole any time soon. The renown “I grab ’em by the pussies” charmer extraordinaire has literally turned our democracy on its head, fomented an insurrection, talked crap ninety miles an hour about friend and foe, and it’s taken him absconding with boxes of classified material to be brought to heel by Merrick Garland – to achieve – what? And why now? For Christ’s sake, the man has two impeachment trials under his belt, a slew of sexual harassment suits by women he abused and has tried to grasp power from every source he encountered. Hell, he even had Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak (read: spy operatives) into the Oval Office early on in his tenure as president where he revealed top secret information about a proposed U.S. Islamic State operation while bad mouthing then director of the FBI, James Comey, who he had just fired. The man is a walking criminal enterprise even the most cruel and despotic Mafia boss would swoon over just thinking about the grift dripping off Trump’s orange bouffant.

There has been much talk about who helped him get the boxes packed, loaded, and shipped to Mar-a-Lago to simmer out of sight in some squalid little rathole. Who cares? Find out all involved and charge them with whatever broken laws will put them into jail for the longest duration of time. Let’s see Trump handcuffed and shackled then perp walked out of his golden bathroom and led to a squad car with a banner flying from the antenna “I broke the law and now I have to face the consequences”. For all of Garland’s “No man is above the law” rhetoric, I fear it will be a long time coming when something of this nature actually transpires.

While law enforcement is at it, why not crack down on Trump’s enablers in Congress. Actually, it is hard to know which Republicans are not up to their eyeballs in planning the insurrection and the ongoing coup attempt facing the nation at this moment. It would do no good at this point to engage in name calling, but I’ll do it anyway. The Jordan, Cruz, Loopy Louie, Trump Jr, Ivanka, Eric, and that little simp, Jared Kushner, are all implicated in the most egregious onslaught on the American experiment in democracy that has ever occurred. Whose great idea was it to allow people in public life to ignore subpoenas passed out by Congress, simply to circumvent legal responsibility for their actions? I don’t give a damn if they don’t agree with the subpoenas levied against them. In the real world where you and I live, ignore a lawfully handed down call to appear before a legitimate court or government committee, and BAM! our asses would be in jail. These idiots believe they are above the law and delight in making a mockery of our judicial system. To paraphrase a saying from the Orange One, “Lock ‘em up!”  

Several news pundits have come to the forgone conclusion that Trump is not a “literate” man and that (to put it kindly), not really interested in anything that doesn’t shine a golden light on him personally. Forget the kids. Forget the enablers. Forget Melania (or whatever her name is). If it doesn’t feed his huge narcissistic ego, it doesn’t matter. And all the time this wicked little scenario called Trump’s presidency is still unfolding; he is raking in millions of dollars off of a situation he created by breaking the law, and there is no end in sight. The idea he might run again for the presidency is frightening when one considers he might win. Let’s face it; Republicans and extreme conservatives have shown clearly they don’t respect the will of the people, the rule of law, but support questionable precedents set down by the Supreme Court that fly in the face of the Constitution and common sense. These people are playing hardball, and as a country, Americans need to face the harrowing truth that unless they are stood up to in a real and meaningful way, we are screwed as a nation.

There is little doubt Trump is guilty of a lot. The 500-pound gorilla in the room is whether the select committee and/or the Georgia grand jury findings in election tampering will end up in an indictment of the former president. While seeing Trump hauled into a courtroom to face his crimes and punishment, all of the hopes and dreams of justice may not matter in the end. There is a term called Public Peace that will surely be bandied about in the future when dealing with a Trump indictment. In this case the term means simply that there are issues that override commonly accepted judicial practices when it comes to preserving the peace between two rival factions on the national stage. This is especially true when one faction claims special interest in the outcome of the debate. For example, think of how the MAGA faction would react to having Trump face indictment, conviction, and possible incarceration for his crimes. Many Trump supporters are already bringing up the Civil War card if such events transpire. What would Joe Biden do to ensure the peace and stability of the union?

Harlan Ullman is senior adviser at Washington’s Atlantic Council. He addressed this possibility in an column recently titled “If Donald Trump were convicted, Joe Biden would have to consider a pardon”. It should be noted this is not the first time a president pardoned someone to preserve the Public Peace. The first time came at the end of the Whiskey Rebellion when two farmers were convicted and sentenced to hang for their their rebellious acts. Washington justified his decision to pardon the men citing the public peace demanded that tempers be cooled, and peace allowed to return. Ford pardoned Nixon to ensure public peace reigned. Bill Clinton got a slap on the wrist for his sexual escapades and was allowed to complete his term in office. Both Nixon and Clinton presumably where to withdraw from politics and keep a low profile. Of course, their actions over the years proved differently, but the Public Peace was secured at the flash point created by both men’s actions.

In his column Ulman suggests that most Americans do not realize just how incendiary the findings of the January 6 committee might be, and the impact that it will have on both sides of the political spectrum. The Democrats will want blood while the conservative supporters of the president (MAGA and others) will topple off of the already precarious ledge where they reside built on lies, white nationalism, whataboutism, and white privilege. The result will be a country in tinderbox mode waiting for the first errant spark to explode into chaos.

Obviously, the Public Peace will take a direct hit in the shorts and lay whimpering in the gutter where many on the right want it to be already. The old adage “Might makes Right” lies at the kernel of their thinking. It isn’t clear that the firebrands leading this movement have the ability to instill the same fervor into their followers, especially when bullets start flying and casualties start adding up. Make no mistake, there will be casualties should the Department of Justice and state courts indict and convict Trump and his minions. Of course, our democracy will not be able to withstand the proven lawlessness of Donald Trump if it goes unpunished. The question is will Biden decide in the name of Public Peace that a pardon is in order and allow Trump to go free to continue his crazy antics at the expense of democracy. Or will we have the inevitable reckoning that is required to sustain and protect the Republic against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

Living Large In Carson City: Pop Goes The Weasel Edition

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“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism . . .  Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.” Emmanuel Macron

Let’s face it, it is not getting better. Trump is slipping, and with his demise, any chance for normalcy is going with him. The sheer rash of angry  incidents of acting out since the midterm election has eclipsed even his most erratic days since he has been in office. The day after the election he fired Jeff Session and installed Matthew “The Hulk” Whitaker as acting Attorney General despite questions of constitutionality and the customary line of ascension. He was just getting warmed up.

The now infamous post election press conference was the thing  journalist’s wet dreams are made of – even if it was a little pathetic to see unfold. His attack on Jim Acosta was breath-taking. Trump came off as a quintessential demented, arm waving proxy for your worst nightmare over Thanksgiving dinner when Uncle Walter comes in wearing a red MAGA hat spouting Alex Jones conspiracy theories. Again, Trump was only getting started. Over the week since, he has attacked journalist at will, and oddly, often Black female journalists calling them stupid and racist. No irony there.

Then there came the European trip to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended WWI. To say the trip was screwed up from beginning to end would give too much credit to Trump. It was a holy hell and damnation tour for the Orange One. Whether it was French President Macron calling out Trump for his divisive rhetoric proclaiming himself a nationalist or Trump ditching a ceremony at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial near Paris to honor American soldiers who died there (conflating a light drizzle to zero visibility and driving rain that falsely grounded his helicopter) or his general dismissive and flippant air that he displayed the entire ceremony filled weekend, Trump was the butt of criticism and satire.

For Trump, the only bright thing that occurred was when Vlad the Impaler Putin showed up – late – and gave Trump a pat on the arm. Trump’s grin was either one of servile servitude or the desire to take his and Putin’s bromance to the next level. I won’t go there. The rest of the time was pretty much an occasion for Trump to sulk and act like the crazy person he is rapidly becoming. Who wanders around in a cemetery in misting rain by themselves when all the fun people are gathering and paying homage to heroes of bygone days?

The list of Trump’s shooting himself in the foot just keeps getting more bizarre and longer. Attacking California as being responsible for the out of control wild fires, trying to bitch slap Macron because he had the audacity to suggest Europe needs an army to protect themselves from Russia, China, and yes under Trump’s watch, America in the future, and calling for banning our troops’ votes sent from overseas are just a few of the highlights of the past few days. And, of course, he skipped the Arlington memorial service on Veteran’s Day. Call me crazy, but his actions display a disregard of common sense, respect, and a shameful lack of understanding and empathy. Remember, this is the man his base supports and thinks can do no wrong.

Which brings me to the topic of civility. In an article by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing titled Gen. Michael Hayden: ‘We are off the scale dishonoring the office’, Pennyfarthing made a statement that took me back. He wrote,

I’ve long since realized there’s no point in fighting Trump supporters online. It’s sort of like playing tetherball with your dog. You’ll win every round, but your dog will think he’s winning and will never, ever, ever give up.

This statement led to an epiphany on my part. Since the beginning of summer, I have been going to several hardcore conservative sites to engage readers there in an ongoing, fruitless exchange of barbed messages none of which have changed none of our beliefs. I think I have said before that I felt like I needed to know the people I criticized and engaging the Trump base seemed the best way to do that on a one to one basis.

Predictably, Trump’s base parrots his administration’s talking points and those of Fox News. Their hatred for Obama is frightening in its intensity and misinformation. These are people who believe Obama is not a United States citizen, and he almost single-handedly destroyed the military. When you confront them with hard numbers about the growth of the military across the last four administrations, they can in their minds make it not so. This is one of many, many examples.

And yes, they still think Hillary should be locked up and believe that the day will come when she and Obama will be brought before the court system and face the music. It is weird beyond belief what these people can convince themselves to accept. Considering Trump’s actions over the past week, it is understandable why they accept the unacceptable with a leader who lives in a fantasy world of lies, deceit, and overt hatred for anyone who will not bow down at his feet and grovel.

It is not a stretch to say that civility, or lack thereof, originates at the top and flows down to the people on the ground. While Trump’s actions are an anathema to his detractors, his base sees his actions as indicative of what has to be done to make America great again. In Trump, however, they have a diseased mind for a leader for reasons not even they understand. Trump has no, nor ever will, respect his base. They are a means to an end and little more than canon fodder for the political warfare Trump needs to hold onto his tenuous grip on the Republican Party.

Yet, there is something afoot in Washington that is disturbing as it is interesting. Trump’s actions over the past week clearly point to underlying pressure and concern that has got the Orange One acting out like a 12 year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The Daily Kos reports in an article, Something’s up: Fox, Wikileaks, Enquirer, Drudge, Stein & Guiliani not tweeting, that the silence in the tweet universe bodes badly for the administration. Trump supporters Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi appear to be facing imminent indictments from the Mueller team. Don, Jr. is also rumored to be facing indictment if the rumor mill is anywhere near correct. This was expected by Washington elites and politicians who saw Mueller waiting until after the midterms before roiling the political waters by moving forward and risking condemnation from the Republican Party.

Ultimately, the center is not holding, and Trump’s actions take on new meaning in light of his incivility and sulking demeanor. Where will it end? If there are political gods and goddesses, Trump and his minions will face much deserved retribution as the walls of justice come crashing down around them. It can not happen too soon.