Living Large In Carson City: It’s An Unusual World We Live In Edition

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“He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.” Hunter S. Thompson

HST understood politicians like few others, especially Richard Nixon to whom this quote targeted. It could just as easily have been directed at Donald Trump, but given Thompson’s colorful grasp of the English language, I suspect his comments would be much more pointed and caustic. On a daily basis, Americans are witnessing the systematic dismantling of democracy like few times in our nation’s history, and yes, Trump is the architect of the dismantling. The past two weeks he has stooped far below the conventions of decency and normalcy. His latest foray into the bizarre is rooted in classical hatred and racism as he paints his political adversaries of color enemies of the state. 

All Americans know the depths of depravity that Trump is more than willing to plumb depending on what his latest bitch du jour is on any given day. It’s currently racism. In the past it’s been immigrants and immigration laws, birtherism, kowtowing to political hardliners like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jon Un, Mohammad bin Salman, and Bebe Netanyahu to name a few, siding with and encouraging white nationalism, his denial of his colorful history of sexual misconduct while trafficking with accused sexual predators like Jeffrey Epstein and Alan Dershowitz, and the list goes on. Trump has done the seemingly impossible since taking office in 2017: He has nimbly browbeat the Republican Party into his bitch, subverted the rule of law, lied incessantly, and done more to destroy the foundation of our democracy than anyone in the history of the nation. And he’s not done.

As in the case with the Republican Party, he has had plenty of help to accomplish his goals. Most notably, his core constituency, the Hillary dubbed basket of deplorables, who are really the biggest mystery to come out of Trump’s presidency. It may be counter intuitive, even naive, not to acknowledge that 32 to 38 percent of Americans, depending on the poll numbers on any given day, harbor fear to the degree that they are willing to allow a con artist of Trump’s caliber to hijack our duly elected representative government and destroy America’s international goodwill. And for what purpose? To  simply stroke his outsized ego for his own benefit however nefarious that might be.

Yesterday, Trump signed the extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. During the ceremony, he made several claims that many who know him find outright dubious. 

Trump told the crowd of 9/11 first responders and their families that he was also at Ground Zero in the wake of the terror attacks, though he said he doesn’t consider himself a first responder.

“I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder,” Trump said. “But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.” CNN

He has also stated other similar claims that either put him on the scene in a heroic setting or skewing his statements in his favor like falsely claiming after the Towers fell he would have the tallest building in Manhattan or that he predicted 911 or that he personally saw Arabs dancing in the streets in New Jersey celebrating the event. And nobody in his administration, party, or base calls him out for being a bald faced liar. I thought his base would take umbrage with statements like these, but not. These are supposedly iron clad Americans of the first degree who “love it or leave it” is a mantra that they are quick to chant on any given night at a Trump rally. The fact they would embrace such easily debunked lies is problematic and truly frightening. It smacks of willful stupidity, and a “us versus them” mentality that is willing to ignore facts and truth simply to hold on the little political power they have left.

Also, Dan Coats the highly respected Director of National Intelligence who’s job is to oversee the 17 departments and organizations that make up the American intelligence community finally decided he had had enough of the Trump circus. Trump announced his leaving via, how else, on Twitter. Coats, a longtime Indiana senator, ambassador to Germany, and one of the longest serving members of the Trump cabinet, was known for stating truth to power, often angered the president by not toeing the Trump party line. His departure effectively creates a vacuum within the administration which has a majority of Trump yes men in important positions of power without anyone with the cajones to stand up to him.

His replacement, Rep. John Ratcliffe, was elected to Congress in 2014 and was a former U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Texas. Before that, he held four terms as mayor of Heath, Texas population 7,000. Often proclaimed as the most conservative member of Congress, he came to power with the aid of the Tea Party and has become one of Trump’s most vocal lackeys.

When Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week, his grilling of Mueller drew immediate attention simply for the partisan nature of his rant which was obviously meant to suck up to Trump who named him Coat’s replacement three days later. Storm clouds already hang over the Congressman’s confirmation hearings for misrepresenting his bona fides over his claims to have convicted several terrorists while on the job in East Texas. Court records show otherwise. Woefully unqualified, it will be interesting to see if the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will vote to put his confirmation before the Senate in coming weeks. More troublesome than his resume is the question on everyone’s mind will he simply be yet another parrot of Trump’s psychotic foreign policy or will he stand up to the man who nominated him. Time will tell.

Congress is set to go on summer vacation for the month of August offering a small respite from the shenanigans that have become part and parcel of life as America knows it in Washington. It’s a heavy load for Trump to bear, but he will surely not disappoint. Things to watch for might be an attack on Iran. Last Friday, the House passed an amendment that Trump cannot attack Iran without the House signing off on the act. Without the Congress in session, August would be a perfect time for an end around run by the president. Or maybe Trump will take the time off to visit one of his golf courses. Regardless, expect September to be filled with fireworks from impeachment inquiries to revelations about just who is in the Jeffrey Epstein sex tapes to god only knows what.

Tonight is the beginning of the second round of the Democratic debates. Thursday, Trump has a rally planned in Cincinnati where he will assuredly have plenty to say. Will racist chants headline the rally? Will he continue his attacks on Elijah Cummings? Stay tuned.

Living Large In Carson City:

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” 
― Aldous Huxley

Greetings from the West, Carson City and beyond. Last week was a whirlwind of air flight, subway mayhem, hordes of people, and the screaming yodel of cop cars, the beep, beep, beep of construction equipment backing up, and the general low hubbub of the City That Never Sleeps. Yes, New York, or more specifically the neighborhood of Bushwich in central Brooklyn. I would never call going to NYC a vacation. No, more like an invasion both on the city and on one’s person. Let’s just say, it’s so good to be back home in the Sierras away from miles and miles of Brownstones that block out any hope of seeing the horizon much less the grandeur of Mother Nature. 

Of course, Bob Mueller’s report came out while I was gone, and Bob Barr’s hopelessly ineffectual spin on its contents left much to be desired. Last Thursday, Congress got its chance to see the “redacted” version that sanitized the worse parts of the report but still left Mueller’s intent fairly clear. The mother-fucker, disdainfully called our president, is a low- down shady character who is unfit to serve the nation or the people who live here. We all knew this on some level, but to see Mueller list 10 times when Trump tried to obstruct justice was sobering as it was audacious. 

Over the past two weeks Trump and his minions have engaged in the age old Washington Two Step in an attempt to spin the report in the administration’s favor. Trump has alternately praised the report as an exoneration and proof of no collusion or obstruction when the report first came out then flip-flopping to denial and abusive language over the report when Congress finally got the chance to read and react to the parts that were left basically intact. This morning Trump’s approval rating dropped six points to 37 %. As we have seen time and again, the Republican spin machine, the White House, and his loyal staff are working overtime to put a bit of lipstick on the pig to make things seem rosier than they actually are today. Yet one has to wonder, What next? Tom Toles the insightful Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post editorial cartoonist wrote an opinion piece for the paper and put it this way,

Who knows where we go after the Trump era ends? Maybe the damage will be fixable, and maybe it won’t. What we need to know now is that the Trump era is still waxing, and we are letting it happen. We are dancing the Trump Two-step with him. Do we enjoy his arms encircling us? His moist little hands sliding about our waist? His warm breath and nuzzle on our neck? The lacerations on our forehead from the leading edge of his hair-sprayed chisel wedge of golden hair filaments? Apparently we do. Tom Toles

“Apparently we do . . . ” The old adage “You can’t shit a bullshitter” seems oddly appropriate here. Just when you think Trump is on the ropes, he comes back with a barrage of nonsensical clap trap that twists reality and puts a spin so devastating on the issue at hand that most Americans finds themselves in journalistic punch drunk state of mind that is hard to get past. It incapacitates us for days until the next oh-my-god-did-he-just-do, say, act or assert what I think he did moment when the scenario begins again. 

Honestly, I thought I had heard every outlandish excuse for Trump’s actions from every source that he employs. Then Rudy Giuliani took to the Sunday talk shows and came up with this dunder-headed defense of the man he worships. On Jake Tappers’ State of the Union, Rudy said this,

Giuliani defended the Trump campaign accepting help from Russians by stating, “Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information,” causing Tapper to ask, “From a foreign source? From a hostile foreign source?” Giuliani shot back, “Who said it’s even illegal?”

A few moments later when pressed again by Tapper on a presidential candidate getting help from Russians in the 2016 campaign, Giuliani responded adamantly, “No, no, there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians! It depends on where it came from.” CNN

Uh, Rudy, it came from Russia. Our sworn enemy. The one that swore to bury us under Nikita Khrushchev. The nation that the United States was embroiled in a Cold War with most of my life. You know Rudy, the country where Vladimir Putin is president. The nation that meddled in our 2016 election and quite possibly helped elect your ass clown friend who is now hell bent on destroying our democracy. The gall of this little gangster is breath-taking. This from a man who was the face of Ground Zero in the days after the 911 attack. Rudy, Rudy, Rudy . . . we hardly knew you. Now, I wish we didn’t.

Inexplicably, when pressed by Tapper, Rudy revealed a bit of the twisted logic he was using to justify his statements. It all goes back to campaign contributions. From the article cited above, Rudy had this to say,

Giuliani then suggested the “dirt” the Russians offered to the Trump campaign would not be considered a “campaign contribution” as defined by federal law. In support, he argued that the Mueller report “says we can’t conclude that [it’s a contribution] because the law is pretty much against that.”

But yet again, Rudy is flying under the reality radar. The article continues

Giuliani is incredibly wrong. First, it’s election law 101 that a federal campaign cannot accept “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national.

In fact, the Mueller report explains the rationale for this law, noting that “the United States has a compelling interest in limiting the participation of foreign citizens in activities of democratic self-government, and in thereby preventing foreign influence over the U.S. political process.” CNN

This reminds me of a quote by Neil Gaiman from his book American Gods, (I paraphrase), “The morning came on like a migraine after a three day drunk”. Trump and his crew of merry sociopaths have the country by the balls and are squeezing like the little bitches they are. There really is a syndrome in this country called Trump Fatigue. How much does one have to hear, see, or experience of this administration before people begin to throw their hands up and say “Enough!” And not in a good way. When people get so disgusted they stop paying attention and resisting from the sheer overload of lies, deceit, and Tomfoolery afoot in the country, that is when America is truly fucked. Not just the garden variety of fucked, but serious democracy destroying, life-altering fuckdom of the worst kind. 

Or as Kynna Claire once said, “You can’t keep dancing with the devil and ask why you’re still in hell.”

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Sitting Here In Limbo Like A Bird Without A Song J.Cliff Edition

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Well, limbo is not a good place to be. Billy Joy

Prior to the release of Robert Mueller’s Special Prosecutor’s Report, my life felt as if I was on a roller coaster from hell. Up one staggeringly steep incline to the peak and then heart stopping plunge into the abyss. Over and over, day in, day out through the seasons and months of one controversy after another. Look back on this Axios timeline to refresh your memory of how we got to this place of nothingness in just under three years. It’s all there. Every lie, illegal activity, indictment, guilty plea, Mueller’s offers of clemency for dirt on Trump, Trump’s constant denials, and all in head-spinning detail that makes me wonder how we’ve survived this far. I admit, as a news junkie, it was often exhilarating times when it looked like Mueller was going to pull the trigger and send Trump to the Big House for the rest of his life. Yet, nothing happened.

The constant drum beat of Trump’s whiny voice proclaiming “No Collusion”, fake news, and/or “Witch Hunt!” was a bile inducing toxic mix of proportions that had to have our Fore Fathers rolling in their graves. His lies became more and more outlandish. His demeanor more bizarre. His grasp on reality slowly slipping away. His slim base of 31 or 32 percent of all American voters took on an out sized importance as their need to feed the fires of racism, xenophobia, negativism, and bigotry grew with every rally, scandal, and embarrassment at home and on the international stage – which seemed to occur almost daily. The once respected Republican Party has become a laughing stock since January 2017 as members began kowtowing to Trump in fear of his considerable influence over party funds and the primary process that he holds over their heads like the Sword of Damocles.

I am ashamed to admit that I was totally caught up in the frenzy. Not ashamed that I wanted Trump to go down – hardly, but that I lost objectivity to the point all I cared about was Mueller and his hopefully damning expose of the Trump. To a point, I tuned out most everything else. I see now I was like a trout on a fishing line being played by a skilled angler. Most of my acquaintances, and certainly, my close friends were caught in a similar conundrum that basically blinded us to everything else going on around us. We were played by the media, television ratings, and our own need to feed on every evolving crisis and the unbridled hatred of everything Trump represents contrary to the America we love. We were like NASCAR fans watching a race an pulling for our favorite driver, yet hoping in the back of our minds for a spectacular wreck full of fire and exploding cars.

Now, Mueller has issued his report. Barr has submitted his “summary”, and Trump has gone on a nationwide pep rally to proclaim his innocence and exoneration for all wrong doing. It is one of the most bitter political pills I have ever had to swallow. Granted, there will still be a great deal to learn from the Mueller report if Congress and the Democrats can get their hands on an unredacted copy, but all that seems rather hollow now that Mueller has more or less confirmed liberals’ worst fears. There is a hole in my political gut that seems to be widening, and the result is a malaise of proportions similar to what I felt when George W. Bush stole the presidency from Al Gore and Trump beat Clinton.

Of course, I only have myself to blame for being so naive and nonobjective. The media, however, has a big part to play in my condition. We’ve all laughed or made jokes about elderly white people getting all of their news from Fox News. How it warps their brains and allows them to believe things that normally sensible people would never believe.  Yet, my addiction to CNN and MSNBC has been no less harmful. We all would like to think that our view of the world is one of enlightened optimism based on facts and truth. What many of us forgot is the corporate structure of the national news which has only one real goal – money. Truth is little more than a corollary to modern thinking based on a need to know basis and facts sometimes not verifiable in the real world. When news outlets allow the prevailing zeitgeist and public emotion to direct their coverage in the pursuit of ratings and advertising dollars, situations like the Mueller report carry a heavy toll for our own understanding and objectivity.

Glenn Greenwald, one of the founding partners of The Intercept, has contended for sometime that the Mueller investigation was simply a cash cow for corporate news, and its resulting reporting was a travesty for reliable news coverage. His point is that while Americans hung on every word or rumor about the Mueller investigation far more important issues were being swept under the rug like judicial appointments, destruction of environmental regulations and on and on. Greenwald wrote, 

Just three weeks ago – three weeks ago – former CIA Director and now NBC News analyst John Brennan confidently predicted that Mueller was just weeks if not days away from arresting members “of the Trump family” on charges of conspiring with the Russians as his final act. Just watch the deceitful, propagandistic trash that MSNBC in particular fed to their viewers for two straight years, all while essentially banning any dissenters or skeptics of the narrative they peddled to the great profit of the network and its stars . . .

Earlier in the article, Greenwald lays out the devastating effect that Barr’s summary of the Mueller report had on the American psyche that hoped to see Trump found guilty,

Barr’s summary of the Mueller report: specifically his definitive finding that “the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” and that “the report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public.” Those two sentences alone permanently destroyed the prevailing Trump/Russia narratives – from blackmail fantasies to collusion tales – that consumed most of U.S. politics and media discourse for much of the last three years. Greenwald

So now, we find ourselves in political limbo. While we wait to see the full report released to Congress and the public, it’s hard not to be skeptical. Trump is acting like his usual self, a half-witted clown, crowing about his pristine image while throwing insults and catcalls at Democrats, the press, and anyone dumb enough to attack his plutocratic self. If anything, his lies have grown more grandiose as he threatens to shut down the border and wreak financial devastation on the economy. His sudden need to strike down Obama Care and replace it with a much better Republican plan, one that has not be fleshed out as of yet, seems “normal” as far as Trump can be called normal. Where we go from here is anybody’s guess. One thing for sure, Robert Mueller gave us little bang for our buck. Instead, for the time being, we wait and count the days when we can look back on this and say it was all a bad dream.

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Well, That Was A Surprise Edition

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This has been one of the hardest Mondays in a long stretch of hard Mondays dating back to the beginning of 2017 when Trump took office. My disappointment is rooted on many levels. What we know now is that Robert Mueller is both an honorable man, and obviously, a naive one. On the one hand, he knew any information he and his band of loyal attorneys dug up on Trump was going to be subject to two memos authored by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC); one in 1973 during Nixon’s Watergate woes and one in 2000 after the Clinton impeachment. The two memos argue that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Oddly enough, two other memos came to the opposite opinion. Yet, he did the work and came up with a report that will likely not see the light of day outside of the Trump administration and his cronies.

The fact that the memos clash is understandable according to Andrew Crespo who is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Writing in the Law Fare Blog, Crespo states the opposing memos that allow for the president to be indicted come from the Office of Special Counsel and the Office of Independent Counsel. He points out that the latter two offices have different missions, cultures, and goals than the OLC. He notes that the real crux of the issue for Mueller is which of the two sets of memos would he be bound to follow by Attorney General Barr and the Trump White House?

For present purposes, however, the most important practical question is whether the current special counsel, Robert Mueller, is free to exercise his own independent judgment on the immunity issue, or whether he is instead bound to follow OLC’s take. If it’s the latter, then those two OLC memos would together constitute the single greatest shield protecting President Trump from prosecution: No matter how strong the evidence against him may become, if OLC’s memos are binding then the President simply cannot be indicted until after he leaves office—by which point, it bears noting, the statute of limitations for any relevant conduct may well have expired. www.lawfareblog.com

Mueller knew all along the OLC’s interpretation was the one that Trump and company would insist on following. This means no matter how damning any information he and his team unearthed Trump was going to claim executive privilege and stand behind the rules set down by the OLC’s memos. It is becoming more obvious that Mueller, knowing his hands were tied by the OLC guidelines, saw no reason in pushing for an indictment, but rather, tailored his findings to be passed along to Congress which is the only body able to ferret out the Trump administration’s wrong doings under the current set of circumstances. These issues relate to obstruction. Other matters were also passed along to other federal courts like the Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) which will take up a myriad of infractions dealing with Trump, his children, and various organizations associated with Trump’s so called empire.

Where I think Mueller was naive was thinking that Barr would agree and pass along the report to the House Judiciary committee. Barr, so far, hasn’t seen it that way as demonstrated in his letter to Congress which was long on political wink and nods but lacked zero substance. The Barr letter is both wacky and interesting in what it does and doesn’t highlight in the report. While collusion is off the chopping block, obstruction of justice by the president and his team is not. A Daily Kos article, Lawfare: What to Make of Bill Barr’s Letter, has an interesting breakdown of the letter by Lawfare which states in part,

It also makes clear that the Mueller report creates an extensive record on the obstruction question. And that may well be the point. After all, what is the point of a prosecutor’s amassing a factual record and then refusing, as Mueller apparently has refused, to evaluate it in a traditional prosecutorial framework? The answer the letter suggests but does not state is that the Mueller report has teed up the question of presidential obstruction for evaluation by a different actor—to wit, by Congress—on a decidedly noncriminal basis. Mueller, being barred from indicting the president, has done the investigation, has apparently declined even to evaluate the matter as a prosecutor, and has laid out all of the facts and the arguments for and against treating the president’s behavior as criminal. Lawfare/DailyKos

Okay, where we are today, Tuesday March 26, is pretty much screwed as to knowing anything of substance concerning the findings of Mueller and crew. Barr appears to be whitewashing the report, and Trump, of course, is calling it a complete vindication of no collusion, and by extension, no obstruction of justice. We can only blame the Senate for confirming Barr in the first place. In a 2018 memo to Congress, Barr expresses doubt about the legality of Mueller’s probe in no uncertain terms. This was long before Barr was tapped as Trump’s replacement for Jeff Sessions (I refuse to dignify Matt Whitaker as an acting anything other than an asshole).  Some have suggested that the memo played a part in Trump’s choice of Barr. One could even make the case Barr was “auditioning” for the AG position through the memo.  In paragraphs one and two, Barr lays out his case rather succinctly, if somewhat arrogantly. He wrote,

It appears Mueller’s team is investigating a possible case of “obstruction”by the President predicated substantially on his expression of hope that the Comey could eventually “let… go” of its investigation of Flynn and his action in firing Comey. In pursuit of this obstruction theory, it appears that Mueller’s team is demanding that the President submit to interrogation about these incidents, using the threat of subpoenas to coerce his submission.

Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction. Apart from whether Mueller a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived. As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law. Moreover, in my view,if credited by the Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch.  Barr Memo

It goes on and on for some 19 pages. If this were not a clarion bell ringing out for Mueller to ignore at his peril, I don’t know what is.

Since we don’t know at this point how this situation will play out, the only course of action is to look at the consequences of what the Barr letter to Congress on Mueller’s findings has created. Trump, predictably, is singing his own praises telling America that he has been wronged but now vindicated. Hypocrisy and irony are totally lost on this man. He said,

“. . . lot of people out there that have done some very evil things, I would say treasonous things against our country” will “certainly be looked at.”

“I’ve been looking at them a long time,” Trump added, telling reporters “you know who they are…They’ve done so many evil things.”

Trump said he loves this country “as much as I can love anything: my family, my country, my god.”

“We can never let this happen to another president again,” he said, boasting “very few people I know could have handled it.”  Deadline

Sigh. Others like Mitch McConnell stuck their fingers in the pie. Mitch blocked a resolution calling for the Mueller findings to be made public. This isn’t surprising since he has long ago lost understanding of what our democratic ideals mean. Mike Pence crawled out from under his rock to claim Trump is completed exonerated and innocent. Of course, this will be hard to prove unless America knows what is actually in the report. In a nutshell the entire Mueller fiasco has turned into a nightmare of hellish proportions.

Talk of impeachment now seems like ancient history. There is even speculation that the Democrats’ plan to follow up on investigations already underway may be in jeopardy. Trump scored a huge win with the Mueller report and Barr’s summation of it to Congress. There seems to be only two possible paths to salvage anything of worth from the past two years of Mueller’s probe. One, by some whim of fate, Congress gets the report (unredacted) and can decide for the American people what should be the consequences that Trump must face. Or the ballot box. On the former, don’t count on it. On the latter . . . well, the alternative to not kicking Trump out of office is simply too much to contemplate at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Obfuscation Du Jour Edition

Move Along Folks: Nothing to see here

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More and more, it seems that anti-Trump forces are underestimating the evil genius of Donald Trump. For day one of his administration, he and his sock puppet advisers have been embroiled in scandal after scandal. Each one has its own individual flavor and particulars. Michael Flynn and the Russian’s tampering with the 2016 election was only the appetizer on a smorgasbord of vile lies, deceit and fleecing of the American public. Every day average Americans wake up and think how could it get any worse than the last news cycle? Yet, somehow, it does.

The latest brouhaha to plague the Orange One is the inhumane turmoil unfolding on the Texas border where parents, many of whom are coming to the United States legally to seek political asylum from violence they face in their homelands, are being forcefully separated from their children. Held in makeshift “prisons” (let’s call them what they are) hundreds, if not thousands of migrant children, teens and adults are shuttled into the holding center and separated indefinitely from their families.

The lies and excuses of Trump and his supporters are like a flash flood in a steep Sierra canyon. Nothing seems to be able hold back the tide of misinformation. One of the all-time best wacko justifications for the Trump policy of warehousing migrant children in holding cells on the Texas border came from Fox News host, the irredeemable Steve Dofus.

“You do see that they have those thermal blankets, you do see some fencing, but keep in mind — some have referred to them as ‘cages,’ but, keep in mind, this is a great, big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain link fences,” Doocy said.

Walls in the real world are impenetrable structures that are made of wood and plaster, sometimes brick and mortar, sometimes glass, but all of them have one major component to them that the “cages” on the Texas border do not have – they are not made out of chain link fencing. Cages are made out of chain link fencing, not walls. Why is this so hard for Dofus to understand?

If ultimate blame is to be assessed on Trump’s family separation policy, the infamous credit falls to Jeff Session’s former communication director and current senior adviser for policy for Trump, Stephen Miller. Miller can be described as hard core, right wing conservative that never met a liberal who he didn’t want to smash like a bug under his shoe. In an article by Jane Coaston for Vox titled, Stephen Miller believes in controversy as political strategy, even if it means jailing children, she wrote,

To understand what the Trump administration is thinking about separating families and locking kids up at the border, you have to understand Stephen Miller’s foundational political belief: It’s better to stir controversy, at any price, than it is to engage constructively.

The architect of Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the White House’s resident troll, the 32-year-old White House senior policy adviser believes it’s good to “trigger the libs,” so to speak, with “the purpose of enlightenment.” To Miller, working constructively across the aisle isn’t as useful as “melting snowflakes.”

Trump is quick to shift the blame like any self-respecting bully, and this time is no different. His target? The democrats in Congress who he falsely accused of being able to fix the situation if they wanted to. Insanely, he continues to say publicly that the law that calls for the separation of children from their parents is a “Democrat law” passed in some deep dark past that has been around for years festering. He would have Americans believe he has no choice due to this evil law that the Democrats refuse to “fix”.

The problem is there is no law requiring separation of families at the border. In the first place, the Republicans hold both houses and the presidency. They could “fix” any issue that they see fit to fix. The separation issue is Trump’s policy cooked up by Miller, Trump and Sessions. It is meant as a means of holding the children hostage until the Democrats come around and sign on to a bill to fund the actual border fence/wall.

Trump faces opposition from his own party and the world to stop separating families who come to the United States seeking asylum or merely a chance at a better life. Trump’s go to position is to double down and vilify the Democrats who hands are tied by his shenanigans. His comments today are particularly unhinged. On Democrats he stated,

President Donald Trump charged Democrats with wanting illegal immigrants to “infest” the U.S., as he defended his administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border and spoke to a business group.

‘DEMOCRATS ARE THE PROBLEM’

[and]

Trump has called on Democrats to work with Republicans to pass immigration legislation, and said on Twitter, “They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.”  Marketwatch

When he tired of flogging his Democrats, he turned to his ire towards, the press, who else?

Donald Trump spoke on Tuesday morning to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. In the speech, which received a frighteningly level of cheers, Trump declared those who oppose him are criminals, declaimed that he wants “security, not judges” and repeatedly insisted that his political opponents should simply shut up. In a stunning, angry tirade, Trump talked about Canadians smuggling shoes, repeated his lies about crime rates in Germany, and make a shocking claim that in reporting about families being separated by his immigration policies the news media was supporting criminals and child smugglers.

Trump: They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers.  They know exactly that they’re doing. They know it. They know exactly what they’re doing. And it should be stopped.   Daily Kos

In the speech Trump goes on to accuse countries of sending the United States the worst possible candidates for asylum, or those who simply want a better life. The Daily Kos article characterizes Trump’s speech as “unhinged and unbound”, making the accusation that there is a concerted effort on the part of countries to dump “undesirables” into the United States simply to . . . do what? Undermine our democracy? Take over the power of government? It is hard to know what goes on in Trump’s brain, but as the Daily Kos points out he didn’t stop there,

Trump: These countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up & they’re not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? Turns out I was 100% right and that’s why I got elected.”

All of this being said, what is to be taken away from the border crisis? Frankly, it is just smoke and mirrors. Everything Trump does has to be seen through the Russia investigation. Last week it was thumbing his nose at our oldest trade partners. Later in the week, it was the Kim Jong Un summit which produced little of substance and a great deal of positive press for North Korea. It was a huge nothing burger that is as susceptible to failure as his border and trade policies.

Concerning Trump, everything going forward should be seen through the filter of Robert Mueller and his inexorable march to a final verdict on whether or not Trump and his minions colluded with Russia, obstructed justice or any of a laundry list of other grievances current under investigation concerning his administration. What is particularly concerning, however, is Trump, Sessions and Miller seem to have no compunction involving innocent children and their parents as a political football that is only meant to cover his lame ass.

Bullies will bully.

 

 

Living Large in Carson City: The Sky Really Is Falling . . . “Did I say that?” Edition

I was all set to write about the depth of corruption that has taken root in the White House beyond the obvious shenanigans of Trump senior by looking at an article in the L.A. Times regarding Ivanka’s tawdry actions as first daughter and as a senior political adviser to her father on topics well above her pay grade. Not to mention, her ties with the Russian mafia, money laundering and the general bilking of potential and current clients. The other topic came from a Washington Post opinion piece about Hope Hicks and her abrupt exit from her White House communications position.

The Times piece is summed up in the title of the article: Ivanka Trump: Born to legitimize corruption and make the shoddy look cute. Most Americans only see the aging debutante as a glamorous beauty that sweeps in and out of the news cycle flashing her pretty smile and flaunting her runway beauty that most American women never have a chance of attaining. Only now are her actions as a Trump, Inc. surrogate coming under scrutiny.  Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller over the past few weeks turned his focus on both her and her husband, Jared Kushner.  Kushner for his suspect dealings with countries who refused him loans to help bail out his family’s failing international real estate enterprises. Jared may have dealt in a reverse game of quid pro quo when the tiny Middle-Eastern country, Qatar, refused to support his request for a loan.

Ivanka’s woes (among others) come in the form of an FBI counterintelligence probe as highlighted in a CNN article looking into her dealings with the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The Trump’s don’t own the hotel but lease their name and provide some amenities like Ivanka’s trademarked spa like they often do. Dealings of this sort have caused the Trump organization problems in the past, especially for Ivanka (see the Times article above).

The Post’s View opinion column deals with the breakup between Trump and Hope Hicks in a rather unique manner. The gist of the article is,

THE CAPITAL last week was seized by the news that White House communications director Hope Hicks was leaving President Trump’s side, the latest senior aide to depart a tumultuous West Wing. But as a symbol of what is wrong in Mr. Trump’s Washington, Ms. Hicks’s activities just before her announcement were more potent.  (my emphasis)

America now knows that Hicks admitted telling “white lies” to the American public over the tenure of here service. These lies, presumably, were meant to aid the Trump narrative when the truth didn’t comport with reality or when the Trump family’s questionable actions became public.

Additionally, and more damning, she refused to answer any questions concerning what has transpired in the White House since Trump took office. Remember, recently, Steve Bannon notoriously refused to cooperate or answer some of the questions asked of him when he faced federal investigators including the House Intelligence Committee.  Hick’s refusal is more problematic in that she seemed to evoke some form of executive privilege, which does not in any way apply to her or her testimony. While the opinion piece makes a lot of great points, the one that is by far the most important is the precedent that its sets for future special investigations into criminal wrongs committed by this or future White Houses.

Those were the two topics of privilege that caught my eye in the less obscure headlines in the world of Washington politics. Then Sam Nunberg happened.

One time in the late 1970s at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, TX, I saw a performer make the biggest fool of himself than anyone in my life. That title held until yesterday.  The Kerrville show was continually held up due to heavy rain that made performing a suicidal endeavor at best. Finally, a gospel group came out and did a quick set and moved off stage. The next performer, who will remain unnamed, had had a lot of time on his hands backstage. After several unheeded intros by his band, the singer/song writer came out to scattered applause.

It was immediately evident that the performer had spent his down time backstage with a large bottle of alcohol. Not quite falling down drunk, but close, he began the first song but stopped the band and began to rag on the gospel group that preceded him in what became a drunken harangue. He wasn’t very nice to say the least. Finally, after what seemed an eternity (really only about five minutes), the venerable, late Rod Kennedy who promoted the festival back then came out and led the drunken singer backstage. Up until yesterday, no one in my experience ever came close to embarrassing themselves publicly like that performer.

Until yesterday.

Nunberg was like an out of control car brawling its way down Lombard Street in San Francisco.  I saw his performance (or rather heard his phone call) on Jake Tapper where he vehemently proclaimed he would not submit to a Robert Mueller subpoena to surrender emails Mueller wants for his Russian probe into Trump’s possible collusion.

Over the course of the conversation he pledged his loyalty to Steve Bannon and Roger Stone while taking potshots at others, Trump included, in a wide-ranging rant of just about everything to do with the Mueller investigation and Trump’s White House. It was just the thing that Americans love to see: Someone making a fool out of themselves for no good reason to their own detriment. He was that unhinged. At several points in the discussion, Trump’s culpability came up,

Nunberg said multiple times that he thinks Mueller, who is leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, “may” have information that President Trump did something illegal. The White House rejected that claim, saying Nunberg has no knowledge on the subject.

This morning America awoke to the headlines that Nunberg recanted and will probably work with Mueller despite his odd behavior yesterday.

Pity, he was on a roll.

 

Living Large in Carson City: Will it ever end? Edition

Crazy days. Ashley Parker summed up the American dilemma nicely in her Washington Post article, “The month of January felt like a year and the pilot episode for the 12-part series to come”. She wrote:

The Debrief: An occasional series offering a reporter’s insights


President Trump delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
 January 31 at 8:17 PM 
And on the 31st day of January, the news gods gave us: a train crash involving Republican lawmakers, the unexpected retirement of a powerful House chairman, dropped federal corruption charges against a sitting Democratic senator, the resignation of a top federal health official amid reports she purchased tobacco stock, and an FBI statement expressing “grave concerns” with President Trump’s expected decision to allow the release of a controversial classified memo slamming the agency.And that was just the first half of the day.   WAPO                                                                
          There has been much talk in the media that Americans may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the onslaught of media coverage of the circus that has become the Trump administration’s modus operandi. The constant lying, the ungodly onslaught of one crisis after another and the complicity that the Republican Party seems willing to stoop to in defense of their tainted standard bearer is shameful and pitifully obtuse on their part. People long ago stopped asking where is the Republican moral outrage and outright disgust that normally sane people experience when the Donald opens his mouth, or rather, tweets his trash talk and innuendos about real and imagined detractors of his presidency. They are the enablers of this president, and for what gains, one has to ask.
        Trump sticker shock is real and growing everyday as the president continues his twisted and silly dance of innocence. It is hard not to feel a depressing sense of doom and gloom when he and his minions work ever day to dismantle the true gains the country made under Obama (and Bush) in regard to education, clean air and water, the environment, global climate change, trade and a whole host of other fronts. Despite his flaws, Obama’s accomplishments makes Trump look like Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson and Larry Nassar rolled into one tight little package of corruption, hypocrisy and unpatriotic hoopla.
         Then there is the Russia thing. It is baffling how Trump can dismiss out of hand the growing evidence that seems to have no end in sight that demonstrates, yes, indeed, he and his political organization, family and friends were in in bed  with the Russians in his winning the presidency. How far is still an unanswered question. Special Prosecutor Mueller has his hands full just trying to keep up with Trump’s antics that resemble a man in a hole who cannot stop digging.
         And it is only February.
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