Living Large In Carson City: And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (Yeats) Edition


“If you’re in the RNC right now and you don’t support the president, you ought to go out the door,” Shawn Steel told NPR. “The body is a political organization designed to support the president in power.” NPR

The above statement sums up the what many members of the Republican National Committee and some die hard Republicans believe about the status of Donald Trump going into the 2020 campaign season. Think about that a minute. Despite his missteps, boondoggles, lies, inept ability to govern, lack of a coherent foreign policy, and an investigation into whether or not he conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election, there are still people who still believe he is the best choice to lead the American government. There are even those who want a rule change to the 2020 platform that will not allow primary challenges, although this prospect of that happening is questionable. Still, it is mind boggling.

The Democratic side of things is shaping up to be as bizarre as the bloated Republican field in the last election. Ballotpedia lists these candidates as declared:

The following elected officials and notable public figures have filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees.

  • Pete Buttigieg (D), the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced that he was running for president on January 23, 2019.[2]
  • Julian Castro (D), a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.[6]
  • John Delaney (D), a former U.S. representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D), a U.S. representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.[7]
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D), a U.S. senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.[8]
  • Kamala Harris (D), a U.S. senator from California, announced that she was running for president on January 21, 2019.[4]
  • Elizabeth Warren (D), U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.[9]
  • Andrew Yang (D), an entrepreneur from New York, filed to run for president on November 6, 2017.


This isn’t even a short list, but a minuscule one, of possible candidates who have yet to throw their hat into the ring. There is a host of active or retired politicians yet to decide whether to run or not including Beto O’Rouke, Stacy Abrams, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and of course, Hillary Clinton who makes up only a fraction of possible contenders. Then there are the business and public figures like Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates – again a very abbreviated list of possibles. Go to Ballotpedia to see the complete lists. Warning: Bring a lunch. There are that many.

Yesterday, America woke up to the news the King of Coffee former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, is running as a independent for the throne at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. Proclaiming himself to be a “lifelong Democrat”, Schultz said he will run as a centrist Independent. Decrying “revenge politics” practiced by both sides of the aisle, Schultz fears that the Democratic Party will elect a radically liberal candidate. He stated,

“It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left,” Mr Schultz told CNBC last June. The Independent

Hmmm . . . wasn’t that the reason the Democrats did so well in November 2018? Far from seeing this trend as a negative development, many Americans appear to have been heartened by the shift. Tell me Beto didn’t have a following that rivaled both Obama and Bernie Sanders’ hyper loyalists. Across the board, especially women candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, played on the need for a leftward shift to beat good ole’ boys both in the primaries and in the general election. The problem with the establishment Democrats is they are incapable of defining themselves as anything but RHINO light. The newcomers obviously are on to something.

So, what does a centrist independent believe about core issues and obstacles facing the American public. Take one of the most polarizing issues that “radical” liberals are pushing – Medicare for all. Schultz is worth $3.4 billion and like many billionaires he opposes anything that would cut into his standing in the billionaire club. In an article in the Intelligencer, Schultz gave an inkling as to his beliefs stating,

In recent interviews, Schultz has argued that progressive Democrats have grown so rigidly ideological, they can no longer recognize basic political and policy realities.

He has also contended that the wealthiest nation in human history can’t afford to provide public health insurance to all of its citizens; that the national debt is a bigger threat to the United States than climate change; and that Democrats would be wise to demonstrate “leadership” to the electorate — by calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Intelligencer

Sounds like something Mitch McConnell would say, not a presidential candidate who claims to be a lifelong Democrat. Condemnation of his possible third party run as an independent has gotten nearly universal condemnation from just about everyone other than Trump and his minions. The obvious fear is that as a third-party candidate would siphon off vitally needed votes from the Democrat nominee, but not enough to actually carry the election for Schultz, thereby, handing a second term to Trump.

Americans have seen this before. Ross Perot in 1996 ran as an third party candidate for the Reform Party against Bob Dole and Bill Clinton (2nd term). Though he only pulled in 8 % of the vote, he was probably the reason that Clinton won and Dole lost out with on  41 % of the popular vote. Clinton got 49 %. More recently, there was the George W. Bush, Al Gore and Ralph Nader debacle with Nader running as the Green Party candidate.

Disclaimer: In 2000, I was one of three founding members of the Napa Valley Green Party along with my friends Lowell Downey and Glynn Baker. I was fed up with the Democratic machine and wanted to strike out and take a stand. We all know how that worked out. I left the Greens shortly after Bush stole the election from Gore, partly out of shame for not voting for Gore and partly out of sheer frustration stemming from the ongoing sniping between the Northern California Greens and the Los Angeles faction. Seems the Greens were just as susceptible to inter party fighting as the other two major parties. The point is I understand the damage a third party candidate, especially one who has little support other than a disgruntled following that can cause serious damage to a qualified candidate in a close race.

Trump has to be gone by 2020. If not by the hand of Mueller then by the hand of the electorate. It’s inconceivable that Trump could muster enough votes to win, but there again, I was surprised as everyone when he pulled out the 2016 election. I am sure Schultz in his benevolent billionaire mind thinks he is on the right track and that his running would be something that would clarify, if not help, the struggling Democratic Party’s identity crisis. It won’t.

With a year and ten months before the election, all the cards will be on the table. I for one embrace the drift to the left by the new Democrats. They are the ones who will make or break our democracy in the coming years. Trump is swiftly heading to a footnote in history, but his defeat in 2020 can’t be assumed as a given. Third party dilettantes jeopardize taking back the White House, even if it is only a tiny risk. Does Schultz threaten the Democratic nominee? Not yet, let’s hope it stays that way.

Living Large In Carson City: In The Kingdom Of The Blind, The One-eyed Man Is King Edition


The problem with writing about Donald Trump is that once an idea pops into my head, and I think about it for a half a day or overnight, four or five other horrific acts come to light that are as equally worthy of ridicule. As one of the pundits of The Intercept noted recently, by the time I finish writing this piece, Trump will have told 27 more lies that defy credulity. The man wallows in his falsehoods. It would be funny if it were not so dangerous and maddening.

On Tuesday,  Trump entered a new phase of his truth challenged tenure as the most powerful man in the world. He lied once again to support an unpopular opinion that he wants to put over on the United States and the world. In a press release (aptly named), Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia, he sold out Jamal Khashoggi and America’s good name on the world stage by putting profit over a man’s life.

While Trump’s association with the truth has been an issue from day one of his administration, this new phase tears the mask off of his illusion by putting himself at odds with his own security and intelligence agencies – again – and for what? Ostensibly, his rationale is that the United States would lose $450 billion dollars in arms sales in the future and countless jobs. He stated,

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.

This sounds great on paper, and his statements of “facts” will no doubt pass muster for his walking zombie base, but there is a catch. There is no hard and fast “deal” that will hold the Saudi government to the pledge of investing or spending $450 billion for American goods or services. His “hundreds of thousands of jobs” is down from October 20 when he stated the deal would produce 100 million jobs for American workers. The Pulitzer Prize winning website, Politifact, gave the 100 million job estimate a Pants on Fire rating and came to these conclusions,

Key takeaways
  • Saudi Arabia has not ordered $110 billion worth of military goods and services.
  • Saudi Arabia has not ordered $450 billion worth of goods and services across the board.
  • Over one million jobs are not at stake. Politifact

While the $450 billion figure is bogus, Trump’s intentions, however, are rooted in monetary gain . . . his. Trump and his family have had ongoing financial ties with the Saudis for years. Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal claims to have bailed Trump out of bankruptcy twice by purchasing goods or providing backing for Trump’s failing hotel empire. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law, has had extensive dealings with  Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MSB), the supposed mastermind of the Khashoggi killing. Kushner’s dealiings go beyond his  quest for peace in the Middle East to rather mysterious meetings and providing secret information to MSB that targeted supposed enemies of the young Saudi prince.

It does not take a rocket scientist to envision Trump and his family’s motives for making nice with the Saudis. Once America can rid itself of the pest that has become Trump, he will certainly use his connections and call in the “favors” (like siding with Saudi Arabia over the CIA that MsB is innocent) for personal advancement of his goals. In effect, Trump placed a foreign power over the United States simply for monetary gain. In one fatal strike at our democratic process, he has set himself up as the final arbiter of American foreign policy that just so happens to be personally beneficial for himself and his family.

In a very real sense, this is an aspect of Trump that has always been just under the surface, but with his siding with the Saudis, American can see a deeper, more brazen set of actions that reveal a side of Trump not openly seen before. He is either deeply afraid of what is coming in the form of Robert Mueller’s probe, or like a junk yard dog facing overwhelming odds, in his case, an up an coming recalcitrant Democratic majority in the House of Representative in January. It is entirely possible he thinks he has little to lose by going down the road he has taken in recent days. So, why not grab for the gusto before the party winds down, and he has to face the consequences?

Regardless, now until the time the new Congress is seated in January is a time of great peril for our democracy. Already, some state officials who were turned out during the midterms are rushing legislation through their state governments to curtail the power of the incoming public officials. Take Wisconsin for instance,

In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers who gave Gov. Scott Walker wide-reaching executive powers are trying to roll back those powers before Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Walker in this month’s election, is sworn in next year. Salon

One has to wonder how the Republican Party shifted from a party of ideas to a party of ideologues whose slash and burn rule book is the antithesis of democratic ideals that made this country great. On a local and state level, much can be done to stymie these obvious acts of sour grapes, but nationally, the stakes are even greater.

Christopher Hedges’ column on the website TruthdigAre We About to Face Our Gravest Constitutional Crisis?, brings up some interesting scenarios that he sees could be grounds for concern.

Before this lame-duck Congress adjourns in December we could face the most serious constitutional crisis in the history of the republic if Donald Trump attempts to shut down the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

A supine and pliant Republican Party, still in control of the House and the Senate, would probably not challenge Trump. The Supreme Court, which would be the final arbiter in any legal challenge to the president, would probably not rule against him. And his cultish followers, perhaps 40 million Americans, would respond enthusiastically to his trashing of democratic institutions and incitements of violence against the press, the Democratic Party leadership, his critics and all who take to the streets in protest. The United States by Christmas, if Trump plays this card, could become a full-blown authoritarian state where the rule of law no longer exists and the president is a despot. Truthdig (go here to see the photo accompanying the article if nothing else)

I am not a fan of Hedges normally, and certainly not one for unfounded conspiracy theories, but the argument he makes through his interview with Ralph Nader and his own prognostications, unfortunately, makes too much sense. Before the midterms, I was worried that if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House that Trump might claim the voting results invalid and negate them if he could and declare martial law. Sounds a little nutty, no? Yet, as Hedges points out concerning his theory, Trump has flouted his disregard for the constitutionality of his acts before by firing James Comey and Jeff Session. Nader’s vision of what might be coming is entirely too chilling,

“Trump knows once the Democrats control the House, they can subpoena the records of his administration,” Ralph Nader said when I reached him by phone in Connecticut. “He’s going to want to get this over with, even if it sparks a constitutional crisis, while the Republicans still control the Congress. There’s little doubt this will all come to a head before the Christmas holidays. Truthdig

Again, I am not one to acknowledge unfounded conspiracy theories, yet, given the Trump’s track record over the past two years and his increasingly erratic behavior of the past week, I have to wonder. Of course, much of the glue that holds a theory like this one together is placed squarely on the shoulders of his radicalized base. Hedges notes in his article,

. . . Trump, with Fox News acting as a megaphone for his hate speech and conspiracy theories, has been holding Nuremberg-like rallies across the country to prepare the roughly 40 percent of the public who remain loyal to him to become shock troops. His followers are filled with hate and resentment for the elites who betrayed them. They are hungry for revenge. They do not live in a fact-based universe. And they are awash in weapons.

While this is a disturbing hypothesis, we have to remember that many of Trump’s supporters are angry old white men. It is doubtful that those over 65 years old would be willing to take to the streets to physically support a Trump based coup. The younger supporters include alt-right members, poorly educated white men (and women), and many who see Washington as severely broken and has to be fixed. Do they have enough moxie to back the Orange One up if push came to shove? Who knows?

It occurs to me that the best hope of controlling Trump and limiting the damage he can and is doing to our democracy is found in the ranks of moderate Republicans. The people who got more than they bargained for when they threw their lot in with him two years ago. Reasonable speculation would seem to indicate that as Trump slides deeper into his own demonic dreams of grandeur that the middle of the road Republicans will have to take a stand against him. Unfortunately, as the past two years has taught Americans, we shouldn’t hold our breath on that possibility either.

FYI: This came to light this morning CIA has tapes