Living Large In Carson City: Putting Lipstick On A Pig: Volume XXX Edition

He (she) could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.

Hunter S. Thompson

The first day of the impeachment trial began, and I had been putting off sitting down in front of the television to tune it in. It just seemed so futile and unseemly to sit and listen to grown men of supposed stature lie blatantly about a man who is so undeniably guilty. Not just of minor human fragility, but a man of deeply depraved and wicked moral tendency. A man who is gladly wrecking our democracy, our way of life, and all of the the truths that make America the greatest nation on the planet. Or well, it used to be. Trump has sullied our good name on the world stage by acting out like a two year old who has lost his binky. He is literally that pathetic and obtuse. Now, the trial is goes into the final weekend with a vote on not allowing witnesses and a scheduled acquittal on all counts next Wednesday. Thanks Mitch . . . for nothing.

Okay, I succumbed and started watching snippets of the speeches daily from both sides. The takeaway from the Republican’s side was to simply lie, lie, and lie some more. It repulsed me to hear Trump’s White House lawyer, Pat A. Cipollone, rebut the Democrats claims and accusations without even a hint of irony or regard for the truth. It boggles the mind and tests the realms of reality to envision, let alone understand, what Trump’s crew of vipers posing as lawyers did to come up with such hogwash then spout it out on the Senate floor without breaking down laughing.

The very real fact that should disturb anyone who loves and cherishes this country’s freedoms and place in the world is the rise of the ubër conservative. Not the down and dirty ragtag Trump basket of deplorables, they have always been around. It’s the sleek, sauve and creepy guys in expensive suits who seem to have sprung  fully mature out of Trump’s forehead (apologies to Athena and Zeus). They are rich and  powerful and becoming even more so under the Trump regime. Some, like the White House’s Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, crazy Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Gordon Sondland, and others come off more as clowns than actual players. Their obvious greed and lack of a moral compass designates them as slimy hanger ons – nothing more.  Granted, they can do enough harm simply by existing in Trump’s swamp world, but because of their buffoonery they are seen as not exactly to sharpest knives in the drawer or the most diabolical.

No, the dangerous types are of the likes of Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin,  Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that prophet of doom Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller. These people not only manufacture the Kool Aid they have found a way to survive and thrive on it. To be honest, this only a short list and space will not allow me to delve into the numerous questionable conservative judicial appointments, wacked out evangelicals who hang on Trump’s coattails like a scrum of lice, or the irresponsible department heads who exist only to do Trump’s wishes.

The depths of depravity that the likes of Mnuchin will slip into came evident at the annual Davos Economic Forum circle jerk on climate change last week. In an article by international climate activist Payal Parekh titled “We can’t trust the billionaires of Davos to solve a climate crisis they created”, Parekh makes an insightful comment,

While Australia is burning and frontline communities all over the world are threatened by the very real consequences of the climate crisis, Davos-style meetings will never give us the answers we need. In truth, it would be foolish for anyone to expect a private club whose 1000 member companies have paid between 60,000 to 600,000 swiss francs to be a member (the more you pay the more access you have) should be trusted to solve an issue they created. The Guardian

There were those there that spoke truth to power. Both Prince Charles of Great Britain and Sweden’s Greta Thunberg gave impassioned speeches telling the world the truth about the crisis the world faces. Thunberg was especially pointed in her criticism and demands on behalf of the world’s youth. She stated,

In Chapter Two, on page 108 in the SR 1.5 IPCC report that came out in 2018, it says that if we are to have a 67 percent chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we had on January 1st, 2018, about 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit in that budget.

And, of course, that number is much lower today, as we emit, about 42 gigatons of CO2 every year, including in land use. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining budget is gone within less than eight years. These numbers aren’t anyone’s opinions or political views. This is the current best available science. Though many scientists suggest these figures are too moderate, these are the ones that have been accepted through the IPCC. WeForum

Yet, leave it to Mnuchin in his creepy, elitist frat-boy demeanor to strike exactly the wrong tone when he shot back at Thunberg’s statements.

Asked by a reporter at the World Economic Forum in Davos whether the climate policies Thunberg advocates would hinder US economic growth, Mnuchin answered, “Is she the chief economist, or who is she? I’m confused.”

“It’s a joke,” he went on. “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.” Vox

These are the people running our government. Their lack of self-awareness, willful neglect and immature understanding of what is at stake to our environment and future of the planet is stunning in its obtuseness and sheer audacity of their head in the sand approach. No, Thunberg does not have a degree in economics, but  the question is not why is she commenting on the peril facing our world, but why are people like Mnuchin not asking the same hard questions. It doesn’t take a genius in economics to understand the issue as Mnuchin’s comments so vividly illustrate

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is another case in point. How these people get elected to public office is unfathomable. Pompeo’s only qualification for holding the Secretary of State position is the fact that he is a Trump sycophant without little of anything that might be called a “soul”. His demeanor is that of a thuggish husband without the cheek stubble and  a dirty stained wife beater t-shirt. His recent outrageous treatment of a NPR reporter of the venerable All Things Considered public radio show was unconscionable as it was indicative of his fear of not being treated like a great pasha of Trump world.  It seems beyond low ball, easy-to-answer questions that allow him free reign to bash Iran he is unable to hold his water when dealing with important issues like Ukraine and the conspiracy Trump created.

These two are only the tip of a very unctuous swamp pool that has swallowed up Washington, D.C. and the White House. The “players” of Trump world’s attitude reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s lead character in his book Bonfire of the Vanities. Not unlike the characters in Donald Trump: The Presidency, Wolfe’s leading man is  Sherman McCoy. McCoy is a Wall Street investment banker who is riding high on both the unbridled opportunism of a bull market and his on inflated ego. McCoy sees himself and his cohorts as “masters of the universe”, not unlike Trump and his avariousious cadre of suits who claim both allegiance to him and the spoils of governing.

Getting back to the impeachment trial, week two saw the Trump lawyers present their side in defense of Trump and his actions. Has there ever been a more audacious collection of liars and dissimulators to ever walk the face of the earth? Alan Dershowitz, a once respected professor and lawyer, can be seen as the worst. His argument on why Trump should not be removed from office ultimately comes down to this statement by Dershowitz,

“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Dershowitz’s argument during a Senate question-and-answer session reverberated across Capitol Hill and social media, sparking warnings that—if accepted—Trump or any other president would be free to do whatever they please as long as they can claim they were acting to advance their chances of reelection.

“This of course would mean that a president could not be impeached for doing literally anything in the service of his own reelection,” tweeted Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz. Raw Story via Common

Dershowitz’s statement is the description of a Third world monarchy, and that dear reader (as many across Washington noted) is the template for authoritarianism.

 

Living Large In Carson City: Life Is Full Of Disappointment – Cue Trump

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Honestly, is there anyone in America who is sentient and moderately aware of the Trump administration that hasn’t seen the current state of affairs as inevitable. Let’s not even go into the “justification” of “imminent” threats to American and foreign targets that Trump and his minions can’t agree on or feel obligated to divulge. So much of Trump’s decisions over the past week about Iran’s response and his bizarre snorted address to the nation was so predictable as to be both pathetic and laughable. Only the Orange One could create, deny, and wallow in his own self delusion like he can. The problem is that the Iran confrontation is far from over for a variety of reasons.

It is a given that Ossem Soleimani has been a bad actor on the world stage for sometime now. He is credited for thousands of deaths, both civilian and military. It might be progressive pessimism to think that Trump’s assassination of  Soleimani was little more than a crude attempt by Trump to change the political narrative away from his upcoming impeachment trial in the United States Senate. But when you consider his ham-handed approach to just about everything from foreign policy to immigration to taxation for the rich and prosperous, it surely isn’t out of the realm of possibility. It has become obvious that his political acumen leans toward the maladroit, rather than refinement and finesse in statesmanship.

Then again, why? With the entire Republican Party tap dancing to his every whim, no matter how unconstitutional or illegal, the outcome of a any sham trial in the Senate will certainly exonerate him. Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he will follow the lead of the administration and deliver whatever they demand. Witnesses? No, way. Fair and unbiased presentation of the facts? Nope. The sniveling little skank, Lindsey Graham, has even refused to read transcripts or other material presented to the House committees, and according to Axios,

“I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with. I have clearly made up my mind. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process. So I don’t need any witnesses. … I am ready to vote on the underlying articles. I don’t really need to hear a lot of witnesses.”

— Lindsey Graham

Why it matters: Before beginning an impeachment trial, Senate rules dictate that senators must swear an oath to do “impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.”

  • Graham said in an interview with CNN Saturday that he is “not trying to pretend to be a fair juror.”   Axios

Trump’s antics on the world stage coupled with his denial denials and the ever-shifting impeachment narrative are almost enough to inspire schizophrenic behavior in all of us. The battles between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, wavering Republicans beginning to demand witnesses be called, and the growing 2020 hoopla of presidential candidates is, quite literally, almost too much to take in and absorb.

Of course, the current chaos du jour is exactly what the Republicans and Trump long for in the end. By keeping the American public in turmoil, especially the Democrats, they control the narrative through lies, outright misdirection, and control of their own party base. “See”, they contend, “the world is going to hell in a handbasket. You need strong, law and order government to control the radical left.” All of the chaos only throws another log on the authoritarian fire that is smoldering among the far right and its enablers.

There are signs for hope on the horizon. Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls giving credibility to the idea that the status quo is feeling the Bern in Iowa and New Hampshire. Certainly, Sanders has his detractors. How could he not? He supports ideas that are radical beyond what Wall Street, Big Pharma, the Republican, and yes, the Democratic Party can phantom. Conversely, Joe Biden is slipping in the polls, even as old-school political prognosticators and much of the mainstream media and Washington old guard claim that Trump’s shortsighted military faux pas in killing Soleimani will play into Biden’s strength on foreign policy. I am not a Biden basher, but realistically, do we need yet another Washington establishment politician feeding us the same garbage we’ve fed on for the last one hundred years?

In recent days the Iran/United States brouhaha has settled down to a mild roar as Iran deals with the international outcries that have resulted from the downing of a Ukraine Airliner that killed all 176 passengers and crew. Iran showed its own inept chops by first denying the incident and then fessing up to the tragic outcome of their retaliatory attack on the American base in Iraq. It’s almost a given that Iran would want a “take back” if one were possible.

Not so for Trump, who has waffled through his own tweets and the words of his cabinet members trying mightily to defend the decision to assassinate Soleimani. Finally, Trump has come to the unusual defense that shows just how morally bankrupt he is and how little he holds the rule of law in high regard. Trump’s newest defense goes like this,

“The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was ‘imminent’ or not, & was my team in agreement,” Trump tweeted.

“The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!” Aljazeera 

We all know people with horrible pasts, maybe not as checkered as Soleimani’s, but still judged by normal ethical standards horrible nonetheless. If one of us took a pistol and ended anyone of these people, it would be called murder. We would be tried convicted and sent to prison for the rest of our lives or left to rot in a cell waiting for the inevitable needle. Granted, the comparison is a little skewed, but really, not by much. Trump abused his power and ended Soleimani and the people accompanying him. Did they deserve to die as well?

The issue that makes writing about Trump in a weekly blog is that the newscycle changes daily, often two or three times in a 24 hour cycle. Iran, Soleimani, Trump’s justifications, and the downed Ukraine airliner have all held the lead at various times this week. Now, the letters of impeachment have been delivered to the Senate. One would think that is more than enough for any seven day news cycle, but no.

Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed Lev Parnas, the point man for Giuliani and Trump in the Ukraine debacle. And what an interview it was. This morning the news airwaves have been alit with scorching assessments of what Parnas revealed about everyone from Trump to Giuliani to Barr to Pence to most of the Republican elite and not so elite like Devin Nunes. And there is more tonight. Part II of the Maddow/Parnas interview will be aired with undoubtedly more damning revelations as they are surprising. 

The implications for the impeachment are astounding. Most pundits believe now that witnesses will surely be called like Parnas, Bolton, and god knows who else. McConnell has painted himself into a tight little crack where if he isn’t careful he will be able to see any Republican with a shred of democratic principles and a conscience turning on him and aligning with the Democrats who want to get to the bottom of this stinky swamp that Trump built. The opening Eisenhower quote:

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Seemed appropriate in light of the Iran/United States dustup earlier this week. Now, not so much. A better phrasing might be,

I hate politics as only a true American who has lived it can, only as one who has seen the brutality, the futility, the stupidity of Trump and his administration.

Remember to breathe.

Living Large In Carson City: The Temperature is Rising But Not From Climate Change Edition

Fear: The Commodity of Authoritarianism

“And I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! . . .  He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. ”                                                                                           Andrew Shepherd addressing his opponent Bob Rumson in the closing speech of American President.

Donald J. Trump’s off-the-chart wacko letter to Nancy Pelosi the night before his impeachment vote is a thing of sheer lunacy.  Trump is the typical bully standing on the playground shouting at anyone who will listen “Am not! Am not! Everything that you say bounces off me and sticks on you!” That kind of lunacy. His screed to Pelosi (partially authored by Stephen Miller of “lock the kids in cages” fame) is shredded with lies, innuendos, third grade taunts, and an obvious ignorance of the world that is spinning out of control around him. He is in a word – unhinged.

The above quote by frictional president Andrew Shepherd eerily mirrors the president and his mindset. He seems to lean toward the school of thought that (as many have said) accuses everyone else of the exact things that he is doing in real time. Of course, daily, he hits all the oldies but goodies bashing in no particular order Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, James Comey, Hillary Clinton,  impeachment, liberal Democrats (in his mind the only kind there is in this world), the DNC, and as in the Pelosi letter, ends up with an outlandish reference to the Salem Witch Trials and a “oh poor me” whine that the witches had more due process than he has gotten from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. The fact, notwithstanding,  that the witches were falsely accused, tried, and murdered seems to escape his tunnel  vision thinking.

Trump does exhibit Bob Munson’s predilection for making people afraid of issues and coming up with whom to blame. The Democrats get most of the homeland blame, but the president is known to be the Blamer in Chief on the world stage as well. Most Americans understand the blame game and have become inured to the onslaught of lies and half truths and totally fictional statements that are Trump’s stock and trade. What many Americans do not understand is his mastery of fear and how to use it to get just about anything he wants from the Republican Party, world leaders, and his all important base is the real threat to our democracy. And this is undoubtedly his most dangerous trait.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress aren’t exempt from Trump’s fear tactics. The main tool the president uses against his party is the threat of running a Trump anointed candidate against a Republican up for reelection although he has many other avenues including Tweets, a shoutout/shoutdowns in rallies, and even face to face encounters. With a base as rabid as an amoral pit bull on meth, Republicans who find the courage to face up to their bully in chief will undoubtedly find themselves in trouble at home in their districts and on Capitol Hill. In an article written by Tom Boggioni for Raw Story, he comments on an interview that appeared in the New York Times writing about one congressman who made the ultimate mistake of crossing the Orange One. He wrote,

By the summer of 2017, Dave Trott, a two-term Republican congressman, was worried enough about President Trump’s erratic behavior and his flailing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that he criticized the president in a closed-door meeting with fellow G.O.P. lawmakers,” the Times reports.” The response was instantaneous — but had nothing to do with the substance of Mr. Trott’s concerns. ‘Dave, you need to know somebody has already told the White House what you said,’ he recalled a colleague telling him. ‘Be ready for a barrage of tweets. Raw Story

While Republican congressmen/women fear the president himself, his base fears what Trump tells them in real time. Fake news, hopped up marauding immigrants, loss of social status within the population for themselves are just click bait for Trump to use to put the fear of god into his followers. Democrats become scum, socialists, haters of democracy, crazy lunatics hellbent on destroying the government and turning the country into a cesspool of  ideas that mean only harm to his adoring base. His rallies are little more than one long dog whistle to build his stature up while eroding the fundamentals of our Constitution and the ideals on which it was built and depends.

Trump has in three short years sketched out the foundation of an authoritarian government with him at its head, and conceivably,  his children to take over after he leaves the stage. By attacking the media, he turns truth into propaganda that his base feeds upon daily. Set aside the tweets, scandals, the Russia probe, and a countless other number of diversions and behind the scenes end around actions, he is reshaping the government by destroying the infrastructure on which it runs. Policies on energy, trade, judicial appointments, the Clean Water Act, and on and on are an integral part of Trump’s play book. He has gutted departments and policies that were meant to enhance the quality of life for all Americans by turning over the reins of governments to lobbyists, shills like Rick Perry and Rudy Giuliani, white supremacists like Stephen Miller, and other billionaires like the Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland. They have one primary goal: to enrich themselves and others within the authoritarian hierarchy. For Trump, this is the ultimate meaning of the “fix is in”. 

One of the most remarkable strokes of political shrewdness, however, has thrown a monkey wrench into the rigged Senate impeachment trial. While Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham have publicly claimed that they will follow the direction of the president and his lawyers during the trail, Trump’s dream of an acquittal and exoneration from wrongdoing has stalled.  Pelosi, again, has stood up to the president and his minions and has thus far refused to send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she gets assurances from Republicans that a fair and unbiased trail will be held.

Predictably, and understandably considering his toxic ego, Trump has gone ballistic. After leaving Washington for his vulture’s nest in Mar a Lago, he has bombarded the tweet waves with countless tweets attacking “Crazy Nancy”, the Do Nothing Dems and all of the other usual suspects. He seems to think by the sheer volume of outlandish catcalls he can some how change the conversation and swing the tide of public opinion in his favor. Preliminary results seem to tell a different story.

Paulo Coelho in his book The Winner Stands Alone makes a particularly insightful statement when he writes, “. . .  but despair can deceive the desperate”.  Every day Trump remains in Florida tweeting, Coelho’s words seem to apply more and more to the president. Let’s face it; the man is up to his eyebrows in deep shit. The slam to his ego and shame that now embraces his presidency through the impeachment process is taking a great toll on the Orange One’s thin skin. As he reels further and further into self pity and rage, something has to give. With the crack in the Evangelical base demonstrated by the editorial penned by the editor of “Christianity Today” to the memories of being laughed off the world stage at the Nato summit in early December to Pelosi’s bitch slap of withholding articles of impeachment, all hang like a stagnant fog over Trump’s tiny universe. No one deserves it more.

Living Large In Carson City: What Will It Take? Edition

“In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

And the hits just keep on coming . . . Week two of the public impeachment inquiry and things just keep getting more bizarre. Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan are playing tag team inquisitors, a role neither man seems qualified to fulfill, let alone intelligent enough to pull it off. Late last week,  Roger Stone was found guilty on all seven counts brought against him stemming from the Mueller probe. As the evidence mounts, there just doesn’t seem to be much that can go right for the Republican Party and the merry band of idiots who lead them.

Then there is Donald Trump who took to Twitter to malign former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during her live questions calling her a failure wherever she was posted and coming perilously close to committing witness tampering, or at the least, intimidation. This is nothing new for the president, nor is it surprising. Considering how the Republicans have thus far controlled the national political narrative through lies and avoidance of the truth, which has allowed them to create a chaotic atmosphere across the nation, witness tampering is just one more egregious act from a corrupt presidency.

The real question is just how long the Republicans can continue playing ball in what is blatantly obvious a sham administration bent only on stroking the Orange One’s massive, if not pathetic, ego. Certainly, there is a plethora of Always Trumpers like his rabid base and useful idiots like Nunez and Jordan. Mitch McConnell has made it clear that impeachment proceedings will be dead on arrival, or at best, a truncated event meant only to give lip service to an already determined favorable outcome for the president.

One has to wonder, however, if there aren’t some within the Republican fold who want to see Trump gone as badly as the Democrats. Obviously, up until now, Trump’s real power lies not in his cherry personality or suave ability to lead and command, but in the fear he strikes into the heart of vulnerable Republicans up for reelection. The “primary” threat he tosses about as easily as he spews venom from his mouth carries real world weight when the rabid base is factored into the equation. That was then, however, this is now.

With the live impeachment hearings daily causing the Republicans headaches and bad cases of acid reflux, the tide of power may already be shifting. Suppose that a group of Senators read the mounds of evidence against Trump and decide to ban together to vote for impeachment. This would kill two birds with one stone. First, the fear of Trump’s power to influence primaries against recalcitrant Republicans would evaporate, but it would also bump the president from office where he would slither back under whatever rock he came from back in 2016. It defies logic that every member of the Republican Party is willing to knuckle under Trump’s power at the expense of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Americans, however, have seen even more outlandish occurrences. Who among sentient Democrats were not caught flat footed when the election results came in favorably for Trump back in 2016? Then it seemed like a bad acid trip gone horribly wrong even for a bad acid trip. Yet, four years later, the country has polarized even further than it was when Trump got elected. Yet, the facts bear out that much of that polarization is based, not on Trump solidifying and expanding his position, but rather, a growing exodus of disenchanted Independents and moderate Republican coming to their senses and forsaking the president. Recent electoral gains by the Democrats in state elections tell a story of awakening in the American heartland that will hopefully last through the 2020 election.

While the impeachment sideshow continues to gain the lion’s share of headlines, Trump and his band of pranksters continue dismantling the American democracy. He has to date confirmed 150 right wing radically, opinionated judges. His most recent, Steven  Menashi, is a former White House council who served under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. He had a hand in denying students remittance from for profit colleges that landed his boss DeVos in hot water for ignoring orders to move forward to negate the student’s loan debts. Susan Collins crossed party lines to vote against the nominee stating,

“Mr. Menashi was so poorly qualified, he lacked the basic temperament for this position that I voted not even to proceed with debate on his nomination,” she said. “His past writings, particularly about LGBTQ individuals and advocates, about women, about diversity raise questions whether he would rule fairly.” USNews 

And this from Chuck Schumer,

Democrats’ concerns extended beyond Menashi’s work with Devos. In particular, they lamented that he’s helped guide the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda alongside Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president.

“His record on race, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights and the rights of immigrants should be disqualifying,” Schumer said. “At the Department of Education, he helped cook up an illegal scheme to use the Social Security data of students swindled by for-profit colleges in order to deny them debt relief.”

“A candidate for a judgeship should show respect for the law,” he said. “That’s the lowest possible bar.” USNews

And most of theses judges are appointed for life. Yet, judges are only a small part of a larger equation of subversion and annulment of basic American rights. The aftermath of the impeachment inquiry and possible articles of impeachment will have a far reaching effect on the American psyche for decades to come. The Republican Party faces a very real prospect of sliding into ignominy across the country. If the Democrats can pull their shit together and actually mount a real and viable campaign to drive the Trump administration out of office, still, it will take a huge win in the popular vote.

A win of  that magnitude would surely further divide Always Trumpers and the rest of the country to the point of straining our country’s ability to survive.  America would survive, but at what cost. The prospect of living again in a Trumpless world is tantalizing beyond belief for most Americans. Yet, America can’t expect there not to be repercussions from radicalized white people afraid for their continued relevance in a multiculturally changing United States. Evangelicals, contrary to their god’s teachings, are spreading rumors of civil war and the doom of god’s wrath being rained down on everyone’s heads who refuse to back Trump and his mission of failure.

If the stakes weren’t so high and important, the situation America finds itself in on the cusp of 2020 is comically ridiculous beyond belief. Who would believe that the America Barack Obama left us has been pissed into the wind so quickly and with unbridled enthusiasm under the Republicans’ reign of mediocrity? Granted, Obama wasn’t everything the country needed or wanted, but at least, he took responsibility for his actions. Trump seems incapable of owning his mistakes, or admitting that they are even mistakes.

As the live impeachment hearings continue to roll out official after official implicating Donald Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors, America waits. There seems little anyone can do but weather the storm and hope for sunlight on the other side. If not sunshine, at least some form of cleansing from the past four years that will make the phrase “Proud to be an American” a true statement again. Is there anyone who doesn’t think that will be a heavy lift? Where is Arnold when you need him?

 

Living Large In Carson City: Tis The Season To Be Jolly . . . Not Edition

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams

This week the House of Representatives voted to go forward with the impeachment inquiry laying down the groundwork of how the public hearing will be conducted. Conventional wisdom would have one to believe the Republicans would be somewhat mollified with the vote. Think again. Weeks of complaining about lack of transparency in the behind closed doors disposition hearings, lack of ability to cross exam witnesses by the Republican lawmakers, no official full House vote for an impeachment inquiry, and the old standby, the proceeding were unconstitutional, all fell by the wayside. In one contested vote of 232/196 , the Democrats answered and addressed those spurious claims by granting nearly all of the Republicans’ previous demands.

Tom Boggioni of Raw Story reported,

Prior to the vote, Republicans were already calling the impeachment hearing and vote a “sham.” They argued against it vociferously.

As for what happens next, the New York Times reports that the proposed resolution, “would authorize the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.”

Additionally, “The measure would also give the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents.” Raw Story

Rep. Loopy Louie Gohmert went so far as to accuse the Democrats of staging a coup, confirming in the minds of many that Loopy Louie doesn’t understand the difference between a coup and upholding the constitution. He continued with his derogatory comments by claiming his fear that the country will be thrown into a civil war if the Democrats get their way, and armed conflict won’t be out of the question. Besides verging on sedition, his comments on the floor of the House tell a distressing tale of just how far some in the Republican Party will go to drive the country into an outright oligarchy more than it has become under the reign of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

It defies common sense how the Republicans seem to have forfeited their patriotism and love of the country to acquiesce to the demands of the president. The question of a quid quo pro between Trump flunkies and the Ukraine is proven day in day out as officials go before committee after committee and affirm that many in the mix of career professionals diplomats all found the president’s actions with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky little more than a strong arm tacit to illicit dirt on Joe Biden. Trump continues to cry “perfect telephone call” in the face of mounting evidence that perfect is not an appropriate adjective for what went down.

Yet another symptom of the rot that Trump brought to the table can be seen in the number of officials who have been served subpoenas, yet ignored them and refused to give depositions to relevant committees on the Ukrainian debacle. Imagine if a normal middle or lower class individual decided to ignore a subpoena from a grand jury. The ink wouldn’t have time to dry on the arrest warrant before the person would be picked up and placed in custody. Criminal defense attorneys, Broden and Mickelsen from Dallas, lay out the consequences for ignoring either a state or federal grand jury subpoena in their company’s blog stating,

Whether you’ve received a subpoena to appear as a witness or a subpoena duces tecum, it’s never a good idea to simply ignore the subpoena. If you ignore a subpoena, a judge could hold you in criminal contempt and punish you accordingly.

Under Texas law, the judge has the authority to impose a fine on individuals who refuse to cooperate with a subpoena. For misdemeanor cases, the fine is $100. In felony cases, the fine can be as high as $500. Judges in Texas also have the authority to issue an arrest warrant for individuals who fail to comply with a subpoena.

Likewise, under federal law, judges have the power to hold a person who refuses to comply with a subpoena in criminal contempt. The judge can impose fines or order the person jailed for up to six months. If the person is convicted for criminal contempt, the person could serve even more time in jail. Broden and Mickelsen

The fact that Trump’s minions under his direction decided to ignore the subpoenas is not a surprise. The lawlessness of this administration is a given at this point considering his lies and flaunting of the Constitution and the rule of law. A biting dog is going to bite. It’s in their nature, and they are unable to act any differently. No, the blame in this case lies squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats in the House. Police personnel are taught when they draw their weapon they must be committed to using it if the situation warrants violent response. The Democrats don’t seem to get that when it comes to subpoenas. If Trump and his underlyings choose to act criminally, they should be treated as criminals.

The Democrats are not without enforcement powers. One of the more effective powers is the process of “inherent contempt” of Congress. Roll Call , a Washington based political publication on all things to do with Congress, describes the “inherent contempt” process like this,

Inherent contempt is Congress’ power — as implied but not directly stated in the Constitution — to enforce congressional subpoenas or respond to actions seen as obstructing their oversight and legislative processes.

Each chamber has the authority to unilaterally exercise that power by adopting a resolution authorizing its sergeant-at-arms to execute an arrest warrant against an official who refuses to comply with Congress. Roll Call

Why the Democrats are reluctant to exercise their right to penalize subpoena scofflaws is puzzling to say the least. Conventional wisdom would expect Trump to immediately pardon anyone scooped up and processed for breaking the law, but that might trigger even graver consequences for the president. Obstruction of Justice charges could be filed against him for further eroding the legislative process and the check and balance powers belonging to Congress. Possibly, the Democrat leadership wants to make as few waves as possible on the political front in fear of being blamed for staging a real “witch hunt” and alienating Independents and moderate Republicans who are in agreement that the subpoenas should not be ignored.

The one thing for certain is that America is deeply divided and getting more so every day. With the Trump media constantly repeating his lies to a rabid base and people like Gohmert making outlandish predictions, it is little wonder that the country is being torn apart due to Trump’s criminal activities. One wonders if there are any Republicans in Congress that see what is happening and will turn back to protecting the Constitution and the three branches of our Democratic republic. Or is it already too late with too many lies backed, too many scandals brewing, and a defiant tyrant seated in the Oval Office.

In the quote at the top of the page, Adams posits, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” This is the position that Americans find themselves in today. Is Democratic suicide inevitable? Can Congress pull the country back from the brink? Will cooler heads prevail and redirect the country’s debilitating demise away from ending this country’s glorious run on the world stage? The next few weeks should tell. 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: This Time It Feels Different Edition

  The rule of law is the basis for any democracy. And without the rule of law in democracy, you have chaos. 

The above quote is attributed to Meles Zenawi who took over as head of the provisional government in Ethiopia in 1991 and later became the country’s 13th Prime Minister in 1995. He was instrumental in leading his country out of the chaotic and devastating 17 year civil war and turned it into one of the fastest growing economies on the African continent. His belief in the rule of law as the foundation of democracy is still true today as when he spoke of them all those years ago.

While Zenawi turned chaos into democratic stability, Donald Trump is taking his playbook and starting at the back of the book and working backward. The United States is one blackbird away from a pie of destruction, and he, his cronies, and the Republican Party don’t seem to give a hoot about that they are wrecking all the good things about America. They care little about what the nation stands for in the light of our freedom and past. The country is in trouble, and there doesn’t seem an end in sight.

It has gotten so bad I have stopped trying to sit down and write a blog on any single subject in the current era of Trump and company. By the time I finish one post, ten other equally galling and mind numbing incidents have occurred and mushroomed into an appalling scenario no one could have imagined in saner times. Yet, I cannot help but feel hope that the Ukraine debacle will spell the end of this reprehensible administration. Hopefully, the fall will come before the president completely destroys the government infrastructure or nukes some unsuspecting nation like Iran to garner points with his rabid base.

Yet, Americans of good conscious have been here before, were appalled, and knew in their hearts that America would rise up and kick Trump out of office. It did not happen. Take your scandal du jour; none of them from the vile pussy grabbing schizoid television spot to the caging of young children to kowtowing to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un have had no effect in bringing down the worst president in the nation’s history. It’s as if his orange pallor is the equivalent of a duck’s oily feathers that allows controversy to roll off his back with ease. This time feels different.

As of today, Rudy is in hot water in regard to his exposure and links with the two Russian political operatives who appear to have funneled foreign monies into the American political system in the form of donations to Trump supportive political action committees. The extent of the corruption is not known, but all indications seem to point to Rudy’s involvement which may have been illegal. If one or both of the Russian donors flips on Rudy, the pressure will be on Rudy to consider flipping on the president to save what little life outside of prison that he has left. This time it feels different.

Trump, of course, on his own plate has the brewing impeachment inquiry over his dealings with the Ukraine, the whistleblower, and obstruction of justice that he is committing by not allowing any member of his administration to testify or turn over documents detailing the president’s interaction with the Ukraine. Rumors are flying of other whistleblowers in the wings, and the reality of five court case losses over the past week that has to have Trump groveling in his empty fried chicken buckets like any number of sycophantic Senators who try to cover for him everyday to keep their seats. This time it feels different.

The thing about Trump is his inability to do the right thing. Or maybe, more apropos to his character, his peculiar penchant for doing the exactly wrong thing – take Syria for insance. Beyond the obvious fact that he is literally abandoning allies on the battlefield, he has set in motion a deadly conflict that today, a week into the fiasco, has already expanded with Turkish forces spreading out into a larger swath of destruction than was first projected. The Kurds, with their backs to the wall and no American support to help resist the attack, have turned to the Russians and the Assad regime for help fighting off the Turks as they push ever further south into Kurdish territory. Of course in hindsight, this is exactly what his advisers predicted and voiced to the president when he first discussed pulling out troops from the Syrian battlefield.

Trump’s reaction was predictable, if not constructive, when he commented on  the Turkey/Kurdish relationship in the past with a particularly idiotic slam on the two nations and not just a bit ironic.

Trump added that the Kurds and Turks have been fighting for years, a reference to the decades-long Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

“Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other,” he said. “Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!” Washington Post

The bit about “We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!” is particularly galling considering he is responsible for the situation in the first place,  and second, he created the “Endless War” scenario by pulling American troops out. It is as if Trump is playing army in a private sandbox on the back White House lawn positioning his little rubber GIs around the “battlefield” until he gets tired and cranky then he walks roughshod over the entire scene and quits in a fit of presidential pique. This time it feels different.

Resistance to Trump’s pull out has been swift and across the board. Even evangelicals seem to have grown a conscience (but not much of one) and are decrying the president’s Syria abandonment.

But after last Sunday night’s announcement from the White House that Trump was unilaterally pulling U.S. troops out of northern Syria, a potential crack appeared in Trump’s evangelical foundation. Christian media mogul Pat Robertson announced that he was “appalled” by Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies by exiting Syria. If Trump does not reverse course, Robertson declared, he is “in danger of losing the mandate of Heaven.” Think

The military is far from happy to see Turkey’s incursion into the Syrian homeland which goes against past recommendations to the president on how to handle the situation. Diplomatic circles stepped up warnings that nothing good would come from Trump’s folly. A folly that was the only thing that was holding back Turkish forces from entering the country. Former national security team member, Brett McGurk, who resigned last December, called Trump’s actions “haphazard” and “almost unprecedented in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition last Tuesday. This time it feels different.

While it is doubtful that American political harmony will ever regain a semblance of equanimity anytime soon, the warning signs that Trump is skating on thin ice are there for the near future. Will those rifts metastasize into an across the board rising up against the Orange One is anyone’s guess. The facts remain, however, that Trump, Rudy, Pompeo, Barr, and the other henchmen and women’s luster is growing a little dull in light of recent events. The fact that the Republicans in Congress cannot bring themselves to step up and condemn Trump’s more egregious faults and actions is still worrisome. However, until Trump’s power is diminished through impeachment, public opinion, or some other equally odious revelation, right now, this time it feels different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Chaos As A Governing Policy Edition

A good chaos theory means you have a disciplined strategy behind the scenes of how you’re going to roll out policy. And then you do it in a way that inflicts chaos on the press and your opponents.

Jennifer Palmieri

I never really understood the Chaos Theory until Donald Trump became president. Even then, it’s taken three and a half years for its meaning to really sink in and the implications that it holds. The past month’s news cycle has, however, opened my eyes to just how effective it is when wielded by a master of bullshit like Trump.

For me, it all began with Mike Pence’s European junket that found him in Ireland staying Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg over a hundred miles from Dublin where he had meeting scheduled. Sounded suspicious, but then, it was Mike Pence. Then there was Trump’s trial balloon about having the next G7 meeting at his Trump International Doral Golf Club in Miami. This was followed by the revelation that an unknown number of military flights were routinely routed to the Shannon Airport and personnel were forced to stay at the same golf course property in Doonbeg were Pence stayed. All of which lined Trump’s bank account.

Then there was Corey Lewandowski. His appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was nothing less than surreal. The fireworks started shortly after the top ranking Republican on the committee, Doug Collins of Georgia, gave an opening statement that ranged from firebrand accuser to snarling mad dog insanity which ultimately ended an unhinged chaotic screed and shameful defense of the president.

Lewandowski took it from there. The fact that he unselfconsciously admitted that he lied to the press when it suited his purpose, and that the president asked him to ask then Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take over the investigation away from Mueller were only two startling admissions that bled from Lewandowski mouth couched in bile and abject disdain for what used to pass as the rule of law. It was tiresome to watch and disheartening to endure.

Now, America is mired in yet another scandal based on a whistleblower’s claim that Trump acted inappropriately when he asked the president of Ukraine to uncover dirt on Joe Biden’s son. The issue stems from Biden pressing the president to fire a corrupt prosecutor who had come under criticism from American allies across Europe for is lack of moral rectitude. More on this later.

 America has to wake up to the fact that our democracy is under siege. It is hard to write that sentence, but the time for self-delusion and standing on the sidelines is over. Long over. Also, not to be a liberal bashing the conservative party, it is increasingly obvious that the Republican Party as it is today is not part of the solution. Americans witness daily the lack of concern and complicity that has become the norm between the Republican Party and the Trump administration. Support for meaningful gun control hovers around 55 % consistently for all Americans. Climate change is real whether the deniers would rather suck up to big oil than face the stark reality the planet is in trouble. Mitch McConnell’s iron grip on the Senate keeps any meaningful legislation from even coming to a vote. And the Republican Party demures and looks the other way. 

Of course, the real problem lies with Trump himself and his slash and burn approach to governance. The problem begins with the people he has chosen to run the heads of the departments (or left vacant) that are the lifeblood of the government. In January Shannon Vavra writing for Axios noted in a article,

Former oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt became acting secretary of the Interior on Wednesday following the departure of Ryan Zinke.

Why it matters: President Trump campaigned on the promise of “draining the swamp.” But Bernhardt is just the latest in a revolving door of special interests to take over key positions in the president’s Cabinet. The New York Times’ Eric Lipton notes that as of Thursday, the Defense Department will be run by a former Boeing executive, the Department of Health and Human Services will be run by a former pharmaceutical lobbyist and the Environmental Protection Agency will be run by a former coal lobbyist. Axios

For a more in depth look at other swamp creatures heading influential department posts see The Economist’s article here.

Of course, there are the outright ideologues and political appointees that are rampant throughout the government. Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Wilbur Ross at the Commerce Department, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, and on and on. Appointed more for their past support of Trump or as useful idiots who should never be placed in a position of power over people’s lives, the ragtag team of sycophants are dismantling hard fought gains by past presidents of both parties  that will take years to correct if they can be corrected. The result is our democracy is being attacked and taken over by plutocrats and hucksters whose only goal is blatant self aggrandisement nothing more. 

Even more disturbing is Trump’s choices for his inner circle – those who do the work of henchmen (and women) to keep his small hands for being sullied. Starting with the low-hanging fruit in no particular order, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway. Conway has never heard a truth or fact that she didn’t try to twist into a compliment that praised the president and trashed the “liberal media” or others who stray into her gunsights. White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, comes off as little more than a yes man without a spine and a obsequious hit man for Trump. It is safe to say that no lie or distortion is too big, too egregious, or blatantly false that Mulvaney will not repeat in an effort to pander to the president.

Two of Trump’s appointments defy both logic and good sense to say nothing about the flaunting of our democracy by putting power into these two men’s hands. Attorney General Bill Barr is a case in point. Now known as Trump’s “fixer”, there is little doubt that Barr is the “wall” that Trump constructed to keep his transgressions from seeing the light of day. From Mueller’s report to declaring the aforementioned whistleblower’s report from prosecution, Barr is the proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to justice and the rule of law concerning Trump’s shenanigans.

Then there is Stephen Miller; Trump’s immigration guru. Filled with hate, self-importance, vile beliefs, and a lack of empathy and humanity, he is the Trump poster boy who represents the most base of Trump’s despicable administration. Miller alone is proof enough that the president is a soulless person who should never have become president.

Yesterday, the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi decided to begin a formal impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower scandal proved to be one bridge too far for some of the most staid Democrats in the House. The real issue is will the Republicans step up and abandon Trump and call him out as the amoral, reckless wretch that he is or let him skate once more? Will the Senate under Mitch McConnell moved forward on Articles of Impeachment if the House follows through and deliver the coup de gras to the floundering excuse for a public official?

This has always been the real issue. Trump on his own is a blumping clown who deserves nothing less than abject ridicule. From the “pussy grabber” tape to sucking up to Putin to kowtowing to Saudi Arabia, the Republicans have turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to all of Trump’s lies and what would be comical faux pas’ were they not so serious in their implications. Chances are they will not. They will adopt the line that the impeachment will harm the Democrats at the polls as the “faithful” come out in numbers to reelect the Great Orange One. Shame on them.

Living Large In Carson City: Same As It Ever Was . . . not! Edition

“I am brainy, too brainy. I am so brainy, it’s almost unbelievable.” Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s proclamations about his intelligence aside, the Orange one is doing little these days to burnish his mental chops. Dorian, the hurricane that would not go away, provided the world with evidence of just how loose the president plays with the truth and reality – again. As Dorian finally got off its rump and moved away from the beleaguered Bahamas headed toward the East Coast of the United States, Trump in his meteorological wisdom decided to include Alabama in his weather prognostications warning the good people of Alabama to feel the fear. Contrary to those who should know, the weather scientists, Trump believed The Heart of Dixie State was in for a scouring. As the  days following his announcement have made clear, only proclamations of nothing less than death and destruction (even where none exist) would assuage the president’s tiny ego.

Okay, the guy made a mistake. The right and sane thing to do would be to fess up, make an apology, and move on. Simple, right? Not for Trump. According to a a report by The New York Times, even his Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, threaten to fire officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) if they did not disavow a Tweet sent out by the Alabama regional office personnel an hour after Trump’s Tweet contradicting Trump’s claim that Alabama was in Dorian’s path. The Commerce Department called the statement false adding more fuel to an all ready out of control conflagration.

What is so odd about the Alabama/Dorian story is the fact that it was easily proven that the president was wrong. Factually wrong to boot. The media, politicians, business leaders, hell, even my three poodles knew he was wrong. Yet, Trump dug in and even altered the now infamous NOAA weather map by extending the impact zone that Dorian was projected to make by using a Sharpie to show the storm’s path jutting into southern Alabama. The question is “For what purpose?” The prevailing opinion of most is Trump’s penchant for never saying he is wrong. This Dorian Gate, however, blew up in his face and severely called into question the ability of the president to look at facts and make the proper assumptions. Will it affect the way his die-hard supporters view his credibility? Probably not, but the incident does make sane voters pause and wonder.

Then there was the Taliban, Afghanistan, and Trump secret meeting to be held at Camp David this week. Besides going against all norms of how foreign policy works, the idea of bringing a known terrorist group to Camp David shocked more than a few Americans including Republican supporters of the president. In retrospect, it appears that not only was it a bad idea, but Trump was basically willing to give away the farm to come to a peace agreement at all costs. The Taliban being the Taliban, who are sworn enemies of America, could be counted on to do what they do without regard to the consequences. The night before the meeting Taliban forces blew up a car bomb and killed an American soldier.

Trump seemed surprised that known killers of American soldiers would have the audacity to kill an American soldier. Americans and most of the world found out the next morning when Trump Tweeted,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to.…an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?

Uh, a terrorist organization like, I don’t know, the Taliban.

The secret modus operandi Trump is so fond of employing is getting old. Add to the confusion over cancelling the “secret” meeting, Trump seems to not realize the entire fiasco makes him look like a bush leaguer on the world stage. Yet, in his his skewed wisdom, he cannot stop himself from surrounding his actions with a secret aura that (if and when it ever works)  he believes it will make him look like a genius negotiator. The fact that he gave no thought to the horrible optics of asking known terrorist to Camp David only puts a even more clownish spin on the meeting.

One good thing that came out of the scrapped meeting was John Bolton was either fired or resigned depending on who is telling the story. It seems neocon John was getting on the president’s nerves by disagreeing with his almightyness over policy procedures, and well, inviting terrorists to Camp David. I have long been a verbal opponent of Bolton since the mid-nineties when he and a bunch of other old white men like Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others teamed up to create the Project for the New American Century. The guiding light behind the endeavor was an us-against- them mentality which held the interesting concept of attacking countries across the world to reshape them in our image while democracy spread like wildfire in the wake of destroyed infrastructures in the aforementioned countries. These guys even had a manifesto like all true terrorists and would have loved to put it into action. One could argue that the Iraq war was the beginning of their dream world. That didn’t work out so well.

Trump is now mired in so many outlandish dealings it is a wonder he even has time to actually do anything remotely resembling foreign policy. It appears that those who do delve in the foreign policy negotiations are often shunted away at the very end so Trump can jump into the fray to claim victory of his own. Meanwhile, North Korea is firing off multiple missiles capable of carrying sophisticated warheads that threaten both our overseas assets as well as the continental United States. An Associated Press article notes Iran is upping their capacity to enrich uranium beyond where they promised not to venture. The article states,

Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels to weapons-grade material, taking a third step away from the accord while warning Europe has little time to offer it new terms.

. . .

The move threatened to push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy. APNews

Back in the clown car, yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is ready to meet with Iranian officials to discuss the two countries differences with “no conditions” attached. Uh, what about Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon? This turn of events makes Barack Obama’s dealings with the rogue nation look like he is the Statesman of the Century. Wasn’t it Trump who once said of the deal supported by our major allies, “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never ever been made”? Now, America and the world are supposed to believe Trump and his ilk can come up with something better when they are going in without preconditions? Good luck with that scenario.

So it goes in the Trump presidency. Shatter the norm, criticize real negotiations others made in the past, and send in the clowns. What could go wrong?

 

Living Large In Carson City: The Truth Is Out There But Not From Trump Edition

liar's pants don't actually catch on fire quote

 “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Mark Twain Quoting Benjamin Disraeli

The fiasco that was the G7 meeting in France this past weekend just keeps on giving. Quoting that paragon of wisdom duo, Brewer and Shipley, Trump might be said to be “One toke over the line”. How else can Americans square the outlandish behavior of Donald Trump anytime he comes into the proximity of world leaders. Leaders that are actually leaders and not political hacks of Trump’s ilk. Actually, Americans can only hope that Trump is sucking on the pipe behind closed doors, but judging by his Twitter behavior, it must be meth, not pot, that he his is imbing in on a regular basis.

There was one shining moment in the wrap up press conference that the president gave at the end of the summit among a flurry of lies, innuendos, and outright incomprehensible moments. Trump in his batshit crazy modus operandi continually called for the members of the G7 to allow Russia back into the fold. You will remember Russia was kicked out for attacking and annexing part of the Crimea, and you know, shooting down a civilian airliner.  Trump, however, fueled by what god awful substance he puts into his system claimed that Obama was somehow responsible for the Russian expulsion and that Putin had embarrassed the former president. In Trump’s third grade mental construct, this prompted Obama to call for his and Russia’s ousting from the G8.  This is a claim he repeated over and over.

At the height of the press conference, Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, stepped up to the mike and said this,

“Why do you [keep repeating] the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama when other countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea. Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?” Source

Ouch! What makes Alcindor’s question so relevant and poignant is a trend in broadcasting that has some, not a lot, but some, journalists no longer willing to allow Trump to simply say shit without being called the liar that he is on a daily basis. According to the Washington Post, as of June 2019, Trump told 10,796 lies to everyone from farmers, coal miners, businesses, everyday Americans, world leaders, and on and on. Think about that number: 10,796 lies told by an American president. It even defies Trump supporters’ credulity.

Yet, when journalist like Alcindor call Trump out his go to action is to, well, lie some more. His entire trip was one false statement after the other. We now know that his push for Russia’s acceptance back into the G7 was a bone that he could not stop gnawing on to the chagrin of other G7 members except for Italy who sided with the president’s demand for Russia’s readmittance. Still, Trump in his egomaniacal way would not let go of support for his old friend, even at the risk of alienating the G7, Americans, and even members of his own party. Sometime in the near future America will learn what is the impetus behind his selling out his own country and cozying up to one of the most brutal dictators in modern history. That time cannot come soon enough which brings up another new topic.

Deutsche Bank hints that it has copies of Trump’s tax returns raising the question if they might be available through the subpoena process for the House Judiciary Committee to get their hands on them. A minor kerfuffle came Tuesday night when Lawrence O’Donnell on his MSNBC talk show claimed that Russian oligarchs had co-signed bank loans that Trump took out several years ago which would have given plausible impetus to begin impeachment proceedings. On Wednesday, O’Donnell capitulated saying he should not have aired the oligarch angle when only one source actually claimed the statement was true. Regardless, the Deutsche Bank factor will surely play an ever increasing role in the Trump investigation as more information comes clear and open to public scrutiny.

Back to the lies. In an article by Calvin Woodward for the Associated Press titled “In 7 days of tweets, Trump lets the bedbugs bite” chronicles the seven days the president spent in France at the G7 and afterwards amid lies, Tweets, and countering claims that his Doral Golf Course did not, repeat, did not have bed bugs. Here is a sample of just one day, 

SUNDAY, AUG. 25

On the sidelines of the G-7 summit of world leaders, French diplomacy produces an unexpected meeting with Iran’s foreign minister, a potentially groundbreaking development with an adversary of the West.

As this unfolds in the halls, Trump tweets in honor of talk-show veteran Regis Philbin: “Happy Birthday Regis, a truly special man!” Trump plays up an opinion poll he likes and makes the improbable claim that the other world leaders mainly want to know from him “why does the American media hate your Country so much?” AP

No matter what one’s political leanings might be, it is obvious that Trump is slipping further into the dark depths of conspiracy theorists and the land of boogeymen. He really believes there are dark forces that want only to spread lies and falsehoods about his “legacy”.

The one thing Americans can be certain about is the president has no clue about how irony works. In a Tweet earlier this week, he attacked all things Puerto Rican in this Tweet,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is
broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved
Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to
Crooked Pols.
No good!….      Aug 28, 2019  CNN
His statement “Their political system is broken  and their politicians are either
Incompetent or Corrupt. . . . Crooked Pols” is beyond self delusional. The fact is
America’s political system under Trump could easily be described in the same words. 
As CNN noted in the same article, he followed the above Tweet with this little nugget of
wisdom,
“And by the way,” he added, “I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!”
It defies logic that this man is allowed to walk around in public much less be allowed to
comment on anything of substance and be heard. When I think of Trump and Puerto
Rico, I will always go back to the image of  Melanie and Trump standing behind a table
stacked with rolls of paper towels surrounded by a room full of desperate Puerto Ricans.
His idea of help at that meeting was to mimic shooting free throws into the crowd using
the paper towels as balls. Some legacy . . .
The week ended on a bright note, however, when Trump turned on his favorite fake
news outlet, the disreputable Fox News Network. In a statement aimed at his shrinking
basket of deplorables, the president lashed out at the network stating, “Fox isn’t working
for us anymore” in reaction to a discussion about recent polls showing all of the current
Democratic presidential front runners handily beating him in the race if the vote were
taken that day. Fox commentators like Shepard Smith, Bret Hume and Neil Cavuto took
umbrage with Trump’s implication that the network owed allegiance to the president
and said so in blunt, no nonsense terms.

No one knows what will become of this latest brouhaha, but it’s a safe guess that Trump will find a way to lie about the dust up regardless of what happens going forward. If things go as they have over the past week, the president is already teeing up his next Tweet denying he ever said anything about Fox News or that the fake media cooked up the lie to make him look bad. Regardless, the crazy house remains open for business with the head clown running around with his head stuck up his behind with no attachment to reality. Happy September, winter is coming.

 

Living Large In Carson City: Life In The Muddled Lane Edition

Angry politician

“Every newspaper on earth has called me a liar.” John McAfee

Remember back pre-2016 when the world was a happier place. There were no international faux pas’ wedged in our collective memories. Twitter was still a place to actually communicate with one another rather than a place of idiocy and shared shame and that the man sitting in the president’s chair wasn’t seen as a fucking nut job by people around the world? Those were heady days unlike today when the current administration has sullied America’s good name and place of respect in the international community. And it is getting worse, much worse.

Remember when we all laughed about the assumption that Trump’s current view on any topic was the one expressed by the last person he talked to? Laugh we did, but the reality is that on most topics of importance that is exactly how he presents himself and his stance on any topic. Now, with the White House gone dark where little or no information on policy or current topics of national and international interest can escape the black hole of Trump’s West Wing lair, he continues to act like all things are normal.

But things are not normal. Press conferences have given way to impromptu pre or post flight “chats” with journalists on the grounds of the White House or some tarmack across the globe. This agenda is good and bad for many reasons. Good because it allows Americans a peek into the mind of a very disturbed individual who just so happens to be the most powerful man in the world. It’s scary but necessary if the electorate will rise up and kick his ass out of the office in the coming election. Bad because it allows Americans a peek into the mind of a very disturbed individual who long ago lost any sane or definable guardrails between sanity and insanity of the most powerful man in the world.

Eric Boehlert’s article in the Daily Kos titled, D.C. media’s dirty little secret: It has no idea what’s happening inside Trump’s White House, lays out just how bad it is for journalists covering the president and the White House,

“Reminder: There is no White House, not in the sense journalists have always used the term,” New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen recently tweeted, hitting on a media critique he has amplified for more than a year. “It’s just Trump—and people who work in the building. The term is still in use because what else are ‘White House’ reporters going to do? But there’s no referent for it. The metonymy broke.”

Rosen’s accurate appraisal pulls back the curtain and reveals that the “White House” that reporters are so busy reporting on and referring to is, at this point, basically a media concoction. It’s a prop that’s being held up because “the White House” is how journalists have always referred to the sprawling West Wing enterprise that powers and supports each American president. Source

This past week has been a particularly bad week for team Trump. As the country weathers his tariff war with China and an ungodly fractured economy that is showing signs of slipping into a possible recession, Trump continues rearranging the Titanic deck chairs and refusing to see that good times are not guaranteed. He knows that the economy is his Achilles heel, yet refuses to take measures to curb the slide. This past week anyone who was ambulatory and able to string three sentences together coherently was out parroting the Republican talking points that the economy was strong, and there is nothing to worry about.

Which brings us to the sycophantic compulsion that has become the Republican’s modus operandi as it continues to support Trump and his administration’s whacked out policies. Trump’s base and the Republican Party are all he has left to fall back on when circumstances head south leaving him exposed to ridicule and derision. One has to wonder about the Republican’s skewed devotion to a man who is literally running the country into the ground. Consider this from a 2017 poll,

A poll found that 52% of people who identify as or lean Republican said they would support postponing the 2020 election to ensure that only eligible citizens could vote if it was proposed by President Trump.

The poll also found that 56% said they would support such action — which would be taken to stop alleged voter fraud — if it was supported by both Trump and Republican members of Congress. USAToday

No one should be surprised by the fact that Trump has turned his attention back onto election fraud (which doesn’t exist to a great degree) as he continues to harp on the fact that he “won” the popular vote in 2016 regardless that statistics show otherwise. This is a sly little trick that he has hit upon, basically laying the groundwork for an election challenge if he loses both the popular vote and the electoral college in the upcoming election. As his numbers continue to tank and his support dwindles, a challenge may be the only way he sees as a means of holding onto the presidency. Seems far fetched with a normal president in the office, but if the past three years have taught us anything, expect the unexpected with Trump and his followers. He and his basket of deplorables are seriously misguided in their belief that they know what is best for this country.

Salon’s Bob Cesca put it this way,

So once again, Trump’s paranoia turns out to be gobbledygook. Yet it doesn’t have to be on-the-level. As long as it feels to his followers like it could be true, and as long as he continuously screams it at his throngs of brainwashed disciples during his rallies, that will be enough to convince millions of voters and more than a few Republican members of Congress to question the results of the 2020 election if Trump loses. Trump is absolutely capable of pulling a stunt like this. In fact, we should prepare ourselves for the very real possibility that he’ll do it.

Don’t forget: If Trump loses, he could face multiple indictments as soon as the new president is inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. No one is more aware of that possibility than Trump himself. Salon

Cesca goes on to point out that voter fraud in all of its shapes and form from Voter Id, Gerrymandering, and denial of voting rights to minorities has long been the bailiwick of the Republicans, not the Democrats. Trump is vulnerable and his flank is exposed with the continuous screw ups he and his minions commit almost on a daily basis. He is literally like a wounded animal looking for any out that will save his hide. Expect him to continue down the path of an authoritarian dictator hell bent on keeping power at all costs.

Then, the smoke screen of the week popped out of the Golden One’s mouth. He wants to buy Greenland. Despite Denmark’s vehement and resounding negative reaction that Greenland was not for sale, Trump continued to parlay the scenario that it would be simply another large retail buy, something that he assured his base he was well versed in accomplishing. In reality, Trump is as good a salesman and manipulator of real estate as someone wanting to sell ocean front property in Arizona. It just can’t happen, but the ploy takes heat off of his problems, delights his base who would believe anything he says, and distracts from the real issues at hand.

Oh the places we’ll go.