Tuesday, March 14, 2017

George Washington Couldn't Tell a Lie. Donald Trump Can't Tell the Truth

Ok, I get it. Donald Trump was elected president by ‘frustrated, fed up’ voters who sent him to Washington, D.C. as the ultimate outsider to shake things up. To drain the swamp, get rid of special interests and make America great again. Blah, blah, blah. I hate to disappoint them, but Trump is on a fast track to be the most dishonest, corrupt, dangerous president in United States history. 

For the first time in 241 years we have an administration that cannot be trusted, ever. Gone are the days of simple political spin from the White House. What we have now is a fascist-like propaganda machine that would make Nazi Josef Goebbels proud. The lying is relentless and perpetrated not just by Trump, but also by his vice president Mike Pence, press secretary Sean Spicer, his cabinet members, and top advisors including Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller. 
They lie about the economy. They lie about job growth. They lie about healthcare. They lie about foreign policy. About Russia. About terrorism. About immigrants. They lie simply to lie. And to distort, distract and divert attention away from the colossal shitstorm that is their initial 50 days. They lie with arrogance and reckless abandon. Their lies are blatant and shameless. They lie to our faces, and laugh about it while they‘re doing it. And they lie regardless of whether there’s audio and video which unequivocally disproves the lies. They’ve perfected the art of lying so well that they even lie about their lying, as Spicer did at Monday’s White House press briefing in refuting Trump’s exact words about “wiretapping.”

Ever since Trump began his unconscionable birther campaign six years ago (btw, he’s even lied about that...saying it was Hillary Clinton, not he, who started it), candidate Trump has been on an intentional campaign to deceive his base of ‘forgotten’ angry whites who long for the good old days of the 1950’s when immigrants and minorities ‘knew their place’ and women were ‘barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.’ The game plan from day-one has been to twist and mangle their reality in the Trumpian post-truth era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” Don’t shoot the messenger, but it sure seems like Trump views his supporters as the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet. 

Trump appeals to the lowest common denominator of fear and bigotry, acutely aware that his lies flow through that myopic filter and thus stand little chance of being challenged or rejected. Remember, Trump himself said "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters." Turned out to be true. 

Trump and his propagandists realized this truth about his supporters before his 2106 campaign even began. That they can be lied to 24/7 without consequence. That they will not only accept the lies as truth but, in their intense hatred of Barack Obama and Hillary Obama, become loyal servants in spreading the lies at work, at the BBQ and on social media. They get most if not all of their information from Fox News and alt-right websites like Breitbart, so they have no ability to distinguish fact from fiction. Trump’s masterfully exploited this ignorance and lack of intellectual curiosity, tossing them juicy red meat through his fiery racist, xenophobic rhetoric. 

So it’s no surprise they believe Trump and only Trump. That they took it as ‘fact’ when he claimed that “thousands and thousands of Muslims were cheering” after 9/11. Or that he didn’t know former KKK leader David Duke. Or that he was against the Iraq war. Or that millions of votes in California were fraudulent. Or that he’s no longer involved in his business. Or that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s under IRS audit. Or that Mexico will pay for his border wall. Or that he won in a “landslide” with the most electoral votes of any president in decades. Or that his inaugural crowd was the biggest ever. Or that Obamacare is a “disaster.” Or that Obama “founded ISIS.” Or that the unemployment rate is 42%. Or that he’s already created tens of thousands of jobs. Or that Obama wiretapped him. Or that the media is “the enemy of the people.” I could go on. The level of lying is staggering and unprecedented. 

And there’s a pattern to the lies. The most egregious, outrageous claims consistently come right after there’s news released which Trump deems unflattering, upsetting or potentially harmful to his presidency. The bait-and-switch. It occurs like clockwork, as it did two Saturdays ago following Trump’s evidence-free Obama wiretap claim after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the RussiaGate investigation. As intended, these deflections then send the media into wild-goose-chase fact-check mode, only to be stymied by surrogates who employ the patented “are you gonna believe Trump or your lyin’ eyes” defense. The lies come too fast and furious to keep up with. Mission accomplished.

America under Trump at best has become a comic punchline. At worst a global disgrace. Baghdad Bob sits in the Oval Office, staining the presidency beyond recognition. We’ve turned into a nation without a heart and soul, led by a thin-skinned, vindictive, Kleptocratic orange devil-baby hellbent on lining his and his family’s pockets at the expense of taxpayers. It’s personal-enrichment before country. Ego before country. Pretty much anything before country. 

Of most concern is the grave danger that Trump poses to our very democracy. He’s a Vladimir Putin appeaser who inexplicably defends the murderous Russian dictator while summarily maligning and discrediting the U.S. intelligence community. His utter disdain for our free and open press and judiciary is an attack on our Constitutional bedrocks of free speech, due process and the rule of law. His business conflicts-of-interest and/or nefarious, possibly criminal dealings exposes him to impeachment, or worse, possible blackmail from foreign regimes and enemy states. Most alarming, his refusal to recognize and condemn Russia’s cyber attack last Fall, and his alleged collusion in the hack, undermines confidence in our electoral system. 

Make no mistake, Trump is America’s #1 terrorist. Our biggest existential threat. And he represents the greatest test to our system of checks and balances. The question is, will the media, the courts and, ultimately, voters allow this dictator-wannabe to turn America into a corrupt third-world banana republic or will the system ultimately stop him as it did Richard Nixon. My money’s on the Founding Fathers...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Why America, Not Donald Trump, Will Win in the End

Ok, so Donald Trump is president. Leader of the Free World. Commander-in-Chief. Occupying the White House and Oval Office. There. I’ve said it. And, like most of the country, no matter how many times I say it, it still remains an unfathomable reality. Some even call it a nightmare. But president he is. And for at least the next four years, unless the impeachment gods work their magic, he’ll continue to be president. But there’s a limit to the damage he can and will inflict on us. That’s because America is so much bigger, better and stronger than Trump. 

This is not to say that Trump won’t succeed in achieving, with the help of the Republican-controlled Congress, much of his conservative agenda. This includes lavishing massive tax breaks on the rich; lowering corporate taxes; eviscerating regulation; and reducing entitlement programs and benefits to seniors, the poor and middle class. Education, the environment, the arts, LGBTQ rights, international diplomacy, trade and our relationship with our allies will also suffer. 

But in the ways we fear most, with Trump’s most outrageous campaign promises, he is powerless. For example, on the issue of repealing and replacing Obamacare, we see that it’s his own party that has made his new bill all but dead on arrival. On the issue of the border wall, we see how even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admits that Mexico will not be paying for it, and therefore it likely will never get erected (yet another failed Trump erection). And it’s unlikely that typically stingy Republican lawmakers will saddle taxpayers with its $15-billion bill. With his Muslim ban, Trump’s learning a very valuable civics lesson: that our Constitution and system of checks and balances means something. That our judicial system won’t just allow him to do whatever he wants in his reign of racist, xenophobic terror. 

And then there’s RussiaGate, Trump’s eventual Waterloo. A scandal so big and threatening to America’s democracy and national security that it has the potential to bring down his entire administration (leaving us with President Ryan? Oy...). Trump can stymie, distract, deflect, deny, feign ignorance and lie all he wants, but as Dick Nixon would tell him, it’s the cover up that’ll get him in the end. And there’s no doubt that when it comes to allegations of Trump’s colluding with Vladimir Putin and Russia, where there’s smoke there’s...well...a 50-alarm forest-fire raging through the White House. The parallels to Watergate are stunning. I’m sure Nixon would warn him that the drip, drip, drip of leaks is what feeds the media, and just like it was Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and the Washington Post that brought him down, it’ll be the media that causes Trump’s house of cards to come crashing down as well. 

To be sure, our Founding Fathers were pretty smart dudes. They knew what they were doing when establishing our new nation. They had the extraordinary prescience to create a system that would not only address the possibility of a tyrant-wannabe like Trump occupying the Oval Office, but more so to protect us from him with law and three equal branches of government. So while I, like most Americans, grow increasingly, frustrated, angry and impatient with Trump’s patently unAmerican, unethical, amoral and possibly illegal behavior and pathological lying, I trust that in the end America will prevail in the battle of good vs evil. In short, we may have a selfish, self-serving, heartless Republican as president, but our system won’t tolerate a corrupt, possibly treasonous and criminal mad man. 

Perhaps Trump might want to think about resigning. He could go back to Trump Tower, where life was great and simple. Where he could make his billions, grab whatever pussies he wants, and feed his rapacious ego without challenge. Where he’s the boss. The big guy. The only vote that matters. Where people fear him and do whatever he wants, no questions asked. He could sit on his thrown in his 5th Avenue sanctuary, free from the challenges and obstruction of Congress, the courts and the media. While there’s still time to salvage whatever might be left of his family, his business and his legacy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Here's Why Trump's Tweet About the Obama "Tapp" is 100% Bullshit

Let’s assess the reasons why President Trump's incendiary accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign is absolute bullshit:

1. We assume Trump has evidence because if he doesn't then he's just committed an unconscionable, possibly libelous/treasonous/impeachable act by blatantly lying about the former pres;

2. So if he does have evidence, why is he demanding an investigation? We assume he got his evidence from the FBI or Justice Department, and if so he already knows/has the answer;

3. If he doesn’t have the answer, and truly needs a Congressional investigation, then he DOESN'T have the evidence and intentionally made this baseless, unsubstantiated claim; 

4. If he doesn’t have the evidence, as president, he can make a call and in a matter of minutes get from FBI, and Justice whether or not the FISA court did in fact issue a warrant to wiretap him, and why. But again, if the answer is it didn’t, then his accusation is an outright lie;

5. And if he doesn’t make that call, why not? If he really wanted to find the truth, why hasn’t he already made that call? Why choose not to get a quick answer to confirm this very serious charge if it’s truly the truth he seeks? Unless his accusation is a calculated lie designed to distract away from #RussiaGate?

6. If FISA did issue a warrant, we have to assume Trump already knew that, which is why he then Tweeted about it. So again, if he already knows, why is he pretending he doesn't know and is demanding an investigation? Especially one that wastes a ton of taxpayer money?;

7. By law, no president can "tapp" anyone's phones. FBI or Justice, based on reasonable suspicion/evidence, makes the request to FISA independent of the White House. So while Trump's accusation could possibly end up having merit, it's not Obama doing the tapping, and therefore it’s not something Trump should want to be publicizing;

8. If FISA did issue a warrant, that would be because FBI or Justice proved to FISA that they had sufficient evidence that Trump colluded with Russia, which is why they needed to "tapp" his phones in the first place; 

9. By Tweeting this information, Trump in effect, because he's the president, served to declassify what previously was classified;

10. Trump, who just days ago ranted like a maniac about "unnamed sources," Tweeted his treasonous bullshit about Obama based on...unnamed sources;

11. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated last weekend that there were no FISA warrants issued during his tenure at NI to "tapp" Trump Tower phones; 

So, what can we conclude? That Trump is a liar who made up his evidence-free accusation. Or, if his claim of being wiretapped ends up being true, Trump, as everyone suspects, has been co-opted by the Russians, which is why FBI/Justice, not Obama, sought the wiretap. Either way, Trump is in a heap of shit, and too ignorant and tone-deaf to understand the gravity of that early morning weekend Tweet. And that, this time, he may have gone too far...

Monday, March 06, 2017

RussiaGate: WTF Has Happened to the Republican Party?


I’m old enough to remember a couple of critical things about politics and national security: that, historically, the Republican Party was always resolute in its fear of the Russian threat to American democracy and in defending us from it. The second is that when it came to this threat, both parties put partisanship aside and were united against an enemy state. No more. Republicans have gone mad.

The Trump administration acts more like a division of the Kremlin than the impenetrable Reaganesque patriotic defender we’d experience with any other Republican president. But this is not where the madness ends. Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin, and his cabinet’s dalliances with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (believed to be Russia’s top spy), is not only being tolerated by GOP leadership and voters, but excused and justified. This tacit acceptance of Russia’s tampering in our government, influence in our elections and tainting of our leadership makes no sense on any conceivable level. 

Perspective is critical here. Consider Benghazi, the 2012 insurgent attack on our embassy in Libya, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Republicans rabidly insisted she was to blame and went on an investigative feeding frenzy over two years, with 37 hearings and a $7-million cost to taxpayers. The embarrassing climax was Clinton’s 11-hour grilling before the House Select Committee which ultimately revealed nothing and put a long overdue end to the biggest, most wasteful witch hunt in Congressional history.

Also consider “the emails.” Oh, those pesky emails. Ya know, the 3 or 4 possibly classified ones she either sent to and/or were received by members of her own team. Her own team! And let’s not forget that server either. That ominous little digi-beast in her basement. The one which supposedly put America’s security in such grave danger (btw, we’ve now learned that VP Mike Pence’s use of a personal email account while Indiana governor has, according to experts, posed the same security risks… but no one on the right seems to care about that). 

Benghazi…emails…server. So much more threatening to America than the U.S. president, vice president, top national security advisor, top law enforcement officer, top advisor(s), former campaign manager and perhaps others lying about meetings with Russian operatives and possibly conspiring with Putin to steal the election, right? 

It’s time for Republicans to cut the shit. Seriously. Enough of this unconscionable partisan gamesmanship. It’s un-American. It’s time to start acting in the best interest of the United States. Time to put country before party. Time to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a full bi-partisan investigation of RussiaGate. Time to indict Attorney General Jeff Sessions and anyone else who’s proven to have perjured themselves. Time to demand that Trump release his tax returns, which might reveal improper and/or illegal financial dealings, obligations and conflicts of interests with Russia. Time to reign in Trump who, over the weekend, committed the unthinkable by calling former President Obama “sick” while accusing him, without a shred of evidence, of tapping his Trump Tower phones last Fall. Congressional Republicans must start fulfilling their Constitutionally mandated checks and balances role. The American people, and our beloved democracy, deserve nothing less.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Nordstrom and Neiman and Trump, Oh My!

Donald Trump received an intelligence briefing early Wednesday morning and then apparently just 21 minutes later used the bully pulpit of his personal and then the official Twitter account of the U.S. presidency to slam the retailer Nordstrom over its decision to drop his daughter Ivanka's clothing line

Furthermore, at his daily briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer referred to Nordstrom's decision as a "direct attack" on the president, adding "I think this was less about his family business and was an attack on his daughter."

An attack? Really? Is that what this is, or is it simply a decision by a private company to do what it deems is in its best interest? Is Nordstrom, or any company that does business with Ivanka, obligated to continue its relationship regardless of economic and/or public relations factors that arise, especially those driven by the Trumps themselves?

It's extremely hypocritical for Trump, who's spent the better part of his first three weeks in office issuing executive orders limiting government's influence on private enterprise, to stick his Pinocchio-nose in Nordstrom's business. This latest breach of his so-called conservative, small government principles is a blatant attempt to use the presidency to benefit the business interests of a member of his family. It's an unconscionable abuse of power.  It also intensifies the concerns over his overall conflicts of interests and whether they are influencing his policies and affecting his ability to perform the duties for which he was elected.

Let's be crystal clear on one thing: despite the spin of Trump's surrogates, it doesn't matter if Nordstrom's decision was purely political. If the retailer decided that Trump's consistently egregious behavior has been bad for business on any level, be it economic or from a PR standpoint, it's within their right not to associate with Ivanka, who's wading in the same swamp as daddy. Nordstrom operates in a free and open marketplace, as do consumers, who've been boycotting various Trump businesses for the same reason. Seems the thin-skinned Trumps have made a bed in which they apparently have serious trouble sleeping.

Let's not feel too sorry for Ivanka. She's not a victim, and she certainly hasn't been "attacked." She's a very smart adult and entrepreneur. And she knows her father better than anyone. Trump's on track to be the most offensive, polarizing, unpopular president in history and Ivanka's hopped on that train with full throttle. She's moved her family to Washington, DC to be even closer to him and has taken an extremely intimate, active role in his controversial administration. She's done her cost/benefit analysis, and she's made her choice with eyes wide open. Just as it's the public's choice to shun her clothing line, and Nordstrom's choice to end their relationship with her over declining sales and/or political reasons.

Nordstrom's decision (and that of Neiman Marcus and others) sends a strong message to Trump that there are consequences to his sexist, racist rhetoric and admitted sexually abusive behavior. That there's a literal financial price to be paid which, to the Trumps, is the greatest price of all. He, Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr. may feel they have the inalienable right to do and say whatever they want to matter how outrageous, divisive and unAmerican, but these words and actions will continue to be judged within the standards and norms of a capitalist society. The Trumps will continue to be on the losing end of that battle.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Top Five Reasons Why Becoming President Will Prove a Disaster for Trump

It's hard to fathom it's been only two weeks since Donald Trump took the oath of office. During this infancy period he's threatened trade wars; angered several allies; botched a Yemen raid which killed a navy Seal; suggested a moral equivalency regarding murder between Russia's Vladimir Putin and the U.S; threatened our free and open press; disparaged the judiciary; demeaned the intelligence community; politicized the military; circumvented his cabinet; saw major leaks from staff; deregulated Wall Street; empowered corporate polluters; created a Constitutional crisis over his Muslim ban; and has taken lying to new extremes with "alternative facts."

But as unsettling as the above may be, the real loser by 2020 (more likely well before), will be Trump himself. I'm not worried about America. We are the most determined, resilient, resourceful nation on Earth which operates under the rule of law and a time-tested system of checks and balances. We've survived and continue to thrive despite revolution, civil war, slavery, World Wars, The Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, McCarthyism, Vietnam, assassinations, Watergate, 9/11 and more. The Framers knew what they were doing. We'll be just fine.

Trump, on the other hand, will, if he hasn't already, rue the day he slithered down that escalator and descended into his worst nightmare. The person who will suffer the most from Trump's presidency is Trump himself. By the time he leaves office--be it involuntarily through impeachment or from serving out his term--he will be ruined. He will exit Washington a national disgrace with a very 'bigly' damaged legacy. Here's where he'll be hurt the most:

1. His voters/supporters: Trump conned his angry white working class base once, but they'll eventually abandon him when they realize just how much they were duped. That their factories and coal mines never returned; the minimum wage was never raised; Obamacare was never repealed; their Social Security and Medicare benefits were reduced; the Mexican-paid border wall was never built; and his Muslim ban was a sham. More so if the economy turns negative and/or there's a terrorist attack, both of which would counter the narrative of Trump-as-exceptional-businessman-and-great-protector. 

2. His business/brand: The ubiquitous Trump brand is found on a variety of products and real estate, from suits and ties to apartment buildings, hotels and resorts. Trump makes most of his money from licensing. But at some point his sexist, racist, divisive behavior, and his eventual ranking as the worst, most unpopular president in history, will tarnish that brand beyond recognition and it'll be worthless. He's already experienced terminated entertainment contracts, cancelled real estate deals and the removal of his name from the facades of NYC buildings. 

3. His family: During inauguration week, First Lady Melania Trump appeared visibly miserable,  as if she could foresee the familial dysfunction that lie ahead but was powerless to stop it. This wouldn't be the first time she's been bullied into unpleasant, uncomfortable situations in order to feed her husband's pathologically rapacious hunger for attention and validation. Her life, and their marriage, or whatever little may be left of it, will never be the same. And while Trump's adult kids might currently be drunk on daddy's newfound power, and thus their own elevated status, they will soon discover that riding torn, tainted coattails won't have a happy ending. Witness that Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom have just dropped Ivanka's products. This is surely just the beginning.

4. His Manhattan social standing: Trump is said to have few close friends, and his stint in DC will ultimately render him persona non grata in his hometown.  He'll be ostracized. An outcast. Like kryptonite. No one will want to be seen in public with him. I doubt even Rudy Giuliani will take his calls.

5. His obsession with celebrities: nothing turns Trump on more than celebrity, whether it's hanging out with them or being one. But ever since he first began his unconscionable birther campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama six years ago, he's become a pariah in the creative community. These days he couldn't get himself arrested in Hollywood if he whipped out his micro-dick and spanked that lil' monkey in the middle of Rodeo Drive. He's lucky if he gets to party with Scott Baio and American Idol contestants. As for his own 'fame,' by the time he leaves office he won't even be D-list enough to be a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice."

For Donald Trump, running for president was supposed to be fun. A huge ego boost. Free publicity for his brand and business. Actually getting elected was never the plan. As a result, he's on a blinding supersonic path to self-destruction via the most gargantuan ego trip known to man.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Why Donald Trump's Presidency is Good For Children

Let me first say that I think Donald Trump's presidency is on a dangerous collision course which threatens our Democracy and the freedoms on which it's built. These are very scary times. Which is exactly why I believe it's an incredibly significant moment in history for our children.

Growing up in the 1960's and '70's in middle class Queens, NY I held the belief, like most other Americans at that tumultuous time, that I'd never live to see the day that a black man would become President of the United States. Thankfully, Barack Obama proved us all wrong. America is a very different place than it was back then. When it comes to racial, sexual and gender equality, my 13-year-old daughter is experiencing what I could only dream of at her age in 1972.

But that's precisely the problem. Our nation's young have been lulled into a false sense of progress. Children today only know of an America with a black president. And how awesome is that? But the sad truth is, the 'post-racial' America that Obama's victory allegedly ushered in never quite materialized. We've actually gone backward. It feels more like the 1950's. Civil rights, McCarthyism, misogyny, homophobia and a palpable intolerance are once again shockingly en vogue. And how quickly it occurred.

Trump's ascension has served to normalize this intolerance and bigotry. A white supremacist is his top advisor. A racially insensitive former general is now Secretary of Defense, and another is about to become Attorney General. The racists are empowered and now have a leader sitting in the Oval Office. They have cultish hats. And transparent code language. They conflate "Making America Great Again" with making it white and male again. During a CNN segment this week, an older white man in Wisconsin sat across from the reporter, Jason Carroll, and unabashedly and with a smile on his face admitted his prejudice against people of color. Hatred is now out in the open, and seemingly acceptable to at least half the nation.

Trump's victory should scare the bajesus out of our young folks. It should teach them the very valuable lesson that they cannot take our progress to-date for granted. That America isn't just lollypops, ponies and Obama. That it can be, and currently is, an ugly place. A place where ignorance, anger and fear can quickly consume and bury for a long time whatever progress we've made and set us back decades.

Trump's victory is a wake-up call. Our children hopefully will grow to know the importance of being engaged. Of knowing that eight years of hope and change can so quickly devolve into darkness and despair. Maybe as they grow they'll be more realistic and respectful of the power they have in their votes than their slightly older 2016 counterparts; the naive, misguided #NeverHillary Bernie Bro's who were so wrapped up in their fantastical Brexit-like 'revolution' that they de facto supported an ignorant sexist, racist tyrant instead of the most qualified candidate in history who voted with Sanders 92% of the time and shared almost all of his, and their, progressive views.

Maybe now America's young will appreciate that in a Democracy a vote means everything. It's the difference between having healthcare or not. Between cherishing the planet or defiling it. Between being protected from Wall Street corruption or fueling it. Between improving public education or dismantling it. Between corporate regulations or unchecked greed. Between welcoming immigrants or banning them. Between diplomacy or hate-Tweets. Between transparency or secrecy. Between real progress or regression. Sadly, not enough of our young voters ran this very simple cost-benefit analysis last year. They were too caught up in registering their protest votes. And now they're protesting.

To be sure, Trump is now inspiring a generation of young people, and children brought by their incensed parents, to march in the streets. To resist. To demand change. To fight against outrageous, oppressive behavior in Trump's reign of terror. The next four years will not be pretty, but they will pass quickly. In the process, they will serve as an incredibly important education for our young.  They, and America, will be much better off in the end.