Friday, May 25, 2018

The North Korea Debacle: How Trump Put the "No" in Nobel

"Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it." 

That's how president Donald Trump two weeks ago answered the question, "Do you think you deserve a Nobel Peace Prize?"

Clearly, 14 days is a lifetime in politics. Two weeks, one Nobel and a now-obsolete commemorative coin later Trump, on the global stage, is the sad clown. An ignorant, erratic, diplomacy-bankrupt megalomaniac buffoon who was predictably outplayed by North Korea's Kim Jong Un. 

So what went wrong? Why did the June 12th Singapore summit-to-end-all-summits get cancelled? What went wrong is that on one side of the table is a ridiculously-coiffed bloated sociopath dictator with the discipline, maturity and impulse-control of a 10-year-old. And Kim's no better.

Trump, the self-proclaimed King of Negotiation, had convinced himself that, despite the failed efforts of his much smarter diplomatic predecessors, he had the recipe for success: shoot off some nasty tweets; meet with "short, fat Little Rocket Man," (but get him to agree to totally de-nuke beforehand...thus rendering the meeting, and all subsequent negotiating, completely unnecessary), shake hands; stuff face with Bibimbap; and then hop back on Air Force One and Google "How to Apply For a Nobel Peace Prize." 

And just like that, 70 years of conflict would end.  

(note to Trump: it's never a good thing to call yourself the "king" of anything. It never ends well. Just ask Elvis, Charles I or Michael Cohen's business partner Evgeny "Taxi King" Friedman)
 
Did anyone with even half a brain really believe this summit would take place? And even if it did, that somehow an inept dictator-wannabe with a bad temper was going to tame his hero who has an even worse temper? That Kim, whose sanction-ravaged, economically destitute country, which has nothing to brag about except nuclear weapons, was suddenly going to totally capitulate to a bloviating bully who has no plan, no vision and no concept of the foreign policy process?

Trump certainly talked tough, made "fire and fury" threats to destroy Kim and his people and had most Americans believing the United States was teetering on nuclear war. But the MAGAsturbators loved it. And that's the only thing that matters to Trump: make the base happy. It was pure Trump performance art.

But unfortunately in the end, Trump gave Kim exactly what he's been craving. He's legitimized him as a world power; mitigated his brutality by calling him "honorable"& "excellent;" and let him play him for a fool. America and the presidency have been gravely weakened as a result.

And the only real impact of fire and fury is that it gave Michael Wolff a great title for a book that made him a fortune. And thanks in no small part to Trump, whose relentless attacks and threats to sue to stop its publication, helped sell bigly bazillions of copies. 


So now the big question is, are talks with North Korea really dead? Just one day after news of the summit's cancellation broke, Trump said the two nations are speaking again and that the historic meeting could still happen.

"It could even be the 12th," he suggested this morning.

Trump then fondly referred to the "warm" statement Kim released yesterday (which came after his own romantic overture: "If you change your mind...call me or write"), continuing to sound more like a pathetic jilted lover than the U.S. president.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Debunking the Ridiculous "We've Seen No Evidence of Collusion!" Claim

What do innocent people do when they're being investigated? They fully co-operate. They do whatever's humanly possible to assist the investigation so that they can not only vindicate themselves but, more importantly, help uncover the truth.

What do guilty people do? They wage a relentless war against such investigations. They do everything humanly possible to undermine and discredit the process. They mercilessly attack the character of those investigating them. They obfuscate, misrepresent, lie and manufacture bizarre alternatives to create chaos. The more chaos and confusion the better. The truth appears to be the last thing that concerns them.

The guilty often enlist an army of foot soldiers to help execute their propaganda campaign. With regard to President Trump, who's fighting wars on multiple fronts involving Russia, porn stars, Playmates, money-laundering and rogue lawyers, these loyal warriors include cabinet members and White House staff; Congressmen/women; his legal team; an over-caffeinated duplicitous gaggle of media surrogates; and the brainwashed MAGAsturbasers. And of course, the president himself.

Trump loves to tweet and shout "NO COLLUSION! NO COLLUSION WHATSOEVER! NO OBSTRUCTION! TOTAL WITCH HUNT!" 

And his well-trained ground troops, having gone through rigorous boot camp under the leadership of General John Kelly, are like flawless snipers in shooting the witch-hunt shit:

"NO EVIDENCE! WE'VE SEEN ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION!!" 

So of course, when there's "no evidence," you have Trump and his henchmen calling for an end to the special investigation being conducted by independent counsel, and former FBI director, Robert Mueller.

Even vice-president Mike Pence, who's curiously kept himself from swirling in the RussiaGate vortex, recently told NBC's Andrea Mitchell:

"I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion....In the interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up.”

In just one year Mueller's probe has so far resulted in 22 indictments, five guilty pleas and more to follow, including Paul Manafort, who is rumored to be on the verge of pleading guilty. Through this investigation we now know there were 75 contacts (including 22 meetings) between the Trump campaign and Russians (Trump, Nov 11, 2016: "There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign").

Hardly a partisan witch-hunt, unless Trump expects us to believe that criminals like Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Rick Gates are actually just nice, innocent folks who decided to plead guilty and go to prison just to make Mueller happy.

Furthermore, Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (in charge of the investigation after Jeff Sessions recused himself) are Republicans. Rosenstein appointed Mueller. FBI Director Christopher Wray is a Republican Trump appointee. Partisan you say?

So let's get to this "NO EVIDENCE!" bullshit. May I remind Trump and his disingenuous band of fake-news thugs that the reason they haven't 'seen any evidence' is because they're not fucking supposed to! They're not on Mueller's team. He's not sharing his files with them. He doesn't contact them every time he uncovers new evidence. No one knows what Mueller has except Mueller and his crackerjack investigators. And no one but them is going to see what evidence they have or don't have until this investigation, which is ongoing and likely will remain so well beyond Summer, ultimately concludes and Mueller issues his report.

(by the way, one could successfully argue that we've in fact so far seen plenty of evidence of collusion given the indictments, guilty pleas and the lies about not having over 6-dozen contacts with Russians)

Nothing screams GUILT like calling for a premature end to this investigation.

Which is precisely why Trump, his legal team and his shamefully complicit Republican cohorts in Congress (including Paul Ryan, Devin Nunes, Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan) will stop at nothing to derail and kill it...including allowing our kompromised Manchurian president to hurl us into a full-fledged Constitutional crisis. It's Party first/fuck America.

Wow.

I'm old enough to remember when the Republican Party would've jailed traitors. Now they support, enable, defend, protect and lie for them.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Are Trump Supporters Racist?

Dear Trumpsters:

I've been trying to "get" you for almost three years now. I've tried to keep an open mind about your motivations. I even for a time accepted the notion that your support for Donald Trump might be rooted in that "economic anxiety" you and Fox News keep talking about and not because you're all a bunch of angry white racists. But no matter how hard I try to give you the benefit of the doubt, it keeps coming back to racism. There's simply no other explanation...

You claim to be "the forgotten people" yet you support a president whose policies benefit only himself, his family, his rich pals and corporations.

You call yourselves fiscally conservative Republicans, but you support a president who's added $1-trillion in new debt.

You claim you voted out of "economic anxiety," yet you support a president whose tax bill doesn't benefit you; your wages remain stagnant; the income gap is widening; you, not Mexico, are paying for his wall (if it ever gets built); he screwed you out of affordable healthcare; whose trade policies threaten our economic stability.

You call yourselves "law and order" Republicans yet you support a president who summarily dismisses, disrespects, demeans and undermines the FBI, the Justice Department, the independent judiciary and the rule of law.

You call yourselves "law and order" Republicans yet you support a president who believes he's above the law.  

You call yourselves "law and order" Republicans yet you support a president who has us on the verge of a Constitutional crisis.

You call yourselves patriotic Republicans, but you support a president who likely colluded with an enemy state, conspired to obstruct justice and cover it up, who's desperately undermining the special investigation in every possible way and who continually threatens our national security.

You call yourselves patriots (and many of you are veterans and/or have children who serve in the military), yet you support a president who dodged the draft, attacks Gold Star families and war heroes, says he "knows more than the generals" and exploits the military for constant photo-ops while calling it "a disaster."

You call yourselves strong defenders of democracy, yet you support a president who repeatedly kisses the ass of brutal dictators whose ultimate goal is to destroy America and its democracy...while disrespecting and alienating our allies in Germany, England, France, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere. 

You claim to be evangelicals, yet you support a president who is a pathological liar; admitted sexual abuser; a serial philanderer; who mocks the sick, disabled, poor; who's obsessed with money and material things; who cares about no one but himself. 

You claim to be people of 'faith'...but you support a president whose behavior strikingly contrasts the teachings of Jesus.

You claim you're not racist, but you support a president who consistently disparages & disrespects   black and brown people and immigrants and whose policies discriminate against them...while simultaneously normalizing and enabling white supremacists, neo-Nazi's and bigots. 

I'm sorry...

You claim you're not racist but...you are.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Time to Rethink Mother's Day

On November 1, 2006 my daughter Sophie and I became statistics. Not quite three, she joined the motherless children's club. And I became part of the 8% of U.S. households where a single father is raising a child.

That was the day my wife, actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), was brutally murdered while working in her West Village office. 

For the past eleven years I've struggled to get through Mother's Day. It's not a celebration in my home. Just a rewind into horror. An intense, sudden punch to the gut like a 24-hour stomach virus.

It's an especially difficult day for my little girl, who went to bed one cold Autumn night as happy as an innocent toddler can be and woke the next morning to a dark, unrecognizable world.

Sophie is 14 now. Despite my conscientious and at times feeble attempt to wear both parental hats, she's been forced to navigate through life without the guidance, nurturing and love that only a mother can provide. So fucking unfair. And heartbreaking.
 
I remember walking down the street a few days after Adrienne died and feeling raging anger and resentment at all the people who were going about their business like any other normal day while my world had just been mashed into a meat-grinder. Why do they have to look so happy? Don't they know what just happened to Adrienne? To me? To Sophie? To our families? 

That's what Mother's Day feels like now.

Because not everyone has a mother. And not everyone has a mother they like. Or even love.

Many have mothers who've died. Or are dying. Or who's body is thriving but whose mind has deteriorated.

Others may have mothers who are neglectful. Or worse, physically and/or verbally abusive.

Mother's Day is a cruel reminder that when it comes to moms, we are not all equal.

Sophie and I had a long chat last night before bedtime. I held her tight and acknowledged that it must've been a hard day for her. It was. Of course, she misses not having Adrienne in her life. She mourns the loss of a mother she never got to know. She can only close her eyes and imagine. Imagine what it must be like to have a mother. Her mother.

Mother's Day makes her feel different. Because it seems like everyone has a mother and she doesn't.

"I'm jealous," she said.

At one point during the day she stopped looking at her social media apps because they were dominated by 'mom and me' shots. It was too upsetting.

Maybe next year we can all be a bit more sensitive to all the folks for whom Mother's Day is a hardship. A day that drowns them in painful realities instead of Rockwellian thoughts of mom and apple pie.

We should especially consider the children. Acknowledge their loss. Life is hard enough just being a kid. It's a more complicated landscape to navigate when they've been robbed of the beautiful, kind, loving mommy they tragically only know through photos and videos.

Send them a message. Let them know we are thinking of them too. That they are not alone...

Friday, May 04, 2018

It's Time to End the Daily White House Press Briefings

It's been roughly 130 years since the establishment of White House "beat" reporters. The practice of the administration giving these correspondents daily briefings dates back to 1910.  In 1995 Bill Clinton's press secretary Mike McCurry started televising the daily briefings. Today, 23 years later, these gatherings have unfortunately become an embarrassing travesty; a total waste of time and they should end.

Under President Donald Trump, America has witnessed an all-out attack on the media, which he's referred to as "the enemy of the people." This relentless, merciless battle with the press is, at its core, an effort to distract from his political and legal troubles relating to a number of sensational scandals including collusion with Russia over the election; obstruction of justice; money-laundering; accusations of sexual assault; affairs with porn stars and Playmates; staff chaos; and campaign-finance violations.

Under Trump's media narrative, if the coverage is positive he embraces and retweets it. If it's negative it's attacked as "fake." He doesn't care about the optics of praising the Washington Post and NY Times one day as reporting the 'truth' while shredding them the next day as "failing" and "fake news." He knows his loyal 30% base will lap it up like stray cats with a bowl of milk. 

Trump's attack on the media is a direct attack on free speech and freedom of the press. But more importantly, it links to his direct attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI, and thus the rule of law. The linkage continues with "fake news" as the basis for the "witch hunts" he claims are perpetrated by these law enforcement agencies. And it's led to the firings of perceived opponents including Sally Yates, Preet Bharara, Andrew McCabe and James Comey...while leaving others like Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein on thin ice over 'disloyalty.' The ultimate link is to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who's wearing the biggest bullseye of all as the main protagonist in Trump's existential crisis. A+B+C+D=E.

Nowhere is Trump's dysfunctional relationship to the truth more on display than at Sarah Huckabee Sanders' daily press briefings. These sessions have become a cesspool of misrepresentation, deceit and shameless lying.

The chaotic lying hit a tipping point Thursday over the $130K hush-money payoff made by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election. Sanders had for weeks maintained and repeated Trump's denial of an affair with Daniels and knowledge of the payoff. A denial for which he was unequivocal two weeks ago aboard AirForce One when asked if he knew about the payment:

"No. “You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney.”  

Contradicting that denial, Trump's new attorney Rudy Giuliani dropped a bombshell Wednesday night when he told Sean Hannity that the president obviously knew about the payoff because he in fact paid Cohen back the $130K.

Giuliani then opened mouth and changed feet the following morning on Fox & Friends:

"...imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton...Cohen made it go away. He did his job."

"Cohen made it go away?" No, this is not an episode of The Sopranos we're watching. This is the Unites States presidency in action. That's way scarier than a gaggle of brooding mobsters. And it certainly did help Trump that his new attorney essentially called him and his former lawyer liars (not for nothin', but if Trump and his lawyers can't make it through Fox & Friends and Sean Hannity without committing political and legal suicide...imagine what Mueller & Co's gonna do to them...).

On Thursday, and again today, Trump tripled-down on the original denial, even claiming that, while "Rudy is a great guy who started a day ago" (it's actually been two weeks), "he needs to get his facts straight." 

When asked at Thursday's briefing when she first learned that Trump paid back Cohen, Sanders stated it was during Giuliani's interview with Hannity. She looked foolish. And it certainly didn't instill confidence in a press corp already convinced that everything told them daily is a misrepresentation or a lie.


At the briefings themselves, there's been an unprecedented bankruptcy of facts and truth since Trump took office...starting with former press secretary Sean Spicer's now-infamous anger-management-worthy insistence (and the birthing of Melissa McCarthy's brilliant season-long SNL spoof) that Trump's inaugural crowd was the largest ever. And now Sanders has lost whatever microscopic morsel of credibility she had left. Honesty with the press, and by extension the American public, is sacrosanct in her ability to perform her duties.

Going forward, Sanders is either going to willfully and unapologetically (almost gleefully) regurgitate her boss's lies every day, or continue to look foolish when caught unknowingly in a web of his blatant deception. Either way she's screwed, and so are Americans. America deserves so much more than the 2003-style propaganda of Saddam Hussein and Baghdad Bob.
  
If Sanders can no longer do her job, which appears to be the case, these briefings should be shut down. Or, reporters need to get tougher. They need to call out the lies more directly and aggressively. They need to demand the truth from this White House. And if they can't get the truth, they should get up, walk out and not return until the next administration moves in.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Confessions of a Hypothetical Trump Supporter

Let's call me "Joe." I love Trump. I voted for him. And I'll do it again in a heartbeat. Because it's time we have someone in the White House who speaks my language and wants to bring America back to the good ole days for white guys like me.

I'm a veteran. A family man. A God-fearing patriot who goes to church every Sunday. But I'm ok ignoring every principle I believe in when it comes to Trump. That's how much I love the man. But let's face it, the only real thing that matters to me is making sure those black and brown people don't overrun our great nation. White is right. And Trump is the country's first president for white people. 

I don't make much money at my factory job. And I don't care that Trump's a billionaire who passed that shitty tax bill which makes him and his rich pals richer and ain't gonna put any money in my pocket. Or that he's full of shit about bringing back coal, steel and manufacturing plants. I know that ain't gonna happen. And I don't care.

And I don't care that we're not gonna get a wall. Or that Mexico's not paying for it even if we did get one. I don't even care of I'm gonna end up paying for it with my taxes.  

I also don't care that he lies to me non-stop about everything else. That's ok. We all lie. Fake news, right?

I don't care that he's banged porn stars, Playmates and probably a few prostitutes too. I mean, c'mon, I'm a red-blooded American male! Who wouldn't want to screw hot chicks like that? (guys like me have to settle for lap dances at strip clubs...but sshhhhh...don't tell the wife!)

I have three daughters. And, man, if someone laid a finger on them I'd kill 'em. Same with my wife and two sisters. And of course my dear mother. I'll kill you if you hurt them. But if ya wanna grab someone else's pussy, go ahead.

I'm 100% military. Three tours in Iraq. My daddy was US Army too. Vietnam. And my gramps fought the Nazi's in WW II. I love my country. But I'm ok with Trump letting Russia attack us. No problem if Putin meddled in our election and is undermining our democracy. You'd think I'd be really upset with that, right? But that's the beauty of being a Trumpster. Nothing upsets us (except black and brown people). 

So do you get what I'm talkin' about? I really don't care about any of this bullshit. Not the sexual assaults, the lying, the name-calling, the staff chaos, the bogus tax cuts, the trade war, the cheating on Melania, hush money payoffs, the money laundering, collusion, obstruction of justice, treason...none of it.

I don't care what you find on Trump. Fuck Mueller. It don't matter. Trump's my guy. He's one of us. Remember...he can shoot someone in the middle of....yeah...I think you remember that.

The only thing I do care about is white. And making sure my America, white America, stays that way. The White House is finally white again. Just like it's supposed to be.

Call me a 'racist' if that makes ya feel better. Whatever. Just keep those immigrants and minorities away from me and my America...

MAGA!

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

WTF Are Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell Waiting For?

The Founding Fathers created the greatest democracy in the history of civilization consisting of checks and balances through three equal branches of government. But what happens when one of those branches inexplicably abdicates its responsibility? When one branch, in this case Congress, so utterly fails in its oversight capacity to provide the necessary check on another branch which has the nation teetering on the verge of a Constitutional crisis?

What happens when the executive branch, in this case President Donald Trump, is on a clear mission to consolidate power and push us to the brink of authoritarian rule? When there's a complete breakdown in the rule of law. A total assault on our free and open press. A relentless campaign to discredit and undermine the nation's independent judiciary and intelligence community. To turn his base of fiercely loyal supporters into an army in waiting, ready to wage civil war should an effort to stop him materialize.

What happens when there's simply no one willing to step up to stop a self-serving oligarch tyrant from threatening to turn our 242-year-old Democracy into an autocracy.

It's a chilling scenario The Founding Fathers never envisioned. And it's knocking at our door.

Just because it's never happened before is no reason for Americans to think it can't happen now. All bets are off if we experience a true breakdown in the system. Unless something changes very soon--including impeachment, indictment, invoking of the 25th Amendment and/or Democratic control of Congress--House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell might just be responsible for the fall of our great nation.

Defying conventional wisdom, the Republican Party has cast aside every principle it's professed to hold dear--patriotism, national security, faith & family values--in it's unwavering loyalty to and defense of Trump. It doesn't matter that he's an admitted sexual abuser, accused rapist, pathological liar, shameless bully, a perennial sinner, a racist and most likely a traitor. He's their guy, and for better or worse, they've hitched their wagons to him even as they appear headed off a cliff in his vortex of chaos. 

No matter that such pathetic sycophantism makes zero sense. No matter that they most likely hate him as much as Democrats do. No matter that they'd prefer a real conservative like Mike Pence. No matter that in this meager trade-off all they have so far to show for it is a suicidal tax reform bill and a stolen Supreme Court seat...a prize they'd have assuredly received from Pence with a lot less heartache and cringe-worthy embarrassment.

So what are Ryan and McConnell waiting for? Are they simply terrified of the base? Not sure how it'll react if they turn on Dear Leader and seek to remove him? Perhaps they're waiting for special prosecutor Robert Mueller's ultimate findings? If Mueller can prove collusion, a cover-up, obstruction of justice and/or money laundering, might that be the moment the party can go to the base and appeal to its traditional sense of of patriotism? Can they, more importantly, will they, make the case at that time that no one, not even the Unites States president, is above the law?

They may not get their chance. Fed-up voters, including those who voted for Trump and now experience buyers' remorse, appear ready to send Republicans packing this November in a blue tsunami. It may ultimately take Democrats to right this wrong and get America back on track...