Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Lesson of Conor Lamb

To listen to Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and countless Republican surrogates, Conor Lamb, who stunned the GOP with his surprise win Tuesday in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, is a Republican. Apparently denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, himself facing a tough challenge from Democrats Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers, said Lamb ran as a "conservative."

And speaking at a private fundraiser in Missouri Wednesday night, Trump broke his unusual silence about the special election which has sent the Republican Party into a tailspin:

“The young man last night that ran, he said, ‘Oh, I’m like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.’ He ran on that basis. He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’”

The problem for the president and his party is that this "Republican" also just happens to support Obamacare, unions, Social Security and Medicare, medical marijuana, expanded background checks and a woman's right to choose... and who opposes Trump's tax cuts and wants to dethrone Nancy Pelosi. Sounds like a real right-wing MAGA!-hat-wearing ideologue, huh?

One of three explanations exist for the president's eye-popping spin: he actually believes what he's saying.  Believes that everything is just fine heading into the November midterms; that his 'popularity' will carry the party to eventual victory; and that what happened in PA is an aberration.

Or that he thinks he can actually change the narrative, and therefore the momentum, just by saying whatever incoherent, disingenuous drivel pops into his head because he's the great and powerful Trump

Or perhaps he's utterly panicked and humiliated and simply throwing a face-saving hail-Mary to his brainwashed base in a desperate attempt to hang onto the one loyal group who he can go to for love when it appears everyone else can't stand him.

To be sure, what Conor Lamb is most definitely not is the stereotypical tree-huggin', Suburu-drivin', bleeding-heart liberal who's been the GOP's punching bag for decades. Republicans know how to define and defeat those candidates. But they don't know what to do with newcomers like Lamb, who just might finally be redefining the party and what it means to be a 'Democrat' in the age of Trump.

What happened Tuesday in PA 18 was no fluke. The seat has been controlled by Republicans since 2003. Mitt Romney won the district by 17 points in 2012. Trump carried it by 20 points. Not only should Lamb have lost, but he should've been trounced. If Republicans can't win in a district Trump won by 20 points, on the heels of steel tariffs in steel country, their prospects for victory in other red districts (where either Hillary Clinton won or Trump carried by 10 points or less) is, as Larry David would say, pretty pretty bleak.   

Lamb won because he doesn't fit the traditional mold. A former Marine and prosecutor, he's a law and order patriot and man of faith who supports gun rights and therefore rightfully scares the shit out of the GOP. 

But can the party of zealous progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren adapt to also be home to moderates and centrists like Lamb? Will the party recruit and support candidates, especially those is traditionally red districts and states, who can win back the Democrats Ronald Reagan stole 37 years ago and who Bill Clinton attracted a decade later?

The lesson from Lamb's momentous victory is that not only can Republicans be defeated and defeated big, but defeated on their own turf with the help of disaffected Trump voters. That 'buyers-remorse' is setting in and can be critically exploited.

And that this election, like those before it in Alabama, Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, Washington and Georgia, was without question a major referendum on Trump. A blatant repudiation of the dysfunction, chaos and lies that afflicts his administration. An incontrovertible rejection of his sexism and racism that's poisoned America. Of the sullying of the office by the most unqualified, unfit, unpresidential president in history.

The biggest question is, given this incredibly fertile midterm-election ground, will Democrats successfully change the game-plan and surf that massive blue wave we keep hearing is coming or, as in the past, will they deftly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The Trump Administration Help-Wanted Ad?

HELP WANTED: White House Aide(s)

The most accomplished administration in presidential history (especially one that's done more in just one year than any other president) seeks bright, articulate aides offering varied opinions and perspectives that will most likely fall on deaf ears. No political experience necessary (in fact, the more unqualified you look on paper the better).

Applicants must be willing to be subjugated by a petty, belittling, mean-spirited, abusive boss and be stripped of their self-worth, dignity and pride (did we mention the merciless bullying yet?). Ideal candidates will be highly insecure with low self-esteem and and even lower expectations. Loyalty is a must. Irrational, blind, self-destructive loyalty.

If hired, you will work for a truly unique president. A self-styled "counter-puncher." A, like, smart man (a stable genius, actually) who knows words; has the best words. Who knows more than the generals. A master negotiator and deal-maker. An astute businessman who never met a bankruptcy he didn't like. Someone who brings opponents to their knees with a simple degrading nickname. Someone with strong vision but who's not afraid to change his mind every 10 seconds if presented with a compelling argument by the last person he talks to. A billionaire not beholden to special interests (unless you include corporate lobbyists, evangelicals, the Koch brothers, the NRA and...does Vladimir Putin count?). The "I alone" president who doesn't need anyone (especially you).

As great as this opportunity sounds, it does come with risk: candidates will almost assuredly be subjected to (mostly on Twitter) public ridicule, mocking, humiliation, condemnation and cringe-worthy personal attacks relating to their most vulnerable qualities including height, weight, looks, hair, speech, family, sexuality, career. You'll be brutally pitted against other aides like gladiators in the Roman Colosseum (the boss loves "conflict"). And you'll likely be publicly contradicted and undermined and made to look like an absolute ineffectual fool who's constantly asked by friends and family "why the hell are you staying there!??"

Ideal candidates must also be immune and desensitized to constant media glare, public scrutiny and political/federal investigations involving various scandals including sex with porn stars and Playmates; enabling domestic violence; sucking up to neo-Nazi's, KKK and white nationalists; and treason. No conscience, and being ethically and morally bankrupt, is a plus. 

Even if hired, your spirit will be broken almost immediately and you'll likely "resign" within 3-9 months. When you run a successful ship like ours it's normal to have an historically high 43% turnover rate. Constant churn and burn. Keeps the staff fresh. On their toes. Uncertain. And paranoid. Paranoia's good. We want you afraid. Looking over your shoulder. Backstabbing. Leaking. Becoming unnamed White House sources for authors and journalists (the boss also loves chaos!) ( we even need to mention the merciless bullying at this point?).

Full disclosure: working for the Trump administration will likely destroy your career, your reputation and your soul...and you may eventually face indictment and imprisonment. You'll likely be left a shattered shell of a human being. Your spouse might leave you and your kids may hate you. You'll become a sad, tragic footnote in history. And the butt of Jimmy Kimmel jokes.      

So are you ready to take this awesome leap!? Are you man or woman enough? Or are you just a pathetic low-life loser? Don't pass on this opportunity of a lifetime! 

Send resumes to:

Donald J. Trump,
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
(the boss is also a control-freak)

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Why Trump Gets Away with Everything

It's been terribly frustrating for Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents alike who bristle at Donald Trump's stunningly durable teflon coating. How the president appears to dodge seemingly undodgeable career-killing bullet after bullet. How his unprecedentedly offensive, abnormal behavior would've destroyed any other politician in history. So how the hell does he get away with it all?

Simple. Donald Trump is a bully. A perpetually frightened, paranoid, insecure, thin-skinned, self-loathing narcissist coward who exploits his financial and political power to verbally beat others into submission. His secret? He's created a climate of fear among Congress, the media, Democrats and members of his own party terrified of becoming the target of his wrath. His swift and brutal missives, mainly over Twitter, petrify those who would love to fight him but are woefully mismatched (**cough Marco Rubio cough**).

Trump has no filter. No boundaries. No shame. No fear. And that scares the shit out of people. He's menacingly erratic and unpredictable. So people cower. Afraid to speak up. Or speak out. Because he's great at not playing fair. Because they're afraid of public excoriation and humiliation. Because they fear having their most vulnerable qualities shamelessly mocked (their height, weight, looks, disabilities). Because they know they'll lose. And he can smell this fear, and he exploits it to the max.

Just like a bully.

Which is why Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell largely avoid anything resembling serious pushback, righteous indignation or ethical/moral condemnation. If they went head-to-head with Trump in any truly meaningful, courageous way they and other key Republicans know they'd likely wake up to a horrifyingly inappropriate tweet which attacks their reputation, career, faith, family and/or sexuality. And it wouldn't matter if the salvos were untrue.

Which is why Democrats refuse to get in the ring with Trump. They fear the disparaging branding. Just ask Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Little Adam Schiff, Pocahontas Warren, Sneaky Diane Feinstein, Al Frankenstein, Crying Chuck or Wacky Congresswoman Wilson. And they remember how Trump made Little Marco appear really little and embarrassingly ineffectual. They know Trump's a way better streetfighter, and that you never show up to a gunfight with a cuticle scissor. And they know that once Trump brands you, you'll never lose that pejorative distinction.  

Which is also why evangelicals shockingly still support the most scandalous, sinful leader since Caligula.  Especially when logic and reason dictate they'd be much happier with a true religious fanatic like Mike Pence, not a preacher in pimp's clothing like Trump. Would Pence not be protecting their 'religious freedom' to discriminate against gays? Would Pence not have given them a right-wing Supreme Court nominee like Neil Gorsuch? Wouldn't Pence represent their pious interests more than the pussy-grabbing sexual predator who attacks the Pope when he's not bangin' porn stars and strippers? But, they're afraid. Afraid of the decimating Tweets. Which might include a cringe-worthy accusation of cavorting with hookers or underage boys.

Which is why many in the media are also afraid of Trump. Just ask Crazy Jim Acosta, Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd, Dumb as a Rock Mika, Psycho Joe and Crazy Megyn. Why else would they subject themselves to his daily insults, lies and efforts to silence them? Why wouldn't they hit back hard, even if it meant getting tossed from the briefings? Why do they play by Trump's rules? Since they have absolutely nothing to lose from those daily lie-fests, how about walking out of them? Or not showing up at all? Wouldn't that send a powerful message that they won't tolerate a brazen, craven assault on our Constitutional right of a free and open press? Desperate measures for desperate times, right? Fat chance.

Bullies can immobilize an entire group of people even if they hugely outnumber him. Bullies paralyze people with fear. It explains why 50 people on a subway car will stare at the floor when a lunatic boards and acts in a threatening manner rather than band together to kick him off at the next stop. It's why 50 people can listen to a bully mercilessly berate someone and not come to his or her defense. And it's why hundreds of politicians would rather allow Trump to turn America into a shithole instead of collectively taking action to get rid of the madman they all deep down believe is the worst, most dangerous president in history. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Parade Charade: Trump Once Againt Shamelessly Exploits the Military for Personal Gain

Never in United States history has there been a politician who has mocked, denigrated, disrespected and exploited the military as much as Donald Trump.

Trump's latest transparent stunt came Tuesday with the news that he's directed the Pentagon to plan a Bastille Day-inspired grand military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Like France's iconic warrior Napoleon Bonaparte, Trump's all but crowned himself emperor and sees himself as the great national valiant hero. So what's more fitting than a bit of Napoleonic pomp and circumstance?

And why not, right? Trump, the self-proclaimed "counter-puncher," is proudly touted
as a "street-fighter" by his aides and surrogates. You attack him and he hits you back 100 times harder. He's a ruthless bully on Twitter. Armed with an iPhone, his tiny fingers and 280 characters, Trump wages cyber-warfare with Beethoven-like mastery at the keys. At his rallies, where his bombast and braggadocio run amok, he yells in that loud, gravely "get him outta here!" intimidating tone. Apparently, someone told him that if he pretends to sound tough he is tough.

The only problem is that Trump is anything but tough. Anything but a warrior. Anything but a hero. He's a coward. A draft-dodging coward. Unlike Napoleon, who bled on the battlefield, when it was Trump's time to serve his country during Vietnam he hid behind his rich daddy's coattails and imaginary 'bone-spurs' and received five student and medical deferments.

And while 58,000 of his countrymen had died in Vietnam, Trump, in a 1997 interview with Howard Stern, arrogantly bragged that his years of sleeping around, when he faced the danger of sexually transmitted diseases, was his "personal Vietnam."

"I feel like a great and very brave soldier," he impudently boasted to Stern.

But the closest Trump ever came to actually wearing a uniform was as a teenager when he was sent by his father Fred to the New York Military Academy....the kind of strict military boarding school where exasperated parents often send unruly asshole kids to 'become men.' (Fred, if he were alive, should demand his money back plus interest).

And now Trump wants a parade. With weapons, missiles and tanks rolling past the White House while Dear Leader stands like Kim Jong Un basking in the manufactured glow of self-created adulation as everyone salutes him.

But the official White House explanation for the parade is more altruistic:

“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe," said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

Nice try, Sarah, but the duplicity of your statement is staggering. Let's revisit some of the many ways Trump has shown his 'respect' and "support" for the military and its "great service members":

*"I know more than the generals"
*Attacked John McCain: He's "not a war hero... He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured"
*Attacked Gold Star families
*Lied to veterans about a $5-million donation
*"The military is a disaster"
*Took a veteran's Purple Heart at a rally: “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier”

But wait there's more, and it's even worse...

Trump is under independent investigation for allegedly colluding with Russia to hack and influence the 2016 election and then wage a merciless campaign to demean and discredit the special prosecutor, the FBI and Department of Justice. He's also attacked the free press as "the enemy of the people." He's called Democrats "treasonous" and "un-American" because they didn't applaud him during his State of the Union speech. And he's repeatedly demonstrated a general disdain for the Constitution and the rule of law.

What could be more unconscionably disrespectful to our brave soldiers than to attack the bedrocks of democracy...the laws and freedoms...that they died defending?  

You can almost hear them shouting from the grave with clench fists...'spare us your fucking parade.'

So make no mistake: the parade charade is not a celebration of our military but rather a pathetic attempt by the Narcissist-in-Chief to celebrate himself and, more so, to once again use the military as pawns in his War of Distraction from the RussiaGate investigation. An investigation that each day moves closer to the Oval Office door and could ultimately bring and end to Trump's reign of terror.

Before that humiliating end occurs, perhaps Trump, like his idol Napoleon, will abdicate his throne and be exiled to the island of Manhattan...

Friday, February 02, 2018

Here's What Trump's Tweets Might Look LIke in Two Years...

We all know how much Donald Trump loves to Tweet. It empowers him and provides a safe platform to be the "street-fighting counter-puncher" to opponents and enemies ranging from Hillary Clinton to Kim Jong Un. He's so addicted to Twitter that it's impossible to imagine him without it, no matter his ultimate fate.

So here's a sampling of what the Tweeter-in-Chief's missives might look like in two years...

"My impeachment hearing was the HIGHEST RATED in history! So much better than Clinton's! And I would've beaten Johnson too if we had TV back in the '20's!"  

"President Pence says my pardon's coming soon. I'm starting to doubt it. Never trusted that guy. He better watch it. I know things...BIGLY things!"

"Spoke with Paul Ryan today. He's still in shock over losing to Bryce last year. Eric Cantor's been helping him. He had a shocking loss too. THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR!!" 

"Just visited Don Jr. today. He's still adjusting to prison. And I got to meet his boyfriend. Great guy! LOVES TRUMP!!"  

"I WON'T be visiting Devin, Mike, Paul, Rick, George, Hope, Jeff, Carter or Jared. Will never forget how they turned on me. Besides...Trump HATES prison!"

"I love being back in NY. I can tell everybody really LOVES me! They're all just pretending to hate me and ignore me because it's, like, "coolfveve" to hate Trump. WHATEVER!"

"Since Melania left, I've had more pussy than a cat shelter! Talk about MAGA!"

"Eric was just promoted to MANAGER at the Trump Tower Starbucks! (I pulled some strings...he never would've gotten it on his own). SO PROUD!"

"Hoping that maybe this is the month I'll get to see Barron. I've heard he's maybe, kinda, like, not so angry anymore. He knows Trump loves him!"

"Ivanka and Jared's divorce is final. Trump VERY happy! Never got this whole "Jew" thing anyway...'

"Melania just signed a $20-million book deal. I am SO fucked..."

Thursday, February 01, 2018

I'm Sorry, But It's Racism That's Created, Enables and Protects Trump

"Make America Great Again." There are many who believe that Donald Trump's campaign slogan (which, btw, he stole from Ronald Reagan) is simple code for "Make America White Again." They're not wrong.

To those who claim that Trump voters were and remain motivated by "economic reasons," or that they wanted to "shake things up" and/or wanted a rich "outsider" who'd use his own money and therefore "not be beholden to any special interests"...I say bullshit. It's about race. And racism. Period. End...of...story.

Throughout history racism has driven seemingly normal, law-abiding, religious people to do very, very bad things. Like commit murder. Remember all the lynchings? The Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner killings in '64? People of color get killed every day in racially-motivated hate crimes. Hatred trumps (pun intended) logic and reason.

To be sure, not every racist is a murderer, a thief or any sort of criminal. But, racists can surely elect another racist president and then proceed to justify, defend and enable his racism and his reckless, dangerous, anti-American behavior every day that he's in office.

Racists can cavalierly cast aside the core values that our great nation was built on, and the Constitution which preserves and protects those values as well as our liberties, freedoms and laws.

Racists will sacrifice their own needs and interests and allow themselves to be subjugated by their racist president.

Racists will turn a blind eye to their racist president's complicity in Russia's meddling in our election and its undermining of our democracy despite obvious collusion, obstruction of justice and a blatant cover up.

Racists will believe their racist president when he spews his relentless propaganda about the Russia investigation being a "witch hunt" despite multiple criminal indictments and guilty-pleas to-date.

Racists will believe their racist president when he and his henchmen wage an unconscionable and unprecedented campaign to simultaneously demean, disrespect and discredit the Department of Justice, FBI and the intelligence community.

Racists will allow their racist president to circumvent the rule of law, attack our independent judiciary and label our free and open press "the enemy of the people."

Racists will allow their racist president to convince them that the media and fact-checkers--the very people who's job it is to fight for and report the truth--are the real liars. 

Racists will believe anything their racist president tells them no matter how obvious and staggering the lies.

Racists will still blindly support their racist president no matter how much he's lied to them and reneged on campaign promises.

Racists will hear their racist president condescendingly mock them with "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters"...and without an ounce of dignity or self-respect still support him.

Racists will accept when their racist president grabs pussies, bangs porn stars and cheats on his wife...even when Melania herself appears to have mentally and physically checked out.

Racists have no problem with their racist president attacking the Pope. Or disabled people. Or Gold Star widows and mothers.

Racists will cheer when their racist president summarily scapegoats and discriminates entire segments of the population because of religion and/or skin color.

Racists are ok with their racist president being what many mental health professionals believe is a sociopath.  

Racists will bastardize everything...everything...they claim to believe in and stand for because of racism...allowing their overpowering bigotry to turn them into heartless, soulless, compassion-and-empathy-bankrupt hypocrites.  

Racists are even ok with their racist president possibly committing treason and being a traitor.

Racism makes people crazy. Racism makes people stupid. Racism makes people self-destructive. Racism is poison. And it's that poison that's brought us to the doorstep of a Constitutional crisis. Of a complete and shocking ethical and moral subversion. Of authoritarian rule.

Make no mistake: Trump is who he is, where he is and does what he does with impunity because of racism.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Shame of the Union Speech

By most critics' accounts, President Donald J. Trump's first State of the Union speech was great. He did what he had to do, which satisfied his base, his party and its leadership, some independents and many in the mainstream media. And by "great" we of course mean he didn't make any materially ignorant, sexist, racist, xenophobic, divisive remarks. Nor did he insult anyone or deride them with juvenile nicknames. Welcome to the low bar for high achievement.  

Contrasted against Rep. Joe Kennedy III's spirited, empowering big-tent rebuttal, Trump delivered his 1:20 speech in a dull, somber, dispassionate, uninspired tone with the animated cadence of a metronome. And, the speech strayed so far from reality that even the most technologically advanced GPS wouldn't be able to guide him back to the truth.

Whether the subject was the economy, wages, taxes, energy, immigration, crime, immigration or terrorism, the speech was loaded with misrepresentations and blatant lies. It was more like the Shame of the Union speech.

But... he read from a teleprompter like a good boy. He did what he was told to do. Read what was written for him. He fought his overpowering urge to ad lib. He stayed on point. Didn't drool. Didn't slur his speech. Didn't make up any new words like "covfefe" (ok, he did refer to "Opamacare") or call it his State of the Uniom speech. He didn't disparage Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And he didn't scapegoat, blame or malign anyone, especially his counterparts across the aisle. To the contrary, he offered olive-branch messages of bi-partisanship and unity.  

But most significantly, and this should really be the only thing that matters about the speech (especially in the rush to judge the 'awesomeness' of it), is that Trump didn't say anything that corresponds to his overall behavior since he tossed his hat into the ring in June of 2016. Nothing he said matches either his actual words or actions, or those of his administration and its policies. Talk about fake news. It would be like Bernie Madoff disingenuously orating about honesty, integrity, transparency and the need to protect peoples' investments.  

There was no mention of Trump's many offenses, controversies, scandals and legal challenges. No mention of pussy-grabbing and porn stars. No mention of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. No mention of collusion, obstruction of justice or the RussiaGate investigation. No mention of the multiple indictments and guilty pleas so far. No mention of Russia's attack on our Democracy and the looming threat of yet another meddling in our upcoming election. No mention of the need to combat white nationalism and racism. No mention of his historically low approval rating. No mention of his massive turnover in staff and aides. No mention of our reduced standing in the world, or our dramatically reduced role on climate, trade and human rights.

And even in his desire to project unity, tolerance, inclusiveness and American idealism, Trump still managed to do so in a cold, unfeeling, dire, negative manner. While it lacked the ominously dark "American carnage" rhetoric of his inaugural speech, it offered no sincere rationale for hope and change. We simply got the feeling that he was painfully restrained by his handlers and couldn't wait to get his tiny little fingers back to Twitter where real Trump can be the great counter-punching 'street fighter.' 

So how 'bout we wait to see what real Trump does post-speech, because if history repeats itself, last night's address will likely soon prove to be nothing more than a typically amateurish Trump performance-art piece designed as a break from the daily bombast and bullying.