Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Does Everything Have To Be Partisan?

There used to be a time when Republicans were the tough-talking, patriotic, red-baiting, Democracy-defending standard-bearers. Not anymore. Partisanship no longer ends at our shores. These days the GOP and its kleptocrat commandant Donald Trump act more like tools of the Russian government. Like they’re on Vladimir Putin’s payroll. Like...maybe...possibly Putin has something incredibly incriminating on them (hooker pee pee tapes, money laundering?). Because there’s no other explanation for this sudden shift to anti-American behavior. 

Seventeen United States intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that there was Russian interference in last year’s election. Within the Trump administration, several key former and current advisors and cabinet members—including Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, J.D. Gordon, Carter Page, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions—have held clandestine meetings with Russian officials, including Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, before and after the election. While the issue of lifting U.S. sanctions is suspected as being the primary subject, the bigger issue of interference in the election and possible Trump campaign collusion is now the subject of House, Senate, FBI and special counsel investigations. 

For the past 18 months Donald “I Love Wikileaks” Trump has fed this conspiracy theory with unyielding acceptance and/or support for anything Russia may have done to impact the outcome of the presidential election. He’s maligned our intelligence community and, conversely, has heaped praise on a murderous dictator like Putin (a “strong” leader”). Further, he’s done everything in his power to obstruct the ongoing investigations, including firing former FBI Director James Comey. He recently told NBC’s Lester Holt:

“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

The very next day Trump hosted Russian diplomats in the Oval Office where he mocked and demeaned Comey, telling the Russians:

"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.”

Trump’s denied, discredited and disrupted the investigations incessantly on Twitter, and has impugned the integrity of our free and open press, calling it “fake news” 24/7 while showering Fox News (aka Trump Propaganda Network) with accolades and access. 

And the circus just added more rings this week. During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, Sessions repeatedly stonewalled and suffered epic bouts of short and long-term amnesia when asked by Democrats about conversations he had with Trump over Comey’s firing, and whether it was related to RussiaGate. He did not invoke executive privilege nor did he claim it was classified information, nor could he offer up any legal basis for refusing to answer the questions. 

“I am protecting the right of the president to exert it if he chooses," Sessions disingenuously repeated. 

So... Sessions was not answering questions because of the ‘executive privilege’ neither he nor Trump had invoked. Even more incredibly, he also stated he had not been briefed on the Russia investigations, yet was certain no one on Team Trump colluded. Not bad for a guy with massive memory loss.

Which brings us to Republicans in Congress. Those spineless, self-serving oligarchs who’ve sanctioned and encouraged this unconscionable anti-American, potentially treasonous behavior from the Trumpsters. The ‘equal branch of government,’ responsible for oversight and checks and balances, is acting like paid lobbyists for the president. The word ‘accountability’ means nothing to them, even if it undermines the very thing that makes our democracy so great: free and fair elections. 

It is widely believed that last year Russia’s ‘influence’ was limited to email leaks and fake news. In 2020 it could include actual tampering of voting machines...materially impacting the ultimate vote count and thus who gets to sit in the Oval Office as a true Putin puppet. 

But make no mistake: Russia has been and is perhaps America’s biggest global threat. It’s an enemy state which seeks to destroy democracy throughout the world. Judging from our chaotic transfer of power these past five months, Putin’s already succeeding. And while Trump’s deluded himself into thinking Putin’s his buddy, the truth is the Russian president will eventually go after him...if he hasn’t already (which might explain Trump’s bizarre deference to-date). Putin doesn’t see left or right. Just Russia. The existential threat from another, more invasive Russian attack remains. Our democracy’s been attacked, and Republicans just don’t seem to care. 

More mystifying is the behavior of Trump voters—the xenophobic, Confederate flag-waving “USA! USA! USA! crowd who pre-Trump would be calling for the execution of anyone colluding with Russia—who’ve suddenly had such great affection and admiration for Putin and our new pal Russia.  “Why can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends...”

None of it makes any sense whatsoever. America seems under siege, from within...

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Yes, the F**king Tweets Matter!

What
has happened to America? Are we actually having a legitimate ‘debate’ as to whether Donald Trump’s tweets are ‘official’ statements? Is his bar that low? Has he lowered our standards of presidential behavior to the point where nothing seems rational anymore? Like we’re all now living in his alternate universe? People... have you gone mad!?

Let me attempt to inject some sanity into this utterly insane discussion: It doesn’t matter whether Trump (a) addresses the nation on prime-time television; (b) holds a press conference; (c) issues a written statement; (d) gives a radio address; (e) Tweets; (f) shouts from a mountaintop; (g) or puts a note in a bottle and throws it into the ocean. Whatever he says, however he says it, wherever he says it... it’s an official statement from the U.S. president. Jeez, how the hell is this even a subject for debate?!

To the chagrin of his aides and lawyers, Trump uses Twitter to malign the media, the judiciary, the Constitution and anything and anyone who threatens or offends him including the Pope, the disabled and veterans, war heroes and Gold Star families. He uses Twitter to lie, distort and obstruct the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in our election as well as possible collusion by Trump and his campaign.

Trump refuses to give press conferences, refused to answer a single question from American reporters during his European trip, and refuses to give the media and the American people any ability to directly question him about his actions and policies. He obsessively uses Twitter exclusively as his mode of communication. But we’re expected not to take his tweets seriously?

Yes, his tweets count. They count when the 9th Circuit court uses them as a basis to uphold the block on his racist Muslim ban. They count when he unequivocally declares in caps that his travel ban is, yes, a “TRAVEL BAN.” They count when he unconscionably attacks the Mayor of London just hours after that city suffers a horrific terrorist attack. And they count when he uses it to announce his new FBI director.

The problem with Trump is that he views Twitter as improvisational theater, where in free form he can puke out random thoughts, often in an incoherent, childish stream of consciousness. And he’s convinced himself that because there’s no filter for his tweets, no one monitoring or editing them, no formal review process, that it’s just fun ‘Trump talk’ even if they contradict earlier statements by aides and surrogates. He seems to relish his Twitter-effect of mixing things up, keeping people on their feet, throwing them off guard. But all it does is create more internal crises, frustrate staff and leave Americans without a clue as to what he believes in his core (assuming he has one.)

As the United States president, Trump is never “off.” Once elected, he gave up the right to have “off the cuff” remarks. And everything he says has impact domestically and abroad. It doesn’t matter the forum. If it comes out of his mouth, then it’s an official presidential statement.

Trump and his surrogates need to accept that his mounting verbal gaffes and controversies — whether born on Twitter or elsewhere — are attributed to him and not the media, Democrats or anyone else. These are unforced errors created by the president himself. He needs to put on his big boys pants and say “the buck stops here” and stop the pathetic victim act.

Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” But he’s instead pulled the entire nation down into it with him and we can’t breathe. The survival of the greatest democracy in history is at stake. Trump’s damaged our standing on the global stage, created chaos and uncertainty at home, and has turned the office of the presidency into a kleptocratic cesspool of corruption, greed and surrealism...and turned the White House into the Blight House.

But what’s most astounding is that he’s become so unhinged that he’s making us irrational.
So repeat after me: the fucking tweets count...

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Trump Doctrine: Erasing the Black Man's Legacy

When it comes to the actions of President Donald Trump, it doesn’t matter what the subject is. It could be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord; withdrawing from TPP; repealing Obamacare; ending restroom protections for transgender students; rolling back “Let Girls Learn” and “Let’s Move” education and nutrition regulations and guidelines; talk of reversing open policies with Cuba and cancelling the Iran deal; or returning two U.S. compounds back to Russia. What does matter is that Trump has one singular mission: to continue his seven-year-old racist campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama and erase his legacy as perhaps America’s greatest, and blackest, president. 

In contrast, Trump is the first United States president without a heart, soul and brain. He is morally, ethically and intellectually bankrupt. He has the intellectual curiosity of a gnat (my apologies to the gnat community). He has no basic fundamental core from which he bases his thoughts, decisions and vision for America and the world. Instead, he is motivated and driven purely by greed, insecurity, emotion, ego, anger, victimhood, hate and fear. He lacks discipline, impulse-control and has the mood swings of a hormonal teenager. 

Trump’s an unhappy, unstable, never-satisfied, self-loathing lonely old man—in a job he truly never wanted and is woefully ill-equipped to perform—with a general disdain for the weak, the sick, the helpless, the needy, the poor and the powerless. 

Trump has serious issues with women, immigrants and brown people. He lacks respect for the independent branches of government, checks and balances, due process, equal protection, the judiciary and our free and open press. The Constitution is his enemy. 

So everything he does, every...single..thing, is to personally benefit him and his family. And to satisfy the three critical elements of The Trump Doctrine: (1) undo the black dude’s legacy; (2) project a screw-everybody-else-I’m-the-boss image (hence, the myriad executive orders to compensate for zero legislative accomplishments); (3) feed the base. He is the “I alone” president governing as if he’s still in full campaign mode. The president of some of the people. 

Trump remains terribly threatened by the likeability, popularity and accomplishments of his predecessor...a man who has a biglyzillion times more brilliance, honesty, integrity, humility, grace and diplomacy in one strand of hair than Trump has in his entire being. A devout Christian, family man and solid human being with a skeleton-free closet. A compassionate, empathetic, measured individual who deeply loves and respects his wife. He’s everything Trump is not. And it’s killing Trump. But mostly, the man with the decades-old history of racist behavior and discrimination loathes the fact that a black man is such a finer man than he.

But here’s a little message for Trump: nothing you do or say...no amount of executive orders you sign...can erase the memory and legacy of one of America’s most beloved and successful presidents. But keep trying. It just makes you appear smaller and smaller every minute of every day.

Friday, May 26, 2017

It Doesn't F**king Matter What Obama Does!

 
The conversation inevitably goes something like this:

TV News Host: But don’t you think that America is at risk when President Trump divulges top-secret classified info to the Russians?

Trump Surrogate: Did it bother you when Obama did....blah...blah...blah...?

This is the point where I throw my shoe at the TV and usually scream “What the fuck does it matter what Obama did or didn’t do, Jeffrey Lord!? (or Paris Dennard, Kayleigh McEnany, Jason Miller, etc). Trump is the fucking president now!”

Let me be very clear, Trumpsters: it...doesn’t...fucking...matter. Obama’s gone. He's not the president anymore. The guy you voted for is. You insufferable, horribly disingenuous Stepford Wife-like defenders of the Vag-Grabber-in-Chief really need to learn how to defend his abhorrent behavior without citing something similar you think Obama did. Even if Obama is guilty of everything you claim (which, of course, he isn’t), it still doesn’t matter. If Trump puts America’s security at risk by taunting Kim Jong Un, but Obama once slaughtered a litter of puppies with his bare hands, it...still...doesn’t...fucking...matter. 

Didn’t they all vote for Trump because they hated Obama? Thought he was a horrible president that did everything wrong? Didn’t they elect Trump because he was different? The exact opposite of this ‘weak, crooked, terrorist-appeasing Kenyan anti-colonialist non-citizen’? A brilliant, successful bizman outsider who was going to bring a fresh new approach to governing amid the existing “swamp” that was paralyzing Washington? So what’s the first thing they do when their guy’s caught slithering around the bottom of the swamp with his tiny hands in the vag-jar? They point to something Obama did. 

When they do that they’re essentially saying, “Yeah, we know our guy is a crooked dumbass, but so was Obama.” What happened to Trump being different? Better? A swamp drainer? Instead, they justify and excuse his myriad gaffes and offenses because the dude they hate was ‘just as bad.’ Am I missing something?

And they do this while Trump’s also reneging on every campaign promise and lying to them 24/7...AND giving away secrets to Russia...AND offending/endangering our allies...AND obstructing justice...AND taking away their healthcare...AND...AND...AND. Ignorance is in fact bliss.

Donald J. Trump is president. Not Obama. The colossal shitstorm that’s blown through the White House since January 20th is all on him. All due to his unprecedented, cringe-worthy words, deeds and unforced errors. Nothing Obama did, said, thought, wished, wrote, mimed, improv’d, or sang matters. Defend Trump if you must, but do so without mentioning Obama’s (or Hillary Clinton’s) name. Try it. I know it’s incredibly difficult. I bet ya can’t...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why Donald Trump is a Sociopath

I believe Donald Trump is a sociopath. I have no professional credentials to make that diagnosis, but I know what I see and hear, and I can intelligibly grasp what the experts say. 

Among the characteristics of a sociopath cited by Natural News is that they “invent outrageous lies about their experiences.” They also seek to “dominate others and win at all costs.” And they “never apologize.” Still not convinced? They’re also “incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. And, they’re “delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth.” There’s more, but if by now you don’t see a giant image of Trump in front of your brain then you’re likely wearing a red MAGA hat. 

For the first time in American history we have a president who is more mentally unstable, unpredictable and dangerous than the heads of enemy states. And he has his tiny fingers within short reach of the nuclear codes. It’s a terribly frightening reality to accept, but it’s our reality nonetheless. 

As if Trump’s erratic, unprecedented behavior of the past three months isn’t enough to convince you, just take a look at paragraph two of his termination letter to FBI Director James Comey, who the coward-in-chief fired late Tuesday: 

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

So either these Comey ‘assurances’ never occurred and Trump is lying through his teeth, or, we’re expected to believe that on multiple occasions the FBI director divulged highly confidential information about an ongoing investigation to the individual being investigated....all the while bizarrely assuring him he wasn’t in fact under investigation in the investigation that he’s previously publicly announced. I’ll give you a minute to stop your head from spinning. 

The termination letter is tantamount to a confession by Trump that he interfered in an ongoing FBI investigation of Russian hacking of the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Russians, Trump himself and members of his transition team (and administration). His firing of Comey comes at a critical time when the investigation is intensifying and subpoenas are being issued. The optics are horrible.

Trump’s action constitutes a clear abuse of power. It’s a brazen act by an unhinged president. A stunning firing of the investigator by the investigated. It follows the firing months earlier of Attorney General Sally Yates and New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. This level of craven, audacious defiance and elimination of perceived opponents threatens the very fabric of our democracy and is a chilling display of autocratic lust. The kind we’d expect in a Third World country. So it’s not surprising that ‘many people are saying’ it’s beginning to feel like we’re experiencing an American version of a coup. We’re talking about a president who wanted tanks at his inaugural, for fuck’s sake!

As part of a frenzied Wednesday morning tweet-storm, Trump made the following self-aggrandizing prediction:

“Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”

That Trump believes everyone will be “thanking” him further illustrates the severity of his pathology. He’s tone-deaf, with an insatiable hunger for praise, credit and attention. His words and actions are those of someone without a heart and soul. If a space alien inhabited a human life form, it would sound like Trump: devoid of emotion, compassion, humility and empathy. 

So what happens now at the FBI and to the status of the RussiaGate investigation? It’s now an ethical clusterfuck. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, himself recused from the investigation, yet who recommended Comey’s firing, will be involved in choosing his replacement...the same individual who will take over the investigation. If this whole saga smells like shit it’s because it is a heaping, stinking pile. Welcome to Trump’s “great America.” 

Comey’s firing, its execution and highly suspicious timing just may be the house of cards that ultimately brings down the most corrupt, dangerous administration in American history. As CNBC reported Wednesday, Trump’s firing of Comey “endangers his entire presidency.” To be sure, his raging Id has taken him to the edge of the cliff many times before, but this time there’s good reason to believe it just may have driven off at full speed...

Monday, May 08, 2017

Did Melania Trump Really 'Like' My Tweet About Her Marriage?




Last week, my 93-character tweet about Melania Trump and her marriage to President Trump “blew up the internet,” as they say. At 9:15 p.m. on May 2, I re-posted a GIF of that infamous Melania smile-turned-scowl from the inauguration with the comment: “Seems the only wall Donald Trump’s built is the one between him and Melania.”

Shortly thereafter it was “liked” by someone using the handle @MELANIATRUMP. It was the verified personal account belonging to the first lady. And it was only the second time she’s ever “liked” a tweet, the first being her own when she opened her account May 23, 2012 with, “Hello Twitter!”

Was I shocked? Yes. Flattered? Of course. But was it really Melania Trump who liked my tweet?
I’m convinced it was, despite a denial by Melania’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham, who told PEOPLE Magazine, “The first lady wasn’t aware of this until I brought it to her attention.” When asked who did do it if not Melania herself, she nonchalantly replied, “Who knows … it isn’t her primary account these days,” adding that the password to the account had been changed.

“Who knows?” That’s it!? That’s the official answer over how the personal Twitter account of the first lady of the United States of America basically reinforced the popular belief that she hates her husband!?

Let’s assume for a second that Grisham’s correct, and that it wasn’t Melania. So then it was either a hack, a really pissed off staffer or 11-year-old Barron. Call me crazy, but any one of the alternatives is incredibly newsworthy, and the public is owed the truth.

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If Melania was hacked, who’s responsible? Was it one of President Trump’s dictator pals Putin, Erdogan, Duterte, el-Sisi or Kim Jong Un trying to stir up some serious marital shit between the Trumps? Was it stepdaughter Ivanka, thus fueling another popular belief that the two women hate each other? Was it someone in the “fake” liberal media? If so, shouldn’t there be confirmation that it was in fact a hack, which would constitute a major national security concern, and that the administration is using the full power and resources of the U.S. government to find out who it was?

Or what if it was a disgruntled staffer? Someone would have to be pretty damn angry with Melania or the president to “like” a tweet suggesting their marriage was about as much a failure as Trump’s Mexican wall and Muslim ban. Shouldn’t we know who that hater is and his current status? Is this person still roaming the White House and/or Trump Tower, able to cause even more harm or danger to the Trumps and perhaps the nation, or has she been fired?

And what if it was actually little Barron who, on his way into the kitchen for a late-night string cheese and juice box snack, noticed mom’s laptop open, saw the tweet and decided it was time for a little mischief? If so, the kid just blasted right to the top of my list of favorite Trumps.

But let’s be real: none of these possibilities seem as plausible as Melania liking the tweet herself. 

We’re supposed to accept that someone with incredibly nefarious motivations accessed the First lady’s Twitter account and made a mockery of her marriage, yet we’ve been provided no credible information to support that desperate assertion (remember Anthony Weiner’s “hack?”). Sorry, Ms. Grisham, but “who knows” is not an acceptable answer.

So back to Melania. Did she and The Donald have a fight that night and in a fit of rage she thought, “You want a wall... I’ll give you a fucking wall!” Or does the normally tight-lipped, composed first lady actually have an awesome sense of humor and thought, “Why not? Wink, wink!” Or, was it a really unfortunate slip of the finger that she was unaware of until Grisham shrieked, “OMG, Melania, what the hell did you do!?”

Until we get a more logical, detailed explanation from the Trump team, my money’s on Melania sending her absentee husband, and us, a message...

Sunday, May 07, 2017

An Open Letter to Trump Voters About Trumpcare

Dear Trumpsters,

It was a very big day for you yesterday, what with the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act ― commonly known as Trumpcare ― formerly known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. A smug President Trump, at his post-vote Rose Garden masturbatory gloat-fest, bragged, “Make no mistake about it...this is a repeal and replace of Obamacare.” Yippee! Um...er...right?

I’m not sure you’re doing much celebrating today. Yeah, I know, it was so much fun during the campaign to revel with Trump over a future repeal of the “super-awful” health care program with the black guy’s name on it. In fact, I suspect the black guy’s name had much to do with how much you hated it, which explains why so many of you ― as this video astoundingly illustrates ― thought the ACA was great and Obamacare sucked, not even realizing they were the same program.

But despite that you get most ― if not all ― of your biased, fake news from Trump’s PR firm, Fox News, I suspect you woke up this morning feeling the same sort of shame after a really bad one-night stand. That sickening feeling of looking over at the horribly unattractive person lying next to you, who somehow was so appealing the night before, and thinking, “Jeez, what the hell did I do... and can I undo it?”

Yeah, I suspect today might really be a day of mourning for you. A day filled with fear, actually, as you are starting to realize that you just got fucked way worse than in that awful one-night stand ― that Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Republicans just royally screwed you out of that super-groovy health care coverage the black dude gave you.

Did you know that the states with the highest percentages of people benefiting from Obamacare are your states? Do you know that the people who benefit most from Obamacare are you Trump voters? Do you know that roughly 50 percent of all Americans suffer from preexisting conditions? Do you realize that under Obamacare you were guaranteed cost-effective coverage if you had such a condition, but that under Trumpcare it’ll be up to the states to decide what to cover or not... and for how much?

Right about now, you may be thinking... “So what, I don’t have a preexisting condition. No cancer, diabetes or arthritis. I’m good, right?” Not so fast. Money Magazine cites as many as 50 examples of everyday maladies, including acne, heartburn, and high cholesterol ― not to mention C-sections and Lyme Disease ― that under Trumpcare could result in denied coverage or coverage with premium increases as much as 500 percent. Do I have your attention yet?

Trump promised “insurance for everybody.” He promised better coverage, lower premiums, lower deductibles. He promised that the poor and middle class would benefit most. He claimed, as he still does, that Obamacare is a “disaster” that’s on a “death spiral.” All lies.

But it’s actually Trumpcare which doctors, hospitals, and insurers (in a rare instance of unity, as the New York Times reports) think is a disaster. Also, as the Times reports, it’s the wealthy who’ll benefit most, and the poor, middle class, and elderly who’ll suffer most.

All you MAGAnificents... be very, very careful what you wish for. That Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride you’ve been on is enriching his ginormous ego and his wallet at the expense of your health care. And perhaps, your life. Remember Sarah Palin’s “death panels?” Well, they’re back, and this time they’re real. The lives of the poor, the elderly, and the sick are now in the grubby little kleptocrat hands of Trump and his Republican band of thieves. And you voted for them all! Time to get angry, people.

There’s still time to protect yourself and save your insurance. The impulsive, petulant, selfish children in the House may have rushed through Trumpcare without hearings, the critical bipartisan CBO score, or any expense estimates (astounding since healthcare comprises 1/7th of the total U.S. GDP), but the adults in the Senate, where the math and the consequences are way different, will likely kill Trumpcare on its arrival and write their own bill which looks vastly different while preserving much of the ‘good stuff’ from Obamacare.

So what do you do now? Call your Senator. Especially the Republicans. And demand they undo that horrible one-night stand...ya know, the one where ya woke up next to Donald Trumpcare.