Friday, April 28, 2017

Making the Case for 2020 Hillary Clinton

Ok, before I go any further, let me state unequivocally for the record that I believe Hillary Clinton ran one of the worst campaigns in modern political history. Her management was inept; her messaging misguided; and her character terribly flawed. Let’s put this into proper perspective: she lost to Donald Trump, for fuck’s sake! A colossal joke of a candidate who by all accounts should’ve lost to a chair. As the saying goes, the election was Clinton’s to lose...and she lost it. So why on Earth would I want her to run again in 2020? 

The answer is rather simple: I remain committed to the belief that Clinton would be an incredible president. And I believe she not only will run again, as her recent and outspoken re-launch onto the public stage indicates, but that she will also win. No, I’m not crazy. I just believe that history repeats itself. And for that we simply need to look to Richard Nixon.

It was 1960. The first televised presidential debate. Nixon refused make-up. John F. Kennedy, well, he was JFK. The battle pitted the young, charismatic Democratic upstart with the movie-star looks against the nervous, sweaty, 5 o’clock-shadowed, beady-eyed, prematurely-aged Republican. The rest is history. As is Nixon’s startling comeback eight years later to win not one but two presidential elections. Times change. Situations change. People change. Can Hillary? My money’s on yes.

Clinton is perhaps the most qualified candidate in history. A prestigious legal career, eight years as First Lady, another eight as U.S. Senator from New York and four years as Secretary of State. A die-hard progressive who voted 93% of the time with Sen. Bernie Sanders when both served together. And, she’s a woman...and it’s fucking time America is led by a woman. 

The key to the 2020 election is that Trump will no longer be a political outsider who can lie through his teeth 24/7. No more outlandish positions and pie-in-the-sky promises. That con-game can only work once. Next time he’ll be running on his record, not Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s, or his own bloviating, self-aggrandizing uber-hype. 

Voters will judge him on whether he delivered or not. Did they get their wall, and did Mexico pay for it? Did he fix immigration and “extreme vetting?” Did he “rid the world of Isis” as he’s already declared he’s doing? Did he prevent terror attacks on U.S. soil? Did he keep China, North Korea, Russia and Syria in check? Did he and Boy Wonder Jared Kushner achieve Israeli/Arab peace? Did he favorably renegotiate, or terminate, NAFTA? Did he get our NATO allies to “pay their fair share?” Did he bring back the factory and coal jobs? Did he give the poor and middle class their big tax cuts? Did he give them better and cheaper healthcare? Did the economy grow 3%+ annually? Did he reduce the debt and deficit? Did he create as many if not more jobs as Obama? Did he ‘drain the swamp’ or fill his cabinet with it? Did all the tough talk and bluster translate to action and results? In short, did he make their America ‘great again?’ 

To be sure, Trump’s biggest asset during the campaign was his masterful manipulation of his base through an endless barrage of big promises, lies and political rope-a-dope. But now these same qualities are his biggest liability. As Aaron Burr reminds Hamilton in the Broadway musical, “Winning was easy, governing’s harder.” It’s a lot more fun to promise the world as a candidate than to defend against having accomplished nothing after four years as president. 

Plus, a weakened Trump will more than likely be primaried by a slew of retreads like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and John Kasich, as well as new challengers such as Nikki Haley, Paul Ryan, Sen. Ben Sasse (NE) or even another outsider billionaire like Marc Cuban. All of whom would do much of Clinton’s bidding for her. 

But if Trump succeeds in fulfilling his campaign promises and, more so, improves the lives of his voters, then he would likely win again. But his MAGA crowd—the sleeping beast who he roused off the couch and motivated, often with sexist, racist rhetoric, to vote for him—won’t have the same drive, passion and commitment for him if they end up disappointed and feeling conned. Some of them, like Kraig Moss, who I wrote about earlier in the week, have already jumped ship. Many millions more could follow. It could get very, very ugly for the man who, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, already has the lowest approval rating (44%) in modern presidential history. 

Let’s keep in mind that Clinton won the popular vote by 3-million. Nothing to sneeze at, and certainly a strong foundation from which to build even further support these next three years, especially if Trump continues to struggle. And it’s not like Trump gave her a Reagan-like trouncing with his electoral college total either. While he loves to brag at how “massive” his win was, he snagged the presidency with just 306 electoral votes, among the lowest in modern history. Factor in FBI Director James Comey’s unprecedented last-minute politically-based clusterfuck, and Russia’s hack and overall influence in the election, and it’s not hard to understand how the Democrats’ heretofore rock-solid “blue wall” (Pa, MI, Wi, Mn) was lost by the thinnest of margins, giving Trump a squeaker of a victory.

If Clinton runs the first thing she’ll need to do is assemble a kick-ass team. No more Robby Mook, with his millennial naivete and obsession with useless data, or Huma Abedin, who’s saddled with Anthony Weiner’s humiliating legacy. 

Clinton needs to do whatever’s humanly possible, including begging, to get Bill’s old band back together: Paul Begala, James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. And throw in Obama’s brain, David Axelrod, for good measure. She also needs a few truly sharp, aggressive young strategic soldiers, such as Bakari Sellers for example, to assist with media and messaging. She also needs a War Room, like the one Bill had, to deftly and swiftly address each attack...and there’ll be plenty of them again. 

The next thing Clinton will need to do is study Trump like she’s never done before. Every tick. Every tell. Every position. His speeches, his rhythms, his overall appeal. She must painstakingly study what he did to connect so powerfully with the “Trump Democrats,” a constituency that should rightfully be hers. 

Lastly, she must look within. She must do an honest and forensic review of her many gaffes and flaws. She needs to successfully address the perceptions and criticisms that she’s entitled, disconnected, unlikable and shrill. She needs to relate. Needs to win over more women. And, for God’s sake, more men. And Southerners. And those in the Heartland. They all used to vote Democrat, and they can do so again. Like the man’s the economy, stupid. Still is.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This Trump Voter Lost His Son To Drugs. Now, Trump's Lost Kraig Moss To Lies.

Kraig Moss is not your typical Donald Trump supporter. The grieving father of a 24-year-old son, Rob, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014, Moss became known last year as “The Trump Troubadour,” traveling to 45 campaign rallies where he played guitar, sang songs and held out hope that the Republican nominee would win the election and fulfill his promise to create programs to combat the nation’s drug epidemic and help the young people whose lives it’s been swallowing up in record numbers.

Unfortunately, Moss gave Trump his heart, and the 45th president of the United States broke it.
The love affair began at a Jan. 15, 2016 rally in Urbandale, Iowa. Trump, directing his comments at Moss, said:

The biggest thing we can do in honor of your son ... we have to be able to stop it. I know what you went through.” He told his supporters, And he’s a great father. I can see it. And your son is proud of you.” 

But what ultimately changed for Moss was his disappointment with Trump’s American Health Care Act, the GOP’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which was presented to the public last month but failed to win support as part of Trump’s repeal and replace effort. What Moss and others like him were expecting failed to materialize. Of most concern was the GOP’s plan to drop the mandate that Medicaid cover basic mental health and addiction services for an estimated 1.3 million people in states where Medicaid was expanded under Obamacare.

It was a devastating broken promise that struck way too close to home for the construction business owner who had sold his equipment and stopped his mortgage payments to fund his Trump travels.

“From the rally in Urbandale when he spoke to me directly I was convinced Mr. Trump was the candidate for me,” said Moss. “I believed every word Trump said during his campaign, same as millions of other supporters, when he said he’d ‘make America great again.’ It wasn’t until I saw his proposed health care bill and read reports on it’s inclusions that I realized it was nothing like the bill he promised, including lower deductibles, less overall cost and better coverage. And, provisions for substance-abuse and treatment. This was the first indication he had lied.”

The genius of Trump is that he succeeding in pulling folks like Moss into his political orbit, many to the point of brainwashing. People who, prior to 2016, were not just apolitical but apathetic, disenfranchised and feeling helpless. They held the general belief that all politicians are the same (i.e. self-serving liars) and that their vote doesn’t matter. Trump masterfully exploited and manipulated this indifference and anger through inflammatory, often racially-charged rhetoric and convinced them their vote does matter. His victory proved it.

“I’ve never voted before,” said Moss. “Never registered and never voted. Since my son died I had done nothing. Only worked enough to get by. Stayed at home and did not socialize, only to play a concert for the Rob Moss Heroin Awareness Tour. When I heard of Trump’s desire to stop or slow down the flow of drugs into this country I started listening more to what he had to say.”

Trump’s supporters are typically drawn to his charm, celebrity and outsider bluster, but for Moss his interest in the campaign was singular.

“In my mind, Mr. Trump was the answer to help the heroin epidemic in this country.” 

And like many Trump supporters, Moss held his nose and overlooked much of what the candidate stood for that he did not agree with, including his attacks on the media; his mocking of a disabled reporter; that women should be “punished” for abortions; his proposed Muslim ban; and his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“I absolutely wished Mr. Trump would revisit his deportation plan and provide amnesty to those immigrants who are in this country for a long time and have not committed a crime, and say “Welcome To Our Country.” 

But despite his being lied to over an incredibly personal issue, Moss is not yet ready to claim buyer’s remorse.

“If you ask me am I disappointed I voted for President Trump I say ‘no.’ I didn’t care for Hillary’s platform. There are however, 100’s of thousands of supporters who feel as I do...not happy with his actions so far but not wishing we voted for Hillary.”

But Moss says he would not vote for Trump again.

“The more I think about what Trump tried to do I drift further away. The more he changes his position on China, Mexico and who’s paying for the wall...changing statements and game plans overnight...he’s just a politician con that is commander-in-chief.”

And give Trump time with the rest of his MAGA crowd. It’s not quite 100 days into his nascent presidency and he’s already turning off formerly loyal supporters like Moss. So it’s not hard to fathom that a year, two or four from now millions like him could fully jump off the Trump train.

A fascinating aspect of this abandonment, and it’s potential impact on a Trump 2020 re-election campaign, is that many former diehard Trump supporters like Moss share a passion for progressives Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), a strange phenomenon because these politicians couldn’t be further in their ideology and positions from Trump.

“I have tried to have people take a good listen to Elizabeth Warren because she gets it (health care),” Moss explained. “I was also attracted to Bernie’s health care ideas but with the “socialism” label everyone gave him I didn’t give him thought. But I think he got a raw deal from the Democratic Party. He didn’t have a chance.” 

It’s understandable how politicians like Sanders and Warren could, on the surface, appeal to Trump voters. All three are unconventional outspoken firebrands who aren’t afraid to attack the mainstream. Their populist messaging is similar and resonates with working-class Americans; the ‘forgotten middle-class.’ But the rich vs. poor theme is where the similarities end. What Trump and the Republican Party stand for goes against every core belief of progressives and democrats on critical subjects including women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, civil/human rights, health care, education, the environment, immigration, taxes and foreign policy. Which is why it’s puzzling to hear anyone who voted for Trump claim, as many did after the election, that ‘I would’ve voted for Bernie had he been the Democratic nominee.’ 

Whether or not these folks would actually pull the lever for a progressive or a ‘democratic socialist’ in 2020 remains to be seen.

And what about Moss? Does he have any idea who, if anyone, he might vote for in 2020?

“Whoever I support I will do so as passionately as I did for Trump... with my son Rob riding by my side every step of the way.

And, he reminds us, “I like Bernie Sanders and I love Elizabeth Warren.”

Those are powerful words that could spell disaster for Trump.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Is Donald Trump Losing His Mind?

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, appears to have achieved an impressive new level of madness. You would think that being Commander-in-Chief and Leader of the Free World is an all-consuming job, starting in the early morning hours and stretching well into the night. Between myriad pressing domestic and global issues such as the economy and fighting terrorism there should be little else that successfully competes for Trump’s attention, right? Guess again. These days, rather than doing his job and promoting the interests of America, he seems more preoccupied with promoting Fox’s television shows and Tweet-shaming everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger and the New York Times to the GOP’s Freedom Caucus.

When he’s not heading off Friday nights to one of his many non-DC “White Houses” like Mar-a-Lago for a weekend of strenuous “work golf,” Trump spends an inordinately large percentage of his time soothing his bruised, fragile ego. This bizarre activity includes tweeting like a high school mean-girl; holding campaign-style rallies in a pathetic quest for love; obsessing over his ‘poor treatment’ on CNN; or watching the Trump & Co. publicity agency known as Fox (where he apparently gets much of his national security intelligence).

We’re seeing a heightened state of megalomania. Among his many self-aggrandized accomplishments, Trump’s already turned around the economy (didn’t realize it needed turning around); created “thousands and thousands” of jobs (or more commonly known as Operation Take-Credit-For-What-Companies-Have-Been-Planning-for-Years); stopped the flow of illegal immigration across the Mexican border (something that’s been in steady decline for years); and has continued to deny Russia’s meddling in last Fall’s election... which Dick Cheney likened to “an act of war” and which has been confirmed by 17 national security agencies... and is now the subject of two (albeit one very circus-like) Congressional investigations.

Forget that Trump’s so far suffered humiliating defeats over Obamacare’s repeal/replace and his loathsome Muslim Ban, both of which were a wake-up call for him on how our system of checks and balances works. And then there’s the apparent failure of his border wall (ya know, the one Mexico’s paying for), which served as an effective xenophobic campaign prop but is likely not his only erection problem.

We have a president who is obsessively consumed with his own image and is paralyzed by a desperate, pathological need for attention and adulation. Nothing else matters. Not the best interests of America, his marriage, his family or his business. To paraphrase Sting, every move Trump makes, every step he takes, every claim he stakes first flows through this dysfunctional filter. The self-styled “counter-puncher” who surrounds himself with generals in an attempt to mask the shame of draft-dodging cowardice is, deep down, a scared, insecure, affection-starved, emotionally-bankrupt little man. And now he seems just plain crazy.

I imagine Trump wandering the White House alone at night. He’s clad in a Power Rangers onesie. He roams aimlessly... a bored, sad, angry-than-ever lonely old unsatisfied man battling his raging demons. There are televisions on in every room, blaring cable news. The shrill rantings of Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow are made tolerable only by the soothing sweet nothings of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. He’s instinctively drawn to Fox of course, but he can’t help turning his attention and ire to the critiques and endless negative stories on those shameless bastions of fake news, CNN and MSNBC. He screams at the TVs. He throws a $2500 Ferragamo loafer at Maddow’s oversized head on his yuge 110-inch screen. He grunts and groans. Yells out to no one, “Why doesn’t everyone see how amazing I am?!” The man who claims not to drink is utterly shitfaced on a $1-million bottle of Russo-Baltique, a gift from Vladimir Putin. He reaches for his iPhone and taps the Twitter icon and, well, you know what happens next.

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.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

What Would Jesus Think About Trump?

The past couple of weeks of Donald Trump's nascent presidency have been a bit trying to say the least. His "Make America Great Again" promise sure looks like it's having the opposite effect. Our great nation is becoming unrecognizable. Lies are the new facts. Fantasy the new reality. Our democracy is threatened by fascism. And those of 'faith' seem frighteningly comfortable accepting, under the cloak of God, the most abhorrent, abusive, discriminatory behavior. 

I hope evangelicals, who shockingly abandoned their core beliefs to support a sexist, racist, pussy-grabbing serial sinner, feel righteous in their cold hearts as Trump attacks the Pope, mocks the disabled, abuses the powerless and rejects the persecuted. Is that what Jesus would do? Tell me again which chapter described how he felt about the meek? Oh wait, it's the meek shall inherit the Earth, right? Or is it the meek shall be banned because we like simplistic, racist solutions to extremely complex issues that we don't begin to understand because we don't believe in briefings, facts or intelligence? It all seems so confusing right now. Maybe Trump, who's so well-versed in all things Biblical, can clear that one up for us.

Lady Liberty, a pretty awesome chick who for 131 years has been a storm-weathered symbol of freedom in America and a beacon of hope for immigrants, shares with us the following inscription at her feet: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" But that's not what's happening in Trump's xenophobic reign of terror. Perhaps it's time to drape Ms. Liberty in a burka for a few weeks as a reminder to conservatives of what she stands for.

How is it that those who profess to be the most devout and godly can sit idly by as an ugly nationalist movement sweeps across America driven by an engine fueled by sexual, gender, religious, ethnic, racial and cultural discrimination? What would Jesus think about that? You remember Jesus, right? The poor, tolerant, compassionate liberal who rejected greed, violence, the glorification of power, the amassing of wealth without social balance, and the personal judging of others, their lifestyles and beliefs? It's the exact opposite of what we're seeing from Trump and Steve Bannon. From Republicans. And from evangelicals. Hypocrisy reigns supreme in the most sinful administration in presidential history.

I suspect Jesus would be shedding tears over the judgement, intolerance and hatred that's ripping apart society and shattering our faith in humanity. Over the flouting of his teachings:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Do not judge, lest you too be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Just a few reminders of what Jesus would do...