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.