Friday, June 23, 2017

Yes, Trump Really Said That...



Donald Trump held one of his patented campaign-style love fests in Iowa Wednesday night, complete with blatant lies, belittling, bombast and bluster. Like him or not, at least with his rabidly loyal base, these events are a religious experience. His brainwashed minions hang on every syllable as if Jesus himself was on stage.That is, if Jesus couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the poor, the sick, the needy...and lied through his teeth non-stop.

But what was most striking in this pathetic display of attention-starvation was the moment when, referring to his cabinet, Trump basically told the crowd...

’To the poor and middle class I say...you’re idiots! Hey, you voted for me, am I right!? But I don’t like you, I don’t give a shit about you, and you certainly don’t belong in my administration... believe me! Just clean my house, wash my car, mow my lawn, drive me places, serve me food, take away my garbage, protect me and put out my fires. But that’s all you’re good for. Just be happy we rich people know how to do stuff and can take care of you inept morons!”

OK, what he actually said was...

“I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person...”

Yes. Trump actually said that out loud. And guess what? The crowd cheered and applauded! The poor and middle class Trumpsters actually cheered and applauded as their tone-deaf elitist billionaire cult leader summarily dissed them—an entire segment of the population—as incapable and unqualified based purely on the amount of zeros they have, or don’t have, in their bank accounts.

Which brings us back to Jesus, a cash-poor man yet rich in intellect, idealism, empathy, compassion and obvious leadership skills. Totally capable of being God, but not quite wealthy enough to serve Trump’s swamp-infested cabinet.

Trump lives in a binary socio-economic world of rich and poor. Rich versus poor. Rich good, poor bad. Where rich equals smart, competent and successful and poor equals total failure. He views everything through the lens of wealth. As president his self-described accomplishments are singularly judged like business deals: how much money he’s either made or saved America. The Oval Office has become the headquarters for negotiating domestic and global financial transactions at the expense of educational, environmental, medical, scientific, technological and diplomatic vision. With Trump, it’s all about the Benjamins.

It remains astounding how an unscrupulous, self-serving kleptocrat was elected president with the support of so many of those whose stand to lose the most from his draconian, heartless policies. But it’s an even bigly’er mystery how, five months into Trump’s chaotic presidency, the sheep are still cheering the bullshitting billionaire despite him constantly shoving his tiny middle-finger in their faces. Despite his unrelenting, shameless lying and reneging on campaign promises. Despite him being hellbent on taking away their healthcare, their financial/banking protections, their clean air and water and their money....all so he can reward his fellow oligarchs with massive tax breaks.

There was a time when these folks would be cheering Robin Hood. Today they applaud the Robber Baron.

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.