Sunday, February 23, 2020

Love Bloomberg or Hate Him, But He and Trump are NOT the Same

Once again, just as they angrily fought over Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats are engaging in a bitter battle over their preferred candidates.

And once again, while the #VoteBlueNoMatterWho mantra sweeps through liberal circles and social media, many Sanders supporters vow not to vote for anyone but Bernie. There are those who even more specifically equate Michael Bloomberg with Donald Trump, and promise to sit out the election if he’s the nominee.

To be sure, Bloomberg has lots of baggage. His skeletons include sexual harassment allegations against his company and him personally; his controversial, racially-incendiary “stop and frisk” policy while mayor of New York City; his refusal, like Trump, to release his tax returns; his insensitive remarks towards minorities, women and LGBTQ; and his comments about “redlining.”

But to equate Bloomberg with Trump is naive, ignorant and disingenuous at best, and downright dishonest at worst. And it’s suicidal. Because the future of American democracy is at stake in November.

Let’s be clear: Does Trump fight climate change? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump fight gun violence? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump fight to protect women’s reproductive rights? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump believe in science? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump want compassionate immigration reform? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump support public education? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump support progressive tax reform? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump support LGBTQ? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump support Pell grants? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump support a health care public option? No. Bloomberg does. Does Trump obey the law? No. Bloomberg does. Is Trump a pathological liar? Yes. Bloomberg isn’t. Is Trump a traitor? Yes. Bloomberg isn’t. Is Trump a sociopath? Yes. Bloomberg isn’t. 

How anyone can say they’re ‘the same’ is unfathomable.

To those democrats who say “I won’t vote for this democrat or that democrat”, or, “I won’t vote for anyone but my candidate”, let me make this simple: you can stand on principle…you can ‘send a message’…you can point out candidates’ imperfections and how they don’t agree with your positions 100%. That’s your right.

But the result? A pathologically-lying, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, corrupt, treasonous, dangerous, democracy-killing sociopath monster will remain in the White House.

It’s time to instead focus on the big picture, because it’s pretty ugly. If Trump is reelected he will finally achieve his dream of turning America into a dictatorship and will destroy every single thing that matters to democrats/progressives. Which is why any democrat would be 1-million times better.

As adults we’re faced with difficult choices all the time. So we prioritize. We choose the better option, even if it’s not a perfect one. We accept that life is rarely an ‘all or nothing’ landscape.
And as children we’re told not to “cut off our nose to spite our face.”

Democrats need to understand that. And they need to hold those noses and vote for whoever runs against Trump…because the alternative is fucking terrifying

Thursday, February 06, 2020

An Acquitted Trump Still Crying "Read the Transcripts!"

A week ago I wrote that Donald Trump’s consciousness-of-guilt will haunt him forever regardless of the outcome of the Senate impeachment trial.

One week later the Republican-controlled Senate not surprisingly voted to acquit Trump. Only one Senator, Mitt Romney, broke tightly-held party ranks and voted to convict…but not before delivering a powerfully poignant, courageous and scathing indictment of the president’s actions:

“…The grave question the Constitution tasked senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.”

It didn’t take long for Trump’s crippling insecurities (and obsessive Obama jealousy) to fire back. Just after midnight he tweeted…

“Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election. Read the Transcripts!”

And this morning, attending the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, Trump bitterly attacked the impeachment process and his opponents…including Romney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who he claimed ‘used their faith to justify doing what’s wrong.’
Just as I wrote last week, no matter Trump’s claims that the Mueller probe “totally exonerated” him…no matter that his weak, feckless cowardly Senate Republicans abdicated their Constitutional oath to acquit him as predicted…he can’t and won’t let go. He’s trapped in his emotional prison, where his guilt and illegitimacy consume him.

Trump knows what he did. He knows we know what he did. We also now know that many Republican Senators know what he did. It’s not just Romney who’s issued a public rebuke of his corrupt behavior. Senators Lisa Murkowski (“shameful and wrong”), Lamar Alexander (“inappropriate”), Susan Collins (“wrong”), Marco Rubio (“actions meet a standard of impeachment”) are part of the bi-partisan chorus of condemnation.

But in what will go down as the greatest, most shameful partisan cover-up in political history, only Romney honored his oath to both country and faith. The others, though politically-expediently critical of Trump, disingenuously claimed his behavior is not impeachable. History will judge them accordingly.

So here we are. With an exonerated and acquitted yet still angry, bitter, resentful, insecure Trump ravaged by guilt and illegitimacy. It should be over, but it’s not. It will never be over. Not for Trump. That’s what guilt does to ya. It compels you to spend every minute of every waking day desperately trying to prove innocence.

It’s a life sentence.

Monday, February 03, 2020

The Bar's Just Been Raised For Impeachment

Twenty years ago President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex. Last week Donald Trump got away with a whole lot more.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t just conduct an evidence-and-witness-less sham trial which will go down as the biggest cover-up in political history, he essentially re-wrote the Constitution to make it that much harder to ever impeach and ultimately remove a president again.

So for all intents and purposes, here’s a shortlist of High Crimes and Misdemeanors that, according to Republicans, no longer qualify as impeachable offenses:
  • Pathological lying
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexism
  • Racism
  • Xenophobia
  • Incitement of violence
  • Bullying
  • Attacking children
  • Caging children
  • Separating families
  • Attacking disabled people
  • Attacking the Pope
  • Attacking Gold Star families
  • Attacking war heroes (alive AND dead)
  • Campaign finance violations
  • Emoluments clause violations
  • Self-enrichment
  • Bribery
  • Extortion
  • Misuse of Congressionally-appropriated military aid
  • Abuse of power
  • Soliciting foreign interference in elections
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Obstruction of Congress
  • Threatening US national security
  • Treason
Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz last week punctuated this shocking reality with his even more shocking argument that the president cannot be impeached if he believes his re-election is in the national interest. This suggests that the president can do whatever the hell he or she wants including rigging the election…so long as he convinces himself America is better off for it.

To be sure, the Clinton impeachment lowered the bar. But Trump’s Senate trial, which gave a shamelessly partisan thumbs up to his myriad moral, ethical and legal transgressions, raises that bar to unfathomable levels, and leaves us with the question, what will it now take to impeach and remove an American president?

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Dear Democrats: Vote Like Your Life Depends On It…Because It Does

First it was the Mueller probe. Then impeachment. Democrats expected these investigations would drag Donald Trump, the most blatantly corrupt politician in U.S. history, through the jaws of justice and finally hold him accountable.

We know how that ended up. 

Mueller came and went with Trump barely getting scratched.

And the complicit Republican Senate yesterday violated its oath to uphold the Constitution and be impartial jurors, while completely decimating its oversight role by conducting the first impeachment trial ever to be held without one single document or witness. That’s not a fair trial. It’s a cover-up.

Donald Trump now has free reign to be as dishonest, corrupt and treasonous as he wants. To trade America’s national security for his personal, financial and/or political gain.

To abuse the power of the presidency with impunity. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell just assured that.

So the big question is, what do we do now?

We vote, that’s what we do. And not in the typical 60% range. We need record turnout. We need to make history. We need a landslide.

We need to rally around whoever the Democratic nominee will be. Old people, young people, whites, blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ, men, women, moderates, progressives…everyone needs to unite after the primaries and support the eventual nominee.

We need to donate money. Make phone calls. Canvas. Volunteer in voter registration drives. All of it, or any of it. Each of us needs to do something. 

No more “If my candidate doesn’t win I’m staying home” crap. 

No more “Why bother, my vote doesn’t count” insanity. 

We must unite. We must rally. We must support. We must vote.

And vote like your life depends on it. 

Because, with this dangerous, undisciplined, impulsive, amoral, vision-less policy-bankrupt ego-driven madman in the Oval Office, it does. 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Trump’s Consciousness of Guilt Will Haunt Him Forever

Donald Trump cares about one thing: image. His.

He obsesses over size, stature, popularity, accomplishment, wealth, power and success. Racked by crippling insecurities and self-loathing, he sees himself as small, insignificant, ignorant, incompetent and illegitimate…yet spends every waking minute of every day trying to convince us he’s the biggest, the best, the smartest, the richest and most successful human on the planet.

One thing Trump doesn’t have is a poker face. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He lets us see him sweat. He’s as transparent as a Glad bag. We can literally see right through him.

Which is why Trump will never be at peace. Why no amount of ‘exoneration’ will ever satisfy him. He knows what he’s done. He knows we know what he’s done. He knows Republican Congressman and Senators know what he’s done. He will never accept ‘exoneration’ because he knows no one actually believes he’s innocent. And that just kills him.

Take the Mueller probe, which ended almost a year ago. Trump declared his innocence. Proclaimed the investigation “totally exonerated” him. Yet he’s spent almost every day since attacking it as a witch hunt. A hoax. A coup. He can’t let go. He’ll never let go. Because he knows he’s guilty and got away with it. Because he knows he’ll forever be an asterisk in history. Because his illegitimacy consumes him.

And now there’s the Senate impeachment trial, where later tonight he’ll likely be acquitted in the biggest cover-up in political history. But it won’t matter. Because, again, he’s tortured by his own guilt.

Last night Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), the heretofore presumed critical “4th” Republican “yes” vote, issued a statement that he’ll vote “no” today on allowing further evidence and witnesses. But he also said Democrats successfully “proved” their case with a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ He said Trump’s behavior was “inappropriate.”

So Alexander’s position is this: Trump illegally withheld Congressionally-approved Ukraine military funding in a quid pro quo for dirt on political rival Joe Biden to influence our election— serving to harm an ally while empowering an enemy, Russia, and threatening our own national security…but that this egregious abuse of power is not “impeachable.”

In short, Trump did it. He fucking did it.

And that is what Trump will obsess over. Because he knows Alexander, and Democrats, are right.

Because he knows the cavernous depths of his corruption and treason.

Because for the first time in history there’s now a Senate impeachment trial with not one single document of evidence or one single witness.

Because he knows he’s been ‘covered-up’ not exonerated.

Because he’s been impeached, and that’s forever.

So no matter what happened in the Mueller investigation…no matter what happens in the Senate impeachment trial…he’ll never truly be exonerated.

Because only one person can truly exonerate Donald Trump. And that’s Donald Trump.

To be sure, a month from now, a year from now, five years from now and so on, we’ll continue to see the tweets, the rallies, the manic, rambling Fox & Friends and Hannity interviews to desperately spin his innocence and legitimacy.

We’ll continue to see Trump ravaged by guilt like maggots on roadkill.

A witch hunt. A hoax. A coup.

He will never stop.

He’ll be the angriest, most bitter, least-satisfied exonerated man ever.

A prisoner of his own guilt. And it’s a life sentence.

Justice.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

An Open Letter to Donald Trump: What Are You Hiding?

Ever since you stepped into the Oval Office you’ve waged a relentless, ruthless, unprecedented campaign of distraction, deflection, dishonesty and obstruction. You’ve lied, discredited, spun bizarre conspiracies and refused to cooperate with any investigation and hearing concerning your alleged High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

You constantly claim ‘I’m innocent…it’s all a hoax and a witch hunt!”Which begs the question, if you’re so innocent why are you desperately trying since the Mueller investigation and then the House impeachment hearings to keep all direct evidence secret and critical first-hand witnesses from testifying? Let me help you: it’s because you’re guilty as hell.

One thing’s certain, Donnie: you’re an egomaniac. A narcissist. A shameless braggart. Obsessed with image, brand and how the world perceives you. So if you actually had any of the evidence you always claim to have…if you knew a fair trial would in fact exonerate you…if you knew you could scream to the world “SEE!? I TOLD YOU THESE LOSERS HAD NOTHING ON ME!” you would seize the opportunity to do so.

But you don’t.

Instead, you’re fighting like a cornered animal, terrified that the truth will eventually come out.
Because you’re guilty as hell.

The latest example of this obstruction: your former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was on the now-infamous Ukraine call and cited Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s military-aid-for-dirt-on-Biden bribe as a “drug deal’, has stated he’ll testify if subpoenaed for the upcoming Senate trial. But you’re now saying you won’t allow it.

Because you’re guilty as hell.

In your State TV-run propaganda sit-down Friday night with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham you said you’ll invoke ‘executive privilege’:

“Well I think you have to for the sake of the office.”

Actually, you don’t. If you really gave a shit about “the office” you’d respect it. You’d respect the Constitution and the rule of law. Two things, as the occupant of that office, you took an oath to uphold and defend.

And just for shits and giggles, do you even understand what ‘executive privilege’ is? It’s not some all-you-can-eat obstruction-buffet where you get to withhold every single syllable of conversation ever uttered between you and anyone who’s ever come even remotely close to the Oval Office. It’s not something you can hide behind to conceal every single document that’s ever run through you and/or anyone in your administration.

But here you are, continuing to simultaneously claim innocence as you do everything humanly possible to undermine the very process that could exonerate you.

Because you’re guilty as hell.

You even told Ingraham you actually want not only Bolton to testify, but others as well:

“I would love everybody to testify. I would like Mick (Mulvaney) to testify, I like Mike Pompeo to testify. I like Rick Perry to testify. I want everybody. But there are things that you can’t do from the standpoint of executive privilege.”

Then let them.

And while you’re at it, please explain the logic to us in declaring Bolton and the others couldn’t possibly have anything incriminating to say about you because it was such a “perfect” call yet claim ‘executive privilege’ to stop them from…what…saying it was “perfect?” We won’t hold our breath...

To be sure, your ‘shoot-’em-on-5th-Avenue’ cultists will continue to lap up your poor little ‘woe is me’ victim campaign. But everyone else sees right through you like a sheet of Saran Wrap.

Because you’re guilty as hell…

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Why Pelosi’s Won Not Just the Articles of Impeachment Battle, But the Election Too

When it comes to Donald Trump’s impeachment trial there’s the Court of Kangaroo and the Court of Public Opinion. Guess which one has tens of millions of voters?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s been standing firm in her strategy since mid-December of not sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to a fair trial with key direct evidence and witnesses. It’s been a bitter standoff, but Pelosi and Democrats are the clear winners.

To be sure, there’s only one party desperately trying to get to the truth, and another that’s desperately trying to hide it. And let’s face it, no one works so hard to obstruct…so hard to conceal…so hard to manufacture conspiracies to distract from the truth…if they’re innocent.

Consider what McConnell declared in December:

“I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this…”

“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision.”

Think about that. The individual who’s Constitutionally mandated with conducting a fair trial has publicly stated it’s going to be a partisan circus, held in cahoots with the accused, absent the facts and with a predetermined verdict. This is justice? This satisfies the oath McConnell took?

The public is smart. It sees what’s happening. It understands that the Republican Party cares about one thing and one thing only: shamelessly protecting the most corrupt, treasonous president in American history even at the expense of our national security.

The public is perceptive. It sees McConnell and Republicans willfully covering their eyes and ears when direct witnesses like former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was on the infamous Ukraine call and was witness to what he called the quid pro quo ‘drug dealing’ by Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, have stated they’re willing to testify if subpoenaed.

The public sees the deception. It sees how Republicans are disingenuously claiming that ‘Democrats failed to call witnesses’ in the House impeachment hearings and therefore shouldn’t be able to call them in the Senate trial.

The public wants the truth. And we can only obtain the truth through direct evidence and witnesses.
The longer Pelosi demands the truth, and the longer McConnell is forced to publicly defend his refusal to allow it, the bigger the win for Democrats. Because no one runs from the truth unless they’re guilty.

So while McConnell might be victorious in his weak feckless cowardly servility to Trump, he is a loser in the eyes of the American public. You know…those people who vote.

And if we truly believe that elections are decided not by those on the far right or far left, but by the ‘20% in the middle’ — the moderates and independents — then McConnell’s lost way more than just this impeachment battle with Pelosi. He’s cost his party the election.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

As WAITRESS Musical Ends Its Run, It’s Like Saying Goodbye to Adrienne…Again

Tomorrow night’s performance will be the last for WAITRESS after an incredible four-year run on Broadway. As with most things about my late wife Adrienne Shelly these past thirteen years, this is an incredibly bittersweet moment. 

While it will be sad to see the show’s curtain rising for the last time, it is also cause for celebration of Adrienne, her work and her legacy. A legacy that this talented, determined, dedicated company helped expand with this beloved musical adaptation of her sweet story.

Adrienne was brutally murdered November 1, 2006 in what her killer staged as a suicide. She died a struggling filmmaker, anxiously awaiting word from the Sundance Film Festival whether WAITRESS, the little indie film she wrote, directed and starred in, would be accepted. 

It was. News of that coveted entry came the same morning as the eventual arrest of her murderer. Talk about bittersweet.

The film not only ‘got in’ the January 2007 festival, it debuted Saturday night before 1300 at the Eccles Theater and was sold hours later for almost $4-million to Fox Searchlight. Four months later it premiered in theaters nationwide and was the 4th highest-grossing film in the country over Memorial Day weekend.

Adrienne never lived to see even the smallest shred of its success.

Stage rights to the film were purchased in 2007, and the journey to Broadway began. It opened in April 2016 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. 

I was a bit skeptical and, quite frankly, concerned when I first learned that WAITRESS was being adapted into a Broadway musical. It was more than a film to me. More than a story. It was Adrienne; who she was, what she represented and what I had been charged with protecting. Her legacy, and preserving the integrity of her work, was all I cared about. 

But I eventually heard the music composed by Sara Bareilles and was blown away by how she so masterfully captured the heart and tone of what Adrienne wrote. And then I learned that Jessie Mueller would play Jenna, the lead character. I’d seen her the night before in BEAUTIFUL and was awed by her performance. 

That was the moment I shed my concerns and knew the production would be a truly successful, organic extension of Adrienne’s work. A production I also believed Adrienne herself would’ve loved.
Over the last four years the city has been blitzed with promotion for the show. There are actors dressed as waitresses handing out fliers in Times Square. There are giant billboards and ads on garbage cans, buses and taxis. Times Square looks and feels like ‘Waitress headquarters.’

One night in the East Village my daughter Sophie and I stepped into the street, raised our arms and hailed a cab. When it pulled to the curb we marveled that on its roof was a big WAITRESS ad. It was as if Adrienne was following us. Always with us. 

And she was. The show brought her back. For four years she was with us again. Perhaps not in life, but surely in spirit. And it was great for Sophie to witness this cultural explosion of Adrienne’s legacy project and the awesomeness of the mother she so tragically and heartbreakingly lost when she was just two.

And now the show is leaving us. She’s leaving us. Again.  

And so the grieving continues. It never ends. 

But we will surely savor the success of the show and what it’s done for Adrienne’s legacy and the impact it’s had on our family. 

Sugar, butter, flour