The Current Russian Threat Could Make Watergate Look Like A Cakewalk

FBI Director James Comey has announced that the Bureau has an ongoing counterintelligence investigation underway to determine whether there was collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian Government in the run-up to the election. This is stunning.   It implies that the FBI was provided with cause to believe that an investigation might yield results.   From there, it isn’t a giant leap to thinking that this same investigation might include not only past members of Donald Trump’s campaign staff who are now long gone, like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, but possibly current members of Trump’s inner-circle and maybe even Trump, himself.

If they follow the investigation wherever it leads, then might it not lead into the oval office?  Is it a stretch to think that a sitting president and his current inner-circle might be under suspicion for espionage with the Russian Government?  If so, isn’t that the headline and shouldn’t a special prosecutor be appointed immediately?

It isn’t as though Donald Trump has no history with the Russians.  In 2004, DJT bought a piece of property in Florida for $41 million.   Four years later he sold that same property to Russian oligarch,  Dmitry  Rybolovlev for $95 million.  Not a bad profit.  It was, at the time, called “the most expensive U.S. residential property sale ever.”  Maybe Trump just got lucky and cut a really good deal?

In 2008, according to USA Today, Donald Trump Jr. stated, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,……We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Also interesting, is reporting about former Trump campaign official Carter Page, and a three-day trip he took to Russia in July of 2016 and the now famous dossier provided to U.S. intelligence officials by former MI6 officer, Christopher Steele.  One such claim, reported out by the Business Insider states,  “A dossier with unverified claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia contained allegations that Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state oil company (Rosneft), offered former Trump ally Carter Page and his associates the brokerage of a 19% stake in the company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia. The dossier says the offer was made in July, when Page was in Moscow.”

Despite an obvious and long history of having contact with the Russians, Donald Trump has repeatedly denied having any contact at all.   “I have nothing to do with Russia”, he said at a White House press conference, adding, “To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.”

That’s a lie.  Trump’s ties to Russia go back at least 30 years.   The fact that it’s a lie is corroborated by Donald Trump Jr’s statement in 2008 about all the “money pouring in” from Russia.

If there’s even a possibility that the Russians are colluding with those at the highest levels of our government then is it wise to wait an indefinite period of time for the FBI to finish its investigation?   Why has Donald Trump continued his refusal to produce his tax records?   What is he hiding and why hasn’t either the Senate or the House sent him a subpoena for those very same records?  Shouldn’t a special prosecutor be appointed now?

In a country that’s afraid of calling out liars for what they are, a country that will use the terms “misleading, misinformed, less than factual or falsehood, almost anything imaginable before saying someone, especially a president is a liar, are we also backing away from the terrible realization that a growing body of information indicates  that a sitting president is (or was) colluding with an adversarial government?

Mr. Trump has insulted our long time allies in Britain and Germany and now, most recently, it has been announced that Secretary of State and former Exxonmobile CEO, Rex Tillerson, will snub a meeting of NATO and instead pay a visit to Russia.    While still with Exxonmobile, Tillerson cut a $500 billion deal with the Russians which, according to the New York Times,  has been “ground to a halt” by U.S. sanctions.   Rather than Tillerson attending the NATO summit, which would follow protocol, Donald Trump will be going to the meeting, presumably so that Tillerson is free to meet with the Russians, even though Trump has humiliated NATO, calling the organization “….obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago.”   Later, during a meeting with Angela Merkel, he flip-flopped and expressed support for the NATO Treaty, a mutual defense pact between 28 member nations in North America and Europe.  It has been in place since 1949.   It is widely accepted that the Russians would love to see NATO go away.

It’s also possible, considering how politically ham-handed these people sometimes are, that the Administration decided to totally snub NATO, and simply forget about the summit.    Later, once feedback began coming in and they realized the enormity of their mistake, they probably decided that Trump himself would attend the meeting leaving Tillerson free to meet with the Russians.

With the Trump Administration, it always seems to come back to what’s best for the Russians.

This is embarrassing.  Ivanka Trump moving into the west wing and being given a top security clearance only makes matters worse.  Our new royal family with King Donald and Princess Ivanka in charge, neither putting their vast business interests in blind trusts,  neither with any substantive political or diplomatic experience.

Instead of continuing to give Donald Trump break after break while he destroys our national credibility, turning the country into an international embarrassment,  it may be time to revert to that old catch-phrase from the 60’s and demand that everybody once again, needs to start “telling it like it is,” so that we the people can stop living each day with the terrible feeling that our country is under threat from executives at the highest levels of government who may have been co-opted by the Russians and could be guilty of collusion.

Even if there is no collusion, when does conflict of interest cross over into unacceptable or even criminal activity?  Is there a line and has it been crossed?  What are the limits for any given president using the highest office in the land for personal profit?   Doesn’t the emoluments clause come into play?

Our representatives in the House and Senate need to ask themselves whether it is sane for Donald J. Trump to continue on as president until a thorough investigation of his connections to the Russians has been concluded, and then take appropriate action to ensure our security.    They need to set party differences aside.  They need to put the country first and do their jobs so that the rest of us will once again be able to sleep at night.

(updated 3-22-17)

Congressman Tom McClintok Calls Trump A Liar

Hard line right-winger from California, Congressman Tom McClintock.  just called Donald Trump a liar.   He did it on the Chris Hayes show on MSNBC and Hayes totally missed it as did DNC Nat’l Chairmam Tom Perez, who was the next guest on the show.

I could be getting this totally wrong.  I’m not DJT, who never makes mistakes, but what happened, as I recall, is that Congressman McClintock was in a heated argument with Chris Hayes regarding what Donald Trump had said about Mexico paying for a wall along the border and McClintock said, “I never believed it.”   So he admits that he believes  Donald Trump to be a liar, because the Donald repeatedly said during his campaign that he would make Mexico pay for the wall.  And McClintock says he never believed what Trump was saying.  Repeatedly.  No question about it.

Thank you Mr. McClintock.   A great many of us agree with your conclusion that Donald Trump is a liar.

If I’m getting this right, I beg you to cut Chris Hayes some slack, as these Republican worms are telling lies with such ease and frequency that it’s easy to let one slip by.  But when members of Trump’s own party admit they were listening to his ongoing lies and that it’s apparently okay,  that’s pretty damn scary.

 

Will The Democrats Ever Grow A Backbone?

It’s being announced that there is no evidence that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.  Really?  How much of this crap are we supposed to take?   How many lies, first from candidate and now President Trump?   Where is the Democrat’s outrage at his outrageous behavior?  Where are the leaders in the center and on the left?  When are they going to grow a collective backbone?

I have sent messages via email to both my U.S. Senators and my congressman.    Please be encouraged to do the same.   My message to my senators is posted below.   Feel free to copy it for your own use, if you wish.

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Dear Senator,
I am writing to express my disappointment in the weak-kneed way the Democrats are responding to the ongoing outrageous behavior (lies) of President Trump. Just today the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee held a press conference to announce that there is no evidence that Mr. Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Really? It was just another Trump lie of course, and you guys should be shouting your heads off that his pattern of lies and deceit must stop now. You should also demand as loudly as possible, that Trump apologize to Mr. Obama and the American people for lying about the alleged wiretap, which, of course, never took place – just like all his other lies beginning with the campaign and then continuing into his Administration, which we still must worry could be aligned with Putin and the other Russian oligarchs. Come on! Trump could be in bed with the Russians??? He is nothing but a bully boy and you have got to start fighting back! If Pelosi and Schumer won’t do it then cut Bernie and Liz Warren loose and let them take the lead. They at least know how to fight back. The future of our nation is at stake, for God’s sake.

Thank you,
Ron Olsen
Bel Air

It Isn’t Easy Being A Chimp

While channel surfing the other day I landed on “Planet of the Apes,” that old movie with Charlton Heston, where humankind has finally blown it, resulting in all-out nuclear war, the destruction of humans and the rise of a world ruled by apes.   A world ruled by gorillas and chimps, and that’s what struck me while watching a bit of this film from 1968.

It was the competition between the big heavily-muscled militant gorillas and the smaller but intellectually superior chimps that stood out.

It feels similar to what we are currently going through, with the militant, science hating, healthcare denying, greed loving Republicans standing in opposition to the less aggressive, science loving and healthcare providing…..others.  Mostly Democrats, I guess, but there are others in the non-Republican political mix as well.  That said, I’m sure you get the idea.  The thinkers vs. the non-thinking bemuscled warmongers.   The gorillas vs. the chimps.   That’s not to say everybody with big muscles is stupid.   Some of the smartest people around are body builders, including a professor I had in college, who taught Humanities and rode a Harley.

The whole “apes” thing lines up pretty well with our national love for football, cage fighting, professional wrestling, ice hockey and gut-wrenching violent movies and tv.   Along with the explosion of giant trucks and SUV’s on our highways and big ugly boots and shoes.

Amateur observers and social scientists alike should be interested in the correlation between the Los Angeles riots in 1992 and the relatively sudden appearance of so many big expensive trucks and  SUV’s on our highways.  In Los Angeles, the change, at least for me, was stunning.  Before the riots, expensive sports cars and imports were all over the freeways of SoCal.   After the riots, many of the big Beemers, Mercedes, Rolls, Bentleys, Ferraris, Masaritis,  Jags and the occasional Lamborghini disappeared, and were eventually replaced by Ford Explorers, Expeditions, Chevy Suburbans, Land Rovers and Cadillac Escalades.    It’s said that trends start in the west and move east.   This one definitely did and I can’t believe no one else noticed.  Or maybe California residents were in denial about the change because it reminded them of the helplessness they felt for those few days when whole sections of the nation’s second most populous city were lawless and on fire.

So it was, in this city where “you are what you drive,” people became wary of driving anything that let others know what they had. And two years after the riots, in June of 94, O.J. Simpson left his Bentley in the garage and made his get-away in a white Ford Bronco.

In so many ways, the trials of O.J. Simpson and the Los Angeles riots, changed the country.

People enjoy feeling safe and empowered so they opt for a huge truck with a seven year loan and wear huge boots because they want to look like ass-kickers but there are other reasons for buying an “urban assault vehicle” as well.   Those who don’t care about the vehicular empowerment thing still feel a need to drive a giant vehicle because they’re afraid an ape in a giant vehicle might run them down, squashing their whole family like a bunch of bugs.  So it spirals out of control, leaving us with a nation of gas guzzlers that don’t fit into old fashioned parking spaces or onto highways that were never intended for all the traffic they currently carry while good looking but frail young women, cover themselves with tattoos and piercings while stomping around in giant steel-toed work boots.

Big, ugly and prone to violence is currently more popular than smaller, fashionably designed and peace loving.   Think of a big ugly SUV sitting next to a sleek, stylish sports car.   Think of slapping a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.   Think of apes being in charge while the chimps stand by feeling like they have been taken captive on a runaway train with a drunken ape at the controls.

At what point did war become not just acceptable but fashionable while peace became unthinkable?   When was the last time you heard a politician, any politician, say, “why can’t we give peace a chance?”   Probably back in the 60’s, about the same time “Planet of the Apes” was released.    Well before the twin towers came down and so much of our national courage was displaced by fear.

With all the money being made on big vehicles and warfare, the apes backed by a huge profit motive are clearly now in charge, east coast intellectuals and west coast liberal freaks be damned.   That profit motive may have been at the tip of the spear that struck a serious but non-fatal blow to intellectualism, as our culture began its celebration of ignorance while the mass media aimed low, determined to hit the lowest common denominator resulting in the highest possible profit margin (the two go hand in glove), giving us a ton of really terrible television and juvenile movies laden with special effects while popularizing the campaign of Donald J. Trump, and eventually getting him elected.  Trump drove the ratings, so they put Trump on television.   A lot.

So the apes are now running things in Washington, trying to take away healthcare for millions while they “deconstruct” our government, which was once the envy of the world.   And what about the “chimps?”   Well, they are pushing back, to the degree that they can while they wait for the next election cycle in 2018, hoping for the best.

While visited by the analogy of the apes, I thought also about the Freemasons and religion in general.   I’m not a Mason, but from what I know about their organization, I admire and respect their principles.   Both my grandfathers were Masons, as were the grandfathers of many of my friends while growing up in rural Minnesota.    Most of us, however, never joined.  I’m not sure why,  I suppose we simply never felt compelled, even though their ideals of honesty, a “square deal,” and living an ethically upright life were embedded in many of our adolescent brains.   Which had to be good. But with the passage of time the number of Masons has dropped off,  which surely means their influence on society has declined as well.  Religion, is also waning, to the point that Pope Francis is thinking about letting married men become priests.   I’m not saying church is for everybody, but it does provide a moral compass, and some, like the apes, really, really need the guidance, no matter what the atheists and agnostics might say.   And that’s where things become just a bit confusing.

A Gallup Poll, indicates that with the exception of Utah and its high number of Mormons, the states where Americans still attend church in significant numbers are in the south (former slave states), or red states, while the states where people have stopped attending church are in the northeast, or the blue states.

So the correlation between going to church and expressing a need to be your brother’s keeper, doesn’t seem to be there, does it?   Or perhaps a great many Christians are going to church for the forgiveness and not the responsibility of upholding the teachings?

Donald J. Trump, says he is Christian.   He says he is Presbyterian, while he supports legislation that would strip away healthcare from millions of Americans.   Maybe he missed the New Testament?

Anyway, the data tells us that heavily Christian church-goers, fewer of whom are college educated in the red and former slave states voted for Donald Trump, while the folks who aren’t so big on going to church are mostly packed into the blue states of New England where more residents are college educated and in opposition to trump.

You can and will draw your own conclusions but I’ll leave you with this:  It isn’t easy being a chimp, especially when life not only imitates art, but threatens us with duplication.

Trump Must Go And Republicans Must Take The Lead

It’s all very clear now.    After his Attorney General lied to a congressional committee followed by a fabricated felony leveled against a former president, neither the Donald nor any member of his cabinet has any credibility left, undermining the presidency, the nation and the Republican Party, which, if you’d forgotten, is currently the party in charge.

This is bigger than Obamacare or immigration.   Bigger than the travel ban or who can use which bathroom.  This is baseline national survival stuff.   This president is making things up as he goes along, like facts and even words, and he does it “bigly.”

Our house is on fire people, and we have got to stop being diverted by arguments over whether it’s serious enough to call out the fire department.

As quickly as possible, the Republicans, because they are in charge and unless they want to lose the House in 18 and maybe their party forever, have got to appoint a special prosecutor, who can then subpoena Trump’s tax records.   Trump, with only a fuzzy memory of Watergate, will then declare his taxes to be off-limits by virtue of executive privilege.   From there it will get kicked into the federal court system where the Supremes will eventually deadlock four to four, kicking it back to the lower court and Trump will resign rather than turn over his records showing God knows what.   Whatever it is, he obviously doesn’t want us to see it or he would have turned them over months ago.

Donald J. Trump, will then leave the White House, or maybe have to be sedated and carried out in a straight-jacket, with loud protestations from the Russians, right-wing talk radio, White Nationalist websites and scattered elements in the deep south.

And that will be that.   No more Trump.   No more feeling like we’re all trapped on a runaway train with Vladimir Putin at the controls.  We will be able to sleep peacefully again.

Come on, Republicans.   It won’t be easy, admitting your party did this to the country, but it will be better than doing nothing and maybe losing your party and possibly the nation (and your souls) in the process.   If you do the right thing and have Trump removed by legal means, you will at least be able to say you acted like statesmen and women of the party of Lincoln instead of a bunch of political hacks, which, by any sane thought process, has to be the better alternative.

This President, has signaled out a black reporter at a press conference demanding that she should set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.  This is nuts.   Reporters don’t arrange meetings for the President of the United States.  He has staff people that do that.   I guess Trump assumed that because the reporter was black that she must run around setting up meetings for other blacks because they are all black?  This President has also demanded that Congress must investigate whether former President Obama ordered the wiretapping of his phones in Trump Tower.  This is also crazy.   Totally nuts.   All he has to do is pick up the phone and call the intelligence agencies and ask if they have any evidence that it happened.   He’s the Commander in Chief.  Maybe he doesn’t know?  Or maybe he’s suffering from some pathology?  Maybe he thinks he needs a black reporter to do it for him?

Even now,  Donald Trump appears to be morphing into some kind of bizarre Nixonesque persona,  living within a private reality he molds to suit his moment to moment needs while spotting enemies around every corner and lashing out with tweets.   Like Nixon,  Trump may turn out to be his own worst enemy.

Please get moving now.  There is a bad craziness loose in the land and tomorrow it could be too late.   Thank you.

What Makes Trump Run?

I never imagined I would be more comfortable with Arnold in the White House, but at this point, I would.   I know it can’t happen, but for the majority, what Mr. Schwarzenegger suggested during his verbal battle with Donald Trump about switching places – that Americans would again be able to “sleep peacefully” with Schwarzenegger in the White House – is, I think,  absolutely true.

Consider the government by tweet of Donald J. Trump.   He sees crowds of people who are not there. At the National Prayer Breakfast, he asks attendees to pray for the ratings of a tv show to go up. He calls upon Russia to hack the campaign of a political opponent. He suggests the United States, with its democratic tradition, is no better than the Russian dictatorship of Vladimir Putin. Both before and after the campaign so many of his advisers and associates met with or spoke to the Russians, that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of who they are without a daily scorecard.     Attacking helpless immigrants, he breaks up families while using racism and sexism to divide an already divided country.

For no good reason, other than he has something nefarious to hide, he continues to refuse to release his tax records.  The loss of a Navy Seal he says, during an operation which probably should not have taken place, but which he approved, was not his responsibility.  No, he says, Obama and the military are to blame even though he is now Commander in Chief.  And finally, presenting no evidence at all (and that evidence is surely available to him if it in fact exists) he claims his home was wiretapped by former president Obama.

How much more do you need?

European nations are talking about reinstating a visa system for American citizens, needlessly making travel more difficult for us.  Worried about Trump and the Russians, Sweden, is reinstating its military draft.  Mr. Trump appears determined to do all that he can to separate us from our friends and allies while moving us closer to the devious dictatorship of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Donald J. Trump is screwing up the world, and he’s just getting started.   The fact that our electoral process backed by a ratings-hungry broadcast media allowed and even assisted this man in coming to power, and that our government now hesitates to open a full and independent investigation into Russian meddling in the election and their possible ongoing influence,  is both frightening and embarrassing.

Experts in the fields of psychiatry and psychology have expressed their concern for his personal well being and yet, many on the right continue to put party ahead of country, refusing to admit the obvious –  that when dozens of healthcare professionals, some, nationally prominent,  are willing to set the “Goldwater Rule” aside and expressing their concerns for Mr. Trump’s possible personality issues, then we need to pay attention.

It is no longer enough to follow common thinking on why Donald Trump does what he does, that it is done to simply deflect attention. There is also the possibility that sometimes this newly inaugurated president simply cannot control himself, that he responds rapidly in the heat of the moment, with a driving and possibly blind need for revenge, potentially putting us all at risk.

Trump’s Ties To Russia – Time To Stop Playing Silly Games And Get Some Answers

The amount of overt linkage between the Trump campaign (Administration) and the Russians continues to grow, and yet,  much of the media appears to be in denial about just how threatening this situation truly is.

The Guardian, has published an excellent piece connecting the dots on at least six individuals from inside the Trump camp, with contacts pointing back to the Kremlin.    The most recent, is the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador, while Sessions was a sitting Senator and “surrogate” for the Trump campaign.   Then there was Paul Manafort, who appeared from out of nowhere to take over the Trump campaign, only to be summarily dismissed when news surfaced of his ties to a Russian-backed government in Ukraine, where Mr. Putin went to war, sending troops into Crimea, seizing it militarily and presenting a whole new military threat to the Balkans and the European Union.

There is also former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, Foreign Policy Adviser, Carter Page and attorney, Michael Cohen, not to mention our new Secretary of State and former CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, whose ties to Putin and Russian oil are now infamous.    A man with no experience in government diplomacy who is now, nevertheless, the chief diplomat for the most powerful nation on earth.

And then there’s Roger Stone.   A former Trump adviser who was also investigated by the FBI for alleged contact with Russia, and who, like Paul Manafort, was fired from the campaign.  Stone,  denies having any contact with the Russians.

If all of that isn’t enough,  a bit of brilliant reportage by Rachel Maddow the other night (please see preceding post) tied in Trump’s new Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to the Bank of Cypress, where he is partners with Russian oligarch and former KGB agent and Putin ally,  Viktor Vekselberg.    Question:   To what degree is the Commerce Secretary of the United States benefiting from Russian money moving through his bank?   Where is the money coming from?Where is it going?  Does anyone even care?   Is our government now being run by the Russians?

Why, whenever he’s asked about Putin and the Russians, does our president act like they are beyond reproach, even going so far as to insist that America, with its democratic tradition, is no better than this current Russian oligarchy/dictatorship?

When questioned by Bill O’Reilly about the bloodthirsty ways with which Putin deals with his critics, Trump,  replied, “There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?” 

That is ridiculous to the point of being asinine and  thoroughly un-American.  We do not deal with journalists or political critics by having them murdered or sent to a gulag.   We aren’t the country that had six diplomats die in four months.   That would be the Russians.

When listening to his repeated excuses and inexplicable ongoing defense of Putin and the Russians, it feels as though either A: Trump is being blackmailed, or he is B: being blackmailed.   Putin and his buddies are former KGB, not a bunch of diplomacy-first advocates for international peace and goodwill, and their operatives have an ongoing and abnormal connection to the administration of Donald J. Trump.

The White House is calling efforts to look into the Trump/Russia connection, “a witch hunt.”    Guess what the Russians are saying it is?  That very same thing, “a witch hunt.”    Almost like it was an agreed to talking point?    What the hell’s going on here?

There should be calls for impeachment.  Instead, Republican cowards continue making excuses for a growing pile of evidence showing a clear danger to the country from one of our oldest enemies, a Russian government that has already launched a cyber attack on our political process while possibly corrupting and to a degree,  maybe even controlling a sitting president.   How can we know,  when Mr. Trump continues his refusal to release his tax records?

It’s time to pull our heads from the sand and demand that our elected officials answer the critical question on the degree to which the Russians have influenced and possibly continue to influence the President of the United States.    It’s not like the evidence isn’t there.

The time for denial is long past.  Barring the political will for impeachment, this calls for a complete and totally independent investigation, far removed from the reach of politics, as so many of our politicians have shown themselves to be without sufficient honor to do the jobs they were elected to do.

The Russian bear is standing in the middle of the room laughing at us, threatening the existence of our democratic way of life.   Foreign powers, like the Russians, now have the ability to funnel untold millions of dollars into our political campaigns thanks to an incredibly bad ruling (Citizens United) by the U.S. Supreme Court. We the people must demand a resolution.   This is not acceptable.

 

Fear, Freedom and Redemption

Friends are expressing their sincere fear for the future of our country. Fear that the freedoms so many have died for and which we have come to take for granted will not be there for their grandchildren.

I too fear for our future as democracy continues losing ground to oligarchy and yet:

I never imagined we’d see an end to the cold war in our lifetimes. Never would have believed there’d be that photo of Reagan, Bush and Gorbachev standing in front of the Statue of Liberty. But it happened.

And now, with questions of Russian inroads and influence holding sway over the White House, and each day bringing new revelations about just how insidious that influence may truly be, I remain far from giving up on our system.

It appears the pushback against 45 is just beginning as we gain a greater understanding of how real the threat to the Republic truly is and that decades of putting party ahead of country must now be unwound and corrected.

A key for me is how Republican stalwart Darrell Issa, suddenly turned from backing all things Republican and is now instead calling for a special prosecutor to investigate 45 and Russian influence. I’m pretty sure he didn’t suddenly reverse his position without assurances that he is not alone.

Survival will always be a prime motivator for politics just as a free press will always be essential to our continued survival as a free people.

So long as we have a free and independent press, there is hope. It is our way out of the morass, a pathway back onto the higher ground that was and continues to be, America.

###

Add:   One day later and now CBS reports that Darrell Issa, is “backtracking” on his call for a special prosecutor.  What a shame.  For a minute there I had mistaken him for a patriot.  Turns out he’s just one more political hack, after all.

Think It Can’t Happen Here? It Already Is.

Remember those old black and white movies from the 40’s and 50’s showing Nazi agents moving through trains in wartime Europe, demanding that passengers “show us your papers?”   I could never imagine anything so terribly authoritarian, so horribly fascist, happening here in the U.S., but now it is.   Border Patrol agents targeted travelers arriving on a flight from San Francisco to JFK Airport in New York, doing exactly the same thing.   “Show us your papers!”

Let’s do that again, just in case you missed something.   Border Patrol agents were demanding to see people’s identification as they got off a domestic, I repeat, a domestic flight.

Seriously?   In America?

At the same time, the man who many suspect is now running the country, white nationalist and Breitbarter, Steve Bannon, tipped his fascist hand at the CPAC meeting in Maryland when he opined that one of the Administration’s “big picture” areas is “continued deconstruction of the administrative state.”   

So Mr. Bannon, is arguing for the “deconstruction” (destruction) of the American Government and its agencies?    Really?    He is arguing for an all out assault on the United States Government?  Can he even do that without being arrested?

He also referred to the press as “the opposition party.”   The Administration took that stand a step further today, when they barred the New York Times, CNN, Buzzfeed,  the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, the BBC and Politico, from attending a press briefing, while Donald Trump argued for some kind of regulation (that would be a law), which would be clearly illegal under the First Amendment, barring the press from using unnamed sources.

What next?  Der Trumpenfuhrer’s subjects raising their hands and shouting “zeig heil?”   It’s going that way you know.   Millions of uninformed Americans still seem to think Donald Trump is a great guy.   Apparently, they’ll believe anything he says.  Anything.   Beyond that, Trump is trying to hedge his bets, just in case a few true believers fall through the cracks.

They started by shutting down (shutting out) the press, except for those one-sided outlets that print the one side that the Trump/Bannon gang favors.   Then they recommend a law that would make it illegal for reporters to quote unnamed sources.  Then they send out agents to walk the aisles of jetliners demanding to see our “papers.”

This is not American.   This is insane.   This has got to stop.

The White House Press Association must be allowed to decide which members of the press corps attend official press briefings,  and those Republicans in Congress who still wish to be considered responsible (honorable) Americans need to support impeachment proceedings, beginning immediately

Don’t think that what happened in Europe in the 30’s can’t happen here, because it already is.

What these guys are doing is so outrageous, so beyond belief, that millions are in denial.   People simply cannot believe what’s really happening, some possibly thinking that eventually the Trump/Bannon gang will turn a corner, becoming more reasonable.   Except that they won’t.   Power corrupts, and these guys are hungry for it.  The more they take, the more they’ll want, until the Constitution has been shredded and liberty becomes nothing more than a fading memory of something we once had, like a good public education, decent, affordable healthcare,  due process and government of, for and by the people.

And we have yet to see this bully’s tax returns or to know the whole story regarding his true relationship to Putin and the Russian oligarchs, while the jackbooted click of Nazi agents moving through the trains in those old movies continues to echo through the years. The fear of facing reality is apparently shutting down much of the opposition, because this just can’t be happening.   Not here in America.  It just can’t.

 

And Now It’s The Swedes?

And now it’s the Swedes?   Those amazing Swedes, putting down a terrorist attack so quickly and quietly, you’d imagine that it never took place.   Which it didn’t.  Except in the mind of Donald Trump, apparently based upon a report he heard on FOX news and then exaggerated for his own purposes while addressing a crowd of rabid supporters who think he’s doing all he can to fulfill his campaign promises to a suffering middle class because to them, fake news is real news and real news is fake.   A condition only made worse by an authoritarian president who declares the media to be “the enemy of the American people.”

Oh my.  Can we talk?

The net migration of human souls into California from Mexico is less than zero.  More folks are leaving than are coming in.   The census takers tell us that a booming birth rate is the only reason California’s population continues to grow.  Been that way for years.   These are facts, not fake news, like the attack in Sweden.

You wanna talk refugees?    Or as Trump calls it, “vetting?”  The average processing time for an application is 18-24 months.    Often times longer for those wanting to come in from Syria.

President Obama, became known as the “deporter-in-chief” for detaining and then deporting millions of undocumented aliens.   Two and one-half million, to be precise.   More than every single president of the 20th Century combined.  He also tightened up our southern border.  Big time.  But those facts wouldn’t win an election for the Donald.  No, he needed to manufacture problems and then find a scapegoat to pin it on, so he went after Mexican immigrants and by association, Mexican-Americans, and pretty much anybody else with brown skin.

God help you should you happen to be Muslim or even Hindi.   A Hindu women with a “bindi” or third eye of divine sight (a little dot) on her forehead was detained by the police here in Maryland a couple of weeks ago for going for a walk in her own neighborhood.    She’s lived here for decades.   Went to high school here.  She’s thoroughly American.  Never had a problem until the Donald began turning anyone with brown skin into the enemy.    There are also reports that incidents of anti-Semitism are rising while it is widely believed that the ban on Muslim immigrants will drive new recruits into the waiting arms of ISIS.

And now, in his latest incongruous outburst, President Donald J. Trump is on stage and in the media freaking out about an attack in Sweden that never happened.  And he’s President of the United States.

Let’s do that one again, he’s President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world.

Well, he had to do something to get elected, didn’t he?    He needed someone to blame.  He needed a scapegoat.  The truth, that the problems of the middle class have been caused largely by automation and the off-shoring of jobs by greed-driven multi-national corporations while the markets boom and 99% of all new income flows to the top 1% wouldn’t have gotten the job done. Too esoteric to get a mob all worked up.   So much easier to go after people who don’t look like “us”.   It worked for screaming authoritarians in the past and now it’s working for Trump.

But now he’s using the Swedes?  What will he say next?   Something that puts the Russian generals on high alert which in turn causes the United States to go to defcon one, making the Cuban missile crisis tame by comparison because Donald is sitting there with his finger on the trigger?   The Russians have already sent out jets to buzz a U.S. warship in the Black Sea and parked a spy ship off the coast of Connecticut.   What’ll be next?   Can we depend upon Russian macho man Vladimir Putin not to to overreact to the Donald’s next outburst?

This is nuts, and it’s getting to be exhausting.

Dear Republicans in the House and Senate.   You wanted power?  Well, you’ve got it.   For God’s sake, begin impeachment proceedings now.   You have got to get this guy out of there before he does any more damage.    He is yours, he is dangerous, and you damn well know it.

Needed: A Little More Experience And A Little Less Snappy Banter

CNN’s media maven,  Brian Stelter, has suggested that the public needs to be skeptical of both the President and the media’s coverage of the President.   The house is on fire, and he wants to conduct an academic argument about which way to point the hose.

John Berman and Poppy Harlow are sitting there taking it all in, treating the 31 year old Stelter as though he’s some great sage, even though he hadn’t been born when the Watergate hearings took place.   He would have been nine  during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.   Give me a break.

The press and the intelligence community may be the only bodies standing between the nation and fascism.   The press needs all the support it can get right now to deal with the Administration’s lies and constant deflection of the issues.   The legitimate press is under attack.  Stelter, and others of his generation, may not have been around long enough to understand what’s really going on.   They don’t have the advantage of having lived through the Nixon years and more.  Bill Carter, was there when Nixon and Agnew tried to pin it all on the “nattering nabobs of negativism” in the press.  He remembers Cronkite going to Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and Dan Ellsberg.  He knows better.   He was on the show and he should have said something.   A media critic himself, perhaps he felt constrained against speaking out against a colleague.   Perhaps it would have impacted his tenure with CNN.   Or maybe they just ran out of time.

Stelter, needs to sort out the mainstream “real” media covering the White House from all the rest of what has become an explosion of media outlets, particularly those interested in taking sides politically or going for entertainment value.  No one is infallible.  Everyone is capable of making a mistake.   But I trust the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CBS News and a few other outlets to give me an objective and fair version of what’s going on.

There remains no substitute for experience.  No amount of book learning, no number of  hours sitting in a classroom listening to someone tell you how something is done, or how it feels when it’s done to you.  Too many younger people with too little experience moving up the tv news food chain way too fast is part of the reason television news has lost so much of its credibility, something the networks are now in a position to recover from, if they fully resume their proper role of national watchdog.

To do that, they need to bring back a few more less beautiful but more experienced folks, like Carl Bernstein.   Some of the younger reporters out there are excellent.  I admire the hell out of the job they’re doing, but there remains no substitute for experience. Right now we need both, the vigor of youth and the power of experience, in an industry that’s obsessed with an advertiser-driven focus on selling products to younger market.

The consequences for a nation which increasingly can’t differentiate between valid and “fake” news are too severe for anyone to think otherwise.

Time To Decide Who We Are

Can’t sleep,  not after that bizarre exhibition of public talk therapy at the White House.   This is truly terrifying in that there appears to be a method to the madness.   A grand plan to technique the American people out of their democracy.

Tyrants, seeking to conquer any people, will almost always first try and silence the press.  If they can shut down or otherwise control the public’s sources of information they can more easily control the public.   Control what people think, and you control the people.   This is nothing new.   Read up on how the use of propaganda and outright lies helped to bring about the death of the Weimar Republic.

This is precisely what #45 appears to be trying to do.    Using deflection, he accuses the media of lying to the public, while in truth, he is the liar in chief.   Seeking to deflect what appears to be a real threat to the Republic, the degree to which the Kremlin, or those with a fascist agenda have the ability to influence this current administration and the politics of the nation, #45 insists that leaks to the press are the real issue and that the press is evil for doing its job and reporting the facts.

That’s a lie.   The ties of this administration to Russian leadership and the degree to which Russian leadership is influencing this current administration are the real issues.

#45 is also attempting to limit the ability of the nation’s intelligence agencies to do their job of gathering intelligence.  He has announced the appointment of one of his billionaire friends to head a commission of some sort to investigate whether the country really needs its intelligence apparatus as it currently stands, or whether the U.S. might not be better off with something else.  Something less, presumably.  Something that would be more easily controlled by the executive branch.   Possibly some form of intelligence gathering that would be less curious with regard to Russian influence peddling.

Many of us are troubled, fearing both for our safety and the security of American democracy.   The denial of Republicans who control the House and Senate, and their near treasonous position of support for this current President, only make matters worse as they hide in the shadows, refusing to admit that if #45 can thoroughly discredit the press and reign in the intelligence community, effectively shutting down the nation’s illuminati, he will be that much closer to his apparent goal of establishing fascist control of America, with democracy buried beneath a pile of lies, half-truths and doubletalk.

We can only hope that the intelligence community and  the Fourth Estate will have the steel to push back against this madness,   and that hopefully,  John McCain and Lindsey Graham aren’t the only Republicans left with the courage to put the long-term good of the nation ahead of the temporary political needs of their party.

This President must show us his tax records.  He must commit to putting all his businesses in a blind trust.  This Congress must open a joint investigation into Russian influence peddling, the influence it had on the election and continues to have on the White House.  This needs to be done within a matter of weeks, not months or years, while we wait for Republicans in the House and Senate to act more like patriots than party wonks.   They need to act now to save both their party and possibly the nation.

We cannot go on acting as though this is somehow going to work itself out and everything will eventually be all right.

Following a life in Journalism, I can’t believe I’m sitting here at four in the morning writing this.   With each day we’re farther down the rabbit hole.   God willing, we’ll be able to fight our way through the layers of lies and half-truths, and make it back to the surface.

Support the press.   Support those in the House and Senate with the courage to push back.   Support America.   It’s time to decide who we are.

Waiting For Trumpty Dumpty To Fall

Trumpty Dumpty is speaking to a gathering of sheriffs from across the country.  I’ve got the sound muted.   Can’t take much more of his blather, wondering whether he understands what he’s saying or is delusional.

Let’s risk turning on the sound for just a bit to see  what Prez Dumpty is saying right now…..

Ready?  Okay, here we go.   Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States-

“….and you know it and I know it, and you have been unhappy for a very long time, and I can read polls, probably better than anybody….”

Fine.  Enough of that.  I think he might be channeling an old Dave Mason song.  Anyway, how many times does this guy think he has to tell us that he’s better than everybody else?   At almost everything.

It’s been suggested by psychotherapist John D. Gartner,  that President Dumpty suffers from “malignant narcissism.”   I dunno.  Maybe.  All I do know is that you hit a point where it no longer matters whether he is deluded or intentionally lying.   You just don’t want to listen to what’s coming out of his mouth anymore.   It’s too exhausting.

The most recent legitimate fear about the Dumpster, is that he is creating an atmosphere of chaos when there is no reason for it.  How will he act and what will he do if the country is attacked again?  How will he react to a macho, nose-to-nose standoff with King Vladimir of Putin?   Will he drag us down into nuclear brinksmanship with the naked Russian bear?

We should all be very afraid.   Instead, Mitch McConnell, emotionless political worm of the right, is hard at it in the Senate, forcing Elizabeth Warren to stop talking during a confirmation hearing and take her seat.  In short, she was told to  shut up and sit down.  The argument McConnell makes, is outlined in a Senate rule stating that one sitting Senator may not impugn another sitting Senator.  Oh really?  So you can say only good things about other senators, even during confirmation hearings?  Kind of makes the process irrelevant, doesn’t it?

Interesting that this same rule was not invoked when Ted Cruz called Mitch McConnell “a liar” in the Senate in July of 2015.

Beyond that, McConnell, treating Warren like a woman who needed to be shushed, should infuriate thinking Americans, as McConnell and his Republican cronies just stripped away Senator Warren’s First Amendment rights and they did it on the floor of the United States Senate.   Then again, perhaps Mitch McConnell is less hesitant to get tough with a woman as opposed to another man?

And on MSNBC, the Dumpster continues.  Let’s listen in for just a moment.   Maybe he has something good to say?   Something that will help Americans pull together, their shoulders at the wheel of democracy?  Here again, the President of the United States-

“So  many of the problems are caused by gang members, many of whom are not legally in our country…..Terrorism a tremendous threat….far greater than people in our country understand….but we’re gonna take care of it….we’re gonna take care of it folks.”  

He finished by talking about what “great people” the “cops of America” are.  Of course he did.   He’s going to need them in his corner for crowd control as the chaos he is creating will lead only to more demonstrations as he continues apparently imagining something to be true, not because it is grounded in fact, but because it’s coming from his mouth – while in his brain, thousands of Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder in New Jersey, cheering as the twin towers come crashing down and our political system is corrupted by millions of dead  voters while the “phony media” fails to  report on terrorist attacks and Mexican rapists pour over our southern border as President Dumpty recalls his inauguration and what he said were “the biggest crowds in the history of inaugural speeches”.

And in the Senate, Elizabeth Warren,  American patriot and Harvard scholar stands rebuked, demeaned and humiliated by a far lesser person and is not allowed to speak.   She has been banned from speaking further during the confirmation hearing of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama.  Her terrible infraction was reading the contents of a letter written by the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King.

And out here in the  hinterlands, beyond the great political bubble, we continue watching, fearing for the future of the Republic in a world beset by alternative facts, waiting for the campaign to stop and the governing to begin.   Wondering when President Dumpty, will take his great fall.  And when he does, whether things might not be even more frightening with Mike Pence in the White House. Although at this point, that hardly seems possible.