The Millennial’s Revenge – Power At The Polls

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump won the last election by 80,000 votes in three states.    Stack that up against the 3.6 million kids who will graduate from high school and become eligible voters in 2018.

All those MIllenials out marching today may be able to put a big dent in the NRA’s plans.    All they need to do is remember who failed to support gun control legislation and then vote them out of office.

If 3.6 million new voters can’t get it done, then all they need to do is wait a year and let their numbers grow to something over 7 million. Or wait for two years and send 10 million to the polls in a giant Millennial wave.

Wait for it.  Hopefully, it’s coming, as they continue to realize their potential for political power.    The future is in their hands, but only if they can stay focused as a group long enough to grab it.

Trump Fires Tillerson

Rex Tillerson, is out as Secretary of State, reportedly learning he had been dismissed from a tweet by President Trump, who said he had fired Tillerson, because, “We were not really thinking the same.”  The President is moving over Mike Pompeo from CIA to be the new Secretary of State, presumably because he will be more agreeable.

Tillerson, committed an unforgivable sin,  reportedly calling Donald Trump a “moron.”   Some would say his only infraction was telling the truth.   I was never a fan of Tillerson, or his big oil background, but in this Administration he was like a shining beacon of principled behavior and stability.   One of a few individuals in Trump’s orbit who added a bit of credibility to an otherwise incredible and often times frightening  situation.    Recently, for example,  speaking in Moon Township, PA, where a crowd of his supporters cheered him on,  Trump belittled the Office of the President of the United States.    Think about it.

With this president we should expect anything, and on a daily basis, as he seems to confuse dissent with disloyalty.   It would appear that anyone who disagrees with DJT will be on the way out.  With the Brits just announcing that the Russians appear to be responsible for a military-grade nerve agent attack on British soil that put a police officer in the hospital and a possible meeting with North Korea just weeks away, this continues to be a very dangerous political stew.  With Tillerson gone, possibly even more dangerous than before.

It is at least, interesting, that one of Tillerson’s last acts at State, was blaming Russia for the nerve agent attack in the U.K.  Something President Trump has thus far refused to do, as he refuses to say nearly anything derogatory about the dictatorship of Russian Godfather Vladimir Putin and his gang of oligarchs.

Republicans, showing themselves to be self-serving cowards, continue putting party before country,  exhibiting little or no opposition to Donald J. Trump irrespective of his obvious distaste for democracy,  love of autocracy and potentially dangerous action or inaction on any given issue.  With Republican leadership acting in a fashion that brushes up against treason, the nation’s only hope appears to be a blue wave washing over the polls in November.  Hopefully, DJT won’t have the country embroiled in another war  before we’ve all been given an opportunity to register our disgust, fear and  fatigue.

A Presidents’ Day Message

Thinking of those presidents and others, who put on uniforms and fought or died for our freedoms as opposed to so many current politicians who talk the talk while being concerned only for their own petty self-interest.

While our Russian-lover in chief, Donald Trump, apparently lacks the ability to feel shame, Republicans in the House and Senate should be held accountable for their shameful inaction on behalf of the nation they are supposed to serve. We can all remember this and throw the bums out in November, or suffer the consequences, one of which could very well be the end of our constitutional democracy.

I am a member of a Gold Star Family. I had friends who came back from Vietnam in body bags. I stood on the tarmac and watched our troops board planes bound for Afghanistan. I do not take any of this lightly. This current Republican Party threatens our continued existence as a free people. November will soon be here. God bless America. THROW THE BUMS OUT!

Dear Mr. Gates, What About Us?

Bill Gates just put in an appearance on CNN. While listening to Fareed Zakaria talk about the billions Bill Gates’ foundation pumps into causes overseas, I wondered if Mr. Gates has any awareness of the educational needs of inner-city kids in Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore.

I wonder if he knows that schools were closed this winter in the Baltimore area because the heating systems were old and couldn’t keep the classrooms warm or the critical need for multi-lingual teachers in Los Angeles or that during the first weekend of this year four people were killed and fifteen others wounded on the streets of Chicago? I wonder if he understands the role education, extra-curricular activities and paying teachers a living wage all play in keeping our big cities healthy and the country moving forward?

Gates said that $3 billion* was a small percentage of his foundation’s budget. I wonder what the Baltimore city schools could do with just a couple of billion dollars? Keep the heat turned on possibly and maybe give their teachers a raise while funneling a couple of million into sports and the arts to help keep kids off the streets?

The old phrase about charity beginning at home popped into my head.

*He may have said $30 billion.  He throws big numbers around so casually, that it’s sometimes difficult to relate.

The Age Of Trump – One Diversionary Dust-up After Another

Now that the great memo crisis is over, or nearly so, the politicians and the pundits have moved on to Rob Portman.   What Gen. Kelly knew and when he knew it.   Once that runs out, in a couple of weeks, maybe three, there will be some new Trump generated tempest to take the focus off of the real problem, which is money.

The great disparity of income between the wealthy and nearly everyone else in the U.S., as the oligarchs tighten their grip on power,  and the absence of anything resembling a reasonable limit on campaign financing which is the only way to regulate the runaway greed that currently has the nation by its throat.

It no longer matters if this current president does what he does intentionally or whether he’s a burrito short of a full combo-plate.  Either way, the effect is the same.  We are all his victims with the nearly full support of the Republican Party.   Most of those who don’t support the Donald, have decided to jump ship and not take another run at office.   There are 34 Republicans leaving the House and Corker, Flake and Hatch in the Senate.  It’s that bad.

Urge your friends to vote for Democrats and Democrats only in 2018.  Please.  The Dem Party is far from perfect.   I was no fan of Hillary Clinton, and was nearly made ill by the DNC debacle, but they are still far better for the country than this current Republican Party,  which will be noted by history for its extreme negligence.

There could be a third party somewhere in the future but for now our house is on fire and the Democrats are the only party in sight with the potential for putting it out.   Regardless of what any White House generated memo might say.

 

Musk’s Convertible – Just One More Piece Of Space Junk?

The convertible Elon Musk launched from the Cape is just one more piece of space junk, and at what cost?   By one estimate, it was around $90 million.  What could have been done with all that money Musk threw away for the ego-boosting publicity stunt of putting his car in space?  He might have given it to the Democrats as they scramble to try and re-take the House and Senate from someone of questionable stability who currently holds the reigns of national power and is planning a big military parade in his honor.   Similar to the parades that take place in North Korea and Moscow, with all those big rockets and tanks rumbling through the streets.   All those troops forced to salute our fearless leader as they march by.  Not that the struggle for the preservation of American Democracy matters more than a shiny new electric convertible floating around in space with a dummy at the wheel.   Have you seen the photos?  It’s so very cool, isn’t it?  Almost as inspirational as our first moon shot with Apollo 11 in 1969?  Remember that one?  Men on the Moon?  Remember?  Did you know we’ve been there?

Under NASA, we would go to the Moon six times between 1969 and 1972.  I’m old enough to remember, so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t get too jazzed about someone shooting a car with a dummy in it into space.  We seem to forget things, like our moon missions,  and make the same mistakes over and over again.  Like Vietnam and Afghanistan.  And abandoning the X-15.

In 1962, we had the X-15 rocket plane taking us into space and then back again, and it was reusable. An aircraft that could be launched from the wing of a bomber, flying off into space and then coming back to Earth to land.  It was a kind of mini Space Shuttle, but without the need for all the giant boosters and hoopla attached to the Shuttle program.   A reusable space plane.  And this was in 1962.  And it was piloted by a human being, not a dummy.

Before it was over, eight American pilots would qualify as astronauts, piloting the X-15 above the 50 mile limit and into space. Why was the program abandoned for an Elon Musk-like rocket to shoot a monkey into space?  Because Congress freaked out when the Russians put Sputnik in orbit.   A small satellite that for the most part did nothing but transmit a beeping sound.   However, the Russians had beaten us into space.  The race was on and the X-15 forgotten, except for Tom Wolfe who memorialized the program with his book “The Right Stuff.”

Then there’s the thrust thing.   Think of it as the oomph needed to get something beyond the Earth’s gravity and on its way to Mars, or wherever.  Elon Musk’s “Falcon Heavy,” develops 5.1 million pounds of thrust.    The Saturn V, which we abandoned in 1973, was capable of 7.6 million pounds.   The Space Launch System, currently under development by NASA, comes in at 9.2 million pounds.   So there’s that, too.  But let’s get back to where we were before we started putting convertibles up there.

Our first real reusable X-15 space plane that had taken years to develop was abandoned in favor of a rocket with a monkey on board. Eventually we got back to a principle somewhat similar to the X-15 with the Space Shuttle. That too has now been abandoned in favor of putting a convertible in space.  I may be missing something, but it feels like Groundhog Day all over again.

Then again, anything is possible.  It is possible, for example, that the convertible will serve as the inspiration for putting humans on Mars.  For taking us where no one has gone before.  If so, my profound apologies to Mr. Musk.  For now however, using history and tradition as my base, I remain a skeptic, and wonder where we are headed as a people when private funding and not a democratically elected government appears to be the principle force driving our future.

Forget Voyager.   Our first contact could now happen on one fateful day when a spacecraft full of ET’s from another galaxy runs into a Tesla convertible with a dummy at the wheel.

Forget The Stupid Memo – It’s The Russians!

It’s all about that damn stupid GOP memo.   Something the White House put together to be delivered by presidential water carrier, Devin Nunes.   Nunes, should be booted to the curb from his job of Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, because of his obvious, overt and continuing bias for Donald Trump.  The Committee Nunes chairs, is supposed to look out for our best interest, not Donald Trump’s.   But it’s the memo that’s really getting to me, and the way the mainstream media has been thoroughly sucked in by it.

When I went to bed they were talking about the memo.  What might be in the memo.  What might not be in the memo.  What might have been redacted from the memo.  When Trump would release the memo, or maybe not release the memo.   Memo, memo, memo, whose got the memo now….   Blah, blah, blah…..   When I got up this morning, they were still on it.  An endless loop of memo blather.

The memo, is probably nothing.  It’s a memo for God’s sake, not a formula for rocket fuel that was stolen by the Russians or proof that the Trump family has been purchased by Russian money over the past ten years so completely that this current president has no choice whatsoever but to abide by whatever Vladimir Putin wants, like failing to enforce sanctions approved by a majority, with only five no votes in the House and Senate.  Nothing like that.  No, it’s just a stupid memo.  In all likelihood, nothing but blather made up out of whole cloth by those in the Administration who would condemn the FBI and other American intelligence agencies while sneaking in the top three Russian spymasters for clandestine meetings with Trump appointees on U.S. soil.   One, who had been barred from entering the United States because of his involvement in the attack on the Ukraine and subsequent invasion and capture of Crimea.

What?  Seriously?  Yes, according to Reuters and confirmed by others, that’s exactly what happened.  The Trumpists brought in Russia’s spymasters.  Probably to talk about how best to make those nasty sanctions go away, but there could have been more.   Maybe they’ve come up with some way to set up that “back door” secure communications channel to the Kremlin via the Russian embassy, Jared Kushner  discussed with the Russian ambassador during the transition?   Why would Trump need a secure channel to Moscow?   What is it he needs to hide?

That’s the point.  The Russians.  Everything with this administration always seems to come back to the Russians.   Even this current obsession with condemning the American intelligence establishment while seemingly trying to promote Russia’s ability to further infiltrate and influence the American political process.

It’s the Russians.   It’s the spymasters secret visit to the U.S. at the apparent invitation of the Trumpists.   It’s the way this administration favors Russia over the United States.  That’s  what the media needs to focus on, not this stupid memo and the diversion it has caused.

While doing all he could to undermine the credibility of the FBI, Donald Trump was waving in Boris and Natahsa through the rose garden doors.  Even now some covert think tank in Moscow is probably working on a cover story for the Russian spymaster’s trip to the U.S.  Something along the lines of their being here to discuss peace in Syria or a joint response to North Korea or a continued response to the Taliban or a cost saving plan to pull U.S. troops away from the Russian border.   Don’t be fooled.

Over the past couple of days I’ve had more than one conversation about the “memo” as a diversion.   More than once I have used the analogy that good reporters should be like hungry watchdogs.  Oh, the watchdogs are out there all right, but most have forgotten or never learned how to identify a bone, so when one is thrown their way they miss it altogether or are diverted.   A situation made all the more difficult by a president who keeps throwing giant bags of kibble into the air.

Which brings us to one last point.  Do you think Donald Trump is crafty enough to come up with all this stuff?  Diversion after diversion leading to an all-out attack on the FBI while refusing to enforce sanctions against the Russians, at a time when the FBI is investigating Russian interference in U.S. elections?   Do you?

Fast forward to a dimly lit room deep within the Kremlin.   A half-dozen men in dark suits drain bottles of the finest vodka while congratulating themselves, holding their sides they emit howls of laughter at how easily the stupid Americans can be deceived, controlled and contained as one by one  America’s long-standing institutions continue to weaken.

Beware The Game Of Golf: There’s No Telling What It Might Do To You

Photo courtesty of Chuck Koshiol*

One of the funniest lines in the movie Caddyshack, is when the head greenskeeper, Sandy, tells Bill Murray in a thick Scottish Brogue to go out and kill all the gophers on the golf course.   Because of the accent, Murray thinks he’s being told to go out and kill all the golfers, to which he replies, “Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key.”

Funny stuff.  Takes me back to 1958 and the “Lil Pros” in my hometown of Paynesville, Minnesota.    There were a  lot of gophers around, which is why I continue to suffer from severe Caddyshack  flashbacks.

My buddy Chuck Koshiol and I were ten at the time.  We had to be two of the youngest players on the local circuit.   Since nearly all our competition was older, we had little chance of winning anything.  The league’s organizer, Ruth Yamamoto, apparently realized this, and handed out little trophies to nearly everybody, even though we were less than adequate at the game.

Our golf course back in those days, Koronis Hills,  was nine glorious holes sitting on the edge of a woods that ran for several miles to the south, all the way to the shores of Lake Koronis.   I was told, and have no reason not to believe it, that my grandfather, Herb Stinton,  a depot agent for the Soo Line Railroad, was one of the town fathers that designed and then oversaw construction of the original course years before I came along.   That was both good and bad.  Good, because it made me feel connected to the land, giving me a sense of place.   Bad, because when I decided to start golfing, my parents thought it might not last, so why spend all that money on a bag and golf clubs for a little kid when my grandfather had a perfectly good bag of clubs he had stashed away in his garage decades before?  What clubs they were.

The head of the driver was falling off.  I stuck it back onto its wood shaft with some black electrician’s tape.  In addition to being embarrassingly unsightly, with hunks of tape hanging from the club, this made for certain difficulties on my drives, as the head would sometimes fly off the club, zooming down the fairway,  endangering flying birds and errant gophers, the club head occasionally outdistancing the ball by ten to twenty yards.

Oh, the humiliation.  That was another problem.   Just a bunch of little kids, but we took it all so seriously.  Even with the sand greens.  They weren’t green, actually.  They were heavily oiled sand.  So they were brown.  Brown greens.  When you putted, your ball left a trail in the sandy surface so you could see just how pathetic your aim truly was, providing “line in the sand” proof of what a miserable golfer you truly were.  Beware the brown greens.

After several players had “putted out,” there were ball marks and trails and shoeprints all over the place, so you or one of your fellow players had to pick up a big rake and rake the green, using a circular motion and starting from the inside moving out so that the surface would be smooth for the next group of golfers who came along to play in the oily sand – if they made it past the sand traps protecting the “green.”   In fairness, the traps were loose sand, so they gave you a lot more trouble than the greens did,  as they were a harder surface due to all the oil.  Either way, there was plenty of trouble to go around.

So there we were, me and my friend Chuck, who was even shorter than I was at that point in our short lives, with all those older players towering above us.   And me dealing with the humiliation of wondering whether my driver would fly apart on the next tee.  I don’t know precisely how Chuck felt about it all, but he recently admitted that he played golf for just that one summer and never looked back.   I wasn’t that smart.   I stuck it out and wondered what was wrong as I kept getting hammered by those older players in our little group of “Lil Pros.”

I did eventually give up on the driver and move to my three-wood to tee off.   Chances were I’d hit the ball just as far and there was no concern about the club head flying off and maybe killing somebody.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Chuck had an even bigger problem.  He was a lefty, playing with right-handed clubs he had inherited from either his grandfather or his grandmother.   He can’t remember which, just that he was a lefty with right-handed clubs.  It’s no wonder he soured on the game.

Finally, after several years with Herbie’s old clubs, my folks went way out on a limb and bought me a whole new set.   This helped, but not as much as you might suppose.   I had been so brainwashed by playing with guys who were a foot taller and a couple of years older that there was no saving my game.   I was doomed to be a duffer.  Or so I thought, until I got to Baltimore and then California.

After the early 70’s, I didn’t pick up another club until moving to Maryland in 1982.   For reasons I can’t explain, I missed the game.   I bought a set of clubs at the Pine Ridge pro shop and started playing again regularly with my friend and colleague from WMAR-TV, Scott Garceau.   Part of my motivation for getting back in the game was that I needed a diversion from the rigors of doing tv news for a living.   And so I was back.  Not a great golfer, but a fair one, I think, shooting in the low eighties usually, which is not great but respectable.

I got better as I recalled the advice of one of my buddies from “Lil Pro” days, Bill Haines.  One of his relatives was a golf pro or semi-pro, or something such,  who had told him to spend more time at the range,  hitting a couple of buckets of balls on those days when he wasn’t playing a full round of golf and to hit a bucket of balls as a warm up prior to a regular game.   It was advice I remembered, and it worked.   Funny how some things stay with you.

In the 80’s, I got to California and decided to take the game seriously again, playing 18 to 36 holes a week and going out to the range on those days when I wasn’t playing a full round of golf.    My golf buddies, Jerry and Bob, were both good golfers, which caused me to focus.   And so it was, that I became a scratch golfer – provided the course was at least mildly forgiving.  I was shooting par or breaking it, every time I went out.   I was able to do it at will.  But I really had to try.   Like I said, this was now serious business.

I had conquered my shortcomings from the 1950’s, overcoming whatever demons were still there,  lurking in my psyche.   I had dragged those little bastards out and beaten them to death with  my three wood, courtesy of Slammin’ Sammy Snead and personal lessons from Jack Nicklaus on his “Golf My Way” video tape.   I had done what I had set out to do.   There was no more to it, and so, once again, I gave up the game.  For the third time.

And now my clubs sit in the basement, unused, unloved and under appreciated.  Recently I thought I might take up the game again, but then thought twice.  My personality is such that I need to do my best at whatever I do, and golf, if you wish to play it well, is simply too much work.   Anyway, my Spaulding clubs are so old that I still have woods that are actually made out of wood.   Imagine that?   Woods made from wood?  But I hit them well, so why would I buy a whole new set of clubs when what I have works just fine?   I could, I suppose, buy one of those new giant headed metal drivers, so as to not feel humiliated while teeing off?  Back to the driver again?  Interesting, how things sometimes come full circle.   Greens are now green, but woods are made of metal and I’m left wondering why I should buy a whole new set of clubs when what I have will work just fine?

In fairness, I should add that the old course back in Minnesota, now has 18 holes and real grass greens.  No raking required.   Hopefully, they’ve done something about the gophers as well, without blowing up the fairways ala Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

A few years ago I went back and tried playing the old course with my brother and nephew.   My game fell to pieces as all the old demons came rushing back.    I couldn’t even drive the hill on number six.  Good God, what a game.    I think this time maybe I’ll leave the clubs in the basement.  For good this time.   No really, I mean it.  Probably.

*(front row: Bill Haines, Jamey Yamamoto, Chuck Koshiol, Ron Olsen)

 

It’s Not All Bad

CBS News Sunday Morning, did a piece today about the song “We Are The World.”   They did the story, because today is the 33rd anniversary of the song being recorded by the who’s who of the music industry.

Thirty three years ago today, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Tina Turner, Billy Joel and so many others got together in a studio in Hollywood to lay down the tracks for a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.   Quincy Jones was there as well, conducting and co-producing the history-making choir made up of some of the most famous voices in the world, who, as CBS so correctly pointed out, were asked to “leave their egos at the door.”

Also there, against all odds perhaps, was a country boy from rural Minnesota.   I was with KABC-TV at the time, and they sent me over to cover the event.   Now, watching the coverage on CBS so many years later, I can hardly believe I had the privilege of being among a handful of journalists allowed in to witness the event as it happened.

Thank you, KABC.   Thank you, Los Angeles.  Thank you Journalism, for opening so many doors.  Thank you, CBS News Sunday Morning, for allowing thoughtful, non-rushed, long-form tv reporting to continue.

To date, according to the network, “We Are The World,” has raised some $65-million in aid for Africa.    More than $100-million has been raised for Africa and the United States.  And the beat goes on.

January 17, 1994 – 4:31AM

January 17th, was the anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake. I had forgotten all about it until I started reading some of what my friends in Cali were posting on Facebook. Then it all came rushing back. Here’s what I posted on one friend’s FB timeline. It was what it was, and it was really something.
######

Unlike prior quakes this one did not stop. Just got worse and kept going. Later, reports from CalTech indicated the earth where we lived in the SF Valley had moved a foot both vertically and horizontally as the mountains at the west end of the Valley were permanently rearranged. Bookcases were down. In the kitchen, everything that had been in the cupboards was on the floor. The fridge had danced out into the middle of the kitchen. My wife’s crystal, all shattered. After walking around our building to check for structural damage I left for work to cover the death of a CHP cop where the freeways had collapsed at the I-5/14 interchange. I recall Carlos Amezcua asking me while we were on the air live how I felt personally about the experience. I choked up, as I said I was just happy my wife and I were both still alive. Later that day I swore I would leave Cali. Twenty one years later, I did. There’s a lot to love about California. As with all places, there are two sides to the coin.

Maybe Dr. Evil Will Save Us?

Is Michael Wolff really the author of this new book outlining how nutso Donald Trump is, or is that Mike Meyers doing his Dr. Evil thing?   The resemblance is uncanny.  Will the Donald, “He is like a child,”  be able to fend off a major frontal attack by the evil one?

Whatever you might think of Wolff and his book “Fire and Fury,” it should be of interest that mainstream, credible reporters, have been checking with their White House sources to be told that generally the book gets it right.   Donald J. Trump, is dangerously incompetent and possibly unstable.   More than two-dozen mental health professionals wrote a book about that same frightening issue months ago.   And that begs the question:  Where are the Democrats?   Remember those guys?

Trump’s fellow Republicans clearly care nothing for the common good of the country, only the good of their wealthy benefactors,  as they support Trump’s ravings, cutting healthcare to the poor, opening the nation to more off-shore oil wells, mining in wilderness areas, the destruction of the EPA and huge tax cuts for the wealthy while they threaten to do away with Medicare and Social Security.

Where are the Democrats?  Will they ever grow a spine?   They should be at the forefront, screaming about Trump’s possible mental instability, his family’s admitted Russia connection and demanding that the Republicans begin impeachment proceedings in the House immediately.  Or at least get the IRS to show us his tax returns.  Some of us are still waiting.

Nothing much is at stake here, just the future of the country.

It’s one thing to stay out of the way as your opponent destroys himself.  It’s entirely another to run away like scared little mice, holding your silence, while the nation remains in very real jeopardy from an executive inner-circle that resembles a Looney Tunes cartoon with Daffy Duck in the lead.

With the mostly silent Democrats going all weak in the knees before swooning and falling to the ground, it is perhaps fitting that none other than Dr. Evil should come to our rescue.   Somebody had to do it.  These cowardly Dems couldn’t even see to it that Al Franken was given the due process he deserved.   Oh no, the party of the weak and neurotic was only too eager to help boot Franken out the door.

Can’t wait for Mini-Me to get here.  With Donald, the Doctor will need all the support he can get.  FDR, Teddy Kennedy and now even Al Franken are unfortunately,  long gone.

Sally Yates Is On Target

“That’s why Democratic and Republican administrations alike, at least since Watergate, have honored that the rule of law requires a strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House on criminal cases and investigations. This wall of separation is what ensures the public can have confidence that the criminal process is not being used as a sword to go after one’s political enemies or as a shield to protect those in power. It’s what separates us from an autocracy.” – Sally Yates

Ms. Yates words are reminiscent of another “wall of separation” that once existed between editorial and sales in the news business, a wall that prevented advertisers from dictating what we the people were being allowed to know.   A wall no less important to the preservation of freedom than the wall that’s supposed to be in place at the Justice Dept. Her words also remind me of the founder’s worries that merchant-bankers would one day control the country, unless they were prevented from doing so by yet another “wall,” one that bit by bit has been torn down over the past many years with little or no recognition from the media with regard to the issue’s very real threat to Democracy.

To wit:

“And I sincerely believe with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies…” -Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John  Taylor in 1816.

And that dear friends, brings us to another wall, one that was thoughtlessly torn asunder by the United States Supreme Court in its  “Citizens United” decision in 2010, opening the floodgates on limitless injections of money into political campaigns coming from any number of both non-profit and commercial enterprises, such as (dare we even think it?) Russian oligarchs and banks filtering their cash through others so as to be nearly impossible to trace?

It is entirely possible that foreign entities, to an unknown degree, now own us.  They have been permitted to buy our political process, thereby giving them a degree of power over those who write our laws and control our freedoms.  It’s what you get when the wall between commercial and investment banking is knocked down and anything resembling reasonable campaign finance reform is but a distant memory.

You get a campaign infiltrated by political operatives with Russian connections and an Attorney General who is fired from her job after warning her boss the president that the Russians aren’t just coming, they are here, and that his executive order on travel and immigration, might not be lawful.

Sally Yates,  was, and continues to be, on target.  Donald J. Trump, in his apparent refusal to listen to the best and brightest around him and then showing himself to be unwilling to act on the best information available has repeatedly been unable to hit the broad side of a barn with a  load of buckshot.

(Sally Yates, served as Deputy United States Attorney General and then Acting United States Attorney General, until being fired by Donald J. Trump in January of 2017.)

A Christmas Revelation

Over the past thirty years or so the national agenda has been moved so far to the right by fear, misinformation and disinformation that conservatives like George Will and Bill Kristol now sound like moderates.

Even if the Republicans lose the House and Senate in 2018 and the White House in 2020,  conservative forces in the U.S. will have moved the nation so far toward neo-feudalism, that it will take decades before Americans again feel comfortable with anything resembling a common good, or acceptance without guilt,  that peace is preferable to militarism and that Christians everywhere have a responsibility to care for one another regardless of their ability to provide proof of insurance.

Thoughts On Trump, God, The FBI, And The Death Of American Democracy

Recent developments beg the question:  “Can our traditionally democratic way of life survive what’s happening?”  Purely insane developments like the White House issuing orders to the Centers for Disease Control, dictating  that some words and phrases like “fetus” and “science based” can no longer be part of any wording the CDC uses in budget documents with the Congress.

This is of course, Orwellian.   Power brokers with a totally ideological agenda are dictating what our scientists can and cannot tell the nation’s lawmakers.    It’s crazy.   It’s also dangerous.  Imposing a political or religious ideology on science undermines everything science should be.   Except for those who think humans cohabited the planet with dinosaurs and that non-heterosexuals should pray the gay away.

It’s all about keeping lawmakers in the dark.  Limiting what they are permitted to know.  Just as so many Americans are being limited by the “thought police” of right-wing media.   It’s like beating the stuffings out of millions of people each day and then convincing them that it’s in their best interest to have their entrails scattered about on the ground.

A wonderful word coined by the late, great Steve Allen continues coming to mind.  The word is “Dumbth.”  He used it for the title of one of his books.  The book’s full title is, “Dumbth:  The Lost Art of Thinking With 101 Ways to Reason Better & Improve Your Mind.”   He wrote it twenty years ago.   Since then, things have gotten worse as some in our political and media establishments have taken to using disinformation tactics that could be straight out of an old KGB playbook.   Or the pages of Orwell’s “1984.”

Does Trump have any idea what he’s actually saying when he says it?   At this point does it even matter as he threatens to tear down the very American institution that may be all that stands between our freedom and the ever-increasing control of the American political process by Oligarchs, some of whom represent the very worst that Russia has to offer?

Donald J. Trump, attacked the FBI, saying, “It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI, but we’re gonna rebuild the FBI. It’ll be bigger and better than ever,” Trump trumpeted. “But it is very sad when you look at those documents, and how they’ve done that is really, really disgraceful. And you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.”

Donald Trump is going to “rebuild” the FBI?    This is the same man who had a chief adviser in the person of Steve Bannon,  who promised “deconstruction of the administrative state.”   He might as well have been direct about it and called it the end of American democracy through the destruction of our national institutions.

It now sounds as though Donald Trump wants to tear down the FBI, rebuilding it into an organization that will be more Trump friendly while he continues turning so many federal agencies into paper tigers, the obvious objective being the elimination of regulation to the point that no one stands between the American people and the desires of predatory capitalists who care little or nothing for traditional American principles, only for greed on a multi-national scale as they continue extracting the wealth of America.

Don’t worry about running out of cash in your golden years, you will be able to get a reverse mortgage while making only minimum payments on your credit card debt.

That’s what this is really all about, you know.  Extracting our wealth.  Dylan Ratigan, had it nailed years ago, before leaving MSNBC, where he frequently refused to suffer fools gladly.   Extract the wealth.  Suck us all dry, until the Oligarchs and the multi-nationals have it all, leaving the huddled masses wondering what happened.  Wondering why the corporate controlled media didn’t come to their defense sooner in the process.

Why would Donald J. Trump be so contemptuous of an American institution whose purpose is to put criminals, liars and thieves behind bars?   To ferret out enemies of the nation who would seek to control and otherwise overthrow us?   Perhaps, like so many of his disciples,  he simply accepts an explanation that suits his purpose, biased, bigoted and bloated though it might be.

Dumbth.

The weak-minded accept the disinformation that flows from various nonsense peddlers on the far right, that Robert Mueller’s purpose is political rather than legal (as in rule of law) and is therefore corrupt.

Trump is transferring his motives and traits to the FBI as he and his media mavens of the right proclaim the truth to be fake news.  This is, again, disinformation, and it’s right out of the old KGB playbook.  But will he somehow pull off firing Mueller,  hindering the Russia investigation to the point that the American people will never get to the truth?   And if he does, will what’s left of our democracy be able to survive this current onslaught of deceit?

Could be that it’s already too late.

Some very heavy thinkers at Princeton and Northwestern University believe American democracy may be a thing of the past.   A study published in 2014 by  Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin I. Page, concludes, “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”   

This won’t come as a shock to many.   It certainly won’t be anything new to those thinkers who lie awake nights wondering how much time we have left before our national denial abandons us and the ruse of American democracy is laid bare for all to see – leaving us alone and naked, nose to nose with the devil.   And then what the hell will we do?   Or are we already there and doing little or nothing?

Our biggest issue right now may be that a majority of America knows what’s going on.  That the Republican tax bill is a sham for the wealthy, that cutting Medicare and Social Security is a real bad idea, that the Internet needs to be beyond the reach of corporate control and that our federal government has been bought and paid for by those very same interests highlighted by Prof’s Gilens and Page.

So who’s going to do something about it?   Certainly not some old white guy on Capitol Hill,  sweating bullets as he counts his monthly campaign contributions and waits for sexual abuse allegations to begin arriving from alleged victims he can’t remember.

The hard cold truth, is that the American agenda is no longer being driven by the American people.   With a Russian loving oligarch in the White House and members of Congress swimming in corporate cash this could be one last national nightmare from which there is no awakening.   We’ll find out at the polls in 2018.  And maybe, just maybe, God willing, Trump won’t make it to 2020, leaving us with Mike Pence, who could be nearly as bad but hopefully not worse, as he won’t start out by surrounding himself with Russians and their money.

I don’t personally believe that men walked the Earth with dinosaurs but when things are this bad I’ll call down help from wherever I can find it.   If God wants Donald Trump impeached, I’ll take it.   And all those Bible beating Evangelicals in the South will have to take it too.  Amen.

Dems Throw Al Franken Under The Bus

Is it safe to say anything remotely good about Al Franken?  Particularly if you happen to be a man and even with his record of support for women’s issues in Congress?

Is it safe to even suggest that he was abandoned by his party and apparently his base back in Minnesota, before being given a fair hearing before the Ethics Committee?

Is it safe to imagine that not each and every one of his accusers was credible, and seeing how the potential of what were mostly unproven accusations doesn’t come close to what’s been proven about the leadership on the Republican side, that his party and base should have withheld judgment until the Ethics Committee had been permitted to hold hearings on the matter, hearings Franken had requested?

Is it reasonable to even suggest that the Democrats have lost one of their best and brightest by their own hand, while the opposition continues to support and promote the very worst the Republican Party has to offer?

Perhaps Franken did some of what his accusers are saying.  Does that merit treating him like a rapist, with the loss of his career, not to mention a future of being labeled a groping masher for the rest of his life?   And there is no proof he groped anybody.  There’s just a photo showing him mimicking a grope during an entertainment tour.  Bad taste?  Yes?  But that’s all.  Why is he being treated like a child molester?   The woman making the charges is a right-winger, and she’s accepted his apology.  Come on Democrats, get over it.   There isn’t a man alive who hasn’t done something he doesn’t regret.  In both parties.

It’s okay to suggest that men need to respect women and that there is a process going forward that will hopefully make us all better at respecting one another, but isn’t it also possible that Al Franken may have been crushed by a rush to judgment?   Is it safe for Democrats who were so eager to abandon Franken to even discuss both sides of this issue while Republicans continue to say anything about anybody, no matter how outrageous, in their blind push to win?

Of course we need to listen to what women have to say, but we also have to try and determine whether some of those same women might be political operatives out to control the system by torpedoing careers.

You don’t win a political war by throwing one of your best fighters under the bus based upon a pack of mostly unproven allegations.

Is it okay for me to say I don’t feel so hot about being a Democrat right now?   In fact, I’d leave the party and go back to being an independent were it not for the antiquated closed primary system here in Maryland.