Tag Archives: donald trump

Trump, Wahhabism And The Art Of The Deal

Did you catch the coverage of DJT and his newest best buddies the Saudis, at the Islamic “Counter-Terrorism Center?”  I might have missed something, but all I saw was a whole lot of Arab men (no women allowed) sitting at computers doing God knows what. Purifying the local Internet based upon Islamic law with a foundation in ultra-conservative Wahhabism, probably.   It might be easier to just call it what it is.  Good old fashioned censorship.

This highlights the contradictory thinking America continues struggling with when it comes to the Arabs.  It is also at the heart of the battle the ruling House of Saud is having with so much of its populace, which privately continues to support ISIS and other terrorist factions.   The House of Saud and their King, put on their best face when Trump comes to visit, but have to continually worry about facing an uprising should that face prove to be too progressive, setting the extremist Wahhabist’s hair on fire.

Watching the video come in I had two thoughts.  The first, was that there were no women working at the “Center.”   How are they supposed to get there when they can’t leave the house without their husband’s permission and they aren’t permitted to drive?  The second, was that the whole place would be emptied out once Trump and the Americans left the premises.

There’s a whole big cultural thing going on here, you see, and one has to wonder the degree to which Donald J. Trump and his advisers might be clueless.   It’s a geopolitical mistake western leaders have continued to make bigly since at least the end of World War I, when they carved up the Middle East with borders the Arabs and other indigenous peoples failed to recognize, and it’s getting really, really old.  Pretty sure there’s nothing about the Sunnis and the Shia and their centuries old differences in “The Art of the Deal.”   It’s not the kind of thing Donald would have picked up while doing his research watching “Fox and Friends,” the only media outlet he seems to approve of.

To date, everything he’s done on his trip  appears to be building polarization between the two branches of Islam, which can only lead to greater conflict rather than peace.

Then there’s the Administration’s aversion to our free press.

In Riyadh, Rex Tillerson again turned his back on American journalists, as they were kept out of a news conference Tillerson held with Saudi foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.   In the past, the Trump Administration had barred only select media outlets from attending press conferences at the White House while allowing only one reporter to accompany Tillerson on his trip to Japan.   Now they appear to be slamming the door on all the American media, while only the Saudi press is allowed through the door in Riyadh and the Russians hold sway in the Oval Office.   Remember the Russian press being allowed into the Oval Office while our guys were kept out when Donald met with the Russians?   And then the Russians turned around and bitch-slapped Donald, by releasing all those photos of the Prez grinning broadly with two enemy agents complicit in hacking the U.S. election in 2016?

A pattern seems to be developing, indicating the Donald favoring strong-man Kings and dictators, while having serious problems with the blessings of democracy and a free press.  And now there are issues with mere handshakes.

Remember Donald not wanting to shake Angela Merkle’s hand?” Well, he’s taken that several steps further in Israel,  where Bebe Netanyahu, reportedly had to order his entire cabinet to attend a welcoming ceremony for the Trumps, after cabinet members were told the American President had no interest in shaking their hands.

Hope Donald knows that praying at the “Wailing Wall” doesn’t mean that he should literally wail, as his entourage moves on to Israel.   Then again, who really cares?  The man just did a one-eighty with the Saudis who he earlier blamed for the attacks of 9-11.  Now he appears to be doing all he can to fire up war with Iran.  He has no credibility left.  Chaos, confusion and ill-will seem to follow him wherever he goes.  A little wailing might actually do him some good.

Trump Falls Into Saudi’s Open Arms – Turning His Back On Iran

It feels as though a blanket of calm has been spread over the country with Trump and his Russian-connected cabal out of the daily mix.

The President of the United States has taken his overseas road show to Saudi Arabia, where his first act was taking part in a sword dance, with our President standing in a line of Saudis, clad in their traditional robes and headgear, all waving swords in the air.  Very dignified.   When the Saudis come to visit the U.S., maybe Trump can stage a western gunfight with everybody clad in styles from the old west and shooting blanks at one another with six-guns.   Silly as it might be, we’ll still be a century or so ahead of the Saudis backward civilization.

While it’s doubtful the Arabs will be kind enough to keep him, one wonders at the damage he may be doing, signing agreements like a customs agent stamping out passports.   One wonders to what degree he might be selling us out.

CBS reports the arms deal with the Saudis is worth “$110-billion effective immediately and as much as $350 billion over ten years.”

There are those who fear DJT has already been purchased by the Russians, and now he’s accepting 40-billion from the Arabs to re-build America’s infrastructure and in what looks like a “sweetner” to the deal,  another 100-million from the Saudis and the UAE,  for a fund for women entrepreneurs in the Middle East, proposed by Ivanka Trump.  Women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia?  Really?

Remember when the twin towers came crashing down?   Remember what may have been Rudy Giuliani’s finest moment as Mayor of New York (perhaps the finest moment of his life), when he told the Saudis to go to hell after they offered him 100-million in blood money just days after the attack?

One wonders what’s really going on with the Saudis, what the long-term impact will be after they set up production lines for weapons of war with America’s help.  One wonders whether this has been thought through.  One wonders if the Saudi blood money for 9-11 has finally been accepted and whether this new agreement to help the Arabs build their own weaponry could be the final nail in the coffin of any hope of establishing a relationship with Iran that can lead to peace rather than war.

One wonders as to the degree to which the Saudis, who face serious internal conflict, will be willing to take a lead in the fight against ISIS and terrorism in general, shutting down their madrassas and cutting the flow of private Saudi money to ISIS.   One wonders if that’s even possible considering the scope of this centuries old Sunni-Shia conflict.  One wonders if Donald Trump fully understands any of this, or if he’s under the impression that this is just another development deal.  Just another casino.

Oh wait, the American president is now speaking about “conquering extremism.”   He’s telling this to the Saudis who practice beheadings as an integral part of their Islamic justice system?   He’s preaching the evils of “inflexible idiology” to the Saudis, who prohibit women from driving cars, participating in sports or “showing off their beauty?”   A country where women are stoned to death for adultry?   Does he know where he is and who he is talking to, an auditorium with only three women visible in the audience and all three are Americans, including his wife and daughter?

Perhaps Trump will cut a groundbreaking deal marking a turn in the war on terrorism, or maybe we’d have been better off had he stayed in the U.S.

The Self-Indictment Of Donald J. Trump

So Donald J. Trump not only fired the FBI Director who was leading an investigation into whether Trump and (or) his Administration colluded with the Russians to alter the outcome of an election,  he has also admitted on national television that he fired James Comey,  specifically because of that same investigation and then threatened, via tweet, that Comey had better hope no one  recorded a recent meeting between the two.

In Trump’s own words,  “But regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey……..And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”  -Donald J. Trump

Since that statement and the threat that a recording may exist, the Supreme Court and Richard Nixon, have kept popping into my head.

Mr. Trump, apparently has no knowledge that in July of 1974, the Supreme Court ordered Richard Nixon to release tapes proving that he and H.R. Haldeman conspired to obstruct an investigation by the FBI.

After that,  rather than going through impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate, Richard Nixon, resigned.  And now Donald J. Trump, has admitted to doing the same thing.   He has admitted to obstructing an investigation by the FBI.  And he did it on national television.

The only thing standing between the American people and justice, by way of removing Donald J. Trump from office, is the Republican Party.   How much more will it take before these heretofore spineless Republicans put country before their party?   They now have both a legal and an ethical obligation to kick Trump to the curb. Legal, because of the obvious violation by way of his admission that he obstructed justice, and ethical, because of the man’s questionable personality issues highlighted by repeated self-contradiction and outright lies.

If a recording, taped, digital or otherwise, of Mr. Trump’s private conversation with Mr. Comey does exist, then the Senate, the House and the FBI, should take steps to acquire said recording as quickly as possible.   The destruction of said recording (evidence) could lead to another obstruction of justice charge.

If you have no background on the Watergate break-in and subsequent investigation you should consider reading the book, “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.   It’s also available on DVD.

Fascism By Any Other Name…

And now comes a new flurry of tweets from Trump including a thinly-veiled threat against now private citizen James Comey and an intellectually feeble defense of his Administration’s continued inaccuracies.

Tweet: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Tweet: “..Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

Tweet: “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….”

This president is like a gunfighter with dust in his eyes, thoughtlessly blasting away at anything that moves. Apart from the damage being done to our democracy by a man who exhibits no credibility whatsoever, there is the danger that eventually he will hit something or somebody, potentially putting us all in harm’s way.

Something else that should be of interest is an interview aired by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!”   Goodman, interviewed New York University Professor of History and Italian Studies, Ruth Ben-Ghiat.   Professor Ben-Ghiat, is working on a book entitled, “Strongmen:  From Mussolini to Trump.”

Here is some of what Professor Ben-Ghiat, had to say-

“Trump doesn’t care too much about the GOP. It got him to power, it gave him the nomination, but it’s just a vehicle for him. So, that’s part of it.

The other thing is, a senior—a former senior intelligence official said that the Comey—the way that he fired Comey was “like an execution,” in quotes. And, you know, the method, and he did it—Trump is a—he’s a proponent of the doctrine of surprise. And this was a kind of threat to the FBI, to the American public, which is consistent with the kind of dangerous persona he has had. And I want to remind everyone that in January 2016, when he was on the campaign trail, he said, “I could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and wouldn’t lose any followers.” This was, for me, a turning point. It meant that he was giving us a message that he considered himself to be above the law. And he was testing the GOP, which is what authoritarians do. They test, on their way up and once they’re in power, to see how much they can get away with. And the GOP rewarded him with the nomination. So he feels emboldened, now he’s in power, to do exactly this kind of thing.   

…….The thing about authoritarians today—and we can look at what’s happening in Turkey and elsewhere, and even in Russia—you don’t need to have a dictatorship in the classic sense to accomplish your goals. You can intimidate people. You can try and control the press. You can attack the judiciary, the media, the institutions, hollowing them out, without having to ban parties in the traditional fascist manner.” -Ruth Ben-Ghiat on “Democracy Now!”

Movies For Donald

I never would have believed America would vote in another knucklehead like the man the late, great, Molly Ivans referred to as “Shrub” Bush, but it happened.   And what’s the Donald up to now?   Well, now he’s bitching about how difficult it is to be president and how he longs for his old uber-wealthy lifestyle, where all he had to do was give orders and admire himself in a gilt-edged mirror in his gilt-edged apartment high above Manhattan.   Watching all those inferior little people who weren’t born into wealth scurry about far below his mighty tower.  It was so gratifying and being president is so  hard.   Poor Donald.  He has golden hair, a mighty golden belly and so many other wonderful qualities that nobody really appreciates.  His mommy told him so.

Watching Donald J. Trump go through on the job training is hell, but hey, if we send him a copy of “Blade Runner,” do you think he’ll watch it? I mean, he’s such a self-absorbed bonehead with so much catching up to do and he doesn’t read so maybe movies are the way to go? Maybe it could be a movement? Movies for Donald?

Do it today.   Send Donald a movie with some instructional value on DVD.  Make sure it’s entertaining enough to get him to watch.  If it’s an actual documentary, you’ll probably have to disguise it to look like an entertainment flick due to his apparent aversion to acquiring any actual perspective on reality.   The classic “Grapes Of Wrath” for example, might be disguised to look like a sci-fi flick about genetic engineering gone wrong, as hordes of carnivorous grapes go on the attack in Seattle.

We need to get him watching as many thought provoking films as possible or we’ll be stuck with what more than one prominent psychoanalyst has described as a full-blown case of malignant narcissism for a full four years as it appears the Republicans will never develop sufficient cojones to impeach this guy.

So send a movie.

“Ice Age: The Meltdown” might be a good place to start, or maybe  “Born On The Fourth Of July.”

Please help us Obe Wan Kenobi.  You may be our only hope.

 

Trump Wags The Dog?

So ABC News is reporting  exclusively that the Syrians anticipated the missile attack? Of course they did. The U.S. told the Russians we were going to launch, the Russians told their allies the Syrians, and we ended up attacking an old, abandoned airfield.

According to ABC, “Syrian military officials appeared to anticipate Thursday night’s raid on Syria‘s Shayrat air base, evacuating personnel and moving equipment ahead of the strike, according to an eyewitness.”

In other words, we blew up 59 Tomahawks, at a price of around $1.5 million each, for no good reason.  Other than maybe to divert attention from Donald Trump’s problems with “Russiagate” here at home.   Do ya think?

Very clever.   It made for some great tv news coverage though, with all that beautiful nighttime launch video from one of the ships provided by the Pentagon.   Well, they say it was video of the launch against Syria, but who really knows?  It was only a handout.  Maybe they just threw some old launch video together for……oh, you know…..national security reasons?   Whatever happened, CNN and MSNBC were off to the races, running the video over and over again while lining up interviews with every retired general and admiral they could get their hands on.

TV news loves pretty pictures and the glory of destruction helps support a pro-military stance, regardless of the motivation.

Anybody out there remember the movie “Wag The Dog?”  Too outrageous an idea, you say?   The more outrageous it is, the less likely anyone is to question Trump’s motivation.   He’ll just say you’re a conspiracy nut.   Even when the truth is sitting there right in front of you.

Do you trust Donald  J. Trump?

Apparently (I say “apparently,” because I was not there), we blew the hell out of an old, abandoned airfield, some almost ready for the junkyard jets and even gave the enemy warning, so that they could get their people and newer equipment out of the way in advance of our launch.    As a result, Russiagate is, for the moment, off the radar.   As for the future, how will anybody be able to question whether Trump is colluding or has colluded with the Russians, after his mighty air strike against their allies, the Syrians?  It’s almost comical.

This “air strike” appears to have been nothing but a big PR ploy to make Russiagate go away and maybe bump up Donald’s numbers a little.   Either that, or it was an emotional knee-jerk reaction by an unbalanced mind, which might be even worse.   On the face of it, it appears to have been the PR thing.   And so much of the media fell for it.

I feel like I’m back in the 60’s.   More of the media needs to return to their traditional role being professional skeptics who question authority.

Trump Considers Resignation – Protection Against Internet Spies – Pence Prays While Waiting In The Wings Avoiding Women

And so we arrive at April of 2017, apparently marking  the end of our privacy on the Internet.    Or so we’ve been led to believe.  Well, another significant chunk of it has been eaten away anyway as the Republicans have passed a bill rolling back the regulation stopping internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Verizon, from selling information about what we do online.   But not really.   Not just yet, anyway.

The PBS Newshour reports that the regulation stopping ISP’s  from selling your browsing history wasn’t scheduled to take effect, “until December of 2017…..So the bill passed on Tuesday simply blocks those rules from taking effect.”   Wired reporter, Kent Finley, told the Newshour, ““Mostly it means that internet service providers now have the go-ahead to sell data,” Finley explained. “It was already technically legal, but if any companies were holding off on doing it while they waited to see if the laws went into effect or not, they don’t have to wait anymore.”  

Thank you, Donald.

It’s another really smart move, like letting coal companies dump sludge into the creek that flows into the river that ends up coming out of your kitchen faucet.   With Trump, it’s one bad idea right after another, from letting his rich-kids daughter and son-in-law move in as two of his top advisers, to giving Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort access to the highest levels of government while he digs his own political grave because he can’t resist the urge to send out tweet after tweet digging the hole deeper and deeper.   Dumb, dumb, dumb,dumb……..

Somebody hoisted the flag of common sense the other day when they remarked that it could be that “these guys just aren’t very smart.”   How smart do you have to be when your father hands you a fortune for startup money and then hands you another when he dies?

While we wait for the inevitable implosion,  there is something we can do to protect ourselves from our ISP’s spying on our every move (which they might be doing right now, although they say they aren’t).

I can’t speak to how well it works, but the Opera browser, has something called a “virtual private network” built into its functionality and it’s free.   You need only to activate it after downloading and installing the browser.   My only complaint about Opera, is that there is no home button, but that’s easily resolved by going to the home page you want and then dragging and dropping it into the bookmarks bar at the top of the page.   I’m using it and it’s reassuring to see the little blue VPN box at the front of the address bar, indicating that I have at least done something to try and avoid letting someone sell my browsing history to God know who.  There are also any number of companies offering to give you access to their virtual private networks for a fee.  I use the AVIRA Antivirus, which offers their VPN  for $6.50 a month on an annual plan.   They also have a free version which allows only a limited amount of data.

Let me take a brief time out to once again thank Donald Trump, for all he has done and continues to do for all of us out here on Main Street, while, according to Donald Trump, Jr., the family can rest easy with its history of “money pouring in from Russia.”  

Ivanka and Jared just released a financial disclosure form that shows their net worth to be around $700-million.

If the progressives have it right, we may not have to suffer through the missteps, lies and mental meanderings of Mr. Donald for an entire first term.   “Occupy Democrats” are reporting out that generally reliable sources say (I know, I know…..it may be just wishful thinking) that Trumpty Dumpty is considering several options, and that resignation is among them.  Oh sweet dreams.  Please, let it be true.  But then what?

Then we’ll be left with that Vampire Albino guy, Mike Pence, who can’t start his day without first going to Mass and refuses to eat dinner alone with any woman other than his wife, because he apparently can’t handle the temptations of sex.  Really?   Just for dinner?

I don’t care for extremists at either end of the spectrum, but what is it with these Republicans with regard to sex and religion?   Why do so many of them appear to be stuck in emotional and intellectual purgatory?  Good luck with your new VPN.

 

(I know today is April Fools Day, but all of the above is, to the best of my knowledge, true.  Really.)

The Donald, Apparently Missing Too Much Golf, Appoints President Kushner

 

Just when you think it’s all whacked out, the Trump Administration keeps getting whackier.    It’s beginning to feel like one of those old Looney Tunes cartoons, with one crackpot character chasing another around the room smashing him over the head with a giant mallet while screaming, “Woo-hoo!  Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!”    That’s the Trump Administration.   Every day there’s some new crackpot revelation.   “Woo-hoo!  Woo-hoo!  Woo-hoo!”

The latest nutso move is that Mr. Donald has appointed his son-in-law, a 36 year-old rich kid from Manhattan, to lead “The Office of American Innovation.”   According to the Washington Post,  “The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.”   Part of his role as key adviser on Mexico will apparently be overseeing construction of his daddy-in-law’s Mexican border wall.  So President Kushner, will be charged with reorganizing the Federal Government while big daddy golfs at Mara-la-go.   Oh, that’ll be exciting.  “Woo-hoo!”

Oh yes, the rich kid from Manhattan will understand and empathize with the financial woes of middle America and the needs of the elderly and the rural poor.   He will fix our inner-cities based upon his broad base of knowledge gained from first hand experience. Jared rules!  “Woo-hoo!”

Do you suppose the old man is dumping all this on the kid so that he’ll have someone to blame when it all falls to pieces like the healthcare bill?

Bad enough that an ongoing undercover agent for the trump transition team Devin (Woo-hoo!) Nunes,  has all but shut down the House inquiry into Russian interference in the last election, canceling what was to be an open hearing scheduled for today (“Woo-hoo!) so that the American people might at least get some idea of what the hell is going on as everything seems to keep pointing back at the Russians.

Question:  Where are the Democrats?   What are the Democrats?  Are they, as Garrison Keillor has suggested, “out in the woods bumping into trees?”   They should be mad as hell and screaming their lungs out, demanding that Nunes be immediately removed as Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.   They should be angry as hell, infuriated as they push back with all they have for a Special Prosecutor to look into Russian influence peddling (control) of our executive branch to be followed by a 9-11 style commission to determine what actually happened so as to prevent it from happening again.

The Democrats, are being far to civil about all of this.  They are far too nice.   Waaaay too mice.  Er…nice.  Sorry about the slip.  Donald J. Trump, who is apparently tired of being President, is turning over the reigns of his office to his son-in-law.   Another silver spoon in his mouth kid, with no real experience in politics or government who is now being told to come up with a plan to reorganize the American Government?    “Woo-hoo” everybody!

The other night one of Bill Maher’s guests said it best, when he compared these contemporary Republicans to Hamas.   Hamas, will not recognize Israel and the Republicans have no interest in compromise for mutual benefit.  These are base, primal and utterly greedy people.   The only thing they understand is being hit back harder than they are hitting you.  It is the only way to make them stop as we sink deeper and deeper into what has become a daily dose of madness.   What’s next?   Waking up to hear that the Donald has set aside the Constitution, because it isn’t businesslike enough for him?  Who’ll stop him?  The Victorian ladies and gentlemen of the Democratic Party?

Dear Democrats.    An investigation into Russian influence has been shut down by one congressman, apparently on the orders of the White House.   A move is underway to dismantle our nation.   We don’t know that Russian influence is not involved.  At the same time a 36 year-old kid with known business ties to Russia and little or no other government experience has been told to draw up a plan for reorganizing the government.    Steve Bannon, a key adviser to the President, who is apparently a fan of Vladimir Lenin,  has admitted he has a plan for the deconstruction “of the administrative state.”

Shot through all of this is the utterly undeniable fact that Donald J. Trump has yet to condemn Vladimir Putin and his autocratic Russian oligarchy for hacking into our electoral process.   Much to the contrary, President Trump has had almost nothing but praise for Putin and his Russian dictatorship.   At times it feels as though Trump is part of the Putin team.

Those who voted for Trump and  who continue to support him, obviously had no idea what they were getting us into.  There now appears to be a very basic question of Democracy vs. Oligarchy, or maybe even war between the United States and the Russian Mafia. Admitting this to ourselves may be necessary to preserve our way of life.

This is no longer funny or even interesting.  This has gone way beyond anything resembling business as usual.  This is (or should be) scaring the hell out of people.  It is time for you to get tough.   Teddy Kennedy tough.  Ike Eisenhower tough.  FDR tough.

The ship is going down.   Stop rearranging deck chairs and start bailing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Age Of Trump – Sleepless Nights And Troubled Days

Acid stomach and bad dreams are rare conditions for me.   Recently, they have become increasingly common.  They arrived with the age of Trump.

Night before last,  I was awakened by a dream about the Donald.   I couldn’t remember the content of the dream, only his orange face with white raccoon eyes and blond hair helmet.   A character out of a cartoon horror story.   Woke me right up.

Last night everything was peaceful, until one of our smoke detectors decided to sound off for no good reason around five AM.    It’s a new smoke detector, too.  Bought the thing just a year ago.  It’s hard-wired with a battery backup, so it should still be okay, but it’s not.   Now I’ll have to buy another new smoke detector.  I don’t know how, but I’m pretty sure its connected to Trump.  He probably owns stock in the  smoke detector company and has tiny cameras installed in each one with images fed via satellite back to Moscow.

It”s Nixon all over again, except this time we’re the ones suffering from paranoia, wandering the halls and talking to portraits.   Last night I asked one of my long-dead grandparents for some input.   No response.

The smoke detector alone would have been of little consequence.  After pulling it out of the wall, disconnecting the chord, yanking out the battery and verbally sentencing it to the bowels of hell,  I was able to go back to bed and sleep for a few more hours.   The challenge came when I woke up, flipped open my computer and read the headlines.

Trump had managed to  threaten the Iranians over something that might or might not be an infraction against the treaty they signed(with Trump it apparently does not matter), he had hung up on the Prime Minister of Australia, threatened to send the military into Mexico and suggested to those present at the National Prayer Breakfast that they should pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger and his show “The Apprentice,” which continues to suffer from a ratings-slump – with Trump suggesting there was no way Schwarzenegger could compete with him in a ratings race on television.

All of this hit me like a brick, as I was  still trying to recover from Steve “Breitbart” Bannon being given a seat on the Nat’l Security Council (while the Director of Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs were shown the door), George Orwell’s book “1984” zooming to the top of amazon.com’s bestseller list,  two million Brits signing a petition to cancel a state visit to keep der Trumpenfuhrer out of their country and Vladimir Putin’s decision to once again open fire on those poor people in Ukraine,  just after he had talked with Donald on the phone.   The speculation, is that after Donald refused to lift the sanctions against Russia, Putin got PO’d and told his guys along the border to start shooting.    Again.

You have to wonder if they’ll stop shooting when Donald lifts the sanctions giving Exxon the ability to make billions on all that wonderful Russian oil they plan on sucking out of the ground?  Watch for it.

Beyond Putin and the Russians,  I’m not sure Donald understands the whole potential for the unintended consequences thing.   Not sure he realizes who he now is.

The best suggestion thus far on how to  fix this mess came from Mr. Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California, when he suggested that he and Trump should switch jobs, giving Trump the ability to prove that he can improve the ratings on “The Apprentice” while putting Arnold in the White House would let Americans, once again sleep peacefully through the night without acid stomachs, Trumpian nightmares or a need to worry about being confronted by whack-a-doodle headlines in the morning.

I know Arnold isn’t eligible to be president.  I know he wasn’t native born, and that a great many people have issues with him following his split with Maria and all,  but hey,  let me have my dreams, okay?  With Trump and a spineless hoard of Republicans in the House  and Senate (except for John McCain and Lindsey Graham), they’re all I have left.

Or perhaps, in one final act of Nixonian desperation,  we should all get down on our knees and pray while wondering whether this latest feud between Arnold and DJT is nothing more than a publicity stunt, designed to bump up the numbers for “The Apprentice.”

Mr. Trump has woven such a terribly tangled web that it is nearly impossible to harbor any hope.   How can it exist in the absolute absence of trust?