Friday, July 6, 2018

Put My Mind At Ease, Conservatives

                                                 

I'm really asking these questions respectfully to try to learn why I'm so nervous and you're not. Do you have answers that I don't have? If you do, please share them.

I've been anxious about Russia from the very beginning. Put all those questions about collusion and obstruction aside. For the sake of argument, I'll accept your claim that it is all baseless.

But why did several Republican senators spend the Fourth of July in Moscow meeting with their Russians counterparts with no Democrats, no press, no official agenda or transcript of what was discussed. Does that make you even a little bit uneasy? What do you think it was all about? 

And, reportedly when Trump meets with Putin in July, he wants a one on one meeting - again with no press and no schedule of what they will discuss. We will be dependent on Moscow to tell us what went on as we have been every time the two leaders have met. Why is that do you suppose?  I'd sort of like to be informed, wouldn't you?

The Republicans changed exactly one thing on their platform - a statement to go lighter on Russia regarding its attack on Ukraine.

Since the election, our government has acceded to everything Putin had on his wish list. There is a huge divide between America and its allies. It appears Trump is ready to pull us out of NATO, the alliance that has kept mostly peace in the world since the end of World War II. Is that a good thing, do you think? Do you really believe Putin and Kim Jung Un are better and more reliable friends to us than Germany, France, England and Canada?

Putin wants to divide us from our traditional allies in every way. Trump cooperatively withdrew America from the Paris Accords, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, The Human Rights Commission, The Iran Agreements. The negotiations on NAFTA have broken down. All these have been replaced with...nothing. And yet, with not nearly the safeguards to ensure compliance as the Iran Agreement, Trump assures us we can rest easy because North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.

Trump thinks Russia should be allowed back in the G7 although he was rejected for taking Crimea and attacking Ukraine and that hasn't changed. Trump is talking about letting bygones and simply allowing Russia to keep Crimea.

He called to congratulate Putin even though everyone knows his "election" was a sham. Putin is a dictator, not an elected leader.

Trump didn't want to impose sanctions on Russian and refused until Congress forced his hand. Even then, he waited a year.

Please assure me, Conservatives, that you honestly see nothing to be alarmed about in all of this...and please explain why you feel that way.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

....Or Maybe Both

                                                

I have watched my country teeter on the abyss for several years. Of course, Trump couldn't do it alone. It took the Republicans to pave the way of destroying our democracy for him to bring it to this point. It began when they impeached Clinton for partisan reasons. It went on when they stated their goal of obstructing Obama on everything he tried to do including government shutdowns, threats to default on our debt, threats to push us over a fiscal cliff, sequesters. We were almost ready for Trump by the time Mitch McConnell refused to give Obama's Supreme Court nominee a hearing and instead held up the confirmation process for a year. It continued when they spent years and millions of dollars to try to undermine Hillary (which they successfully did although they found zip in the end) and now they are in a hurry to complete the Mueller investigation - go figure). .

So then we get Trump with a little help from his friends and even not-so-much his friends - James Comey and Vladimir Putin. In the time since, the Republicans have changed their minds on everything they always said they believed in. The national debt is soaring. Forget free trade - now they love tariffs. Any attempt to cooperate on a comprehensive immigration bill is dead on arrival.In fact, any attempt to cooperate with the other side on anything is extinct.

And it has been the same with evangelical Christians. Jesus? Who's that? Remember how they once said "character counts"?  Forget that nonsense, that was only when it was the other guy. Now they love them some amoral, vile, filthy-mouthed cheater. Both the lilly-livered Republicans and the hypocritical Christians have been conned and they probably know it. I believe they have willingly traded integrity for power.

That power will have been immensely consolidated if Trump gets to choose a Supreme Court justice and I don't see how the Dems can stop him. Ironically, this justice will probably end up voting on issues that arise from the Russian investigation and do you think Trump isn't intensely aware of that? (Pardons anyone?) How about that not confirming a justice during election years. Oh, no, now we discover that only applies to presidential election years. The people's voices don't count in mid-term elections.

There are lots of things that disturb me deeply about Trump. How he is withdrawing us from our previous leadership positin in the world, for instance (which is to Russia and China's benefit). How he takes us out of negotiated agreements with no replacement plan whatsoever - the Paris Accords, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Human Rights Commission, the Iran Agreement. Possibly NAFTA will be next. He just leaves them hanging out there with no solution in sight.  His penchant for a trade war which he says can be easily won though history tells us that not only aren't they easy to win, they can't be won at all. Meanwhile, Harley Davidson moves part of its work over seas, GM lays off, Our soybean farms are losing money. A nail factory in Missouri shuts down an assembly line for lack of parts...and on and on. And the Trump Cult eats it up. This is their idea of Making America Great Again. I despise the cruelty of our Zero Tolerance immigration policy and well, just the viciousness and deceit of this administration generally. I stress about the environmental rollbacks that will send us back to acid rain and polluted air and dirty water and despoiling national parks and shrinking national monuments. I hate his corruption, nepotism and the way he uses the White House as a gravy train that pours money directly into the Trump coffers. For example, he shouldn't even have anything to do with Trump International Hotel as there is a regulation that government property isn't to be leased to government officials. Trump brushes off these nit-picky little rules as if they don't apply to him and he must be right.

But one thing worries me more than all the others. New Congresspeople and presidents can be voted in. Executive orders can be overturned. Laws can change. Even Supreme Court rulings can be overruled in time (that is probably about to happen with Roe V Wade and gay marriage).

No, it is virtually turning us over to the Russians that I'm most afraid of. Republicans used to hate Russia too but that is another thing they've changed their minds about. They dismiss the Mueller investigation - and in fact, do everything they can to trash Mueller, Rosenstein and Wray - none of them angry Democrats. Republicans all and appointed by Trump himself. They demand unconstitutional access into evidence from an on-going investigation. They threaten to impeach Rosenstein if he doesn't comply with their ridiculous orders.

From the beginning, it was pretty clear that Trump was in bed with Russia. So many in his campaign met with Russian officials and lied about it. They changed the Republican platform to please Putin. Michael Flynn was tweeting a Russian oligarch during Trump's Inaugural Address. Many high-up Russians got tickets to the inauguration as well as the private dinners held afterwards. Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign manager met with Russians in Trump tower to get dirt on Hillary, then lied about what they discussed (with Trump himself writing the false narrative). The Russians visit the Oval Office after Trump is elected and he tells them that he fired Comey and now the Russian problem is off his mind. Incidentally, he also divulges classified information we'd received from Israel. And Russian press only at this meeting only, no Americans. Jared Kushner talks to Russian about setting up a back channel with Russia in their embassy so our intelligence can't listen in.

Mueller has so far gotten 20 indictments, 5 guilty pleas, a former Trump campaign manager in jail but the Republicans pooh-pooh it all. They impugn the honesty and honor of the very foundations of our democracy- the Department of Justice, the legal system, the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.

Trump has to be be pushed to enforce the sanctions Congress imposed almost unanimously on Russia (back when Republicans still had a shred of loyalty to their country).

He meets with Putin privately - no Americans. We always have to find out about interactions between the U.S. and Russia through their media. We get the transcripts of their calls from Russia - even Fox isn't told!

Trump turns on our allies and wants to let Russia back into the G7. He is probably going to pull us out of NATO. He actually offers better trade deals to countries (i.e. France) if they leave the European union. These are all things Putin wants badly.

So why is Trump engaging in this treasonous behavior? I can only think of two reasons: 1) Russia is blackmailing him. This could very well be. Back when American banks refused to lend him any money because he was such a deadbeat businessman, Russian banks came to his rescue so they probably know a lot about his various financial deals and entanglements. Or 2) he has been promised a gigantic pay-off when he's done being president.

Pick your poison.








Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sickening to Watch

                                              

I liked Barack Obama. I thought he was an excellent president. Did I agree with him 100 percent of the time? No. Did I ever criticize him? Yes and you can go back into my blogs and see for yourself if you doubt me. Did I accept every word he said as the gospel on par with the Sermon on the Mount? Of course not. I have my heroes but I don't worship any of them (no, not even Hillary Clinton).


But this is how Trump's supporters see him - as just one step away from a God. They believe the most fantastical things if he tells them it is so. I had two people on Facebook just today tell me, they still believe Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim. They still say "lock her up" without a smidgen of evidence against her of any criminal wrong-doing - and its not like the Republicans weren't searching every nook and cranny trying to find anything they could hang their hats on.

Yet, they totally dismiss the Mueller Investigation as a witch hunt despite reams of evidence, 20 indictments, five guilty pleas and a jailed former campaign manager. They shrug it all off as meaning nothing.

Trump can lie and lie and all you have to do to know it is watch his limited press availabilities on the White House lawn (he doesn't do real press conferences). He says one thing one day and the exact opposite the next and then watch his fans shift in a great wave to whatever he said most recently, never doubting his ever-changing statements.

This is the very definition of a cult - unquestioning loyalty and obedience. Trump says he envies Kim Jung Un because his people stand and wave when they see him. Ah, wouldn't it be nice to be a dictator?

Because Donald loves him some autocrats. The worst they treat their people, the better he likes them - Kim, Putin, Duterte, Xi. They're tough, don't you know. Meanwhile, our allies for the last 70 years are two-faced weaklings. Piss on Britain, France, Canada, Germany, the E.U., NATO. In the words of a Trump administration official, our new national motto is: "we're America, Bitch."

And our latest inhumane Trump policy to be ashamed of - snatching immigrant children out of the arms of their parents and putting them in detention centers, the latest of which will be a tent city in the 100 degree southern Texas heat. It was bad enough when Arpaio did it to adults but children?

Meanwhile, Republicans won't take him on. They are too frightened of his tweets. They might lose their cushy jobs if they criticize him! Anyway, they sold their souls for a Supreme Court Justice long ago. And evidently, the evangelicals can overlook a policy that would have made Jesus cry because they evidently want power more than salvation.

And then Trump bald-faced lies about his new policy, saying that it is the Democrats who initiated it, which it absolutely false.

But all he had to do it say for for it to become true to his brainwashed followers.

Trump is a cruel, corrupt person. You only had to watch the debates and see what fun he had demeaning his opponents to understand that we've seen it even more every day of presidency. Oddly, this is what the Trumpies love most about him. He mean and racist and anti-woman and he gives them permission to be the same. They know longer have to be "politically correct". They can say nigger if they want to....and many of them do.

It is really sickening to watch what has happened to our country under Trump and his robots..




Friday, June 8, 2018

Trump's Walls

                                                    

Donald Trump campaigned on the idea of a "big, beautiful wall". It was supposed to be a wall between Mexico and the U.S. That wall may or may not ever happen but he definitely has been engaged in wall building ever since he moved into the White House.

Unfortunately, the walls he's been so busily constructing are between different groups of Americans. He's built walls between whites and African-Americans, between whites and Latinos, between whites and Muslims, between men and women, between gays and straights, between conservatives and liberals. We are now divided into our own tribal groups and the obstacles between us are so high and so thick that we can't see through or around them.

Trump rules by fear and he, his followers believe, is the only one who can save us.

This president has divided us from our most trusted agencies of government - the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the Intelligence agencies. None of them can be relied upon to do the right thing anymore. They are all part of the nonsensical deep state. The administration trashes Robert Mueller, James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, all of whom have spent their lives in honored public service. All the judges who signed off on FISA court warrants are are guilty of deceit. John McCain was a traitor but it doesn't matter because he is almost dead anyway.

The Mueller investigation is a "witch hunt" although it has so far resulted in the indictments of 20 people and guilty pleas from five more for collusion/obstruction/or coordination with Russia.

Trump has divided us from our friends. He is at the G7 Summit in Canada as I write this. We are riven from our most staunch allies - Britain, France, Germany, Canada. Meanwhile, he believes Russia should be allowed back into the G7 (that used to be the G8) although Russia was ejected for invading Crimea and that hasn't changed). He also has worked a deal with China to save their giant telecommunications company though they were sanctioned for engaging in espionage against us. What is that all about?

Trump has deliberately built a wall between Americans and their most admired sports heroes even though he knows good and well that taking a knee never had anything to do with the national anthem or honoring our flag and soldiers.

On the other hand, Donald Trump has torn down some walls too. The once-unscalable wall between truth and lies is all but gone. So is the wall between corruption and the Rule of Law. Anything goes in Trump World and you only have to look at Head of the EPA, ScottPruitt, with his dozen ethics investigations, for the perfect example.

I have watched the gutless Republicans and my conservative friends disappear down the rabbit hole of conspiracy, following their president. It started with Obama not being an American and it has gone on from there. No matter what he says, they buy into it even though most of it is sheer lunacy. Obama was an American Christian. There is no witch hunt. There is no "deep state".

I have no idea how this will end but I don't think it will be in a good way for our democracy.




Sunday, May 27, 2018

How Much Does Your Boss Buy When He Pays You?

                                            

I  have been thinking a lot about athletes lately. Well, not just athletes, employees in general. (You have a great deal of time to think when you're hooked to an intravenous tube for six days).

In my 50 years of working, I've been a bartender, a punch press operator, a solderer, a secretary, an executive assistant, an insurance underwriter and many more. I will admit that over that time, I developed a somewhat contentious relationship to management. It always seemed to me that, in general, the head offices had all the power and didn't hesitate to use it to unfair advantage, not all of them, but most of them.

So, the question is: how much of you does your employer buy when they pay you to work for them? If we are going to have a hard and fast rule, then it should be the same for everyone. If your boss essentially owns you from the time you clock in (rhetorically speaking) until you punch out, then that's the rule If they say, you can't take a knee during the national anthem, there you go. If they sayyou must provide contraceptive products to customers (against your conscience), then so be it. If they say you must marry gay people, you marry them. Refusal to play by management rules is automatically grounds for dismissal.

Forget all that stuff about free speech and civil rights. It doesn't exist when you're on the clock. 

And politicians should keep their noses out of these issues and not take sides either way, putting an unfair thumb on the scales.

Okay,  Done deal. Seems rather draconian and undemocratic to me but the rules are the rules.

What about on your own time? If your boss loves Donald Trump but you wear a prominent "Impeach Trump" button when you're off the job, can he forbid you to wear it? What about talking at work? I was once employed in factory where we were trying unionize and some people were terminated for discussing it on the assembly line. (Only the pro-union people, not those who were opposed).

What brought this up, of course, is NFL players (most of whom are black) taking a knee during the National Anthem. Something that had absolutely nothing to do with patriotism or the military but tried to highlight injustices in the black community. It offended many football fans (most of whom are white) and they boycotted the games. Trump initially brought up this controversy and he revives it whenever it starts to flag as a way to keep his base stirred up.

Naturally, being all about the bottom line, the NFL caved and decided to ban taking a knee during the anthem.

A friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook saying, "he died for my freedom, the least I can do is stand for the anthem" seemingly unaware of the irony of that word freedom in that sentence. He died for their freedom too, the freedom to protest injustice where they see it.

I wonder why this offends people so much? The players harm no one. They don't slow down the game; they don't stop work It affects no one in any impactful way but it make many Americans livid because they conflate it with patriotism. And these are rich black spoiled babies. They should be grateful, not protesting. Who do they think they are? In the immortal words of Laura Ingraham, "shut up and dribble" (or punt or whatever the comparable football term is). Maybe, as the president says, they shouldn't even be allowed to live in this country.

I've always hated the way we unconsciously say owners as if these rich white men own not only the sport but the players themselves.

But then American have almost always submissively accepted the concept that the boss who pays you, owns you while you're on his clock and even sometimes when you're not.








Sunday, May 13, 2018

It's Official - I'm a Hater

                                                   

I went 72 years without being a hater. My motto was "to each his own". That's not to say I wasn't critical in my writing of things I disapproved of. I could be sarcastic and snarky. But I never hated, not Ronald Reagan or George W Bush, though they were two of my least favorites. I never doubted their patriotism even when I vociferously fought against some of their policies.

When my candidate lost an election, I shrugged it off and said, "life goes on, there will always be another election."

But that attitude has collapsed in the face of Donald Trump and now I am a full-fledged hater. In fact, I'm not sure hate is strong enough. I despise this president and detest his administration for its lies and its cheating and its cruelty. I loathe the Republican party for the sycophantic and gutless ways it is letting Trump get away with what he's doing without resistance. I despair over all the ways I see my country being dragged down to a level I never remember before.

I have so often read that hate comes from fear. The right-wing fear Muslims, African Americans, gays, Latinos, women who speak up. Their fears result in tyrannical and vicious laws - Muslim bans, taking immigrant children away from their parents, refusing to allow gay families to adopt the babies who need them. Legislation that denies kids sex education, denies women contraception, denies them abortion, then want to deny them the subsidies that help them raise those very children.

Fear is what has inspired me to hate too. I don't deny it. I'm terrified of what Trump is doing to this country. All our principles - from the Rule of Law to Due Process (Lock her up!) are in danger. All the agencies we once trusted - from the Justice Department to the F.B.I. - are being undermined and condemned as "deep state" traitors. Our free press is being attacked as fake news.

At this point, I am honestly not sure that our democracy can survive Donald Trump and his Swampy cronies.

I am stunned that so many of my fellow Americans don't see it. They hear him call people demeaning names and they laugh. They chant "lock her up" without charges, indictments or convictions. Just their hate is evidently enough for them....and more and more I hate them back for their blindness and their ignorance. And it seems, the more Christian they claim to be, the more they jump on the bandwagon.

I know this is not a good road to go down. Mutual hate leads to no place positive. But I don't know what to do about it. As long as they are in charge, I think I will be a hater.






Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dishonest Doctor - Dishonest Patient

                                              

Really, if we'd been paying attention, wouldn't the situation with Dr. Harold Bornstein have told us everything we needed to know about Donald Trump right up front?

I thought Bornstein was a total fruit loop the first time I ever heard him speak. I never believed for one minute that he came up with the exaggerated claims about Trump's superior health on his own. I don't consider him a legitimate doctor and I don't consider Trump a legitimate patient. Now Bornstein admits that Trump dictated his own report. The good doctor explains it away by saying it was "black humor". Seriously, lying to the American people about their president's health is supposed to be funny? It should be criminal on both their parts.

Forget all the other scandals that are going on in the Trump administration. Let's just consider what this relatively small incident (in the wider scheme of things) reveals about Donald Trump.

1) Lying. We learned from the git-go that Trump has absolutely no compunction about lying if he feels its in his best interest. All this time later, he has proven it over and over again. We just seem to accept that we can't trust him now....about anything.

2) No respect for his office. I can't think of any other president we've ever had who would brush off their own medical examination as a big joke. (In fact, I can't imagine how anyone would have Bornstein as their doctor for decades.  wonder how many times he's treated Big Don for a sexually transmitted disease?)  It shows us that Trump has nothing but contempt for the gravity and dignity of being president.

3) No ethics. At the very least, it is unethical to fake a medical report.

4)  No loyalty. Presumably, Dr Bornstein was willing to go along with Trump's deceit because he wanted to move into the White House as the President's Physician. But after their many years of association, Bornstein made a fatal mistake- he let it out that Trump took Alopecia for hair loss. And questioning the vain Trump's swoop of orange hair, just could not be borne. So Bornstein ended up under the bus, (where the President's Physican, Admiral Ronny Jackson, ended up as well along with so many others in the administration).

5) Preference for bully tactics rather than the Rule of Law. There is a legal process for obtaining the president's medical records. Instead, according to Bornstein, the president's body guard, an attorney and another man he didn't know swooped in in what was more a raid than a transfer of records. They also demanded Bornstein take a picture of Trump off his wall. This all sounds a little hinky because Bornstein never reported it. He said he was frightened and intimidated. Still, it is in keeping with how we know Trump behaves.

So, the whole Bornstein episode sums up Donald Trump in a nut shell...if only we'd taken it seriously