Friday, February 9, 2018

From the Heights to the Depths

Tesla Motors LA Flagship Store Launch                                                    Donald Trump's back with 14 'Apprentice' All-Stars

Wow what a week - inspiration to desperation. On the one hand, we have the launch of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. (See it here.  Falcon Heavy Launch.)  I've probably watched it at least 20 times. Not only the launch itself but the booster rockets - as the Falcon Heavy was streaking its way into deep space, the boosters turned around and headed for home making perfect landings on their launch pads. Abso-freaking-lutely incredible!

To show that Elon Musk is not only an entrepreneur extraordinaire and a brilliant inventor but that he has a droll sense of humor as well, the Falcon Heavy contains a brand-new cherry-red Tesla convertible with a dummy dressed in a space suit behind the wheel. Inside the rocket, a never ending loop plays Elton John's Rocket Man.

I don't know anything about Elon Musk's personal life and I don't want to know. I'm sick of knowing about personal lives of private people. I only want to know about accomplishments. Musk is the CEO of the Tesla Company and many other enterprises. (He's a billionaire many times over). His company invented a kind of roofing material that creates its own solar energy without the need for solar panels. He offered to build the entire Puerto Rican electrical grid via solar power. If they'd let him do it, the whole island would probably have power by now.

He's a risk-taker and a visionary who wants to make the world a better place. Climate change is one of his big issues and he puts his own money where his mouth is.

(Incidentally, he is also an immigrant, a native of Pretoria, South Africa -you know, one of those shithole African countries).

And then we have this week in Trump and the Republicans. I honestly can't believe anyone can watch our government in action and not conclude that is a total shambles. We've already had two shutdowns just this years and it is only February. The politicians solved that problem for a while but in doing that and giving the rich ginormous tax breaks, those deficit hawks, the Republicans added trillions to the budget deficit. Where is it going to come from. If you said, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, you probably guessed right.

Meanwhile, Trump continues a war with his own F.B.I. and Justice Department and Republicans put out secret memos that land with a clunk all to protect Trump. Now they are working on doing the same to the State Department although it is practically a skeleton of an agency already.

Our scandal-plagued White House is now embroiled in yet another one regarding a man, Rob Porter, who abused both of his ex-wives so that the F.B.I. wouldn't grant him a security clearance even though he saw every paper that went in front of the president. But, oh, well, we already had Jared Kushner, who also couldn't qualify for a security clearance.

The White House handled this latest mess with its usual tone-deaf ham-handedness. They ignored it until it became public, then they stood up for "their guy" and finally when pictures came out, they reacted, saying they didn't know before that. Bull! The President himself is the only one who can allow people to see classified information without a security clearance.

When Trump finally came out with a statement, it was the most milquetoast thing you've ever heard. He basically praised Rob Porter and wished him well and never bothered to mention the victims. I supposed Trump, the many-times-accused assaulter, relates to Porter's situation.

Meanwhile, staff continues to leave the administration like rats leaving a sinking ship. The latest one is Rachel Brand, Number Three at the Justice Dept. She has a sterling reputation and that's probably why she's leaving. She wants it to stay that way and she sees that Trump brings everyone he comes in contact with down to his amoral level

What else? Well, Trump said Democrats were guilty of treason because they didn't clap at his State of the Union address. The stock market is in "correction territory", whatever the hell that means. John Kelly, who is one of those people who've gone from being considered admirable to one considered a pathetic sycophant said most illegal immigrants brought here as children were too lazy to get off their asses and sign up for the DACA program though I expect it is because they simply don't trust this Congress or president not to use their paperwork to deport them. I could go on but what's the use?

God, I wish we'd elected Elon Musk - or really anybody - rather than Donald Trump.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

When Does Partisanship Cross the Line into Treason? We're There.

I doubt if anyone could detest Donald Trump more than I do but I save my harshest judgment for the Republicans.

I think they have moved from being a solid, reliable party that could be depended upon to defend the norms and traditions of our system and the rule of law to morph into a party so hungry for power that there was no norm they wouldn't smash, no tradition they wouldn't trash and no law they wouldn't crash.

I personally think it began with Clinton. The Republicans were willing to throw our government into total disarray in their lust to bring down a Democrat president. After months of investigation, Clinton's impeachment came down to the low crime and misdemeanor of a blow job. In the end, they didn't convict him but their vengeance called for the next best thing - publishing the entire salacious scandal on the internet. They had to settle for humiliation.

The Bush years were relatively calm for the Republicans but then came Obama and their partisanship ramped up to derangement levels. They would approve nothing Obama wanted, even things they had pushed for before, like the Individual Mandate and Cap and Trade. They vowed to make him a one-term president no matter what that took. They engaged in governing by crisis - shutdowns and sequesters and near-defaults on our debt (which resulted in our credit rating being downgraded).

They paraded as fiscal conservatives but they passed huge tax breaks without paying for them (they were supposed to pay for themselves but, of course, they didn't. And they put two wars on our credit card so that the deficit soared.

The Hastert Rule which stated that it was never enough for a majority of Congress to approve legislation, it had to be a majority of the majority - in other words, a majority of Republicans - became their norm. And during all that time in Afghanistan and Iraq, they refused to do their jobs by debating and renewing the authorization for war. They wanted to leave Obama hanging out on his own so if it turned bad (which it did), they could say it was all the president's fault.

They did things which had never been done before like holding a Supreme Court vacancy open for 14 months so they could claim it for themselves.

And then came the Donald and things went from bad to disastrous. They know their president is a corrupt con man but they rubber stamp everything he does. They know that he colluded with the Russians and obstructed justice but instead of taking it seriously, they keep coming up with faux-scandals that turn out to be nothing to try to muddy the waters so that if and when Trump is found guilty, they can say it was all a "witch hunt".

Their congressional investigations are a farce. Devin Nunes pulls a ridiculous stunt like pretending he was bringing the White House information about the illegal unmasking of Trump officials when he actually got what information he had (which had no legitimacy) from the White House. Nunes then recused himself from the investigation - but not really. Instead he was working behind the scenes the entire time.

The Republicans and their cohorts in the conservative media have worked tirelessly to undermine the Justice Department, the F.B.I., the Intelligence agencies, our previously most trustworthy defenders against terrorism. They have claimed there was a secret group in the F.B.I. plotting to take down Trump, which was a joke. They released memos from an F.B.I. agent and F.B.I. lawyer criticizing Trump but not the ones equally as critical of Hillary, Loretta Lynch, Eric Holder, et al.

Now Nunes claims to have a memo (which he wrote himself) that he's threatened to reveal to other Republicans though not to the F.B.I. or Justice Department (because they can't be trusted, you know) despite the warning from these agencies that publicizing classified information could be dangerous to our national security. Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, continues to let this rogue congressman run wild.

They have not raised a finger to thwart the Russians from interfering in the 2018 election although we positively know what all Putin did in 2016.

This goes beyond malfeasance and steps across the line into treason.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Did You Know.....?


* Almost all the members of the National Parks Advisory Board quit this week (we don't know exactly because it is still in flux at this time). In the year since Donald Trump made Ryan Zinke the Interior Secretary, he has never met with them one time although the administration wants to remove land from National Parks, something no other president has ever done.

* When a government official like Kevin McCarthy flies to Mar-a-Lago to have dinner with Donald Trump, the taxpayers pay for Mr McCarthy's plane trip and pays Trump for his food and room, even though they were both coming back to Washington the next day. We're generous-hearted souls, aren't we?

* The Trump administration is lightening the regulations on payday lenders - this was after the group had its conference at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C.. Connected?

* The Trump administration is opening mining and drilling off all America's coastlines....except for Florida. Guess Trump doesn't want a drilling rig off the coast of Mar-a-Lago, huh?

* Many of OSHA's inspectors have quit or been fired and they aren't being replaced. Good luck to you if your employer decides to forego some of their safety policies.

* The Trump EPA is approving chemicals that were rejected by previous administrations as too dangerous.

*There were at least 19 Trump administrations transition/administration officials involved meetings with Putin's government. No administration as ever been as heavily involved in Russia. Suspicious?

* Republicans are now arguing that Trump, in an immigration meeting, didn't call Haiti and Africans nations shitholes but shithouses. Can someone explain the difference to me?

* It has been determined that the big winners in the Republican tax plan will be the big banks - yes, the very same ones that brought us to the brink of bankruptcy with their greedy, dishonest ways.

The Trump administration rescinded the regulation that mandated that investment bankers have to make decisions with the best interests of their clients at heart.

More jobs were created in the U.S. in each of the last six years of the Obama presidency than in 2017.

I could literally go on in this same vein forever but did you notice what these "did you knows" have in common? Not one of them is for the benefit of the middle class.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

America's Dear Leader


Well, we stumbled into 2018. So far, it feels pretty much like 2017. On the morning of December 31, 2017, the temperature read minus 9 degrees. By this morning of January 1, 2018, it had dropped to minus 11 degrees. Trump tweeted a New Year's Tweet that was as ungracious as usual. You'd have thought after the flamboyant New Year's Eve gala at Mar-a-Lago that featured bigwigs and red carpets and furs and jewels and any number of exotic dishes, he might have been filled with good will and passed on getting a New Year's dig in on his enemies but nope, he couldn't resist. There isn't a morsel of grace in his soul.

It's taken me two years but I finally realized why I detest Donald Trump so much: it's because of the pleasure he takes in playing the humiliation game. I've always thought humiliating someone is the worst thing you can do to them. Human beings can bear up under pain but not being stripped of their pride and dignity. I remember when the photos of Abu Ghraib were released. They literally made me sick. Leading prisoners around on all fours by means of collars and leashes. Rubbing them with human feces. Making them wear diapers. Making them stand on narrow boxes with electrodes around their testicles so they'd get a shock if they lost their balance. I was stunned that Americans would stoop that low.

I might be able to hurt someone if I was angry enough at whatever they had done but I couldn't humiliate them because humiliating a human (or hell, an animal, for that matter) humiliates you too. It shows what a pathetic human being you are. Humiliation happens when some being has more power than another and enjoys taking advantage of the situation by forcing the other to submit to moral indignities.

And I have come to the conclusion that it is this very quality about Donald Trump that so many of his acolytes love. It must make them feel superior when he labels black football players thugs and Mexicans  rapists and murderers and Muslims  terrorists. They crowed when he showed his contempt for women like Megyn Kelly and Elizabeth Warren. They howled when he labeled Hillary crooked and nasty. They cackled at his demeaning nicknames for his opponents - Little Marco and Lying Ted and Low Energy Jeb.

And yet, except for the women, he has a way of making people eat shit and act like they like it. Every one of those opponents came back to kneel before the throne before the election was over. Everyone who comes in contact with Trump is diminished. Mike Pence has elevated obsequiousness into an art form. I expect to see him tug his forelock at any minute. Even courageous men, respected men, admired men, four-star generals seem to leave their pride at the door when they enter his domain. It is painful to watch.

The Republican Party has degraded itself to stay in his good graces. I hope that tax cut for which they sold their souls is worth it. Even some of the ones who appeared to have some guts faltered before his threats in the end.

Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others7:48 AM - Jan 2, 2018

This is one of Trump's first tweets of the New Year. He sounds like a raging paranoid instead of a president! First, what he states isn't true but we are used to his lying by now. Second, no American president that I know of wanted to imprison his opponent and his predecessor. That's Banana Republic behavior. And third, "Deep State Justice Department"? Seriously. It is his Justice Department. 

I have written about the website, The Deplorables, several times. They are the hard-core Trumpies. They absolutely hero worship their leader. And they have this same penchant for shaming and debasing anyone who disagree with them. Many of their posts are absolutely vile and those are the ones that get the most likes. They are one with their hero. 

I'm 72 years old. I worked in politics for much of my life, for both Republicans and Democrats. I've worked for law enforcement, the judicial system, in taverns, offices and factories. I certainly never considered myself naive but I admit it, I am despairing about what my country has come to under this detestable man and his fawning sycophants..

Saturday, December 23, 2017

January 9, 2017 - Hurricane Donald Makes Landfall


We've all seen them interviewed. Those people, who as the meteorologists frantically warn of the storm of the century and authorities urgently advise everyone to evacuate, decide to simply hunker down instead. they believe it is all fake news. To them, scientists have no credibility and you certainly can't believe a word the government tells you. .

If they are still alive after the hurricane strikes, they are calling to be rescued from their rooftops, if they even still have roofs, or they are slopping around in hazardous waste-laden water up to their elbows. Curiously though, even then they don't back down and admit that they should have listened and got the hell out while there was still time.

This is what hard-core Trump supporters remind me of. We all watched as Hurricane Donald bore down on the U.S. During the campaign, we certainly got and abundance of portents of how shallow and vicious and corrupt and dishonest he was but, as the storm clouds swirled and the rains came, Trump supporters pooh-poohed it all.

Historians and legal scholars and professors and scientists warned us of how much damage he was capable of causing but we ignored them.

Now, it is a year later and Donald is still churning around in our atmosphere causing chaos and confusion. Most of the foundations of our democracy have been undermined - the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, the rule of law, egregious conflicts of interest in benefit of the Trump crime family, the White House itself turned into a particularly low-grade reality show. .

We've discovered why we need laws. Most of the time, traditions and customs are honored and so we think we are safe to rely on them but then the "storm of the century" comes along and the winds are higher and the waters are deeper than they've ever been before. We discover that traditions and customs don't provide protection enough to keep a rogue president in check. We need to build our political levees much higher now that we've seen how easily they can be breached.

Still, the Cult of Trump insists everything is better than ever. You can say, "but your house only has two walls and those two are covered in mold."

"That's Obama's fault," they insist, "Trump is going to fix it all."

And you may as well just agree and walk away. They don't live in the same world you do.

Incidentally, speaking of hurricanes, here's my prediction - I read that more and more Puerto Ricans are fleeing the aftermath of Maria and foreclosures are rampant. I bet the Fat Cats are buying up properties on the cheap even now. Eventually, luxury resorts will replace native Puerto Ricans and their homes and businesses and the new rich owners will expect praise for "bringing Puerto Rico back."

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bizarro Trumplandia - Black is White and Up is Down


Yes - this is what it feels like to watch your country slowly circling the drain and feeling helpless to do anything about it. This is what it feels like to know that a significant minority of your fellow citizens have happily entered into Bizarro Trumplandia where up is down and black is white and Vladimir Putin is more trusted than our own law enforcement and intelligence services.

No one who is paying even minimal attention can deny that the Trump campaign/administration colluded with the Russians, then obstructed justice to cover it it. We now know about the many Russian contacts Trump officials lied about. We know from Don Junior's own emails that Russia offered dirt on Hillary and the Trumpies jumped at the chance to play ball. We now know that they were in league with WikiLeaks and getting advance notice of what would be dumped on the public. We know Russia had an advanced agenda of targeted fake news and social media hacks to sway the results of our election. We know Trump wanted to lift the sanctions on the Russians from Day One but Congress stopped it. We know that Trump refused to accept what all our intelligence services said was true and continues to love him some Vladimir.  We know that our government is doing absolutely nothing to prevent this from happening again in 2018 and 2020.

And we know that in Bizarro Trumplandia, the whole Russian investigation into the Trump administration is a hoax because it was really Hillary and Obama and the FBI and the CIA who were the guilty parties! Black is white and up is down!

We know we have to find out every single interaction between our President and Putin from the Russians. These aren't on Trump's official calendar. We don't know until the Russians tell us. It is only Russian interpreters who are invited to sit in, not Americans. When the president met with two Russians in the Oval Office, only a Russian photographer was allowed in, no America media. We got our pictures from the Russians. This was, incidentally, the meeting at which Trump revealed classified intelligence (originally from Israel) to the Russians.

This is what it feels like to see an authoritarian president undermine all the pillars of our democracy, one by one - the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department - and on to lesser institutions like the EPA, the Center for Disease Control, the Education Department, the Interior Dept, the National Parks Department.

Have you seen the video of one of Trump's nominees for federal court judge who could not answer the simplest questions? Here is Mr. Peterson . Four of the president's nominees have been judged unqualified by the American Bar Association. This is the kind of boobs Trump is packing our court's with despite his assertion that he is putting in "only the best people".

And of course, the media comes in for consistent trashing. In Bizarro Trumplandia, you can't trust our venerable old new agencies like the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, CNN or NBC. No. Only nutcase conspiracy sources like Info Wars and Breitbart and Gateway Pundit can be trusted to tell you the truth. Black is white and up is down.

And what a huge disappointment the Republicans have been. Some of them had a bit of backbone in the campaign but now they've all seem to have tiptoed into Bizarro Trumplandia themselves. They are buying the story about the FBI and Robert Mueller being in cahoots in a biased investigation. Despite the praise they heaped on Mueller back at the beginning, they are singing a different tune now and it seems likely they will be willing to rubber stamp whatever Trump decides to do. Fire Mueller, for instance.

I guess this is all in service of their precious tax plan which looks as though it will pass. That has to be about donors (which, in fact, they've admitted publicly) because it certainly isn't about doing anything for the American working class, since the bulk of of the cuts go to wealthy Americans and corporations. The Republicans have these twin obsessions - tax cuts for the rich and repealing Obamacare. Both of those bills have proven to be extremely unpopular but the Republicans don't care about their constituents, they are forging ahead anyway. I think many of the old bull Republicans are looking toward retirement in this vicious Washington environment and simply want to take the money and run.

In Trumplandia, the president is little short of a God. I had a debate with a Facebook friend about her 401K which she said has increased tremendously under Trump. I said, "well, it must have increased tremendously under Obama too then, since the stock market tripled under his watch." But she absolutely wouldn't hear it and insisted it didn't begin going up until Trump took over. Black is white and up is down.

And so I watch despairingly. I have cancer. My hope is to live until this Trumplandia fever dream has run its course and my country is back on the right track again.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

We Need to Start From Now.

Why not Al Franken? Some think the senator and former comic could be Hillary’s VP - St. Louis ...

I am so sick of all this sexual harassment crap. Holier-than-thou Democrats force out their politicians while Republicans support theirs and say, "screw you if you don't like it". Meanwhile, Kristan Gillibrand (who I normally like) and her cohorts insist that Democrats must be the party of purity. Baloney, there is no such thing as a party of purity.

And there we Democrats sit with our thumbs up our butts and our purity hung around our necks while the conscienceless party controls the House,  the Senate and the White House. They flat out tell us they want the votes to give rich people a huge tax cut and savage our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in order to lessen some of the debt the tax bill will run up and they'll do whatever it takes to get them.

Do Democrats really think this is a winning strategy? I haven't seen any signs that the moral high has played into our hands so far, have you? True, we did well in Virginia and New Jersey this year but those states both trend blue anyway. Let's look at this again when we win in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee based on who can claim the moral high ground.

And this nonsense about every woman must be believed because she's a woman - do we think people like Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, the Mercers, the Kochs, Judicial Watch wouldn't pay women to make allegations against Democratic politicians? Are you kidding? They are the same ones who made up a ludicrous trumped-up (and I do mean, Trumped Up) story about Hillary Clinton running a child porn ring out of a pizza parlor. There is no vile line in the sand they wouldn't cross.

And are there woman who would gladly take the money in return for dishing dirt? Yes, there freaking are! The Washington Post outed one just last week.

I personally always thought that at least some of Bill Clinton's accusers were paid by the "vast right-wing conspiracy".  

I certainly don't deny that we have a sexual harassment problem in this country but we've had it for years, decades. We can't go back 10, 20, 30 years and correct it now. We need to give everyone a clean slate and say, "now you know the rules and we will allow zero tolerance for breaking them so it will be on you if you do."

Women, if you didn't come forward until years later, too bad although I understand the reasons you probably didn't. You made your bed. We need to institute new policies that encourage women to tell their stories in a timely fashion and protect them if they do. We need to set penalties based on actual actions. What Franken has been accused of is not nearly as serious as what Roy Moore was alleged to have done...or even Donald Trump for that matter. And we need to set the same standard for all abusers - not a harsh one for Democrats and a tolerant one for Republicans. It shouldn't be that Dems admit what they did and apologize and get booted while Republicans deny everything and go on about their business.

I'm sorry, Ladies, if you think I'm not sufficiently sympathetic to your sad stories of groping or unwanted kisses 20 years ago. Hell, I was probably the subject of groping and unwanted kisses back then to. Life goes on.

We need to start from now and go from there.