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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Republicans' Forty Pieces of Silver

                                        

I think I'm going to have to back off on politics and Facebook for a while. Watching what is happening to my country is just too depressing as a daily diet. I belong to a group called The Deplorables. I don't know how that happened. I certainly never "liked" their page and I never share their posts. Still, for some reason, they are always the first posts on my timeline....sometimes six or seven in a row....or more. How does that happen do you suppose? Do they pay Facebook to get preferential placement? I've often thought that a significant number of them must be Russian bots trying to sow distrust and division among Americans. If so, they are doing a great job. We all know, as the old saying goes, "politics ain't beanbag." It can be rough and dirty. If you are thin-skinned, you might want to stay out of the political kitchen. But The Deplorables are beyond rough and dirty. They are vicious; they are vile; they are malevolent. They are hate-filled in a way I've never seen in America before. They are frightening.

And, oh, do they love themselves some Donald Trump. The nastier he is, the more they adore him.

For all my early years, I loved the political skirmish. Ronald Reagan and George Bush were my least favorite presidents but I didn't despise them and I didn't despise their supporters. I didn't think they were traitors. I didn't think they hated America. I believed politics was a cycle. You win some and lose some. When you lose, you fight to win the next time and the other side does the same. We all had America's best interests at heart, we simply disagreed on how to achieve them.

Now, I'm sitting here in mid-America thinking America has totally lost it's way and that has been going on since long before Trump. He is just the culmination of it.

I believe it started with Bill Clinton's impeachment. The Republican's knew what Clinton did was not a high crime or misdemeanor but it seems that this is the time they decided they would no longer play by any rules. They just wanted to win....period. Ken Starr had been the special prosecutor for 14 months before we heard of Monica Lewinsky. It was an investigation in search of a crime. And putting all Clinton's most personal information on the internet was just an extra humiliation. They did it because they could add that extra jab, not because it was "the public's right to know", as they claimed.

And then came Obama and again the Republicans put all the traditions and rules and customs and honor of Congress behind them. They obstructed everything Obama tried to do, even things they believed in before, like the Individual Mandate and Cap and Trade. They engaged in endless, expensive investigations that went nowhere although they got tons of mileage out of their scurrilous allegations.  They held up Obama's nominations so there were judgeships and leadership positions kept vacant. The last straw was holding up the nomination of a Supreme Court justice for an entire year.

During the Obama years, it was the Tea Party that made the false claims about the president not being born in the U.S., being a Muslim, hating America and those of us who voted for him got tarred with the same brush. I guess they've morphed into the Deplorables. In the last few years, I've been called a communist, a socialist, a libtard, a traitor and an America hater.

That brings us to Donald Trump. We have actually elected a man totally unfit to be our president. He's erratic and unstable. He's cruel and corrupt. He's ignorant and crude. There is not a single molecule of class in his entire bullying, braggartly soul. Our allies hate him, our enemies love him. He's a racist and a misogynist.

And again, it is all down to the Republicans. He belongs to them. They could exercise some semblance of control over this monstrous man but they don't because they need him to rip off our healthcare, reward their donors, and screw us on "tax reform". It's too late for them. They sold their soul to the devil long ago and now he's come to collect our democracy. 






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Where Is Your Dividing Line?







I'm ashamed to admit, I've always been a somewhat self-indulgent political activist. While others were out carrying signs and boycotting various businesses, I wrote some words about my views and called it a day. Boycotts have always been around but we seem particularly prone to them now.

I never get pizza from Papa John's, not only because I can't stand him, but because I think his pizzas are crappy. I've only had Chik-Fil-A a couple of times and I thought they were about on par with every other fast food chicken sandwich I ever ate. I've never patronized Hobby Lobby but it is because I've never been able to make a flower out of  tissue or a cute little pipe cleaner guy.

I have the opposite problem as most conservatives when it comes to sports. I favor the side of the kneeling football players but I don't like watching football. NASCAR is my sport and they have warned the drivers not to kneel, not that I think any of them would anyway. Why would they? We will have an African-American driver in 2018 and that will bring us clear up to....one.

But, it doesn't matter, I'm not giving up NASCAR. It would be cutting off my nose to spite my face and I'm too selfish to do that.

There are liberal websites that will keep you up to date on all the places you're suppose to boycott but its too hard. Take the Koch Brothers. Every liberal despises the Koch Brothers but they make about half the stuff in the United States, from energy to plastics to paper towels to plywood and on and on and on. Good luck not adding to their bottom line.

I'm supposed to boycott Amazon. I'm not exactly sure why but it is irrelevant because it will never happen. I love Amazon. I buy lots of books there and I got my last microwave and my last printer (after reading all the reviews) from them...delivered right to my door.

I detest Walmart but I still go there sometimes because it is conveniently located here in town. I'd like to support Target's bathroom policy but Target is 40 miles away. I'm sorry, but my political passions don't extend that far.

And not everything is all black or all white. We are currently going through allegation after allegation of sexual harassment and trying to decide what to do about them. Do we vote for harassing politicians anyway if they espouse the causes we believe in? Do we continue to watch the comedian if he makes us laugh? Or do we boycott the producer's movies even though past experience tells them we will enjoy them.

I was asked once what movies I watched more than once. The answer was: The Lethal Weapon movies and Braveheart. All of them starred Mel Gibson, who I realize is a detestable human being. Would I watch them again in light of his ugly behavior? Yes. I would have voted for Ted Kennedy every time he ran for office if I lived in Massachusetts even though his personal life was a yuck. I thought he was a great senator. Hell, I'd vote for Bill Clinton again. When I found out George Michael was a gay alcoholic hot mess, I loved his music just the same.

So how far are we willing to go with this and where is the dividing line?

There are people who are mediocrely good and mediocrely bad. They do a few good things and a few bad things. That's most of us. But other people are spectacularly good and spectacularly bad. If a famous artist is a total jerk who uses and manipulates the people around him, is his art still praisworthy? Should we burn his paintings or can we separate superior talent from being a total ass?

I guess we all have to decide these questions for ourselves.

Friday, November 17, 2017

One Extreme to the Other






America runs everything into the ground. Take sexual harassment. When I was 15, I was the victim of attempted rape. The perpetrator was my cousin's husband's cousin. I couldn't talk about it because the boys, his friends, threatened to tell everyone at high school I was a slut. I was a sophomore and afraid. I kept my mouth shut.

It was not a defining moment in my life.  I did not have PTSD because of it. I could talk about it, then and now, without crying. I mostly forgot about it.

I worked as a bartender/waitress in a rowdy rock and roll bar. There were many instances of milder forms of harassment - unwanted kisses, breast touches, butt grabbing. I, like most of the women I knew, simply shrugged those situations off. 

Not every incident is the same. I felt not much anger at some of our customers whom I liked when they weren't being drunk and stupid. I'd give them a little push and say, "will you stop it?"

There were others from whom I sensed more malign intentions.

"Do that I again and I'll get you thrown out of here," I'd say....and they knew I meant it.

It doesn't matter what industry you are in. Doctors do it, lawyers do it, teachers do it, actors do it and politicians certainly do it. It's been going on forever and we didn't care...until recently. Now we've decided to get hysterical about the subject. Now we want to re-litigate every accusation. Well, unless the accused is someone we like, that is. I'll admit, I thought President Clinton got a raw deal. Certainly, it was true about Monica but the others? I don't know. Most of them were paid hefty sums by right wing conspiracy groups like Judicial Watch who'd been after the Clintons for years and still are. I thought he was an excellent president so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Monica didn't even come up until 14 months after Ken Starr had been appointed Special Prosecutor to find something - anything - to nail him with.

Now people are saying - "he should have resigned." Well, that's over and done with. What about the serial predator we have in the White House right now? Should he resign? I despise him and I wish he would resign but not necessarily because of sexual harassment.

We've flipped the switch in how we regard the women. We used to brush them off. Now we hasten to say we believe them.

If it is a recent case with some evidence behind it, I think we should believe them at least to the extent of doing an investigation. But I'm sorry, if it is years old, they should not be able to simply decide to make a charge and be believed if they have no proof except their word. 

I worked in the legal system for many years. I emerged from that experience with somewhat less faith in both women and men. They will both lie at times for venal reasons. She will accuse him of molesting their children because she wants custody. He will swear that she physically abused them because he wants custody. A man was just released from prison after six years when his accuser recanted. No one deserves to be believed just because they say so.

Companies and institutions like Congress need to have programs that give women support and encouragement. The one Congress has now is a pathetic joke. The law needs to take women more seriously. Co-workers need to back her up if they too have been harassed or have at least heard the stories a la Harvey Weinstein. Surely there were powerful women who could have taken him on long before now.

Women need to be more courageous about telling their stories. It isn't good enough to decide to speak out 15 years later. We need to be willing to do it now when we can nip it in the bud and not let a man go on for years preying on less powerful women.

I personally think we should set a statue of limitations, say, seven years. If you haven't spoken out by then, too bad, so sad. You lose.

But beyond that, we should let the men know that we will no longer tolerate them behaving this way. Congress, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judicial system and groups that represent professions should get serious and all should declare their willingness to throw out members who persist in being sexual harassers.

So be warned - our new attitude starts now.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Needed: A Hero

   
                                                        Image result for revolution

Well, get ready, Folks. According to all the far-right websites, Antifa (or maybe it's Black Lives Matter or maybe both) are going to start the revolution on Saturday, November 4th, only a few days away.

And the Righty's are positively gleeful about the prospect. They can hardly wait.

Some of their comments:

"Bring it on!"

"Finally, we'll get to kill some of those commie bastards!"

"Locked and loaded!"

"The streets will run red with liberal blood!"

Of course, I went to the websites of both Antifa and Black Lives Matter and I didn't see anything about revolution. They may be planning protests but why is this any different than White Nationalists and Nazis having protests in Charlottesville, Tennessee and Florida?

I have a couple of guns - a pistol and a Glock. I have high capacity magazines for the Glock but I doubt either is the weapon you'd choose for staving off a full-fledged revolution. I don't think I'd ever shoot anyone unless they actually broke into my house. I don't expect that to happen in Wabash, Indiana.

I never know on websites, such as The Deplorables, whether the people making such vile comments are really Americans or Russian bots trying to sow hatred and division among us. If it is mostly Russians, they are sure doing a  hell of a good job. You can almost see and smell and touch the hatred that oozes from these sites.

But no doubt many of them are Americans. Do they really think revolution would be fun? Do they really think bleeding bodies of fellow Americans would be cool to see? Do they really think this is the natural result they wanted when they bought all those guns?

What do they see as the end game? Do they honestly believe they can wipe out all us liberals or at least decimate us enough that we'd have no power to fight them so they could rule America as they please?  Donald Trump - Dear Leader for Life?

What we really need right now is a hero. A Franklin Roosevelt, a Bobby Kennedy, a Martin Luther King, Jr, a Nelson Mandela, a Ghandi. Obama tried to be that hero but the other side wasn't having any. This country that I thought was making progress obviously isn't ready for a Black or a female president. We crucify the first and turn the other into an evil witch.

I can't even imagine where we'd find a man with the integrity and powers of persuasion and eloquence and honor to be our hero. I don't see the man who can bring us together under the banner of American ideals anywhere on the horizon but I hope he's out there.










Friday, October 27, 2017

Retreat

                                                                    Image result for poison sign  images

I feel pretty beaten up these days in both body and spirit. I am about ready to concede that there is nothing we can do about a president and a party, the Republicans, who contaminate everything they touch except to sit back and watch it happen. Maybe that's the best way....to just let them do whatever they want and see where it takes us. Then, if everything go bad, as I believe it will, they will own it. Maybe that will bring some commonsense back to our political process. I'm not optimistic though, at least in the short term.

Lots of people are literally going around with their hair on fire trying to warn us. Not just Democrats but respected Republican senators, aides to other Republican presidents, those presidents themselves, retired generals and previous heads of agencies. Conservative Republican journalists. Directors of non-profits like medical groups. coalitions of scientists. Leaders of other countries who used to be our most important allies. When a cross-section of people like that say you are a danger to your country, it is probably true.

But we are in the grip of Trump-mania. To the people who support him, he could't tell enough lies or break enough promises or race-bait enough or make enough demeaning statements or involve himself with enough self-serving conflicts of interest to matter. If it turns out that he colluded with the Russians or obstructed justice, they will either deny it or they simply won't care. They not only wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Trump but they have them Gorilla-glued to their faces.

I hope this fever breaks before it is too late for my country.

Trump and his sycophants have brought a new spirit of meanness to America like nothing I've ever seen in my 71 years. If you don't believe me, go find The Deplorables on Facebook. They are not only vicious and vile but they glory in their filth. They believe Antifa is going to start a revolution on November 4th and they can't wait. They are locked and loaded and ready to see the streets run red with the blood of liberals.

Trump demeans everyone he comes in contact with. One by one, they all give up the honor and respect it took them a lifetime to earn by their craven submission to this president - Priebus, Spicer, Sessions, Ryan, McConnell. The latest to topple, making a particularly loud crash because he fell from such a great height is John Kelly. He did the very thing he accused others of doing - turning dead soldiers into political pawns. A once-powerful CEO, Rex Tillerson, has become a neutered shadow of his former self. Ditto McMaster. Only Mattis still has some dignity left but he is teetering on the brink.

Senators Corker and Flake told the truth before they bailed but the rest of the Republicans play poodle puppy to Trump's Great Dane. They evidently see kissing the presidents butt as a worthwhile sacrifice for a tax plan. Most of them don't even know what's in it but that's okay, they can go home and brag about getting something done and maybe, keep their jobs. "Please, Mr Bannon, I'll be good if only you won't primary me." God, they make me sick.

I have read about all the changes Trump and the R's have made so far in terms of anti-regulations and executive orders and there in not one - not one! - that isn't negative for working people! They've loosened restrictions the banks that practically bankrupted us before. They now allow mines and chemical companies to put their hazardous wastes in creeks and streams. They want to raise the fees to get into national parks. Hell, they want to privatize national parks to let energy companies in. They have changed the overtime rules so fewer people can claim overtime. Companies no longer have to keep records on how many safety violations they've had. They loosened the reins on approving hazardous chemicals. I don't even begin to have room enough to list them all. If you are interested in knowing the full record, it's easy to find on Google.

I no longer watch Trump on television. I can't stand to watch him or hear him. I think this is the most corrupt administration the United States has ever seen at least in my lifetime. Having said that, I guess I'm calling a retreat, for me, at least. I'll still write my puny words but beyond that, I feel helpless. More power to those of you who are young enough and well enough to carry on the Resistance. I wish you well but I'll be home plinking around on my computer.