Tuesday, March 13, 2018

America' 'Liddle" President.


It's hard to know what to write about on any given day during the Trump administration. There's so much chaos and confusion (some of it would be comedic if it weren't so serious). You finally pick a subject and complete your first paragraph when you're alerted that some new, even bigger thing has happened.

Like the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today. And it's not that I have any great affection for Rex Tillerson or that I don't think presidents shouldn't get to choose their own staff - it is his nasty, petty, gutless way of doing it. Trump actually wanted to be even more slimy by calling the SOS when he was in Africa but I guess he was talked out of it by John Kelly so he called just after Tillerson arrived back home (Trump, of course, was winging his way across the country on Air Force One). That is about the same as Trump did with James Comey. He fired him when he was in California and was pissed because the F.B.I. let him ride back to Washington on a government plane. For a man who made his fame and fortune saying, "you're fired!", he prefers the cowardly way of "termination by tweet" in real life instead doing it face-to-face.

This is what I despise most about Trump although I loathe many things about him - his lying, his policies, his greed, his corruption - but it is his penchant for humiliation that really stokes my fire of dislike. I hated it during the campaign when he found demeaning little nicknames for his opponents. I hated it when he targeted Hillary with Crooked Hillary and then his abject fans obediently and gleefully shouted, "lock her up!" Now we're getting to see it all again in triple time because he's back on the campaign trail.

This is not the behavior of a president with any grace whatsoever, but, of course, it has continued into his administration. Hardly a member of his staff or politicians on either side of the aisle have escaped his scathing mockery. Yet most of them have swallowed the indignities to which he subjects them without complaint. When you're in this position, do you eventually build up a tolerance to being abused, sort of like battered wives, or is there some underground site most of us don't know about in which the Trump administration put an ad - "only masochists need apply"?

Trump is my idea of a real thug, not those black kids in pants pulled down to their knees singing rap in the ghetto. Yes, they can be violent and mean but they have no real power over most of us. Trump has power and he wields it with brute force. It's power that affects millions.

And I think he enjoys it. If he'd been at Abu Ghraib, he'd have been the first in line with the leash and the feces, speaking of which, America is probably on target to get back into the torture business with the new head of the C.I.A., who essentially ran the torture program under George W. Bush. Trump will probably want to be there when they waterboard the first prisoner.

I don't know that he enjoys embarrassing his wife but he certainly doesn't seem to do anything to try to avoid it. Poor Melania, I bet he wrote such an iron-clad pre-nuptial agreement to benefit himself that she'd probably lose custody of Barron if she opens her mouth or tries to leave. Not that I think he wants the kid, who he treats like a complete non-entity, but he'd fight her just out of vindictiveness.

He uses DACA kids as political pawns, not really giving a damn what happens to the Dreamers. He pays lip service to kids who have experience a massacre in their school, then backs down completely in favor of the N.R.A. agenda.  Come on, Dianne Feinstein, didn't you know that's how it would end?

Trump is just pure mean and that's the way it is. And what's even worse is that his fawning followers love it about him. The more hateful he is, the more they cheer him on. They see him as strong when he's really small-minded and weak. What does this say about them?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Is This When America Was Great?



I've lived through seven decades and I keep trying to remember when America was great. You know, the time the Trumpies are referring to when they say they want to make America great again..

I don't remember much about the 50's being still just a little girl when they were over but I know people who idealize that innocent, Father Knows Best era. And for a lot of white Americans who'd just come back from the war, it probably was pretty great. They went to school on their VA loans, became professionals, bought houses, raised families. That's if they weren't suffering from battle fatigue (now called PTSD) from the horrific things they'd seen and done in World War II.

Maybe it wasn't so great for the women who'd gone to work en masse to help their country while their men were gone, then told to get back in the kitchen where they belonged when the boys returned.

And maybe it wasn't so great for gays who were mostly probably afraid to admit who they were for fear of losing their family, their job and their church.

And it wasn't so great for African-Americans. I remember hearing a black grandmother tell her story on the radio about an amusement park that existed at that time. ( I think it was in Birmingham). White kids could go have fun there 364 days a year but black kids could go one day a year. One stinking day!

This woman told how longingly her children would peer through the fence at the white kids and ask, "when will it be our turn again, Mama?" She talked about how sad and furious it made her. She would liked to have told the park people to stick it and never let her kids go there but they waited so eagerly and patiently for their day.

I thought then, and still think, that was one of the saddest stories I ever heard. I could feel that mother's anger and bitterness and defeat in my own stomach.

That surely wasn't when America was great.

Then came the Sixties and the assassination of a president and of a presidential candidate and of a civil rights leader and another. That was when we threw stones and cursed little girls trying to go to school and beat African-Americans crossing a bridge for voter's rights.

My husband was in Vietnam in 1965, in the first group that was announced to be going to combat. We barely knew where Vietnam was then but a decade and 58,000 plus bodies later, we'd learned a lot about Vietnam....except why were there.

When Jim came home, he wasn't approved to join the Veteran's of Foreign Wars because they said he hadn't been in a war, only a police action.

"Huh," said the ex-combat medic, "it sure felt like a war to me."

(He died in 1989 of Agent Orange-related lung cancer - something the Army admitted when they paid him an Agent Orange pension).

Many people protested, of course, but the final tragedy of Vietnam was our kids (the National Guard) killing our kids (the Kent State protesters).

Surely that wasn't when America was great.

In the 70's, I was helping my father in his bar. I couldn't sit at the bar myself. Women couldn't. I couldn't walk with a drink in my hand unless it was on a tray and I was delivering it to a customer. I guess those things weren't considered lady-like.

I was working then as a Personnel Secretary. My boss quit and I filled in for him for six months until his replacement was hired. Everything went fine for that six months and I went to talk to the Plant Manager about getting the job full-time My boss made $18,000 a year; I made $9,000. The Plant Manager said no. He was adamant that people would never accept a woman in that position.

Incidentally, they hired a man who had been the head of the welfare department in a fairly large city.  (Naturally, I had to train him). He hated African-Americans and thought the answer to the "black problem" was to neuter every male nigger baby for 100 years. Just in case you were thinking, you know, that racism had become a thing of the past by the 70's.

Was that when America was great?

Then came the 80's. It's true that many Americans who worked in factories were living high, wide and handsome. It was all my peers' goal in life to get a job in one of the auto plants. They could live well - houses, cars, vacations, send their kids to college. The people who worked in pissy-ass, low-wage factories were often jealous of the auto workers instead of proud that a group of American workers had fought, literally fought, to join the middle class.

But then Reagan came along with the "trickle down" theory which Republicans keep trying even though it keeps failing. Reagan busted the Air Traffic Controllers Union and that was the start of the downfall of American Labor. Union membership declined, wages began going down (many plants then began implementing a two-tier wage system pitting one group of employees against the other). Benefits declined. Pensions were rescinded. We forget that even that wasn't enough. Before we'd ever heard of NAFTA, American businesses were leaving the U.S. in droves. We had a war in Iraq in the 80's. At least, Old George Bush made it short and sweet. It ended with the Highway of Death, burning alive 100s of 1000s of fleeing Iraqis. Ah, it made you proud to be an American. Maybe that's when we were great.

I don't remember exactly when Rush Limbaugh came on the scene but he was the forerunner of the right wing media. I can recall being shocked at how mean he was. Remember when he said the Clintons didn't need a dog because they had Chelsea and all his conservative followers thought it was hilarious? They've only gotten more hateful since.

The 90's were probably my favorite decade of my adulthood but it is also when the extreme partisanship between the parties began. I remember listening to hours of cable news discussing impeachment. Not content to try to win the next election on the merits, the Republicans (now the Trumpicans) were determined to rid themselves of Clinton at any cost to the nation's unity, the Rule of Law and the Constitution. They didn't quite succeed but they caused a great deal of damage to our country's psyche along the way. I despised them for what they did.

A new century and a new president - George Bush the Younger. I never really hated George Bush. I actually thought he was probably a nice man in his personnel life. But the Iraq War was his downfall. Another Vietnam. A war based on the lies of our leaders. Torture. Extreme Rendition. Guantanamo. Abu Ghraib. Oh, my God, those pictures were so horrifying. I couldn't believe that was Americans seemingly happily perpetrating those acts of torture and humiliation. We lost our morals and our principles in Iraq. And here we still are all those years later.

Nope, that was definitely not a great time.

We replaced Bush with Obama in the next decade. Wow, our first black president. Look at us evolve. No more racism for us! But the same people who'd engaged in Clinton Hatred came out from under their rocks and became even more vile and vicious against Obama. He wasn't even really an American or a Christian, an illegitimate president, don't you know? The product of a global conspiracy. The right-wing media became even more dishonest and poisonous. Still, we managed a few good things like national health care and civil rights for gays.

But the divisions between us were too ugly to be considered great.

And then, we elected (sort of) Donald Trump - and I suspect this will be the least great period of time in America that any of us alive today will have ever known.


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."