Archive for the ‘Connecting the Dots’ Category.

13 Russians and Where did that American Exceptionalism Go

First, why charge 13 Russians who will probably never get prosecuted? Of course if they want to go to France, Spain, Germany, or any number of countries we have extradition treaties with they will be at risk of arrest. Still why? Well I think two reasons and the first one was self-defense. Clearly, as Muller and his boss Rosenstein get closer, their jobs are at risk. We have President DFF and apparently about 35%-40% of the population who think the Russia investigation is a shame, just a Democratic sower grapes. Well, I misspoke. 35%-40% believe that because President DFF told them that and Fox News echoes it, but President DFF knows full well they did.

So what Mueller and Rosenstein were up to was laying down a marker. Here is detailed proof that the Russians were meddling with false news, something Fox News would be an expert at, and trying to sway the election away from Hillary Clinton. The detail is, well, detailed. There is no doubt. So what was accomplished was if President DFF moves against either Rosenstein of Mueller, there is no question he is hurting the investigation and trying to stop it. It may not tie his hands because he is an ignorant jackass, and I apologize to all jackasses because the comparison is not fair, may now tie his lackeys the Republican Congress.

The second reason, besides educating and informing the American Public on one piece of the investigation, was to let those he seeks information from, what he already knows, and the detail he knows it. The big elephant in the room is collusion and why. I know that answer and so do you if your brain cells still work. President DFF got hooked on their money when no one else would lend to him, and now they own him. He is a giant Ponzi scheme, and the scheme started to collapse, when in rushed the Russians who needed to launder money and real estate was the go to market. Think about it. As we learned from hearings last week, the President has ordered no investigations or active counter measures to deal with the Russians. There can only be one plausible reason.

Oh wait! This was Obama’s fault! Except Obama did take action and the real question is why hasn’t President DFF. Obama sanction Russia which Flynn was trying to lift. Oh how short our memories are. So the DFF is the president now, sadly, so what is he doing? And what we learned last week was nothing. The FBI and the intelligence agencies has no mandate from the President.

So what is next? Manafort is in deep dodo. His partner in crime is flipping. Here is where the money trail is. Remember Manafort came out of nowhere, unknown to Trump, and all of a sudden he is heading up the campaign during the critical conventions. Say what? Who ordered that? The money trail is the why of collusion. Once you get the why, the collusion itself will fall out and Mueller suggested he was on that trail in his indictment. So we are getting closer and closer, but one has to ask, isn’t this obvious? Why and how is this man still President of the U.S.?

That answer has to do with the Republicans and the, oh let’s call it 35%, of the American population that is just mind numbingly stupid and ignorant (note stupid is a brain unable to be smart, ignorant is a brain that refuses to learn and be informed). I am reminded of a scene in the movie, Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. Mr. Hanks plays a real world person, attorney James Donovan who is defending Russian spy Rudolf Able. Mr. Donovan’s home is attacked by good Americans because he is trying to afford Mr. Rudolf not just the appearance of a good defense, by a good defense. Those “good Americans” are the 35% who have no idea what the Constitution really is or what it means. They are the lock her up bunch*.

Now that 35% has always been around, but they have never been in charge. Now they are and their lap dogs are our Republican Congress who it would seem has no morals other than power. So they have hitched their wagons to the DFF and we should not be surprised. When a shooter mowed down 47 kids at Sandy Hook and all we got was “thoughts and payers” and let’s not move to fast to we know what happened, you knew they had sold their souls to the NRA. When you heard it again after the shooting in Florida (it was like a taped replay), you wanted to say, okay, but now do we know what happened at Sandy Hook or Las Vegas? And again, like the Russian attack, it obvious what the problem is, and in kids getting killed IT’S EASY ACCESS TO GUNS.

The data is irrefutable. It’s guns. Global warming, Russians and collusion, flow down, Dreamers or immigration, you name the issue and the data is screaming and we do nothing and we do nothing because of Republicans and purple state Democrats who cannot stand up for what is right, only what serves their short term interest to be re-elected. In the movie I referenced before, the spy, Rudolf Able referred to Donovan as “Standing Man” after a friend of his father’s who no matter how much he was beat by the government, he stood up again till they finally quit. It refers for standing up for something bigger than yourself. That is what America used to be. A place where no problem was too big to take on, we would apply science, data, and our ingenuity and we would overcome.

But somehow we got taken over by the 35%, the deplorables, and Republicans. That is when American exceptionalism died. Well, it is on life support and it is up to us to bring it back. I think maybe the nation has seen enough, but they never fail to disappoint with calls for a more middle of the road approach when the middle is so far right as to be undrivable. Maybe the shooting in Florida and the 13 Russian indictments will wake us up and give us the single issue that defines who works for us, and who works against us. I can only hope.

*Remember lock her up? Hillary and the emails where it turned out she was careless with some very minor classified information and hurt no one, and she had no intent to reveal secrets. Now we have the White House allowing people with questionable temporary security clearances that the FBI won’t grant security clearances because they are risks seeing the most secret of our secrets. Do you hear chants of lock him up? Yes they are deplorable and most probably unredeemable and we should not care. No they are not worth listening to. They elected a moron.

Oh F*ck Me in the Heart!

So I am quickly recovering from Shingles so today I want to do a round of Yoga (I am a brick so it is sort of Yoga), and weight lifting. And my usual routine is to turn on the news when I am doing this. BIG MISTAKE! They are talking about mental illness and better identification of potential shooters. You could rerun a tape from the last major shooting. Same bull shit. Nothing is going to change.

First of all ask yourself if we have more deranged kids than other countries, and we don’t, so why are we the nation of these tragedies? Easy access to military grade hardware.

Second there are a ton of kids who go through destructive cycles, are we going to monitor them all and are we going to become a police state? Most will never act on their dark moods. Once again in a destructive out of control mood easy access to guns makes this life ending.

Third, which is the go to argument for those who do not want to address the real problem (Republicans), we need a better mental health system. Yes we do, but who is it again is intent on slashing funding for those kind of things so they can dole out tax cuts to the wealthy. And other industrial countries have better systems than ours, but still, that is just eye wash. You simply cannot identify every shooter while you violate the civil rights of the rest. It is about that thing they don’t want to talk about, because it is political, the easy access of guns. Note the argument, we need to understand better what happened before we decide to do nothing. WHAT HAPPENED WAS EASY ACCESS TO MILITARY GRADE HARDWARE, AND LARGE CAPACITY MAGAZINES!

Please turn off the TV because they are rerunning the last bullshit from the last shooting and until we get angry about guns, mental illness, surveillance, and better treatment is just smoke up our asses. I am sorry to be so crude, but I am really, really angry about this moronic conversation, asking why, why, why, when it has absolutely no value to the solution to the problem. Why did the Las Vegas shooter kill all those people. We still don’t know and never will. He was nuts. He got military grade weapons and killed people. Give me a break. It is guns, guns, guns. As one poster I have seen put it: People don’t make People drunk, beer does. Well crazy people don’t kill people, the guns they get their hands on do. When will we act?

Oh, How Democracy Crumbles

See the articles about Bob Corker rethinking re-election? Of course he would have to be a President DFF boy. Ah, but what better way to spend your aging days than in the Senate kissing goodbye everything you ever stood for? It seems to be the way of Republicans these days. Remember all that fiscal conservatism? Kiss that baby goodbye with the Tax Gut bill. Oh wait, it is starve the beast so they can get rid of all those pesky programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Can you say goodbye  SNAP (Food Stamps), which primarily helps kids and old people. Who needs them? Of course they are going to empty the Treasury and there will be no infrastructure except give-aways to capitalist cronies. Hey, pay for flush, what a great idea.

Meanwhile as Republicans totally co-opt themselves and the nation, the courts are trying to right the wrong in gerrymandering and their state legislature are trying to attack those courts. If you did not know any better you would think this is about some banana republic in South America, although these days they are run better than we are. The White House has become such a mockery of truth and justice (lies and deceit is closer to it) and the shame is that we just shrug. If any of this had happened under a Clinton administration imagine the public flogging and impeachment. Ah, but it is President DFF and we are attaching ourselves to him and his ignorance to pass our conservative agenda that will bankrupt the country.

I love the Olympics because it is a melting pot of diversity and exceptionalism. Could we learn from that? Not on your life. It is time to restrict immigration and become the white nation. Except every economist you want to talk to will tell you if we want GDP growth we need immigration. Maybe all those white supremists will lay down their robes/ropes/guns and get a job picking fruit, you think? No, we are on the precipice of the the big fall, just as in the Bush Administration, but not derivatives this time. We have authorized massive tax cuts to the wealthy spending our Treasury on nothing, probably driving up inflation, creating and unsustainable deficit just when we should be raising taxes, we are limiting our work force, and the me only trade policy is causing other nations to leave us behind as they make their own deals.

So keep voting Republican because they are the party of self-discipline and fiscal responsibility. See any sarcasm here? The only way to save our nation is to throw them all out. No one who says they are a Republican should be elected because while they feign disdain of that fat dumb f*ck as our president, they vote to enable him and his co-opted party. Oh, and don’t blame Democrats (So what are you going to do to stop them?), they are the minority because voters through them out for this mindless bunch and there is nothing they can do until you put them back in a super majority. So either admit you were a fool to vote Republican or kiss your country goodbye. The rate of destruction is increasing as I write. Just the mid-week blues.

The Equivalency Argument

A good friend sent me an article everyone who still has thinking brain cells should read. It is about how the Right and Left are not two sides of the same thing, but totally different animals. There is no middle ground. It is an argument I have been making for a long time, although Brian Butler, the author, makes a much more focused and rational argument. I only bring this up because I constantly get attacked as being too shrill and you will never reach the other side or change minds by calling them out. We need to listen more. The answer which if you read this article and understand it, is that there are no minds to change. The two sides are about two entirely different things.

This is important when the false equivalency of both sides do it is thrown out there. It is important, as Mr. Butler points out, when the press and newspapers try to accommodate both sides for readership or viewership. The reality when they do this is that they create a false reality of equivalence. In fact they have to accommodate the Right’s distortion of reality and when they do they simply become the loud speaker for nonsense like the paranoia of Obama and Hillary’s emails, easily proven false, but the noise was made and it cannot be taken back. That is the Rights agenda, co-opt mainstream media.

Our Democracy was based upon liberal principles of the Enlightenment. Make no mistake, Republicans of today reject those principles. Here is Mr. Butler:

Outside of the specific American context, the word liberal describes something more abstract and less partisan. Internationally, it describes a philosophical approach to organizing society that is capacious enough to include people who believe governments should provide robust safety nets to citizens, and people who believe taxes should be low and the poor left to fend for themselves. What those people share is a common commitment to basic Enlightenment-era ideals like equality, democracy, and empiricism…

Democratic politicians, liberal activists, and journalists have different purposes and respond to different incentives, but they are all liberal in that global sense. Two decades after Newt Gingrich redefined what it meant to be a Republican, it is clear that Republican politicians, conservative activists, and the right wing media have become adherents to a fundamentally different political tradition…

The job of the mainstream media isn’t to cast judgment on people with different value systems, but journalists can’t do their jobs well if they aren’t aware that the value systems of mainstream journalism and American conservatism are different and in conflict. It should be perfectly possible to apply the neutral rules of modern journalism to both American political parties while accepting that Democrats (and journalists and scientists) descend from the enlightenment tradition, while Republicans (and their allies in conservative media) descend from a different, illiberal tradition—and that this makes the parties behave in different ways.

In other words, the Right no longer adheres to the principles of the Enlightenment that is the basis of our Constitution and democracy. I have written copious blogs about how the Right does not believe in democracy at all, but in this short analysis by Mr. Butler he shows how they have veered off. There is no middle ground in these two belief systems, one based upon elites and subjugating the masses as second class citizens who should fend for themselves, and the other who believes in strong safety nets and leveling the playing field. If you doubt this think of what is happening to Dreamers and immigrants, how we have turned ICE into a Gestopo force, how gerrymandering and voter suppression is ripe in Red country. Think about how Republicans refuse to bring up votes on things the majority want. And it goes on and on.

That is why in my last blog I said we have crossed a line. There is no more argument to make with Republicans or said more fairly what has become of the Republican Party today, simply a line to be drawn so we know where the battle line is and to remove all of them from power. There is no more accommodation because if we do, we lose who we are and what we stand for. That is what this next election is about. I do not write this blog to change minds, but to wake those minds up that can still be woken, We are no longer in a rational debate. That ended for Republicans many years ago. It is just time Democrats woke up to that and entered the battle. The one thing that distinguishes us from Republicans is that we are fighting for truth and honesty. They shunned that years ago.

Some House Cleaning to Set the Record Straight

First if you read my blog you probably read the Facebook Post I republished regarding how a liberal thinks and why in a response to Republican policies and dogma. There were two curious responses to that post on Facebook which I would like to share and rebut. One was one who called the post name calling and would not change minds. I have to laugh at that one. If anyone cannot figure it out now, there is no changing their minds until their pocket book gets run over. Then they might come out of their alternate reality universe.

Then there was another post that said something to the effect, “some moderate Republicans feel the same way.” I wanted to respond, but I did not, but here is what I would have written: “If you are a moderate Republican who feels that way, why are you still a Republican? That Party is antithetical to everything she listed.” Really what we have is a fiction that there is listening on the Right if we just were kinder and listened ourselves, both sides do it, and we can get back that old moderate Republican Party. I have argued before that if you were a moderate Republican, you are just fiscally conservative and there are plenty of Democrats who feel the same way, called Moderate Democrats. They are wrong and do not see how the economy has changed to make their beliefs inoperative, but at least in the Democratic Party we can actually debate that.

Okay, next up is the hysterical Republicans screaming the sky is falling as they react to real fake news. Remember when Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, took one of the text messages between two FBI agents who were kidding about a secret society within the FBI to bring President DFF down? He and Fox News went berserk with it, and then it turns out when looking at the context of all the messages, it was another joke, poking fun at just such paranoid nuts as Fox and Johnson. Johnson later admitted it was likely a joke but he had been out there screaming it is true and the sky is falling with Fox News providing him a bull horn. Okay now he got some more texts he interpreted as Obama “wanted to know everything” about Hillary’s emails. Oh wow!

So Johnson, Fox Noise, and the Right wing blogosphere went into a hysterical fit showing that Obama did it and now they are persecuting President DFF. Even President DFF got into the act tweeting, “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” But once again the texts were taken out of context and what President Obama wanted to know about was Russian involvement in the election. Now what does this tell you about Republicans that they jump all over these false stories, and then irresponsibly start screaming for someone’s head? It tells you they should be nowhere near government or a position of responsibility. What were the people of Wisconsin thinking when they elected this fruit loop?

But wait! There is the Rob Porter and oh the so respected General Kelly. And let’s throw Orin Hatch in here. Rob Porter was accused of wife abuse by his last two wives. The White House knew about this because he could not get a permanent security clearance as the FBI had reported it. Orin Hatch first attack the media that reported it (all women are liars and it must be a smear plot). Then when the evidence became overwhelming, still regard Porter as a principled and honorable guy. Kelly was worse in that he fought all day long to keep him in the White House. What does that tell you about the boys club in the White House or how out of touch these people are? Oh, and his glowing statement about Rob Porter was written by Porters girl friend Hope Hicks, News Director for the White House. And try to remember that this is the same Kelly who tried to smear the Florida Congresswoman with a statement later proven to be false and he refused to apologized.

So just another day where the Republicans try to distract us from the Russian incursion and President DFF’s potential cooperation. The Russians penetrated 21 states voting systems. Oh, but that is all fake news, look the other way. The Russia investigation is a sham! How again is any rational person a Republican? This goes back to my very first rebuttal, there are not any Republicans who can be changed anymore.

Oh, and I forgot, a military parade, weapons and all in Washington? So now we truly are a banana Republic so insecure we have to show off our weapons. Just when you thought it could not get worse. Oh wait, does Der Leader want a uniform and fake medals? Yes it is going to get a lot worse.

More Hypocrisy

Well you can see what is coming. It won’t be the Democrats rebuttal to the House Republicans Memo. The hypocrisy is ripe. Instead of announcing before they had read it, that they were going to release it  as the did with the Nunes Memo (Had the White House played a role in drafting it?), they say it must be carefully vetted by the head of the FBI and the Intelligence Chef. Do you remember that both of them advised against releasing the Nunes Memo and they did anyway? What do you think they will do this time? Oh we can’t release it or we have to heavily redact it (political) before we do. What a bunch of nonsense.

Now on the central issue that the Steel Dossier was a political hit job by the Democrats and that was not told to the FISA judge, neither is quite true. Let’s take the first, it was a political hit job. Steele was sent out to get dirt on the President and Russia. Dirt isn’t bad if it is true. Most of what Steele has found has been corroborated by other witnesses. Steele gets concerned as a former secret agent and meets with American officials in Rome who summoned him and told them:

The Russians had damaging information about Trump’s personal behavior and finances that could be used to pressure the GOP nominee. What’s more, the Kremlin was now carrying out an operation with the Trump campaign’s help to tilt the U.S. election — a plot Steele had been told was ordered by President Vladi­mir Putin.

Okay, wouldn’t you? Now Steele is a trusted agent and he was reporting what he heard from his sources in Russia. Who cares who it was paid for by, now you have disturbing information, if true, warrant a full blown investigation. Now here is where the Republicans are truly disingenuous. We were already alerted by European Intelligence agencies in two countries that there were meetings going on that was disturbing. So at least from two other sources they had corroborating information that we know of. We also know that the judge in the FISA investigation was told this was a politically funded report by Steele so that argument goes out the window.

And finally, this is about surveillance Carter Page. He has said enough on television to make him a person of interest. The initial FISA warrant came long before the Steele revelations so there was already smoke. And the warrant has to be reviewed periodically before the judge to justify continuing it. It was so there was justification to continue. Said another way, the Nunes Memo was a nothing burger. It was what most Republicans hate, the bad guy getting off on a technicality if true. So why did the Republicans cook it up and support it, and why will the Democratic Memo never see the light of day? Oh wait! Republicans voted to release it! Ha! They know the White House won’t so they can claim fairness.

But back to the central question of why. And the answer is simple:  2018 and impeachment. There is about 30% of the country who are truly deplorables. They are ignorant, racist, and nativists, not to mention xenophobic, just like their champion, President DFF. That 30% will control the next election for Republicans in the primaries. That is what this is all about. The country be damned.

I am reading the book How Democracies Die, and they take a historical look at how demagogues like our present president rise and kill democracy and the parallels to the Republican Party (mob) is stunning. I will write more about this later, but Republicans, when they decided it was in their best interests to become the Party of President DFF, took a large step to destroy our democracy. As his abnormal becomes normal we are slipping down the slippery slope.

I think we get distracted with all the hype.  We know this:  Russians attacked the country and helped President DFF to get elected.  He denies it and has done nothing to prevent further incursions in 2018.  We know that he got dubious loans through banks laundering Russian money and his son bragged of Russian funding, and this was in a time when other banks would not touch him. Finally we have all this confirmed contacts with Russians during the campaign.  And Republicans want to look the other way.  Yep we are on that slide to tyranny.

The Memo!

Yawn. Here is the thing you have to wonder, who cares if the source was biased if the facts are worth investigating? And that of course ignores the fact yet not in evidence that the Steele dossier was not the only justification for the investigation. You might also ask how much of the Steele dossier was proven false? None. We also know that the investigation into the Russia incursion began long before the FISA court allowed the Feds to wire tape Carte Page. We have a nothing burger, unless of course you check your brain in Republican Land or in the Fox News fog.

Think about it. A person who hates his neighbor calls the cops and says the neighbor is making a bomb in his house. Should the police ignore it because she is biased against him. Of course not. This is about the stupidest exercise I have every witnessed and shows how hysterical the Republicans have become looking forward to 2018.

What you are now watching are Republicans running around making fools of themselves and showing that if a real crisis every happens, we are in real trouble as they run around screaming the sky is falling. But of course this was not aimed at anyone who thinks. It was aimed at the 32% that support Trump and are the difference in whether a Republican will be challenged from the Right. It is again about the impeachment. When the facts come out, Republicans have to fear that 32% so they will never move on impeachment. We no longer have legitimate government.

Let’s Go Deep – The Destruction of Democracy

There is a narrative out there, one I happen to think is true, that we are on the road to losing our democracy. We have a narcissist child President with a pathological need for lying, who has demonstrated his racism, ignorance, and nativism on numerous occasions, elected by a minority of the people. But I think we could solve that if our institutions and norms were not under assault.

Harvard professors of government Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have studied the demise of elected democracies around the world. In a new book, How Democracies Die, they argue that too many American politicians, including President DFF (I call him Trump DFF, Dumb Fat F*ck because, well isn’t it obvious?), are violating long-held norms of American democracy, including a respect for the legitimacy of political rivals and a commitment to some restraint in political combat.

They tell us there are four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:

1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.  

“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.”

But that is just the beginning. In the book and in interviews (The best one is a Podcast with Ezra Klein) they tell us is that “the primary way in which democracies have died since the end of the Cold War, over the last 30 years or so, is at the hands of elected leaders (See above), at the hands of governments that were often freely or close to freely elected, who then use democratic institutions to weaken or destroy democracy.”

Now let’s think about that a minute. We know that on many issues the Congress (Republicans who control both chambers) do not represent the will of the people, be that about Dreamers, simple background checks for gun ownership, or Obamacare. Starting with the House of Representatives, the authors above have shown in the next election Democrats could win by a margin of 6 or 7% and still not be in the majority. That is because of gerrymandering. In the Senate as I and many others have shown, representation favors those living in low population/rural/conservative states (two per state regardless of population). The population of California has the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming. Really, the ratio of population is 68:1. And as the authors above pointed out, those Republicans represent a smaller and smaller minority of white people as our country diversifies and grows.

This then actuated the “who then use democratic institutions to weaken or destroy democracy.” We saw it back in 2009 when Mitch McConnell and the Republicans decided to make the filibuster and needing a super majority for any major legislation the tool they would use to make Barack Obama a one-term President. We see it in gerrymandering and the successful attempt to deny President Obama a Supreme Court Justice so they could control the Supreme Court who is today reviewing gerrymandering. We see it in voter ID laws that are now in 30 states that have one and only one aim, to make it harder to vote for those that don’t support their policies. President DFF tried to continue that with his voter commission, but the states rebelled.

Think about purple North Carolina when in the last election their state government changed hands.  So what did the Republicans do?  In a lame duck session they passed laws that hamstrung the new government to benefit themselves.  That is democracy at work?  Where was the norm that the people want a new direction and we should release the reins of control? But still, with all this, our democracy would be self-correcting eventually, because the institutions and the Constitution would hold up and we would swing back the other way, except it isn’t happening. So why is that?

Levitsky and Ziblatt argue that:

To function well, democratic constitutions must be reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual toleration, according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual toleration exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do.

The second norm is forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power. Forbearance is the act of not exercising a legal right. In politics, it means not deploying one’s institutional prerogatives to the hilt, even if it’s legal to do so.

Then they catalogue in an interesting way how that mutual toleration and forbearance has eroded.  One of their interesting assertions is that race has played an important role.  As long as the majority say the status quo of racial injustice was okay, we could work together because we had that one mutual interest.  See the formation of the Constitution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the passing of the voting rights act.  They point out that when South Carolina was Democratic, and Wyoming was Republican, we did have accommodation.  Today both are Republican and mutual toleration and forbearance are gone.

As Republicans represent a smaller and smaller segment of America, “Democrats being a party, essentially, of secular, educated whites and a diversity of ethnic minorities and the Republicans being a fairly homogeneous white, Protestant party, or white Christian party, the Republicans have basically come to represent a former ethnic majority in decline. You have many – certainly not all – but many Republican voters who feel like the country that they grew up with, or grew up in, is being taken away from them. And that can lead to pretty extremist views and voting patterns.

And they weren’t afraid to point who started this cycle of extremism:

We think that the most egregious sort of pushing of the envelope began with Republicans, particularly in the 1990s and that the most egregious acts of hardball have taken place at the hands of Republicans. I’ll just list four – the partisan impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 2003 mid-district redistricting in Texas, which was pushed by Tom DeLay, the denial – essentially, the theft of a Supreme Court seat with the refusal to even take up the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 and the so-called legislative coup pulled off by the Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina in 2016. Those are among the most egregious acts of constitutional hardball that we see in the last generation, and they’re all carried out by Republicans.

Of course that does not include President DFF and the total capitulation of the Republicans in Congress to violate norms and the rule of law to try to tarnish and end the Mueller investigation.  The release of an obviously (from FBI statements) inaccurate and politicized Nunes Memo that could damage national security, destroy trust in government, is really the last straw. With all this, Levitsky and Ziblatt argue that if Democrats follow the same scorched earth policies of the Republicans, we lose democracy.  Here is where we part company.

Democrats are beginning to respond in kind. Their recent filibuster triggering a government shutdown took a page out of the Gingrich playbook. And if they retake the Senate in 2018, there is talk of denying President Trump the opportunity to fill any Supreme Court vacancy. This is a dangerous spiral.

American democracy retains important sources of strength, including vast national wealth, a vibrant media and civil society, and a robust judiciary and rule of law. But the norms that once protected our institutions are coming unmoored. President Trump has accelerated this norm erosion, but he didn’t start it. Intensifying polarization, driven by an extremist Republican Party, is making constitutional hardball a new norm for party politics.

The lessons of history are clear. Extreme polarization can wreck even established democracies. America is no exception. As long as Americans do not overcome their deepening partisan animosities, democracy remains at risk — President Trump or no President Trump.

I have been arguing for years that Republicans no longer represent legitimate partners in a democracy and we should treat them as such.  Not to do so turns our democracy into a wrecking machine. There is a difference between Democrats and Republicans that Levitsky and Ziblatt, as a bipartisan writing team, I don’t think recognize yet.  Democrats don’t usually lie and they believe in facts and science to inform their policies.  That actually leads to rational debate within the Democratic Party on the way forward.

Republicans through their use of Fox news , Right wingthink tanks and media create an alternate reality that does not allow for data, facts, and science, only dogma.  Their ignoring of the threat to America by Russia and following in line behind President DFF is just the latest proof of how illegitimate they are as defenders of the Constitution.

Now in the podcast I cited above, they argued that as the Republicans go further off the rails, the other side, as hard as that argument is to make, must be the adult in the room to save democracy with this argument:  Republicans have valid points of view that should be respected.  They used abortion which Republicans see as murder as an example.  We Democrats should respect that.

Okay, but in that argument they ignore what science tells us about the fetus and abortion, or that nature as a natural process aborts millions more that we ever do in a hospital. Finally and most importantly, Democrats giveRepublicans the right not to have one, to choose to or not to.  Republicans want to take their religious belief and force it down our throats using government, not moral arguments, to end abortions way past what science tells us is necessary.  That is fundamentally different than respecting a point of view.  It is capitulating to their intolerance in defiance of facts, data, and science.

I believe that while I understand their academic view of what is necessary for a democracy, seeing your opponent as legitimate and displaying forbearance, can only apply when your opponent is legitimate, that facts, science, and data can in fact inform an argument and lead to a resolution.  We no longer have in America rational debate.  We have one side creating a propaganda machine to change our perception of reality to maintain their hold power.

There is only one legitimate political party in our two-party system, the Democrats, and quite frankly that is where you will find real debates about the limits of government, the economy, action on global warming, tax reform, immigration policy, and many more issues.  On the other side we have dogma and misdirection to consolidate power, using the levers of a democracy to kill it.  Forbearance my ass.

I think the Democratic Party has to play hardball with an irrational foe.  The damage that we are seeing to institutions as the Republicans in Congress co-opt their need for control and power over good government, can no longer be forbeared.  Democrats can no longer act and look powerless as the truculent child acts freely to destroy our country.  The difference here is the Democrats will utilize facts, data, and science to attack Republicans, and no longer show restraint and forbearance in the face of bold lies.

There is one other dynamic that may be in play here, the Republicans have policies that facts, data, and science show us will badly damage America. As the damage builds up, maybe the radical right will come to their senses.  In the meantime, Democrats have to recognize that their political foe is no longer as Levitsky and Ziblatt argue worthy of tolerance and forbearance.  They lost that respect when they embarked on a fact free and propaganda mission to take over the government.  It is really time to fight back.

 

Just When You Thought It Could Not Be Worse

The Republicans decided to blow up any fake bipartisanship they may have been displaying by voting against the Justice Department’s recommendations to release the Nunes Memo.  At the same time they voted against releasing the Democrats’ Memo which is a point by point rebuttal of their memo.  How’s that for respecting different opinions?  If you think Republicans are interested in democracy or the rule of law, think again.

My thought is that at this point Democrats can quit saying “my friend across the aisle” and just recognize they are the enemy.  They are in a word, destroying democracy and the rule of law.  It is everything we stand for and believe.  And of course the whole memo is a carefully culled document to paint the FBI and the Justice Department in the worst possible light to impede or stop the Mueller investigation.  Remember WMD and Iraq.  Here we go again. My thought here is that Democrats need to quit respecting the legitimacy of the majority party and just release their own memo and get the facts out there. They are no longer in an institution protecting American values and tradition, but destroying them.  Why play by their rules any more?

The memo itself is purported to cast Rob Rosenstein, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General as using a flawed or biased process to decide to bug Carter Page.  First let’s say that as we learned from the Simpson testimony, there were multiple sources corroborating something was very fishy besides the famous dossier gathered by Fusion GPS with the help of Christopher Steel, British intelligent agent.  But that is not how the Nunes selective fact gathering memo is reported to describe it.  It is a hit piece pure and simple.

But let’s just step back a moment.  Do you remember what went on that we know about?  Further let’s just give Nunes’ lie the benefit of the doubt.  Say the initial information was tainted with bias (try to keep in mind that the initial study was funded by Republicans trying to smear Trump before they gave up and the Demos ended up paying for it).  A FISA Court Judge would not have authorize a bug based on that alone and would have requested corroborating evidence.  We are not privy to that and you can bet Nunes would not present that information.  But once they did bug him, the evidence that might have been gathered could not be tainted, it is either true or false.

So if the whole process is tainted with FBI love for Democrats which we all know is ridiculous (who cost Hillary the election again?), there is still the facts and testimony to examine to determine if all that smoke is really indicating a fire.  And that is the key here.  They don’t want that to come out.  With the caving of FBI Director Wray in the resignation of Assistant Director McCabe, we have seen the Republicans capture and maybe permanently damage one institution of justice.  They have already destroyed the Justice Department.  Now they have an echo machine to try to change lies into truth through Fox News and the whole Republican Party.

What is disheartening this morning is to watch the clown show and realize this our country.  There was money laundering, collusion, and certainly obstruction of justice to hide these things.  We have a moron for a President who is a pathological liar, racist, and xenophobe.  And we have a major party, the Republicans enabling all of this.  Not my America anymore.  I have no idea what we stand for anymore.  Again I want to personally thank those 76,000 morons in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio that brought us the destruction of America.

Will I watch the State of the Union.  No.  He will read a Stephen Miller written speech about how he is single  handedly saving the country and everything he is taking credit for was already happening.  He is a consummate liar and not one thing he says can be depended upon.  The only hope for the country is when the walls come tumbling down, and I just hope there is enough left to rebuild.

As an aside, when you recognized what is happening and you know that your friends and neighbors who are such good people who voted for Trump are enabling this destruction, watching their Fox News, and still supporting the Republican Party, how can you be friends anymore?  My best friend is a Nazi?  Think about that.

Where From Here?

Some things just amaze me. I spent the formative years of my life (right out of college) being trained as a navigator, RF-4C back seater, and then a nuclear weapons trained Radar Navigator (Bombardier) in a B-52. In that time period I participated in almost 100 combat missions. Okay, what was the essential lesson of all that training. Plan, plan, plan. Think it through. What could happen and what was the exit strategy? Being safe meant reducing the risks by careful planning, learning from the past, and then executing the plan in the air. Seat of your pants did not exist.

So with that in mind, how do you crash the first high-speed run of a train in Washington?

The engineer of an Amtrak train that derailed outside of Seattle last month may have lost track of where he was and thought he had already passed a curve that would have required him to slow the train to 30 mph, according to new details released by federal safety officials Thursday.

Say what? This befuddles me. First you would have a time-table/schedule of actions, not look for a sign and then pull back the throttles. Let’s see, what time is it, I should be coming up on a curve…Second, and really a WTF moment, there are apps you can use on your smart phone to plot your location and track your trip. Third, I can think of some really cheap ways to put something on the tracks that gives you an audible warning as you approach a curve. WTF. We are pretending we are still driving trains in the 1940s? This is what America has become? Of course it is.  We can’t afford to live in the 21st century according to the Republicans.

Steve Bannon has been invited to speak at the University of Chicago and let the protests begin:

Outside the Booth School of Business protesters chanted phrases “Disinvite! Disinvite!” and “Say it loud and say it clear, stop inviting fascists here,” according to the Chicago Maroon. Local news outlets estimated the number of protesters ranged from 100 to 300 people.

Like Berkley, what part of free speech did these morons not get.  You need to fight free speech with free speech, not Gestopo tactics to suppress speech you do not like.  Do we still have thinking Americans in America?  I really wonder if they understand free speech at all or that the fact we have the 1st Amendment is because what is distasteful to you is someone else’s truth.

Okay, next up, is that President DFF tried to fire Mueller. The press is all over this along with the fact that the White House is terrified the DFF will actually testify to Mueller. Of course he did nothing wrong (except lies continuously), but they are terrified anyway. This all goes to obstruction of justice, which the press is all over like fudge sauce on ice cream, can’t have too much. But we are missing the big picture, which is what our press does as they get caught in a “SQUIRREL” moment (personally my SQUIRREL moments have to do with “BACON”).

So what are the missing? Why the obstruction of justice. What are they obstructing justice for. And that is the real issue here because once you have that, all the denial in the world about an FBI witch hunt falls apart. Was there collusion? Of course there was. Too many meetings. But why and what did the Russians have. Ah, now we are talking. Did they have video of Trump with strippers peeing on a bed in Moscow? The stripper thing gets a little more believability after “Stormy”. But I think it is obvious what the connection is, money laundering through loans. Once you make that connection, the obstruction and the why is easy. Mueller is a smart man. He must have come to that conclusion also, but the press is rabid over the effects of the coverup, not the coverup itself. I think we are getting close to when the other shoe will drop.

Finally, least we forget, we are on another continuing resolution (CR) and it expires on 8 February, my birthday month by the way. If you don’t consume a whole month (especially when you get to my age) celebrating your birthday and making everyone around you miserable, you have not lived. But I get distracted. Norm Ornstein wrote an interesting piece in the Atlantic about the whole situation with DACA and the CR and got to three possible scenarios. You can read it yourself, but back to my plan, plan, plan. Have the Demos considered the three possible outcomes and planned accordingly?

Now once again our press is so focused on asking foolish questions, that they miss the big picture. My favorite is what are you Democrats going to do? And the real question is what can they do? THEY ARE IN THE MINORITY! So why keep asking them stupid questions like what are they going to do when they really have few to no options. The Democrats should push back, but of course they won’t. The push back is here is what we can do, but the Republicans are in charge and the real question is not what we can do, but what can voters do to change this in 2018. They are the ones responsible for this mess.

Now one thing we know is that the shut down is no viable because the Demos don’t have the guts to keep it up to the Republicans blink. And that may be smart because Republicans hate government and have been wanting to dismantle it anyway, so why not let the Democrats do it for them. So what is in play is the promise for a clean DACA bill. But here is the thing. What is their plan when the Republicans put a poison pill in it as we know they will. No, it won’t just be the wall. They have to have a plan for what I think is the most likely outcome. Seen one yet? Me neither. Plan, plan, plan.