Posts tagged ‘Trump’

Rational Thinking

Does it matter anymore?  The issues we face are nuanced and grey.  Where one can find an absolute principle, another might find a yes, but.  And those looking for an absolute principle don’t care about the yes, buts.  It is clear to me we have an unhinged President who hates democracy.  His Secretary of State just gave a press conference in Saudi Arabia and banned the U.S. Media.  Is there a plot by the press to get the president as many think, or are the facts just inconvenient for them?  Well I know the answer to that, but so do Trump supporters.  That is the most depressing thing going on right now.  If you can find that sliver of truth, nobody cares.  Rational thought does not count for anything.

So in the interest of those of us who still care about making sense and having policy that are not based upon ideology, but on the reality we live in and actual results, here are things to think about:

  • Healthcare – Fact:  People like the benefits that Obamacare has brought them and want to keep them, just with lower affordable rates.  Fact:  As the VIIC (Village Idiot in Charge) attacks Obamacare and threatens to destroy it, the markets get less stable and Obamacare becomes less viable. Fact:  Republicans have no way to fix it with market place solutions.  Covering more people and lowering rates can be done only by expanding the pools of people who pay in.  So the choice is simple.  Either you move to left and embrace a single payer system, or you move to the right, bring the market place back in, cancel many of the benefits of Obamacare and cover far fewer people.  That’s it.  All the rest is smoke and mirrors.  See the rest of the world and compare it to our history with health insurance for data and facts.
  • Corporate Taxes – Fact: Large corporations are not over taxed.  While it is true that the published rates are some of the highest in the world, the effective rates (after all those loopholes) is almost half that and many large corporations pay zero taxes.  Do we need real reform to spread out the burden more effectively?  Sure.  Do we think the Republican’s tax reform ideas will do that?  Not a chance.  Here is the economic policy institute crunching the actual numbers.

  • Jobs – Fact:  The president has proposed tax cuts and deregulation to solve our jobs problem and get the economy moving.  The reality is that this has never helped anyone but the wealthy.  As E. J. Dionne pointed out in an op-ed this morning hoping the Pope would counsel the VIIC:

Francis, after all, has explicitly condemned “trickle-down” economics as a system that “has never been confirmed by the facts” and “expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” Capitalism, as he sees it, “tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits.” He added that “whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.”

Further, in places like Utah, the issue is lack of workers and really the need for more immigrants for many jobs.  So how again are tax cuts and removing regulations going to help?  Oh those fact things.

  • Global Warming – Fact:  The earth is warming and it is now happening faster than anyone thought.  But that goes against Trumpism ideology that man could have had anything to do with it so we ignore it.  Science is just another opinion.

Okay I think I have made my point.  Because we are ignoring facts and data we are doing almost everything wrong and making them worse.  Additionally we have a moral and ethically challenged administration that is restocking the swamp. not draining it.  We seem to have a national motto right now, fuck humanity, what is good for business is good for the U.S.

I don’t think that will serve us very well, but making rational arguments to point out the flaws in Trumpism seems to fall of deaf ears.  Okay, maybe I have some things wrong or maybe there is an element of truth to some of the complaints.  But where we are right now, compromise or nuanced plans to deal with these issues are not possible because they fail an ideological test from the right.  And make no mistake, this is all coming from the right.  I fear we will have to see massive failure before these ideas are cast aside.

One more depressing thought.  The VIIC is in the Middle East lining up with the Sunnis against the Shiites.  We seem to be overlooking the moral depravity of the Saudi government and their treatment of women as inconsequential to good business.  As the ship sinks, the VIIC is going to wag the dog and the safe bet is he will pick Iran as our foe instead of North Korea, because the short term damage would be less.

Yeah, I get that Iran is a bad player, but there society is much more aligned with the West and is changing.  Aligning ourselves with the very nation that imports radical Muslim extremism (Wahhadism) seems like we are pick the worst of two sides.  Why are we picking sides at all.  Why are we not working for peace instead of further arming the Saudis and making the Iranians feel even more threatened?

See what I mean by nuance?  Right now the people in charge are incapable of nuance.  We are living in a very dangerous place where irrationality is driving the train.  There can be no other way to see it.

What a Week

Now for most of us, it is fairly obvious who Donald Trump is:  The Village Idiot In Charge (VIIC).  I actually thought that was apparent during the campaign when he spouted total lies and promised the world without a concrete plan to actually deliver.  And it was not like he was not called out on it.  The Press got infatuated with him because his rallies were such spectacles of lies and hate.  Sadly, a large portion of our population were blind to what most of us thought were obvious lies.  Add to that Hillary as a clueless campaigner, who was not someone that represented change in any real fashion.  But anyway, here we are.  And we are having a crisis in government almost entirely brought on by the VIIC himself.

So with his attack on our Constitutional system and his own admitted abuses of power, not to mention Russian involvement in our elections, why do conservatives still support him?  I am not talking about Republicans politicos who sold their souls to an agenda.  On that one, Paul Krugman nailed it on Friday with this:

The G.O.P., by contrast, is one branch of a monolithic structure, movement conservatism, with a rigid ideology — tax cuts for the rich above all else. Other branches of the structure include a captive media that parrots the party line every step of the way. Compare the coverage of recent political developments on Fox News with almost everywhere else; we’re talking North Korea levels of alternative reality.

And this monolithic structure — lavishly supported by a small number of very, very wealthy families — rewards, indeed insists on, absolute fealty. Furthermore, the structure has been in place for a long time: It has been 36 years since Reagan was elected, 22 years since the Gingrich takeover of Congress. What this means is that nearly all Republicans in today’s Congress are apparatchiks, political creatures with no higher principle beyond party loyalty.

The country does not matter any more, or said more precisely, the country not led by conservatives does not matter.  Hence their obstructionism during the Obama years in spite of him trying to use many of their ideas.  It explains their anti-intellectualism because facts and research undo much of what they believe. Okay, but what about the people out there in Red America that conservative policies hurts yet they are oblivious to the danger of the VIIC presidency.  Who believe that all that is going on is just a witch hunt? I think the answer was in an article about why people resist the removal of Civil War monuments to Southern generals:

“Beneath all of the talk is a longing for an America that is not only predominantly white but where the resources of a very, very rich nation are funneled almost exclusively toward whites,” said Anderson, author of the 2016 book “White Rage.” “These are who people believe that they are actually oppressed and disadvantaged whenever anyone else’s voice is heard, their needs addressed and their political will prevails.” WaPo

That was the nationalism, nativism, and racism that the VIIC pushed in his campaign to crowds who chanted “Lock her up.” That is who his base is made up of and who controls Republican elections.  No they are not a majority, but without their votes, conservatives in close elections are goners.  And they have elected the VIIC and put the country in extreme danger.  But we are being saved by the very thing the VIIC so attacked in his campaign, the free press.

I don’t think it was any accident that the VIIC attacked the judiciary and the free press during and after his election.  Of the three branches of government, he owned two, the executive and the legislative.  What could undermine him were the courts and the free press so he did his best to delegitimize them.  Note he also went after other inconvenient purveyors of reality, our intelligence agencies to try to intimidate them to tow his line.  The good news is he is failing badly, but had the candidate been a more cunning adversary, we could actually have voted away our Constitutional Democracy by electing this man.  That is something we have not faced yet.

We are saved because the man is so damaged that he is his own worst enemy which our press has been all over, and the rats are starting to desert a sinking and ineffectual ship.  Even Republican politicos (Senators and Congress people) recognize that he is sinking their ship of a grand conservative agenda and are starting to look for life boats*.  We can thank mostly the New York Times and the Washington Post for exposing him.  News papers are back (in electronic form). We can thank leakers who are risking a great deal to get the truth out there.  The wave is coming and even most of brain-dead America cannot ignore it.

Under normal circumstances I would expect the VIIC to be gone by the end of this summer.  Pious Pence’s role in all of this is starting to come out and the whole thing could be a house of cards.  But these are not normal times and the VIIC is in Saudi Arabia where he is being treated as he sees himself, royalty.  You know, all those Muslims he so hated during the campaign season are now his best friends.  Then he will trek to Israel and Iran will become the great devil.  My fear is that as he loses his grip at home he just might wag the dog and Iran or North Korea are likely targets.  This little adventure in nationalism we just experienced could be devastating if we are not careful.  I can’t help wondering if within the military establishment, they might be thinking the same thing I am and have put some safeguards in place to slow him down.  We will see.

*On the great conservative agenda, I actually hope they start down the road.  We have seen a conservative replacement for Obamacare where the answer is fewer people covered and ore risk for all of us.  Their great plan for tax reform will further empower corporations over people as tax cuts to the wealthy simply exacerbate growing economic inequality.  Infrastructure repair?  In your dreams.  Sadly we will have to experience these failures before we are ready for a new beginning.  Try to keep in mind that all this has been done before and failed from conservative healthcare reform, to tax reform.  It is Ideological Necrophilia: passionate love for the dead, ineffective political ideas.  But as noted above in the WaPo quote, it is our tribal white belief in our entitlement that drives all this.

California Dreaming

It’s a good day to be alive.”

Good morning from Monterey.  Yes, we escaped down the coast for a couple of days to enjoy the ocean, some good food, the Aquarium, walks along the rocks, to get away from it all.  You know, getting out into nature, see the bounty of the ocean, and then go eat some of them.  We humans are interesting creatures. But the world keeps crashing back in as the next episode of As the Trump World Turns brings a new astounding revelation and every day is a new twitst in the World of Village Idiot in Chief.  David Brooks, a conservative columnist from the NYT gave us this yesterday:

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

That’s kind of how I think about pundits trying to analyze him or put some strategic meaning into his follies.  He is simply a village idiot thrashing about.  A very dangerous village idiot.  One has to marvel at the White House’s latest denial of the “alleged” memo from ex-Director Comey about the Village Idiot in Chief’s (VIIC) asking for Comey to back off on the Flynn investigation.  Really?  Alleged?  This is how you do “business” in the business world.  Wink, wink, nod, nod.  Some people are just special.  But in government, where Comey has spent his career, you are always looking for snakes and documenting everything.  Of course the memo exists.

There is some expression among pundits feeling sorry for the communications staff.  I find that rather naïve.  Do you remember the editorials back in November and December by Republicans who told people that they should go to work for the Trump Administration because he will need help?  I laughed then because it was getting on a train heading for a train wreck.  Sean Spicer had to know on day one when he was asked to go out and lie about crowd size.  From day one on, if you had not figured out who the man was, you knew then, and that was the time to walk away.  What we see know is the rationalization of moral/ethical principles down the drain.

Oh, and one last thing, which I find hysterically funny. The VIIC’s best friend Vlad, is offering to provide transcripts of their meeting last week to help out VIIC.  We are depending on Russia to provide a true accounting of what happened?  They probably do have better transcripts than the VIIC because of the multiple listening devices they left behind.  Okay, I hyperbolize, but really?  We can’t trust the White House to give us undoctored transcripts so we are turning to the Russkis?  Think about where we are at, and then consider that some Republicans are simply troubled as opposed to hair on fire, let’s get on with a full investigation.

Here is what I can’t figure out.  The sooner they impeach him, the sooner they will have Pence (I got come up with a nickname for him) to actually pursue the “Republican agenda”.  So why not get it over with?  One thought is the investigation might raise the whole issue of the legitimacy of the entire election including Mike Pence.  The other is that when they do have clear sailing, I am not sure anything will happen because they are fighting among themselves.  See healthcare reform as Exhibit A.

So just another day in what Red American brought us.  You think next time those who didn’t vote, who idealistically voted third party, or voted for a village idiot to shake up the system will think twice.  Maybe, if we have a next time.

By George I Think They’ve Got It!

Frank Bruni, NYT columnist and liberal, had a long column this morning on my favorite topic, Cheeto-head isn’t shrewd or strategic, he is really just a petulant child:

For all of the negative news coverage that he receives, there has also been a strand of analysis that insisted on, or at least sought, a silver lining to the golden-haired huckster. It reflected all the rationalizations that I heard from Americans who had voted for Trump or were willing themselves to see some upside to his election:

The tweets weren’t merely splenetic. They were strategic, providing distractions when he needed them most. He was amoral, sure, but that was part and parcel of his craftiness, which could do the country some good. He was a liar, yes, but the best deals and the bent truth often went hand in hand — and he was a deal maker above all. He flouted norms, but that might be precisely the purgative our politics needed.

Commentators strained to spot and savor any flicker of something more dignified. Remember the accolades for his address to a joint session of Congress? All he’d done was the commander-in-chief equivalent of chewing with his mouth closed.

…And when I picture him at that Time magazine dinner, with a portion bigger than anybody else’s, I don’t see him on a throne. I see him in a highchair, keeping his audience guessing about just how much ice cream he’ll fling against the wall.

Frank is talking about the reporter dinner where Cheeto-head got served something better than anyone else including two scoops of ice cream instead of the one everyone else got on their dessert.  But the point is there is nothing strategic in his wild outbursts.  They are not to unbalance his opponent for strategic advantage.  They are just wild outbursts.  That ought to really work well when we have a real crisis not caused by Cheeto-head himself.

But wait!  Conservatives are also joining the wake up call.  Here is Ross Douthat, conservative columnist for the NYT:

The reaction to the sacking of James Comey is the latest illustration. Far too many observers, left and right, persist in being surprised at Trump when nothing about his conduct is surprising, persist in looking for rationality where none is to be found, and persist in believing that some institutional force — party elders or convention delegates, the deep state or an impeachment process — is likely to push him off the stage.

…Childish behavior can still lead to abuses of power, of which the Comey firing will not be the last. But liberals need to accept that the strongest case for removing Trump from office is likely to remain a 25th Amendment case: not high crimes and misdemeanors, not collusion with the Russians, but a basic mental unfitness for the office that manifests itself in made-for-TV crises and self-inflicted wounds.

Here is Charles Sykes, conservative talk show host, on what has become of the Republican Party to be able to support the unsupportable:

Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.

…As the right doubles down on anti-anti-Trumpism, it will find itself goaded into defending and rationalizing ever more outrageous conduct just as long as it annoys CNN and the left.

In many ways anti-anti-Trumpism mirrors Donald Trump himself, because at its core there are no fixed values, no respect for constitutional government or ideas of personal character, only a free-floating nihilism cloaked in insult, mockery and bombast.

By George, I think they’ve got it!  And on that note I will leave you with a link to Laurence H. Tribe’s call for Cheeto-head’s impeachment. Laurence Tribe is a Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, so he ought to know something about the subject. Here is his conclusion:

It will require serious commitment to constitutional principle, and courageous willingness to put devotion to the national interest above self-interest and party loyalty, for a Congress of the president’s own party to initiate an impeachment inquiry. It would be a terrible shame if only the mounting prospect of being voted out of office in November 2018 would sufficiently concentrate the minds of representatives and senators today.

But whether it is devotion to principle or hunger for political survival that puts the prospect of impeachment and removal on the table, the crucial thing is that the prospect now be taken seriously, that the machinery of removal be reactivated, and that the need to use it become the focus of political discourse going into 2018.

I can’t help but think that if you buy Charlie Sykes’ description of the new Republican Party where there are no principles just anti left anything, then Ross Douthat may have our only way forward, the 25th Amendment.  The guy is bat shit crazy.

Any Questions?

Executive Summary:  We (they) elected a crass, ignorant, pathological liar who is debasing (Timothy Egan used debase this morning and I like the ring to it) our culture and assaulting the very foundations of our democracy and the Republicans do nothing, decrying partisianship and describing brave loyal Americans as political hacks.

All it took was Cheeto-head deciding to take over messaging (lying) from his professional White House communications (lying) staff and he spilled the beans for all of us to see.  I am talking about his interview with Lester Holt of NBC where he basically spilled the beans.  Even if you are heartless, don’t care about destroying the planet (pollution and global warming),want to throw people off healthcare, and lust for packing the court with conservatives (Republicans), at this point one would think they could not see their place in history rapidly catching up to those who enabled Hitler.

So what did he do?  Well first he threw everyone in the White House under the bus  and showed they were lying (maybe on his orders) by admitting that he fired Comey because of his handling of the Russia investigation.  He fired the guy who is investigating him::

“And in fact, when I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,’ It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won…I was going to fire Comey — my decision. I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”

So all the stories being told by the White House were made up lies including the Comey handling of Hillary’s investigation.  It was always about Russia from his own mouth.  Now a couple of things here.  We now have a White House Press corps who does not just try to spin the facts to put their guy in the best light, they lie repeatedly and have lost all credibility.  Forget the Hillary thing and the next lie, that Comey lost the respect of his troops.  We now have a White House who no one trusts a word they say.  Think about that.  The leader of the free world has a White House that looks like incompetent Keystone cops who lie as frequently as Russian Television (RT).

Second, we now have Cheeto-head admitting he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.  He wants it to go away.  Let’s see, what is that called? Obstruction of justice?  This is not just “improper”, it is against everything we believe in.  It undermines the rule of law and our institutions.  It is an attack on the very foundation of democracy, trust and faith in our processes and institutions.  And they impeached Bill Clinton for lying about sex.  Seems kind of trivial now.  Cheeto-head lies about everything, is unstable, and tried to obstruct the investigation into the Russian connection and the Republicans are just “troubled”?

Then there was his description of the Comey meeting at a dinner where Cheeto-head described it as Comey pleading for his job:

Mr. Trump said Mr. Comey had reassured him first at a private dinner, and then during two phone conversations. He acknowledged that he had directly asked if he was being investigated.

“I said, ‘If it’s possible, would you let me know if I’m under investigation?’” Mr. Trump said. “He said, ‘You are not under investigation.’”

The admission raised questions on Thursday among reporters, who asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, whether it was inappropriate for the president to ask the F.B.I. director whether he was under investigation. “No, I don’t believe it is,” Ms. Sanders said.

The president said Mr. Comey requested the dinner early in his administration to ask to keep his job. That would be an unusual — and perhaps unnecessary — step for an F.B.I. director, who by law is appointed for a 10-year term. Mr. Comey was four years into his term when Mr. Trump was inaugurated.

“He wanted to stay on as the F.B.I. head,” Mr. Trump said. “I said: ‘I’ll consider. We’ll see what happens.’ But we had a very nice dinner and at that time, he told me I wasn’t under investigation, which I knew anyway.”

Imagine a gangster having a polite dinner with the chief of police and he says he can keep his job as long as he keeps his nose out of the gangster’s business.  That is exactly what was going on from this description.  There are no more ethical standards and the Republicans do nothing.  It started with Cheeto-head’s conflicts of interest and now we are down to raw thuggery and the Republicans do nothing.

Comey let it be know that this not how things went at all:

Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

Who to believe, the pathological liar or the guy who over moralizes everything?  And in either version we have the gangster to the politician basically saying forget your oath to the Constitution, be loyal to me and you can keep your job.  Welcome to the Trump Administration.  This morning Cheeto-head is tweeting that there might be tapes and warning Comey to not make anymore statements.  Free speech anyone, or is free and truth only defined by Cheeto-head.  I hope they do have tapes, but of course they don’t.  Either way, we will see Cheeto-head as the thug he is.

This morning Cheeto-head gave us this on twitter:

“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!”

“Maybe, the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

Free speech is what he says it is, not to mention what is truth.  How did we get here?  Oh, and he is forming a commission to look into voter fraud and suppression.  There isn’t any fraud and the suppression is an attempt to deny minorities the right to vote.  This is another attempt to further undermine our democracy and our institutions.

So we are back to my Executive Summary:  We have a moron and a thug as president undermining the very foundation of democracy and we are becoming the laughing stock of the world. Kiss your exceptionalism goodbye.  How low can we go.  Impeach the bastard. Oh, and Republicans are gutless evil bastards.

How Much Smoke is There?  UPDATE SEE BELOW*

While the media is distracted with a Trump head fake to restart the war in Afghanistan which I will comment on later, but do you really think the guys who want a tax cut for the wealthy want to fund another war, the Russia thing just gets bigger and bigger.  What we know is not much since everything we do know is based upon leaks and the Republicans seem to be in no hurry to get to the bottom of it.  So let’s see if we can itemize the smoke columns;

Said another way there is just too much really weird stuff going on that makes no sense if there is no Russian connection.  And that brings me to the investigation.  As an American, I am apalled that I had to learn about the investigation through a leak.  It is an obvious question that if the Russians are being investigated for interference in our campaign, was there collusion by the Trump campaign.  Directory Comey felt compelled to tell us about reopening the Clinton investigation but said nothing about an investigation into the Trump administrations connections with the Russians.

Clearly in a perfect world we would not want to pre-judge someone based upon an investigation that might clear of criminal wrong doing, which is what happened to Hillary.  But when you are talking about Russian interference in our election and the potential for a president’s administration (or maybe he himself) colluding with the Russians, we need to know about it so we can make informed choices in a democracy.  This idea that nothing can be said, and we have to find out from a leak that the Trump administration was told Flynn was compromised and then they did nothing is truly disturbing.

Directory Comey is a poor choice for this role and we may have to set some deadlines.  Why not supeona Trump’s tax records?  Why is the Senate dragging their feet?  Why don’t the agencies get together and tell us what investigations are going on without naming names and when we will get some sort of report?  It is at times like these we thank our lucky stars for leaks.  How much longer would Flynn have had access to the highest secrets we have before his compromised position forced him out.  Clearly we have problem with secrecy in this country and maybe it is time to start a discussion about how the public can be informed about potentially very damaging actions that are being investigated.  Just having no comment because it is an ongoing investigation does not seem to work when the stakes are this high.

*PRESIDENT CHEETO-HEAD FIRES COMEY.  THIS SCREAMS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR/INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AND RAISES ALL KINDS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT TIMING AND RELATIONSHIP TO THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION.

Well At Least the French Aren’t Crazy

I have a theory about the French election.  Brexit and then the election of Donald Trump was a wakeup call.  Add to that, the fact that we know about fake news and hacking, makes those things counter productive.  Except maybe in America.  Of course like all things, a leader is just part of the equation, he needs a Parliament that will not stymie him.  See the whole Obama eight year administration.  We will see in June.

Meanwhile, I write this while waiting to see what Sally Yates can tell us about the dysfunction of the Trump administration.  You know she has some damaging information because the Cheeto-Head administration is trying to get in front of her testimony with tweets claiming she is a political hack.  Let’s just say we did not have the Russian connection looming (and I will say it again, it is about the money/loans in Cheeto-Head’s real estate deals), what can you say about the loony tunes we have seen so far?

Pundits like to point out that Cheeto-Head has not accomplished most of his promises.  I would like to thank my lucky stars he has been unsuccessful.  There was a recent article in the NYT in an interview with a people and drug smuggler from the Mexico side telling us, please build the wall, it pushes up profits.  But instead of pointing out he has been ineffective, maybe pundits might want to point out that his policies will crater the nation.  The latest on health care repeal and replace is Exhibit A.

What I can’t figure out is how much longer they can get away, they are Republicans, with just blantant lies about what their health care bill does.  I listened to Andrea Mitchell challenge on Republican Congressman on the fact that Obamacare was not in a death spiral citing studies, you know that data stuff, and pointed out that many plans turned things around in 2016.  Note she did not mention how Republicans had sabotaged the plans in states it is doing poorly in.  He just laughed and said he disagreed and it will cover more people better.  Based on what?  This kind of Alice in Wonderland response is now pervasive throughout the administration. Facts are just opinions.

The man hired to drain the swamp seems to be the chief of swamp maintenance.  Remember the tax reform plan that was one sheet of paper and really only was a giant tax cut for the rich?  His cabinet is a joke in terms of either competence or independence from Wall Street.  His new EPA chief has just removed all climate change data from their website, and in another NYT story, is going to replace the scientists there with leaders of the industries he is supposed to regulate. Now after making sure Obama did not get his last Supreme Court Justice, they are going to try to pack the parks with judges who will rule businesses have more rights than people.

So when will the people figure this out and revolt?  I haven’t a clue.  This disaster was on full display in the election and yet his base, who will be hurt the most, were clueless then and are clueless now.  Middle of the roaders who stupidly voted third-party or for Cheeto-Head himself, were also clueless then and clueless now.  We have ex-Republican and conservative George Will telling us this man is unhinged.  We have the NYT asking the same question. We have seen the man either not understand the democratic system we have or doesn’t care.  He is destroying our moral democracy as he embracing such leaders as the Philipines President.  Even John McCain is taking him to task on that.  And still his support does not move.

So France is starting to look really good.  At least they can read the signs.

Well the Emphasis is on Ignorant…

And maybe stupid.  Our Dear Leader is apparently totally ignorant of history, our history.  I am speaking of course of his statement that if only Andrew Jackson would have live at a later time, there would not have been a Civil War.  Let’s not forget that Andrew Jackson was a slave owner and died 20 years before the Civil War.  Now I am not going try to correct his ignorance of history, but you might want to ask one salient question:  How would Andrew Jackson solve the issue of slavery?  I want to hear that one from Cheeto-Head.  Maybe negotiate an extension of slavery in states to come into the Union?  Or just by decree end it?  Oh, that would have gone over well. How he answers that would be really revealing.

I don’t think he has a clue about the fundamental flaw in our Constitution, that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights, and then deny black people the right to be human.  The cost of that was our Civil War where our economy was largely based upon cotton (even in the North in trade) supported by slave labor, and Lincoln (slowly) and abolitionists finally brought that sin on our soul out into the open.  And then the nation paid a horrible price and Lincoln got us through it.  So Cheeto-Head is either ignorant of this, doesn’t understand it, or doesn’t think slavery was such a big deal.  It was business after all, right?  It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of our Constitution which should be no surprise after all the immigration executive orders.

Now add to this bit of insanity, and it is not ignorance, but insanity, that Cheeto-Head has been claiming that the health care bill House Republicans are pushing still covers existing conditions.  Oh it does Mr. President, but there is no cap on price and each state can decide what they do cover.  Is he just ignorant of what is in the bill, lying, or does he simply not understand the distinction? Does the self-proclaimed detail man not understand the details?

Both of these glaring examples of how dysfunctional Cheeto-Head is was on display this weekend.  Do you really think you can understand complex issues and connect the dots if you are this ignorant and callous?  We are in deep doo doo here and it should be becoming abundantly clear, but his followers are of the same ilk.  They keep expressing the same ignorance he has on issues and history.  It is kind of funny in a sad kind of way.  People today are all interested in their past and who their ancestors were so everyone is taking a DNA test to see where they came from and what was their original culture.  But the history of our country and what we have learned from that is not important?

I got a taste of that ignorance this weekend at a little gathering where one Trump supporter asked me if I was excited about the tax reform that Cheeto-Head has proposed.  I tried to explain to him what was in that one sheet of paper and why tax reform has so many special interests that nothing is going to pass Congress unless there is a long-term and honest attempt to find compromise between both parties and really reform taxes, not just cut taxes for the wealthy. I also tried to explain to him that because there were no offsets, any such bill was subject to the filibuster and thus was going nowhere.  He was clueless.

Then the wall came up.  Since I actually worked with the Request for Proposal from Homeland Security for the prototype walls and knew what they were requesting, I tried to explain to him why: (1) It would not do much to slow immigration since it has already down to record lows; (2) It would have no impact on the drug trade since it is fueled by demand (us) and most of the drugs actually come through at official border crossings; (3) Congress is never going to fund it because they will never agree to spend that kind of money (Republicans).  Again, he just looked at me like I did not get it.  One of us doesn’t.

Here is what you get out of those conversations:  First the person you are talking to is willfully ignorant of the facts and details of an issue.  Second they spend their lives surrounded by a bubble of people who are as willfully ignorant as you are and act as an echo chamber to reinforce your ignorance.  And there in a nut shell is Trump supporters and Cheeto-Head himself.  So you can quit giving me the soap opera about these are just sincere people who have been left behind in a changing world.  If they were sincere they might have actually done some homework instead of joining a lynch mob.  Right now the nation is in the throes of ignorance and stupidity and we refuse to call it out.  Well I will. Our President in an ignorant and damaged man who is in the process of destroying American values. Let’s quit legitimizing him. Wake up or the mess we create may not be fixable.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinners, The Real One and the Not One

While Cheeto-Head was up in Pennsylvania doing his best interpretation of Hitler to a crowd of sycophants and idiots, the media was gathering in two places to have a little fun.  First some thoughts on the Pennsylvania rally.  What president in his first 100 days is out giving a campaign speech full of lies to his base? Adolph Hitler. See, he his the same guy you elected, full of hate and lies, working diligently to tear down democracy by going after the free press.  I watched some of the rally and was filled with hate and divisiveness.  I was filled with a sense of revulsion for my fellow Americans in Pennsylvania.  Somehow in my little mind, I did not think that was what a president was supposed to do.  Yes we have entered a different era.  Of course he did his best to undermine the free press and (getting ahead of myself) as Samantha Bee pointed out about the Press:

“You basically get paid to stand in a cage while a geriatric orangutan and his pet mob scream at you. It’s like a reverse zoo, but you carry on.”

Meanwhile there were two White House Correspondents Dinners, the official one and Samantha Bee’s Not the WH Correspondence Dinner and I watched both (oh the miracle of DVR).  I am not sure who got roasted more, Cheeto-Head or the media itself, which is fair because their endless coverage of him in the campaign without fact checking him and using competing pundits got him elected.  Policy and facts did not matter anymore, just outlandishness.  What was nice about the Pennsylvania rally was that it reminded you this presidency is not normal and what a true pig he really is.  But I get distracted.  Here is Hasan’s full speech:


Hasan Minhaj did a splendid job at the real dinner as he spent most of his time on the press itself.  He started by saying the obvious:

“This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President.”

Then he got real:

“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down.”

My favorite was when he made fun of the endless viewer polling CNN (and MSNBC) do.  “If you think attacking Korea is a good idea, text 1.”  As he asked are they trying to get us to give them the news?  Both he and Samantha Bee decried the nonsense of shouting pundits that has taken the place of real news and informed analysis (He said/she said news) and here is their take:

Hasan Minhaj:

“Don [Don Lemon of CNN Tonight], every time I watch your show, I feel like I’m watching a reality TV show. ‘CNN Tonight’ should just be called ‘Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!’ with Don Lemon.”

Samantha Bee:

“With so much excellent reporting out there, why do 96 percent of Americans believe the media should be strung up by its own bowels?” she asked. “I don’t know — maybe because when they turn on the TV looking for news, all they can find are journalists trying to referee a pack of well-coiffed message robots shouting at each other all day from increasingly tiny boxes.”

And I think that gets to the heart of our problems today.  We are not looking for the truth through carefully researched journalism, but a mud wrestling contest, winner has the best costume.  Ratings are king if some cloths are ripped off.  Samantha made the point most effectively by quoting Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide and then making the point that they had effectively turned news into a sporting event (news as entertainment):

“There’s no truth or falsehood in sports. There’s just winners and losers, and people giving 110 percent because sports thinks that’s a number. The difference is, on CNN, the cheerleaders get paid.”

His barbs at MSNBC and CNN were well deserved:

“MSNBC is here tonight. And I’m glad you guys are here. That way if I’m bombing, Brian Williams will describe it as stunning.”

— “MSNBC. It’s hard to trust you guys when you send so many mixed messages. On the one hand you tell us the prison industrial complex is the problem, and then you air five straight hours of ‘Lockup.’ You can’t be mad at corporations profiting off of minorities in prison when you’re a corporation profiting off of minorities in prison.”

— “I had a lot more MSNBC jokes, but I don’t want to just ramble on, otherwise I might get a show on MSNBC.”

“CNN is here, baby. You guys got some really weird trust issues with the public. I’m not going to call you fake news, but everything isn’t breaking news. You can’t go to DEFCON-1 just because Sanjay Gupta found a new moisturizer.”

Yes, the press was on trial here and mostly they were (TV media) guilty as charged.  Maybe they learned something, I just don’t know.  We know Cheeto-Head is a disaster for this country, but last night was a reflection on how we got an ignorant racist misogynist for a president and sadly news and the way it is presented is a large part of the problem.  But they are also our only hope.  Samantha wondered why CNN, who has many great journalists, would just stop with the reality show and let them do their job.  Hasan probably summed it up best and maybe we need to hear it from a 2nd generation immigrant Muslim who does really appreciate what America should be and was about (here is the only copy of a video I could find and it was on twitter and I could not find the embed code):

Even though Mr. Minhaj said he had been told not to mock Mr. Trump or his administration in absentia, he felt he had a duty to “get on this stage and make fun of the president.”

“But the president didn’t show up,” Mr. Minhaj said. “Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about free speech. The man who tweets everything that enters his head refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.”

A few hours from now, Mr. Minhaj said, “Donald Trump will be tweeting about how bad Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner. And he’ll be doing it completely sober. And that’s his right. And I’m proud that all of us are here tonight to defend that right, even if the man in the White House never would.”

After thanking the White House Correspondents’ Association, and thanking Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein “for inspiring a generation of journalists,” Mr. Minhaj concluded by saying, “I would like to thank Donald Trump for inspiring the next.”

Finally, I would like to leave with Woodward’s comments about what journalism is about:  Trying to find the best obtainable version of the truth we can.  We have a large portion of our citizenship who does not have a clue what that means.  A nobel endeavor and they are our only hope against ignorance and fascism on display in Pennsylvania that same night. A lot of things that needed to be said to powerful people was said.  I only hope they were listening.

100 Days, I Would If I Could

That would be feeling sorry for Cheeto-Head. This job as president he finds hard and well, he had more fun when he was a carefree real estate developer welshing on payments to contractors.  Here is a statement I dearly love:

“I love my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life,” Trump said. “I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a . . . I’m a details-oriented person. I think you’d say that, but I do miss my old life. I like to work so that’s not a problem but this is actually more work.”

The press is focusing on “I thought it would be easier,” but what tells you all you want to know is the, “I’m a details-oriented person.”  He simply is totally lacking in details. Talk about a lack of self awareness.  If he were a details person, he would have known way more than he knows and would understand that almost everything he promised to do, could not get done.  Oh, and should not get done either.  I guess he thought he could just say, make it so, and Congress would oblige.  There is a lesson here to voters that I learned about most generals as a young captain in the Air Force.  They are surrounded by people who create a false reality of their greatness.  Donald Trump is having his bubble burst.

The part I could feel bad about is how he thought a Republican Congress was a benefit, that they would tow whatever line he threw to them.  Had he really been a detailed guy he would not be depending on them to come up with the details, but would have drafted plans with the details in them.  Of course Obama learned that was a mistake too, because if Congress does not think it is their own idea, they don’t like it either.  But in the details are facts that would inform Cheeto-Head of the wrongness of his ideas.  But the boys and girls in the Republican Party are not detail people either.  Oh and don’t give me Paul Ryan and his budgets. Asterisks are not details.  They have been so busy tearing down everything that might work in the last eight years, they have no idea how to build something that might.

And here is the really sad thing that Cheeto-Head has not grasped:  None of Congresses ideas will work either.  We have a whole Republican Party who wants to do stuff like tax cuts for the wealthy, fix Obamacare, bring back coal, enslave women, get rid of the minimum wage, give people the religious freedom to discriminate in the public square, do away with environmental rules and safety in the workplace rules, and limit voting to only people who would vote for them.  Really that is what they want to do.  Blaming others is really fun and easy, but when you start passing laws that hurt the people who got you there, sooner or later they will figure it out.

The really important thing for Cheeto-Head to figure out is that having a Republican majority means they will never agree on anything.  You have the boys and girls who are gerrymandered in and don’t care who they hurt, and you have the boys and girls who have to care because their districts could swing.  And these people don’t compromise.  So nothing is going to come out of a Republican Congress that could possibly get by the Senate.  We actually should be very thankful for that.

How long will he last in the job?  Well if he does not get us in a war, I always thought he would turn everything over to Pence this summer sometime.  There is that Russian thing and we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop (while Republicans madly scramble to put a pillow under it so we won’t hear it.  There will be no wall because Republicans will never pay for it.  There will be no tax cut (because the Democrats can filibuster).  There probably won’t be an infrastructure bill because again, Republicans won’t pay for it.  So why not quit a la Sarah Pallin? The only real threat is that he finds war making fun and then we are in deep kimchi.  But the chickens will come home to roast on that one too so give or take a couple million people dying, he probably will get tired of that too.  I see him retiring to a sound booth with canned cheering for the rest of his life.